Tuesday, May 23, 2017

A Note From Becca





My thoughts and Prayers are with the victims of the Manchester attacks and those happening in Marawi and across other parts of our World. Pretty Little Memoirs is a place that you may come to talk about anything, so please do let me know if you need anything or just a person to talk to. 

Rest In Peace to the victims of these terrible attacks.

Love,
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Friday, May 12, 2017

Book Review: "The Names They Gave Us" by Emery Lord





Title: The Names They Gave Us 
Author: Emery Lord
Published: June 1st, 2017
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children's Books
Find the Author: Goodreads 

I received this book for review on my blog! As always, my reviews are fair and unbiased.

From acclaimed author Emery Lord comes a vibrant, compelling story of love, loss, faith, and friendship.
Lucy Hansson was ready for a perfect summer with her boyfriend, working at her childhood Bible camp on the lake. But when her mom’s cancer reappears, Lucy falters—in faith, in love, and in her ability to cope. When her boyfriend “pauses” their relationship and her summer job switches to a different camp—one for troubled kids—Lucy isn’t sure how much more she can handle. Attempting to accept a new normal, Lucy slowly regains footing among her vibrant, diverse coworkers, Sundays with her mom, and a crush on a fellow counselor. But when long-hidden family secrets emerge, can Lucy set aside her problems and discover what grace really means?
Emotionally-charged and unforgettable, Emery Lord’s storytelling shines with the promise of new love and true friendship, even in the face of life’s biggest challenges.

First Thoughts
When this arrived, I can quite easily say I FLIPPED and hugged it. Everyone who reads PLM knows how much I adore YA, but more importantly, when Emery contributes to it with her amazing characters and flawless world-building. The premise for The Names They Gave Us sounds like it's going to make me smile/cry/repeat and it went to the top of my TBR so fast.

Review
I have never started a review with my rating for it (not that I can ever remember going back to 2012 when I started my blog) but right here? We have the biggest FIVE star book I've read this year, hands down, swear on all my bookshelves. I was expecting greatness (it's an Emery Lord book, obviously) but this is just some kind of magic. Let me tell you why: Lucy is just like us. What I'm trying to say is that she feels real, like she's my best friend or someone I went to school with. I felt for her with personal empathy for the things she was going through with her Mother's cancer, and for the unwinding spiral of her life as she tried to maintain some kind of control over it.
The Names They Gave Us isn't all about cancer, despite Lucy's story being intertwined with it, or about Religion despite Lucy being a firm believer in God. In fact, because of Lucy's Mom being sick, she decides that for once, it's okay to not follow the lines of her religious beliefs and to let herself be Lucy; opening herself up to things that she previously wouldn't have done, namely because the Summer Camp job she has switches to a different kind and it makes her sceptical about what this Summer will bring, along with the fact that her boyfriend just paused their relationship (how dare he!). But then, she meets the characters that truly shape this book for the better: a diverse, amazing, beautiful array of people that as secondary characters, light up the pages with their own radiant spotlight. 
I just CAN'T explain how much this book affected me. It's heartbreaking, raw, true and beautifully messy and I thoroughly loved Lucy's strikingly honest POV and how much she trusted her faith. Overall, The Names They Gave Us is a YA Book unlike any other (I know, it's a cliche to say that, but it's so, so true) and Emery has truly outdone herself with her latest novel! I'm always amazed at how much her writing can make me laugh and cry at the same time at these characters that you just want to hug and be friends with. This can't get a higher five stars from me.


Rating


Have you read The Names They Gave Us?

What did you think?

Let me know in the comments or at @LittleMemoirs on twitter! 

happy reading!
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Thursday, May 11, 2017

Book Review: Girlhood by Cat Clarke (+ Q&A with Cat!)





Title: Girlhood 
Author: Emma Wunsch
Published: May 4th, 2017
Publisher: Quercus
Find the Author: Goodreads 

I received this book for review on my blog! As always, my reviews are fair and unbiased.

Real, compulsive and intense: Cat Clarke is the queen of emotional suspense. For fans of Paula Hawkins, Gillian Flynn, Megan Abbott and Jandy Nelson.

