reads

Why I’m NOT reading the new John Green book…

Evening book lovers!

Today is the 10th October and also the release date of the heavily anticipated new John Green book – Turtles All The Way Down.

john_green_turtles_all_the_way_down_book_cover

(Is anyone else underwhelmed by the cover? There’s exactly ZERO turtles.)

Unlike what feels like most of the YA community, I won’t be reading this (yet?).

Why?

The short answer is that I am on a book-buying ban and so all the books I’m desperately lusting after have been relegated to the christmas list.

The long answer is… I just feel meh.

I read Looking For Alaska years ago; it was one of the first YA books I read. There was hype around this book and it just didn’t do it for me.

I read The Fault in our Stars around publication day and thought it was ok, then reread it in preparation for the film and absolutely loved it.

Yet I still have two John Green books on my TBR (An Abundance of Katherines and Will Grayson, Will Grayson), both of which I have started and struggled to get through. Maybe John Green is just not for me, or maybe I should give his new book a chance (although the premise doesn’t excite me the same way a lot of YA books do?)

Please let me know if you’ll be reading Turtles All The Way Down, and if you have/haven’t read it, let me know why! I’d love to hear all of your opinions 🙂

annalsie

Advertisements

Genuine Fraud by E Lockhart


I took part in a stunt at YALC for Hot Key Books where I dressed up as the main character in the novel and handed out samplers for this book! In return, Hot Key Books sent me a copy of this book – thank you so much to them!

If I had to describe this book in one word, it would be confusing. It’s hard to talk too much about this book without spoiling anything, but it is a suspense novel about two friends, Jule and Immie, and it takes place in reverse chronological order, all over the world (London, San Francisco, Mexico, New York, Martha’s Vineyard…).

The reverse chronological order was new for me, and I liked the little reveals as you go through the book. However, I was confused, especially as Jule impersonates Imogen at times, and there wasn’t a big reveal at the end that made everything click into place. I also found some of the male characters (Forrest, Isaac, Paolo) to be a bit too similar, and so I was confused who was who…

I enjoyed E Lockhart’s usual themes and social commentary around women, privilege, education, etc., but there was a lack of wow factor with this book. That being said, I am looking forward to diving into some of her older work, especially The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, which comes well recommended by Holly Bourne herself.

annalsie

Alex & Eliza by Melissa de la Cruz

Disclaimer: I had the entire Hamilton soundtrack in my head the entire time I read this.


Alex & Eliza is the (embellished) story of how Alexander Hamilton and Elizabeth Schuyler met and fell in love. Those of you unaware of these two characters – go and listen to the Hamilton soundtrack from start to finish, now.

I got this book as an early copy during YALC and because it has a gorgeous cover – it’s a beautiful pearlescent pink with a subtle pattern that looks like old wallpaper (it looks good, I promise!).

I really enjoyed this book – it’s a historical novel, where Melissa de la Cruz has taken some creative liberty to tell the story of how Alex and Eliza met and fell in love. I believe not much is known about this time so I think this story is more fiction than non-fiction, but it was enjoyable (if you take it with a pinch of salt, of course!). It’s set in the late 1700s in the recently-formed United States of America, and it’s full of historical setting and backstory which I really liked (although sometimes it did read like an infodump).

What I didn’t get when I picked up this book is what story it was going to tell – this isn’t a novelisation of Hamilton the musical, it’s set in the early years of Hamilton’s career when he meets and marries Eliza. I thought this book might be set over the years of their marriage but it ends with their wedding day (hopefully not a spoiler that they get married!).

I was a little disappointed with the characters of Angelica and Peggy who are much more fun in the musical, but overall it was an enjoyable read and one that will look very nice on my shelf!

annalsie

MOXIE by Jennifer Mathieu

MOXIE GIRLS FIGHT BACK!


I just loved this book…

I bought Moxie a few weeks ago, and after a Twitter poll earlier this week, my followers decided it should be my next read. This was a book I spotted in WH Smith a few weeks ago when the #Zoellabookclub was announced and had decided it wasn’t my cup of tea – but then I heard good things and picked it up along with After The Fire by Will Hill the week before YALC. Proof copies were available at YALC (for a book that is technically still not out yet but exclusive to WH Smith…

Then last week I caved and bought a Kindle (my old Kindle broke a few years ago!) and I saw that Moxie was 99p. To save myself carrying around Moxie, I bought the Kindle edition and let me tell you now… go buy it. It’s 99p. And this book is amazing.

Vivian Carter is fed up of her sexist high school – all the money being funnelled into the boys’ football team, the sexist dress codes, the ‘gross comments from guys during class’ being unpunished. Inspired by her mum, a former punk rock Riot Grrrl, Viv creates Moxie, a feminist zine, which she posts in girls’ bathrooms around her school. Soon, Moxie is taking off, and the girls at her school start to stand up and shout out the sexism around them.

