Review: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am officially so bad at this whole ‘actually reviewing a book after I’ve read it’ thing. Life has been busy and getting in the way – I’m moving back home this week and will be reunited with my toppling TBR pile. I’m also really hoping to get into vlogging, which has been something I’ve wanted to do for a while now but has never really materialised.

So, the book, I want to discuss today is a new release, and it’s The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. I read this book a while ago and absolutely loved it, and I’m so glad to see it’s been so successful in the States and am looking forward to it dropping over here in the UK too. I was lucky enough to receive a copy from the publisher (Walker Books UK) back in December and I was so excited – this has been one of, if not the, most anticipated releases of 2017.

The Hate U Give is the story of Starr Carter, a black girl living in a poor neighbourhood, who witnesses the death of her best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. The fallout from Khalil’s death, and the tensions between Starr’s family and the rest of the neighbourhood, leave Starr in a difficult position trying to balance her life and what she should or should not stand up and say.

It’s safe to say I loved this book. Starr’s voice is unique (partly due to the lack of black representation in YA fiction) and realistic, and this story is gripping and fresh. This is such an important book, and as a story inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, is really one to get you thinking and talking. I really loved how Angie tackled some really important topics in this novel, including class divide, gang culture, Black Lives Matter, media representation and violence.

It’s safe to say we have a modern classic on our hands here, and I would implore you to go out on 6 April and purchase yourself a copy of The Hate U Give. If you’re looking for the best of 2017 YA, here it is.

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annalsie

Review: How Not To Disappear by Clare Furniss

How Not To Disappear
How Not To Disappear by Clare Furniss

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ah, this book. I loved it.

Hattie is a teenager, who has just found out she’s pregnant with her best friend’s baby. And she’s not sure how to feel about that. A distraction comes in the form of her long lost aunt Gloria, who’s losing her memories, and so Hattie takes her on a road trip of places that mean a lot to her so she can remember them one last time.

I really love books about teen pregnancy and the issues faced by pregnant teens, and this was such a heartwarming coming-of-age story that read like an adult novel, with complex and diverse characters who almost jumped off the page. At times, this book has dual narrative, which I loved, and the author doesn’t shy away from difficult and complex relationships and conundrums where there is no ‘right’ answer. This is a heartbreaking and heartfelt novel that I couldn’t put down.

If you’re looking for an emotional rollercoaster with a strong focus on family, HOW NOT TO DISAPPEAR is a top choice.

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annalsie

Review: Forever Geek (Geek Girl 6) by Holly Smale

Forever Geek
Forever Geek by Holly Smale

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**This book was sent to me by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review**

I don’t think I’ve really reviewed the Geek Girl books before and we’re now at the sixth book, but this has something to do with the fact that I marathoned the last three books in one week and I haven’t got round to reviewing them!

If you’re not acquainted with the Geek Girl series, they’re super fun books following Harriet Manners, Geek turned Model, and her friends including her stalker Toby and her best friend and fashion designer, Nat. There’s also the sultry Nick, Harriet’s fairy godmother Wilbur and the formidable designer Yuka Ito.

One of the highlights of the series (and this book) is Harriet’s family – they’re all great well-rounded characters and they’re so fun! It’s great to see them all return for the final book and Harriet gets some more time with Bunty, her step-grandmother, which is much appreciated.

This really was the perfect wrap-up to the series, with all the best characters returning for a really fitting end to Harriet’s story. If you’re looking for a satisying finale, there’s one here!

Although you might want to pack tissues, because I cried. I also apparently read this in one day, which should give you an impression of how addictive this series is.

I’ve loved reading this series and I can’t wait for more Holly Smale!

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annalsie

Review: Doing It!: Let’s Talk About Sex by Hannah Witton

Doing It!: Let's Talk About Sex
Doing It!: Let’s Talk About Sex by Hannah Witton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As ever, I’m super behind on reviews so let’s review Doing It! by Hannah Witton…

**This book was sent to me by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review**

Doing It: Let’s Talk About Sex is Hannah’s first book and it’s a non-fiction discussion about loads of different topics, most of which are around sex and relationships. There’s talk about toxic relationships, masturbation, slut shaming and puberty in here, and it is so so welcome. Sex and relationship education is so lacking in so many countries (although today it’s been announced that there will be an overhaul in the UK – yay!) and these books are so important in the education of young people.

Hannah talks frankly and openly on so many ‘taboo’ topics like how she lost her virginity, her periods, masturbation, etc. and this is what makes the book so great – this isn’t a textbook, it’s a informative discussion with personal experiences from the author who is still a young woman and is so relatable.

I’m a little older than the target demographic here and I still learned things – I can’t help but recommend this book to teenagers (I knew very little of all this when I was a teenager).

