Friday, 29 November 2013

Veronica Roth Signing

On a sunny October afternoon, I was sitting in a Starbucks on the Strand in London with my friend when I found out about the Veronica Roth signing. I was scrolling through my Twitter feed as I was waiting for my friend and our drinks and then I saw the tweet from Waterstones talking about this event. I texted my other friend, George, straight away and within a few hours, I was the holder of two tickets to see one of the best authors around in my
I may be currently in Bournemouth but the event was in my 'reading week' (read: a week off to catch up with work which ends up with everyone going home and doing anything far from work) when I'd be coming home anyway. George is at university in London so it was perfect!

Veronica Roth for those that have no idea who I'm rattling on about is the writer of the YA dystopian series Divergent and the final book in the series, which I am yet to read, has just been released after the biggest cliffhanger in history. It's also being made into a movie next year with the lovely Shailene Woodley and Kate Winslet in it. This series is immense, I would not recommend it enough. It was a series I was completely unsure about until George made me read them and now *whispers* I think they're better than The Hunger Games...
Veroncia Roth hasn't done many events in the UK, as she is an American author so I was so excited and surprised to hear she was doing one here in London.

The event was at the Prince Charles Theatre in Leicester Square where George and I saw Moonrise Kingdom a couple of years ago. It's a nice theatre/cinema just off the square, right on the edge of Chinatown and is a little bit away from the hustle and bustle of Leicester Square. 
We went in with about 5 minutes to spare. As we walked in, Veronica Roth just kind of casually walked past us to which we both kind of gave each other excited looks. 
We sat down and the talk started. It's interesting to hear authors talk about how they came to write the books we kind of take for granted - rarely do I think to myself when I'm reading 'Oh I wonder where they got the idea'. Some of the author's events I've been to show that inspiration comes from some unlikely places.

While it seemed like she was wrapping up after only 30 minutes had passed, suddenly she was talking about cast member from the Divergent movie being at the event. I thought to myself 'Oh it's going to be a minor character in the movie'. That was until Shailene Woodley was walking on stage, who is playing Tris, THE MAIN CHARACTER. It was cool to hear her perception of the movie and how she prepared for her character. It was just incredibly surreal having these two people on stage. I'm interested to see Shailene next year in Divergent but also as the lead in The Fault in our Stars, an adaptation of the John Green book which is another favourite book of mine. 
Soon, the audience was getting their books signed. Because we were at the back, we had to wait a while but it was SO worth the wait. She's really lovely, I wasn't entirely sure what to say to hear without fangirling at all. But I asked her if she was planning on writing any more books and she replied she had a book in the making that was a move away from Divergent but still a dystopian. 
So I left the event feeling rather happy and geeking out with my friend over the fact we had just met Veronica Roth, author of Divergent which could potentially have the same effect as The Hunger Games did when it was first made into a movie.

I'm so excited for the movie in March and I still need to get onto the last book in the Divergent series (kind of scared of what may happen). I'm also trying to get my flatmates to discover Divergent. We went to see The Hunger Games: Catching Fire at the cinema the other day (it's so good!) and they showed the Divergent trailer. One of my flatmates just turned to me at the end of the trailer and said 'That looks so good!' 
This movie is going to be big, I can tell. But Veronica Roth is still one of the most down to earth authors I've met.

Divergent by Veronica Roth
Insurgent by Veronica Roth

Saturday, 23 November 2013

UKYA BLOG TOUR: Guest Post from Marie-Louise Jensen

Today, I'm hosting a stop on the UKYA Blog Tour, which is running throughout November to promote British YA books and their incredible authors. This is all run by the lovely Lucy from Queen of Contemporary and Project UKYA blogs. She's a good friend of mine and has put a huge amount of effort to put this blog tour together so check out her stops on the tour and tell her how brilliant she is! 

For my stop, I have one of my FAVOURITE authors, Marie-Louise Jensen, author of' 'The Lady in the Tower', 'Smuggler's Kiss' and 'The Girl in the Mask'. She's talking about women in history and why she chooses to make all her protagonists female. I'll shh now and pass this post over to Marie-Louise Jensen! 

Women In History

To look at the history we are taught, especially in schools, you’d think women had made no contribution to the world other than cooking and having babies. Oh, and being queen occasionally. The only female name I recall from my school history lessons is Kitty O’Shea who got a mention in Irish history for bringing down politician Charles Purnell. She had a long running affair and three children out of wedlock with him. The classic scarlet woman – it was all her fault that fine man’s career was destroyed! Shame on her!
It’s a bit like in the Bible really. It was all Eve’s fault there. Bad woman, leading your poor unsuspecting husband astray and landing us all in sin and suffering!

I did two history units at university too. In one, no woman was mentioned. In the other – Viking history – we read the Icelandic sagas. I loved them, I really did. But in so many of them, the women were the cause of trouble: the temptress. Every feud that destroyed a family began with a woman and in every generation it was the women who shamed and stung their men into continuing the slaughter.
I don’t think it’s hugely different today. I revised history GCSE with my son last summer and scarcely a woman was mentioned. The only ones who are mentioned are doing traditionally womanly nurturing tasks like nursing (Florence Nightingale) or they are revered for their sexual modesty rather than their astute political skills (Queen Elizabeth I – the ‘virgin’ queen).

