Book Blogging

Review: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am officially so bad at this whole ‘actually reviewing a book after I’ve read it’ thing. Life has been busy and getting in the way – I’m moving back home this week and will be reunited with my toppling TBR pile. I’m also really hoping to get into vlogging, which has been something I’ve wanted to do for a while now but has never really materialised.

So, the book, I want to discuss today is a new release, and it’s The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. I read this book a while ago and absolutely loved it, and I’m so glad to see it’s been so successful in the States and am looking forward to it dropping over here in the UK too. I was lucky enough to receive a copy from the publisher (Walker Books UK) back in December and I was so excited – this has been one of, if not the, most anticipated releases of 2017.

The Hate U Give is the story of Starr Carter, a black girl living in a poor neighbourhood, who witnesses the death of her best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. The fallout from Khalil’s death, and the tensions between Starr’s family and the rest of the neighbourhood, leave Starr in a difficult position trying to balance her life and what she should or should not stand up and say.

It’s safe to say I loved this book. Starr’s voice is unique (partly due to the lack of black representation in YA fiction) and realistic, and this story is gripping and fresh. This is such an important book, and as a story inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, is really one to get you thinking and talking. I really loved how Angie tackled some really important topics in this novel, including class divide, gang culture, Black Lives Matter, media representation and violence.

It’s safe to say we have a modern classic on our hands here, and I would implore you to go out on 6 April and purchase yourself a copy of The Hate U Give. If you’re looking for the best of 2017 YA, here it is.

View all my reviews

annalsie

Wing Jones Photo Tour!

Wing Jones is the much anticipated debut novel from Katherine Webber, publishing 5th January 2017 in the UK. With a grandmother from China and another from Ghana, fifteen-year-old Wing is often caught between worlds. But when tragedy strikes, Wing discovers a talent for running she never knew she had. Wing’s speed could bring her family everything it needs. It could also stop Wing getting the one thing she wants…

I loved Wing Jones and you can read my review here.

Katherine Webber was born in Southern California but has lived in Atlanta, Hawaii, Hong Kong and now in London. For several years she worked at the reading charity BookTrust, where she worked on projects such as The Letterbox Club which delivers parcels of books to children in care, and YALC, the Young Adult Literature Convention. You can find her on Twitter @kwebberwrites

Throughout January, over 40 bloggers will be participating in the #WJphototour – a photo blog tour documenting Katherine’s path to publishing her debut novel. From childhood memories that inspired her writing to her time living in Atlanta and Asia that influenced the book to authors she’s met over the years right up to receiving her first finished copy of the book, follow along to see Katherine’s author life unfold! Keep an eye on the hashtag to see the latest photos!

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This picture makes me laugh so much (thank you Stacey for capturing this moment!) Even though I’ve done a lot of events, this was my first ever official WING JONES event, where I was talking about my own book and not someone else’s. It was at the Walker Christmas Blogger evening, and it was so wonderful to do my first WJ event with so many friends and lovely people. I am so grateful to have so much support for this book—it means the world to me!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this stop on the Wing Jones photo tour and the book itself as much I have!

annalsie

Review: The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr

The One Memory of Flora Banks
The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**Disclaimer: Advance Copy received from the Publisher from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review**

The One Memory of Flora Banks is the story of Flora, who suffers from anterograde amnesia. She can remember everything from before she was 10, but every morning she has to read her story to find out who she is. Flora’s life is confusing for Flora, as she is creating no new memories – that is, not until she kisses her best friend’s ex-boyfriend, which she remembers in all its vibrancy. When Drake moves away to the North Pole, Flora believes she must follow him as he is the key to her gaining her memory back.

Flora’s story was incredibly vivid and realistic for me – it felt like I was in her thoughts and the entire story is written in a really compelling way. The world was also superbly described and vivid, and this makes a perfect winter read. All of the characters in this story are understandable and easy to empathise with, and that’s what really made this book realistic and relatable for me.

The writing here is clever in that Flora’s voice is very young but it’s not for everyone – due to Flora’s condition, there are parts of the novel which feel very repetitive and can easily be glossed over.

