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2018 Resolutions

Hello all! I hope you are having a perfectly pleasant first weekend of 2018 – and it’s probably time I write my 2018 resolutions. These are 100% so I can look back next year and see which ones I managed to do, and I’m sure I’ve heard that if you write down your #goals, you’re more likely to achieve them.

As ever, please let me know which books you rate down below in the comments or tweet me at @annalisebooks – I’d also love to know your resolutions, so feel free to let me know or link me to your blogs/vlogs/instagram.

Low Book Spend 2018

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I have a gargantuan TBR and a huge book-buying problem – I can’t just buy one book at a time, I buy a full series before even finishing the first book, my NetGalley TBR is spiraling out of control.

The plan this year is to really limit the number of books I buy. There will inevitably be must-have buys this year and it would be counter-productive to set a total book-buying ban – but the aim with any new book should be to read it immediately, and I’ve found a lot of new books I buy end up at the bottom of a very very very large TBR pile.

I’m looking forward to seeing how much better my bank balance will be by the end of this year – and I’ll need it as I’m planning on moving back to London. I’ll be asking myself with every book ‘Will I read it as soon as I get home?’ and if the answer is ‘yes’, I’ll be recording all the money I spend on books this year.

If the answer is ‘no’, and I still want to read it, I’ll put it on a list in my ‘notes’ app and reassess the situation later on – books on that list are totally fine to purchase for birthdays and christmas.

#FinishASeriesAMonth

My second resolution is to try and finish a series a month – this is slightly different to @dani_reviews’ #ASeriesAMonth2018 challenge as I’ve started a lot of series but not finished them. I’m ashamed to say a lot of the books and series featuring on this list have featured on my previous resolutions blogs before.

I’m not going to set the series I have to finish, and instead pick up the ones that I fancy each month but here are some of the series I would like to finish this year, in no particular order:

  1. The Dark Artifices by Cassandra Clare (I have books 2 and 3 yet to read)
  2. The Illuminae Chronicles by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman (Just book 3 to go!)
  3. Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas (Just the 7th book – if it is released this year!)
  4. The Winner’s Trilogy by Marie Rutkoski (Books 2 and 3 to read)
  5. The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer (Books 3, 4, Fairest and Stars Above)
  6. The Red Queen Quartet by Victoria Aveyard (I’ve read Red Queen – I’d like to read these in close succession)
  7. Six of Crows Duology by Leigh Bardugo (I haven’t read either but I have read the Grisha Trilogy!)
  8. ADSOM trilogy by V E Schwab (I only have A Conjuring of Light left to read but it is a huge book!)
  9. Rebel of the Sands Trilogy by Alwyn Hamilton (I’m really looking forward to Hero at the Fall)
  10. Bloodlines series by Richelle Mead (I’ve had Silver Shadows and The Ruby Circle (books 5 and 6) on my TBR for years)
  11. ASOIAF by George R R Martin (I’ve read the first book – my aim is to read one book every 2 months throughout 2018)
  12. Lord of The Rings by J R R Tolkien (I haven’t even started – but I feel like these are must-reads for any Fantasy fan!)
  13. DIMILY trilogy by Estelle Maskame (Books 2 and 3 still on the TBR shelf!)
  14. Northern Lights trilogy by Philip Pullman (I read the first book in 2017 and really enjoyed it – just need to read books 2 and 3)
  15. The Chronicles of Narnia by C S Lewis (I haven’t started these but they should be quick reads)
  16. The Passenger Duology by Alexandra Bracken

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#Brontë200 Book Club

I’ll be taking part in the Bronte Book Club with @lucythereader – where every two months, I’ll be reading a different Bronte classic. I haven’t read any of the Bronte books, so I’m looking forward to completing some classics and getting out of my comfort zone.

Document what I’ve read even if it’s not YA

I’ve seen a few people start Twitter threads showing what they’ve been reading – I’ve been reading tons of non-fiction recently and it can feel weird to talk about books that are so different and serious and scientific. I’d like to highlight some of the great books I’ve been reading that aren’t YA – although I’ll probably keep full reviews to fiction.

 

So there we have it – some pretty big resolutions for 2018! Do let me know what your resolutions are and link me to your blogs 🙂

annalsie

 

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2017: A Review Part 1 (January – March)

It’s been a long while since I blogged about anything bookish (or anything at all), despite having been reading at my usual pace (or perhaps even faster!).

I’ve been finding it difficult to muster up the energy to review, instead of diving straight into the next book. I’ve read some amazing books this year, and some not so great books, so I thought I would wrap up the entire year in one hopefully-not-so-long blog post.

 

In 2017, I read (and finished) 97 books.

 

January

Frostblood by Elly Blake

I loved this fantasy, although it may be a little cliché. I have the second book (Fireblood) on my Kindle and I need to make time to read it before the third and final installment (Nightblood) releases this year. Check out if you like fantasy.