Harper has tried to forget the past and fit in at expensive boarding school Duncraggan Academy. Her new group of friends are tight; the kind of girls who Harper knows have her back. But Harper can't escape the guilt of her twin sister's Jenna's death, and her own part in it - and she knows no one else will ever really understand.

But new girl Kirsty seems to get Harper in ways she never expected. She has lost a sister too. Harper finally feels secure. She finally feels...loved. As if she can grow beyond the person she was when Jenna died.

Then Kirsty's behaviour becomes more erratic. Why is her life a perfect mirror of Harper's? And why is she so obsessed with Harper's lost sister? Soon, Harper's closeness with Kirsty begins to threaten her other relationships, and her own sense of identity.

How can Harper get back to the person she wants to be, and to the girls who mean the most to her?

A darkly compulsive story about love, death, and growing up under the shadow of grief.

First Thoughts
Cat Clarke + Boarding School + Female Friendships = instant magic?!

My Review
There has always been something enticing and captivating about a boarding school book in YA. Girlhood stands out with it's deep pink cover and chilling tagline: sugar and spice and scars for life. I was instantly drawn to the main character, Harper, who's personality is tinged with the remnants of her sisters death hanging on her shoulders - because her sister Jenna who died, was her twin, and ultimately when twins are separated by such tragic circumstances, it's unbelievably painful. But Harper has these friends; idyllic, lively and bursting with the kind of support that you'd kill for, and they have shaped the person she's become at the Duncraggan Academy. 
New girl Kirsty is like a magnet to Harper. They share a painful similarity, because Kirsty has also lost a sister. They click and find an unspoken connection and for the first time in a very long time, Harper feels like she's coming out of her shell and crawling back to the person she used to be. 
But then Kirsty suddenly changes, and it's getting under Harper's skin in the ways that Kirsty has become obsessive over Jenna - Harper's twin - and faster than she can contemplate, Harper is at risk of losing the people she cares about the most. She knows that the answer to finding out the truth is to climb out of the depressive cloud hanging over her head and find herself again through the mayhem. 
WOW. Just wow. Have you ever read a book and then just sat there and thought "how do I go on from here?". Girlhood is this book. I couldn't read anything for a day after, still enraptured by the story, the painful truth and compulsively addictive characters. Girlhood is a lighthouse in the darkness; bold and enthralling. The elements that I loved were the lack of romance (because it focused on more important things), but the implement of sexuality in Harper's case of being bisexual, and I think that Cat wrote this so honestly. Rowan was one of my favourite characters by far (you'll know why when you read Girlhood) and I loved the friendship that bonded the girls together - it's a breath of fresh air to see such a female driven friendship group in YA. 
Overall, Girlhood is a must-read, must-have and must-re-read over and over again. If you haven't got it in your hands, you're truly missing out on one of the best books of the year! I don't say it very often, but I wish I could give this six stars, or seven, or eight. A true epic read!

Rating


Q&A with CAT CLARKE! 

It was one of the best days when I found out I could interview the Cat Clarke! She's such a staple amazing YA author and having her on my blog is a dream come true. A huge thank you to Nina for arranging this (you're a star!)

Harper sounds like such a fascinatingly complex character. What inspired her personality?

I wanted to write about a girl struggling to cope with grief, but just about managing to keep her head above water, with the help of her friends. Alhough there’s no romance in the plot, Harper is bisexual, and her best friend, Rowan, is a lesbian. I wanted to create a group of friends who weren’t all straight. On the surface of things, the four friends in Girlhood couldn’t be more different, but that’s partly what makes their bond so strong.
I also wanted Harper to feel uncertain and anxious about leaving school. She’s in her final year, and everyone else seems to have their whole future figured out, whereas she doesn’t have a clue what she wants to do. I think that’s something a lot of people can relate to – I certainly can!

What's your favourite thing about Girlhood in the sense of female friendships in YA? 

I especially love the moments of kindness and forgiveness between the girls. It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside 🙂 Friendship is one of my favourite things to read about in any book. 

What inspires you the most when writing? 

Oh that’s a tough one. I’m inspired by news stories (not so much right now though, with the world being pretty much on fire!). Music inspires me a lot, as do books and films. Inspiration can come from anywhere – it’s about paying attention, and being open to it at all times.

