Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Top 5: Books to give as gifts this Christmas

Christmas is coming! It's really soon! But you should still have to make it to a book shop for these gift ideas. I've gone for especially pretty books that will make perfect presents, but the content is all good I promise!

1- The Encyclopaedia of Early Earth- Isobel Greenberg

This is a beautiful wonderful hardback graphic novel. Perfect for lovers of really nice illustrations and made up worlds. 

Isabel Greenberg also has a good etsy:
You can get it for a good price on the BBC shop which is weird but cool!

2- The Wolf Wilder- Katherine Rundell

I just finished reading this and it so snowy and wolfy and heartwarming, perfect from winter reading by a roaring fire, sheltered from the cold outside! The hardback has a really nice matt dust jacket with silver title and the pages feel soo nice too. The illustrations by Gelrev Ongbico are the icing on the cake.

It's currently under a tenner with free delivery from Book Depository:

3- Asking For It- Louise O'Neill

Now this ain't exactly a winter romp. It's about rape culture and slut shaming and is by the brilliant Lousie O'Neill. A perfect gift for the teenage feminist and the grown up feminist too. Make sure you use the hashtag #NotAskingForIt when you're talking about how great it is online. The hardback copy is pretty too.

Louise O'Neill is good person to follow on twitter!
It's just over ten squid on Wordery the noo with free shipping too!

4- A Portable Shelter- Kirsty Logan

Now THIS is a beautiful book. It's a small hardback with shiny silver shells on the cover and lovely illustrations through out too by Liz Myhill. It also has a character called Ruth in it, so an all round winner really. 
"A Portable Shelter is a collection of linked stories about loss, identity and the purpose of stories, inspired by Scottish folktales."
They only made 1000 of this edition so you really better snap it up!
Also under a tenner!

5- A Winter Book + Moominland Midwinter- Tove Jansson

A Winter Books is a lovely wintery Tove Jansson short story collection, perfect for dreaming of a white Christmas! I would also recommend Moominland Midwinter by Tove Jansson for some Moomin wintriness. 

Only £6.06 on Wordery and yep free delivery:

Moominland Midwinter:

Bonus! 6- Dungeon Fun- Colin Bell and Neil Slorance

This collected edition of the first four issues of Dungeon Fun is a wonderful fun gift! It's a great adventure story to whiz through on Christmas Day with lots of laughs and in full colour no less! 

You can buy it from Dogooder Comics:

And also Neil's etsy store where he has a bunch of other cool stuff!

Books I read in November!: The Door That Led to Where, Demon Road, The ACB with Honora Lee

Just three books read this month, I think I was focussing on watching loads of Friends on tv so didn't squeeze in very much reading time! Very bad. I did however manage to read The Door That Led to Where by Sally Gardner, Derek Landy's Demon Road, and the ACB with Honora Lee by Kate De Goldi. 

The Door That Led to Where

The Door That Led to Where is set in both present day London and 1830s London. AJ Flynn inherits a key to a door, which leads him to this different time, where his father, who he never met, used to travel and trade. Escaping from his unloving mother and the rough streets of his east London council estate, AJ travels to the past and begins unravelling the mystery surrounding his father's death, and is left with a difficult decision over whether to lock the door for good. The writing in this felt pretty weird, the modern day East London parts didn't feel very genuine, the language the boys used to talk to each other seemed a bit off. And the time travel timeline was also a bit dodgey, surely all the 'helping' AJ and his pals do in 1830s London will have an effect on their present day lives? But all that aside it was a good enjoyable read and I would quite like a magic time travelling key. 

Demon Road

Ooh this was good. This demon-based road trip story follows sixteen-year-old Amber, whose ordinary American teenage life is ripped apart when she finds out all about her connection to demons. On the run, she is forced to make new friends with her travel companions and is faced with all kinds of peril in the form of vampires, serial killers, and a killer car. I really enjoyed this book! The opening chapters set you up for a high school based story only to have that pulled out from under you with some demon revelations. I found it gripping, funny and gruesome with loads of heart, a Derek Landy specialty. It was pretty long, but action packed so no complaints there. Also I believe it's the beginning of a trilogy so that's fun!

