books

Review: FLOORED

34372905

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

Advertisements

Review: How Do You Like Me Now? by Holly Bourne

34538386

It’s time to review a book I read a while back and LOVED (I swear one day the paces of my reading and reviewing will match!)

If you’re a Young Adult Fan, chances are you already know (and love!) Holly Bourne’s books – she has given us the fantastic Spinster Club series and a myriad of other delectable stand-alones – most recently It Only Happens In The Movies, with her next book Are We All Lemmings and Snowflakes out on August 9th.

Holly’s books are always relatable and humorous, and this, her first adult novel is no exception – in fact, it hits a little too close to home (in a good way)! 

Tori Bailey is a young woman on the edge of turning 30, trying to write the follow-up to her best-selling self-help memoir. Her friends around her are settling down and having babies, while Tori is dating a guy who won’t entertain the idea of marriage and children.

HDYLMN can be sad at times, but Tori is a funny, honest and relatable character. If you’re a little bit older than the typical YA audience, it’s time to dive into Holly’s first adult book which is sure to be a huge success.

annalsie

Review: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

 

eleanor_oliphant

Disclaimer: An eGalley of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I don’t think I can say much more about Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine than has already been said: this book is utterly amazing, an absolute must-read and I bought myself a finished paperback after I read the eBook (the UK cover is striking (get it? because it has matches on the cover?)). Safe to say, this book gets my seal of approval.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine follows Eleanor Oliphant, a woman who struggles with social situations, who forms an unexpected friendship with a man from work when they save a man who has fallen on the sidewalk. This is a book that balances sad and funny moments, and it’s such a brilliant and memorable debut that I can’t wait to see what Gail Honeyman does next. I’m also interested to see how the film adaptation goes.

This book has already won the WHSmith Book of the Year Award and the Costa Book Award for First Novel, but if you needed a push to read this, here it is. You won’t regret it.

annalsie

Review: All of This is True by Lygia Day Peñaflor

35068735

Disclaimer: An eGalley of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

All of This is True is the story of a group of high school friends who befriend their favourite author, spilling their darkest secrets. Their favourite author then betrays them by writing a book obviously based on them and their secrets.The story is told through interviews and case files – think the Illuminae Files set in a contemporary world and without the cool graphics. There are also snippets of the book based on their lives set throughout the novel, showing the similarities between real events and the fictional novel.

My problem with this book is similar to my problem with books like the Illuminae Files – adding in interviews and case files takes the reader one more step away from the character. It’s much harder to empathise and sympathise with the characters and so it’s harder to… care. There’s no insight into the thoughts and feelings of these characters, just boring dialogue. There’s a reason most books do not just consist of dialogue, because the description surrounding that dialogue gives us an insight into the character that plain dialogue just does not.

In this book, I also found it difficult to differentiate between the different characters – they were simply too similar to each other, and again, this is symptomatic of the style the book is written in.

All that aside, I did find this book difficult to put down – it is a thriller after all, and I did want to find out what happened in the end.

An interesting concept, but one that just didn’t work for me unfortunately.

annalsie

Why I won’t be attending YALC this year

I’ve attended YALC for the past three years and I thought I’d be attending this year, but I’ve made the decision to give it a miss. I’ve been conflicted about this because I will have extreme FOMO, and I’ve made so many great friends in the bookish community who I’d love to catch up with over the YALC weekend. I’ve had some great times at previous YALCs, finally meeting twitter friends and making new friends over the weekend.

If you’re interested in my previous YALC posts, here they are:

YALC 2016: Day 1!

YALC 2017: The Wrap-Up

YALC, ARCs, and other Acronyms

 

  1. Cost

I mentioned this as one of my YALC hang-ups last year – it’s not cheap attending YALC. The biggest cost for me would be hotels (over £100 a night) and once you’ve added in train tickets and the ticket to the event itself, I’d be looking at over £500 for a weekend. I think I’d be happy to pay this if I didn’t have other problems with YALC, but I do (and I will discuss them below). 

