Tag Archives: ya fiction

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!

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.

GIRLPOWER: My Favourite Girls in YA

It’s ALWAYS a good time to highlight some of YA’s amazing female characters! I could literally spend the rest of my life blogging about the many protagonists I have fallen in love with, because there are so many. YA fiction will always be special to me, as it’s such an incredible place to discover memorable characters that break boundaries and norms.

So, here’s a lil’ infographic of just a few of my favourite characters in YA Some of them are very well known and loved, whilst some are totally underrated and deserve all the attention. Enjoy!

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So, who are your favourite girls in YA? Leave a comment!

The Bibliomaniac: A Bookshelf Tour

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Every blogger and vlogger does one of these at some point, and yet in my five years of blogging, I don’t think I’ve ever talked about my shelves here! Admittedly I have on Twitter, a lot… but I figured a blog post would be nice. Especially as I just tidied / did a massive book cull so my shelves aren’t as cluttered so here goes!:)

MY MAIN BOOKSHELVES:

 

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These shelves are home to about half of the books that I have read and own. I’m usually incredibly obsessive and organised (as in, alphabetising everything I own, from DVDs to school books) but these shelves are in absolutely no logical order. They’re a massive rainbow, which I love sososo much even if it does show that I have way too much time on my hands. (Even the items on the shelves correspond to the colours… yep).

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These are part of the ‘main,’ bookshelf, but I count them at their own little sections, as they’re not YAwhich is what the shelves above mostly consist of. Two shelves are home to all of my classic books – from Enid Blyton, to Road Dahl, to George Orwell and my favourite thing I own – a 116 year old copy of Grimm’s Fairy Tales. A larger space is reserved for all of my graphic novels and collected comic editions! I’m definitely going to need more space on this one soon, as I’m looking to expand my series reading. Current favourites are The Runaways and The Wicked and the Divine.

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This bit is the untidiest bit D:

This is where most of the books on my to-read (or in some cases, to re-read) list live! I should really order them into some kind of logical sense, but somehow I actually remember where all of these books are placed, so, I guess it’s all good.

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Most of the rest of my TBR books are on the my windowsill (top of this left photo) and sitting on my library steps, by my desk! So many books, so little time.

I do keep many of the proofs copies I’m sent – visible at the bottom of the left photo, under my windowsill. Hot Key Books all look so lovely together. A couple of more recently sent ARCs live under my bed, as I’ve run out of room (despite culling 100 books the other day!)

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And, finally – signed books! I haven’t been to any bookstore events in a long time (GCSEs, general exhaustion, etc) but I used to go up to Waterstones Piccadilly practically every week or so, attending talks and signings. My signed books don’t live in my room – they’re on shelves at the end of the hallway. But I do like that little area at the end of the house! More rainbow-ordered books!

So, that concludes the bookshelf tour! What do you think of my chaotic order of things? How do you organise your books?

Book Review: Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse

Published April 2016 by Little, Brown.

26030682Goodreads Synopsis: Amsterdam, 1943. Hanneke spends her days finding and delivering sought-after black market goods to paying customers, nights hiding the true nature of her work from her concerned parents, and every waking moment mourning her boyfriend, who was killed on the Dutch front lines when the German army invaded. Her illegal work keeps her family afloat, and Hanneke also likes to think of it as a small act of rebellion against the Nazis.

On a routine delivery, a client asks Hanneke for help. Expecting to hear that Mrs. Janssen wants meat or kerosene, Hanneke is shocked by the older woman’s frantic plea to find a person: a Jewish teenager Mrs. Janssen had been hiding, who has vanished without a trace from a secret room. Hanneke initially wants nothing to do with such a dangerous task but is ultimately drawn into a web of mysteries and stunning revelations—where the only way out is through.

My review: Anyone who knows me well enough will know that I do not shut up about Monica Hesse’s début YA books, STRAY and BURN, which are two of my all-time favourite books, ever. My excitement went through the roof when I found out that Hesse had written another YA book – and I was very interested to see her genre choice jump from Sci-Fi to historical fiction. I was delighted to have the chance to read it.

Girl in the Blue Coat is set in wartime Amsterdam. Hanneke is secretly running illegal errands, delivering extra rations of food to local people, and staying under the radar. But when one of her clients asks her to help search for a missing Jewish girl that she’d been hiding, her life is turned upside down as she is catapulted into a complex mystery, and begins to unravel dark secrets about the what is happening to Jewish people being captured in Amsterdam.

