Month: September 2015

The Starlight Blogger Award

A huge thank you to Olivia Emily over at Bibliomad – please go and check out her blog before even thinking about reading the rest of this post!


The Rules

1. Thank the giver and link their blog to your post.

2. Answer the 3 original questions and then the 3 new questions from your nominator given to you.

3. Nominate your 6 favorite bloggers! In your nominees I would like for you to think at the light emanating from the stars the ones that truly touch your soul with their work, the ones that are the light for you a true STARLIGHT Blogger.

4. Please pass the award on to 6 or more other Bloggers of your choice and let them know that they have been nominated by you.

5. Include the logo of the award in a post or on your Blog, please never alter the logo, never change the 3 original questions answer that first then answer the 3 new questions from your nominator and never change the Award rules.

6. Please don’t delete this note:
The design for the STARLIGHT Bloggers Award has been created from YesterdayAfter. It is a Copyright image, you cannot alter or change it in any way just pass it to others that deserve this award.
Copyright 2015 © YesterdayAfter.com – Design by Carolina Russo”


The Original Questions

1. If you could meet anyone from throughout history, who and why?

They say ‘Don’t meet your heroes’ so probably not someone who it would be too disappointing to actually meet – think when Hazel meets the author of An Imperial Affliction and he turns out to be a knob in TFIOS. I would probably go for someone who could divulge information that isn’t common knowledge today – from the Dark Ages or the Biblical Age.

2. What is your favourite book and why?

Here’s a selection:

  • Anna and the French Kiss – Stephanie Perkins
  • 1984 – George Orwell
  • The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
  • The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald
  • Obsidian – Jennifer L Armentrout
  • The Book Thief – Marcus Zusak
  • Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
  • The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger

3. Who is your favourite fiction character from any medium and why?

I have a feeling I’ll really like Celaena Sardothien when I start on the sequels to Throne of Glass… Big fan of Georgia Nicholson from Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging and Evie from Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne.


Olivia’s Questions

  1. If you could visit any place in time or space, where would you go?

Egypt, during the discovery of the tombs (think The Mummy). Alternatively early USA, perhaps the Gold Rush in California?

2. What was the last movie you watched? Was it good? Better or worse than expected?

I think the last movie I watched was Lady Chatterley’s Lover (the 2015 BBC adaptation). It was pretty good, a little more boring than expected and not quite true to the book, but enjoyable all the same.

3. Which book are you absolutely dying to read?

I’ve seen some brilliant reviews of Illuminae by Amie Kaufman (which is released this October).


The Nominees

Nya @ Nyareads

Disha @ Franklenstein

Anna @ Annathebibliophile

Dani @ Danireviewsthings

Macy @ MacyAvenue

Mara @ AcrossTheBooks


My Questions

  1. Which book did you just not gel with?
  2. If you could choose one book to reread every month, which would it be?
  3. What’s your favourite food to accompany a book?

Thanks for reading!

Annalise x

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Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Fangirl
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fangirl is a book that needs no introduction, but have one anyway.

The ‘fangirl’ in question is a girl called Cath, who moves away to university with her identical twin sister Wren, leaving her dad at home (their mum walked out on them when they were 8). Cath writes fan fiction for her favourite book series, Simon Snow (think Harry Potter) as she waits for the eighth and final book to be released, but Wren has grown up, perhaps a little too fast. Cath’s social anxiety plays up as she’s forced into new scenarios, new experiences and even forced to write original characters (shock horror!).

Although the book is about growing up and moving away to university, it is firmly Young Adult. I personally love stories about starting university – it’s interesting to see characters forced to adapt and change during a story, and it’s a plot that’s rarely used (despite the fact that it’s fundamentally interesting).

This novel is definitely character driven – I found the characters to be well defined and fleshed out (the pictures at the front of the book may have helped), although the plot is a little hit-and-miss – I wasn’t too sure what was going to happen at the end, and the ending felt a little rushed and not quite wrapped up – this also happened in the other Rowell novel I’ve read, Eleanor & Park. Although this leaves you thinking more about the characters, there’s not too much tying up of loose ends, no big finale (unlike the Simon Snow novels!).

On the character front, we do see some diversity (which makes the characters interesting!) – Art is a single-parent father, Cath and Reagan are both described as plus-size, and Jandro and Abel are both Mexican, for example. The characters are flawed as well, with the love interests being realistic and not hot rod sex gods – which makes them all the more relatable. A real highlight of Rowell’s novels is the interesting characters and their development, and they do stand out against the white-washed Mary-Sue adventures that often clutter the YA bookshelves.

On the point that the plot wasn’t developed enough, especially for a book of 460 pages, I’d like to add my suggestions. I would have liked to have seen more conflict between the twins and their mother, as well as between the twins themselves – they don’t talk for three months but this is mentioned as an afterthought, and there’s no seething and anger from Cath during this time or any real indication Wren is gone. I also didn’t cotton onto the blossoming relationship between Cath and Levi until it was spelled out to me in sky writing – so I would have liked to have seen more scenes between them earlier in the novel. Nick also completely disappears, and he could have been a really interesting character, but instead his plot his resolved suddenly just before the end.