It’s important to also factor in the cost of food and eating out (it’s lovely to have a meal after a long day at the convention, but it can still be expensive or awkward on a tight budget) and the fact that I cannot control myself when it comes to buying books. I bought a few books on recommendation of friends, and also got a few books pre-release (last year it was Loneliest Girl by Lauren James). The atmosphere of YALC can make it very difficult to stop yourself from buying books, and some events will have you running to Waterstones as soon as the event has finished to pick up the entire backlist of this inspiring author you’ve just discovered.

I’m not entirely sure what could be done about reducing the cost of YALC – potentially moving from a central London location, not being part of London Film and Comic Con… I’m not sure there’s an easy answer.

For me, I’ll hopefully be moving back to London at the end of this year and so next year’s YALC will be cheaper for me to attend. The money saved from not going to YALC I’m sure will come in handy too. 

2. Accessibility/comfort

From my experiences last year, YALC needs to be a lot more clued up around making the event accessible. My main concern is around proof drops being announced on Twitter and expecting attendees to run for ARCs, but there are also issues around long queues for authors and a lack of comfortable seating.

The seats last year for the panel events really hurt my back, and so I went to very few panel events. There’s a general lack of seating (and it’s even worse at LFCC) around the floor, and so I spent a lot of time sitting on a very hard floor, making my back and legs hurt. I’d love there to be more comfy chairs for people to sit around and get to know each other better.

3. ARCs

This is a big one for me – I’ve written previously about how the distribution of proofs and ARCs at YALC can be ableist, anxiety-inducing and I actually think they can ruin the spirit of YALC. Pitting bloggers against one another ruins the community spirit. Last year, I experienced pushing, shoving, long queues for proofs, and embarrassing challenges. The saddest part for me is that I had some bad first impressions of new bloggers, especially those who fought for (sometimes multiple copies of) proofs just to trade them away on Twitter days later.

So many publishers announce their giveaways on Twitter and often during popular panels which leads bloggers to have to decide between seeing their favourite authors and possibly getting their hands on a favourite new book. I shouldn’t have to carry around my phone all weekend, using up my data plan and running low on battery, just to be able to take part in YALC. 

On the ARCs themselves – I am overwhelmed with the number of books on my TBR pile, and some of the ARCs I got from YALC last year I didn’t end up reading because they were inundated with bad reviews. There have been some real gems that I’ve loved, but I don’t think it’s a particularly great idea this year for me to supplement my book shelves with another stack of books just before the big move (and also I think my bookshelves may actually collapse).

4. Attendees

At this moment in time, 75% of authors attending have been announced – and honestly, I have met and loved most of the list. It’s not a bad thing to have authors who have previously attended on the list, but no-one has been announced who I just have to go and meet because this will be my only opportunity. A lot of UKYA authors will be touring the UK with their future books, and there is plenty of opportunity to meet them at other times – and you’ll probably get to spend a little more time talking to them. 

I’m hoping to discuss this more in a later blog post, but I haven’t been impressed with the diversity of authors announced so far – for example, there are only a handful of BAME authors attending. I don’t want to comment on this fully now until the entire author list has been announced and the timetable has been confirmed. I’m also hoping to address soon the fact I’d love to see YALC better facilitated to introduce bloggers and inspire bloggers and vloggers to collaborate and create content, rather than the focus being on meeting authors, but again, I will address that once the full programme has been released.

5. Exploitative/uncomfortable atmosphere

I wasn’t sure whether to mention this, but LFCC is built on fans paying good money to buy a signed photograph and talk to their favourite star (quite often, but not always, a woman they’ve seen scantily clad on TV). 