One thing that did leave me a little uneasy was this whole trope that the love of a teenage boy can cure you, and I was worried in this book that that’s where it was going. Although it didn’t in the end, opening that entire narrative (when it’s really common in other YA novels) is dangerous, and there are too many books on the market that end in a character being ‘cured’ of their mental illness. This is something that really irks me as it suggests that disability is something that can be and should be cured. I’d love to read more novels where a disabled character simply carries on – and personally, I feel we should have more disabled characters in novels where disability isn’t their entire story.

Overall, a book that perhaps isn’t for everyone, but one that transported me into Flora’s world and kept me reading until the grand reveal.

View all my reviews

annalsie

Review: Animal Farm by George Orwell

Animal Farm
Animal Farm by George Orwell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’m finally on winter break and reading a tonne – I think (fingers crossed) I’m over my reading slump! I have a load of reviews to catch up on and hopefully will be posting more regularly over the coming weeks.

Animal Farm is a novella by George Orwell which was written during World War Two (in 1943, to be exact). What at first appears to be the story of farm animals rebelling against their farmer and setting up their own farm, is underneath a political statement about communism and Stalinist Russia. Really, this book is an education – if only you can understand the metaphors and relate the actions of the characters in the book to what actually happened in Russian history.

I genuinely loved this book – it’s clever and educational as well as being relatively easy to read and understand. I did have to look up who each character is playing (e.g. Napoleon as Stalin, Snowball as Trotsky) and the significance of the events in the book (e.g. the Battle of the Windmill is an allegory to the Battle of Stalingrad).

Animal Farm is a quick read (it’ s just over 100 pages) that is an interesting observation of society and human nature, as well as a statement on Russia in the early 20th century.

Definitely worth a read, especially if you’re trying to read more classics!

View all my reviews

annalsie

Review: Inferno by Catherine Doyle

Inferno
Inferno by Catherine Doyle

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So I finally read Inferno in anticipation for Mafiosa (coming January 2017) and now I wish I’d waited a little longer because I need to get my hands on the third and final book…

Inferno. What can I say? (No, seriously, it’ s been SO LONG since I last reviewed because I’ve been super busy with my job…)

Inferno is the second book in the Blood for Blood series by Cat Doyle (the first book was Vendetta), and this series is a genuinely refreshing take on teen romance. Set in mafia-run Chicago, in the first book we saw Sophie Gracewell fall for Nic Falcone, who just so happened to be a member of one of Chicago’s notorious mafia families.

Now, most YA series would leave it there. Boy meets girl, boy and girl overcome challenges to be together. But what’s great about Inferno is that Sophie realises that Nic is not this perfect dreamboat, and he is actually a bad guy. And not a bad guy in a sexy ‘oh, so this guy so happens to murder people but oh my god he’s so good looking in his leather jacket’ kinda way, but in a ‘yep, this guy is a bonafide murderer’ way. These were the vibes I was getting in Vendetta, and it’s so satisfying to see an author run with it – Sophie and Nic’s story was perfect for me (trying so hard not to be spoilery but I think this was all clear in Vendetta).

Inferno is full of shocking revelations, action-filled sequences and enough bad guys to fill a whole season of Vampire Diaries. Honestly, I spent the book not knowing what was going to happen – Inferno wasn’t predictable or clichéd and it was a genuine rollercoaster of emotion.

I’m really looking forward to Mafiosa and how Sophie’s story will tie up – Inferno wasn’t a soggy second book in the series, and the stakes are now higher than ever. Definitely a recommendation for me, even if you weren’t the biggest fan of the first book.

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Review: The Deviants by C.J. Skuse

The Deviants
The Deviants by C.J. Skuse

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A huge thank you to Cara at MIRA INK for the advance copy of this book – this is a review copy received in exchange for an honest review.

Set in a sleepy English Seaside town, Ella is one of five friends who were inseparable when they were younger. Something happened though, and now Ella is only in touch with Max, her boyfriend since she was thirteen years old. Five years later, the friends end up reconnecting – but they all have secrets and lies of their own, some dating from their friendship, and some a little newer.