Talking As Fast As I Can by Lauren Graham

I read this on audiobook and it is essentially a short autobiography of the star of TV’s Gilmore Girls, which I watched in its entirety last year – including binge watching the eight season in one night. This was a fun read if a little short, and the main bulk of the book was focused on returning to filming Gilmore Girls after 10 years.

Mafiosa by Catherine Doyle

I loved this trilogy of books centred around the Chicago Mafia (I swear this is YA at its best!). This is the final book and dramatic conclusion to the trilogy, which is full of angst, romance, friendship, and murder. Definitely one to check out if you haven’t already.

Did I Mention I Love You? by Estelle Maskame

This is the first book in the DIMILY trilogy which is set in LA (at least the first book is!) and follows Eden and Tyler, step-siblings who fall in love. The subject matter can be a little awkward at times, but this is a fun guilty pleasure read. I plan on finishing the trilogy in 2018.

Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

The first book in the Witchlands series was a fun witchy ride with friendship galore – I’m looking forward to picking up Windwitch (the sequel) and Sightwitch (the prequel) in 2018.

We Come Apart by Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan

I really enjoy Sarah Crossan’s free verse, and this first release of the year from her was an interesting read about two troubled teens who cross paths and become friends. I really enjoyed this book and I would recommend you check out any of Sarah Crossan’s books (they are all brilliant!) if you would like a quick emotive read.

A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf

This is a short classic essay from Virginia Woolf – I got the gorgeous Vintage Classics edition which also includes Three Guineas.

A Gathering of Shadows by V E Schwab

The second book in the A Darker Shade of Magic trilogy, I liked this book more than I did the first – I am planning on finishing the third book this year but it is a looooooong one. This trilogy has such good reviews and is marketed as Adult Fantasy although it is a firm favourite with the YA community.

February

All About Mia by Lisa Williamson

This is Lisa Williamson’s second book (the first the critically-acclaimed The Art Of Being Normal which was also excellent) and I devoured this one in one night. This is a must-read about a girl called Mia, the middle child between two excellent and talented sisters who feels inadequate.

Girl Up by Laura Bates

I read Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates a couple of years ago, and if you haven’t read that book yet, please please please go read it now. It is excellent. This book, Girl Up, is a kind of guide to being a woman, perhaps aimed at the teenage market, but it is still a great read and one to pick up and give to every young woman you know.

Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

This is such a popular poetry book of the moment, and I was amazed how poetry can make you feel things with such few actual words. I really enjoy Rupi Kaur’s poetry although it can be a little… weird. Give this one a go and see what the fuss is about.

Animal by Sara Pascoe

An absolute must-read and one you must put on all your to-buy lists, this is the ‘autobiography of the female body’ – it is clever and funny and scientific and just wonderful. I read this as an audiobook which worked really well (some non-fiction books do not translate well to audio) as Sara is a comedian and this book will make you laugh out loud on the train, as well as educate you thoroughly.

Geek Girl 4 – 6 by Holly Smale

I’m going to combine these books – I read the final three books in the Geek Girl series by Holly Smale – these are aimed at the slightly younger end of the YA market but they are so much fun. The final book in particular stood out for me in the series as it is emotional and perfect. Give this series a go if you haven’t already.

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Caraval was a book I enjoyed despite it being confusing and super super cliché – overall I was disappointed in the book as it had been hyped so much over the year preceding publication, but I did really enjoy it. I don’t think I’ll be continuing on with this duology but we will have to see when reviews come out for the second book later this year.

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

Jenny Han’s writing is not for me – it’s a little too fluffy and whimsical – but this book was an improvement on the first book by hers I read a few years ago (The Summer I Turned Pretty). I have the second book on my TBR to read this year but won’t be continuing with the third book in the series.

Doing It! by Hannah Witton

I really enjoyed this book which was in the same vein as Girl Up! above – it’s a book about sex and healthy relationships and is a non-fiction must-read for me. This book is comprehensive and inclusive and well worth the read.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

I don’t think I need to say too much about this one – it’s an absolute must-read and a new-classic. Angie tackles the Black Lives Matter with an engaging main character Starr who witnesses the murder of her best friend by a police officer.

March

Nina Is Not Ok by Shappi Khorsandi

Another book by a UK female comedian (see Sara Pascoe above), this is a dark YA novel about a teenage girl struggling with alcoholism. A really great and engaging read, although much darker than I anticipated.

How Not To Disappear by Clare Furniss

I really enjoyed this book about a pregnant teenager engaging with her ailing grandmother on a road trip. This was such a heartwarming coming-of-age story that read like an adult novel, with complex and diverse characters who almost jumped off the page.

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

I read this in anticipation of the Sky Atlantic series – I tried to watch the first episode and didn’t come back for more. I enjoyed the book but don’t feel the need to re-read so I am unhauling this book and donating to my local charity shop.