I loved the portrayals of friendship and family in this story – I thought Viv’s mum’s new relationship and previous history as a Riot Grrrl were great and made you think, particularly about being in a relationship with someone with differing political views, and adjusting to life back in a small town after a wild and adventurous youth. I also loved how Viv was very similar to her mum and inspired by her – I thought this made the characters so much more realistic (and I always love present parents in YA!).

I was a little conflicted about the relationship in the book – I think it served a purpose of talking about how men can be feminists too, and nobody can be a perfect feminist, but I’m also tired of very heterosexual relationships being a mainstay of YA! This book could have easily stood up without the romance – and Seth was a little too classic swoony book boyfriend for me.

The feminism in this book was done well – I really related to the girls’ issues at school with sexist dress codes (having had one at school myself!) and nobody was a perfect feminist. Viv’s best friend also shunned feminism which I thought was a nice touch (and another example of characters with differing political views managing to get along and understand each other!).

I also loved the portrayal of American high schools in this novel – it was so enjoyable in addition to being a very important book.

The drawings inside (the Moxie Zines) added some more fun to this novel and they were perfect for this novel!

One gripe I do have is about the cover – I love the design but the finish of the UK cover (at least the Zoella edition) is matte and papery to make it more like a zine – but despite having not read the paperback, my book has started to look a bit tatty!

This book is so inspiring and thought-provoking (it handles a lot of interesting arguments about feminism today very well) that I must implore you to go out and read it. Now.

annalsie

YALC, ARCs, and other Acronyms

Afternoon readers (or whatever time it is where you are),

Inspired by the brilliant @hollieeblog, I thought I’d talk about some of my hang ups from last weekend – YALC 2017. Now, I love going to YALC, meeting up with existing friends, making new friends, and generally sharing my love for books with so many people who make the YA community great. The panels and workshops are so inspiring, that they make me want to revitalize my blog and write one or two thousand bestselling novels.  YALC is consistently one of the best weekends of the year for me.

However, it would be wrong to say that it is not without its flaws, and I thought I’d discuss them here in more detail.

Cost

This one is pretty unavoidable, but the sheer cost of getting to YALC is fairly large – a hotel booking during the weekend in the summer in Central London is likely to set you back a few hundred pounds. The ticket itself is £56 (I think!) which isn’t badly priced, but the cost of food, drink, travel, etc. add up quickly and so maybe YALC isn’t as accessible to everyone as it could be, especially to teenagers from outside London. I think moving YALC would mean fewer authors and fewer attendees, but I’d love to see YALC North emerging in the future to offer a lower cost option bringing the YA Community together. I would also recommend YAShot (April 2018)!

LFCC itself isn’t cheap – meeting the celebrities and getting autographs adds up very quickly. I didn’t get any photos or autographs this year (although I did see Benedict Cumberbatch, Pamela Anderson and Natalie Dormer around the YALC floor…) but if this is something you’re interested in, prepare to save up.

Accessibility

I’ve heard a few horror stories about accessibility this year, with LFCC not responding to emails and queue-jump wristbands for those who simply cannot queue running out. I am by no means an expert on accessibility but there were two issues for me: 1. seating and general comfortableness, and 2. the ableist ways of getting proofs/ARCs/goodies.

YALC is generally the best floor to be on for those with social anxiety and claustrophobia – the lower floors can be overwhelming, but YALC (for the past two years, at least) has had wide open spaces and quiet areas. The problem this year was that there was little seating, and I was sat down for a large proportion of the event. The seating in the panel area itself was uncomfortable so I didn’t attend many panels, but the other option of the thinly carpeted concrete floor was little better. Better seating helps everyone – and it also allows new conversations to start up rather than joining a large spread of people complaining about sitting on the floor.

This year there was a mad rush for proof giveaways – and some publishers more than others gave their proofs away first come first serve, or made attendees do silly challenges. The ability to run (and to run fast) was required to have a chance on getting most of the ARCs – and the challenges often required you to find a partner (and as someone who came to YALC alone in her first year, that thought terrifies me!) or throw your dignity out of the window.

ARCs/Proofs

There were a lot of highly anticipated proofs this year at YALC which was exciting, but made me anxious all week thinking about how upset I would have been if I had missed out (not my best trait!).

ARCs really do bring out the worst in people – for some, there was queuing for five hours instead of enjoying the panels, there was shoving and elbowing, there was confronting other people in queues. I’ve been very very disappointed in those who attended YALC, took multiple copies of the limited proofs on offer, then proceeded to trade them away almost immediately – that isn’t the spirit of the bookish community, especially when many book lovers have paid a considerable amount to attend and possibly get a copy of their favourite author’s next book.

This behaviour was more prevalent when proofs were limited – and I think there’s an onus on publishers to expect high demand for proofs and limit the damage. Making giveaways of proofs fairer (BKMRK and Chicken House did this particularly well) and reducing the anxiety of attempting to get a proof would go down very well next year.