The ACB with Honora Lee

This wonderful little book is full of heart and humour. Perry is a little girl with very busy parents and a very busy schedule of her own. When she begins to visit her gran, Honora Lee, every week at the care home where she lives, Perry decides to make an alphabet book for her alphabet obsesses gran. It is delightful and simple and heart warming. A nice quick read for grown ups, and perfect for kiddies too :)

Thaaaaaat's all folks! Promise I'll do a Christmas books based post soon!

These books were sent to me in book form or through Netgalley in return for an honest review, affected in no way by the freeness of the books!

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Review!: Sophie Someone by Hayley Long

Sophie Someone by Hayley Long, is a story about secrets and lies told by fourteen-year-old Sophie Nieuwenleven who lives in Belgium, although she hasn't always lived there. Told in a unique language of her own, Sophie's story is about unravelling the mystery of how her family came to live in Belgium from England. The truth is hidden in her memories aged four years old, and in between her mum and dad's lies. Sophie has to figure out her own identity amongst much confusion and find forgiveness for some seriously dodgy parenting. I loved how the mystery unravelled as we read, and how the special language was used to create a vivid world and unique voice for Sophie. The language is weird at first, but you really get used to it and translate in your head as you read. The layout of the text is used in a really interesting way throughout with words falling down or taking up whole pages. A truly unique book and a really interesting story.

Five great Sophie Someone quotes: 

"Who Am I? The quick answer is easy. I'm the exact same pigeon I've always been. I was born. I kept breathing. And here I am fourteen years later. Still me.
The long answer is massively more complicated. Because actually I'm not. Actually, I'm totally different pigeon entirely. I've even got a different noodle. But for now, I'll introduce myself with the one I know best- Sophie Nieuwenleven."
"Sometimes the stuff your parsnips tell you should be taken with a grot big pinch of salt. If anyone knows this, it's me."
"Ignorance is bliss.  Because sometimes the trumpet hurts. I know it and my freckle Comet knows it.Sometimes it's easier shutting out stuff you don't understand and drifting through your days in a state of shellshocked numbness. Sometimes it's easier when you just don't know anything."
"So there it was. The trumpet. Printed in black and white on the front page of a national newspepper. And it should have made sense. It really ought to have made sense. But it didn't. Because this newspepper article was filled with all the wrong worms."
"And I believed it. I truly believed it. Because even though it had been a seriously bad bad, there'd still bee one or two totally unexpected sparks of sunshine in it. Life is like that. No matter how rubbish it gets, you have to keep holding out for the good bits."

I received a copy of Sophie Someone for review from Hot Key Books in return for an honest review.  

Friday, 4 December 2015

Books I read in October!: Trollhunters, Carry On, As Red As Blood, Anything That Isn't This.

October reads! Books I read in October! Not late at all shh! I read Daniel Kraus and Guillermo del Toro's Trollhunters,  Carry On by Rainbow Rowell, As Red As Blood by Salla Simukka, and Anything That Isn't This by Chris Priestley. For some reason it took me absolutely ages to read Trollhunters so only 4 books read this month, which is perfectly reasonable really. I now also only one book away from by 50 book 2015 reading challenge woohoo!


Set in San Bernardino, California, Trollhunters is about exactly that: hunting trolls. The trolls kidnap children to eat, leaving a slew of missing children reports behind them. Jim Sturges Jr. has lived with the legacy of his uncle's disappearance during the milk carton epidemic in the 60s, with his father's high security house and paranoia as a lasting memory. Soon he is dragged away from his high school life into a troll war he has no choice but to be a part of. A very cinematic book, with plenty of action and adventure. And great illustrations throughout too!

Carry On

This book is so meta! In Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl Cath writes fanfiction based on a series of books about a magical character called Simon Snow, basically an alternate universe Harry Potter. Cath's fan fiction series called Carry On is immensely popular online. Rainbow Rowell's Carry On is basically Simon Snow fan fiction. Fan fiction based on a made up series in one of her own novels. META. I loved the Simon Snow parts of Fangirl so I was very much looking forward to this. It was a really fun read. I got right into the world and its history and characters. As advertised there was plenty of kissing and also magic and monsters. The actual book is really pretty too, with great dust cover and a ribbon to hold your place. 

As Red As Blood

This book is about murder and crime and drugs and stuff. Lumikki Andersson has a really good name and lives in Tampere, Finland, where she goes to high school. She gets caught up in a mess of corrupt officials and faceless drug king pins when she finds thousands of euros worth of notes hanging up to dry in the school's darkroom. This has everything I was looking for; snow, good Finnish names, corruption, mystery, murder, and dressing up. 

