Hey everyone! So my stop on this FFBC tour is a little different to my usual hosting of them – as The Exact Opposite of Okay was published in the UK last year I’ve actually already reviewed it before (check it out here if you’re interested) but I had to be involved when I saw the sign-up email because I loved it so much and I’m super happy it’s getting published in the US!
Side note, I’ll be getting the hardcover to add to my signed collection for YALC.
Title: The Exact Opposite of Okay
Series: Izzy O’Neill #1
Author: Laura Steven
Release Date: 11th June 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Feminism
Book Links: Goodreads — Amazon — Book Depository — Kobo — Google Books
‘Bitingly funny and shockingly relevant, The Exact Opposite of Okay is a bold, brave, and necessary read for fans of Louise O’Neill and Jennifer Mathieu.
Eighteen-year-old Izzy O’Neill knows exactly who she is—a loyal friend, an aspiring comedian, and a person who believes that milk shakes and Reese’s peanut butter cups are major food groups. But after she’s caught in a compromising position with the son of a politician, it seems like everyone around her is eager to give her a new label: slut.
Izzy is certain that the whole thing will blow over and she can get back to worrying about how she doesn’t reciprocate her best friend Danny’s feelings for her and wondering how she is ever going to find a way out of their small town. Only it doesn’t.
And while she’s used to laughing her way out of any situation, as she finds herself first the center of high school gossip and then in the middle of a national scandal, it’s hard even for her to find humor in the situation.
Izzy may be determined not to let anyone else define who she is, but that proves easier said than done when it seems like everyone has something to say about her.’
Interested by the synopsis? Check out an excerpt of this awesome book here!
FFBC Blog Tour Schedule
Check out all of these awesome blogs below for lots of content on The Exact Opposite of Okay!
Laura Steven is an author, journalist and screenwriter from the northernmost town in England. The Exact Opposite of Okay, her YA debut, was published by Egmont in the UK in March 2018. The sequel, A Girl Called Shameless, followed in the UK in 2019.
As well as mentoring aspiring authors through schemes like Pitch Wars, Laura works for Mslexia, a non-profit organisation supporting women writers.
She graduated with Distinction from her MA in Creative Writing in 2017, and her TV pilot Clickbait – a mockumentary about journalists at a viral news agency – was a finalist in British Comedy’s 2016 Sitcom Mission.
Laura is represented by Suzie Townsend of New Leaf Literary and Media Inc.
May’s Illumicrate was an awesome sci-fi filled box with items inspired by The Illuminae Files, Red Rising, The Lunar Chronicles and Aurora Rising (this month’s book, as announced in their theme reveal the previous month!).
Check out all of the items below!
Just in case you’ve been living under a rock, Aurora Rising was recently released by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff and I LOVED IT. You can check out my review for the book here but I’m just super in love with this special edition with a colour-changed cover and matching sprayed edges (from purple to pink).
This cooler bag is designed by @po_jainter and inspired by The Lunar Chronicles, featuring character art of the women from the series.
I love this pillowcase! It’s double-sided and both are inspired by The Illuminae Files, with the illustration by @alice_duke and quote from @chattynora. I still need to read this series but having read Aurora Rising it is super high up up on my TBR list!
This luggage tag is inspired by Red Rising and designed by @fableandblack, I haven’t read the series and I’m not sure if I would this seems super high quality anyway, and I’m sure Red Rising fans will love it!
Hello yes I’m obsessed with Aurora Rising so I love this pouch for (sun)glasses/your phone/whatever you want to use it for. Personally I’ll be keeping mine with my copies of the book though because I’m just happy to have some AR merch! It’s designed by @iparwing and super cute!
Designed by @fableandblack, these space sticky notes are so cute! My only issue is they’re so adorable that I don’t know if I’d be able to ruin them by writing on them.
Two samplers were also included in the box, one for The Furies and one for Emily Eternal. I have a copy of the The Furies so I was already excited about that, but it’ll be nice to check out Emily Eternal too!
Designed by @pinapali and inspired by the three main centres of power in Three Dark Crowns, a full set of these were included in last month’s box but this one had a small typo. I’m really impressed that Illumicrate managed to get a fixed print out so quickly!
Again from @monolimeart, this month’s magnetic coin features art of Kady from The Illuminae Files. It’s another gorgeous piece!
