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My Dream Book Panel!

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Recently, I was inspired by the lovely people at Eventbrite who asked me who I would want to see at my dream book convention? Dedicated readers will know I’m a huge fan of YALC and I spend way too much time dreaming about attending BEA or YALLWEST over in the U S of A, so it got me thinking… who would I *really* want to see? And what would I want them to discuss?

(And also, why haven’t I purchased my ticket to YALC yet?!)

First up…

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I’d like to see a panel on world building with authors who really know their stuff when it comes to creating weird and wonderful fantasy worlds. This panel would be all about writing fantasy, world-building and lots of tips for the audience on how each author works. We’d need only the best for this one so I’d pick:

  • V E Schwab, author of the Darker Shades of Magic trilogy
  • Laini Taylor, author of Strange the Dreamer
  • George R R Martin, author of the Song of Ice and Fire series

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I’ve been reading some super huge books recently, and so I’d like a panel with authors of some huge books to discuss writing fantasy, writing a huge quantity and how they have built their worlds. This panel would focus on authors who publish big books at a superhuman speed and so would feature:

  • Sarah J Maas, author of the ACOTAR and Throne of Glass series
  • Cassandra Clare, author of the Shadowhunters’ many series
  • Brandon Sanderson, author of the Mistborn trilogy, among many others

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You can’t have a hyped book convention without some elusive authors with an exclusive talk. This panel would focus on the price and pressure of fame after a super hyped book, and their decision to stay in/out of the limelight. This would be the panel everyone would be clamoring to go to and would feature:

  • Stephenie Meyer, author of the Twilight series
  • Suzanne Collins, author of The Hunger Games
  • J K Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series

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So many fantasies focus on royalty, and I think a panel focusing on the challenges and fun of writing about princesses, princes, kings and queens would be an interesting addition. I’d go for an range of authors, including:

  • Meg Cabot, author of The Princess Diaries
  • Marissa Meyer, author of the Lunar Chronicles
  • Renee Ahdieh, author of the Wrath and the Dawn duology

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Now, I don’t think a book convention would be nearly as good without bookish friends and a heap of the amazing UKYA authors which have always made YALC such a special time. These authors I would probably listen to talk about Quorn cocktail sausages, but I’m sure they could come up with a few interesting themes between them!

  • Katherine Webber, author of Wing Jones
  • Non Pratt, author of Truth or Dare
  • Sara Barnard, author of A Quiet Kind of Thunder
  • Catherine Doyle, author of the Mafiosa trilogy
  • Holly Smale, author of the Geek Girl series
  • Lisa Williamson, author of All About Mia
  • Alice Oseman, author of Radio Silence
  • Sarah Crossan, author of One
  • Holly Bourne, author of the Spinster trilogy
  • and so so many more amazing authors!

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I’d love to see panels on topics such as diversity, mental health, feminism, disability, politics in YA, dystopias, LGBTQ, and so many more – I think sometimes the topic of the panel is what makes it so interesting rather than necessarily the speakers.

Check out Eventbrite’s conference page if you’re interested in hosting and organizing your own events!

So there are a few of my dream book panels! Who would you want to see? What would they talk about? Would you like to see some of my panels? Comment below, tweet me at @annalisebooks or create your own post – I’d love to know!

annalsie

 

My YALC Reading List: Part 1

I’m sure many of you UK Book Bloggers (and perhaps even some of you from overseas!) have started seeing that the authors that will be attending the Young Adult Literature Convention (YALC) in London in July have started to be announced! I’m still yet to buy my ticket (I should *really* get on that) but I’m already excited to meet new authors and old and new friends.

The first batch of authors was released a while ago and there’s a mix of YALC stalwarts and some new faces.

Last year, I wrote the YALC Reading List, which was a really useful exercise for me to get to know all of the authors at YALC and I went in as a bit of an expert – if I do say so myself – on the authors and their books. This year, I am more experienced in the book blogging world, but if you’d like to see this again, please do comment or tweet at me at @annalisebooks! You can find all my old posts about YALC 2016 on the blog and there’s a link to all ELEVEN parts here.

But back to YALC 2017, here’s the first part of my reading list…

This section corresponds to the authors announced in the first announcement, and there are some amazing authors there whose books I have already read (and some that I’m not interested in reading) so these are my unread titles…

  1. The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon
  2. The Other Half of Happiness by Ayisha Malik (Sofia Khan #2!)
  3. Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton
  4. Windfall by Jennifer E Smith (thank you MyKindaBook for sending me this beautiful finished copy!)
  5. The Gilded Cage by Vic James

Have you read any of these books? What did you think? What will you be reading for YALC 2017? Comment below or tweet me at @annalisebooks!

annalsie

 

On Diversity

Hey everyone! It’s been a really hectic month so sorry about the hiatus – I’ve moved house (twice!) and started a new job so things haven’t really settled yet, but I’ve been inspired to finally write this post and would love to hear your thoughts and opinions.