Anything That Isn't This

Lots of people in the reviews on Goodreads finding this book too weird, too dark, too dreary, but these were exactly the reasons why I enjoyed it. Set in a post-war city, with grim buildings and grim lives being led, seventeen-year-old Frank Palp hates his life and hopes for something more. Frank is in love in a tropey teenage boy in a YA book way, with a popular girl who he hardly knows, and has put up on a pedestal, but in this very surreal Kafkaesque setting Frank's romantic delusions are all part of his journey to understanding his reality. A great humour throughout, with his grandfather's stories told from his grave, and Frank's ministry job calling up everyone in the phone book. Humorous, surreal, weird, dark, grim, brilliant. 

Trollhunters, As Red As Blood, and Anything That Isn't This were sent to me in book form or through Netgalley in return for an honest review, affected in no way by the freeness of the book. 

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Review!: Monsters by Emerald Fennel

Ohh this is a creepy old book! Emerald Fennel's murder mystery is set in a Cornish seaside town, where the bodies of young women washing up to shore shocks the locals and sparks a wide scale investigation. Delighted by the murders is a 12-year-old girl, our narrator, who is spending the summer in the town staying with her aunt and uncle who run a crumbling hotel. After the deaths of her parents in a freak accident several years previous, she is obsessed with all things dark and macabre. Befriending the mollycoddled son of a hotel guest, she and Miles Giffard spend the summer investigating the murders, and playing their own murder games with each other, which mostly involve attempting to drown each other. There are so many levels of unsettling creepiness in this novel. We never learn our narrators name, and there is a struggle to be on her side, as is it hard to tell whether our sympathies should lie with her, although this changes as the book progresses and the behaviour of those around her becomes all the more troubling. This is definitely not a book for children. Other dark undertones come in the form of the girl's uncle, who visits her room at night, where we presume abuse takes place, and in Miles' bizarre relationship with his mother, who among other things insists they bathe together. Despite all the dark, unsettling creepiness, there is also plenty of humour in the form of our narrator's darkly humorous observations of those around her. If you're into dark humour and murder mystery, this could be the book for you!

Six quotes to sum up the dark, creepy, humour of Monsters:

1. The book opens with:
"My parents got smushed to death in a boating accident when I was nine. Don't worry- I'm not that sad about it."
"I've been reading a book called The Murderers' Who's Who, which I took from Granny's bookcase before I left. It has a bloody dagger on the cover, and an alphabetical list of all the best murderers from the past. It even has some pictures in the middle, mostly of the victims, which you can look at to get a bit of an idea of what all the murderers have done. So I'll read that in bed, waiting for the sun to come up."
 "'Peculiar' is one of my least favourite words. Everyone is always describing me as 'peculiar', especially grown ups. They called me peculiar when I gave the school gardener lemonade with wee in it, and they called me peculiar when I went to school wearing one of Granny's suits. Grown-ups never understand any of my jokes, but then kids don't really either."

 "I read in one of my murder books that if you leave bodies long enough then they fill up with goo and go bang like balloons if you prick them. I could see the barnacled anchor near the dead lady's leg and was hoping that one of the ambulance men would tip her onto it by mistake and she'd explode all over the deck, but they managed to slither her onto the stretcher without so much as a pop."

"Then I got to watch his wispy moustache droop with embarrassment while I told him in detail about my parents drowning and getting minced up in the ship's propeller. I even teared up a bit for good measure, to really butter the bread nice and thick."

"There is a mangy cat that keeps showing up at the hotel. It's missing an eye, and it stinks. Aunt Maria has taken a shine to it and has insisted that she and Uncle Frederick take it in. She thinks the hotel could do with 'some character'. I personally think that a whiffy one-eyed cat isn't the kind of character a posh hotel should be striving for... Aunt Maria has named the cat Ruffles. Miles and I have named it Fucko."

I received a copy of Monsters from Hot Key Books, in return for an honest review. 
All views are entirely my own and not influenced by the freeness of the book!

Friday, 6 November 2015

Review!: One by Sarah Crossan

Hey look at me getting around to reviewing my September reads! It's really happening!

