juno dawson

YALC Reading List Part 5!

It’s Part 5 of the YALC Reading List!

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

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

Let’s get started, shall we?

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36. Natasha Carthew

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

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

37. Cat Clarke

Book to read: The Lost and the Found

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

38. Keren David

Book to read: Cuckoo

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

39. Ben Davis

Book to read: The Private Blog of Joe Cowley series

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

40. Juno Dawson

Book to read: Mind Your Head

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

41. Catherine Doyle

Book to read: Vendetta/Inferno

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

42. Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison

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

43. Natasha Farrant

Book to read: Lydia, the Bad Bennet girl

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

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

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

Annalise x

 

Review: Spot the Difference by Juno Dawson

Spot the Difference
Spot the Difference by Juno Dawson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Spot the Difference is a novella, written especially for World Book Day by Juno Dawson. SPD focuses on Avery, a year 10 girl with severe acne, who is getting severely bullied for it. When a new experimental drug becomes available, Avery’s skin clears up – and her social life blooms. Suddenly, she’s in the A-List, with a hot boyfriend and everything’s going well – except she’s neglecting her friends.

Spot the Difference has to be the first book I’ve read which tackles the very common affliction that is teenage acne. Many characters in YA are flawless, with perfect skin, at a perfect weight, and seemingly without any physical or mental illness or disability. SPD introduces a cast of outcasts and cool kids – with Avery’s friend Lois with an underdeveloped arm, while her other friend Jessica is overweight. This was a huge breath of fresh air, although I would love to see more YA novels where disabled and overweight characters are allowed to be ‘cool’.

Although I enjoyed the story and the overall moral – but I found the instant rocketship to popularity once Avery’s face had healed a little unrealistic. In reality, if one of your ‘flaws’ ceases to be, it’s much more likely bullies will find something else to bully you for.

There was a lot going on in this novella, and this story would have easily worked for a full novel – the characters were well-rounded and developed, and there’s a full story arc.

A fun short story read, that tackles some serious issues that haven’t yet been tackled with sufficiently in YA. Highly recommended (and only £1!)

View all my reviews

Review: Mind Your Head by Juno Dawson

 

Mind Your Head is the kind of book which makes me want to invent time-travel just so I could go back and hand out copies to 14-year-old me and friends. It’s the kind of book I’m recommending to all of my friends now, even though I’m older than the target audience. And it’s the kind of book which may even save a life.

After some wonderful Twitter chats concerning Disability (#SundayYA) and Mental Health (#UKYAChat), I wished I could read a book which would guide me through the different terms and types of mental illness. Weirdly enough, I realised I already knew of one – Mind Your Head by Juno Dawson. After nipping down to my local bookshop, I devoured the book in one night – and felt more educated as a consequence.

Mind Your Head is a book I think teenagers have been crying out for. It’s non-fiction, written in a friendly and funny way, with fun illustrations and personal anecdotes throughout. It reminded me of a Horrible Science book (which I loved when I was younger) – it’s fun, informative, and you forget that you’re actually learning.

We all have mental health – you really don’t need to be diagnosed with a disorder to read this book.

When I was a teenager, I didn’t think much at all about mental health. I knew of a few girls who suffered from panic attacks in lessons, but I didn’t understand anything about them. As with all teenage girls, I was very conscious about my weight, and I did get bullied a bit. I also read a lot, watched a lot of TV – which I think helped as I navigated through exams, exams, more exams and an incredible amount of friendship drama. I probably wouldn’t have though I needed this book – but there’s something for everyone. Everyone’s bullied or been bullied (often both). Everyone’s felt sad or anxious or nervous. Everyone’s experienced some kind of emotion.

When I got to university (still a teenager, but an older one), mental health became a much bigger deal. It wouldn’t be an overstatement to say all of my best friends have mental health issues of some flavour – I have close friends battling depression, anxiety, panic attacks, self-harm… you name it, I know someone who has experience with it. Reading this book helped with understanding my friends (some of whom do not like to discuss their issues) and my own mental health. Did my friends problems start at 18? Some of them did, but most of them came to university with years of mental health issues under their belts. It wasn’t that my friends when I was at school didn’t have mental health problems, it was more that it wasn’t talked about.

Books like Mind Your Head make mental health easier to talk about. It’s easier to talk about what you read in a book than open up about your own feelings sometimes.

  • Highlights for me:
    Mentioning that the first doctor you see might not be the right one for you – in my experience, this applies to all health problems. You’ll be much more likely to get healthier (both mentally and physically) if you can get on with your doctor and get the help you need.
  • Support – it’s acknowledged that support comes from different places. It doesn’t have to be from a doctor or therapist, it can be as simple as talking to friends and family or reading.
  • There’s a really great section on academic success. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that at a top university (such as my own), mental illness is of epidemic proportions – and academic success is a huge source of stress for teenagers (and students of all ages).

TL;DR: This book is bloody brilliant, and I want to walk around handing out free copies (but unfortunately I probably can’t afford to do that).

Annalise x

P.S. I would love to see a similar book discussing things that affect teenage girls in more detail – periods, pregnancy, masturbation (I spent most of my teenage years convinced I had miraculously conceived) – and when to go to the doctor. Being taught about idealised biology (as an example, I was taught that every woman has a 28 day cycle – and I didn’t, so that was a source of stress and worry) can do some harm as well as good. What this books really excels in is being honest and talking about what is normal and what isn’t, and I think this would apply really well to other topics.

Have you read this book? What did you think? Comment below or tweet me at @AnnaliseBooks 🙂