Review

Review: If Birds Fly Back by Carlie Sorosiak

If Birds Fly Back
If Birds Fly Back by Carlie Sorosiak

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**Disclaimer: advanced reader copy received from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review**

If Birds Fly Back is the story of Linny and Sebastian, set in a Miami summer at an old folks home called Silver Springs. Linny is still coming to terms with her older sister Grace’s disappearance and dealing with the pressure her parents are putting on her to become a doctor, and Sebastian has just found out who his father is, and has trekked from California to Miami to finally meet him. And then, Linny and Sebastian’s paths cross.

This book is written in dual perspective between Linny and Sebastian, which I really liked, and it’s sweet and adorable and nerdy – Sebastian dreams of being an astrophysicist and Linny wants to be a filmmaker, and we see physics quotes and film scripts throughout which up the cute factor.

Other reviewers have written about reading this book super quickly – I didn’t, I read this on the tube on my phone in the few moments I could get to a book and found the chapters the perfect length to dip in and out of. I will however say that this book is compelling, and the mystery element works really well here. Both Sebastian and Linny have really interesting premises, and I can definitely understand the addictive quality of this book.

This book also had a good dose of parents and complicated parental relationships, which is something I haven’t seen too much of in YA, and I loved the focus on where the characters will go after school, which is something so important and life-changing for many teens that we don’t always see in YA. I really liked Linny’s flawed friendship with Cass – I’m a big fan of friendships which aren’t perfect and unrealistic and Cass was a really interesting character in her own right. Sebastian also had a great (and realistic) friendship with his best friend back in California.

What I did notice throughout this book were the numerous bird references which were a really nice touch and not overdone.

If you loved Harriet Reuter Hapgood’s The Square Root of Summer, you’ll love this. The perfect summer read and a sure-fire summer hit.

View all my reviews

annalsie

Review: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am officially so bad at this whole ‘actually reviewing a book after I’ve read it’ thing. Life has been busy and getting in the way – I’m moving back home this week and will be reunited with my toppling TBR pile. I’m also really hoping to get into vlogging, which has been something I’ve wanted to do for a while now but has never really materialised.

So, the book, I want to discuss today is a new release, and it’s The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. I read this book a while ago and absolutely loved it, and I’m so glad to see it’s been so successful in the States and am looking forward to it dropping over here in the UK too. I was lucky enough to receive a copy from the publisher (Walker Books UK) back in December and I was so excited – this has been one of, if not the, most anticipated releases of 2017.

The Hate U Give is the story of Starr Carter, a black girl living in a poor neighbourhood, who witnesses the death of her best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. The fallout from Khalil’s death, and the tensions between Starr’s family and the rest of the neighbourhood, leave Starr in a difficult position trying to balance her life and what she should or should not stand up and say.

It’s safe to say I loved this book. Starr’s voice is unique (partly due to the lack of black representation in YA fiction) and realistic, and this story is gripping and fresh. This is such an important book, and as a story inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, is really one to get you thinking and talking. I really loved how Angie tackled some really important topics in this novel, including class divide, gang culture, Black Lives Matter, media representation and violence.

It’s safe to say we have a modern classic on our hands here, and I would implore you to go out on 6 April and purchase yourself a copy of The Hate U Give. If you’re looking for the best of 2017 YA, here it is.

View all my reviews

annalsie

Review: Forever Geek (Geek Girl 6) by Holly Smale

Forever Geek
Forever Geek by Holly Smale

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**This book was sent to me by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review**

I don’t think I’ve really reviewed the Geek Girl books before and we’re now at the sixth book, but this has something to do with the fact that I marathoned the last three books in one week and I haven’t got round to reviewing them!

If you’re not acquainted with the Geek Girl series, they’re super fun books following Harriet Manners, Geek turned Model, and her friends including her stalker Toby and her best friend and fashion designer, Nat. There’s also the sultry Nick, Harriet’s fairy godmother Wilbur and the formidable designer Yuka Ito.

One of the highlights of the series (and this book) is Harriet’s family – they’re all great well-rounded characters and they’re so fun! It’s great to see them all return for the final book and Harriet gets some more time with Bunty, her step-grandmother, which is much appreciated.

This really was the perfect wrap-up to the series, with all the best characters returning for a really fitting end to Harriet’s story. If you’re looking for a satisying finale, there’s one here!

Although you might want to pack tissues, because I cried. I also apparently read this in one day, which should give you an impression of how addictive this series is.

I’ve loved reading this series and I can’t wait for more Holly Smale!

View all my reviews

annalsie

Review: Doing It!: Let’s Talk About Sex by Hannah Witton

Doing It!: Let's Talk About Sex
Doing It!: Let’s Talk About Sex by Hannah Witton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As ever, I’m super behind on reviews so let’s review Doing It! by Hannah Witton…

**This book was sent to me by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review**

Doing It: Let’s Talk About Sex is Hannah’s first book and it’s a non-fiction discussion about loads of different topics, most of which are around sex and relationships. There’s talk about toxic relationships, masturbation, slut shaming and puberty in here, and it is so so welcome. Sex and relationship education is so lacking in so many countries (although today it’s been announced that there will be an overhaul in the UK – yay!) and these books are so important in the education of young people.

Hannah talks frankly and openly on so many ‘taboo’ topics like how she lost her virginity, her periods, masturbation, etc. and this is what makes the book so great – this isn’t a textbook, it’s a informative discussion with personal experiences from the author who is still a young woman and is so relatable.

I’m a little older than the target demographic here and I still learned things – I can’t help but recommend this book to teenagers (I knew very little of all this when I was a teenager).