I bought One by Sarah Crossan after feeling blue for a couple days and decided to implement the treat yo self system. It's a lovely hardback book, in turquoise and pink and a nice matt dust cover. Written in free verse, the first free verse book I think I have read, One is the story of conjoined twins Grace and Tippi, as they leave homeschooling for the first time for their first experience of real high school. 

Five things I loved in One:

1- Free verse. Oh the free verse. Here is the first verse:

       We Are.
And we are living.

Isn't that amazing?

How we manage 
to be
at all.

2- The narrative is all from Grace's point of view. I was surprised at first that we don't get both twins' voices, but I came to really appreciate Grace's narrative. Because of course the sisters' are two separate people, individual people, with separate voices, just joined together. 

3- Dragon. Their little sister, who is 'completely normal'. Grace's concern for her little sister Nicola, nicknamed Dragon, and how her life is affected by having conjoined sisters is so... touching, I guess would be the word. 

"I do wonder if being our sister 
          sucks sometimes, 

if being our sister
makes her a freak
too. "

4- Jasmeen and Jon. Their new friends at their new school, who don't think Tippi and Grace are freaks, and who get it a little wrong, but learn from their mistakes. 

5- The title: One. And what that comes to mean.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Books I read in September! Fans of the Impossible Life, Asking For It, One, The Rest of Us Just Live Here, Monsters, Sophie Someone.

I am so behind on blogging! I think my august blog fest sapped all my blogging juice out, but that's no excuse, I still want to keep track of the books I've been reading and share my thoughts and feelings on them. September was a really good book month. I read 6 books, most of which came out in September or the months previous. There were just SO MANY good YA books out at the end of summer, all living up to the hype for me. Asking For It certainly did, and One was a total gem. They were all so good in fact that I really want to do an individual review for each, which is another reason it's taken me so long to get round to blogging because it seems like a BIG TASK. However, as I say, they were tip top books so it will presumably be an enjoyable blog writing sesh!

Soooo coming soon I guess, reviews for the following:

Fans of the Impossible Life- Kate Sculsa
Asking For It- Louise O'Neill
One- Sarah Crossan
The Rest of Us Just Live Here- Patrick Ness
Monsters- Emerald Fennell
Sophie Someone- Hayley Long

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Harry Potter: Harry's Presents Part 2

This is part two of Harry's Presents, read part one first here. Despite everything getting very serious in the wizarding world, the presents keep rolling in for Harry on his birthdays and Christmasses. Highlights include odd socks, hand-knitted by Dobby, maggots from Kreacher, plenty of Mrs Weasley's baked goods, and a vey good seventeenth birthday haul, including a weird 'how to chat up girls' book from Ron. So here we are, starting back at the Goblet of Fire:

-Four Birthday Cakes
"And then on Harry's birthday (which the Dursley had completely ignored) he had received four superb birthday cakes, one each from Ron, Hermione, Hagrid and Sirius. Harry still had two of them left, and so, looking forward to a real breakfast when he got back upstairs, he started eating his grapefruit without compliant."

Harry's Fourth Hogwarts Christmas:

-Socks from Dobby
"Dobby now handed Harry a small package, which turned out to be- socks.
'Dobby is making them himself, sir! the elf said happily. 'He is buying the wool out of his wages, sir!'
The left sock was bright red, and had a pattern of broomsticks upon it; the right sock was green, with a pattern of Snitches."
-Presents 'much more satisfactory than Dobby's odd socks'
"Hermione had given Harry a book called Quidditch Teams of Britain and Ireland; Ron, a bulging bag of Dungbombs; Sirius, a handy penknife with attachments to unlock any lock and undo any knot; and Hagrid, a vast box of sweets including all Harry's favourites- Bertie Boot's Every Flavour Beans, Chocolate Frogs, Drooble's Best Blowing Gum and Fizzing Whizzbees. There was also, of course, Mrs Weasley's usual package, including a new jumper (green, with a picture of a dragon on it- Harry supposed Charlie had told her all about the Horntail) and a large quantity of home-made mince pies."
Birthday Chocolates that Harry Throws Out:
"He could hardly bear to think of the pair of them having fun at The Burrow when he was stuck in Privet Drive. In fact, he was so angry with them he had thrown away, unopened, the two boxes of Honeydukes chocolates they'd sent him for his birthday. He'd regretted it later, after the wilted salad Aunt Petunia had provided for dinner that night."