And is this really the truth? Were women really absent from all historical events of note? Have they done nothing but bear children and support men?

NO WAY, GIRLS! Don’t believe it for a second.

1) Women have been barred from occupations and kept out of power for many hundreds of years. The real low points of female oppression in the UK were the witch burning of the Middle Ages and the Victorian era (Like Mrs Thatcher, our first woman prime minister, our longest serving queen did nothing for other women).
2) This is the most important point: MEN WROTE THE HISTORY BOOKS. Never forget that one. They and only they were allowed to be scholars, so they focused on the parts of history that appealed to them. Wars. Men. Kings. Wars. More Men. There might have been a virgin queen or two.
3) If women do defy convention and society’s rules and do something of note (and many did) IGNORE THEM! Pretend it didn’t happen, attribute the discovery or invention to someone else, question their morality or belittle them! Or best of all - blame them for everything men did wrong!
That keeps that pesky minority (AHEM - HALF THE HUMAN RACE!) out of history! The same strategy is applied to people of colour and others too, of course.

And this, my friends, is why I write historical fiction about girls in history. Strong girls who won’t be told who to be and do what they want to do. Girls who joust, rob, smuggle, study mathematics, travel, doctor and solve feuds rather than causing them. I’d like to write about one of the many women who made fabulous discoveries in science or maths but never get mentioned. I’d like to write about the women who pioneered acting on the stage instead of the boys playing the women’s roles. One day I will. I’m in the business of redressing the balance.

So when boys at schools ask me “Are you going to write a book for boys soon?” My answer is a big, fat, unapologetic NO!

Try reading about a few girls, lads. They are actually pretty awesome. 

Friday, 22 November 2013

Mini-Reviews: Eleanor and Park, Heartbeat, Witchstruck

*Because of my huge absence from the world of blogging, I'm desperately trying to catch up on reviews of the books I read while I was away*

Eleanor and Park - Rainbow Rowell

Synopsis: Eleanor is the new girl, the one with a disturbing family life, mismatched clothes and bright red hair. She sticks out without trying.
Park is the boy who sits at the back of the bus, absorbed in his music and a comic book. He thinks he can make himself invisible to those around him. But not to Eleanor. Slowly, the pair fall for each other through mix tapes and comics. They fall in love for the first time - when you feel if you have nothing and everything to lose.

Review: So I read this book because of what everyone else had been saying about it. Then, my best friend, Emma, read it and said it was just so, so good. AND then I knew it was time for me try this. I mean, this looked and sounded like a book I would love.
So I started reading it. And thought it was a bit...just not all that I guess. I was sitting there, wondering about the hype and thinking that maybe I shouldn't have bought this book, maybe I should have not followed the hype, wondering if I should put it down because Park was getting a little bit boring and there was Sarah Dessen's shiny new book on my bookshelf and-
Then, it hit me suddenly that I was actually utterly enjoying and loving every single word of this novel.
This book is unique in, oh, so many different ways. There's the characters of Eleanor and Park to start with, who connect so beautifully with one another but particularly, with a reader. As a teenager, they were echoing the things I had thought for years - the typical teenage angst, the mix of confusion and fear, the feeling that everyone judges you for every word you utter. These are unique, authentic and just charming characters that makes book lovers like myself remember why they love books to much. The narrative runs throughout as the reader tracks their relationship from alternative perspectives. The ending isn't perfect (another thing I loved) but let's face it, life isn't perfect anyway. Rainbow Rowell is one author to look out for!

I give it a 5 out of 5

Heartbeat - Elizabeth Scott

Synopsis: Emma would love to talk to her mother and tell her about her slipping grades, her anger at her stepfather, tell her she was right about her ex. But she can't. Her mother is brain-dead being kept alive by machines to deliver the baby growing inside of her. Emma hardly talks to her father, her only social connection is her friend Olivia. That is until she meets Caleb, a guy who knows exactly how she is feeling - more than anyone else. Emma believes there is no hope for her now, but perhaps she is wrong.

Review: Hm. I'm not sure how I feel about this one. In fairness, when I read this one, I was moving into university and going to bed at like 2am every day so this took a while to read...But I still don't think it was a brilliant book.
I've read a mixture of good and bad reviews for this one so I guess it's not JUST me. Elizabeth Scott was an author I always wanted to give a go, especially with many people saying she was similar to Sarah Dessen and we all know how much I like her books...
So when I finally had the opportunity to read something of hers, I was expecting great things...and this wasn't great.
I thought it was a good concept, I mean, it's a rare thing to happen but it's interesting to see the different character's reactions. I think there are two things that ruined it for me. Firstly, I hated Emma so much. She was so whiny, so negative and just plain boring at times. There is a lack of speech in this book which I think works negatively for the narrative. I just got bored of her narration going on and on. The second thing is that the romance between Emma and Caleb seemed so false and unrealistic, it was just too cliched, too awkward, too cringey. I just wasn't a fan.
I know Clover from Fluttering Butterflies LOVED this book, so maybe this is Marmite type of book - you either love it or hate it. But this book definitely wasn't for me. I liked the focus on family a lot, but there was too much I found negative to truly appreciate it. Sorry...

