Category Archives: Books

Fireblood – Elly Taylor

I won a proof copy of this from Fairyloot at YALC.

Frostblood was one of my top three YALC reads last year, along with A Torch Against The Night and Goldenhand. In a month where I read many frosty books last year, it was the clear winner, and the only one where I was actively looking forward to the sequel. So I was delighted when it was one of the proofs that I picked up at YALC, as it doesn’t publish until September 7th.

Fireblood – Elly Blake

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In this action-packed sequel to Frostblood, the future of Ruby’s world and a court ruled by the love of her life depends on the uncovered secrets of her past. Perfect for fans of Red Queen and Throne of Glass.

‘With a fierce and vibrant world, richly-drawn characters, a steamy romance, and page-turning twists, Frostblood has all the elements of a great fantasy.’ – Morgan Rhodes, New York Times bestselling author of the Fallen Kingdom series

Against all odds, Ruby has defeated the villainous Frost King and melted his throne of ice. But the bloodthirsty Minax that was trapped inside is now haunting her kingdom and everyone she loves. The answers to its demise may lie to the south in Sudesia, the land of the Firebloods, and a country that holds the secrets to Ruby’s powers and past….

Despite warnings from her beloved Arcus, Ruby accompanies a roguish Fireblood named Kai to Sudesia, where she must master her control of fire in a series of trials to gain the trust of the suspicious Fireblood queen. Only then can she hope to access the knowledge that could defeat the rampaging Minax – which grows closer every moment. But as sparks fly in her moments alone with Kai, how can Ruby decide whom to trust? The fate of both kingdoms is now in her hands.

I very much enjoyed Frostblood, and was looking forward to Fireblood a lot. And when I started reading, I was delighted to find that I wasn’t disappointed at all. Although the book does have some major YA tropes, such as ~true identities~ and ~love triangles~, there were enough twists and turns and adventures in this book for me to enjoy the entire story without rolling my eyes more than a tiny bit.

Ruby is still hot-headed and impulsive, emotional and often unwise, but that makes her quite the relatable protagonist, as I’m something of a hothead myself. Her adventures in Sudesia, the land from which her mother hailed, are far more and far less than she expected, and she meets a host of new characters as she learns to control and master her Fireblood gift.

Thematically, this second book in the trilogy felt a lot like Magic Study, the second book in the Poison Study series, as the main character travels to her homeland to learn about her culture, her people, and master her magical gift. That’s not a negative comparison, by the way. I very much enjoyed Magic Study, especially the suspicion with which the new arrival was treated

New character Kai is warm, emotional, and in most ways the exact opposite of Arcus, the icy, reserved love interest of the first book, so he adds new dimensions to the comparison between the two. Ruby chafes against the constricting society of the Frostblood court, so the chance to escape to Sudesia, the Fireblood homeworld, is a welcome relief for her – but it doesn’t turn out to be everything she hoped it would be.

Fireblood added new dimensions to the story started in Frostblood, and amped up the tension as we saw the other side of the Fireblood massacres in the Frostblood homeworld. Some interesting points about nationality were raised, which I hope will be expanded on in the third installment. As well as that, there was huge developments in the overarching magical story, of the twin Minaxes, and what their release into the world means. Prince Eiko, the prince consort of Sudesia, was one of my favourite new characters, and the end of Fireblood left his fate very much up in the air.

Frankly, I’m furious that I have to wait until June of next year to get the third installment of this trilogy, as I’ve thoroughly enjoyed both Frostblood and Fireblood, and the ten-month wait for Nightblood may well be the death of me.

Final note: the cover art for Frostblood was spectacular. The cover art for Fireblood is incredible. The cover art for Nightblood is also stunning. Huge commendations to the cover artist at Chapter 5, because they are doing absolutely stellar work here.

 

Four Stars, and an impatient huff at having to wait for the final installment. Judging by the cover art, it’s going to be darker and every bit as awesome!

Four Stars
****

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The Treatment – CL Taylor

I received a proof copy of this book at YALC.

I was intrigued by this book at YALC, not only because of the author being there and signing copies of it, but also because of the very creepy cover art. The idea of a correctional facility for wayward kids being more than it seems isn’t new – I know I’ve read a few before, and I have some from Source Books which are based on a true story, which is, frankly, terrifying, but the idea of one set in England was interesting, so this was one of the first books I picked up to bring on my summer holidays. The Treatment will be published on October 19th.