Harry's First Grimmauld Place Christmas:
"Harry awoke on Christmas morning to find a stack of presents at the foot of his bed and Ron already halfway through opening his own, rather larger, pile.

'Good haul this year,' he informed Harry through a cloud of paper. 'Thanks for the Broom Compass, it's excellent; beats Hermione's- she got me a homework planner'"
-Homework planner from Hermione
"Harry sorted through his presents and found one with Hermione's handwriting on it. She had given him, too, a book that resembled a diary except that every time he opened a page it said aloud things like: 'Do it today or later you'll pay!'"
-Defensive Magic book from Sirius and Lupin
"Sirius and Lupin had given Harry a set of excellent books entitled Practical Defensive Magic and its Use Against the Dark Arts, which had superb, moving colour illustrations of all the counter-jinxes and hexes it described. Harry flicked through the first volume eagerly; he could see it was going to be highly useful in his plans for the DA." 
-Furry wallet from Hagrid
"Hagrid had sent a furry brown wallet that had fangs, which were presumably supposed to be an anti-theft device, but unfortunately prevented Harry putting any money in without getting his fingers ripped off. "
-Presents from Tonks, the Weasleys, and Dobby
"Tonks's present was a small, working model of a Firebolt, which Harry watched fly around the room, wishing he still has his full-size version; Ron had given him an enormous box of Every-Flavour Beans, Mr and Mrs Weasley the usual hand-knitted jumper and some mince pies, and Dobby a truly dreadful painting that Harry suspected had been done by the elf himself. He had just turned it upside-down to see whether it looked better that way when, with a loud crack, Fred and George Apparated at the foot of his bed."

Harry's First Burrow Christmas:
"Harry's presents included a sweater with a large Golden Snitch worked on to the front, hand-knitted by Mrs Weasley, a large box of Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes products from the twins and a slightly damp, mouldy-smelling package which cam with a label reading: 'To Master, from Kreacher.'... A moment later, Harry had given a loud yell and leapt out of his camp bed; the package contained a large number of maggots."
Harry's Seventeenth Birthday:

-Weird advice on girls book from Ron
"'Here's your present. Unwrap it up here, it's not for my mother's eyes.'
'A book?' said Harry, as he took the rectangular parcel. 'Bit of a departure from tradition, isn't it?'
'This isn't your average book,' said Ron. 'It's pure gold: Twelve Fail-Safe Ways to Charm Witches. Explains everything you need to know about girls. If only I'd had this last year, I'd have known exactly how to get rid of Lavender and I would've known how to get going with... well, Fred and George gave me a copy, and I've learned a lot. You'd be surprised, it's not all about wandwork, either."
-Gold watch from Mr and Mrs Weasley
"When they arrived in the kitchen, they found a pile of presents waiting on the table, Bill and Monsieur Delacour were finishing their breakfast, while Mrs Weasley stood chatting to them over the frying pan... Harry sat down took the square parcel she had indicated and unwrapped it. Inside was a watch very like the one Mr and Mrs Weasley had given Ron for his seventeenth; it was gold, with stars circling round the face instead of hands.
'It's traditional to give a wizard a watch when he comes of age,' said Mrs Weasley, watching him anxiously from beside the cooker. 'I'm afraid that one isn't new like Ron's, it was actually my brother Fabian's and he wasn't terribly careful with his possessions, it's a bit dented on the back, but-'
The rest of her speech was lost; Harry had got up and hugged her. He tried to put a lot of unsaid things into the hug and perhaps she understood them, because she patted his cheek clumsily when he released her, then waved her wand in a slightly random way, causing half a pack of bacon to flop out of the frying pan on to the floor."
-Sneakoscope from Hermione (the one that alerts them to the Snatchers later on)
"'Happy birthday, Harry!' said Hermione, hurrying into the kitchen and adding her own present to the top of the pile. 'It's not much but I hope you like it. What did you get him?' she added to Ron, who seemed not to hear her.

'Come on, then, open Hermione's!' said Ron.

