Wednesday 27 June 2018

BOOK REVIEW | 'I Was Born For This' by Alice Oseman (****)

Hey guys, and happy Wednesday! Today I am excited to be bringing you another book review, this time the wonderful Alice Oseman's I Was Born For This! Oseman has been a huge name in YA for a while now, however this is actually the first book I have read written by her, and it's safe to say that now I cannot wait to read her other two books!

I Was Born For This follows Angel Rahimi, who pretty much lives for superstar boyband The Ark. For Angel, The Ark are everything, and she's pretty sure that she wouldn't be able to live without them. When she gets the opportunity to travel down to London to meet her long-time internet friend Juliet, and more amazingly, see The Ark perform live, Angel can't believe her luck.

Jimmy Kaga-Ricci always dreamed of being in a boyband. The Ark has given him everything: money, fame, stardom. But for Jimmy, sometimes this life is a bit too much to handle. Jimmy feels like everything is spiraling out of control, and he begins to miss the calm life he once had. When Jimmy and Angel meet in crazy circumstances, they discover that they may be able to help out the other in more ways than they previously thought...

I was lucky enough to receive this book from Nina Douglas, in exchange for an honest review :)

Intrigued? Check out the blurb here...

For Angel Rahimi, life is only about one thing: The Ark – a pop-rock trio of teenage boys who are currently taking the world by storm. Being part of The Ark’s fandom has given her everything – her friendships, her dreams, her place in the world.

Jimmy Kaga-Ricci owes everything to The Ark too. He’s their frontman – and playing in a band is all he’s ever dreamed of doing. It’s just a shame that recently everything in his life seems to have turned into a bit of a nightmare.

Because that’s the problem with dreaming – eventually, inevitably, real life arrives with a wake-up call. And when Angel and Jimmy are unexpectedly thrust together, they will discover just how strange and surprising facing up to reality can be.

I loved loved loved this book! The first thing I immediately noticed was the incredible diversity in I Was Born For This. I know that in an ideal world, characters in TV shows and books and films would all reflect the diversity of our world but, unfortunately, that is not always the case. It is clear that Oseman made a conscious effort to make her book enjoyable and relatable for everyone - people of all genders, religions, and sexual orientations were part of this book. And of course, this makes the story a lot more interesting as well. Why would you want to read about characters who were all the same?! The writing was so sparky and fresh; it is one of those YA page-turners that make you feel so happy that you never want it to end.

I have never read a book about a boyband before, and this was definitely something different for me. I loved the fact that we got both Angel and Jimmy's perspective - and especially with Jimmy, I was enlightened to a side of fame that I hadn't thought that much about before. I thought it was really refreshing for 'celebrity' to be portrayed in this way. Oseman explored the idea that everyone lives with mental health issues, no matter how happy they might appear to be. I think Jimmy's point of view was incredibly sensitively written, and he had so many layers to his character that I enjoyed uncovering as the story went on. 

Angel was a fantastic character - confident, funny, compassionate - all while living with her own worries and insecurities. Yet again, Oseman stayed away from a simple characterisation here, and the result was a brilliantly realistic female character who knew what she was passionate about, and didn't shy away from it. I love that Angel and Jimmy collided in the novel, as I think there are so many things that are similar about them, but not in any obvious way. 

More than anything, this book is about loving something and being passionate about loving it, all whilst being true to yourself. For me, Oseman perfectly captures what it means to be a fan, and how it can be the most wonderful thing in the world, yet only if you can still feel enough love for yourself and the people around you. 

Check out Alice Oseman here:

Until next time :)

Monday 25 June 2018

5* BOOK REVIEW | 'Waiting for Callback: It's a Wrap' by Perdita and Honor Cargill

Hey guys, and happy Monday! Today I am thrilled to be reviewing an absolutely fabulous book I read recently, and I don't think this will be a suprise to any of you, but this book is the final book in the Waiting for Callback series, one of my favourite series of all time. You know that series you can always depend on, to cheer you up, comfort or, or just transport you to a familiar, happy place? Well, that is what this series does for me.

Therefore, reading this final book in the series was a strange experience. I wanted more than anything to devour it, gobble it up, hole up in my room for a whole day so I could finish it there and then. But I wanted it to last forever, and I dreaded saying goodbye to these characters who are simply so lovable that I wanted to stay inside this book eternally. 

But anyway, enough of my rambling. It's a Wrap follows young actress Elektra at what would seem to be the height of her new career. She has just finished her first feature film, but now that she's started she only wants more, however work seems to be annoyingly few and far between these days. That being said, her GCSE exams are taking up more time and causing more stress than she would like, and her best friend Moss is facing some off-screen drama (boy related) of her own. When a social media mishap spirals suddenly and distressingly out of control, Elektra starts to wonder if she can cope with all that stardom comes with, especially with her future-determining exams looming ever closer...

