Thursday, 20 June 2019

Blog Tour- Tulip Taylor

Hello, today is my stop on the Tulip Taylor blog tour! I thought I’d tell you a little about the book and share my thoughts 🙂

Tulip Taylor, make up vlogger extraordinaire has just
one problem, her controlling mother. Tulip is forced
to endorse brands she has never even heard of, and
to make things worse, her mother is planning on
starting her own reality tv show, where Tulip and her
siblings lives will be broadcast on the internet 24/7.
When the new boy at school challenges her to go on a
survival TV show, Tulip agrees. Sure, she’ll make a fool
of herself on national tv, but this might be exactly what
she needs to stop her mum's ridiculous ideas and get
back to her normal life. The problem is Tulip must first
brave the wilderness and actually come out the other
                                                   side alive.

When I saw the cover of this book I didn’t think it would be my thing, but I soon changed my mind when I saw what it was all about! Tulip Taylor is a popular makeup vlogger with thousands of subscribers. However, not all is as it seems, as although she enjoys what she does, her mother is exploiting her for money, forcing her to endorse product after product, and turning her hobby into their main source of income. Tulip’s mother was awful and was constantly trying to profit off her children. Even her five year old twins were put on the internet, and making money through their antics was all she seemed to care about. It makes me uncomfortable when I see parents documenting their child's whole life online. One day they are going to be old enough to realise their parents have been posting everything they do online for the whole world to see. Children can be cruel to each other, and if with a few clicks they can bring up a video of 8 year old Charlie crying his eyes out at age 4 well- I don’t see things going over too well.

Even though Tulip goes through a lot of character development, I actually liked her at the start. Tulip is a popular vlogger, but she’s never cocky and is always kind to her classmates. I loved how she always stood up for herself and didn’t allow people to think she was dumb just because she was a makeup vlogger. Girls can be smart while looking great and Tulip proved that!

There were lots of important themes in this book, but my favourite was the importance of being yourself, and not changing who you are to please others. Harvey’s older brother is constantly telling him he needs to act like him, which results in some pretty funny moments but also makes Tulip think he’s a bit of a dick. Tulip only starts liking Harvey when he stops listening to his brother's bad advice and starts to be himself rather than trying to be his brother. Unlike Harvey, Tulip is herself from the start, and although her peers initially dislike her, she soon shows them she isn’t as dumb as they assumed, and that the internet can actually be a useful source of information. I loved how her teammates eventually warmed up to her and saw there was a method to her madness.

Another theme that I loved was the importance of preserving the environment. Tulip experiences firsthand how plastic washes up on beaches, does her best to help clean it up, and decides to make lifestyle changes such as using less plastic and only using cruelty-free makeup. I loved how experiencing nature and wildlife, and the damage people cause to it made Tulip more conscious about the environment.

Taking a break from social media is something we can all benefit from. Every day we check our timelines to see hate, homophobia, and racism. Although we only follow those who share our ideals, we still see news stories of people doing terrible things, and often see hate targeted at a group of people. Seeing this on a daily basis can negatively affect our mental health, and it’s important for us to step away when it becomes too much. I loved how despite everyone telling Tulip she was obsessed with her phone, she was able to leave it behind and focus on the present. I did, however, feel like it gave a bit of a “phones are evil, the internet is bad” vibe, as when Tulip returned from being on the reality show, she completely ditched her phone seemingly for good. Despite showing how she had learned life-saving skills through researching them online, the end result seems to show Tulip as thinking the internet is bad, as she deletes her vlog channel and her social media accounts. I thought this was a little extreme, and felt there should have been more of a balance between Tulip’s real life and internet life rather than cutting out the internet part completely.

One of the things I loved about the book was how it showed that just because a girl wears makeup doesn’t mean that’s all she cares about. Tulip showed that makeup doesn’t completely define a person, so I was disappointed when after the show, she no longer seemed interested in makeup. Like the internet situation, the end made it seem as if Tulip was now a better person for no longer being interested in makeup. There is nothing wrong with enjoying wearing makeup and being on the internet as long as these things aren’t the only things that define you, so, despite all the other messages that I loved, this seemed to be telling girls that people will think they’re silly and self-absorbed if they wear makeup and take selfies. Wearing makeup and taking pride in how you look doesn’t make you a bad person, and if it makes someone feel more confident about themselves then I say go for it! I think I actually preferred the Tulip we met at the start of the book.