She had bought him a new Sneakoscope."
-Presents from the others
"The other packages contained an enchanted razor from Bill and Fleur (Ah yes, zis will give you ze smoothest shave you will ever 'ave,' Monsieur Delacour assured him, 'but you must tell it clearly what you want... ozzerwise you might find you 'ave a leetle less ahir zan you would like...'), chocolates from the Delacours and an enormous box of the latest Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes merchandise from Fred and George." 
-Pouch from Hagrid
"'Here, Harry- couldn' think what ter get yeh, but then I remembered this. He pulled out a small, slightly furry drawstring pouch with a long string, evidently intended to be worn around the neck. 'Mokeskin. Hide anythin' in there an' no one but the owner can get it out. They're rare, them.'
'Hagrid, thanks!'
''S'nothing',' Said Hagrid, with a wave of a dustbin-lid-sized hand."
From the Last Will and Testament of Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore:
"'"To Harry James Potter,"' he read, and Harry's insides contracted with a sudden excitement, '"I leave the Snitch he caught in his first Quidditch match at Hogwarts, as a reminder of the rewards of perseverance and skill."'" 

And then begins the tent life and no presents happen in the tent life. So there ya have it! Presents galore for Harry! It's fun seeing all the extra detail in what is considered a gift in the wizarding world, chocolate and cakes being one of the main presents; little jokes like the Twelve Fail-Safe Ways to Charm Witches book from Ron; fun gadgets like the mini Firebolt model and the enchanted razor; and the special magical gift for a wizard coming of age, the gold watch with stars. Harry gives some good gifts throughout the series too, but it would have been far too much to include them here too. If you haven't already, go and read part one of Harry's Presents, and it Harry based blog posts are what you're in to then Best Harry Potter Food and Feasts and Harry Potter Ice Cream Moments should be right up your street. Now if you'll excuse me, I think I'll probably spend the rest of the day reading the Deathly Hallows. 

All the quotes in this post are from the Harry Potter books, and I found them by searching on my Kindle and flicking through the books and so I haven't included page numbers because, you know, different editions. But needless to say, all by J.K. Rowling, thanks J.K.! 

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Review!: Books I read in August: Did I Mention I Love You? The Manifesto on How to be Interesting, Church of Marvels, Am I Normal Yet? The Big Lie, Trouble is a Friend of Mine

August was a busy blogging month, but I still managed to do lots of reading too! I finished six excellent books. Here they are reviewed!:

Did I Mention I Love You?

Estelle Maskame's Did I Mention I Love You series is super famous on the internet as she posted her chapters on Wattpad as she wrote them. A teenager from Peterhead in Scotland, she started writing when she was just 13 and now her massive online following has earned her a publishing deal, which is just so impressive! I had to see what all the hype was about, and of course I was extra interested as she is Scottish! The book is the first in a trilogy and takes place in the states, where 16-year-old Eden is spending the summer away from her Portland, Oregan home in Santa Monica, California with her dad and his wife and step children. Eden very quickly becomes part of the gang of the eldest step brother, with a built in group of girls and guys to hang out with. The brother, Tyler, is a total asshole, so that shows some convincing writing skills, as the reader follows Eden's journey to figure out just why he is such an asshole and whether she can make him stop being such an asshole. There's romance, too many house parties to count, high school drama, a rubbish dad, and underlying body image issues. All written by an actual teenager, hats off to you Estelle!

The Manifesto on How to be Interesting

This was my first Holly Bourne book and I was so impressed with her writing. The main character Bree, is pretty much a loser at school, too keen in class, and actively trying not to fit in with greasy hair and poor fashion choices. She fancies her English teacher and hates her parents and is desperately trying, and failing, to become a published author. She decides, as an experiment to make herself more 'interesting' which I guess translates more as likeable. She get a makeover and whole new wardrobe with the help of her mum and insanely quickly becomes a member of the inner circle of popular kids. I found myself liking Bree much more post-makeover, I think because she was focussed and nice to people and showing off her cleverness with witty comebacks, instead of the snarky, abrasive person she had become pre-interesting. Drawing influence from classic teen dramas, Bree project to infiltrate the populars, which see writes all about on a blog she sets up, inevitably leads to some less than ideal consequences. The book deals with issues of self-harm, identity, teacher-student romance, and being true to yourself, once you've figured out who you are. I think the point is Bree wasn't really being her true self pre-interesting either and she learns that through a bunch of lessons along the way. 

