Monthly Archives: July 2016

Book Review: You Know Me Well by Nina LaCour and David Levithan

you-know-me-wellWho knows you well? Your best friend? Your boyfriend or girlfriend? A stranger you meet on a crazy night? No one, really?
Mark and Kate have sat next to each other for an entire year, but have never spoken. For whatever reason, their paths outside of class have never crossed.
That is until Kate spots Mark miles away from home, out in the city for a wild, unexpected night. Kate is lost, having just run away from a chance to finally meet the girl she has been in love with from afar. Mark, meanwhile, is in love with his best friend Ryan, who may or may not feel the same way.
When Kate and Mark meet up, little do they know how important they will become to each other — and how, in a very short time, they will know each other better than any of the people who are supposed to know them more.

Told in alternating points of view by Nina LaCour and David Levithan, the best-selling author of Every Day and co-author of Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist (with Rachel Cohn) and Will Grayson, Will Grayson (with John Green), You Know Me Well is a deeply honest story about navigating the joys and heartaches of first love, one truth at a time.

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This is my last review that will say “I read this in preparation for YALC” or at least the last one before YALC because I have another couple with reviews yet to be written. Anyways, I flipped out when I heard David Levithan and Nina LaCour were coming to YALC this year. I met David Levithan at the Edinburgh Book Festival last year and he was lovely and hilarious in his talk so I can’t wait to meet him again and get my copy of You Know Me Well signed.

29th July 2015 - 10th April 2016 121

Spoiler free

This was a really fun book to read in one sitting in the early hours of the morning. It was fast-paced, funny, emotionally charged and beautifully written. Set during San Francisco pride week, You Know Me Well explores the lives, dreams and relationships of two people who barely know each other on the first page but are ridiculously close by the last one. AND (and Imma shout for everyone at the back) THEY HAVE NO ROMANTIC INTEREST IN EACHOTHER IT IS PURELY FRIENDLY SUPPORT BETWEEN A GIRL AND BOY WITH NO ROMANTIC MOTIVES OR ANYTHING.yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaas

Sorry, I’ve just had that repressed inside me for a while now. I LOVE YA. It is my favourite genre to read in, but I was getting tired of hell with the constant “They-are-girl-and-boy-and-best-friends-but-long-to-be-more-but-neither-one-will-tell-the-other” trope. (Side note: it is really difficult to overcome the instinct to use hyphens instead of spaces for that long of a sentence.)

Other than the parents of the two protagonists, I don’t think there is a single heterosexual couple in this novel, or at least not one that was noticeable to me at all, and this is the first time I have ever encountered that. This really helped with getting past the trope of a couple’s most prominent trait being that they are LGBT – Not that I would ever expect that kind of thing from these authors or really any in the YA community, but it happens a lot on TV, annoyingly.ugh

Anyways, back to the friendship thing, I love it. Despite not really knowing each other very well, Mark and Kate both recognise that the other really needs a friend to just be there for them no questions asked; an objective perspective who isn’t involved in the drama and they realise that they can be this for each other.applause

I was intrigued by Kate as a character as I am currently going through a similar stage of life and I found it interesting to see where my story aligns with hers and where it really doesn’t. Kate is moving on to go off to university and is feeling confused about her school friends and what place they are going to have in her life, an extremely relate-able problem which all of us who move away after secondary school go through. Friends-Doing-with-my-lifeHowever, her other issue was one I really really struggled to understand properly, though maybe I am a bit too close to the situation. Kate is feeling really unenthused about going off to university, she isn’t scared, she isn’t excited, she just doesn’t really care, and I really struggled to get to grips with this. I am starting at the University of Edinburgh in September and I’m simultaneously feeling terrified, exhilarated, nervous and all sorts of emotions, so for Kate to feel nothing was unthinkable to me. However, I feel that this inability to relate to her helped to really stress why she feels so confused about her lack of enthusiasm, because I couldn’t comprehend it.surprised

Serious stuff aside, this was a really fun book. The Pride Week festivities were such a joy to read and the characters were all hilarious! Some favourite quotes include:

“Katie yanks me over to the front of the art gallery. We’re now near a wall that has what I’d call the c word written in different fonts. It’s very strange to see it in Comic Sans, but I guess that’s the point.”