I adored Harvey’s character development and thought his realisation that he should just be himself went perfectly. However, Tulip’s character development seemed to miss the mark, and is the reason why I’m not rating the book five stars. However, I did adore the reality TV part of the book, which was like a more extreme version of I’m a Celeb. Tulip conquered her fears and never backed down from a challenge, and I loved how she soon came to realise she was more capable than she thought. There were some things that were terrifying and I would definitely not have been able to do half of the things Tulip did. Something that I adored was how Harvey didn’t hide his emotions during one of the scarier tasks. Boys are often told they can’t cry or be afraid, but Harvey didn’t try to hide how scared he was despite his brother being the poster child of toxic masculinity. I loved how despite pushing his sons, Harvey’s dad was proud of him for what he’d achieved rather than reprimanding him for showing weakness. I also loved how Tulip and Harvey came to trust each other, and their relationship progressed naturally and at a steady pace.

I overall enjoyed this book and thought it gave some great messages about the environment and not changing who you are to please others. This was a fun and action-packed contemporary that made me want to leave the internet behind for a week and go on an adventure!

Tulip Taylor is now available to purchase!

  | Amazon Book Depository

Saturday, 25 May 2019

Review on Dark Lands #3 The Forgotten

Webb's final battle with The Dark Man is fast approaching, and it isn't looking good. With the help of the Not Where, The Dark Man has created an army of nightmares that the Glorians have no chance against. With The Dark Man once again planning on bringing war and chaos on the living world, the Glorians must find a way to stop him once and for all. However, Webb soon discovers Kane's plan to send Iggy into the Dead Forest, knowing there is little chance of Iggy and his companions surviving. With time running out, Webb has no choice but to go along with a plan that is almost guaranteed to fail.

So here it is, the last book in the series! I've really enjoyed reading this series, and Lyn I Kelly is definitely one of my favourite Indie authors. I've loved going on this adventure with Webb and Sundown, and I'm actually quite sad I won't be reading about these characters anymore.

This book was definitely the darkest in the series (pun unintended!) Webb lost a lot of people he was close to in this book, and it soon became a case of who would survive rather than wondering which character would die. Webb suffered a lot of grief and guilt, turning all of these emotions into pure hatred and anger towards The Dark Man. Webb's anger issues are something I've wondered about throughout the series, so I was happy that it was finally addressed. As The Dark Man feeds off fear and anger, it was important for Webb to rein in these emotions. It was practically like asking Harry to not feel anger towards Voldemort, so letting go of that fear and anger was a huge step for Webb. I loved how once it was clear that no one feared him anymore, The Dark Man lost all his power.

There were plenty of emotions running throughout this book, but the thing that broke me the most was Iggy's back story. We are not told exactly what Iggy's disability is, but we do know that he was born with a disability that made his mother see him as too much work. We learn early in the book that Iggy is terrified of his closet, which we come to learn is because his mother used to lock him in there for hours on end, and eventually killed him. This part of the story was particularly difficult to read, as parents often do abuse their children, and find them undesirable if they have a disability. Although we are never told exactly what happened to Iggy, it is hinted at that he is going to a better place.

I was a little disappointed that Fangus didn't become a more central character. I've found him interesting ever since it was revealed that he was once a Glorian, and even though I correctly predicted that he would go against The Dark Man, he was never developed as a character, and his only role was helping Iggy towards the end of the book. I felt as if Fangus had potential that was sadly wasted. The one other thing I wasn't too keen on was the addition of a God-like figure towards at the end of the book. This seemed a little out of place and unnecessary, and seemed like a lazy way of giving everything a "meaning". Throughout the series, there is no indication that Webb even believes in God, so to me, it felt as if the author was just trying to explain some of the complex storylines through religion, which did little but leave a lot of questions unanswered.

This book was thankfully less confusing than book three and brought up some previously unexplored information about the characters. The most mysterious character was The Willkeeper, a man who records the history of every living thing. I loved that we were given some backstory on The Willkeeper, and learned about his connection to The Dark Man. I loved how although they started out on similar paths, The WIllkeeper was able to right the wrongs he had done, while The Dark Man remained on the path of darkness and chaos.

