university

I Was Born For This by Alice Oseman

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I picked up this book without really knowing what it was about – I loved Radio Silence so much that I would probably read Alice Oseman’s shopping lists. This book is so different and yet so similar in theme to Radio Silence – if you haven’t picked up any of Alice’s books yet, you should. She is one of the few (if not the only) authors talking about teenage fandoms, internet culture, Tumblr, and the soul-crushing and dream-destroying expectations put on teenagers today.

I devoured I Was Born For This in an evening (something I almost never do). The story is told through dual perspectives. Angel Rahimi is a hijabi travelling to London to meet her best ever internet friend for the first time, so that they can both see their favourite band, The Ark. Jimmy Kawa-Ricci is the transgender frontman of The Ark, struggling with anxiety and debating whether to continue with the band. The book takes place over one week in their lives, where they are thrust together in unexpected circumstances.

This is UKYA at its best – distinctly British characters who are both relatable and realistic, dealing with issues such as anxiety, making friends over the internet, being part of a fandom (or being the subject of many fans), and the pressure to succeed. It’s not often you come across these issues, even in teenage fiction – and the diversity of characters in this book didn’t feel forced or tokenistic.
Each character’s voice was distinct, and I was rooting for both of these characters throughout the book.

A unique and incredibly readable read, and one that should be on your pre-order list as it is essential UKYA fiction. If you haven’t checked out Alice’s other books, now is the time.

annalsie

Spoiler-Free Review: …And a Happy New Year? by Holly Bourne

...And a Happy New Year?
…And a Happy New Year? by Holly Bourne

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ll hopefully write up about YA Shot in another post, but something really cool happened yesterday which was (kinda) unrelated…

I got my hands on a copy of …And A Happy New Year?, the Spinster Club novella by Holly Bourne. And I’m quoted in the back! And I got it signed!

Any of you loyal readers/twitter followers will probably know I’m a huge fan of these books. The Spinster Club Trilogy follows three girls (Evie, Amber and Lottie) on their separate journeys and experiences with feminism, mental health, and friendship. These books are hugely powerful with their introduction to these issues, and they’re so funny and relatable. These girls feel so real – they’re far from perfect, they struggle with their feminism and how they think they should feel or act, and it’s been so great to get to know these girls and their stories.

…And A Happy New Year? is the first time we have all three girls speaking in one book. Holly cleverly weaves a story where the girls react to each other in a realistic way, and their friendship in this book is far from perfect. This book is a little sad at times, because the reality is, their lives, and their friendship, is far from how they imagined.

I loved this as a story of the (often difficult) transition from sixth form to university, and how easy it is to drift away from old friends. I particularly enjoyed Lottie’s arc, and I think it’s important to show that things often turn out the way you don’t expect. Not to spoil anything, but Lottie is having a tough time with her new housemates, and I’ve personally experienced this – I think the risk is often higher in your first year of university when you’re living with complete strangers, but living with friends at university in my later years there was surprisingly tough. I also loved how the girls were all doing their own thing, and not all going to a top university.

This is the perfect book for Christmas, and the cover is incredibly beautiful – it’s a gorgeous hardback with a gold spine (and the book inside is blue!).

If you haven’t read the Spinster Club Series, get on it! I can’t wait for Holly Bourne’s next book (out 2017!) My reviews for the first two books are here – Am I Normal Yet? and How Hard Can Love Be?.
View all my reviews

annalsie

#ThisIsWhoIAm Time Capsule

To celebrate the release of The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapgood (review here), I’m going to be making a virtual time capsule, just like Thomas and Gottie do in the book (except theirs isn’t virtual).

First though, let’s appreciate the cover a little more…

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My Time Capsule

Favourite Photographs

So, it hasn’t happened yet, but in less than 3 months, I’ll be graduating! With some picturesque background, I’ll be all dolled up in my academic dress, this time with a big poofy gown (like a black cape rather than a ballgown) and a mortarboard – that will probably make for an interesting photo, so I’ll put it in here.

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I’d also put in a photo of my bookshelf, mostly because the book:shelf ratio is massively off, and I am struggling to fit all the books in my university room. (Pic above a little out of date – many books acquired since then). I’d also throw in a photograph of my collage wall (each room in uni comes with a huge noticeboard, and mine is covered in fashion advertisements and movie posters, as well as cinema tickets and Game of Thrones art prints). The photo below is my collage at the beginning of the year – it’s expanded a bit more now.

