Month: July 2016

YALC Reading List Part 11 – THE FINAL PART!

It’s here – the final part of the YALC Reading List! It’s a mini one this week!

You can catch up on the previous parts of the YALC reading list here – one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine and ten!

Enjoy, and make sure to say hello at YALC – I’ll post a selfie on Twitter each day so you know what I look like and I’ll be there all weekend!

I’ll also be posting the YA Shot Reading List soon!

79. James Smythe

Book to read: Long Dark Dusk

James Smythe is the author of the Wales Book Of The Year Fiction Award winner THE TESTIMONY (2012); THE EXPLORER (2013); THE MACHINE (2013),THE ECHO (2014)and WAY DOWN DARK (2015). He has been shortlisted for and won any number of prizes, including The Kitschies Red Tentacles and the Arthur C. Clarke Award. Long Dark Dusk is the second book in the Australia trilogy, about a seventeen-year-old girl, Chan, whose ancestors left Earth hundreds of years ago in search of a new home, and who never found one. Now she’s back on planet Earth to take it back – but it’s not necessarily safe to return.

80. Catherine Johnson

Book to read: The Curious Tale of Lady Caraboo

Catherine has written many books for young readers including, Sawbones which won the Young Quills Award for historical fiction and was nominated for the Carnegie Medal. Her other books include Brave New Girl, and A Nest of Vipers. Catherine has also written for film, notably the critically acclaimed Bullet Boy, and TV, including Holby City. The Curious Tale of Lady Caraboo was nominated for the YA Book Prize, and was inspired by the true story of Princess Caraboo – the story follows Cassandra Worrall who is very rich, and very bored and very much stuck in her parents’ stately home. She thinks she’s discovered a princess from a far away land – could this be the adventure she’s been seeking?

81. Deidre Sullivan

Book to read: Needlework

Deirdre Sullivan is an Irish writer and teacher. She has established a reputation for herself as a leading Irish YA author following her trilogy on the teenage years of Primrose Leary, which has been widely acclaimed; two of the Prim books were shortlisted for the CBI awards; and the final one, Primperfect, was also shortlisted for the European Prize for Literature – the only YA novel to be nominated for this award from any European country. Needlework is her latest novel about an aspiring tattoo artist, Ces, who is just trying to reach adulthood without falling apart. Needlework is critically acclaimed, and definitely one to check out.

82. Kass Morgan

Book to read: The 100

You may know The 100 from the hit e4 TV show, but it started life as a book – a book by Kass Morgan. The 100 is the story of one hundred juvenile delinquents sent to Earth, years after a nuclear way left it uninhabitable and humans escaped on spaceships. They’re sent back to repopulate the Earth! There’s currently three books in the series, with the fourth coming later this year. Definitely one to read if you’re a fan of the TV series!

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83. Tracy Darnton

Tracy Darnton is the winning author of the Stripes YA Short Story Prize in association with The Bookseller YA Book Prize.  She recently graduated with distinction from the Bath Spa MA Writing for Young People and is working on her debut novel. Tracy studied law at Cambridge and worked as a solicitor and law lecturer until starting a family. Reading with her children and helping at a school library revived her ambition to write. Tracy lives in Bath with her family.

That’s it! The entire YALC Reading List! I hope you enjoyed reading and I will see you all at YALC!

annalsie

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WTH Thursday – Divergent Series Edition

Today is the 1 year anniversary of AnnaliseBooks! Hooray

Now let’s get down to business with this week’s WTH Thursday which is all about WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON WITH THE DIVERGENT SERIES?

If you haven’t read the news, the article is here.

Now I may only have read the first book, but I must be one of the three people who have seen all three Divergent films so far. I didn’t see Divergent in cinemas – I wasn’t interested after reading the book, but when it came up on Amazon Prime Video, I was pleasantly surprised. I enjoyed myself so much that I actually went to see Insurgent and Allegiant in cinemas. It seems nobody else did – I was the only person in the cinema each time, and those were both the day of, or the day after, release.