I still have so many unanswered questions, but I also love when books keep you thinking about the story long after you turn the final page. It gives the reader the opportunity to create their own theories. Honestly, the one downside to Indie's is it's difficult to find other readers to discuss them with! If you do decide to read this series then please come talk to me about it! Aside from a few minor hiccups, I'm impressed with the quality of this series. Indie's tend to get a bad reputation for poor editing, but if I didn't know better I would assume this series had been traditionally published. I highly recommend Dark Lands to all fans of YA fantasy!

Dark Lands: The Forgotten is now available to purchase!

  | Amazon Book Depository

Thursday, 18 April 2019

Review on Unboxed

When Alix was thirteen, she made a promise to her friends that they would meet up in five years to open a time capsule they had made. However, everything Changes when Millie dies. Alix promised Millie they would stick to the plan and open the box without her, but with every item that is removed from the box come memories of Millie, both happy and sad. After years apart, the friends come together to grieve the loss of their friend.

I knew this book would break me the second I learned what it was about, but apparently I enjoy pain and suffering, as I still decided to read it. The book follows Alix, a girl who's friend Millie has recently died. Alix meets up with her three friends who she hasn't seen in years to open the time capsule they had made with Millie. This book was equally heart warming and heart breaking. It's always difficult to lose a close friend or family member, but sometimes it can be worse when you lose someone you haven't spoken to in a while. I think it's rare to stay close to childhood friends, as everyone moves away and starts down a new path. Eventually, you start realising you have nothing in common with that person anymore and lose touch despite still caring about them. This is exactly what happened to Alix, and her school friends, and Millie's death added a layer of guilt to their grief for not staying in touch with her.

Even though this is a short book, the characters were fleshed out and given their own personalities and problems. My favourite subplot was Alix worrying that her friends would find out she was gay. As she hasn't seen them in a while, she has no idea how they will react, and is reluctant to let them know. I loved that she was brave enough to read her letter to them, and that they all reacted positively. No one ever just comes out once, it's something that people in the LGBT community have to do constantly, and it never seems to get any easier. I was happy for Alix that her friends were so accepting and didn't make a big deal out of it.

I have to talk a little about Ash, who has probably made it onto my list of most hated characters. Ash was Zara's boyfriend, and the fifth wheel that no one wanted. He was the most unsympathetic asshole the world has ever known, and instead of dropping Zara off with her friends then leaving, he stuck around and made horrible comments. Even though the time capsule was clearly important to Zara, he was constantly telling her to hurry up so they could leave, and thought it was okay to make fun of their grief, and commented on how Zara had never mentioned Millie to him so she couldn't have liked her that much. I was so happy when Zara finally stuck up for herself and told Ash to leave without her. Ash was completely toxic. Anyone who doesn't support their partner when they're grieving clearly don't deserve them. I loved how even though she hadn't seen them in a while, Zara's friends were the ones who were there to support her, and were the only people who truly understood the grief she felt. Sometimes the only people who can truly understand how you feel are those going through the same thing, and I was glad that they all had each other for emotional support. 

I really enjoyed this book and think it's perfect for anyone new to YA or reading for fun in general. The large font makes it easy on the eyes, and the paper being a pale yellow helps the contrast to be less harsh. As someone who can't read outside in the summer without being blinded by the bright white paper, I think more books should be like this! Non Pratt is quickly becoming one of my favourite authors, and I'm looking forward to reading more of her books in the future!

Monday, 18 March 2019

Review on The Boy in the Dress

Dennis seems like an average boy. He loves playing football with his friends, visiting the local shop to buy sweets, and reading Vogue magazine... Okay maybe that last one isn't as average. Dennis is heartbroken when his father finds his copy of Vogue and throws it out, but everything changes when he meets Lisa, a girl from his school who is an aspiring fashion designer. Dennis is blown away by the dresses Lisa has made, and even tries some of them on. However things take a turn for the worst when Dennis is expelled for wearing a dress to school, and to make matters worse, he isn't allowed to compete in his school's football match, and without Dennis the team has no chance of winning. With the help of his friends, Dennis must convince their headmaster to let him play, and make him see that a boy wearing a dress really isn't a big deal.

I've never actually read a David Walliams book before, but I found this one in the charity shop I volunteer at and just had to buy it! I used to love Little Britain, so I went into the book expecting it to be full of light hearted humor. Even though part of it was what I was expecting, there were also some darker and serious topics that I'll get round to talking about a little later.