It’s a majority male (but not exclusively male) event, with many popular fandoms represented (Doctor Who, Star Wars, Marvel Cinematic Universe, etc.). Cosplay for women (from a quick Google Image search) is often typified as tight-fitting with a heavy focus on boobs – that’s not to say that all women who cosplay dress that way, but that cosplay for women is almost expected to be overtly sexy, in a way that men’s cosplay just isn’t. 

Contrast this with the mainly young female audience of YALC.

I (and many other YALC attendees) have ventured down onto the lower floors of LFCC to see the stars of TV and Film, to look at the Funko Pops and to purchase a few choice items from the well-stocked market stalls on offer. I’ve never felt threatened or uncomfortable, but it’s easy to see why someone could. 

There are also sometimes awkward interactions between publishers and bloggers and this is mostly around ARCs and proofs and bloggers desperately wanting to get their hands on them. This is exonerated when publishers make bloggers perform silly challenges like dancing, lying on the floor, taking part in a game, etc. 

 

 

If you’re attending YALC this year, please don’t worry about my reasons for not attending – it is a great event where the whole YA community comes together for the weekend and I’ve made so many friends attending YALC in the past. 

Please let me know what you think, either in the comments or over on Twitter @annalisebooks x

annalsie

The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

23197837

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

Thoughts on Bookish Boxes

Dear lovely readers,

I want to talk today about Book Subscription Boxes. As I sit and write this, I have a small pile of the cardboard boxes that contain all the bookish goodies next to me – I love using the boxes themselves to store things – papers, nail varnishes, bits and bobs etc.

At the end of last year, I moved by entire TBR onto another bookshelf (and a shelf on my ‘Read’ bookshelf because my TBR is HUGE) and finally got a really good look at what I don’t tend to pick up. I don’t tend to pick up big books (too intimidating!), the first book in a series (must read the rest of the series before forgetting what happened in the first book!) and hardbacks. I find it hard to find the time to read hardbacks because I don’t like carting them around on the commute in my backpack, I can’t take them with me when I travel for work (too big!) and I find them bulky and cumbersome to read. That being said, I love to look at hardbacks – pristine and shiny, often unread.

I also noticed something else, undeniably linked – I don’t seem to read books that come in book boxes.

giphy

So, I’m not a hardcore subscriber of book boxes. In an attempt to be somewhat careful with my money, I only buy boxes when 1. I know what book is likely to arrive, and 2. I really want to read that book. Otherwise, I can’t justify paying that much for a box, when I’m unlikely to ever read the book.

Despite this, I still don’t seem to pick up the books that arrive in a book box. Sometimes, it’s because the book gets bad reviews and my interest wanes (this happens more than you would think), and sometimes it’s just the fact that a hardback is unlikely to be my next read.

giphy1

I do often enjoy the little book-related goodies that come in book boxes – I particularly like candles (although finding a place to burn them can be difficult!), mugs, coasters, etc. I’m less interested when I don’t ‘understand’ a piece – it comes from a fandom I have no knowledge of, or concerns a character I just don’t care about.

The one thing I do want to say on bookish goodies – I am really not a fan of food. I have food allergies so I’m unlikely to be able to dig into any treats that arrive in the box – and people with more severe allergies may react to just opening the box. Bath treats and candles should steer clear of allergens too – or state them clearly.

I also don’t drink tea – I much prefer a fruit tea, but haven’t tried any of the teas I’ve received so far. I know a lot of people do love tea though (and it feels like a good book accompaniment) so this is 100% personal preference.

giphy2

So where does that leave me and book boxes?

Honestly, I’m pretty happy with my current policy of waiting to see when book boxes are announced and deciding if I really need that book. I won’t buy a box unless I know what book it is coming with, and even then, I’ve been trying to cut down on book buying anyway, so it’ll have to be a really anticipated release for me to indulge.

That being said, I think they’re definitely worth trying – I really do love many of the little goodies inside the boxes, and I love sniffing the bookish candle collection I’ve built up.

 

What are your thoughts on bookish boxes – are you an ardent subscriber, book box newbie or something in between? Let me know!

annalsie