This book has so many layers – the format is quite interesting, with a question being asked of the main protagonist, Ella, at the end of each chapter. I really liked this as it made me read on, and, without giving too much away, I will say this: this book is shocking and intriguing at every twist and turn.

C.J. is a master of suspense, and I loved how issues within the book were dealt with – I wasn’t prepared for many of the themes of the book which may be a little troubling for those with triggers as the book touches on some quite serious issues (I don’t want to spoil the book without revealing what they are, but I’d be happy to divulge via private message).

If you’re looking for a great suspenseful novel full of secrets and lies, this is a fantastic choice and a great autumn YA read to boot.

View all my reviews

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

Review: Cuckoo by Keren David

Cuckoo
Cuckoo by Keren David

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It’s been a while since I read Cuckoo (I read it during YALC weekend!) but I’ve been way behind on my reviewing due to a job offer(!) and trying to pack up to move house…

Cuckoo is the story of Jake, an actor in Market Square, the country’s hottest soap. Except he’s pretty much been dropped, and his family are suffering from the lack of income. His dad’s angrier, and Jake’s autistic brother Adam can be difficult to deal with – and then Jake finds out none of the money he’s earned over the years has been saved. Soon, he finds himself homeless – hidden at first, couchsurfing on all his friend’s sofas, and then on the street.

The first thing I should probably mention is the format of this book – it’s fairly short, split into short chapters which are each the script of an individual video. The book is Jake telling his story through the medium of vlogging, and there are comments at the end of each chapter. It’s a really unique format, and after reading another scriptbook this month (Cursed Child), this actually does work – there are enough characters in each chapter, each with a unique voice, that it really is effortless to read.

As someone who has an autistic sibling, I thought the character of Adam was dealt with particularly well. I think it’s easy when writing autistic characters to slip into constant tropes, and I didn’t think this happened here.

If you’re looking for something truly unique (especially in format, which was particularly innovative), and a quick read for summer that tackles some difficult issues, look no further than Cuckoo by Keren David.

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Blog Tour – The Regulars by Georgia Clark

Today I’m hosting something a little bit different – it’s Day One of The Regulars blog tour and I’m delighted to present a piece by Georgia Clark, the author of The Regulars, on how she came to write the book.

The Regulars has been described as the ‘Dorian Grey for the Girls generation‘ and is perfect for Lena Dunham and Amy Poehler fans.

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Best friends Evie, Krista and Willow are just trying to make it through their mid-twenties in New York. They’re regular girls with typical quarter life crises: making it up
the corporate ladder, making sense of online dating, and making rent.
Until they come across Pretty, a magic tincture that makes them, well …gorgeous. Like,
supermodel gorgeous. With a single drop, each young woman gets the gift of
jaw-dropping beautyfor one week, presenting them with unimaginable opportunities to make their biggest fantasies come true.
But there’s a dark side to Pretty, too, and as the gloss fades for these modern-
day Cinderellas, there’s just one question left: What would you sacrifice to be Pretty?
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Georgia Clark dishes the dirt on how she came to write the hot new novel, The Regulars.

As a child, I was enamored with my own beauty.

I’m compelled to describe myself in an early diary entry, doing so as follows: “I have long, wavy, golden hair and big, beautiful blue eyes.” My faith in my wonderful good looks was palatable, and I took delight in dressing in bright, showy colors, unafraid to stand out, peacock-like, from the crowd. Which is why it was so odd to find myself in my late-20s/early 30s convinced of my own Quasimodo-esque ugliness. The mirror was a horrorshow, reflecting back nothing golden or beautiful. Instead, I saw thin lips, a witches’ chin and dark circles on par with two black eyes. Despite having a boisterous group of friends, promising career, and exciting life in New York, love eluded me, and the reason (I was sure) was my own physical failings.

On meeting my partner, these feelings began to fade. Her daily affirmations that I was delightful in every way helped me see the girl in the mirror in a more positive light again. I might not be a supermodel, but I certainly wasn’t ugly. So why had a spent a long period of an otherwise happy life feeling that I was? And if I felt that way, surely other women felt that way too.