So last month’s favourite box just got knocked out of the park by this month’s box. In part due to my present sci-fi obsession but nevertheless this box was… out of this world.*
*I had to, I’m so so sorry.
June’s Box – Book Lovers
From Illumicrate themselves:
‘The theme for June is FOR BOOK LOVERS! Yes, that’s our tagline. We’ve been wanting to do a celebratory book lover box for ages, and we are so excited to get the chance to bring you one. And since this is a book lovers’ box, we will be including not just one, but TWO books!
Our first book is a beautiful story about the complexity of modern teenage life, with wonderfully realistic, flawed characters you will love. It’s a book about family, unexpected love, and fighting for what’s right. This hardback will have exclusive sprayed edges and come with a signed bookplate.
Our second book follows two teens born on the same day, both of whom have difficult choices ahead of them. Beautifully and heart-wrenchingly written, this is an unconventional love story, 18 years in the making. This paperback will have stunning rainbow sprayed edges and come with a signed bookplate.
All the items in the box are useful items perfect for any book lover. Nothing will be fandom specific; it will only include gorgeously designed, practical things that all book lovers need in their lives. We’re thrilled to reveal the first item will be the first in a set of two metal bookends (the second one will be in our July box), designed by the talented @fableandblack. We love it so much and can’t wait for you to receive it!’
I’m not a major contemporary fan unless there are a lot of nerdy references (like characters playing MMORPGs, going to cons etc) but this box does sound pretty exciting regardless!
Last year I read Geekerella and absolutely fell in love with the book, it was one of my favourite reads of the year. When I found out a couple of weeks ago that Ashley is signing in Manchester this Wednesday (*internally screams with excitement*) I knew I had to see where the series had gone with the second book in the instalment (I’d actually just picked up the paperback the weekend before I found out too, but I got the hardcover anyway too because… signed hardcovers).
As with Geekerella, this was another absolutely adorable story. I really hope we get a third book in the series soon, so I can happy cry some more.
Read on for my full review.
Title: The Princess and the Fangirl
Series: Once Upon a Con #2
Author: Ashley Poston
Publisher: Quirk Books
Release Date: 2nd April 2019
Source: Hardcover and paperback both purchased
‘The Prince and the Pauper gets a modern makeover in this adorable, witty, and heartwarming young adult novel set in the Geekerella universe by national bestselling author Ashley Poston.
Imogen Lovelace is an ordinary fangirl on an impossible mission: save her favorite character, Princess Amara, from being killed off from her favorite franchise, Starfield. The problem is, Jessica Stone—the actress who plays Princess Amara—wants nothing more than to leave the intense scrutiny of the fandom behind. If this year’s ExcelsiCon isn’t her last, she’ll consider her career derailed.
When a case of mistaken identity throws look-a-likes Imogen and Jess together, they quickly become enemies. But when the script for the Starfield sequel leaks, and all signs point to Jess, she and Imogen must trade places to find the person responsible. That’s easier said than done when the girls step into each other’s shoes and discover new romantic possibilities, as well as the other side of intense fandom. As these “princesses” race to find the script-leaker, they must rescue themselves from their own expectations, and redefine what it means to live happily ever after.’
My review from Geekerella ended with this…
‘So yeah, I adored this book. But I do want to warn people… make sure you have tissues nearby, you’re about 80% likely to cry because at times this is heart wrenching to read but mostly you’ll be smiling with happy tears falling down your face. It’s definitely something I’d happily read again also!’
Basically, this works just as well for its sequel. The Princess and the Fangirl kind of builds upon the first in the series in some ways, with a few returning characters. But it can stand on its own two feet at the same time. From Geekerella, we see Darien and Elle again, along with Sage and Cal, but they’re really more like extras in this story. The main characters are Jessica and Imogen, with Jess being a Hollywood star who portrayed Princess Amara in the Starfield film and Imogen being such a fangirl of Princess Amara that she starts up a #SaveAmara campaign.
As the two look kind of similar, they end up swapping whilst at the Excelsior convention (the whole story is set over the duration of the con) because Jess finds herself in a little bit of trouble. Cue the love interests. Imogen can’t help but be attracted to Jess’s best friend, Ethan, whilst Jess finds herself drawn to Imogen’s best friend, Harper. Side note, if you’re looking for a cute, nerdy contemporary series with LGBTQ+ representation – this is a series you need to read.