So, this week I started my new (first proper) job, and part of my first week was an induction – a few days of talks about working for the company and its values. One word that was constantly floating around was ‘diversity’, and, to be honest, it made me feel a little uncomfortable.

‘Diversity’ seemed like it was being used as a buzzword, and all this talk about diversity often feels a little empty. It’s great when people point out that something is not diverse, that we need to be targeting and including different groups of society, but without action, pointing out diversity (or the lack thereof) can be a bit pointless. Diversity is also talked about A LOT in YA at the moment, and yet, diverse books are still difficult to find.

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At the event this week, one speaker said that the room was overall, not so diverse. Here’s the problem: diversity is often invisible, and it’s often used to mean racial diversity. I’m not saying that we don’t need more racial diversity (especially in YA, this is something we need to be seeing), but we need to remember other ways people can be diverse.

Disability is close to my heart – I have an invisible illness and I’d say that no-one knows I have it unless I choose to tell them (sidenote: I’ve had friends in the past telling anyone and everyone about my disability without my consent, and you should know that this is NOT COOL). Some forms of disability are visible, and these are the forms of disability people often think of and expect when somebody says they’re disabled. In fact, I’d say a large proportion of people classified as disabled don’t have mobility issues – so many of us are affected by autoimmune diseases and/or mental health issues and often physical, visible disabilities get more attention and sympathy than those which are not so easy to see. Disabilities in YA are often miraculously cured (often by a hot teenage boy with a rebellious streak), and we need to see more accurate depictions of disability.

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Class/socioeconomic background is an aspect of diversity that is often forgotten – social mobility really is an uphill struggle, and not everyone can see themselves in a white, middle class character. It’s not always easy to tell which class a character belongs to – personally, I have a very variable accent which isn’t always so Northern (although I am from Lancashire), and so people often assume I come from a more privileged background than I do. I’d love to see more class issues explored in YA, and it’s definitely one aspect of diversity that is often forgotten.

Political and religious views are often left out of YA – I’d love to see more of them but understand that they can be a problematic subject and a character with wildly different views to your own can be more difficult to understand. If anyone has any recommendations for books that explore these views, I’d love to hear them.

LGBTQIA+ is an aspect of diversity that is becoming more featured in YA, but I want to see more diversity still – so many YA books of the LGBTQIA+ variety are the stories of the coming out of gay men, which is great, but there are so many stories to be told. A book featuring LGBTQIA+ characters doesn’t have to be about ‘coming out’, and it doesn’t even have to be about romance. There’s still so much to do here – I’d love to read more about intersex and/or asexual characters, for example.

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If I’ve left out any aspects of diversity you think we should be talking about, please let me know – and again, if you have any recommendations, please post them down below or message me on twitter (@annalisebooks).

annalsie

Waiting On Wednesday: Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas

Before I start this post/rant, I just want to say one thing: I love Sarah J Maas’ books – ACOMAF has to be one of my favourite books of the year, and I’m currently working my way through Queen of Shadows. Sarah is an amazing writer with amazing characters, but I do have some reservations about the promotion of her new book, the 5th Throne of Glass novel, Empire of Storms.

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Before I rant a little…

THAT COVER THOUGH?! I love the cover for Empire of Storms (both the US and UK editions) and am so excited for it to join the rest of my collection on my bookshelf. Bloomsbury have done an absolutely STELLAR job with Sarah’s covers.

However…

1. The UK Tour.

A little background on me – I live in the Northwest of England, and as a recent graduate, I have no idea where I’ll be in October, when Sarah comes to the UK for the Empire of Storms tour. I would have loved to be able to meet Sarah, but the timings of the tour meant I won’t be able to make it.

This has to do with the fact that half the dates on the tour are in the South of England (London, Bath and Cheltenham), one is in Scotland, and another in Dublin. The one closest to me (Birmingham – still up to two hours on the train away!) is on a Monday at 4pm, so it’d be a real struggle to get to. I don’t think I’m alone in this – a lot of these dates are mid-afternoon, during the working/school week, and therefore difficult for many to get to!

I’m always a little disappointed when an author has a UK tour and doesn’t have a date in Northern England. It’s great that authors include Scotland and Ireland, but there are still a lot of fans who simply can’t make it to this tour. I’d be able to attend a date in the evening, or at the weekend (I was able to attend the Cassandra Clare Shadowhunter event because it was at the weekend!).