Intrigued? Check out the blurb here...

Elektra James is back and her life is more hilariously chaotic than ever!

Elektra is hoping for big things this year... She's finished her first feature film (even if her character was unexpectedly killed off half-way through filming), hosted the party of the year (well, before her mum arrived and threw everyone out - how embarrassing!) and managed to become Archie Mortimer's Actual Real Life girlfriend (for now anyway...), so things are most definitely moving in the right direction. But with social media to navigate (#actinggoals #instanightmare), GCSEs looming and a seemingly never-ending parade of failed casting calls, Elektra's road to acting stardom is proving to be as rocky as ever.

The third and final book in a trilogy carries a staggering amount of weight. While the second book in a series has the pressure to hold up to the standard of the first one, the third is really the make or break moment. In my opinion, It's a Wrap is the most perfect ending to the trilogy that I could have ever hoped for; a loving farewell to the characters who I have grown to love dearly. Everything was just so well done - from the continued fantastic characterisation, the amazing dialogue and the hilarious cringe moments that make this series so wonderful. I loved the relationship between Elektra and Archie, and also the friendship between Elektra and Moss, which in this book becomes more complicated due to Moss' tumultuous love life. I think Perdita and Honor are fantastic at portraying good, healthy relationships, whether romantic or friendship, which I think is really important for a book that is primarily enjoyed by young people. 

The comedic scenes in this book were better than ever; I especially loved that dinner party filming fiasco! The new characters were amazingly done, and I felt that in this book we got a lot more of Elektra's professional acting life as it developed, which was so interesting to read. Her confident, adventurous attitude is so refreshing to read, and I think this series does really show people how important it is sometimes to just put yourself out there, be confident, and be yourself. It's a Wrap also discusses some vital issues such as body image, pressure from social media, and the various ways young men and women are forced to act in a certain way, that isn't them. There are just so many things in this book that make it great for anyone and everyone to read. It's such a cliché, but the Waiting for Callback books really do contain something for everybody. 

I will miss Elektra, Moss, Archie, Eulalie and Elektra's mum and dad with all my heart. These books have always been a welcome escape in times of stress or just when I'm not feeling my best. These books are the very most hilarious and heartwarming books there are out there. And I will miss them so very much.

Thank you, Perdita and Honor, for writing these books, and I cannot wait to see what you have in store for us. Keep doing what you're doing, you're utterly brilliant at it.

Check out Perdita and Honor Cargill here:

Check out my reviews of the other two books in the trilogy here:

Until next time :)

Thursday 21 June 2018

DELIGHTFUL KIDS BOOKS | ISLA & PICKLE BLOG TOUR | Inspiration from the Scottish Landscape...

Hey guys, and happy Thursday! Today I am so happy to be back with another feature for my Delightful Kids Books segment, this time to celebrate the publication of another wonderful children's book. Today the book in question is Isla & Pickle: The Highland Show, which is a gorgeous story about a little girl and her Shetland pony, who are going to be taking part in a competition at the Highland Show. Everything seems to be going to plan, except when the day of the competition comes, Pickle can't seem to be able to stay out of mischief...

Intrigued? Check out the blurb here...

Isla and her best friend Pickle, an adorable miniature Shetland pony, can't wait to take part in the Perfect Pony competition at the Highland Show. They practise really hard but when the day of the show finally arrives, cheeky Pickle can't seem to stay out of trouble! Isla finds Pickle just in time for the competition but the mischievous pony is stinky and covered in cake. They'll never win the Perfect Pony prize now! But maybe together they'll discover there's more to life than being perfect.

Isla & Pickle: The Highland Show is the second picture book in a new series about a feisty little girl, a cheeky Shetland pony and their adventures. They live on a Scottish island where they get up to all sorts of mischief, led by Pickle the pony, who enjoys escaping from his field and getting very messy! Perfect for any children with a penchant for ponies, this book is full of fun in the great outdoors, with bright, humorous illustrations that are sure to make grown-ups smile and give wee ones the giggles.

And today I am delighted to have Kate McLelland on my blog to talk about how the beautiful Scottish landscape inspired her books!

For author, printmaker and illustrator Kate McLelland the natural landscape is a huge source of artistic inspiration and influence. Today, Kate reveals which Scottish island is her principle source of inspiration in her Isla and Pickle picture book series. 

Isla and Pickle is my love letter to Skye and to my little sister, Emma, who I based Pickle on. 

As a child, I visited the Isle of Skye annually with my family.

We drove up from Durham and it took around 8-9 long hours! However, despite the car journey, we always got excited when we started recognising west coast landmarks as we drew closer. 