What I really, really, really loved about this story though is how well Ashley portrays both the main characters. I didn’t super like Jess at first, but I think that’s a part of what makes the story so good. As she opens up to others around her and feels more at ease, it’s kind of like a flower blooming and suddenly you understand her and feel for her. Ashley does a really brilliant job of showing the dark side of fame too, why Jess hates Starfield so much. What’s really great about this in terms of progression is that Imogen immediately gets swept up in thinking it’ll be the best thing ever to impersonate Jess for a couple of days, until she starts to understand the dark side too.
Jess, on the other hand, starts to seriously love not being in the limelight. There are times when she’s just super happy to not be seen and some of my favourite parts to read were the ones where she starts to show her true self to Harper.
Supporting characters are equally awesome though, particularly Imogen’s little brother and his boyfriend. They’re adorable throughout and her brother’s love for her is particularly endearing. I wish we’d seen more of their mothers though, basically quirky figurine sellers and just, they seemed awesome from what was in the book.
I’d really kill for this series to be a Netflix show, alongside Starfield itself! I love the sci-fi world that Ashley has created and from what I’ve read in Geekerella and The Princess and the Fangirl I’d totally love to watch Starfield.
Look to the Stars. Aim. Ignite.
In the UK? Order this book from Book Depository for free delivery!
About the Author
Ashley Poston is a part-time author and full-time fangirl. She was born in rural South Carolina, where you can see the stars impossibly well…
Sometimes, a book comes along and all your book blogger friends (Amy, Becky, Beth and Lauren in particular) get advanced reading copies and rave about it so much that you just NEED it.
Enter: Aurora Rising.
Now there have been times I’ve been let down by hype, but this was not one of those times. This is one of those times where I love the book so much that both authors have become auto-buys and I need everything by them (I’ve already started this, seriously the run-up hype alone had me going crazy).
Read on for my full review.
Title: Aurora Rising
Series: The Aurora Cycle #1
Author: Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Publisher: Rock the Boat
Release Date: 7th May 2019
Source: Several finished hardcovers purchased. Including the Goldsboro edition. Worth it.
‘The year is 2380, and the graduating cadets of Aurora Academy are being assigned their first missions. Star pupil Tyler Jones is ready to recruit the squad of his dreams, but his own boneheaded heroism sees him stuck with the dregs nobody else in the Academy would touch…
A cocky diplomat with a black belt in sarcasm
A sociopath scientist with a fondness for shooting her bunkmates
A smart-ass techwiz with the galaxy’s biggest chip on his shoulder
An alien warrior with anger management issues
A tomboy pilot who’s totally not into him, in case you were wondering
And Ty’s squad isn’t even his biggest problem—that’d be Aurora Jie-Lin O’Malley, the girl he’s just rescued from interdimensional space. Trapped in cryo-sleep for two centuries, Auri is a girl out of time and out of her depth. But she could be the catalyst that starts a war millions of years in the making, and Tyler’s squad of losers, discipline-cases and misfits might just be the last hope for the entire galaxy.
If you didn’t work it out by my opening little ramble, I adore this book. For someone who’s favourite Marvel film is Guardians of the Galaxy, seeing Amy describe this book as similar in her review had me itching to read it. And really, that’s a damn great way to look at it. The main characters of Aurora Rising comprise a group of total misfits, either by choice or convention, but they’re such a lovable bunch its unreal.
So, characters. Our Squad 312 is made up of the standard six members: Alpha, Face, Ace, Brains, Gearhead and Tank. But we also have an additional member in the squad who is super important to the story – the ‘Girl out of Time’.
Alpha – Tyler
Tyler is basically the top Alpha (essentially squad leader) from the Aurora Academy, so he should have got the best team. However, before the day of picking teams he decides to go flying to clear his head, leading him to the Girl out of Time and making him miss the picking entirely. All isn’t entirely terrible though, he ends up with his twin sister as his Face and their best friend as his Ace, both are highly skilled and wanted by other teams – but they turn them down for Tyler which just goes to show how much they respect him.