I give it a 3 out of 5

Witchstruck - Victoria Lamb

Synopsis: Meg bears a dangerous and powerful gift - she is a witch, which in 1554 England and in service to the banished Tudor princess, Elizabeth, it could never be more dangerous for her to practice her art. Entrapped in an old palace, there are suspicious eyes everywhere which, with one wrong move, could end both Meg's and Elizabeth's life. She cannot trust anyone. However, when everything turns against Meg, she must find someone to trust.

Review: I love history. I always have. Since specialising in Tudor history for my A-level History course, I've had a certain love for anything Tudor. I cringed a little bit when I read the blurb. I've never been much of a fan of paranormal stuff in literature, but I do love historical fiction and what girl doesn't like a dash of romance?
I thought this book would be ridden with moments where I was wincing at moments of cliches. But thankfully not.
I actually really enjoyed this book! The plot wove in the dangerous feelings of the time under Mary Tudor especially for those like Elizabeth and Meg. A lot of Tudor novels focus on the political intrigues and battles at court so it's refreshing to see a book which veers away from that and looks at the feeling outside of London and focuses on the adventures of Meg rather than the manipulation behind it all.
The characters are all unique particularly Meg and the male protagonist, Alejandro. The relationship between these two that progresses throughout the novel was one of the best parts and written in a way that a reader can believe, it is a relationship that reflects the time.
This books stands out to me out of all the historical novels I have read, particularly those aimed at Young Adults. It is refreshing to see a book that is not too cliche or samey to all the other historical novels out there, especially those set in the Tudor period. I really, really enjoyed this book, despite my reservations and I'm quite looking forward to finding out what happens next for Meg.

I give it a 5 out of 5

Sunday, 10 November 2013

On My Bookshelf (43)

This meme for originally inspired by 'In My Mailbox' created by The Story Siren
Other versions are:
Letterbox Love created by Narratively Speaking
Stacking the Shelves created by Tynga's reviews
Showcase Sunday created by Books, Biscuits and Tea

Since my little holiday from blogging as I settle in at university, I've bought QUITE a lot of books without realising. My flatmates have already worked out I'm a book lover, so much so that I've been asked for book recommendations by them. I also got a job at Waterstones here in Bournemouth so having my staff discount again is's amazing.
I've also discovered a massive library here that has a huge fiction section with a lot of books I didn't see in my local libraries at home.


- Debutantes In Love by Cora Harrison - I've always loved historical fiction especially those set in the early 20th Century (which is why Downton Abbey is like the BEST show - although this series hasn't been fantastic). This is the second book in the Debutantes series by Cora Harrison. The first book has an air of finality for me, so I'm interested to see what happens next in this book for the Derrington sisters. Also, if you remember what happened in the first book, PLEASE let me know!

- Gilt by Katherine Longshore - Ah, the Tudors. I'm starting to realise that I love the Tudors a little bit too much and know so much about it (my whole A-level History was about the Tudors). I've heard lots of good things about this series around the blogosphere and was so happy to see this in the library. It's due back really soon, so hopefully I can renew it...


- How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff - This was an author I normally tend to avoid. Mainly, that's because I read What I Was by this author and really disliked it. My friend read Just In Case too and didn't like it either. However, with the upcoming film release that looked SO GOOD, I thought I should give this book a try especially as I've seen a lot of positive reviews around. I found this little bargain in a charity shop for 50p with the traditional Penguin Books cover which I prefer to the original cover. 

- This Song Will Save Your Live by Leila Sales - There are many reasons why this is on my bookshelf. 1) It's being made into a movie with Keira Knightley in, 2) The blurb sounds so good, 3) The amount of rave reviews I've seen by some of my favourite book bloggers is ridiculous, and 4) I was kind of taken by the cover. I have a feeling this is going to be a bit like Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist...

- Let It Snow by Maureen Johnson, John Green and Lauren Myracle - Finally this is published in the UK! It includes two of my FAVOURITE authors - Maureen Johnson and John Green. I'm also reading this for EmmaIsWriting's Christmas Month. 

- Allegiant by Veronica Roth - Do I need to say more? I attended a signing with Veronica Roth in London (OH MY, SO GOOD. More on that later in the week) and got it signed. With the feedback I've seen on the blogosphere and Twitter, this is going to be an interesting read...

- Champion by Marie Lu - After the crazy ending to the second book in this amazing series, Prodigy, I have literally no idea what will happen in the final book. This is a series I actually really, really love and wish it had so much more recognition. If you haven't read it, I would completely and utterly recommend it!

Reviews by these authors: 

Have you read any of these books? What did you think? What books did you get this week? Let me know in the comments below!