Seven Days of You by Cecilia Vinesse

Think Anna and the French Kiss set in Tokyo minus all the cheating. Sweet romance that will transport you to the heart of Japan.

Moranifesto by Caitlin Moran

This is a collection of Caitlin’s columns – I loved this and it’s an easy book to dip in and out of due to the format (being a collection of newspaper columns). I want to pick up more of Caitlin’s work but her books always seem so expensive!

If Birds Fly Back by Carlie Sorosiak

I read this book on iBooks on my phone whilst commuting to and from work – this is a sweet romance between a girl working at a nursing home for the summer and a boy trying to connect with his elderly father. I’m looking forward to Carlie’s second book Wild Blue Wonder.

 

Hope you enjoyed reading about what I read at the beginning of the year… what did you read? What do you want to read this year? Tweet me @annalisebooks or let me know in the comments!

annalsie

What will I be reading in Autumn 2017?

It seems to me like the past week everyone has fallen through a pile of crunchy autumn leaves and landed firmly in the run up to Halloween and Christmas. All the names on Twitter are spooky (except mine, I’ll make do with some emojis because I can’t think of a good Halloween name!) and the season of book release upon book release is here. Time to cosy on up with a warm drink and a good book…

The first thing you should know is that my TBR is (hopefully) currently at a standstill – I’m trying not to buy any books this month, and hopefully not until Christmas! This excludes Fairyloot boxes so the books from those will be added to my TBR (and I’m fairly sure I know what those books will be!) but other than that, I won’t be buying any books. This is partly because my TBR is super huge, especially after YALC, and partly because I need to save money!

I don’t like to give myself an overly prescriptive TBR because I never stick to them. I want to be free to be able to pick up any book and be able to read it – and equally, sometimes I won’t be in the mood for a particular book, even if, at another time, I would instantly devour it.

I’ve read 75 books so far this year(!) and hoping to get to a hundred so the goal is 25 books before 31st December…

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I’m reading a weird combination of books at the moment, but I’d like to finish Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie (I’m really enjoying this one and reading in preparation for the film which releases November 3rd), Delusions of Gender by Cordelia Fine (non-fiction about gender differences), Northern Lights by Philip Pullman (first time reading!) and Scarlet by Marissa Meyer (I have all of the rest of her books but just can’t seem to get through this one…).

My Kindle is nicely full at the moment – I’d like to read two of the Zoella Book Club, After The Fire by Will Hill and Girlhood by Cat Clarke before the year is out. I’d also like to read Fireblood by Elly Blake, before the final book in the trilogy is released in June 2018.

Hardbacks I’ve not got round to reading yet include Windwitch by Susan Dennard (in preparation for Sightwitch coming January 2018) and Stalking Jack The Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco (I was so excited for this one last year and still have not read it… story of my life!). I was also sent a beautiful copy of Warcross by Marie Lu which sounds amazing.

In the Shadowhunters world, I want to get up to speed with all the books before The Queen of Air and Darkness is released, which has been pushed up to May 2018. Whilst I’ll be reading Lord of Shadows next year, I’d like to get up to date with Magnus Bane and The Bane Chronicles as well as The Midnight Heir.

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Staying with Fantasy, I have a wild ambition to read all the ASOIAF books and rewatch the entirety of Game of Thrones before the final season, and so I had better get on with reading A Clash of Kings by George R R Martin. I wasn’t the biggest fan of A Game of Thrones but I love seeing the foreshadowing that’s going on way back in the first books.

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Over to New Releases, I am so excited for A Shiver of Snow and Sky by Lisa Lueddecke and thank you very much to Scholastic for sending me a beautiful copy (this is such a gorgeous book!).

I also plan on reading my YALC haul – a lot of these books release in 2018 and it’s coming round fast! I’m hoping to get into City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty, The Taste of Blue Light by Lydia Ruffles, The Treatment by C. L. Taylor, This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada… as well as 2018 releases including The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert, The Fandom by Anna Day and The Truth and Lies of Ella Black by Emily Barr.

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I’m also exciting to read more Margaret Atwood, and I hope to get through Alias Grace in time for the Netflix series that will be released in November.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but I’m excited to see which books will be my favourites, and which may fall a little flat.

Have you read any of these books, and what are you planning to read this autumn? Let me know in the comments below or tweet me at @annalisebooks x

annalsie

YALC 2017: The Wrap-Up

Dear readers,

Last weekend was the highlight of the year: YALC. The Young Adult Literature Convention. In London. Every year, the UK (and European!) book community descends on the Olympia Conference Centre to celebrate all things book.