If you liked this book, you’ll also love Girl Up by Laura Bates, This Book is Gay by Juno Dawson and Animal by Sara Pascoe.

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annalsie

Wing Jones Photo Tour!

Wing Jones is the much anticipated debut novel from Katherine Webber, publishing 5th January 2017 in the UK. With a grandmother from China and another from Ghana, fifteen-year-old Wing is often caught between worlds. But when tragedy strikes, Wing discovers a talent for running she never knew she had. Wing’s speed could bring her family everything it needs. It could also stop Wing getting the one thing she wants…

I loved Wing Jones and you can read my review here.

Katherine Webber was born in Southern California but has lived in Atlanta, Hawaii, Hong Kong and now in London. For several years she worked at the reading charity BookTrust, where she worked on projects such as The Letterbox Club which delivers parcels of books to children in care, and YALC, the Young Adult Literature Convention. You can find her on Twitter @kwebberwrites

Throughout January, over 40 bloggers will be participating in the #WJphototour – a photo blog tour documenting Katherine’s path to publishing her debut novel. From childhood memories that inspired her writing to her time living in Atlanta and Asia that influenced the book to authors she’s met over the years right up to receiving her first finished copy of the book, follow along to see Katherine’s author life unfold! Keep an eye on the hashtag to see the latest photos!

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This picture makes me laugh so much (thank you Stacey for capturing this moment!) Even though I’ve done a lot of events, this was my first ever official WING JONES event, where I was talking about my own book and not someone else’s. It was at the Walker Christmas Blogger evening, and it was so wonderful to do my first WJ event with so many friends and lovely people. I am so grateful to have so much support for this book—it means the world to me!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this stop on the Wing Jones photo tour and the book itself as much I have!

annalsie

Review: We Come Apart by Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan

We Come Apart
We Come Apart by Sarah Crossan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**Disclaimer: eARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review**

First off, One was one of my favourite books of last year and so when a new Sarah Crossan book came across the horizon, I pounced on it. If you haven’t read One yet, just know that it’s a beautiful and quick read, and well worth the hype.

We Come Apart is a new book from Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan, told from dual perspectives. Nicu is a Romanian immigrant, who has come to the UK with his mum and dad to earn some extra cash for his upcoming arranged marriage. Jess is a British girl who has fallen in with the wrong crowd, and who is experiencing domestic violence at home. They meet at a youth reparation scheme, picking up litter, and become friends.

I love reading novels in verse since I picked up One – it’s a really powerful medium, but also really quick and accessible to read. The writing here is also really clever – Nicu’s broken English was difficult to get used to at first but really brought life to a character struggling with his English language skills.

This book was especially poignant regarding racism in the wake of Brexit, and the bullying Nicu faces is worsened by taunts of ‘I though we’d voted you out of this country’.

Due to the topics discussed in this book, I imagine some readers might find it difficult to read and please do keep that in mind before picking this one up.

I only had two issues with the book – one is that I wanted more from the conclusion, and the other that I felt Jess’s storyline coming from a working class household blighted with domestic violence was a little cliché and perhaps dangerous (but this is a symptom of fiction in general I think).

If you enjoyed One, We Come Apart is another great novel from Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan and well worth the read. I’m looking forward to more books from these two authors!

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annalsie

Review: Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

Truthwitch
Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**Dislcaimer: Copy received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.**

Last January, Truthwitch was a book with a beautiful cover that was getting A LOT of hype around it. Written by the infallible Sarah J. Maas’ best friend, Susan Dennard, any fan of YA fantasy was desperate to get their hands on this brand new fantasy series about witches, friendship and elemental control.

Fast forward to January 2017, and I’ve *finally* read Truthwitch in anticipation for Windwitch, and I’ve come to the conclusion that all the hype was justified.
Truthwitch is the story of four main characters – Safiya, the truthwitch, Iseult, the threadwitch, Aedeon, the bloodwitch, and Merik, the windwitch. Truthwitch is Safi’s story, but the book focuses on all four main characters pretty equally throughout the book. I won’t go into the plot too much, but essentially Aedeon is in pursuit of Safiya and Iseult for Safiya’s truthwitch abilities, and Safi and Iseult escape the city on Merik’s ship. Each character is fleshed out with interesting and mysterious back story, and some of my favourite scenes were when we learnt a little more about each character’s background.

I also loved how the characters in this book have motives and no character is 100% good or evil.

As well as some pretty kick ass characters, the world building is extensive and original – I loved the different types of witches, some of which are completely new to me (threadwitches, for example). The world is so rich that some scenes almost come flying off the page as if they were on screen (especially some of the scenes with Safi and Iseult).

The friendship between Safi and Iseult was refreshing and a feature which I loved – rarely does a friendship in a novel eclipse any romances. Their friendship was well done and powerful.