The Treatment – CL Taylor

35261805Cecelia Ahern’s Flawed meets Never Let Me Go in the pulse-pounding YA thriller from the Top Ten Sunday Times bestselling author of The Escape.

“You have to help me. We’re not being reformed. We’re being brainwashed.”

All sixteen year old Drew Finch wants is to be left alone. She’s not interested in spending time with her mum and stepdad and when her disruptive fifteen year old brother Mason is expelled from school for the third time and sent to a residential reform academy she’s almost relieved.

Everything changes when she’s followed home from school by the mysterious Dr Cobey, who claims to have a message from Mason. There is something sinister about the ‘treatment’ he is undergoing. The school is changing people.

Determined to help her brother, Drew must infiltrate the Academy and unearth its deepest, darkest secrets.

Before it’s too late.

You might think that a dark and twisted story of wayward teens being moulded into perfect citizens in a correctional facility which seems too good to be true would be an incongruous match for a summer holiday of sun, swimming, and sightseeing in Santorini (I love a bit of sibilance). But actually I read most of this on the plane, so the enclosed, claustrophobic environment was perfect for this tense and twisted thriller.

Drew, the main character, is on a mission to save her brother (annoying though he is) from the Treatment in the reform academy he’s been sent to. Accosted on the street in the first chapter by a mysterious ‘Dr Cobey’ who passes on a secret message, Drew must decide whether to act on this message from Mason. He may well be an annoying and disruptive sod, but he’s still her brother. So Drew begins to infiltrate the Academy to save her brother.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, largely because it wasn’t entirely predictable. Although Drew goes in with a plan, like most times when you’re jumping straight in, there are many factors that can’t be predicted, and so lots of improvisation has to be done. Drew was smart and resourceful, but still only sixteen years old, and in an environment which was way outside of her comfort zone. Pleasingly, she made plenty of mistakes, and reacted in ways which seemed utterly believable.

If I had one complaint about this book, it would be that too many coincidences centred around Drew and Mason’s family and friends. Too many characters who were briefly mentioned in the beginning showed up later with bigger roles to play, which made the whole thing seem less believable.

There was also an unexplained moment in the final scene which might have been designed to leave the reader unsettled, but just left me frustrated and confused, as it wasn’t fleshed out enough (I felt) to actually mean anything.

But overall, this was a hugely entertaining read, and I will definitely look out for more by CL Taylor.

Four Stars
****

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I See You – Clare Mackintosh

I read I Let You Go shortly after it was published in 2015, and thoroughly enjoyed it (although I never blogged it, I don’t think).

The second book by Clare Mackintosh was published last year, and is another thriller, focused around the notion of being stalked. With two main characters – Zoe Walker, who sees her photo in a newspaper, and Kelly Swift, a police officer investigating the case – and others that may be linked.

While I Let You Go was excellent, with two intertwining storylines and a conclusion that was hugely satisfying, I feel like I See You suffers from that dreaded second book syndrome. It’s just not as good as Mackintosh’s first offering.

I See You – Clare Mackintosh

26233572You do the same thing every day.

You know exactly where you’re going.

You’re not alone.

When Zoe Walker sees her photo in the classifieds section of a London newspaper, she is determined to find out why it’s there. There’s no explanation: just a website, a grainy image and a phone number. She takes it home to her family, who are convinced it’s just someone who looks like Zoe. But the next day the advert shows a photo of a different woman, and another the day after that.

Is it a mistake? A coincidence? Or is someone keeping track of every move they make . . .

I See You is an edge-of-your-seat, page-turning psychological thriller from one of the most exciting and successful British debut talents of 2015.

I had several issues with this book. The first was that I’m not sure the whole idea stands up. The notion of stalking seems to me to be more intensely personal than the book depicts, with the involvement of a website offering up women being somewhat of a stretch. So I wasn’t really on board with the thing from the beginning.