Thursday

Every year, a group of us get together for #cafeya organised by the wonderful Karen (@karenbultiauw) and Demet (@books_polished). I met my bestest YALC friends this way last year and it was great to be back at Holland Park Cafe to catch up and plan our attack for YALC. As well as old friends, it was great to meet new faces – I heavily recommend joining in next year, as meeting up beforehand on the Thursday means you have friends to queue with, eat lunch with, sit around with all weekend… During the meetup, the heavens opened and my trainers turned into puddles – and while we were walking to a nearby pub, we were hit with a spot of torrential rain. The British Summer, eh?

Friday


Friday was the first official day of YALC. Waking up at the crack of dawn, I headed over to Olympia and the VIP YALC queue at 8am, to be greeted with people already queuing?! I had expected to be the first in the queue! Laden with food, a few books, my battery pack and a phone with notifications for ALL PUBLISHERS turned on, I stood in the queue counting down the minutes until YALC officially begun. Kalie (@abitkales) hit the My Kinda Book stand first for the elusive There’s Someone Inside Your House proofs by Stephanie Perkins then whipped round the other stands – my arms were aching with books before I’d even had chance to grab my YALC tote bag!

The first (and only, for me) panel of the day was Heroine with Mel Salisbury, Amy Alward, Laura Eve, Sophia Bennett and Alwyn Hamilton, chaired by the wonderful Anna James (who has a book coming out herself this autumn) – this was a great panel that was funny and filled with feminism. I didn’t go to many panels this weekend, but the ones I did attend I was very glad I did. I was very tired all weekend and so I wasn’t as focused as I could have been!

Friday was a great day for proofs and new releases alike – I grabbed copies of The Loneliest Girl In The Universe by Lauren James (review coming soon…) and A Change Is Gonna Come (#ChangeBook), a BAME anthology I just know I am going to love. I also got an early copy of Daughter of the Burning City from the HQ stand, Alex and Eliza from MyKindaBook (which as a huge Hamilton fan, I am looking forward to!) and Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin, which I read and loved last year, but didn’t have a final copy of. I knew Wolf by Wolf would sell out before Ryan’s signing on Sunday, so needed to grab a copy fast!

Friday was also characterized by frequent spottings of Pamela Anderson of Baywatch fame, and ended with a trip to the in-house Pizza Express with Kalie, Lily and Ellen.

Saturday

Saturday was another early start, getting to the queue again for 8am. I was exhausted. Properly, considering going home and sleeping all weekend, exhausted. I soldiered through,  sitting on the luxurious pavement outside Olympia, dreaming of the exclusive YALC proofs inside. Except, when we got to the YALC floor, there were no proofs to be seen. *sob*. Obviously, proofs are a huge bonus, but it was a little disappointing to be so tired and to have been waiting for so long for nothing. Alas, I spent my morning wandering around the stalls, scoping out books to buy and caving into Kalie’s suggestion of purchasing The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman (which I am now very excited to read!).

Now, at 11.30am, I took part in a stunt with Hot Key Books – I was given a blonde wig and sunglasses and a t-shirt and went around YALC in disguise – although apparently I was still recognisable – handing out ‘US Passports’ or samplers of E Lockhart’s new book, Genuine Fraud. In exchange, I got to sit at the front of the E Lockhart panel with Holly Bourne – which was amazing, by the way – her definition of young adult was *so* on point. Essentially, she said where a mystery is defined as a book where there’s a terrible murder, YA is a book where a character grows or goes through a transformation of some sorts – I think, do not quote me on this! Afterwards, I got my brand new copy of We Were Liars signed by E Lockhart and I can’t wait to dive into the extra content (also, it’s a beautiful new edition.)


I headed from YALC fairly early as I went to see Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour in the evening – but not before purchasing a candle I am obsessed with, Butter Beer from Geeky Clean. If you haven’t checked out her products, what are you waiting for?!

Sunday

On Sunday, I waddled over to YALC with my suitcase full of books, my backpack full of books, my tote bag full of books, and a tote bag full of snacks.

My only panel of Sunday was Writing for Social Change, which I loved and was so inspiring – I need to get on and write my novel! Catherine Barter, Nikki Sheehan and Ryan Graudin were so inspiring, and Non Pratt (with newly-shaved head!) was a wonderful host, as always. Afterwards, I got my books signed by Ryan (including a proof of her upcoming book, Invictus!) and then headed down with Kalie to the LFCC marketplace to look at the funkos and alpacas.

I got some amazing pieces of art for my wall – there’s some really cool stuff on sale at Comic Con, although of course all the real fun is upstairs at YALC.

I stayed around for the end of YALC, picking up some more books – Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index and Now I Rise from the Penguin stand’s 3 for £10 offer.

 Now… time for the book haul:


Overall, YALC was a great weekend – although I’ll be talking about what could make it even better next year in a future post!

Did you attend YALC? Please share your own wrap-ups and thoughts – and tweet me at @annalisebooks!

annalsie

 

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