The book follows Dennis, a boy who lives with his dad and older brother. Dennis' mother left them, leaving Dennis with nothing but memories of her, and a single photograph he managed to save when his dad burnt all the photos of her. Dennis obviously misses his mum, and it's difficult to not feel some sort of sympathy for him. The book never actually explains why his mum left, but I felt sorry for the boys as they clearly weren't to blame. Even though we don't know the circumstances, I couldn't help but wonder how she could just leave her children like that. If parents go through a divorce, I feel that it's wrong for one of them to completely cut off all contact with their children, as they could end up believing it was their fault.

The thing that I loved the most about this book was that in challenged gender roles, and asked us why can't boys wear dresses? Dennis' interest in women's fashion is frowned upon by the adults, particularly by his dad. Dennis' dad is a typical manly man. He is an overweight truck driver who loves beer and football, and when he finds Dennis' copy of Vogue, he throws it out and tells Dennis it was wrong for him to have it.I've seen dads like Dennis' multiple times, telling their young sons not to play with dolls or tea sets because they are "for girls." I've honestly had to bite my tongue so many times when hearing dads say things like this. Gender roles are ridiculous, and parents should be encouraging their children's hobbies rather than telling boys they can't be interested in fashion, and telling girls they can't be Scientists because only boys are Scientists. Dennis' dad wasn't a bad father, but as he had obviously been brought up believing boys couldn't be interested in typically feminine things, he passed these ideas onto his sons. I loved how Dennis' dad eventually changed his mindset and was proud of his son rather than ashamed.

Despite burning all the photographs of Dennis' mum, Dennis' dad obviously misses her, and suffers from depression because of this. He often tells his sons to leave him alone, and suffers alone rather than admitting he is struggling. Men, in particular, don't get help for their mental health, as society has deemed men who ask for help to be weak. This is such a toxic mindset and results in thousands of men taking their own lives each year. Something that I loved was how Dennis' dad eventually opened up more and wasn't afraid of showing his emotions. Even though he started out being practically the definition of toxic masculinity, he eventually changed to become a great dad to his sons.

There is a stereotype that men who are interested in fashion or dress in drag are gay, so I love how Dennis having a crush on Lisa was mentioned. This book was brilliant at breaking stereotypes, and I loved that this was one of them. I loved the message that everyone should be free to wear whatever they want to despite their gender identity. Even though we have reached a point where women wearing trousers instead of dresses is normal, a man wearing a dress would still turn heads. Masculinity and femininity have no correlation with sexuality, yet people will assume a man wearing a dress is gay, yet a woman wearing a suit is seen as stylish and powerful. Society needs to stop seeing men wanting to be feminine as a negative thing, as gender equality will never be achieved when we see women dressing masculine as a positive thing but men dressing feminine negatively.

I have to quickly mention the illustrations. The book is illustrated by Quentin Blake, who is, of course, best known for illustrating Roald Dahl's books. As I grew up reading Roald Dahl, this gave the book a nostalgic feel to it and almost made it feel like I was rereading an old favourite rather than a book I was reading for the first time. Quentin Blake was the perfect illustrator for this book and did a perfect job of complimenting the story.

I loved this book and its diverse characters, and I feel as if most children would feel the same way! I definitely want to read more David Walliams books in the future!

Saturday, 9 February 2019

Review on To All the Boys I've Loved Before

Lara Jean song has a secret. For every boy she has ever loved, she has written a love letter. Over the years, she has written five letters, all which are hidden in a hatbox her mother gave to her. However, everything changes when the letters get sent out. Lara Jean is horrified when she learns that every boy she has ever loved now knows her secret, and to make matters worse, Lara Jean’s sister just so happens to be the ex-girlfriend of one of the boys. Lara Jean must think of a way to put things back to how they were, but is recruiting the help of bad boy Peter Kavinsky really the right thing to do?