Story time: I visited Amsterdam last year, and had the chance to also visit Anne Frank Huis. It was really heartbreaking and moving to walk around the tiny place the Frank family had to hide in for years – it’s incredibly eye-opening, and hard to believe that this was a reality for many Jewish people during the second world war. Monica Hesse’s attention to detail is admirable; her extensive research is evident in her meticulous descriptions – from the streets of Amsterdam, to the place Jewish people were inhumanely held, to the hiding spaces in Dutch households.

The plot gripped me from the start and hasn’t really let me go, even after closing the book. I’m still thinking about the story weeks later. It’s rare to find something so incredibly raw as this is – the emotion in this book is so intense and it can be quite hard to read the brutal nature of events at points. Admittedly, I don’t take history, but I’m sure the level of detail Monica Hesse explores in Girl in the Blue Coat can exceed what people learn in schools. This has really opened my eyes to what happened in Amsterdam, and I’m eager to learn more.

Hanneke is one of those characters I couldn’t help but adore. From the opening pages, I admired her daring nature, and her realistic inner conflict about searching for a Jewish girl in a dangerous world. I was rooting for her all of the way through, and loved the unlikely community she finds in the book, during her search. All of these characters will definitely stay with me for a long time – many scenes where their backgrounds are explored really moved me.

Overall, Girl in the Blue Coat was an incredible read. Monica Hesse has transcended into the historical fiction genre beautifully, with a powerful and mesmerising novel about the brutality of wartime events in Amsterdam, highlighting the bravery and selflessness of those who resisted Nazi efforts. The story is hard to fault, and was hard to put down; I was desperate to unravel the truth about this mysterious girl for myself. The ending was incredibly unpredictable, and the final events of the story brought me to tears! Highly recommended if you’re looking for a thought-provoking read.

My Review:

four and a half

I received a copy of Girl in the Blue Coat.

 

 

Page to Screen: YA Books That Would Make Great Movies

A lot of people seemed to love Paragraphs to Pictures, a blog post I published a few weeks ago on the YA books I’d love to see adapted as graphic novels. So, here’s a follow up post – this time, I’m looking at some books I would love to see on the big screen!PicMonkey CollageI’m normally team The Book Was Better when it comes to adaptations of books I love – take City of Bones, Stormbreaker or Harry Potter for instance – some of the increasing number of YA novels that have been brought to the screen. As brilliant as the films are, there’s always something more magical about reading the printed word and imagining the scenarios in your head.

I went to see Paper Towns a few weeks ago. I loved the book and it may be my favourite John Green novel – but the movie was unexpectedly maybe even better than the book. I thought the cinematography was perfect – scenes such as Q and Margo driving around the town at night captured beautifully. I think the story was translated fantastically.

It got me thinking about other YA books  that I love and treasure. What if these works were brought to big screens? Who would I pick to play characters, or direct the film? Here’s a list of some titles I think would be brilliant on screens.

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ALL OF THE ABOVE (James Dawson, Hot Key Books)

As soon as I put down All of the Above, I wanted to pick it up again. It’s a beautifully messy book, capturing the life of a teenager flawlessly. There’s lots of scenes I imagined so realistically in my head – I’ve never really envisioned a book’s setting so in-depth as I did with All of the Above! There’s potential for lots of beautifully shot scenes in the crazy golf course at night, where Toria and the crowd she falls in with hang out. Polly would totally be played by Cara Delevingne, as Cara has that crazy-awesome personality.

THE NEXT TOGETHER (Lauren James, Walker Books)

I am obsessed with a TV show called Orphan Black at the moment, which is about a woman called Sarah Manning, who finds herself falling into a dangerous spiral of events when she discovers she is a clone. The actress, Tatiana Maslany, portrays lots of different clones and it’s amazing. I was watching Orphan Black around the time I read The Next Together, and my thoughts while reading were often about how riveting a film of this book would be. Not only because the plot is constructed so well, and the different eras would be so cool to stitch together in a movie, but like Orphan Black, the same two actors would be portraying many different versions of themselves. It would be awesome.