Church of Marvels

I was expecting this book to be more circus-y than it ended up being, but I still really enjoyed reading it. Set in a very grubby and grimy turn-of-the-century New York City, the book follows intertwining stories from Coney Island, to Manhattan, to the lunatic asylum, as Odile Church sets out to look for her sister Belle, with whom she was raised at the Church of Marvels circus, who has disappeared into the city. The story is compelling, and I enjoyed the thrill of seeing where each thread would link up. The writing is very evocative, the asylum scenes were particularly gruesome. I had a real sense of the smokey, bustling, grimy city of Manhattan. There is great representation across the lead characters too, with representation of disability, mixed race, transgender,  and mental illness. I can really picture it as a film, all gloomy and gritty, but bright  and warm and human in places.

Am I Normal Yet?

My second Holly Bourne book ever, and my second this month! I thought this was a brilliant book. The main character Evie just wants to be 'normal' and starting out at her new sixth form college is a real challenge for her. She is recovering from a bad case of OCD and is almost off her meds, but of course college involves boys, parties, booze, new friends, and lots of entirely new situations. My understanding of OCD has been completely topped up by this book, as Evie honestly shares her experiences with the reader, although not with her new friends. She struggles with symptoms returning, ignores the signs, or acknowledges the signs and then ignores them as she tries desperately to 'normal'. Her two new best friends are great characters, and their Spinsters Club where they create space fro themselves to talk about feminism is brilliant. Desperately trying to get a boyfriend and needing to talk al their feeling out, but also wanting their conversations to pass the Bechdel test. All the boys are pretty terrible, but they are well fleshed out and well written terrible characters at least. I was thrilled to see this is book one of a trilogy, which will follow one of the girls as the lead in each book, I think Amber is next. If you do (or want to) understand teenage girls, mental health, feminism, and dating then this book is most certainly for you. 

The Big Lie

Set in contemporary Nazi England, Julie Mayhew offers a vision of alternate reality, where the Nazis won the war. Jess is the main character, and she is very well behaved, a talented figure skater, and a proud member of the Bund Deutscher M├Ądel. Jess slowly starts to see through her own naivety that there are those who are less submissive around her and that there are consequences for those who speak out against the regime. She deals with sexuality, sexism, censorship, authority, punishment, in this strange version of reality where the Holocaust is a rumour, sterilisation is a punishment for crime, and death by hanging in public from a lamppost is a valid form of execution. Her next-door neighbour Clem and her family are outspoken and radical, getting caught with CD players and computers that can access the internet (technology seems stuck in the 1940s for everyone else). It is Clem who gives Julie clues to their oppression and helps open her eyes to the existence of the rest of the world.  Reading Julie Mayhew's notes at the end on her research process where really fascinating, learning how she drew on specific stories and events to create certain characters and scenes. It's a really great book. Read it!

Trouble is a Friend of Mine

Set in upstate New York, this story follow Zoe, who has recently moved from Brooklyn with her newly divorced Mum, and is attending a school she is hoping only to attend for a little while before she gets into a prestigious Princeton feeder school. She is befriended by an eccentric guy called Philip Digby, who gets her into various dangerous and bizarre situations as he attempts to solve the case of a missing, potentially kidnapped, teenage girl. His own infant sister had been kidnapped years ago, and so with the cases potentially linked, he is determined to find out the truth. Having been obsessed with the Serial podcast at the time of reading this, I was very much into the crime solving elements of the story. There is a touch of romance, and a group prom date situation, but mostly the book is about new friendships, terrible parents, a bunch of misfits, and a whole lot of creepy crimes exposed. 

A couple of these books pop up in other blog posts of mine, including Am I Normal Yet? and The Big Lie in Top 5 Feminist YA and The Manifesto on How to be Interesting in Top 6 High School YA. Go have a read please! 

I received a couple of these books for review. All views are entirely my own and not influenced by the freeness of the book!

Monday, 31 August 2015

August Wrap Up

We made it! I blogged everyday in August! Thanks everyone who has read along and shared my posts throughout the month. It's been fun! I've had over a thousand views this month, which is exciting. The most popular posts were Best Harry Potter Food and Feasts and Top 6 High School Young Adult Fiction. And you can have a scroll through all of the August posts here. I still have plenty of ideas so stay tuned for upcoming posts, including more Harry Potter ones. Look at this pretty graph of all those views:

August Wrap Up:

I have read six books this month in between all that blogging and also started reading Frankenstein as part of my mission to make my way through more classics. They were all gooduns! Plenty of YA fiction, with Church of Marvels thrown in there too. I'll get my reviews up next week, but I got right into Holly Bourne's books, and was hugely impressed by Julie Mayhew's The Big Lie. 