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Now, I enjoyed these films. Allegiant was fairly enjoyable, although not as good as the first two films. The cast is actually fairly impressive, and there’s a lot of interesting visuals and effects. But as I left the cinema after watching Allegiant, I had one question – what now?

I’m not interested in reading the books – I have nothing against Veronica Roth, but I’ve just not been inspired to reread the first book and carry on with the series. So when I researched the plot of the third book, Allegiant, I realised there was nothing left for the fourth film. Seriously, nothing. Everything was covered in the third film – even the scene where Tris is supposed to die, yet she miraculously survived in the film.

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This series didn’t need to be four films. It just didn’t. There’s not even any plot left for the fourth film. Some film franchises made ‘two films for the final book’ work. Harry Potter did the 2 film thing well. Twilight even did it pretty alright. Did any of these films need to be split into two? No. Did it work regardless? Generally, yes.

If you haven’t seen the news, the Divergent team still haven’t started filming the fourth film, Ascendant (and I’m impressed I even remember the name – these names are SO forgettable!). I’m not even sure if they have a script. Allegiant didn’t do well at the box office – partly because of poor advertisement. It also gained mostly negative reviews. It didn’t live up to the first two films. So now Lionsgate are considering skipping the box office, releasing the final movie as a TV movie which sets up a TV series.

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This sounds like a reaction to Allegiant’s poor performance, but there’s also very little plot for the fourth film to go off, so it sounds to me like this has been the plan for some time. Setting up some new characters at least gives the final movie a purpose.

Now, if I had a time machine, I’d go back and stop the split. The series should have ended after Allegiant, and followed the plot of the final book. The other option here is to release Ascendent straight to DVD or streaming – Netflix/Amazon Video, with the rest of the series. Should there be a TV series? No.

With a TV movie, there’s a good chance we wouldn’t even get to see it in the UK. It wouldn’t reach all fans of the films. It sounds like a TERRIBLE idea. There’s no interest in a TV spinoff. Just none.

What do you think of Lionsgate’s plans for the Divergent series?

Tweet me at @annalisebooks or comment below!

annalsie

Review + Giveaway: Girl Hearts Girl by Lucy Sutcliffe

Girl Hearts Girl

Girl Hearts Girl by Lucy Sutcliffe

Release Date: 24th June 2016
Genre: YA Contemporary
Publisher: Scholastic
Format: Paperback
Goodreads
Amazon

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Co-star of the popular YouTube channel Kaelyn and Lucy which documented the long distance relationship she had with Kaelyn Petras. She and Kaelyn finally came together in August of 2014, ending the long distance element of their relationship.

She graduated from Plymouth College of Art and Design in 2014 with a degree in Film Arts

She works as a freelance film editor and author. She and Kaelyn’s channel mainly focuses on advice videos for LGBT youth.

She was born in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire to parents Sharon and Roger Sutcliffe.

Website: http://kaeandlucy.tumblr.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/lucyliz
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lucylizz/
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/c/kaelynandlucy

My Review

5 STARS!

Thanks to Scholastic UK for a review copy of this book!

I went into Girl Hearts Girl not knowing too much about the actual book itself – just knowing I was in love with the cover, and complained on Twitter a few weeks ago that LGBTQ+ representation tends to represent a whole lotta G but not much else.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that Girl Hearts Girl is not a work of fiction, but the memoir of Lucy Sutcliffe and her journey from a British schoolgirl coming to terms with her sexuality to a YouTube megastar in a serious relationship with a woman she met online through Tumblr. Lucy’s world is so relatable, and she writes so beautifully, that this was a very enjoyable read from a perspective we don’t see too often.

This is, at the very heart of it, the story of a girl realising her sexuality and coming to terms with it, becoming proud of it, and inspiring others to do the same. The story is peppered with tales of friendship, bullying and the pressure to conform. It also touches on some of the negative reactions to her sexuality, coming from people who you would expect to understand.