So once again I have only picked up a popular book after it got turned into a movie. Everyone on Twitter has been talking about how good the movie is, and of course me being me, I didn’t want to watch it before reading the book. I think everyone has probably already read this book by this point, but just in case you haven’t, it’s about a girl called Lara Jean who has to deal with the aftermath of the letters she has wrote for all the boys she had ever loved being sent out. I immediately loved Lara Jean, and thought she was a fun and relatable character. I often panic in a stressful situation and do something stupid, so I loved that that was exactly what Lara Jean did when Josh, the boy she currently likes confronted her about the letter. Panicking and kissing Peter Kavinsky was such a funny and cringe-worthy moment, and it was easy to sympathise with Lara Jean throughout the book.

Lara Jean and Peter being in a fake relationship was both funny and cute, and I loved how they slowly started to develop real feelings for each other. It was a really sweet slow burn romance, and although they argued with each other quite a lot, I loved how they couldn’t stay mad at each other for long. It was adorable how they wouldn’t admit to having real feelings for each other, but made it really obvious by how they acted when Peter was with Gen and Lara Jean was with Josh. Two of my favourite romantic tropes are slow burn and mutual pining, so I, of course, loved the romance!

I adored Lara Jean’s relationship with her sisters. Lara Jean is the middle child, and has to deal with her older sister Margot leaving home to go to University, and looking after her younger sister Kitty while her dad works. As Margot is always mature and organised, Lara Jean has a hard time trying to fill her role as the older sister. I loved that Lara Jean eventually realised she didn’t have to do everything exactly the way Margot did, and was even able to get Kitty to help around the house. Lara Jean feels as if she is drifting away from Margot, and thinks that updating her on what is going on in her life is pointless. Sadly when a sibling leaves home, it often can be the case that their relationship suffers because of it, but I loved that this didn’t actually happen between Lara Jean and Margot. Although big changes are happening to both of them, they are still able to be a part of each others lives, and I loved that despite arguing with each other, they obviously loved each other a lot. Something else that I loved was the relationship between Lara Jean and Kitty, as although there was quite a big age gap between them, they got along really well. I loved how funny and confident Kitty was, and how she was always ready to share her opinions.

Something that I loved was that non of the characters were perfect. I’ve seen a few comments online about Peter Kavinsky being perfect, and although I can’t comment on his movie portrayal yet, he was far from perfect in the book. I wasn’t that keen on the typical love triangle trope of the two boys fighting over the girl, but I did love that Peter got jealous, especially when he learnt that Josh had kissed Lara Jean. To me it made him seem more human, as I think most boys would get jealous if the person they liked had a crush on someone else. I also loved that although everyone sees Peter as being a typical jock, Lara Jean soon finds out that isn’t true. I ended up disliking Josh for saying bad things about Peter when he didn’t even know him. Even though Peter is a typical jock around his friends, he is always sweet to Lara Jean and invites her to hang round with him and his friends. I wish there had been more interaction between Lara Jean and Peter’s friends. The one scene where they all hung out together was honestly too pure.

I loved that this was an own voices book, with Lara Jean having a Korean mum and an American dad. There are far too few YA books that have an Asian protagonist, so I’m happy that this book has received so much attention! As Lara Jean’s mum died when her daughters were young, they have missed out on experiencing Korean culture. I loved how Lara Jean’s dad did his best to keep the culture alive, such as doing his best to cook Korean food. Something else that I thought was a great addition was the stereotype that Asian people only ever cosplay anime characters. Even when Lara Jean cosplays Cho Chang for Halloween, people still assume she is an anime character, which is obviously frustrating for her. I felt bad for her feeling as if she could only cosplay Asian characters, as anyone should be able to cosplay a character despite not being the same race as that character. I feel as if there is a bit of a double standard when it comes to cosplay, as no one questions white people cosplaying anime characters, but expect Asian people to only cosplay Asian characters. Even though there have been controversies about people cosplaying characters who are a different race to them, I personally don’t see it as a problem. People cosplay because they love the character, and as long as they aren’t darkening their skin in the process, I feel as if it’s fine for people to cosplay any character they want.

Although contemporary romance isn’t usually my cup of tea, I really enjoyed this book! I’ve already reserved the sequel at the library, and I’m looking forward to watching the movie and reading the rest of the series. I definitely recommend this book to contemporary romance fans, and would even urge people who don’t usually enjoy this genre to give it a go!

Monday, 7 January 2019

Almost Midnight- mini review

As this book is a collection of two short stories, I thought I would give it a mini review! I read both of these stories in one sitting and loved them both. The first story, Midnight, follows Mags, a girl who has to watch her best friend and crush kiss a different girl on New Year's Eve year after year. This story was incredibly sweet and even though it was obvious where the story was heading I still loved it.