I quite liked how the excerpts of fan fiction broke up the novel – but honestly, I wasn’t invested in the characters, and so there’s way way too many excerpts written in. Especially as some chapters are Cath reading her fan fiction to Levi, without any real addition to the plot. Carry On, Cath’s fan fiction novel is being released this October, but I’m not particularly interested in reading it – the characters are a slightly-too-obvious rehash of Harry Potter.

I would recommend Fangirl if you’re looking to read something original, entertaining and popular. If the plot had been expanded and consolidated more, this would be a definite five stars, but it just doesn’t quite live up to the hype.

View all my reviews

Annalise x

Review: Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne

Am I Normal Yet?
Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Before I start, I just want to point out that this is my first 5-star review, and for that reason, you should definitely go out and buy this book, RIGHT NOW. I’m serious.

I admit that I probably wouldn’t have bought this book if it hadn’t been free on iBooks. Am I Normal Yet? was a book I heard a lot of praise for at YALC back in July, but I didn’t look too much into what the book was about, and I didn’t think it was for me. I was wrong.

Am I Normal Yet? is the story of Evie, a 16-year-old who is starting sixth form after three years of battling severe OCD and anxiety. After being the weird girl at her old school, she’s looking forward to making new friends, and she’s slowly but surely coming off her meds – trying to become ‘normal’ again. Despite her therapist’s advice, she’s also interested in boys – and one boy in particular.

The characters are well-developed and interesting, and they all feel like people you know – the girl obsessed with her first boyfriend, the sex-obsessed teenage boy… this book is a genuinely great UKYA novel. I’ve not read too many books concerning sixth form/FE colleges which is a shame, because they’re an ideal setting – lots of new characters and character development, but still in the mindset of a teenager (and a solidly YA environment).

I especially loved that the characters are flawed – there is no ‘dream hottie’ but there is sexual tension and obsession. This book is a great reflection of teenage life, rather than some soppy sixteen-year-old who drops everything for an eternity with their 117-year-old vampire lover.

The layout of the novel is also good – there are therapist pages dotted throughout the novel, and Evie’s ‘bad thoughts’ are highlighted. The layout really adds to the feel of the novel.

In the Q&A at the back of the book, Holly Bourne writes that she was inspired by the Georgia Nicholson novels – which are the books that I was reminded of throughout this book. It’s funny, yet tackling some serious issues. As well as being an insight into living with OCD, the book has a great feminist theme (in fact, the characters form a feminist club) and is informative, as well as fun to read. It’s refreshing to read a novel which discusses what it’s really like to be a teenage girl – menstruation, dickhead boyfriends, the whole bundle.

I read this thinking it would be a stand-alone novel, but, thankfully, it is actually the first of a series. The series will be called ‘The Spinster Club’, and the second novel, How Hard Can Love Be? will focus on Amber, with the third book focussing on Lottie. The next book is out February 2016 (and I will be pre-ordering!).

To summarise, this book is fantastic. It’s original, funny and realistic. It’s also incredibly cheap (it’s 59p on Kindle) so please please please go and read it.

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How did you find the novel? Comment below or tweet me at @annalisebooks 🙂

Annalise x

Review: Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls by Lynn Weingarten

Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls
Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls by Lynn Weingarten
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

June barely has time to mourn the death of her best friend Delia, before Delia’s ex-boyfriend convinces her Delia was murdered, and June is swept into a tangle of lies, deceit, and conspiracy.

I’d like to thank YA Love Magazine for running the competition in which I won my copy of Suicide Notes From Beautiful Girls.

I probably wouldn’t have bought this book myself, although I did end up really enjoying it – the title is a little morbid and I was a little scared that people would think that I was considering suicide! The UK Cover is also dark so adds to the morbidness of this book.

SNFBG is written primarily from June’s perspective, a typical high school girl with a typical high school boyfriend. A year prior to the beginning of the story, ‘something’ happened which led her friendship with her best friend, Delia, to come to an end. Now, Delia is found, burned to death in her stepfather’s shed. Initially it seems to be a straight-forward suicide, but as June reaches out to Delia’s new friends who have their own suspicions about what really happened, she starts to believe that there’s more to Delia’s death than meets the eye.

The perspectives in the book are really clever – with current events written in the present tense and flashbacks in the past tense, and the multiple perspectives are used really well.

The book could easily be split into two sides – the first half of the book is much more linear, whereas the second half is full of twists and turns with a shock ending. This definitely kept me reading – I simply had to find out what happened in the end.

On the ending, it takes a little thinking to figure out what actually happened – which isn’t necessarily bad, but there are a few plot points which are a little frayed, that is it’s a little too difficult to make out what actually did happen. A few characters are left at an end, and if I had to make any changes to the book, I’d personally resolve the book a little more wholly – and I’d ramp up the toxic relationship between June and Delia a little more. Their relationship is hinted at throughout the novel, but nothing really seems to come of it.

I really think this book is a great addition to any YA bookshelf – it’s different to most of the YA fodder out there, and the ending is delightfully unpredictable.