This book is written simply but beautifully, and so would be easily readable by children – there’s no sexual content in here, and it is much more a story of self-acceptance than a romance novel.

I gave this book five stars because it was incredibly uplifting, positive, and unique in the market today – it’s an LGBTQ+ book that anybody could read and relate to, and because this is her real story, it isn’t full of tropes and stereotypes. It’s a book that feels very honest, but doesn’t dig too deep into anything serious, and that’s perhaps where it is lacking – but it is aimed at children, and the level of depth feels right for the market.

If you’re looking for an uplifting quick read that will look beautiful on your bookshelf – look no further.

Giveaway

There is a tour-wide giveaway! 3 copies of Girl Hearts Girl for 3 lucky winners!
Participants must live in UK or IRL.

Click here to visit the Rafflecopter giveaway!

Tour Schedule

GHG Banner

That’s it from me for this blog tour – remember to check out the rest of the tour and thank you for reading!

annalsie

YALC Reading List Part 10!

With just two weeks to go until the big weekend, we have two more installments of the reading list to go! The final part of the Reading List will be posted next Sunday.

You can catch up on the Reading List here – one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight and nine.

73. Keris Stainton

Book to read: Counting Stars

So I didn’t know I already knew some of Keris’ work – I remember checking out Della says OMG! in a bookstore years ago but have never read any of her work. That should really change. Her most recent work, Counting Stars, sounds like it’s right up my street – Anna, an 18-year-old, moves to Liverpool for a new job with a new flat full of housemates. Then her job falls through and her housemates turn out to be a little mixed-up. Counting Stars was released earlier this year.

74. Martin Stewart

Book to read: Riverkeep

Riverkeep is Martin’s first novel, and has such a beautiful cover! The Danuk is a river, and the Fobisher family have kept it clean for centuries – and Wulliam is due to take over its care in a week’s time. Then Wull’s father is taken under the water and possessed by a dark spirit, and Wull must become the Riverkeep and take care of his father too. Perfect for fans of Terry Pratchett.

75. Will Sutcliffe

Book to read: Concentr8

Will’s first YA novel, The Wall, was shortlisted for the Guardian Fiction Prize and the Carnegie Medal, but it’s been his most recent novel which has caused quite a stir. It was nominated for the YA Book Prize and has an interesting premise – an ADHD drug, Concentr8, is given to all troubled kids. Five of these kids find trouble when rioting breaks out in London, and they decide to take a hostage. This one sounds so promising, but Goodreads reviews haven’t been great – it’s currently standing at 2.97 so I’ll be unfortunately giving this one a miss.

76. Chris Vick

Book to read: Kook

I’ve seen a lot of hype for this book – it came out in April of this year in the UK and is due for release in August in the US. It’s a coming of age story about a boy, Sam, who moved from the big city to the coast, where there is nothing. He meets Jade, a surfer-girl, and falls in love with her, and surfing itself. Then their relationship barrels towards heartbreak. This one sounds fresh, but I probably won’t get round to reading it before YALC!

77. L.A. Weatherly

Book to read: Broken Sky

Broken Sky was revealed at last year’s YALC and is the first in a trilogy. Broken Sky was released this March, with the second book coming soon. The world L.A. has created is set in the echo of 1940s America and Amity, our main character, lives in a ‘perfect’ world. This sounds so promising, especially as the 1940s is an oft-neglected time period, and I’m a huge fan of YA historical fiction at the moment. L.A. is perhaps more well known for her Angel trilogy.

78. Eleanor Wood

Book to read: My Secret Rockstar Boyfriend

My Secret Rockstar Boyfriend is the story of a geeky girl gaining a rockstar boyfriend – Tuesday Cooper loves studying, music, wants to be a writer and wears vintage clothing from charity shops. She begins a music blog who nobody visits, until Jackson Griffith starts commenting – THE Jackson Griffith, former teen pop god who went off the rails. This sounds like such an interesting premise, one to check out if you’re a fan of Geek Girl!