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Favourite Songs

This is a difficult one, so I’d probably put a copy of the ‘My Songs’ playlist from my Spotify account – it’s full of loads of random choices from pretty much every decade, and probably sums up my music taste quite well. (Think a lot of cheesy 90s stuff with power ballads, 00s R&B, and a bit of dance music thrown in).

If I had to pick three songs of the moment which I really like, it would be:

  1. Cheap Thrills by Sia; Sean Paul
  2. Me, Myself and I by G-Eazy, Bebe Rexha
  3. PILLOWTALK by ZAYN

Favourite Books

I mean, how am I meant to choose? My favourite books of 2016 so far have been:

  1. The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
  2. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
  3. How Hard Can Love Be? by Holly Bourne – review here
  4. Asking For It by Louise O’Neill – review here
  5. Radio Silence by Alice Oseman – review here

However, the book that reminds me the most of SUMMER 2016 so far has to be The Square Root of Summer!

Favourite Films

My favourite film of all time is Confessions of a Shopaholic, weirdly enough.

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This year I’ve seen Deadpool (great), Captain America: Civil War (amazing) and Allegiant (a bit meh). I’ve posted about my most anticipated movies this summer here and here. I am looking forward to seeing Me Before You (but I need to read the book first!), Suicide Squad and Bridget Jones’ Baby.


If my time capsule has piqued your interest in The Square Root of Summer, the book will be available from all good bookshops, and online from Thursday 5th May – although I’ve seen some branches of Waterstones have them in early (and they have the most gorgeous sprayed pink pages!)


I’m so looking forward to meeting Harriet at YALC this year, although I may have to reread The Square Root of Summer first…

What would you put in your time capsule? Have you read The Square Root of Summer? What did you think? Tweet me at @annalisebooks or comment below 🙂

Annalise x

Review: Radio Silence by Alice Oseman

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Radio Silence by Alice Oseman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What if everything you set yourself up to be was wrong?

Frances has always been a study machine with one goal, elite university. Nothing will stand in her way; not friends, not a guilty secret – not even the person she is on the inside.

But when Frances meets Aled, the shy genius behind her favourite podcast, she discovers a new freedom. He unlocks the door to Real Frances and for the first time she experiences true friendship, unafraid to be herself. Then the podcast goes viral and the fragile trust between them is broken.

Caught between who she was and who she longs to be, Frances’ dreams come crashing down. Suffocating with guilt, she knows that she has to confront her past…
She has to confess why Carys disappeared…

Meanwhile at uni, Aled is alone, fighting even darker secrets.

It’s only by facing up to your fears that you can overcome them. And it’s only by being your true self that you can find happiness.

Frances is going to need every bit of courage she has.

First off, a huge thank you to Jim (@yayayeah) for the copy of Radio Silence – it genuinely has been one of the best books I’ve read this year (and I’ve read some brilliant books!)

Radio Silence is an important, well-needed book in the YA genre, touching on topics that have never been touched on before – or if they have, only fleetingly. I’m 100% sure this book will be up for some big awards next year, and I’ve genuinely heard nothing but praise for this book. I’ve already given the award of ‘If you have to read one book this year, this is it’ to Louise O’Neill’s Asking For It (review here), but this is a well-deserving close second place.

Radio Silence is a tale of friendship (and yes, platonic friendship between a male and female character, because that is so unheard of!), fandom and the fear of not being perfect.

The characters are well-developed and diverse, with a range of different sexualities and ethnicities featured, never feeling forced or out of place. The parental figures, in particular, are developed and have their own motivations and feelings, something rarely seen in YA fiction.

The main topic that spoke out to me, the reader, were the themes of having to be perfect, the pressure to go to university, and also the pressure to enjoy university. I particularly liked the characters of Frances and Aled, and their differing perspectives brought on by their (small) age gap. Carys also was refreshing and interesting.

About halfway through the book, I started noting down the quotes that really spoke out to me, so here are a few:

‘…obviously not everyone enjoyed university. I knew I would though… I was study machine Frances Janvier. I was going to Cambridge and I was going to get a good job and earn lots of money and I was going to be happy.’