There’s a lot of misdirection and suspicion in the book, with Zoe suspecting every man in her vicinity at one time or another. But while the first two-thirds, or even three-quarters of the book were solid enough, providing I get over my disbelief of the central premise. But while there was an interesting twist in the last quarter, as the villain was revealed, from there, things just went crazy, and my belief in the story decreased with every word.

My specific disappointments with the story are difficult to articulate without spoiling major plot points, so I think it will suffice to say, that while I was surprised by the reveal of the villain, and appreciated one aspect of their character, the lack of flagging earlier in the book of who it might be was a weakness. While I like a twist that takes you by surprise, on second reading of a book, knowing in advance who it is, you should be able to pick out tiny hints of what was going on. And I really don’t feel like that was the case with this one. Plus, the motivation and actions of the architect of the website was more than suspect. So that left me even less impressed with this book.

Finally, there was a needlessly dramatic epilogue tacked onto the end of this book which was thrown in entirely for shock value. While the last few lines of I Let You Go are ominous, and leave an unsettled feeling, the last few pages of I See You was needless addition to a story which had already crossed the line into melodrama a long time before.

Disappointed in this offering, I’ll still look forward to Mackintosh’s third book, in March 2018, but this one was far from a keeper for me.

Three Stars
***

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Before I Let Go – Marieke Nijkamp

One of my favourite books of 2015 was This Is Where It Ends, a story of an American school shooting written by a Dutch writer, and with the most gorgeous chalk cover art which still gives me shivers. So when I noticed that Source Books was at YALC, I went looking to see if they had proof copies of her second book, Before I Let Go, and I was delighted to realise that they did.

Before I Let Go – Marieke Nijkamp

33918883Days before Corey is to return home to the snow and ice of Lost Creek, Alaska, to visit her best friend, Kyra dies. Corey is devastated―and confused. The entire Lost community speaks in hushed tones about the town’s lost daughter, saying her death was meant to be. And they push Corey away like she’s a stranger.

Corey knows something is wrong. Lost is keeping secrets―chilling secrets. But piecing together the truth about what happened to her best friend may prove as difficult as lighting the sky in an Alaskan winter…

I went into this book expecting another realism. Having thoroughly enjoyed This Is Where It Ends, I wanted an exploration of the mystery of Kyra’s death, treatment of mental illness, female friendship, asexuality, and possibly murder or small town prejudices. And I did get all of those things. There were lots of really great things in this. It actually reminded me a lot of the book I read immediately before (Nemesis), not only because of the isolated, small-town nature of the protagonists, but also the explorations of prejudice and the notion of the treatment of outsiders. But the other way in which this book reminded me of my feelings about Nemesis was that I went in expecting something that I did not get.

before I let go is a magical realism book. There’s something almost other-worldly about Kyra, the nature of her death, and her existence in the time since Corey left Lost Creek, their tiny Alaskan town. And I just really don’t like magical realism as a genre. I like fantasy – I like high fantasy, I like low fantasy, I like YA fantasy, I like adult fantasy. I also like thrillers, murder mysteries, conspiracy books. And I like realism. So I should, in theory, like magical realism. But I really, really don’t. So as I went through this book and realised that this was where it was going, I just disengaged more and more.

I think my disgust with magical realism is that it never really gives an explanation for anything. How did this happen? Was it real? Was it just mental illness? I hate that kind of ambiguity and the lack of clarity you get from it.

So although the relationship between Kyra and Corey was lovely, and the murder mystery was dark and creepy, and the small-town mentality of Lost and how they treat Corey as an outsider less than a year after she left the town was wonderfully drawn, and Nijkamp is still a really great writer, I did NOT like this book.

But that’s on me. I just hate magical realism. So my rating of this book is my reflection of how much I enjoyed it, and not really how good it was. I’m not sure if that’s fair to Nijkamp, as it really is well-written, but this is my blog, so I’m giving the rating!

Two Stars (sorry)
**

 

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Nemesis – Brendan Reichs

I was sent a copy of this book by My Kinda Book in exchange for an honest review. Although, in all honesty, if I hadn’t been sent a copy, I very likely would have bought one anyway, because it looked great. Sprayed red edges, a stark red and white contrast, and a blurb which had me utterly hooked from the beginning. What was not to like?

Nemesis – Brendan Reichs

34790382Orphan Black meets Lord of the Flies in the riveting new sci fi thriller from the cowriter of the Virals series.