Next week comes the final installment of the YALC Reading List!

See you then!

annalsie

Review: Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

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Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It’s been a while since I read Everything Everything, so this mightn’t be the most in depth review…

I first heard about this book last year at YALC (which is coming around again very soon…) and just wasn’t interested. I heard really good things but continuously didn’t pick it up, and then the #ZoellaBookClub came to town. For those of you who don’t know, the Zoella Book Club is a promotion in the UK where Zoella (a famous Youtuber) fronts the campaign and chose 8 books to promote (and they’re also on offer in store). They also have new cover designs (mostly colour changes to the original covers) and that’s partly why I bought some.

So Everything Everything got a minor cover change – from blue to pink – but it’s super gorgeous and looks fab on my shelf. Now onto the actual book…

Everything Everything is the story of Madeline, a half-Japanese half-Black girl who is allergic to the world. She can only socialise with her Mum and her nurse, Carla, and she can never ever go outside. A boy moves next door – Olly – and suddenly Madeline wants to go outside. They strike up a sweet friendship online and they fall in love.

I really enjoyed this book, and I’ll definitely pick up more of Nicola Yoon’s work, but I found the topic a little problematic. In short, this book let me down on a few key issues – if you haven’t read the book and plan on reading it, these may be a little spoilery.

Madeline has a severe immune reaction to the outside world, but she doesn’t react to food in the book. As someone with food allergies, I found this a little disappointing – many of the most common allergies are to food, and I would have liked to see a character who struggles with food in this way. I really don’t want to give too much away about the end of the book, but I felt let down in this respect, especially as many people dismiss food allergies and think you’re making it all up for attention (not true!).

The second issue I have is essentially the ending – it undermined the entire rest of the story and was way too happily-ever-after. Disabilities don’t magically disappear or get better, and when disability is so poorly represented, these books are really damaging.

Because Madeline is such a diverse character with severe immune issues, I was genuinely surprised that this didn’t come into play – mixed race people find it much more difficult to find donor matches, and this would have been a great way to highlight their plight when faced with cancer, for example.

Overall, an enjoyable read with a problematic ending that could have been so much more interesting.

View all my reviews

annalsie

Review: Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall

Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Under Rose-Tainted Skies has to be my favourite debut of the year so far – and it will definitely feature on my Top Books of 2016!

I was lucky enough to win a copy of the US ARC from Louise herself – so many thanks to Louise both for writing this book and for sending me a copy!

Under Rose-Tainted Skies is an #OwnVoices novel about agoraphobia and OCD. Norah suffers from extreme anxiety which means she can’t leave the house, and this is her story as she deals with what life throws at her – namely her mum gets involved in an accident, and when a boy moves in next door who takes an interest in her.

What I loved so much about this book (and it was something I was genuinely worried about) was that Norah’s mental illness doesn’t magically go away when confronted by a hot boy. Her behaviour is still frustrating and self-destructive, she doesn’t magically improve because she has a crush on the boy next door, and this was so refreshing and felt realistic. The entire book felt real to me as it is an OwnVoices book, and this really is something special that should be on your TBR list.

Norah’s agoraphobia is all-consuming, and this really shows throughout the book. There isn’t a single scene where Norah’s mental illness doesn’t play a role, and this really is an unflinching and realistic depiction of living with agoraphobia and OCD. I particularly enjoyed how Norah’s mental health affects all of her relationships – especially with her mum. I honestly believe YA needs more parental figures who have actual wants and hopes and dreams and personality, and Norah’s mum is definitely one of those characters. There were a lot of interesting family dynamics in this book, which I enjoyed a lot.

On to the love interest – Luke is a really interesting (and attractive) character, who really seeks to care for and understand Norah, and, best of all, he’s human. He gets frustrated with Norah and her behaviour, which is understandable and realistic, and that’s what made him a great love interest – he really was human.

