london belongs to us

YALC Reading List Part 8!

I’m back! June was a really busy month for me, with the end of university and having to pack and move – but it’s not less than a month to go until YALC and so I’m here to complete the reading list!

You can catch up or re-read the first seven parts here – one, two, three, four, five, six and seven!

Let’s get back into it…

57. Nat Luurtsema

Book to read: Girl Out Of Water

I’ve seen a lot of this book around lately on the Twittersphere, and it looks like a great read for fans of Rae Earl, Holly Smale and Jenny McLachlan (think My Mad Fat Diary, Geek Girl, Flirty Dancing…). When Lou Brown’s best friend swims though to the Olympic time trials, she had to adapt to a new life post-swim without her best friend… and a chance encounter with three boys could change her life forever. This one has some really great reviews, so if you’re looking for something to read that’s fun and summery, give this one a go.

58. Sarra Manning

Book to read: London Belongs To Us

I’m a big fan of Sarra, and have loved some of her adult novels – I recently read and reviewed her most recent young adult novel, London Belong To Us, here. It’s a really fun summer read and a beautiful ode to London, brimming with diverse and realistic characters. It’s such a quick read too, so perfect to pick up before YALC.

59. Taran Matharu

Book to read: The Novice/The Inquisition

I was really impressed with Taran last year at YALC, where he appeared on the panel for young authors. His first book, the Novice, found fame on Wattpad, and was published last year, with the sequel, The Inqusition, was published in May this year. The Summoner series revolves around an apprentice blacksmith who learns he can summon demons, and is put through gruelling training to fight in the war against orcs. The third book in the trilogy is yet to be released.

60. Julie Mayhew

Book to read: The Big Lie

Julie’s debut novel Red Ink was nominated for the 2014 CILIP Carnegie Medal and shortlisted for the 2014 Branford Boase Award. Her most recent novel, The Big Lie, is set in Nazi England and is a coming-of-age novel. Jessika, a future world champion ice skater and all round good girl, is threatened by the beliefs her best friend, Clementine, who is outspoken and radical. The Big Lie sounds really interesting, tackling the issues of sexuality, belief and loyalty.

61. Anna McKerrow

Book to read: Crow Moon

I attended a workshop run by Anna at last year’s YALC, but haven’t picked up any of her work. Crow Moon follows a boy, Danny, who finds himself suddenly powerful and in love with a powerful sorceress, Saba. The second book, Red Witch, came out earlier this year and follows Melz, who runs away from the Greenworld and finds that she is special, desired. Red Witch picks up where Crow Moon left off, but follows a different protagonist.

62. Jenny McLachlan

Book to read: Flirty Dancing

I read the first book in this quadrilogy this year – review here – and really enjoyed it. Each book focuses on one of a former group of friends, and the first book focuses on Bea, who enters a talent competition dancing with the school hottie, Ollie, who happens to be her ex-friend Pearl’s boyfriend (Pearl also has her own book!). These books are so fun, and would again be a quick read to pick up before YALC.

meredith-miller

63. Meredith Miller

Book to read: Little Wrecks

This one isn’t out quite just yet – it’ll be out in Summer 2017! (I guess there’s a small chance of ARCs?) No cover just yet but this one sounds very promising! The novel tells the story of three teenage girls living on Long Island in 1979, and explores themes of sexual violence and mental health.

64. Patrick Ness

Book to read: A Monster Calls

Admittedly, I haven’t read any Patrick Ness – I’ve looked into buying some of his work but nothing has screamed out at me (probably a good thing looking at the state of my TBR). A lot of people are big fans though, and he has won every major Children’s book prize, including the Carnegie medal – twice. He’ll be talking about the film adaptation of his book A Monster Calls (of which he also wrote the screenplay), which is about a monster that turns up at Conor’s doorstep – it’s just not the monster he expected from his nightmares. If and when I pick up a book by Patrick Ness, it’ll probably be this one.

That’s it for this week’s installment – I hope you’ve enjoyed it and I’ll be back next Sunday with more recommendations for this year’s YALC!

Annalise xxx

Review: London Belongs to Us by Sarra Manning

London Belongs to Us
London Belongs to Us by Sarra Manning

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Seventeen-year-old Sunny’s always been a little bit of a pushover. But when she’s sent a picture of her boyfriend kissing another girl, she knows she’s got to act. What follows is a mad, twelve-hour dash around London – starting at 8pm in Crystal Palace (so far away from civilisation you can’t even get the Tube there) then sweeping through Camden, Shoreditch, Soho, Kensington, Notting Hill . . . and ending up at 8am in Alexandra Palace.

Along the way Sunny meets a whole host of characters she never dreamed she’d have anything in common with – least of all the devilishly handsome (and somewhat vain) French ‘twins’ (they’re really cousins) Jean Luc and Vic. But as this love-letter to London shows, a city is only a sum of its parts, and really it’s the people living there who make up its life and soul. And, as Sunny discovers, everyone – from friends, apparent-enemies, famous bands and even rickshaw drivers – is willing to help a girl on a mission to get her romantic retribution.

 

London Belongs To Us is the fourth Sarra Manning novel I’ve read – my first and favourite being Unsticky – and the first YA novel of hers I have read (although she has written loads).

LBTU is the story of Sunny, a mixed-race working-class seventeen-year-old Londoner, who has decided she’s going to lose her virginity to her boyfriend Mark – tonight. It’s the August Bank Holiday weekend (the last weekend in August for all of you non-UKers), and her mum is out of town, and Sunny has the house to herself (although she’s not allowed any of those wild teenage parties that get out of hand!).

Sunny is hanging out with her best friend Emmeline when she gets a text – a photo of her boyfriend, Mark, kissing another girl. What ensues is a 12 hour chase around London landmarks, meeting interesting characters and doing crazy things Sunny would never have dreamed of doing – all so she can dump Mark and get her dignity back.

What I really did like about this novel is the fact that for every London area visited, there’s a little history to really set the mood. What this novel was missing however, was a map. If in doubt, add a map in the front! This is really common in fantasy novels, but I’d also like to see maps in contemporary novels like this one where the story takes place all over a city.

The absolute highlight for me was the characterisation and diversity in this novel. I loved how Sunny was mixed-race and in an interracial relationship and she did encounter racism, but it wasn’t the main arc of the story. So many stories about non-white characters focus on stereotypes – often featuring gangs, drugs and murder. It’s refreshing to see a non-white character who isn’t defined by their skin colour.

On the topic of diversity, there’s a whole host of diverse characters here – the LGBTQ spectrum is well covered, we see characters from a range of different class backgrounds, and, as mentioned earlier, we see characters of different races. The diversity in this novel doesn’t feel forced – it feels natural, as does the characterisation of London.

This novel introduces lots of characters for such a short book, but it’s done well – they are each unique and memorable, as well as being well-developed.

Overall, this is a fun, short novel which is itself an ode to the culture of London. If you’re looking for a quick summer read that gets diversity right, check this one out.

This book reminded me of another recent YA release, You Know Me Well by Nina LaCour and David Levithan, so if you enjoyed that, this would be another great read.
View all my reviews

Annalise x