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Have you read this book, or are you planning to? What did you think? Comment or tweet me @annalisebooks 🙂

Annalise x

Non-Fantasy/Dystopian YA authors to try!

I’m packing up my books this week as I’ll be leaving university at the end of this year and my schedule leaves about 3 weeks holiday between now and July, so I’m getting a good look at some of those books hidden on my shelves!

A rut I definitely got in when starting out with YA was that I just loved the Genre of the Day – and so my shelves are full of vampire novels and dystopians. However, there are some series I’ve really enjoyed which aren’t your typical YA book, and they’re great to try if you’re getting bored of the same-old YA books which come out year after year.

Meg Cabot

I know Meg Cabot through the Princess Diaries series – which has recently rebooted – but she’s actually written a few bestselling series. The Mediator series has rave reviews – but is also fantasy. The Princess Diaries, Queen of Babble, The Boy series, and the Heather Well series (which starts with Size 12 is Not Fat) should all be fantasy-free, amusing and fun to read. (The Princess Diaries also led to two Disney films, although they do not follow the plot of the books exactly).

Louise Rennison

The Confessions of Georgia Nicholson series is hilarious and brilliantly British. Georgia is a typical British girl on the cusp of becoming a woman, and we follow her as she discovers boys, snogging, and how embarrassing parents can be. There’s 10 books in total but they’re so easy to read and enjoyable (and not too long either) that it’s easy to fly through them. Rennin’s latest series is the Misadventures of Tallulah Casey series, which is very much in the same vein as the first series – in fact, Tallulah is Georgia’s cousin. I’d definitely give this series a go if you’re in a reading slump – and the movie is pretty funny, too.

Morgan Matson

The only Morgan Matson book I’ve read so far is Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour, which is a classic American road trip story (which are always fun, right?). Since then, Morgan has published two more stand-alone books, with another, The Unexpected Everything, coming in 2016. Second Chance Summer and Since You’ve Been Gone are on my TBR list.

Ally Carter

I absolutely loved the Gallagher Girls series, which follows a student at a Spy School for Girls, Cammie Morgan, and her emerging love life with a fellow spy. These books are only about 300 pages long, so short enough to devour in a day or two. Heist Society is a book I actually own, but haven’t got round to reading yet, but the series (which currently has three books) is in the same vein as Gallagher Girls. Her new Embassy Row series looks exciting too. These books are a little more Middle Grade than YA, so great starter books for easing into the YA world.

Sarah Dessen

When I first got into YA, Sarah Dessen was reigning queen of love stories. Her books are stand-alone, so easy to pick up just one and know you’re not going to face a devastating cliff-hanger at the end – and all of her books have stellar reviews on GoodReads so definitely well worth a dip into. I’ve read Just Listen, The Truth about Forever and Lock & Key but if you’re looking for her most recent work, Saint Anything was released in May.

Cecily von Ziegesar

The Gossip Girl series is 13 books long, but they’re very short and fun books (although a little expensive – still £7.99 each on Amazon). These are the source material for the CW show of the same name (which I absolutely love) although the show deviates quite heavily from the books. There are two spin-off book series too – Gossip Girl: The Carlyles follows the Carlyle triplets, and The IT Girl follows GG alum Jenny Humphrey at boarding school.

Honorary mentions: John Green (who else) and Rainbow Rowell (of course).

Who are your favourite YA authors? What are your favourite non-fantasy series? Comment below or tweet at @annalisebooks 🙂

Annalise x

Review: Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch

Rivers of London
Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I found this book the good old-fashioned way – it caught my eye when I was out shopping for books last January at Blackwells in Oxford. Usually when I buy books, I know exactly what i’m going to read from all the hype on twitter or goodreads, so it’s nice to find a book completely by yourself.

I found this book in the Fantasy section (which is next to the YA) but met the author, Ben Aaronovitch at YALC (which is primarily young adult fiction). The characters in the book are not young adults, but this book would be suitable for young adults (read: there aren’t any raunchy sex scenes).

Rivers of London (Midnight Riot in the US) follows Peter Grant, a probationary constable in the Metropolitan Police as he transfers to a proper unit. By chance, he takes a witness statement from a man, who is actually a ghost, and this brings him to the attention of Chief Inspector Nightingale, wizard and leader of the secret supernatural unit. Peter becomes an apprentice wizard and supernatural detective, all the while tending to his crush on his former colleague, Leslie May.

So why did I pick up this book? It’s written really well, with real British humour and a distinct witty voice. It’s a really original take on the genre, and it’s based in London, real London (not just the tourist traps). It’s great to see a book so brilliantly British taking on fantasy and mythology. It is definitely more character driven rather than plot driven, with memorable characters, although the plot is a little more forgettable.

Who would like this book? I think it makes a refreshing change for any YA fan out there, but also any fan of fantasy, mythology and/or murder mysteries should be sure to give it a go. The books are a little expensive on Amazon (£6-7) but they are coming thick and fast – Foxglove Summer, book 5, came out in July, and The Hanging Tree, book 6 is due out in November.

I look forward to reading more of the Rivers of London series, although their current price means that it might be a while before I pick up another Peter Grant novel.

Annalise x

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