This inspired me to start thinking on beauty. Where do messages about beauty find us, how do they affect us, how do different women respond to these messages differently. What is beauty? How does a modern feminist reconcile her own empowerment with very real feelings of physical inadequacy? These thoughts and more were bubbling in the back of my brain when one night, inspiration struck. I was at home alone, working on the edits to my YA sci-fi novel, Parched, when a concept popped in my head. A serum. That turns you pretty: objectively, definitively. But only for a week at a time. ‘Hm’, I thought, putting my notes aside. ‘That’s interesting’. Less than a minute later, a scene began playing in my head, as crystal clear as a feature film. Three young women. A tiny bottle of Pretty, something from a modern fairytale. An impossible transformation, as visceral and gross as it was funny and unexpected. Someone comes home: ah, an excuse is needed! What next? Who knows… As soon as the scene stopped playing – a gift from on high, a missive from the muse – I knew, without a doubt, that was a novel. A year and a half later, I finished The Regulars.

Georgia Clark is an author, screenwriter and journalist who is widely published in women’s and lifestyle magazines, and writes for TV. She is enthusiastically vegetarian, proudly queer, definitely a city-dweller, a long-time lover and supporter of the arts and an advocate for the empowerment of young women.
You can follow Georgia at @georgialouclark, sign up to her mailing list at www.georgiaclark.com, and like her author page on Facebook.
The Regulars is available NOW in hardback from all good bookstores!
Don’t forget to check out the rest of the tour:
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I can’t wait to pick this one up – can you?

annalsie

YALC 2016: Day 1!

This year I was lucky enough to attend YALC for the entire weekend! This weekend was made extra special by the fact that I made some friends the day before at a meet-up organised my Karen (A Simple Cup of Tea), which I would heavily recommend doing. Thanks so much Demet, Karen, Lily, Chantal and Kalie (and everyone else!) for an absolutely fantastic weekend!

I first rocked up to Olympia at 8.30am and found my newly-founded squad, then we were let loose on YALC at 9am. The first thing we found – and seriously, I was NOT expecting this – was a GEMINA arc. I wasn’t a huge fan of Illuminae but I’m hoping this will be better and will be posting my honest review (and possibly hosting a giveaway!).

The first panel I headed up was BEHIND THE MAGIC: MAGICAL SYSTEMS IN YA. The panel was led by Katherine Webber, with V E Schwab, Sally Green, Taran Matharu and Mel Salisbury and was a real highlight of the weekend – I even asked a question about how they create a magical system that is original!

After the panel, I got my copy of THE ART OF BEING NORMAL by Lisa Williamson signed – she was so lovely and the book is amazing (definitely a must-read!).

I then headed to the SHE WHO LAUGHS LAST LAUGHS THE LAUGHIEST: HUMOUR IN YA panel, headed up by Claire Hennessy and featuring Katy Birchall, Nat Luurtsema, Jenny McLachlan and Holly Smale. This was another great panel and the panelists were so funny!

Next up was a fan favourite – the A MONSTER CALLS talk with Patrick Ness, who wrote the book, and Lewis MacDougall, who plays Conor in the film adaptation. This was an interesting talk surrounding the movie. After the talk, I got my copy of A Monster Calls signed by Patrick and Lewis which was a nice touch.

Now for the highlight of the day – the Fantasy London panel chaired by Katherine Webber, and featuring V E Scwab, Ben Aaronovitch and Samantha Shannon. Learning about their interpretations of fantasy London was so interesting! An absolute highlight of the week. After the talk, I got my copies of A Darker Shade of Magic and This Savage Song signed by V E Schwab who was SO nice and hung around YALC all weekend.

This is the AMAZING book wall which made a triumphant return!

Day 1 haul included a beautiful copy of Nevernight by Jay Kristoff (£10 from the Harper Voyager stand!)

The NEW Mel Salisbury short story The King of Rats was available on the Scholastic stand – I’ll be waiting to read this one but very glad I have it!

Here is a picture of the gang in front of the book wall!

Day 1 of YALC was so amazing – next up will be Day 2!

Thanks for reading – how did you enjoy the first day of YALC?

annalsie