Tag Archives: ukya

Book Review: Girlhood by Cat Clarke

Published May 4th 2017 by Quercus.

26224552Goodreads Synopsis: Harper has tried to forget the past and fit in at expensive boarding school Duncraggan Academy. Her new group of friends are tight; the kind of girls who Harper knows have her back. But Harper can’t escape the guilt of her twin sister’s Jenna’s death, and her own part in it – and she knows no one else will ever really understand.
But new girl Kirsty seems to get Harper in ways she never expected. She has lost a sister too. Harper finally feels secure. She finally feels…loved. As if she can grow beyond the person she was when Jenna died.
Then Kirsty’s behaviour becomes more erratic. Why is her life a perfect mirror of Harper’s? And why is she so obsessed with Harper’s lost sister? Soon, Harper’s closeness with Kirsty begins to threaten her other relationships, and her own sense of identity.
How can Harper get back to the person she wants to be, and to the girls who mean the most to her?

My Review: I first heard about Girlhood at YALC last year, so I’ve been really excited about getting a copy for a while. Cat Clarke’s last three books were incredible, so I had high hopes for this one.

Girlhood takes place at a Scottish boarding school, where Harper has spent the time since her twin sister died. When a new girl joins Harper’s tightly knit group of friends, and seems to feel the same way as Harper, the group’s friendship is put to the test as dark secrets surface.

I really liked the set-up for the book. I haven’t read many books set in a boarding school and I feel like it set a really fitting tone for the story, isolating the girls so the main focus is on their relationship dynamics. It definitely added an eerie atmosphere to the story.

One of my favourite things about Girlhood is that the friendship group was refreshingly diverse. Hell yes for a bisexual protagonist! And a gay roommate! And a friendship group that isn’t all white! I think the characters all had a really interesting dynamic too. I wish that some had been explored further, such as Ama, but the story was still really engaging and I loved the protagonists and their chemistry.

I feel this book was quite different from Clarke’s previous ones, as it felt less suspenseful to me – but it was still an incredibly riveting read. I ended up devouring it in a day, pretty much in one sitting, because I was so eager to understand why Kirsty’s actions were obsessively mirrored Harper’s. I did predict part of the truth revealed at the end, but it was still such an engrossing story.

Overall, Girlhood is another exciting book from Cat Clarke that I definitely recommend reading. It’s a really captivating read, that had me intrigued form start to finish. It explores so many different themes, from family death to the complications of friendships when you’re a teenager. I feel like it’s quite different from some of Cat Clarke’s books, like Undone, but it’s still a fantastic read.

My Rating:

I received a copy of Girlhood from the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.

Unboxing | #MKBParty Box!

When Come Round asked me if I’d be interested in looking at their new campaign for my Kinda Book, Macmillan’s teen book imprint, I said of course. I expected a little package to arrive, with a book and maybe a leaflet about what the campaign was – and OH MY GOODNESS, THE SIZE OF THE BOX THAT ARRIVED.

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The #MKBParty is set to happen this weekend – lots of people across the country have been sent, or have applied for, one of these packs of bookish goodies. It’s such a fantastic scheme to get people talking about reading – I love the idea! Here’s a photo encompassing everything in the box (minus the lamp, obvs):

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Contents:

  • An #MKBParty Leaflet / Invite
  • Many, many postcards / bookmarks / posters
  • My Kinda Book bunting
  • Badges!!!
  • Three books – Fangirl, Beautiful Broken Things and The Lie Tree
  • Travel Mug, complete with an appropriate Fangirl quote

And six of each of these:

  • Candles with quotes from The Lie Tree
  • Love Hearts tubes
  • Galaxy hot chocolate
  • Cheek sticks
  • Hand cream
  • My Kinda Book pencils
  • Notebooks branded for Gemma Cairney’s debut book, Open

I honestly don’t think I’ve ever received such an epic parcel before! I adore it, and I can’t wait to make use of everything in here. Keep scrolling to see some of the many photos I had to take:

Join in with the party using #MKBParty!

Don’t have a party pack? Keep an eye out on Twitter – there are lots of giveaways happening and I’ll be tweeting some out soon!

Reasons to Read: Unboxed by Non Pratt

Published 15th August 2016 by Barrington Stoke.

I thought I’d make today’s post in an infographic form! I’ve been in a bit of a blogging rut recently (school, life, lack of motivation to do anything but binge netflix and sleep) and although I could write so much about this book, I wanted to summarise it really briefly and give it a pretty looking post. I mean, look at that cover! Isn’t it gorgeous?