If I haven’t persuaded enough to drop everything and buy this book now, Louise’s writing is drop dead gorgeous. Like seriously, this book is so beautifully written, it gave me The Wrath and the Dawn vibes (and that book is seriously good too!).

Also, the cover is gorgeous. The UK edition comes in three shades of pink which are all seriously gorgeous. Go buy them!

Under Rose-Tainted Skies is a beautifully raw #OwnVoices depiction of agoraphobia and OCD, and my favourite debut of the year so far. Not one to miss!

View all my reviews

Also Louise will be at YALC this year!

annalsie

YALC Reading List Part 9!

It’s only THREE WEEKS until the big event, and only a few more books to go on our list! Thank you for sticking with it so far!

You can catch up on the earlier parts of the YALC Reading List here – one, two, three, four, five, six, seven and eight.

65. Alice Oseman

Book to read: Radio Silence

Alice, Alice, Alice, Alice, Alice. Radio Silence made me feel like Alice climbed into my brain and pulled this book out – she’s one of the best writers in YA at the moment, writing wonderfully diverse and original fiction that just gets pop culture and what it is to be a teenager. Radio Silence has been one of my favourite books of the year so far – it’s the first book I’ve read which tackles university applications and not being the best anymore, and I recommend it especially if you’re headed up to sixth form and starting to think about that dreaded UCAS form. Heavily recommended from me, and you can read my review here.

66. Jeff Povey

Books to read: Shift/Delete/Escape

Jeff is a screenwriter, writing for beloved BBC programmes such as Holby City and Eastenders and Shift was his first foray into teen literature. The series focuses on a group of teenagers who learn they can shift between worlds, and has been described as perfect for fans of Michael Grant, Charlie Higson and Antony Horowitz and for anyone who loves Misfits or Shaun of the Dead. The third book in the series, Escape, comes out January 2017.

67. Non Pratt

Book to read: Trouble/Remix

I remember Non from my first YALC last year, and picked up her debut novel Trouble earlier this year and loved it. You can read my review here. Trouble is the story of a pregnant teenager and her friend, who pretends to be the father, and I loved how it dealt with teenage pregnancy and the stigma around it. I’m overdue to pick up Non’s second book, Remix, which takes place over a weekend at a music festival, and I’m really looking forward to Non’s novella, Unboxed, which will be published by Barrington Stoke this August.

68. Harriet Reuter Hapgood

Book to read: The Square Root of Summer

Harriet’s debut novel features quantum physics, romance, and grief. I reviewed the book here earlier this year, and loved the family dynamics, and, of course, the physics. Gottie is mourning the death of her grandfather, and dealing with the return of a boy from her past, when she starts accidentally time travelling. This was a very promising debut novel (and a very pretty one too!)

69. Chris Russell

Book to read: Songs about a Girl

Songs about a Girl is Chris’ first YA novel , about a girl called Charlie who reluctantly becomes a photographer for the world’s hottest boyband, and then she gets caught up in a love triangle between two members of the band. This one has been a source of Twitter hype recently, has a gorgeous cover, and launches on July 28th (the day before YALC!).

70. Manuela Salvi

Book to read: Girl Detached

Manuela Salvi is an Italian author, with an illustrious career, who currently lives in London after her YA novel about underage prostitution was banned in Italy. Girl Detached is a novella for Barrington Stoke, about a girl who suffers from a stutter, except when she’s on stage, when she is hiding behind a character. This one launches in September, and is definitely one to look out for.

71. Lucy Saxon

Book to read: The Almost King

Lucy Saxon was a star at last year’s YALC with her amazing cosplays and brilliant Cosplay workshop. I haven’t read any of Lucy’s work, but I do know that she wrote the first book in this series when she was sixteen – Take Back The Skies – and the second book, The Almost King, was released last year before YALC. The first book is about a privileged girl called Catherine who runs away and pretends to be a boy and stows away on the sky ship Stormdancer.

