book blogger

Review: FLOORED

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Disclaimer: eBook copy received from publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I think the description ‘Breakfast Club meets One Day’ describes this novel perfectly!

Floored is a collaborative novel written by seven of my favourite UK Young Adult authors: Sara Barnard, Holly Bourne, Tanya Byrne, Non Pratt, Melinda Salisbury, Lisa Williamson and Eleanor Wood. They are the reigning queens of UKYA, and I was so excited when I heard about this book last year. I think it’s an excellent idea to each have an author write a character – there are six characters and one ‘narrator’ who ties up each chapter. 

Our six characters are thrust together in the first chapter, and then they meet up each year after that, and we follow them on one day each year and see how their lives have changed. I really enjoyed this aspect of the book – I loved the time jumps, seeing how the characters developed and which life choices they made, and I also loved how the characters grew up over the typical YA age boundary and broke into university/adult life. This is something I’d love to see more of and I thought the time jumps between each chapter were the perfect vehicle for this.

I thought the format of the book was also the perfect vehicle for exploring issues like the characters’ different living situations, socioeconomic backgrounds, sexualities and disabilities. I loved the diversity in this novel and it didn’t feel shoe-horned in to the story. I also loved how this novel was set in the North of England (Manchester!) – as that is where I am from, and you don’t get too many novels at all set outside of an ambiguous English village or London. 

Considering this book is written by seven different authors, the writing didn’t feel out of place or ‘wrong’ – the book flowed beautifully and was engaging and addictive – I read this book in just over 24 hours, and just needed to know what happened next! I also felt that I could relate to each character – even the not-so-nice ones!

My one gripe would be that I would have liked a lovely definitive ending to tie this book up and I’m not sure I got that.

If you’re a fan of any of the authors involved, or just looking for a fun, addictive YA novel, pick up Floored at your next opportunity. 

 

annalsie

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The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

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The Belles is a book that is completely up my street – it’s a thrilling court fantasy, with mystery and intrigue at every corner. I absolutely devoured this book – the language and writing is deliciously moreish, with vibrant descriptions unfurling the world of the Belles.

The Belles is the story of Camellia, one of six sisters who bring beauty to the fantasy kingdom of Orleans (based on New Orleans). The citizens of Orleans are born grey, and the Belles have the job of carrying out beauty treatments, changing the appearance and temperament of the citizens of Orleans at will. At the beginning of the book, the sisters are assigned a location where they will tend to the citizens – and Camellia is desperate to be favourite, assigned to the Royal family.

I raced through this book, desperate to know more about the Belles – I had (and have!) so many questions and can’t wait for the next book in the series. There are so many mysteries set up in this first book, and yet I still found the ending satisfying and unexpected.

This book wasn’t without its faults though – I’ll let other reviews talk about the treatment of queer characters in this book – and for me some of the characters were a little one-dimensional. For me, I didn’t find the flowery language too much, although other readers may find it a little grating. I must say I’m not the biggest fan of the cover design – I love the cover image and the design inside, but the back cover and title font feel a little childish to me. The blurb also contained spoilers for events that happen quite a way into the book.

If you’re looking for an exciting new court fantasy reminiscent of Red Queen or Everless, this is one for you. If you’re not, you should probably pick it up anyway.

annalsie

Review: Misogynation by Laura Bates

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I saw this book on Amazon a few months ago and pre-ordered it – I’ve loved Everyday Sexism and Girl Up from Laura Bates, and she’s one of my must-buy authors. The book arrived a day after release date (which was disappointing) but then I ripped through it in under 24 hours.

The first thing I should say is I didn’t really read what this book was going to be – I wasn’t aware it was going to be a series of Guardian articles, grouped into chapters. I ultimately enjoyed the format, but I expected this to be new content, and it wasn’t. Because this is a compilation of Laura’s articles, there are a lot of facts and figures that are constantly restated throughout the book, which can get a bit tiresome. Ultimately though, there is so much other thought-provoking and downright outrage-inducing content here that I can overlook the repetition, and I really did enjoy this book.

I enjoyed the short, snappy essays on a myriad of topics surrounding feminism – each essay is written well and is easy to read. Each essay could easily be read alone from the others – as they were originally articles – but together they complement each other and form a bigger picture of the day-to-day sexism that women endure.

Another thought-provoking read from Laura Bates – if you haven’t already, read her earlier work. Perfect for fans of Moranifesto (which is collated in a similar style).

annalsie

On Book Hype

Hello lovely readers,

My book-buying ban has spectacularly failed – although I am still intending to cut down significantly. I have pre-ordered some books that are coming out in February and March which I think I will really enjoy – and some are finales to trilogies that I’d like to finish this year. It’d be rude not to buy them.

When you’re trying not to spend spend spend, the hype becomes real. Books you hadn’t even heard of last week become a must-buy. It’s FOMO, and it feels real and urgent because everyone else is reading this book NOW.