2. The many MANY editions of Empire of Storms

Because I’m not going to be able to meet Sarah on her tour, I pre-ordered the signed edition from Waterstones. I was really disappointed that I didn’t know Waterstones would be stocking signed editions of ACOMAF, so preordered EoS early so that I’d be guaranteed to get a signed copy.

Now, I’ve already seen the Target and Barnes and Noble editions with exclusive short stories, but now WHSmith, a popular UK newsagent and bookshop, is stocking its own special edition, with an exclusive short story. Now, I’m very hesitant to buy more than one copy of a book – despite intending to purchase the US covers of Sarah’s books – because of a small amount of exclusive content.

I’m, again, a little disappointed in the plethora of editions available. More than one edition always seems like a money-making grab to me, however beautiful they are. When you’ve already preordered a book, it’s frustrating to see more (and sometimes better) editions go on sale.

Which edition of EoS will you be purchasing? Are you going to Sarah’s tour? Comment below or tweet me at @annalisebooks!

annalsie

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

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

YALC Reading List Part SIX!

It’s already time for Part SIX(!) of the YALC Reading List and it’s another cracker.

Catch up or re-read the first five parts here – one, two, three, four, and five!

The YALC Reading List is updated every Sunday evening.

44. Emerald Fennell

Book to read: Monsters

You might recognise Emerald from her roles in Call the Midwife or Anna Karenina, but when she’s not acting, she’s also an author. Her first and second novels, Shiverton Hall and The Creeper, were both shortlisted for the Waterstones Childrens Book Prixe, and her latest novel, Monsters, is an adult novel that was released last September. Monsters has been billed as darkly comic murder thriller, focusing on two twelve year olds who decide to investigate and re-enact some recent murders in Cornwall. This one sounds interesting and has some amazing reviews.

45. Natalie Flynn

Book to read: The Deepest Cut

The Deepest Cut is Natalie Flynn’s debut novel, and centres around Adam, a boy who blames himself for his best friend’s murder and subsequently attempts suicide. Put in the care of a local mental health facility and too traumatised to speak, he starts to write notebooks in an attempt to move on. This book came out recently (May 24th) so expect to see it in bookshops now.

46. Sally Green

Book to read: The Half Bad series

I feel like a lot of people have read this series and loved it so I’m sure it needs no introduction to many of you. Based in a world where humans and witches live together, Nathan, the son of the world’s most powerful and violent witch, Marcus, must escape his cage and track down his father to receive his powers. The third and final book, Half Lost, was released earlier this year.

47. Julia Gray

Book to read: The Otherlife

Another multi-talented author on this list, Julia Gray is an author and singer-songwriter, having released five albums. Her first novel, The Otherlife, is the story of Ben, who has visions of The Otherlife, where gods and monsters roam. Hobie, the school bully, fascinated by Ben’s visions, befriends him. But when, years later, Ben’s best friend and tutor Jason dies, Ben can’t help but feel Hobie has something to do with it… This book sounds like a really cool concept, and it is released on July 7th.

48. Lisa Heathfield

Book to read: Seed/Paper Butterflies

You can find my reviews of Seed and Paper Butterflies here and here. Both of Lisa’s novels tackle difficult issues – Seed is about a girl raised in a cult and struggling with her identity, and Paper Butterflies is about a girl who suffers child abuse. Both these books are hard-hitting and, at times, difficult to read. Seed is out now and Paper Butterflies will be released 30 June.

49. Claire Hennessy

Book to read: Nothing Tastes As Good

This one is one I’m really excited about. Claire’s debut YA novel follows Annabel, a recently deceased anorexic teen, assigned as a helper to Julia, who also has a difficult relationship with food. This one comes out July 14, so I might pick this one up at YALC.

50. Rhian Ivory

Book to read: The Boy who drew the Future

This is Rhian’s fifth novel, and focuses on two boys who live in the same village 100 years apart, but who have the same gift – they can draw the future. Set in the 1860s and the 1960s, this sounds like a cool historical novel, and it has some amazing reviews on Goodreads.

51. Lauren James

Lauren’s first novel The Next Together (review here) is the story of a couple, Katherine and Matthew, who exists in several timestreams but appear to be always doomed. This is such an interesting concept and take on historical romance, and I loved that it featured so much science. Lauren’s next book, the sequel to The Next Together, The Last Beginning, is due out in October.

That’s it for this week’s installment – which books should I be reading immediately? Comment below or tweet me at @annalisebooks!