72. C J Skuse

Book to read: The Deviants

This one is one I’m really excited for – it comes out in October and focuses on a group of friends struck by tragedy, whose friendship then deteriorates. Then, years later, they’re brought back together and must reveal their secrets to each other. I’ve heard amazing things about this book and the cover is just STUNNING.

That’s it for this week, I’ll be back next week with the penultimate part of the YALC Reading List!

annalsie

July Fairyloot Box – Pirates and Power Unboxing!

I was lucky enough to get my hands on the Fairyloot box this month – I knew I had to have it when it was announced (and there’s *two* books in this one!).

The theme this month was:

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Obviously this will be spoiler-ific, so if you haven’t received your box yet, look away now!

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So this month’s box included:

  • I didn’t receive a guide to the box (I think it might have fallen out!) so sorry in advance for not being able to source these items!
  • Jon Snow Funko Pop! Keyring – two of these were available, Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen i.e. A Song of Ice and Fire. I love Game of Thrones (and Jon Snow!) so I was excited to get this figure!
  • Treasure Island notebook – this is such a cool addition, a gorgeous gold notebook based on the cover of Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. It even has a map inside!
  • Tropical Fruit bathbomb from Geeky Clean – repackaged as Frostblood and Fireblood bath bomb by Fairyloot. I LOVED THIS – it smelled so great and turned the bath the most gorgeous midnight blue. The repackaging fits in with the second book in this box.
  • Pirate Bounty lip balm by Geekyclean. Another cool addition – this smells of coconuts and has such cute packaging.
  • Currently Reading colour-in bookmark by Behind The Pages – I’ll definitely be using this one and colouring it in! Really cute and useful.
  • ‘I Ship It’ tote bag – afraid I don’t know where this one is from! Will come in useful at YALC.

And onto the books…

  • Inherited by Freedom Matthews – this book came signed (and dedicated) by the author, with a letter from the author, a signed letter from the publisher Benjamin of Tomes, and a book postcard.

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If saying ‘I love you’ meant death, would you still say it?

The Wilted Rose, of faery-tale and folklore, is a pirate ship filled with unfortunate souls-each forbidden to love. One such soul is Valencia ‘Lennie’ Roux. Raised in a brothel and an heir to a curse; Lennie never expected to pique the interest of any man. Yet with the arrival of vivid-eyed Nathaniel, she is torn between wanting to know him better and fearing what that knowledge would mean.

With Nathaniel bringing the crew’s total to six, the Wilted Rose sets off in search of the remaining two heirs. They hope that in reuniting, they will convince the faery Sorceress responsible for the curse, to end it. However lurking beneath the water is a long standing enemy of the Wilted Rose; who is determined to thwart their quest and bring down its leaders.

Together the eight heirs fight for survival, friendship and love.

  • The second book was an ARC of Frostblood by Elly Blake. There were two ARCs available this month – the same book but two different covers, the Frostblood and Fireblood editions.

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Seventeen-year-old Ruby is a fireblood who must hide her powers of heat and flame from the cruel frostblood ruling class that wants to destroy all that are left of her kind. So when her mother is killed for protecting her and rebel frostbloods demand her help to kill their rampaging king, she agrees. But Ruby’s powers are unpredictable, and she’s not sure she’s willing to let the rebels and an infuriating (yet irresistible) young man called Arcus use her as their weapon. All she wants is revenge, but before they can take action, Ruby is captured and forced to take part in the king’s tournaments that pit fireblood prisoners against frostblood champions. Now she has only one chance to destroy the maniacal ruler who has taken everything from her and from the icy young man she has come to love.

Fast-paced and compelling, Frostblood is the first in a page-turning new young adult three-book series about a world where flame and ice are mortal enemies—but together create a power that could change everything.

I’m so excited to start these two books!

Another absolutely fantastic book box from Fairyloot this month – they always deliver something special! I’ll definitely be purchasing again!

annalsie

YALC Reading List Part 8!