It’s been happening since Min was eight. Every two years, on her birthday, a strange man finds her and murders her in cold blood. But hours later, she wakes up in a clearing just outside her tiny Idaho hometown—alone, unhurt, and with all evidence of the horrifying crime erased.

Across the valley, Noah just wants to be like everyone else. But he’s not. Nightmares of murder and death plague him, though he does his best to hide the signs. But when the world around him begins to spiral toward panic and destruction, Noah discovers that people have been lying to him his whole life. Everything changes in an eye blink.

For the planet has a bigger problem. The Anvil, an enormous asteroid threatening all life on Earth, leaves little room for two troubled teens. Yet on her sixteenth birthday, as she cowers in her bedroom, hoping not to die for the fifth time, Min has had enough. She vows to discover what is happening in Fire Lake and uncovers a lifetime of lies: a vast conspiracy involving the sixty-four students of her sophomore class, one that may be even more sinister than the murders.

I’ll tell you what’s not to like about this. Nemesis is the first in the Project Nemesis series. I only realised this about thirty pages from the end of the book, when it became abundantly clear that it was not going to be possible to wrap up the dangling plot threads in the time remaining. So because I wasn’t aware of that as I was reading the book, I was left distinctly disappointed when I finished.

I have mentioned this so many times before, but I really hate books that leave you on a cliffhanger at the end of the first book in a series. I have no issue with leaving continuing plot lines over a larger arc, but I want a resolution to the story which was set up in the first book. In Nemesis, I did not get this. Nemesis ends poised to begin the greater conflict of the series, and it is infuriating to have to wait for the next – largely because I didn’t realise at the time of reading that I would have to wait for the next book.

For that reason, my rating of this book is probably lower than it would have been had I known at the beginning that I was starting a series. I still don’t like the way it’s done, as I don’t feel like it has a proper resolution or conclusion to the book, but I wouldn’t have been as angry if I knew it was going to happen.

Other than that major gripe, though, this was a very enjoyable book. Min, the main character, is paranoid and suspicious (entirely understandably), and trusts nobody in her little po-dunk town, other than her best friend Tack. After being murdered in cold blood for the fifth time,  she decides she needs to find out what the hell is going on in her life.

Noah, the other main character, doesn’t come into the story until a fair bit later, is less interesting than Min, but still the two of them make for a solid pair of intertwining narratives, as they come to realise that their stories are much more closely related than they previously thought. With plenty of conflict, mystery, conspiracies, and out-and-out murder, this twisting, thrilling, wild ride went in directions that I would not have expected, and ended up in a place which has set up for Genesis to be a real stonker of a book. But actually, I think Genesis will likely be the better of the duology (I mean I hope it’s a duology), although very, very different to what I thought Nemesis would be.

Infuriated by the way this book was set up and what it turned out to be, I finished with a feeling of immense dissatisfaction, but had I known that I was going to be set up for a half a story, I likely would have found it a lot more enjoyable. So my medium rating is as much to do with my disappointment in the lack of flagging that we were only getting half a story as it is to do with the quality of that half a story.

Three Stars
***

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Remix – Non Pratt

After all my posts about YALC last week, it’s worth noting that Remix is actually the first Non Pratt book I’ve read. Two best friends at a festival for a weekend, this was the kind of refreshing journey into British YA that I really needed at the time.

Remix – Non Pratt

30369794Boys don’t break your heart; best friends do. A funny touching story about friendship from the Guardian’s “writer to watch” Non Pratt, author of Trouble – one of the most talked about debuts of the year. Kaz is still reeling from being dumped by the love of her life. Ruby is bored of hearing about it. Time to change the record. Three days. Two best mates. One music festival. Zero chance of everything working out. Perfect for fans of John Green, Judy Blume and Rainbow Rowell.

Ruby and Kaz are best friends, at a music festival for the weekend with a motley crew of friends, family, and exes. As much about the human experience as about the music acts they’re going to see, this summer between the end of school and the start of sixth form is a time of great change for them both – and music festival Remix is obviously the best time for them to come to terms with it.