Annalise x

Review: The Problem with Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout

The Problem with Forever
The Problem with Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**Disclaimer: Received from the Publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review**

I love Jennifer L. Armentrout books (in particular, the Lux series which are wonderful), and so when I saw her new contemporary novel, The Problem With Forever, on NetGalley, I knew I had to pick it up.

Mallory “Mouse” Dodge suffers from PTSD after a traumatic, abusive childhood with dreadful foster parents, where she was protected only by her foster brother, Rider. After an incident, Mallory and Rider were separated, and Mallory found loving and understanding foster parents in Carl and Rosa, two doctors who lost a daughter to natural causes years ago. After three years of homeschooling, Mallory decides she wants to go to school for her senior year to gear her up for the social pressures of attending college. Battling her social anxiety and speech difficulties as she goes to school, she soon bumps into a familiar face…

This book was such a quick read for me, and unlike any book I’ve ever read – it’s a romance, perhaps even a twist on Romeo & Juliet. Rider and Mallory moved into two very different backgrounds, united by a past that they’re both trying to move on from. Mallory is set on college, perhaps even medical school, whilst Rider really isn’t too bothered about school – he hardly even does his homework, too focussed on his art. I liked this unconventional love interest, and the subplot that is his new family and their lives. However, Mallory really does try to mould him into a ‘better’, more academic person – which is understandable but kind of grated on me – he was an interesting character to begin with, and doesn’t need to be pushed into the typical love interest mould.

Most of the characters were developed and had full back stories – especially Mallory and Rider – but I felt Mallory’s school friends were way under-developed, something chronic in YA. Mallory’s best friend Ainsley, however, was fun and had her own storyline – which I believe will be explored further in the next book.

Whilst this story definitely stands out from most romances, it was actually the romance that didn’t quite gel for me. I know a lot of people loved it. It reminded me a lot of my ex-boyfriend in a cringey way (my ex-boyfriend was VERY cringey). It was not discussed at all that Mallory and Rider were foster siblings, and were brought up, for ten years, as brother and sister (albeit in a very messed up household). This was particularly surprising to me as Mallory’s parents do object to the romance (I loved that the parents were realistic and got involved!).

There are some really dark and serious topics in this book (child abuse, drugs, grief, loss, the poor/rich divide,etc.) which I really did like – but the romance and the characters just didn’t click for me. This book has all the ingredients for a great YA novel, but the execution didn’t do it for me – but it did for a lot of other people.

A hard-hitting romance with dark tones but ultimately, a story of survival.
View all my reviews

 

What did you think of The Problem With Forever? Comment below or tweet me at @annalisebooks!

Annalise x

YALC Reading List Part 5!

It’s Part 5 of the YALC Reading List!

You can find parts one, two, three and four on the other side of those links.

The YALC Reading List is published every Sunday evening, but I am currently on a semi-official hiatus (thesis writing!) until the 10th June, so the next few parts may be slightly delayed…

Let’s get started, shall we?

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36. Natasha Carthew

Book to read: Winter Damage / The Light That Gets Lost

Natasha’s first novel Winter Damage was nominated for the 2014 Carnegie medal and shortlisted for other awards, including the Branford Boase award. Her second novel, The Light That Gets Lost, was released in October last year, and focuses on a small boy who witnesses his parents’ murder, and years later, ends up at a camp for troubled teenagers. Unfortunately, both of these books have Goodreads ratings in the 2-3 stars range – it appears these books are a real love-em-or-hate-em deal, with an interesting style of prose that some people can’t get through. I try not to read anything with a Goodreads rating less than 3.5, so I think I’ll be giving these a miss.

37. Cat Clarke

Book to read: The Lost and the Found

Cat Clarke has win the Lancashire Book award, the Redbridge Teen award, and was nominated for the Branford Boase award. Her latest novel, The Lost and the Found, came out last July, and is about a girl, Faith, whose sister was abducted at a young age, and whose abduction took over her family’s life. When her sister returns, Faith becomes isolated and paranoid. This book sounds really interesting, so definitely an addition to my TBR list.

38. Keren David

Book to read: Cuckoo

This book is a slightly different addition to the YALC reading list because it comes out on August 4th, but I’m hoping there will be copies of this at YALC (to get signed!). Cuckoo is the story of a boy, Jake, who is a household name due to his starring role in a soap, but whose character has been off air for a while. With family life hitting boiling point (with a father with anger issues, a severely autistic brother and the family finances in bad shape), Jake doesn’t feel like he fits in anywhere. This is one I am definitely looking forward to!

39. Ben Davis

Book to read: The Private Blog of Joe Cowley series

Apparently an older version of Wimpy Kid, these books look really funny, written as the blog of 14-year-old Joe Cowley, who wants to draw comics, and is a self-confessed ‘serial repeller of girls’. These books look like the encapsulate what it feels like to be a weird teenage boy (something I guess I have no experience of).