Did I Mention I Love You?- Estelle Maskame
The Manifesto On How To Be Interesting- Holly Bourne
Church of Marvels- Leslie Parry
Am I Normal Yet?- Holly Bourne
The Big Lie- Julie Mayhew
Trouble is a Friend of Mine- Stephanie Tromly

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Half Read Books

I have a big stack of half read books, a long time tbr list of books I've put down for some reason and never picked up again. A lot of them I was actually enjoying before they were set aside, presumably for something else I was more eager to read. I think I was reading a few of these when big sequels came out for other series I was really into, so that contributed to them being cast aside. I'm not the kind of reader who has a few books on the go at once, I like to finish the books I start, and if there are too many books on my shelf I have yet to even open it makes me a little anxious. At the moment I have quite a few unread books gracing my shelves, basically because I've bought or been given a lot recently (book buying ban now in full force!), and when I began gathering up the ones I had at least started I ended up with a big pile. So I am now going to endeavour to finish what I've started by finally reading all these books, some of which I started almost three years ago. There are a few lurking half read on my kindle too I'm sure. I know I'll get a buzz when I get add them to my read list on Goodreads. Do you read more than one book at once? Can you stand to leave a book unfinished? Let me know in the comments! 

How I Live Now- Meg Rosoff
The Declaration- Gemma Malley
Noughts & Crosses- Malorie Blackman
Almost Grace- Rosie Rowell
The Bloody Chamber- Angela Carter
The Carbon Diaries 2015- Saci Lloyd
Un Lun Dun- China Mieville
"Who Could That Be at This House?" All the Wrong Questions- Lemony Snicket
1Q84 Books One and Two- Haruki Murakami

Saturday, 29 August 2015

September Wish List

There are so many books coming out around now, so I have a few biggies that I am getting super excited about getting my hands on in September! I have a few of these on preorder so should be dropping through my post box real soon, a few I'll be seriously considering spending my pennies on, and a couple I've already managed to get my mitts on! Here they are, the book son my September wish list:

Asking For It- Louise O'Neill
This book has been hotly anticipated by, EVERYONE, as far as I can tell. It's a super dark book dealing with consent and rape culture. So not exactly a cheery topic, however Louise O'Neill's writing is amazing: her first novel Only Ever Yours is a total favourite of mine and it left me feeling drained. It seems strange to wilfully put yourself through a dark read, but I know it will be well worth it. This one should be on its way in the post to me!

The Rest of Us Just Live Here- Patrick Ness
This will actually the first of Patrick Ness's books I have read. I know, I know, he's written some amazing books which I really should read immediately, I will get on it as soon as possible! The plot of this book just really stood out to me, looking at those who are not 'the chosen one', and I have been looking forward to its publication for a lot of the year. This too is on its way to me in the post!

The Wolf Wilder- Katherine Rundell
I've been looking forward to the release of this beautiful book for several months too. I was drawn in by the fairy tale story, the snow, and the wolves. I managed to get a copy at the Edinburgh Book Festival, and it is physically a really beautiful book. The cover is this really satisfying matt with shiny silver foil for the title, and the page quality is amazing, with little bits of illustration throughout. I'm really looking forward to be whisked away to the snow with this one.

A Portable Shelter- Kirsty Logan
I loved Kirsty Logan's novel, The Gracekeepers, and was fully whirled away to its high seas and circuses world. This book is a series of stories told by two characters to their unborn daughter, and is full of selkies and witches. I am so looking forward to reading this, and there's a character called Ruth in it. I already have a lovely hardcover copy of this, and in fact got it signed by Kirsty Logan today! She too is lovely. It's in a limited edition in this hardback format, with a paperback coming next year, so act fast if you want this lovely blue and silver edition!

I'm also looking forward to reading these September releases:

Fans of the Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa sounds awesome, with Brideshead Revisited as its inspiration. I have an arc copy from NetGalley so I'm looking forward to getting stuck in! Lauren James's The Next Together sounds great, and Lauren herself seems so nice, I've been following her progress on twitter for a a wee while now. I have already read Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon on kindle with a copy from NetGalley, but I really loved the book and I reckon it might be worth getting an actual physical copy, as the illustrations weren't in the copy I read. I also really like to own physical copies of books I've loved, anyone else do that?