And finally, do you have any plans for future (surely amazing) books? 

I’m in the middle of writing my next YA, which should be out next year. And I’m also working on some non-fiction projects, and a top-secret project that I’m having a lot of fun with. I want to keep challenging myself with my writing, and hopefully keep enjoying the process.


Want to listen to an empowered GIRL POWER playlist? I created this playlist on Spotify for all my Pretty Little Memoirs readers! Enjoy listening to these girl anthems! 




Have you read Girlhood?

What did you think?

Let me know in the comments or at @LittleMemoirs on twitter, and use the hashtag #readGirlhood to join in!

happy reading!
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Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Book Review: "The Movie Version" by Emma Wunsch


Title: The Movie Version 
Author: Emma Wunsch
Published: October 11th, 2016
Publisher: Amulet Books
Find the Author: Goodreads 

I received this book for review on my blog! As always, my reviews are fair and unbiased.

A whip-smart, heart-wrenching debut YA novel about first love, first loss, and filmmaking that will delight fans of Jandy Nelson and Jennifer Niven

In the movie version of Amelia’s life, the roles have always been clear. Her older brother, Toby: definitely the Star. As popular with the stoners as he is with the cheerleaders, Toby is someone you’d pay ten bucks to watch sweep Battle of the Bands and build a “beach party” in the bathroom. As for Amelia? She’s Toby Anderson’s Younger Sister. She’s perfectly happy to watch Toby’s hijinks from the sidelines, when she’s not engrossed in one of her elaborately themed Netflix movie marathons.           
 
But recently Toby’s been acting in a very non-movie-version way. He’s stopped hanging out with his horde of friends and started obsessively journaling and disappearing for days at a time. Amelia doesn’t know what’s happened to her awesome older brother, or who this strange actor is that’s taken his place. And there’s someone else pulling at her attention: a smart, cute new boyfriend who wants to know the real Amelia—not Toby’s Sidekick. Amelia feels adrift without her star, but to best help Toby—and herself—it might be time to cast a new role: Amelia Anderson, leading lady.

First Thoughts
This has been on my shelf for so long and I'm not sure why I haven't read it yet. Maybe because of the huge stack of ARC's that I'm slowly, but surely getting through, but either way this book just spoke to me. So I decided to dig in and see what it's all about! 


Review
I'm always for a YA Book in the Springtime (and almost Summer!) so The Movie Version sounded like a breath of fresh air. The book starts with Amelia, our heroine, coming home from a while away over the Summer. It's more than obvious that Amelia is a strikingly honest character from the get-go. She knows in the Movie Version of her life, her brother Toby is the shining star. He's everything that she's not; popular and ever-so-charming. He's not obnoxious, either, because of his popularity with everyone - he's a genuinely nice guy and Amelia can't help but feel shifted from the spotlight. 
But suddenly, her bubbly brother turns into a shell of himself, changing into someone she no longer recognises as the Movie Version Toby. He's not hanging out with the same people or acting the same way, and Amelia can't help but try to uncover the reasons why he's not himself, leading her to the chilling conclusion of Toby's real feelings going on inside his mind. 
Honestly? This book just blew my expectations out of the water with the raw honesty of the mental illness topics that it covered in a very educated manner. Amelia treads carefully, knowing not much about mental illnesses, so at first she's very confused by it, not knowing the correct way to talk or let alone deal with it. But the more that she listens to Toby, she turns a leaf, learning and understanding what it truly means to suffer from a mental illness. Despite some of the topics surrounding Amelia not knowing what to say and in parts, maybe coming across a little naive to the situation, I think Emma Wunsch is definitely an Author to watch.
Overall, The Movie Version was a hopeful, emotional and downright honest YA book that deals with subjects that so many people are afraid to speak up about. No one should ever be ashamed of Mental Illness, whether it's anxiety, OCD, depression or anything. As someone who has dealt with these topics personally, I think Emma has completely handled them with delicate and beautiful outcomes. The Movie Version is a four-star read - and a must read. 

Rating 

Have you read The Movie Version?

What did you think?