40. Juno Dawson

Book to read: Mind Your Head

Juno was one of my personal highlights of last year’s YALC in her fabulous Daenerys Targaryen outfit, and I’m so glad she’ll be in residence once again this year. Mind Your Head (review here) and Spot the Difference (review here) have been great reads this year – Mind Your Head is a non-fiction guide to mental health and being a teenager, whereas Spot the Difference is a fiction novella about a girl with severe acne. I’ve been meaning to dive into Juno’s other books (written as James Dawson) so will perhaps pick up one or two at YALC.

41. Catherine Doyle

Book to read: Vendetta/Inferno

The Blood for Blood trilogy (third book coming soon) has rave reviews on GoodReads and has been described as Romeo & Juliet meets The Godfather, set in modern day Chicago. Vendetta is on my TBR shelf (along with pretty much every YA book ever) but after reading some amazing reviews, I think it needs to be bumped up a few spots. As well as (apparently) being gritty, funny, and full of warring families and forbidden romance, the covers of these books are also to die for.

42. Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison

I remember Tom and Lucy from last year’s YALC – Lucy is a school librarian and Tom is a journalist. They also used to date. Their first novel together, Lobsters, is about two friends, Sam and Hannah, trying to find their ‘lobster’ i.e. The One, whereas Never Evers, their second novel, is about a French ski resort, where Mouse goes after being kicked out of ballet academy, and where Jack stands in for a famous popstar who happens to be the spitting image of him. Both these books have good reviews, so I’ll probably pick up one or the other soon.

43. Natasha Farrant

Book to read: Lydia, the Bad Bennet girl

Natasha Farrant’s newest novel is a re-imagining of Pride & Prejudice (which I really should get reading, now to think of it), focusing on Lydia, the youngest Bennet sister. This book is out in September, so I’m hoping for some early copies floating around YALC!

That’s it for this week’s installment in the YALC Reading List!

Which books are you planning on reading? Which books should I definitely pick up? Tweet me at @annalisebooks or comment below!

Annalise x

 

Review: My Favourite Manson Girl by Alison Umminger

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My Favourite Manson Girl by Alison Umminger

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Anna has had a miserable year. Everything feels wrong with her life. And rather than stay and face the mess, she steals a credit card and books herself a seat on the first flight out of town to Los Angeles, to crash with her sister. But soon after she lands, cold reality soon dawns on her: Hollywood isn’t the escape she needs. She is trapped in a town full of lost souls and wannabes, with no friends, no cash and no return ticket.

When she’s offered a job researching the murderous Manson girls for a dubious film, she reluctantly accepts – she needs the money. But soon enough, among the fake smiles and glitter-fuelled parties, things turn from strange, to dark, to dangerous . . .

This is not going to be the summer Anna had in mind.

**Disclaimer: Received from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review**

First off, the cover design is gorgeous – it looks great on my bookshelf and the cover is so summery!

My Favourite Manson Girl is the story of Anna, who, when faced with family breakdown and being forced to move schools, steals her stepmother’s credit card information and flies from Georgia to California, to stay with her sister, Delia, a struggling actress. Soon she is thrust into the Los Angeles scene, researching Charles Manson and his ‘Manson girls’ for her sister’s ex-boyfriend’s indie film, whilst spending time on set with her sister’s current boyfriend as he writes for a cheesy kids show.

Alison Umminger’s writing is funny and fresh, and the whole book feels summery and original. The story turns dark at times, and seems to be a true reflection of Los Angleles (not that I would know, having never been there!). I loved the interesting family dynamic and the flawed characters (in particular, Anna’s mother, her sister Delia, and Anna herself) – each character had good times and bad times, times when they were unlikeable and others when they were perfectly nice. I particularly liked how Anna, the protagonist, was unlikeable at times, making judgments about other people and bullying a girl with her best friend.

The entire book is thought-provoking, with comparisons drawn between the seemingly crazed Manson girls and Anna’s own friends and family, as well as people in general. Anna also questions her own judgments and fascination with celebrity – the rash judgments she makes when first meeting people tend to be wrong, and Umminger perfectly encapsulates what it feels like to be a teenager, making decisions and judgments which feel right, but ultimately tend not to be. The romance especially challenges Anna’s preconceived ideas and was a sweet seam through the story.

Overall, a dark, summery read and a great addition to YA – original, fresh, and true to life. Definitely one for the summer TBR list!

View all my reviews

Have you read My Favourite Manson Girl? Will you be reading it? Comment below or tweet me at @annalisebooks!

Annalise x