‘“How about we go to the cinema this weekend?” she said. “Just a little break from all this Cambridge stuff.”
“I don’t have time. Maybe after my interviews.”’

‘I loaded up an episode of Universe City to listen to but couldn’t bring myself to press play, because I had work to do, and that was more important.’

‘“But now… I’m just… when you get to this age, you realise you’re not anyone special after all.”’

There are some others, but they’re a bit spoiler-ific, so I’ll leave them out – but Alice Oseman may well have written this book whilst peering into my soul. A lot of the points she makes on the topic of university and the pressure to be successful are valid and relatable, and the idea that even if you are bright, you can hate university and it may not be the path for you, is one that isn’t talked about enough.

A truly brilliant second novel, that should be read and discussed by prospective university applicants (and everyone, ever). (Also the cover is bloody brilliant and looks fab on my bookshelf).

View all my reviews

How did you find Radio Silence? Comment below or tweet me at @annalisebooks!

Annalise x

Non-Fantasy/Dystopian YA authors to try!

I’m packing up my books this week as I’ll be leaving university at the end of this year and my schedule leaves about 3 weeks holiday between now and July, so I’m getting a good look at some of those books hidden on my shelves!

A rut I definitely got in when starting out with YA was that I just loved the Genre of the Day – and so my shelves are full of vampire novels and dystopians. However, there are some series I’ve really enjoyed which aren’t your typical YA book, and they’re great to try if you’re getting bored of the same-old YA books which come out year after year.

Meg Cabot

I know Meg Cabot through the Princess Diaries series – which has recently rebooted – but she’s actually written a few bestselling series. The Mediator series has rave reviews – but is also fantasy. The Princess Diaries, Queen of Babble, The Boy series, and the Heather Well series (which starts with Size 12 is Not Fat) should all be fantasy-free, amusing and fun to read. (The Princess Diaries also led to two Disney films, although they do not follow the plot of the books exactly).

Louise Rennison

The Confessions of Georgia Nicholson series is hilarious and brilliantly British. Georgia is a typical British girl on the cusp of becoming a woman, and we follow her as she discovers boys, snogging, and how embarrassing parents can be. There’s 10 books in total but they’re so easy to read and enjoyable (and not too long either) that it’s easy to fly through them. Rennin’s latest series is the Misadventures of Tallulah Casey series, which is very much in the same vein as the first series – in fact, Tallulah is Georgia’s cousin. I’d definitely give this series a go if you’re in a reading slump – and the movie is pretty funny, too.

Morgan Matson

The only Morgan Matson book I’ve read so far is Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour, which is a classic American road trip story (which are always fun, right?). Since then, Morgan has published two more stand-alone books, with another, The Unexpected Everything, coming in 2016. Second Chance Summer and Since You’ve Been Gone are on my TBR list.

Ally Carter

I absolutely loved the Gallagher Girls series, which follows a student at a Spy School for Girls, Cammie Morgan, and her emerging love life with a fellow spy. These books are only about 300 pages long, so short enough to devour in a day or two. Heist Society is a book I actually own, but haven’t got round to reading yet, but the series (which currently has three books) is in the same vein as Gallagher Girls. Her new Embassy Row series looks exciting too. These books are a little more Middle Grade than YA, so great starter books for easing into the YA world.

Sarah Dessen

When I first got into YA, Sarah Dessen was reigning queen of love stories. Her books are stand-alone, so easy to pick up just one and know you’re not going to face a devastating cliff-hanger at the end – and all of her books have stellar reviews on GoodReads so definitely well worth a dip into. I’ve read Just Listen, The Truth about Forever and Lock & Key but if you’re looking for her most recent work, Saint Anything was released in May.

Cecily von Ziegesar

The Gossip Girl series is 13 books long, but they’re very short and fun books (although a little expensive – still £7.99 each on Amazon). These are the source material for the CW show of the same name (which I absolutely love) although the show deviates quite heavily from the books. There are two spin-off book series too – Gossip Girl: The Carlyles follows the Carlyle triplets, and The IT Girl follows GG alum Jenny Humphrey at boarding school.

Honorary mentions: John Green (who else) and Rainbow Rowell (of course).

Who are your favourite YA authors? What are your favourite non-fantasy series? Comment below or tweet at @annalisebooks 🙂

Annalise x