Face – Scarlett
As mentioned Scarlett is Tyler’s twin sister, and her role as Face is basically a diplomat. Her role is to talk things out and use her abundant charm in situations. One thing I adored about her though is just how much she cares about everyone, if it was possible to choose one favourite main character (seriously, I love them all) then she’d be high up there.
Ace – Cat
Cat is the squad’s Ace, and she’s one of the top pilots to ever be in the Academy. She’s got a straight thinking attitude and says whatever is on her mind but she’s ridiculously loyal to Tyler. She also has a little good luck charm for flying, and I couldn’t help but mentally compare it to Yondu’s good luck items in Guardians of the Galaxy…
Brain – Zila
The Brain, as you might imagine, is head of advising on scientific matters, in addition to being the healer of the squad. Zila is well known in the Academy for being a bit of sociopath – she’ll do whatever she can to test her theories and not care about the harm it could do to others – so naturally Tyler is a little worried about her being around. She’s super pragmatic and only ever speaks if she thinks she can add to something, and I guess in a way I warmed to her a little easier because she reminded me of myself? (Except I’d kill to be as smart as her).
‘But I believe of all the places I have not fit, I fit here a little better.’
Gearhead – Fin
As the Gearhead he’s pretty much like a mechanic and techie, and Fin is one of the two non-human members of the squad. He’s Betraskan and pretty sarcastic, he reminded me a little from Rocket from Guardians of the Galaxy and he’s basically really sweet under his sarcasm.
Tank – Kal
Hot space elf. Basically. (Officially of the Syldrathi race). Think Legolas in space but with Drax’s capacity for understanding emotions. He has some really difficult issues to get through in the story and some pretty bad anger management, which works well as the squad’s Tank as he’s pretty much the muscle. Again though, secretly a sweetie.
The Girl Out Of Time – Aurora
Aurora has been cryogenically frozen for like 200 years, so obviously she’s more than a little bit shook up about everything. Everything’s different to her and you really do feel for her, she’s kind and caring and another sweetie who just so happens to be important for saving the entire galaxy.
The narrative is split into chapters of each of the seven main characters. Here’s the thing – personally I usually dislike multiple points of view because I can find it hard to keep track, but with Aurora Rising I had no trouble because the characters are written so well with distinct personalities that it’s easy to know the perspective. I can’t stress how much that helps with falling in love with all of the characters too, you start to feel like you know them and considering this is only the first book in the series I miss them already.
In terms of the story itself, it’s a whirlwind of action from start to finish and just… The ending kind of broke me in all honesty. I’ve heard that’s a recurring thing from both authors though and it makes me want to read their whole backlog even more. You feel for the characters so much and I just want them to all go off into the sunset happy, I can’t wait for the next instalment in this series. I just need it now.
We the Legion. We the light.
Burning bright against the night.
In the UK? Order this book from Book Depository for free delivery!
Okay so my top series of all time? Probably Caraval. I haven’t read Finale yet because I don’t want it to be over. Ever. But of course recently Stephanie Garber’s final book in the series (Finale, in case you’re unaware) was released and when I found out that one of my favourite book boxes was doing a special edition box I had to get it.
So read on to see the beautiful contents of this box! And if you’re wondering why I went for OwlCrate over FairyLoot… I have three out of four of the UK copies of Finale, and I want the US versions of the series too so it made sense to me? On the plus side, I didn’t get both of them… (It took a lot of willpower though).
Designed by Rose and Adder, this is a gorgeous looking and smelling candle – citrus and sea salt scented.
Deck of Playing Cards
Okay so this has to be the most beautiful deck of playing cards I’ve ever set eyes on, even the box is outrageously gorgeous, and those edges? Golden. The character art on the cards has been designed by a selection of awesome artists, including @nicole.deal.art, @darkandbeautifulart, @morgana0anagrom and @dianadworak, with the box itself designed by the talented @themichellegray.
This is my third book tin now, so I have one for The Cruel Prince, Throne of Glass and Caraval series now, three of my all time faves! I love the design by Stella Bookish Art on this, it’s another beautiful little addition to the box!
Now I’m a huge fan of bath bombs, but I mostly have showers, so I’m super glad this was included! It’s handmade by Leeloo Soap and of course in the shape of a rose, one of the key symbols in Caraval, and I’m 100% using it soon!