Let me know in the comments or on twitter @LittleMemoirs!

happy reading!
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Saturday, April 29, 2017

Blog Tour & Book Review: "Sleeper" by J.D. Fennell





Title: Sleeper
Author: J.D. Fennell
Published: April 28th, 2017
Publisher: The Dome Press
Find the Author: Goodreads 

I received this book for review on my blog! As always, my reviews are fair and unbiased.


Sixteen-year-old Will Starling is pulled from the sea with no memory of his past. In his blazer is a strange notebook with a bullet lodged inside: a bullet meant for him. As London prepares for the Blitz, Will soon finds himself pursued by vicious agents and a ruthless killer known as the Pastor. All of them want Will's notebook and will do anything to get it. 
As Will's memory starts to return, he realises he is no ordinary sixteen-year old. He has skills that make him a match for any assassin. But there is something else. At his core is a deep-rooted rage that he cannot explain. Where is his family and why has no one reported him missing?Fighting for survival with the help of Mi5 agent-in-training, Anna Wilder, Will follows leads across London in a race against time to find the Stones of Fire before the next air raid makes a direct hit and destroys London forever.

First Thoughts
I love a good thriller as much as the next reader, but when it's a YA Historical/Thriller that sounds like a fast-paced book straight from the movies, Sleeper just got a lot more exciting. I was extremely excited to be asked on the Blog Tour for this awesome book! 

Review 
As soon as I start reading Sleeper, we're delving right into the action. I was intrigued to read such in-depth meets fast paced compulsive reading from a Historical Thriller from the get-go. First we meet Will Starling, our main character. He's intelligent and memorable, and has been training since he was in his early tween years as an agent of VIPER, an organisation that not only had multi-worldwide facilities and connections, but more power than anyone could comprehend. 
It's 1941 when we first meet Will in England. He's been trained for this day, and knows exactly what he had to do: steal a notebook packed with codes among other things, to give to VIPER, commanded to kill anyone that means to stop his mission. But Will is hiding a deadly secret of his own: he's never going to give it to them. He's planning a whole other kind of plan with the information within the pages. But before he can do just that, the chase is on. He ends up battling for his life at sea, only to be rescued with a blank slate of the boy he was. He doesn't know why people are chasing him, who he really is, or why this notebook seems to be the only thing that will help him now.
Just WOW. This book had more turns and twists than I could keep up with. The action was played out comprehensively and effortlessly and I loved that there was a puzzle and mystery within the story lines. Will was an exceptionally memorable character, alike the kind of Mission Impossible and Andy McNab books with white knights and heroes worthwhile of their screen - or book - time. The pace was perfect for the novel and kept me reading until the early hours of the morning, unputdownable. 
Overall, Sleeper is a thrilling and one-of-a-kind novel with an enthralling edge and mystery-driven plot. It had a certain kind of magic that makes a book just work. Even though at times Will's character made choices that perplexed me (this isn't a totally bad thing - surprises are good!) I would still rate this as one of the best books of it's kind in YA. I'm so honoured to have gotten to read this book that I might not have had the chance to if I wasn't on the tour. Completely amazing!

Rating

Guest Post
I got the amazing chance to ask J.D. Fennell a subject to write about for my Blog Tour stop! So, I chose: What YA Characters have stayed with you and why?

This was a difficult call, only because there are so many to choose from. Unless they are villains, we want our YA characters to have drive, depth and courage. Those that spring to mind are Katniss Everdeen, Peeta Mallek, Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, Scout Finch - I could go on.

There are two that really stand out for me; two that made me want to keep returning to their world. They are also, controversially, two young adult characters from adult literature.


Aliena - Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett
Aliena is brought up a lady, the daughter of Earl Bartholomew and sister of Richard, a sulky and lazy boy. When we first meet Aliena, her wit and confidence make her popular with the people of Shiring. On the flipside, these traits alienate her from outsiders, specifically Jack Jackson and the evil William Hamleigh, who consider her rude and spoiled. Aliena is my favourite narrator in a book rich with wonderful characters. She is vocal, confident and brave. Without spoiling the story, life gets pretty awful for Aliena. She goes through hell over and over again, yet she gets back up and carries on every time to protect her brother and fulfil her father’s legacy. A small tear is welling in my eye at the thought of her. She is a 17th century Scarlett O’Hara and what’s not to love about that.