ARISTOTLE AND DANTE DISCOVER THE SECRETS OF THE UNIVERSE (Benjamin Alire Saenz, Simon & Schuster)

Aristotle and Dante is a beautifully written novel. Everything about it is beautifully crafted. Old me would say making this book into a film would be a terrible idea because you’d lose the magic of the writing. But I think seeing it in a different medium could bring a whole new level of magic to it. Also, of course – both of the main characters are LGBT* and Mexican. Name one movie out there with two PoC & LGBT* leading characters… *radio silence*

AN EMBER IN THE ASHES (Sabaa Tahir, HarperVoyager)

This book was one of the most epic fantasties I’ve read in a long time. It was fast-paced, gripping, and didn’t want to be put down for a second. I adored the characters and the writing evoked so much imagery for me. I couldn’t stop imagining the Empire in my head, how it would look and feel. I have a feeling Peter Jackson would be a pretty good choice as director / producer, as he’s fantastic at creating beautifully detailed alternate worlds – he did a stunning job with the world of The Lord of the Rings.

ALL THESE THINGS I’VE DONE (Gabrielle Zevin, Pan Macmillan)

All These Things I’ve Done is a dystopian novel where chocolate is illegal and the main character is part of a famed family that sells it. It’s so hard to describe (I recommend it to people all the time, but there’s no way to put its brilliance into words!) but it’s gritty, emotional and captivating. Anya Balanchine is one of my all-time favourite protagonists and she would be so cool on a big screen. The setting would be quite interesting to depict in a different medium, too, as it’s 2083 New York with a mafia undertones.

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So, there’s my choices! What would yours be?

Book Review: All of the Above by James Dawson

Published September 2015 by Hot Key Books.

23156540Goodreads Synopsis: When sixteen-year-old Toria Bland arrives at her new school she needs to work out who her friends are in a crazy whirl of worry, exam pressure and anxiety over fitting in. Things start looking up when Toria meets the funny and foul-mouthed Polly, who’s the coolest girl that Toria has ever seen. Polly and the rest of the ‘alternative’ kids take Toria under their wing. And that’s when she meets the irresistible Nico Mancini, lead singer of a local band – and it’s instalove at first sight! Toria likes Nico, Nico likes Toria, but then there’s Polly…love and friendship have a funny way of going round in circles.

My Review: I’ve been excited about this book for such a long time. I’ve been a fan of James Dawson’s books ever since his first horror novels – to see him delving into another genre is really exciting, and he’s done so excellently!

I adore how Dawson writes his characters, and All of the Above definitely has some of his best. I loved the friendship group the story is centered around so, so much – each character was really unique and although the book wasn’t that long, each character was really well developed and explored. Kudos to James for writing a great story where characters just happen to be queer / PoC, without the story being entirely about that. We need more books like this.

I really loved Toria, she was an incredibly relatable protagonist – from her tumblring to her exam pressure, to her process of figuring life out, she just really resonated with me, so I’m sure she’s going to be well received by other readers. Polly was an awesome character: Strong willed, stubborn and completely wild, she felt like a mash-up of John Green’s Margot and Alaska, though was completely unique.

The romance side of the book is brilliant – Toria falls for the local band’s lead singer, Nico, and for a while things are going great. But Polly, Toria’s best friend, is beginning to mean something else to her. The relationships felt so raw and realistic. I think the ways they progressed was perfect, and beautifully written.

The back of the physical copy of the book says “It would be neater, wouldn’t it, if this was a story about self harm or sexuality or eating disorders or ridiculously hot bass players, but it’s a story about all of them. Yeah, it’s a mess. And it’s about to get messier.” Sidenote: Most fantastic blurb ever. And the fact that ‘it’s a mess’ is the reason this book stands out. So much happens. There are parts that will make you grin from ear to ear. There are parts that hit you really hard, parts that will make you cry. Some elements are wrapped up perfectly at the end. Some things are never resolved. But that’s the best thing about it – it’s not sugar-coated and nothing is perfect. And that’s what makes this book perfect.

Overall, All of the Above was an exceptional book, and I can tell it’s going to be loved and related to by a lot of teenagers. As much as I loved James Dawson’s horror YA, (and would love to read more of the genre from him again) I can tell his ‘phase two’ is going to be awesome. Dawson covers so many topics in this book, and so well, it’s admirable. I really recommend this, and I can’t wait to see what’s next.

My Rating:four

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