I’m a big fan of collecting bookish pillowcases, and this one is stunning. I love how it’s purple too since it’s my favourite colour but it’s just full of great icons from Caraval! This is designed by Catarina Book Designs.
I’ve been swimming in bookish tote bags for the last year and a half thanks to book boxes (and book events) but that doesn’t take away how beautiful this tote is! I love the quote too, to the point where I’m tempted to get it tattooed… But yeah. I love this. It’s designed by Evie Bookish.
…also swimming in art prints, but that’s okay ’cause I adore collecting art prints! These are the gorgeous creations of @meliescribbles, with the left showing Scarlett and Julian and the other Donatella and Legend.
Alchemy and Ink designed this gorgeous enamel pin, and it’s one of three you had a chance of getting! I’m quite happy that I have the Caraval one… but I’ll need the other two. For definite.
No prizes for guessing this book! But this copy was just stunning. I love how the red really stands out and the all of the colours on that black background too, just need the other two US copies now… There was also a letter from Stephanie and a Caraval sticker, and it’s hand-signed!
This box was just completely beautiful but then again I didn’t expect any less from OwlCrate! I love all of the items and the only thing I’d change about the box would be for it to have even more gorgeous items!
Do you subscribe to any book boxes?
If you’d like to get an OwlCrate subscription check out this link!
Okay so I knew this book would be in one of my April book boxes so I basically requested it on Netgalley to see if it would be as good as it sounded.
Did I like it? Yes. Was it the Latin-inspired fantasy full of culture I was expecting… Not really. Still, Nocturna was a pretty fun and interesting read and I’ll probably be checking out others in the series!
Read on for my full review.
Series: A Forgery of Magic #1
Author: Maya Motayne
Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton
Release Date: 2nd May 2019
Source: eARC from publisher on NetGalley (this in no way affects my review which is honest and unbiased)
‘Fates collide and darkness is unleashed in this lush, own-voices Latin-inspired fantasy, perfect for fans of Tomi Adeyemi, Leigh Bardugo and V. E. Schwab.
Magia Para Todos; Magic for all.
To Finnian Voy, magic is two things: a knife to hold under the throat of anyone who crosses her, and a disguise she shrugs on as easily as others pull on cloaks. As a talented faceshifter, it’s been years since Finn has seen her own face, and that’s exactly how she likes it. But when she gets caught by a powerful mobster, she’s forced into an impossible mission: steal a legendary treasure from Castallan’s royal palace or be stripped of her magic forever.
To Prince Alfehr magic is an escape, but one that comes with a price. First in line for the throne after the disappearance of his older brother, Alfie is desperate to find him and bring him home, even if it means dabbling in forbidden magic.
And when Finn and Alfie’s fates collide, they realise magic can be other things too, and the type they accidentally release into the world is something neither expects, or understands.
I waited a while before I wrote this review so I could make sure of how I felt about it. First up, the synopsis had me super excited for this story! The idea of face-shifting alone was intriguing, even without the Latin-inspired elements.
I’m gonna get my one big gripe with this story out of the way with first though – the world didn’t feel all that different? Other than a lot of Spanish phrases it felt like it could have easily been your run-of-the-mill fantasy. But at the same time I can’t exactly penalise the book over that, because I love fantasy regardless of the inspirations behind it. It would have been nice to have a stronger Latin influence over it though.
The story itself is pretty much a light vs. dark, good vs. evil one with a couple of strong characters along the way. The three main ones are Finn (the face-shifter), Alfie (the prince/king-to-be) and Luka (the bff of Alfie). I really liked Finn’s character because she’s quite a morally grey type, and Luka was basically an adorable sweet thing I couldn’t get enough of reading about!
Alfie though… I know they’re teenagers, I get that… but he whinged quite a lot. I love how Motayne portrays him dealing with grief and I think she really handled that side of his character well, but when he royally messes up I just found myself rolling my eyes whenever he insisted on not going to the person who could have helped from the beginning and probably saved a lot of hurt along the way. He basically came across as way too proud to admit his fault and although it gave an interesting story I just found myself really struggling to like him the further along the story got, I wish we saw more of Luka.
I did really like the villain in this story too, he was pretty terrifying but in a built up way where he was given a rich back story that made you hate him all the more. He’s a little too much a particular Marvel villain but then if you liked that villain you’d like this one so it’s not the worst of things!