Hype can be for a number of reasons. It can accumulate because a lot of book bloggers and vloggers have received copies – they’re hauling their copies in videos and gushing about how much they want to read it – and then the reviews come in, posted on blogs and vlogs and Goodreads. The book is appearing on your newsfeed and subscription list almost constantly and a book you were ‘meh’ about is now top of your to-buy list. Everyone else is reading it, why aren’t you?

The opposite can be true – a book can be hyped because only a few select bloggers have read it, and they loved it. This was the case with Caraval, where the hype began a full calendar year before the book was released. It was hard to get your hands on a copy of Caraval, and that drove up the hype ever more. Yet when I finally got my hands on the book, I was disappointed. It was still a fun read, but it didn’t live up to the expectations in my head.

Hype around certain books can be difficult to avoid – especially when you live on Book Twitter and Booktube – but I’ve been trying (and failing) recently to wait until a book is released into the world, and reviewed by more than the select few. Sometimes sky-high Goodreads ratings come tumbling down once the book has been released – and sometimes they stay high, and you’re genuinely going to be in for a great read.

One of my goals this year is to reduce the amount of money I spend on books – I want to reduce my TBR but also increase the quality of books I’m reading. If I know I’m not going to enjoy a book, I’d rather not read it. Part of this is also not subscribing to book subscription boxes – I already pick and choose which boxes I buy, and make sure it’s a book I know I want to read. That being said, I realised at the end of last year that I really struggle to pick up books that have come out of book boxes, even though I would have picked them up if I had bought them alone.

I’d love to know your views and experiences on book hype – let me know down in the comments or tweet me at @annalisebooks.

annalsie

Why I’m NOT reading the new John Green book…

Evening book lovers!

Today is the 10th October and also the release date of the heavily anticipated new John Green book – Turtles All The Way Down.

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(Is anyone else underwhelmed by the cover? There’s exactly ZERO turtles.)

Unlike what feels like most of the YA community, I won’t be reading this (yet?).

Why?

The short answer is that I am on a book-buying ban and so all the books I’m desperately lusting after have been relegated to the christmas list.

The long answer is… I just feel meh.

I read Looking For Alaska years ago; it was one of the first YA books I read. There was hype around this book and it just didn’t do it for me.

I read The Fault in our Stars around publication day and thought it was ok, then reread it in preparation for the film and absolutely loved it.

Yet I still have two John Green books on my TBR (An Abundance of Katherines and Will Grayson, Will Grayson), both of which I have started and struggled to get through. Maybe John Green is just not for me, or maybe I should give his new book a chance (although the premise doesn’t excite me the same way a lot of YA books do?)

Please let me know if you’ll be reading Turtles All The Way Down, and if you have/haven’t read it, let me know why! I’d love to hear all of your opinions 🙂

annalsie

Genuine Fraud by E Lockhart


I took part in a stunt at YALC for Hot Key Books where I dressed up as the main character in the novel and handed out samplers for this book! In return, Hot Key Books sent me a copy of this book – thank you so much to them!

If I had to describe this book in one word, it would be confusing. It’s hard to talk too much about this book without spoiling anything, but it is a suspense novel about two friends, Jule and Immie, and it takes place in reverse chronological order, all over the world (London, San Francisco, Mexico, New York, Martha’s Vineyard…).

The reverse chronological order was new for me, and I liked the little reveals as you go through the book. However, I was confused, especially as Jule impersonates Imogen at times, and there wasn’t a big reveal at the end that made everything click into place. I also found some of the male characters (Forrest, Isaac, Paolo) to be a bit too similar, and so I was confused who was who…

I enjoyed E Lockhart’s usual themes and social commentary around women, privilege, education, etc., but there was a lack of wow factor with this book. That being said, I am looking forward to diving into some of her older work, especially The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, which comes well recommended by Holly Bourne herself.

annalsie

Alex & Eliza by Melissa de la Cruz

Disclaimer: I had the entire Hamilton soundtrack in my head the entire time I read this.


Alex & Eliza is the (embellished) story of how Alexander Hamilton and Elizabeth Schuyler met and fell in love. Those of you unaware of these two characters – go and listen to the Hamilton soundtrack from start to finish, now.

I got this book as an early copy during YALC and because it has a gorgeous cover – it’s a beautiful pearlescent pink with a subtle pattern that looks like old wallpaper (it looks good, I promise!).

I really enjoyed this book – it’s a historical novel, where Melissa de la Cruz has taken some creative liberty to tell the story of how Alex and Eliza met and fell in love. I believe not much is known about this time so I think this story is more fiction than non-fiction, but it was enjoyable (if you take it with a pinch of salt, of course!). It’s set in the late 1700s in the recently-formed United States of America, and it’s full of historical setting and backstory which I really liked (although sometimes it did read like an infodump).

What I didn’t get when I picked up this book is what story it was going to tell – this isn’t a novelisation of Hamilton the musical, it’s set in the early years of Hamilton’s career when he meets and marries Eliza. I thought this book might be set over the years of their marriage but it ends with their wedding day (hopefully not a spoiler that they get married!).

I was a little disappointed with the characters of Angelica and Peggy who are much more fun in the musical, but overall it was an enjoyable read and one that will look very nice on my shelf!

annalsie