Jon Snow - Game of Thrones
When we first meet Jon Snow in the Game of Thrones novel, he is fourteen years old, the bastard son of Eddard Stark, Lord of Winterfell and Warden of the North. Although highborn, Jon’s bastard status excludes him from both sides of Westeros society. Despite being close to his siblings, he grows up an outsider, included, but not included, in the Stark family life. Early on he is perfectly described, by Theon Greyjoy, “the runt of the litter” - a description (which may be from the TV show only) also applied to his direwolf cub, Ghost. I love all of the Thrones characters, however, Jon’s resilience, his grit, courage, his sense of fairplay and his mystery make him intriguing and have me returning to Westeros every now and again to reread one of his POV chapters. 


What do you think of Sleeper?

Will you be adding it to your TBR?

Let me know what you thought in the comments or on twitter @LittleMemoirs or #SleeperBlogTour 

happy reading!
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Sunday, April 23, 2017

Book Review: "All About Mia" by Lisa Williamson





Title: All About Mia
Author: Lisa Williamson
Published: February 2nd, 2017
Publisher: David Fickling Books
Find the Author: Goodreads 

I received this book for review on my blog! As always, my reviews are fair and unbiased.

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

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


First Thoughts
I first heard about Lisa on the bookish scene when The Art of Being Normal came out and even though it was high on my TBR list, I haven't quite got around to reading it. But when All About Mia arrived on my doorstep, something about it screamed READ ME, BECCA! I know that listening to that inner reader is always super important and even though it took me two months (really, Becca?!) I finally got around to delving into the pages.

Review
Mia Mia Mia. What a character. When I first got into the book, I was worried I might not totally identify with her because she is a middle child and I am the youngest child of my family. But even though we were different in that aspect, I totally loved her character and her presence in the story and identified with her in other ways. Mia sometimes feels like the mess of her family - the one who doesn't have it all together. Her sisters; Grace (older than Mia and oh-so-perfect marks at School, never steps out of line) and Audrey (younger than Mia, destined to be an Olympic swimming genius), are totally different to her. Mia is outspoken and leads her friends into ambitious and creative ideas with carefree thoughts. She's a selfie queen, loves styling hair and is a shining and beautiful mess - but all her teachers and Parents see is the mess part. 
We all know a girl like Mia, or did at school. The girls who are loud and laughing and in your face. Mia should be unlikable, but it's part of those intricate ways of her personality that grows over the course of the book that make us love her. Grace, Mia's older sister, comes home one day with very abrupt news that sends All About Mia into a spiralling-out-of-control picture. It's when Mia finds that it's her time to shine, now that the attention is off her perfect sisters, that the truth about her raw character reveals itself. She isn't the overly confident and wild person we were led to believe, but hiding a host of feelings herself about being left out and unheard. 
If there's any book that did a complete 180' and made me totally question everything while I was reading, it would be this one. At first, I didn't know what to think of Mia, but by the end, I just wanted to tell her that she was going to be okay. This is the kind of book you need. I thoroughly adored the family points, the character development and of course, Mia. 5 stars completely!

Rating 

Have you read All About Mia?

What did you think?

Let me know in the comments or on twitter @LittleMemoirs!

happy reading!
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Monday, April 17, 2017

Goodbye 20, Hello 21! AKA It's My Birthday!

Twenty One.
Another year older, maybe wiser, probably smarter and definitely more together. 
Today is my 21st Birthday. I don't feel that age, but I couldn't tell you what age I do feel, either. Some days I'm seventeen feeling lost, sometimes I'm thirty feeling like I've got everything under control and today, whether I feel it or not, I am twenty one years old. I'm probably getting ready right now, doing my make-up with some elaborate eyelashes and putting on my very springtime themed dress on my way to spending the day in England with my family. I'm writing this, two days before my birthday, completely emerged in the sunlight of the day and listening to my simple music on Spotify. Another year can bring anything, good and bad, but I hope that this new year for me brings some sunshine and sheds a little light on my life. But I have books, my most prized possessions, and my family and friends. 
That's all that I need. 
So, goodbye 20. Hello 21. It's very nice to meet you...

happy birthday me,
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