I’m back! June was a really busy month for me, with the end of university and having to pack and move – but it’s not less than a month to go until YALC and so I’m here to complete the reading list!

You can catch up or re-read the first seven parts here – one, two, three, four, five, six and seven!

Let’s get back into it…

57. Nat Luurtsema

Book to read: Girl Out Of Water

I’ve seen a lot of this book around lately on the Twittersphere, and it looks like a great read for fans of Rae Earl, Holly Smale and Jenny McLachlan (think My Mad Fat Diary, Geek Girl, Flirty Dancing…). When Lou Brown’s best friend swims though to the Olympic time trials, she had to adapt to a new life post-swim without her best friend… and a chance encounter with three boys could change her life forever. This one has some really great reviews, so if you’re looking for something to read that’s fun and summery, give this one a go.

58. Sarra Manning

Book to read: London Belongs To Us

I’m a big fan of Sarra, and have loved some of her adult novels – I recently read and reviewed her most recent young adult novel, London Belong To Us, here. It’s a really fun summer read and a beautiful ode to London, brimming with diverse and realistic characters. It’s such a quick read too, so perfect to pick up before YALC.

59. Taran Matharu

Book to read: The Novice/The Inquisition

I was really impressed with Taran last year at YALC, where he appeared on the panel for young authors. His first book, the Novice, found fame on Wattpad, and was published last year, with the sequel, The Inqusition, was published in May this year. The Summoner series revolves around an apprentice blacksmith who learns he can summon demons, and is put through gruelling training to fight in the war against orcs. The third book in the trilogy is yet to be released.

60. Julie Mayhew

Book to read: The Big Lie

Julie’s debut novel Red Ink was nominated for the 2014 CILIP Carnegie Medal and shortlisted for the 2014 Branford Boase Award. Her most recent novel, The Big Lie, is set in Nazi England and is a coming-of-age novel. Jessika, a future world champion ice skater and all round good girl, is threatened by the beliefs her best friend, Clementine, who is outspoken and radical. The Big Lie sounds really interesting, tackling the issues of sexuality, belief and loyalty.

61. Anna McKerrow

Book to read: Crow Moon

I attended a workshop run by Anna at last year’s YALC, but haven’t picked up any of her work. Crow Moon follows a boy, Danny, who finds himself suddenly powerful and in love with a powerful sorceress, Saba. The second book, Red Witch, came out earlier this year and follows Melz, who runs away from the Greenworld and finds that she is special, desired. Red Witch picks up where Crow Moon left off, but follows a different protagonist.

62. Jenny McLachlan

Book to read: Flirty Dancing

I read the first book in this quadrilogy this year – review here – and really enjoyed it. Each book focuses on one of a former group of friends, and the first book focuses on Bea, who enters a talent competition dancing with the school hottie, Ollie, who happens to be her ex-friend Pearl’s boyfriend (Pearl also has her own book!). These books are so fun, and would again be a quick read to pick up before YALC.

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63. Meredith Miller

Book to read: Little Wrecks

This one isn’t out quite just yet – it’ll be out in Summer 2017! (I guess there’s a small chance of ARCs?) No cover just yet but this one sounds very promising! The novel tells the story of three teenage girls living on Long Island in 1979, and explores themes of sexual violence and mental health.

64. Patrick Ness

Book to read: A Monster Calls

Admittedly, I haven’t read any Patrick Ness – I’ve looked into buying some of his work but nothing has screamed out at me (probably a good thing looking at the state of my TBR). A lot of people are big fans though, and he has won every major Children’s book prize, including the Carnegie medal – twice. He’ll be talking about the film adaptation of his book A Monster Calls (of which he also wrote the screenplay), which is about a monster that turns up at Conor’s doorstep – it’s just not the monster he expected from his nightmares. If and when I pick up a book by Patrick Ness, it’ll probably be this one.

That’s it for this week’s installment – I hope you’ve enjoyed it and I’ll be back next Sunday with more recommendations for this year’s YALC!