I’d also like to see a reduction in the use of Twitter to announce giveaways – carrying around a charger and using up all the data in my plan shouldn’t be the way to enjoy YALC. Publishers announcing giveaways during popular panels is also annoying!

Lack of Blogger focus

Now, I’m not saying I only want ARCs to go to the most prolific bloggers – but I feel there needs to be more emphasis on why proofs are given out at these events, and that is to ensure reviews and buzz pre-publication. My first YALC two years ago had some brilliant events about blogging and vlogging that inspired me to set up this very blog, and to discover this amazing community. I felt this year it would be easy to attend YALC without even hearing the words ‘book blogging’.

I’d love to see YALC switch its focus a little from authors to bloggers/bookstagrammers/booktubers.

Part of this is because just by the very nature of a UKYA event, a lot of the authors have attended YALC before. They are all amazing and brilliant and interesting speakers, but it’s rare to have an author who you won’t bump into at another event in the next year (which was good for me as I brought very few books to be signed!).

A more blogger-focused event would inspire more bloggers, inspire existing bloggers and ensure more buzz around certain books. I’d love to see publishers fully embracing this and setting up ‘bookstagram’ areas where you can snap a picture of your new book, for example. I love YALC, but I love it because I can meet up with my favourite online friends away from the keyboard – and I’d love to be able to meet online friends a little less awkwardly!

 

Apologies for the overly negative post – I’d love to hear your thoughts on the weekend, what went well and what didn’t, and whether you agree with mine!

annalsie

 

 

Review: Wing Jones by Katherine Webber

Wing Jones
Wing Jones by Katherine Webber

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Walker Books in exchange for an honest review.

I’ve been excited for Wing Jones since before the beautiful cover was revealed at YALC 2016, and this has to be one of the most anticipated debut novels of 2017. If you’re on the UKYA scene, chances are you’ve seen Katie running a panel at some point, and now she’s released her very own book.

Wing Jones is the story of a mixed-race girl, Wing Jones who is half-Ghanian and half-Chinese. She lives with her mum, her older brother Marcus, who she idolises, and her two grandmothers. Wing looks up to Marcus and his girlfriend Monica with wonder, until a terrible accident happens. Marcus drink-drives after a party and crashes, killing a young mother and his friend. Marcus is left in a coma, lying precariously on the edge of death, and Wing is left to pick up the pieces.

The cover may fool you – I thought this book would be about Wing taking up running and learning to fly (which it is) but this book is about so much more. The grief that affects Marcus’s family and friends is almost tangible, and Wing has to transform and grow up to deal with the tragedy. I was also surprised at the setting – Wing’s story is set in 1990s Atlanta

Wing’s voice reminded me a lot of Scout Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird. Katie’s writing is beautiful and melodic, and there’s a really cool use of magical realism which guides the story.

I loved the focus on family in this novel, and the romance is well done and felt natural. Wing’s grandmothers are great characters and great comic relief, and it’s rare to find a novel that just *gets* family.

A gorgeous story of grief, family, romance and finding yourself which is surely going to be one of the most-loved debuts of 2017. I can’t wait to read more of Katie’s stuff, especially if they have such beautiful covers (the finished copies of Wing have the best ombre stained pages!).
View all my reviews

Annalise x

 

Review: A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard

A Quiet Kind of Thunder
A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Disclaimer: I received a proof of this book from My Kinda Book in exchange for an honest review.

Last year, I read a great debut novel that became the biggest selling debut YA novel of 2016. That book didn’t have a romance in it, which was (and still is) unusual for YA. Beautiful Broken Things focused on the friendship between two best friends and how that changed when a new friend entered the mix.

Sara Barnard is back in 2017 with a brand new novel, but this one *is* a romance. A Quiet Kind of Thunder is the story of Steffi, a teenage girl with selective mutism embarking on sixth form, and Rhys, a deaf boy who transfers to Steffi’s sixth form.

I’m always wary with books that tackle disability about how realistic and lifelike they are – there’s a really tendency for characters with a disability to be miraculously cured, but AQKOT feels like it has been well-researched and is sensitive. I learnt a lot about mutism and British Sign Language in this book, and it made me more aware and conscious about interacting with deaf people (for example, making sure they can read your lips if they are lip-reading).

This is a really special romance because Barnard gets awkward teenage flirting. The texts between Steffi and Rhys feel so real, and I fell in love with this book so quickly. I can’t really explain how much I loved the romance between these two, but it was cute and adorable and perfect.

I also really enjoyed how this book doesn’t shy away from sex. The sex in this book was realistic and well-done, and felt age-appropriate.

I can’t believe we’re only at the beginning of 2017 and this is already a very strong contender for my favourite book of 2017. An absolute must-read – and the cover is so shiny and beautiful and I think I need it on my shelf (I only have the proof!). Go and buy it now!

View all my reviews

Annalise x

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: 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