The second story, Kindred Spirits was my favourite of the two. It follows Elena, a Star Wars fan who decides to queue up days in advance of the midnight premiere of The Force Awakens. Despite expecting to camp out with a big group of other fans, Elena is disappointed to discover there are only two other people in line. As a Star Wars fan myself I found Elena relatable, and I loved all of the Star Wars references. Elena's mum constantly checking up on her was too relatable, as my mum did exactly the same thing when I queued for hours to get a good spot at a BTS concert. As I also look younger than I really am and love Star Wars, I think I would be good friends with Elena! I loved how even though the experience wasn't what Elena was expecting, she still enjoyed it. I also loved how Elena and Gabe had Star Wars in common despite being part of different social circles.
I loved these stories and recommend this book to anyone who wants a quick and light-hearted festive read!

Saturday, 8 December 2018

Review on The Great Sugar War (The Land Without Color #2)

After learning about how his Grandpa Alvin saved The Kingdom of Color, Brandon is determined to teach his classmates the truth about their history. When he discovers the ruins of the old color factory, he is shocked to find the skeleton of General Droww, and an old book describing the adventures of Brandon's Great Great Grandfather Otto, who had discovered The Land of Color long before Grandpa Alvin. With the help of General Droww and the Mighty Lion, Otto discovers that there may be an outside force propelling the war between The Kingdom of Color and The Kingdom of Shapes, and Otto must do anything to bring peace between the kingdoms once more.

So I decided to read this series for Series Crackdown, a reading event created by my friend Mel (TheBookMoo) where the goal is to read a series you've been putting off for a while in ten days. As I got sent the last two books in The Land Without Color series a while ago, I decided to reread the first book (my review for that one can be found HERE), and then read the other two books.

Instead of focusing on Alvin, this book takes place many years earlier, and follows Alvin's grandfather Otto, who had come across The Kingdom of Color after losing his way at sea. Otto soon finds Colonel Droww, who after having his ship sank, is helplessly lost at sea. Droww recruits Otto to be his assistant in the war between The Kingdom of Color and The Kingdom of Shapes, where the Sugar Soldiers are killing both the soldiers and the grasshoppers of Grasshopper Fields. This book felt different to the first one, as although the writing style was still very much middle grade, the plot itself seemed more serious. Where the first book was full of talking animals and a two headed dragon, this one focused on war and an elaborate plot to rule both kingdoms. I must admit that I did prefer the first book, and felt as if this one was a lot darker in it's themes.

I loved that some of the characters we met in the first book returned, such as Droww and the Mighty Lion. I loved seeing how different Droww was when he was younger, and learning more about things that were briefly mentioned in the first book. Something that I felt was lacking in this book however was strong female characters. Even though female characters were lacking in the first book too, Permy was a huge help to Alvin, and stuck by him the whole way. The only female character in this book was Aunt Nellie, an old lady who seemed to carry everything in her bag. She initially seemed like an interesting character, but sadly ended up doing nothing more than providing the men with items to help them on their quest. I also didn't like how she stayed behind to look after the babies on the last leg of the journey, as it seemed to imply that only men can be the hero's, and women have to stay behind to look after children. I think the book would definitely have benefited from a strong female soldier.

The book tended to drag in places, especially when they were discussing war tactics. I also felt as if the second half of the book could have been planned out better, as I found myself getting confused when characters who had only been briefly mentioned before became central to the plot. New characters were added too close to the end of the book, and I felt as if children could have a hard time keeping up with what was happening. I was also disappointed in the reveal of the main antagonist, as it felt very repetitive from the first book.

Even though I found parts of the book boring, I did love some of the more action packed scenes, particularly the fight against the Sugar Soldiers. I loved that we were told how the grasshopper fields had become the Sugar Desert, and I particularly loved the addition of The Kingdom of Shapes. The book was overall a little too confusing, and seemed to read more like an arc than a finished copy. Even though I know practically nothing about editing, it did have quite a few mistakes for a finished copy, and I think it could have been looked over one more time for grammatical errors and plot inconsistencies. It was an enjoyable book overall, and I am looking forward to reading the final book in the series!

  | Amazon Book Depository