Unboxed unexpectedly moved me to tears. It’s an incredible book, and I haven’t been completely able to stop thinking about the characters. I cannot recommend it enough.

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THANK YOU | UKYABA 2016

So, a few weeks ago, I got a Twitter notifcation. I clicked on it, wondering why on earth I’d been tagged in a thread about UKYABA – and it turns out, to my disbelief, that I had actually been nominated for an AWARD.

I was convinced someone must have nominated the wrong person, but then the awards ceremony (which I sadly couldn’t make it to!) came and went, and people began tweeting me congratulations for winning. I was still convinced they had the wrong person when the lovely Andy Robb, founder of the awards, said he was going to send out my prize to me.

So this turned up today, and, whoa okay it’s real whoa whoa whoa.

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So. I won a UKYA Blogger Award, in the Champion Teen Blogger category. IDK HOW EITHER. My prize was this really awesome trophy, plus a lovely £25 personalised book token.

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I am so, so thankful to the people who made this possible – it’s such a surprising achievement for me, and the people running this award are the loveliest, kindest people in the publishing world for recognising bloggers. I’m so grateful people read and enjoy my blog, enough to award it!

This blog, The Bibliomaniac Book Blog started in 2011, known then as Book and Writers JNR. It’s been through many changes since – in a way, it’s grown up with me. This blog has enabled me to reach so many people and become interconnected with an industry that I adore. I’m very honoured to have even one person read a post – let alone hundreds.

So, to everyone who reads this blog, and of course to the lovely people who nominated me – THANK YOU!

Congratulations also to everyone else who was nominated for/won an award. You’re all awesome and the shortlists were full of so many wonderful people that I’m lucky to be associated with.

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Book Review: The Deviants by CJ Skuse

Published 22nd September 2016 by Mira INK.

23126437Goodreads Synopsis: the fearless five – Ella, Max, Corey, Fallon and Zane – were always inseparable. Living up to their nickname, they were the adventurous, rowdy kids who lived for ghost stories and exploring the nearby islands off the coast. But when Max’s beloved older sister Jessica is killed, the friendship seems to die with her.
Now years later, only Max and Ella are in touch; still best friends and a couple since they were thirteen. Their lives are so intertwined Max’s dad even sponsors Ella’s training for the Commonwealth Games. But Ella is hiding things. Like why she hates going to Max’s house for Sunday dinner, and flinches whenever his family are near. Or the real reason she’s afraid to take their relationship to the next level.
When underdog Corey is bullied, the fearless five are brought back together again, teaming up to wreak havoc and revenge on those who have wronged them. But when the secrets they are keeping can no longer be kept quiet, will their fearlessness be enough to save them from themselves?

My Review: I didn’t know a huge amount about this book, and hadn’t read any of CJ’s books before, and needed something to read for fun instead of for studying – so I chose this from my TBR pile on a whim! I’m very glad I did, and I don’t think I’ve raced through a book so quickly in a long time. The Deviants had me entirely engrossed, and left a mark on me.

Firstly, the characters: we’re introduced to them all in strange, different ways. These five inseparable children have all grown apart after Max’s older sister’s death, but they unexpectedly find themselves joining together again, under dark circumstances, to begin wreaking revenge on those who have hurt them. All of the characters were visible so clearly in my mind – Skuse goes into such detail with all of their backstories, and as a result I don’t think I could forget any of them any time soon. I became really attached.

I really liked the way that the story is told! All of the chapters are told from the perspective of Ella, whose personality I was most attached to – I sympathised with her so much. Each chapter ends with a question that feeds into the next part of the story, and they feel like interrogation questions, leading up a completely unexpected ending. The questions at the end of each chapter were definitely what kept me hooked – I wanted to read on; discover the truth; see who was asking them (AND WOAH I DID NOT EXPECT IT OH MY GOODNESS).

The Deviants felt quite bizarre at first, then a little creepy – then it spiralled into an incredibly dark and horrific story. Every turn was completely unexpected – there are subtle, clever hints throughout the plot, but I could not have possibly predicted where the book ended. I was on the verge of tears the whole way through the book, and I literally couldn’t hold it in for the last 30 pages!