Eilean Donan castle was always a joy to see, magnificently framed against the three sea lochs. Sometimes we did a detour to Plokton - one of my favourite coastal villages. 

No visit was complete without getting stuck in the car surrounded by a herd of cheeky highland cows! 

Before the bridge was built we crossed to Skye from the mainland by ferry. 

We always stayed in Dunvegan, on the west coast of the island, so it was still an hour’s drive before we would arrive. However, there was never a dull car journey on Skye. 

My parents would play albums by Capercaillie and we would all be captivated by the views outside our windows. 

As we got closer, the roads narrowed and the scenery became even more dramatic and beautiful. 

Waterfalls gushed close enough to the road to splash the car, dramatic volcanic mountains loomed over and stunning bays were around every bend. 

To get to our holiday cottage we had to unlock a sheep gate, and from there me and my sister would run the rest of the way down a dirt track.

The cottage overlooked Dunvegan loch, which had spectacular pink and orange sunsets - when is wasn’t tipping down!

There are so many locations on Skye that I have tried to capture in my Isla and Pickle books, the colourful houses in Portree Bay, the Coral Beach, Macleod’s Tables and Dunvagan - to name a few. 

But mostly I hope I have captured how special my time with my loved ones was in the magical West Coast of Scotland.

Thank you so much, Kate, for featuring on my blog today!

Make sure you guys check out this book and the other ones in the series... Also don't forget to check out the other posts on the blog tour!

Check out Kate McLelland here:

Until next time :)

Kate McLelland is an accomplished illustrator and printmaker. She trained in illustration at Edinburgh College of Art. She is the illustrator of bestselling picture book There Was a Wee Lassie Who Swallowed a Midgie and the much-loved My First Scottish board book collection, and has received and been nominated for a range of awards.

Wednesday 6 June 2018

BOOK REVIEW | 'The Exact Opposite of Okay' by Laura Steven (****)

Hey guys, and happy Wednesday! Today I am very excited to be sharing with you a book review, of a brilliant YA novel I read a few weeks ago, that I have been meaning to read for aggggeeesss!

The book in question is The Exact Opposite of Okay by Laura Steven, and in the blurb and other reviews I had read, it promised to be a feisty, fun, fabulously feminist read, so I couldn't wait to get stuck in.

The Exact Opposite of Okay follows Izzy O' Neill, as she navigates High School, her dream of becoming a big-shot comedian in LA, and the vicious rumours flying around about her sex life. Soon though, it isn't just about some rumours and a malicious website - Izzy becomes the face of a national scandal, threatening to throw everything she has ever worked for into jeopardy. Why is everything she does suddenly everyone else's business? Izzy has to find a way to hold her head up high and fight through the hatred, but will the pressure prove to be too much?

Intrigued? Check out the blurb here...

Izzy O’Neill is an aspiring comic, an impoverished orphan, and a Slut Extraordinaire. Or at least, that’s what the malicious website flying round the school says. Izzy can try all she wants to laugh it off – after all, her sex life, her terms – but when pictures emerge of her doing the dirty with a politician’s son, her life suddenly becomes the centre of a national scandal. Izzy’s never been ashamed of herself before, and she’s not going to start now. But keeping her head up will take everything she has...

This book was unlike any other YA novel I have read before. Izzy O' Neill is a fantastically distinctive protagonist, and I fell in love with her voice from the very first page. She is passionate about what she loves, is blazingly confident, and cares deeply about her friends and her grandmother, who is also her carer, after her parents died in a car accident when she was little. Izzy isn't afraid to talk about the things others would cringe away from: sex, periods, white privilege. This was so refreshing to me, especially as some authors really don't get the 'teenage voice' at all. Steven nailed this brilliantly.

I think at times I found Izzy slightly callous, however I think this is what makes her more realistic, and ultimately the real hero of the story. She has to battle through a lot, and I know if I had to go through some of the things she goes through in the book, I wouldn't emerge from it gracious and smiling and ready to offload forgiveness to everybody who ever did me wrong. I think Izzy is presented as every teenage girl in YA should be presented: determined, sure of herself, a tendency to make mistakes, because everyone does at some point in their lives. Steven does not force upon her readers a moral in her story, aside from accepting your mistakes when you make them, sticking up for your friends, and never ever standing for any BS from anyone. 

There were so many issues that were really well dealt with in this story: slut-shaming, sexting, cyber-bullying, white privilege, and the horror of the so-called 'nice guy'... shudder... There were some absolutely horrific moments in this book and Steven didn't shy away from exposing the nightmares that often haunt teenagehood. How she managed to fit so much in to one novel and it still be a cracking read is beyond me, but I very much enjoyed it and it would have filled my teenage heart with hope that things really would get better!

Keep your eyes peeled for more book reviews coming soon...

Check out Laura Steven here:

Until next time :)