my favourite manson girl

May 2016 Wrap-Up!

May 2016 has been an interesting month – I’m putting the finishing touches to the last assignment in my 16-year academic career, my thesis in Biophysics. I didn’t think I’d be able to get through many books or blog posts, but it appears instead I’ve broken records. Huh.

Blog Posts

I hope you’ve all been enjoying the YALC Reading List books as much as I’ve been enjoying writing them – they’re a great way of figuring out what books I want to read and get signed before the big weekend in July. I’m so excited to see the timetable tomorrow (1 June) at 9am!

YALC Reading List: Part 3!

YALC Reading List: Part 4!

YALC Reading List Part 5!

YALC Reading List Part SIX!

I’ve also been helping with the UKYA BookBlogger Awards. Here are all the posts from the awards, including the announcement of the winners earlier this week.

2016 UKYA Book Blogger Award Nominations!

UKYA Book Blogger Awards Longlist!

WINNERS of the UKYA Book Blogger Awards!

I also wrote about the boxsets I am so excited to buy, featuring the lovely new boxsets from Leigh Bardugo:

I want ALL of the boxsets!

Books Read

Here I would insert a nice photo of the books I’ve read, but I’m too lazy this month. Next month however…

Iron Fist

The Inventory: Iron Fist by Andy Briggs – review and my stop on the blog tour here.

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Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin – review here.

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A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare

I read this after doing the play at school many years ago, and in preparation for the BBC adaptation (which I’m not entirely sure I’m going to watch – any opinions would be welcome)

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The Crown and the Arrow by Renee Ahdieh

This is a *really* short story bridging the gap between the two books in The Wrath and the Dawn duology.

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A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

OMG. This book. Just go and read this book. 4.77 rating on Goodreads. (I’m planning on publishing my reviews for ACOTAR and ACOMAF over a weekend sometime soon.)

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My Favourite Manson Girl by Alison Umminger – review here

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The Problem with Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout – review here

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Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

I read this in anticipation for the movie – hoping to do a book/film comparison this month!

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The Girls by Emma Cline – review here

So that’s NINE books, in a month I wasn’t really meant to be reading…

I’m hoping June will be just as productive!

What have you read this month? Have you read any of the books on my list? What did you think?

Annalise xxx

Review: The Girls by Emma Cline

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The Girls by Emma Cline

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Girls—their vulnerability, strength, and passion to belong—are at the heart of this stunning first novel for readers of Jeffrey Eugenides’ The Virgin Suicides and Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad.

Northern California, during the violent end of the 1960s. At the start of summer, a lonely and thoughtful teenager, Evie Boyd, sees a group of girls in the park, and is immediately caught by their freedom, their careless dress, their dangerous aura of abandon. Soon, Evie is in thrall to Suzanne, a mesmerizing older girl, and is drawn into the circle of a soon-to-be infamous cult and the man who is its charismatic leader. Hidden in the hills, their sprawling ranch is eerie and run down, but to Evie, it is exotic, thrilling, charged—a place where she feels desperate to be accepted. As she spends more time away from her mother and the rhythms of her daily life, and as her obsession with Suzanne intensifies, Evie does not realize she is coming closer and closer to unthinkable violence, and to that moment in a girl’s life when everything can go horribly wrong.

Emma Cline’s remarkable debut novel is gorgeously written and spellbinding, with razor-sharp precision and startling psychological insight. The Girls is a brilliant work of fiction—and an indelible portrait of girls, and of the women they become.

**Disclaimer: Copy received from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review**

The Girls is the story of Evie, a 14-year-old recovering from her parents’ divorce and falling out with her best friend, Connie. The year is 1969, and soon she is enthralled by Suzanne, an older girl who lives at a rundown ranch in poverty, with a few other girls, all of whom worship one man, Russell. Based on the story of Charles Manson and the Manson girls, this is a hard-hitting book of a childhood filled with sex, drugs, and cult worship, and ultimately, murder. This isn’t just a story though – it is also a social commentary on the role of girls and the expectations flung upon them.

Emma Cline’s writing is beautiful, full of metaphors and insights that make this world so clear. This book is a little intellectual (definitely not Young Adult though told through a teenager’s eyes), and takes place in two timestreams – present day, where Evie is ambling along, imposed upon by a teenage couple who are up to no good, and California, 1969, when Evie was enthralled by a cult. The events of 1969 still clearly haunt her to this day, and so this story is really the one of her making – how her actions as a girl have impacted on her entire life.

This is the second Manson-based book I’ve read this month(!) – the other being My Favourite Manson Girl by Alison Umminger (review here) which is a YA book of a similar dark tone, but this time about a teenager researching the Manson girls. This book is a lot grittier (it is an adult novel, after all), and gets a little more into the action of this story, told by someone who was actually there.

The Girls is a dark summer read, dancing with sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll, and with flecks of a real-life horror that gripped America.

View all my reviews

Annalise x

Review: My Favourite Manson Girl by Alison Umminger

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My Favourite Manson Girl by Alison Umminger

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Anna has had a miserable year. Everything feels wrong with her life. And rather than stay and face the mess, she steals a credit card and books herself a seat on the first flight out of town to Los Angeles, to crash with her sister. But soon after she lands, cold reality soon dawns on her: Hollywood isn’t the escape she needs. She is trapped in a town full of lost souls and wannabes, with no friends, no cash and no return ticket.

When she’s offered a job researching the murderous Manson girls for a dubious film, she reluctantly accepts – she needs the money. But soon enough, among the fake smiles and glitter-fuelled parties, things turn from strange, to dark, to dangerous . . .

This is not going to be the summer Anna had in mind.

**Disclaimer: Received from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review**

First off, the cover design is gorgeous – it looks great on my bookshelf and the cover is so summery!

My Favourite Manson Girl is the story of Anna, who, when faced with family breakdown and being forced to move schools, steals her stepmother’s credit card information and flies from Georgia to California, to stay with her sister, Delia, a struggling actress. Soon she is thrust into the Los Angeles scene, researching Charles Manson and his ‘Manson girls’ for her sister’s ex-boyfriend’s indie film, whilst spending time on set with her sister’s current boyfriend as he writes for a cheesy kids show.

Alison Umminger’s writing is funny and fresh, and the whole book feels summery and original. The story turns dark at times, and seems to be a true reflection of Los Angleles (not that I would know, having never been there!). I loved the interesting family dynamic and the flawed characters (in particular, Anna’s mother, her sister Delia, and Anna herself) – each character had good times and bad times, times when they were unlikeable and others when they were perfectly nice. I particularly liked how Anna, the protagonist, was unlikeable at times, making judgments about other people and bullying a girl with her best friend.

The entire book is thought-provoking, with comparisons drawn between the seemingly crazed Manson girls and Anna’s own friends and family, as well as people in general. Anna also questions her own judgments and fascination with celebrity – the rash judgments she makes when first meeting people tend to be wrong, and Umminger perfectly encapsulates what it feels like to be a teenager, making decisions and judgments which feel right, but ultimately tend not to be. The romance especially challenges Anna’s preconceived ideas and was a sweet seam through the story.

Overall, a dark, summery read and a great addition to YA – original, fresh, and true to life. Definitely one for the summer TBR list!

View all my reviews

Have you read My Favourite Manson Girl? Will you be reading it? Comment below or tweet me at @annalisebooks!

Annalise x