Annalise xxx

On *THAT* Telegraph Article – Portrayal of SEX in YA

This morning (afternoon?), Twitter has been ablaze with talk of an article that was published in the Telegraph attacking the Zoella Book Club choices because of their portrayal of sex.

If you haven’t given it a read, you can find it here.

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The gist of the article is that these books are BAD for teenage girls because of the way they portray sex.

The article labels all YA literature as ‘fluffy, joyful escapism’ when, in reality, a lot of the books on the list deal with mental health issues, and are a little more serious and well researched than a smutty romance novel. The idea that YA readers are reading absolute fluff is an outdated one – the genre is incredibly diverse and pioneering, and many recent books have been a little harrowing. While ‘sick lit’ has been demonised in the press, the explosion of books surrounding mental health issues and including LGBT characters has simply, to my knowledge, not been echoed in the wider fiction market.

A lot of the books I’ve recently read in YA are not fluffy romances – they’re tackling difficult issues, ones that simply aren’t discussed in mainstream education.

That’s not to say that the author of this article is wrong. The portrayal of virginity and slut-shaming in YA still has far to go, but the problem doesn’t lie with any one individual book. Just like the ‘dark romance’ days of YA normalised the idea that a dark, mysterious bad boy  is probably a secret sweetheart who will win your father’s affection and then also turn you into a vampire, portrayal of virginity as a whole as a ‘gift’ and something you can ‘lose’ to someone else – the idea that your sexual identity is something someone else can alter and take away from you – is still problematic.

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Again, it isn’t the fault of just one book, but when the media, your culture, even your religion is telling you that virginity is something you shouldn’t consider losing lightly, and that you should only give to someone special (despite the same sources telling boys the opposite), it’s no wonder many girls make a huge deal out of it. That isn’t YA’s fault (and it isn’t necessarily a problem), but YA could do more to change the rhetoric. It’s an uphill battle against pretty much all other forms of media, but if YA is anything, it is progressive.

We unfortunately live in a society which teaches girls that sex should be painful for them, that they won’t enjoy it, and the only thing that matter is that the man ejaculates. That isn’t the fault of YA, it’s a problem with society itself.

On the other hand, we often see dream-like portrayals of sex in contemporary romance (fantasy romance like ACOMAF gets a free pass in my book) where first-time sex is a brilliant unity of souls culminating in an explosive (but definitely not sticky!) simultaneous orgasm. This, again, is problematic, but in a different way.

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(I’d also like to say that virginity is an interesting concept when it comes to non-heterosexual couples, which are often ignored in the general media, but I do feel YA is getting there with LGBT representation. It isn’t perfect, and I would LOVE to see virginity dealt with in a book about LGBT characters – if you know any books that do deal with this, let me know!)

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Back to the article, I agree with Emma Oulton’s comments that teenage girls are being failed a proper sex education (in fact, I feel like PSHE itself is completely lacking – we need better mental health education, better political education and better health education in general – especially women’s health, periods and the like) and Young Adult literature is an art form that can help tackle this chronic miseducation. The Zoella Book Club choices are a little narrow (in that they tend to focus on mental health issues, and there is no inclusion of LGBT characters, for example), but I do honestly feel that future book clubs could diversify, and there would have been outrage against these books if they dealt with some of the more controversial topics that often feature in YA (for example, Louise O’Neill’s brilliant Asking For It).

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At the end of the day, Zoella  has a brilliant opportunity to bring books to the masses of teenage girls that focus on some hard-hitting issues. The books she has chosen aren’t ‘fluffy’, and it’s improper to attack the authors of these books for one sentence in their work – but on the other hand, we as a genre need to be addressing the issue that is the portrayal of virginity ( as well as many other important portrayals), and we have a brilliant opportunity to fight back against the lack of education on these topics.

What are your thoughts on the article? Have you read any of the Zoella Book Club choices? Tweet me at @annalisebooks or comment below!

Annalise x