Laden with friendship, sex, lies, cheating, breakups, get-togethers, exes, new friends, some terribly bad decisions, and the quintessential festival problem of forgetting to charge your phone, Remix is true to life and thoroughly enjoyable. Neither Ruby nor Kaz (nor most of the other characters, in fairness) is perfect, and both make some seriously questionable decisions, but the underlying thread of this book, and what makes it so great to read, is the love and dedication they have for each other, for their best friend. Teenage girls are so full of emotion, and capable of forming such strong bonds so quickly (also demonstrated over the weekend), but the friendship bonds we see in this book are fierce and wild and hugely enjoyable to read about.

A refreshingly honest summer YA, Non Pratt has wonderfully captured the alcohol-fuelled, hormone-driven, music-filled and sun-soaked (okay, that was unrealistic, I don’t think it rained ONCE all book) atmosphere of a summer weekend music festival, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I will definitely be delving into more of Pratt’s work.

Four Stars
****

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Giveaway! 18 YALC Samplers

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Having picked up way too many books at YALC, and also since I’m currently on holiday (visiting my sisters!), I’ve decided to run a little giveaway. There are eighteen samplers of various shapes and sizes, all of which I picked up at YALC, and I’m running a giveaway to give all of them to one lucky winner!

The samplers included are as follows:

  1. The Book of Dust – Philip Pullman
  2. Tangleweed and Brine – Deirdre Sullivan
  3. The Space Between the Stars – Anne Corlett
  4. Spare and Found Parts – Sarah Maria Griffin
  5. All the Crooked Saints – Maggie Stiefvater
  6. Clean – Juno Dawson
  7. Sleeper – JD Fennell
  8. Sorrow – Melinda Salisbury
  9. It Only Happens In The Movies – Holly Bourne
  10. Shell – Paula Rawsthorne
  11. The Language of Thorns – Leigh Bardugo
  12. Long Way Down – Jason Reynolds
  13. Grave Matter – Juno Dawson
  14. Blackwing – Ed McDonald
  15. Children of Blood and Bone – Tomi Adeyemi
  16. A Skinful of Shadows – Frances Hardinge
  17. Fire Lines – Cara Thurlbourn
  18. Floored – Sara Barnard, Holly Bourne, Tanya Byrne, Non Pratt, Melinda Salisbury, Lisa Williamson and Eleanor Wood

The rules are simple! You must:

  1. Comment on a post on this blog (any post!) (other than this one, because of step 2.)
  2. Comment on this post to say that you’d like to enter the giveaway
  3. Retweet the pinned tweet on my Twitter

Entry is open to anybody in the UK and Ireland, and you must be willing to give me your address so that I can send you the samplers. The giveaway closes at 23.59 on August 16th, and I’ll be in contact with the winner as soon after that as I can manage.

That’s it! Happy competing people!

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The Last Namsara – Kristen Ciccarelli

NetGalley is always a source of fascination to me, and this particular one looked like it was going to be a stonker – dragons! Kickass lady! Killer princess! Also, the cover art is pretty spectacular.

As a debut, though, it’s good, but not mind-blowingly wonderful. Ciccarelli clearly has a lot of potential, but there were a lot of weaknesses in this to go with its strengths.

The Last Namsara – Kristin Ciccarelli

32667458In the beginning, there was the Namsara: the child of sky and spirit, who carried love and laughter wherever he went. But where there is light, there must be dark—and so there was also the Iskari. The child of blood and moonlight. The destroyer. The death bringer.

These are the legends that Asha, daughter of the king of Firgaard, has grown up hearing in hushed whispers, drawn to the forbidden figures of the past. But it isn’t until she becomes the fiercest, most feared dragon slayer in the land that she takes on the role of the next Iskari—a lonely destiny that leaves her feeling more like a weapon than a girl.

Asha conquers each dragon and brings its head to the king, but no kill can free her from the shackles that await at home: her betrothal to the cruel commandant, a man who holds the truth about her nature in his palm. When she’s offered the chance to gain her freedom in exchange for the life of the most powerful dragon in Firgaard, she finds that there may be more truth to the ancient stories than she ever could have expected. With the help of a secret friend—a slave boy from her betrothed’s household—Asha must shed the layers of her Iskari bondage and open her heart to love, light, and a truth that has been kept from her.