The only reason this is a 4 star read rather than 5 stars for me was pacing – I felt this book was a little slow at times, or perhaps a little long at 400 pages.

Personally, I can’t wait to delve into Windwitch which I have heard is even better, and I look forward to returning to this beautiful world and its characters.
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annalsie

Review: Frostblood by Elly Blake

Frostblood
Frostblood by Elly Blake

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received a proof of this book in a Fairyloot box last year and can’t believe it took me so long to pick it up!

Frostblood is the story of Ruby, a Fireblood. The Firebloods and Frostbloods have been at war for as long as anyone can remember, and the Frostbloods are currently in power. The Firebloods have been hunted and killed, and Ruby has to stay hidden to stay alive. When her safety is compromised and her mother is killed, Ruby has to work with rebel Frostbloods to topple the throne.

This is an absolutely stellar debut novel from Elly Blake, with beautiful world-building and compelling characters. I really submersed myself in this world and loved the storytelling. The book definitely has elements of the Throne of Glass series and other YA fantasy novels, but it’s all done so well. I was gripped by the romance and there were so many twists and turns that made the story shocking and exciting.

The romance was done particularly well in that it wasn’t the main focus of the story and was pretty swoony. I really enjoyed the romance and the main characters were fleshed out particularly well.

If you’re looking for a YA fantasy with a fully immersive world, definitely check out this debut by Elly Blake. I can’t wait for the second book, Fireblood, which is due out in September 2017.
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Annalise x

Review: Wing Jones by Katherine Webber

Wing Jones
Wing Jones by Katherine Webber

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Walker Books in exchange for an honest review.

I’ve been excited for Wing Jones since before the beautiful cover was revealed at YALC 2016, and this has to be one of the most anticipated debut novels of 2017. If you’re on the UKYA scene, chances are you’ve seen Katie running a panel at some point, and now she’s released her very own book.

Wing Jones is the story of a mixed-race girl, Wing Jones who is half-Ghanian and half-Chinese. She lives with her mum, her older brother Marcus, who she idolises, and her two grandmothers. Wing looks up to Marcus and his girlfriend Monica with wonder, until a terrible accident happens. Marcus drink-drives after a party and crashes, killing a young mother and his friend. Marcus is left in a coma, lying precariously on the edge of death, and Wing is left to pick up the pieces.

The cover may fool you – I thought this book would be about Wing taking up running and learning to fly (which it is) but this book is about so much more. The grief that affects Marcus’s family and friends is almost tangible, and Wing has to transform and grow up to deal with the tragedy. I was also surprised at the setting – Wing’s story is set in 1990s Atlanta

Wing’s voice reminded me a lot of Scout Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird. Katie’s writing is beautiful and melodic, and there’s a really cool use of magical realism which guides the story.

I loved the focus on family in this novel, and the romance is well done and felt natural. Wing’s grandmothers are great characters and great comic relief, and it’s rare to find a novel that just *gets* family.

A gorgeous story of grief, family, romance and finding yourself which is surely going to be one of the most-loved debuts of 2017. I can’t wait to read more of Katie’s stuff, especially if they have such beautiful covers (the finished copies of Wing have the best ombre stained pages!).
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Annalise x

 

Review: A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard

A Quiet Kind of Thunder
A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Disclaimer: I received a proof of this book from My Kinda Book in exchange for an honest review.

Last year, I read a great debut novel that became the biggest selling debut YA novel of 2016. That book didn’t have a romance in it, which was (and still is) unusual for YA. Beautiful Broken Things focused on the friendship between two best friends and how that changed when a new friend entered the mix.

Sara Barnard is back in 2017 with a brand new novel, but this one *is* a romance. A Quiet Kind of Thunder is the story of Steffi, a teenage girl with selective mutism embarking on sixth form, and Rhys, a deaf boy who transfers to Steffi’s sixth form.

I’m always wary with books that tackle disability about how realistic and lifelike they are – there’s a really tendency for characters with a disability to be miraculously cured, but AQKOT feels like it has been well-researched and is sensitive. I learnt a lot about mutism and British Sign Language in this book, and it made me more aware and conscious about interacting with deaf people (for example, making sure they can read your lips if they are lip-reading).

This is a really special romance because Barnard gets awkward teenage flirting. The texts between Steffi and Rhys feel so real, and I fell in love with this book so quickly. I can’t really explain how much I loved the romance between these two, but it was cute and adorable and perfect.

I also really enjoyed how this book doesn’t shy away from sex. The sex in this book was realistic and well-done, and felt age-appropriate.

I can’t believe we’re only at the beginning of 2017 and this is already a very strong contender for my favourite book of 2017. An absolute must-read – and the cover is so shiny and beautiful and I think I need it on my shelf (I only have the proof!). Go and buy it now!

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Annalise x