The ending confused me a little because it’s wrapped up in a way that feels final, but at the same time I’d love to see more of the world so I’m happy to read further books in the series. Overall, this is a pretty strong debut.
…I have a bad habit for requesting books I know I’m gonna get in book boxes so that I know I’ll read them quicker. This is the FairyLoot edition of Nocturna and I adore it! (Featuring beautiful character art of Finn and Alfie).
So I was more than a little bit excited for the sequel to Reign of the Fallen, which was one of my favourite reads from last year. Song of the Dead didn’t disappoint and it was great to see some characters who I really loved returning.
I do love this duology and recommend it if you’re after a fantasy with a great magic system that includes necromancers!
Read on for my full review.
Title: Song of the Dead
Series: Reign of the Fallen #2
Author: Sarah Glenn Marsh
Release Date: 22nd January 2019
‘The Dead must stay buried.
Karthia is nothing like it used to be. The kingdom’s borders are open for the first time in nearly three hundred years, and raising the dead has been outlawed. Odessa is determined to explore the world beyond Karthia’s waters, hoping to heal a heart broken in more ways than she can count. But with Meredy joining the ocean voyage, vanquishing her sorrow will be a difficult task.
Despite the daily reminder of the history they share, Odessa and Meredy are fascinated when their journey takes them to a land where the Dead rule the night and dragons roam the streets. Odessa can’t help being mesmerized by the new magic–and by the girl at her side. But just as she and Meredy are beginning to explore the new world, a terrifying development in Karthia summons them home at once.
Growing political unrest on top of threats from foreign invaders means Odessa and Meredy are thrust back into the lives they tried to leave behind while specters from their past haunt their tenuous relationship. Gathering a force big enough to ward off enemies seems impossible, until one of Queen Valoria’s mages creates a weapon that could make them invincible. As danger continues to mount inside the palace, Odessa fears that without the Dead, even the greatest invention won’t be enough to save their fates.
In this enthralling, heartrending sequel to Reign of the Fallen, Odessa faces the fight of her life as the boundaries between the Dead and the living are challenged in a way more gruesome than ever before.’
Song of the Dead picks up after the events of Reign of the Fallen, with Odessa hoping to find her purpose. Straight away she finds that travelling isn’t exactly all she hoped – necromancy isn’t as revered elsewhere as it had been in Karthia. Fairly quickly though the travelling elements stop and suddenly our crew has to return to Karthia because Valoria needs them.
We’re also introduced quickly to two new characters, Azelie and Nipper. Azelie is sweet, lovely and caring but Nipper… Nipper is a gorgeous purple DRAGON baby. If you don’t know, I love dragons. So this introduction by itself makes me adore Song of the Dead.
Sarah revives some storylines from the first, most potently that of Odessa and Meredy’s blossoming love for each other. Pretty soon they become girlfriends and it’s a pretty cute relationship from the get-go, especially as Meredy’s Lysander and Odessa’s Nipper become the best of pals.
But it’s not all sweetness and cuteness, much like the first book there are underlying issues not only with dangerous characters but the tough topic of grief, though the focus is largely on Meredy’s grief this time round. There were a couple of delicious twists I didn’t see coming towards the end also, which is forever a bonus with me!
My only slight issue with the book was pacing at some points. It was more so at the end where things just felt a little bit rushed and there were a lot of revelations at once. But, all-in-all, I really liked this duology. And the pacing thing was probably just an issue because I wish it could have been longer. The magic system had me enticed from the beginning and the majority of the characters were impossible to dislike. Also, Nipper. Nipper is the best.
…I made myself a little Nipper because she’s the cutest.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sarah Glenn Marsh writes young adult novels and children’s picture books. An avid fantasy reader from the day her dad handed her a copy of The Hobbit and promised it would change her life, she’s been making up words and worlds ever since.
When she’s not writing, Sarah enjoys watercolor painting, ghost hunting, and pursuits of the nerd variety, from video games to tabletop adventures. She’s never met an animal or a doughnut she didn’t like.
Sarah lives in Richmond, Virginia with her husband and their tiny zoo of four rescued greyhounds, three birds, and many fish. She is the author of Fear the Drowning Deep, the Reign of the Fallen duology, and several picture books.