Asha is the daughter of the dragon king, and the famed (and feared) dragon-killer. Iskari, her title, marks her out as the bringer of death, counterpart to the legendary Namsara, a figure which has appeared throughout the history of their country, bringer of light and love.

Trying to escape an arranged marriage to a controlling man she despises, Asha is tasked with finding and killing the oldest and greatest of the dragons – Kozu. Along the way, she meets and befriends a slave belonging to her betrothed, and what they discover as she hunts Kozu will change everything for her.

Generally, I did quite like this book. Asha was flawed, and stubborn, and really quite reluctant to see what was in front of her half the time. She was also independent, fiercely loyal, and a kickass dragon slayer. But I felt like the background in this book was lacking – it’s not really ever explained how or why sentiment turned against dragons, and why Asha is the only dragon killer out there. Why isn’t everyone running around killing dragons, if they’re so terrible?

Besides Asha and the slave, there’s not a lot of development of the characters in the book. Safire, Asha’s cousin, who is introduced very early on, has no agency or agenda of her own. She exists only as a foil to Asha and as an example of what happens when slaves fall in love with freemen.

As well as that, I wasn’t all that enamoured with the central romance of the book. Despite being advertised on the strapline of the book (in fact, it’s the first thing mentioned), it doesn’t feel like it’s developed or organic in any real way. In fact, I’m not sure they even really liked each other, let alone it being a world-changing love.

Basically, although there were lots of things in this book that I really liked, from the flawed, stubborn, headstrong, kickass main character to the actual dragons themselves, once you get to meet them, there was also a fair amount lacking. There was also a substantial amount of infodumping, in the form of the forbidden stories. At no point did Ciccarelli have to really worry about organically weaving the history of her world into her narrative, because she could just include a story at the end of the chapter which would do it for her.

Despite that, this was quite an enjoyable book, with some heartwrenching moments of shadow, and I will look out for the sequel, when it comes. Also, despite being the first in a series, the plot in this goes through a natural arc, and ends in a solid place – ripe for a followup, but with a satisfying conclusion to the plot threads of this particular story.

Three Stars
***

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July Roundup

July is often my favourite bookish month, for one reason, and one reason only: YALC. The three-day book convention is an absolute highlight of my summer, and has meant that the rest of my year will be packed with new and exciting books! Reading-wise, July actually wasn’t a great month, so I’m still on under 100 books for the year, more than a month after I hit 100 last year. But that’s okay. I’ve enjoyed the books I have read – mostly!

Books

  1. The Dark Prophecy – Rick Riordan
  2. The Christmas Catch – Ginny Baird
  3. Dear Amy – Helen Callaghan
  4. Once and For All – Sarah Dessen
  5. With This Click, I Thee Wed – Bonnie R Paulson
  6. The Littlest Cowboy – Maggie Shayne
  7. Lord of Shadows – Cassandra Clare
  8. A Perfect Fit – Heather Tullis
  9. Close Your Eyes – Nicci Cloke
  10. Neverwhere – Neil Gaiman
  11. The Border – Steve Schafer
  12. Rush For Love – Violet Vaughn
  13. Close To Me – Amanda Reynolds
  14. The Nearest Faraway Place – Hayley Long
  15. The Cows – Dawn O’Porter
  16. The Pearl Thief – Elizabeth Wein
  17. Forever Dreams – Leeanna Morgan

Short Stories

  1. Origins – Taran Matharu

Samplers

Because this month was YALC, I obtained a veritable treasure trove of samplers of upcoming books. Some were very short – a single page – and some were quite hefty – several chapters. All were enjoyable, in different ways. Two, both of which I was very excited about, were hugely disappointing. The Book of Dust sampler was the exact same as the Guardian extract from months ago (MAY!), which I had already read. Similarly, the preview of Leigh Bardugo’s new collection of short stories contained a short story, and showed the contents page as including two more stories which have already been separately released (and which I’ve read). The finished product will contain three brand new stories, and admittedly the illustrations in the sampler are fabulous, but I was pretty disappointed in both of these samplers. Doesn’t mean I won’t read the books, of course!