If you liked this book, you’ll also love Girl Up by Laura Bates, This Book is Gay by Juno Dawson and Animal by Sara Pascoe.

View all my reviews

annalsie

Wing Jones Photo Tour!

Wing Jones is the much anticipated debut novel from Katherine Webber, publishing 5th January 2017 in the UK. With a grandmother from China and another from Ghana, fifteen-year-old Wing is often caught between worlds. But when tragedy strikes, Wing discovers a talent for running she never knew she had. Wing’s speed could bring her family everything it needs. It could also stop Wing getting the one thing she wants…

I loved Wing Jones and you can read my review here.

Katherine Webber was born in Southern California but has lived in Atlanta, Hawaii, Hong Kong and now in London. For several years she worked at the reading charity BookTrust, where she worked on projects such as The Letterbox Club which delivers parcels of books to children in care, and YALC, the Young Adult Literature Convention. You can find her on Twitter @kwebberwrites

Throughout January, over 40 bloggers will be participating in the #WJphototour – a photo blog tour documenting Katherine’s path to publishing her debut novel. From childhood memories that inspired her writing to her time living in Atlanta and Asia that influenced the book to authors she’s met over the years right up to receiving her first finished copy of the book, follow along to see Katherine’s author life unfold! Keep an eye on the hashtag to see the latest photos!

41_kw

This picture makes me laugh so much (thank you Stacey for capturing this moment!) Even though I’ve done a lot of events, this was my first ever official WING JONES event, where I was talking about my own book and not someone else’s. It was at the Walker Christmas Blogger evening, and it was so wonderful to do my first WJ event with so many friends and lovely people. I am so grateful to have so much support for this book—it means the world to me!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this stop on the Wing Jones photo tour and the book itself as much I have!

annalsie

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: 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

Review: Cuckoo by Keren David

Cuckoo
Cuckoo by Keren David

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It’s been a while since I read Cuckoo (I read it during YALC weekend!) but I’ve been way behind on my reviewing due to a job offer(!) and trying to pack up to move house…

Cuckoo is the story of Jake, an actor in Market Square, the country’s hottest soap. Except he’s pretty much been dropped, and his family are suffering from the lack of income. His dad’s angrier, and Jake’s autistic brother Adam can be difficult to deal with – and then Jake finds out none of the money he’s earned over the years has been saved. Soon, he finds himself homeless – hidden at first, couchsurfing on all his friend’s sofas, and then on the street.

The first thing I should probably mention is the format of this book – it’s fairly short, split into short chapters which are each the script of an individual video. The book is Jake telling his story through the medium of vlogging, and there are comments at the end of each chapter. It’s a really unique format, and after reading another scriptbook this month (Cursed Child), this actually does work – there are enough characters in each chapter, each with a unique voice, that it really is effortless to read.

As someone who has an autistic sibling, I thought the character of Adam was dealt with particularly well. I think it’s easy when writing autistic characters to slip into constant tropes, and I didn’t think this happened here.

If you’re looking for something truly unique (especially in format, which was particularly innovative), and a quick read for summer that tackles some difficult issues, look no further than Cuckoo by Keren David.

View all my reviews

YALC 2016: Day 1!

This year I was lucky enough to attend YALC for the entire weekend! This weekend was made extra special by the fact that I made some friends the day before at a meet-up organised my Karen (A Simple Cup of Tea), which I would heavily recommend doing. Thanks so much Demet, Karen, Lily, Chantal and Kalie (and everyone else!) for an absolutely fantastic weekend!

I first rocked up to Olympia at 8.30am and found my newly-founded squad, then we were let loose on YALC at 9am. The first thing we found – and seriously, I was NOT expecting this – was a GEMINA arc. I wasn’t a huge fan of Illuminae but I’m hoping this will be better and will be posting my honest review (and possibly hosting a giveaway!).

The first panel I headed up was BEHIND THE MAGIC: MAGICAL SYSTEMS IN YA. The panel was led by Katherine Webber, with V E Schwab, Sally Green, Taran Matharu and Mel Salisbury and was a real highlight of the weekend – I even asked a question about how they create a magical system that is original!

After the panel, I got my copy of THE ART OF BEING NORMAL by Lisa Williamson signed – she was so lovely and the book is amazing (definitely a must-read!).

I then headed to the SHE WHO LAUGHS LAST LAUGHS THE LAUGHIEST: HUMOUR IN YA panel, headed up by Claire Hennessy and featuring Katy Birchall, Nat Luurtsema, Jenny McLachlan and Holly Smale. This was another great panel and the panelists were so funny!

Next up was a fan favourite – the A MONSTER CALLS talk with Patrick Ness, who wrote the book, and Lewis MacDougall, who plays Conor in the film adaptation. This was an interesting talk surrounding the movie. After the talk, I got my copy of A Monster Calls signed by Patrick and Lewis which was a nice touch.

Now for the highlight of the day – the Fantasy London panel chaired by Katherine Webber, and featuring V E Scwab, Ben Aaronovitch and Samantha Shannon. Learning about their interpretations of fantasy London was so interesting! An absolute highlight of the week. After the talk, I got my copies of A Darker Shade of Magic and This Savage Song signed by V E Schwab who was SO nice and hung around YALC all weekend.

This is the AMAZING book wall which made a triumphant return!

Day 1 haul included a beautiful copy of Nevernight by Jay Kristoff (£10 from the Harper Voyager stand!)

The NEW Mel Salisbury short story The King of Rats was available on the Scholastic stand – I’ll be waiting to read this one but very glad I have it!

Here is a picture of the gang in front of the book wall!

Day 1 of YALC was so amazing – next up will be Day 2!

Thanks for reading – how did you enjoy the first day of YALC?

annalsie