A warning to those who want to read this, though – The Deviants is incredibly dark, and quite traumatic in places. It was much more grim than I thought it could be, and I think it could be quite sensitive for some readers – without giving anything away, there’s prominent themes of abuse and violence. However, if it’s something you can read, I do definitely recommend it – it’s rare to find a book that discusses its main theme so vividly, without sugar-coating it. It’s devastating in places, and hard to read, but I think that’s what makes it important.

Overall, The Deviants was much darker and sinister than I predicted, and its vivid approach to some sensitive topics can make it a hard to read in places. However, it can’t be doubted that it’s an incredible, incredible book. It was really eye opening to read about such terrifying events that still happen to so many people every day, and these characters and their stories will never really leave me. This is a very hard-hitting book, which will definitely make you think and it can be really upsetting – but at the same time, it’s important, and I really do recommend it to those who can read similar things.

My Rating:

four

I received a copy of The Deviants from the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.

Book Review: Wonderboy by Nicole Burstein

Published August 2016 by Andersen Press.

27430362Goodreads Synopsis: A funny and frank superhero story set in the world of Othergirl.
Joseph ‘Wilco’ Wilkes is one of life’s loser’s – he’s picked on, pushed around, and bullied by the rugby boys at the posh private school he attends on a scholarship. But his life is about to change: Wilco learns he can move things with his mind. Will this be his chance to play the hero, get the girl and finally stand up for himself? Or are things just going to come crashing down around his head? Becoming a proper hero will be quite the leap of faith…

My Review: I absolutely adored Othergirl, Nicole Burstein’s debut novel – so when I discovered her second book was coming out, I was eager to give it a go!

I dove into this thinking it was a sequel to Burstein’s debut – but it’s in fact simply set in the same world as Othergirl – a world much like ours, but with global network of superheroes called the Vigils. Wonderboy can be read as a standalone novel – though, to appreciate a couple of scenes even more, it’s definitely worth reading Burstein’s first book too!

I really loved reading about the alternate world this is set in. Burstein visibly draws on her love of X-Men, but her universe is hardly a knock-off of the franchise; it’s really enjoyable and brilliant fun – from each of the Vigils, to their secret operations and offices. I love how the classic elements of a superhero story have been taken straight from all my favourite comics, and reworked to create a fantastic novel: it’s not cliche, it feels like a fresh new perspective on classic superheroes. A homage to comics. 🙂

I love that, despite Wonderboy being a brilliantly adventurous story, it’s still down to earth in the sense that it addresses some serious topics as well. Quite cleverly, when Joseph reveals his identity, it mirrors coming out in a couple of scenes, which I thought was actually a very cool and important thing to do, especially for an audience of young readers. Joseph’s life also really well explored, and we learn lots of things about his life that are the reason why he is bullied; for instance, how his mum doesn’t have very much money, so he’s in a private school on a scholarship that is looked down upon.I really liked how Burstein wrote about this so realistically.

It is so hard to not love the characters. Of both books Burstein has written, I have adored all of the protagonists. They’re just fantastic!  Joseph was really relatable, I think, and such a well fleshed-out character. Although we didn’t see very much of him ‘in action,’ (this is more of a story about him discovering his powers) I grew to love reading about him.

Overall, Wonderboy was a really brilliant read, from an author I know will be only be gaining more and more attention in the world of fiction. Nicole is a fantastic writer, and has crafted yet another enjoyable story in her instant-classic superhero world. Fingers crossed there’ll be another title soon!

My Rating:

four

I received a copy of Wonderboy from the publisher, via Lovereading4kids, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.

YALC 2016: Recap and Book Haul

YALC YALC YALC YALC YALC!! YEAR THREE!!

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I was so pumped for YALC this year, though admittedly, slightly less pumped than usual -I haven’t been to a book event in such a long time (was my last book event YALC 2015…? OH NO) due to exams and stress and life being ridiculously busy and draining. So I was pretty nervous about going and talking to (or not being able to talk to) the many lovely bloggers I know online but haven’t talked to in so long because, as mentioned, life is busy and draining.

BUT. To the fun stuff; let’s ignore my brain for a sec. I was very excited to go, and see how the convention is developing even further in its third successful year. So, onto a messy recap/book haul post!


I arrived at around 8.30 to YALC – earlier than the starting time, because I was very honoured to have been invited to this year’s blogger’s breakfast before the opening. I was really excited for this, as each year of YALC a few authors come and do a small, more intimate talk with bloggers and vloggers – this year, to celebrate You Know Me Well and #BookPride, it was David Levithan and Nina LaCour!