  1. The Book of Dust – Philip Pullman
  2. Tangleweed and Brine – Deirdre Sullivan
  3. The Space Between the Stars – Anne Corlett
  4. Spare and Found Parts – Sarah Maria Griffin
  5. All the Crooked Saints – Maggie Stiefvater
  6. Clean – Juno Dawson
  7. Sleeper – JD Fennell
  8. The Surface Breaks – Louise O’Neill
  9. Sorrow – Melinda Salisbury
  10. It Only Happens In The Movies – Holly Bourne
  11. Shell – Paula Rawsthorne
  12. The Language of Thorns – Leigh Bardugo
  13. Long Way Down – Jason Reynolds
  14. Grave Matter – Juno Dawson
  15. Blackwing – Ed McDonald
  16. Children of Blood and Bone – Tomi Adeyemi
  17. A Skinful of Shadows – Frances Hardinge
  18. Fire Lines – Cara Thurlbourn
  19. Floored – Sara Barnard, Holly Bourne, Tanya Byrne, Non Pratt, Melinda Salisbury, Lisa Williamson and Eleanor Wood

Cover Art

 

Favourite Book This Month

I wasn’t expecting to love Neverwhere as much as I did, but it was really excellent. I also really loved The Pearl Thief, but for sheer unexpected joy, Neverwhere edges it this month.

Least Favourite Book This Month

Oh, easy one. I absolutely did not enjoy The Cows. Talk about your hyped up disappointment!

Favourite cover art

This is a tough one. Lots of the wedding-y covers are very dull and samey. I like the Close Your Eyes cover, not least because it works in elements of the story. I think my winner, though, is The Pearl Thief, because the moon is also a pearl. I’m a sucker for dual visual elements. Some lovely covers in there this month, though.

 

Other…

I’m officially on a book-buying ban until I read at least 21 of the 42 books I picked up at YALC. Since there are loads of books coming up that I definitely want to buy, that means I probably won’t be socialising for, oh, the next year or so, while I try to reach my self-imposed goal. Expect to see me some time in July 2018, as I gear up for another YALC. =D

 

 

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YALC 2017

It’s Monday afternoon. My shoulders ache from carrying too many books. My face hurts from smiling too much. My bedroom is groaning with the number of books I’ve tried to cram into it. It must be the day after YALC.

Once again, this was probably the best weekend of my year. I met hundreds of people, all of whom were lovely. I participated in the most fun pub quiz I have ever done. I got 40 new books. I got a million different pieces of new bookish swag. I participated in competitions and won and lost and enjoyed them all. I listened to panels and went to workshops and posted more selfies on twitter than I think I ever have before.

I also ate more sweets and drank more sugary drinks than you could shake a stick at, learned about tons of new books and authors that I’m excited to read, and had great chats with loads of lovely people, from authors to publicists, bloggers to bookstagrammers, and loved every one of them, I think.

I think the best thing about YALC is how friendly everyone is. Everyone is happy to be there, to find their tribe of bookish people, and they’re happy to interact with anyone and everyone there, to share their excitement at being bookish. I find it much too hard to put into words exactly how amazing this weekend is/was (I found this last year as well), so I’m just going to include here a series of pictures from the weekend, and how much I loved it.

More selfies than you could shake a stick at! That final set of selfies won me a Non Pratt Truth or Dare necklace, for Non’s YALC bingo. The various others are proofs, competition entries, and general happy selfies. You can see how much of the weekend I spent smiling!

Perhaps the highlight of my weekend (although it was close-run thing between this and Non’s QuizYA) was Non Pratt’s Head Shave for the Royal Hospital for Neuro-disability. Raising more than £2,500 for charity, this particular event was full of laughs, and featured a bewildered guest appearance by Benedict Cumberbatch. Couldn’t have been better.

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With 40 new books bought, won, and obtained through nefarious means, as well as twenty-odd samplers, I am now officially on a book buying ban until I’ve read at least half (so that’s twenty) of this weekend’s books. My bedroom is already bursting at the seams, so I’m going to have to come up with some innovative way of storing my books (and possibly do a cull of my bookshelves).

If anybody needs me, I’ll be sleeping the weekend away in the corner. If anybody needs tote bags, feel free to hit me up. I think I got eight over the weekend. They’re so handy!

When I get around to it, I may create a list of the books I picked up over the weekend. But for now, these pictures will have to suffice!

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