29848950Being me, I didn’t take photos, because I’m stupid. I was also a little in overdrive at the prospect of my two favourite authors in the same room as me. I adore their books more than anything, they’re all so important to me – reading titles from You Know Me Well, to Wide Awake, to Everything Leads To You have been pivotal moments in my life, no exaggeration. David and Nina discussed YKMW, then opened up to the bloggers for questions – and there was a short signing after, in which I was much too shy to say a huge thank you to them for such beautiful books.

It was incredibly cool of them to do the press junket the day after their big YALC appearance, especially as they must have been a lil jet lagged. Thank you to the both of them for the great morning, and to the YALC team for organising the press junket and inviting me!

The first things I did when YALC started officially was sit in on the first two panels. The first was a range of authors mostly with their debut novels releasing this year, celebrating new talent in YA. It was really interesting to hear from a lot of them, as I don’t think I would have otherwise. Claire Hennessey was on this panel, and Nothing Tastes as Good is set to be an awesome release –  in fact, I read an early manuscript of this so can vouch for it!

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The second panel of the day was ASK YALC, with Holly Bourne, Juno Dawson and Rosalind Jana, hosted by Gemma Cairney of BBC Radio 1. I loved this panel so much! It was probably my favourite. It had a little twist to it, as beforehand audience members wrote down questions they wanted advice to – and the panel members answered them on stage. I loved hearing all of the advice – they’re all such brilliant, intelligent and funny people. I was also introduced to Rosalind Jana through this panel, whom I hadn’t previously heard of (ok I probably have, I just have an awful memory). I rushed to buy a copy of her book afterwards!

As I went to Juno and Rosalind’s signings after the second panel, I’d missed a lot of the next one, which was a fantasy one including Philip Reeve. I was a little sad about that, but I decided midday to take a lil break from YALC, and hop down a floor to LFCC to see what was going on there!

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Having spent most of my money on books, it wasn’t the best use of my time; LFCC is mainly a place for buying merch from stands, and queuing for paid autographs and photos with Sci Fi icons. (Very cool, but less so for a broke student like moi)

I did enjoy wandering around a lot, though! It was so different to YALC. The cosplay that I was was amazing (note: a small six y/o-ish Harley Quinn that outdid EVERY other Harley Quinn I saw, like, whoa) and I loved looking at artists’ stands of prints and comics.

I then went back to YALC, to watch the Morally Complicated YA Panel. Even though I was basically winging the whole day, going to panels on a whim, I knew I had to go to this one. It was set to be fantastic – Louise O’Neill and Melvin Burgess, two authors very well known for their controversial but life changing fiction, were joined by Monsters author Emerald Fennel (which I am still yet to read!) and Girl, Detached author Manuela Salvi (this looks SO GOOD).

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So many interesting points were raised about censorship in young adult fiction – from where we draw the line, to banning books, to comparisons with movies. This is a topic I’ve been quietly interested in for a while – and, as I’m currently looking for EPQ ideas (an essay project for extra UCAS points in sixth form) this has actually inspired me to consider writing about YA and censorship for my project!

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The only author photo I got at YALc was with Louise O’Neill, but that was incredibly cool – I’ve been to one of her signings before, but I only bought Asking For It today and I cannot wait to read it. I have a feeling I’ll have an in-depth discussion blog post following reading.

I didn’t actually spend as long at YALC as I did the last two years – I left before the last panel (a Harry Potter Party!) had ended. But I still had a fantastic time!

Similarly to my smaller amount of time at YALC, I also got surprisingly few books (I mean, look at 2014…). However, they’re some pretty awesome books. I can’t wait to delve into them asap. Also pictured: a tote bag and poster from the lovely Hot Key Books, and some postcards of books I must keep and eye out for!

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Books purchased:

-Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Finally, it’s here! I can’t wait to go back to my childhood again.)

-The Yellow Room by Jess Vallance (Loved Jess’ debut. This looks very mysterious.)

-Notes on Being Teenage by Rosalind Jana (Rosalind was fantastic on her panel and this sounds nice!)

-Asking For It by Louise O’Neill (I’ve needed this book in my life for. so. long.)

-[FREE PROOF:] Girl, Detached by Manuela Salvi (This sounded very interesting, and I don’t read much translated fiction)


A HUGE thank you to the organisers behind YALC for putting together such a fantastic event – the whole weekend looked amazing, and the day I visited was really enjoyable. Thank you also to the authors and publicists for putting together such cool panels! Bring on next year 🙂