” “I’m Mark”
“My Manager” I add
“Yeah” Mark nods. “And Katie’s my SAT tutor”
“Interesting arrangement”
“It is indeed” Mark says “

“I hate that word. Straight. At the very least, those of us who are nonstraight should get to be called curvy. Or scenic. Actually I like that: ‘Do you think she’s straight?’ ‘Oh no. She’s scenic‘ “

So yeah, in summary, you’ve got to read the book! If I haven’t convinced you then maybe the authors themselves can, David Levithan and Nina LaCour will be at YALC on Saturday the 30th July. They will be signing between 2 and 3:30pm and then speaking about You Know Me Well in a panel at 4pm.

4 stars

Book Review: Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella

finding audreyAudrey can’t leave the house. she can’t even take off her dark glasses inside the house.

Then her brother’s friend Linus stumbles into her life. With his friendly, orange-slice smile and his funny notes, he starts to entice Audrey out again – well, Starbucks is a start. And with Linus at her side, Audrey feels like she can do the things she’d thought were too scary. Suddenly, finding her way back to the real world seems achievable.

Be prepared to laugh, dream and hope with Audrey as she learns that even when you feel like you have lost yourself, love can still find you . . .

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Would you believe this is another book read n preparation for YALC? I feel like every single review I have written has started with that! Sophie Kinsella will be appearing on a panel called “Secrets and Lies” alongside Annabel Pitcher, Sarah Crossan and Keren David.

Spoiler free

 

Once again, I went into this book with literally no idea what it was about and was pleasantly surprised by what I found. I don’t know what I was expecting to find in this book, I think the sunglasses and Starbucks on the cover mislead me into thinking I was about to be sucked into a High School Drama novel, which couldn’t be further from the truth.

not expecting

I was amazed by the way in which this book was able to make me really laugh, despite the hard hitting story and subject matter, it was a really fun read but also one which kept me thinking about it all day once I had finished reading. This is the first time I have sat down and read a book in one sitting in a very long time and it was a wonderful experience as that is my favourite way to read.

reading

Sometimes you read books where family life is depicted with ridiculous inaccuracy: the teenagers are always right, the parents talk like they are 16 years old and all dialogue comes in the form of quippy banter. The complete opposite was true in this book, it was one of the most true to life representations of a family I have read about in a long time which was refreshing and painfully relatable. Audrey’s brother is obsessed with the computer game “Land of Conquerors”  (or as we know it League of Legends) and her mother’s exasperation with it and whole hearted trust in the things she reads online is something that can be found in many homes.

“Anne, do you know what teenager parties are like? What if they knife eachother and have sex on a trampoline?”

laugh

Finding Audrey features a protagonist with social anxiety and the author really manages to make this subject accessible to her readers. Audrey’s feelings are described with creative analogies which really helps the reader to understand what she is going through and how her life is being affected by this. Furthermore, while the topic of mental illness is being explored more and more in YA fiction of late, this is the first exposure to social anxiety I have encountered and, as one of Audrey’s friends really helps to illustrate in the novel, exposure and representation of issues like this in media are so important to avoid ignorance or stupidity from running rampant.

idiotss

On a lighter note, this book is also jaw-achingly HILARIOUS. Audrey’s relationship with her brothers is a joy to read and they are probably my favourite characters in the novel, Frank the 16 year old is so unimpressed by everything whereas her younger brother, Felix who is four is the total opposite because everything is absolutely amazing!

“Mum, it’s called Land of Conquerors, not Land of Community Service Volunteers!”

eye roll

“STRONG Yoga” Felix looks at me seriously, “I am the strongest yoga”

Throughout the novel Audrey is asked to make a documentary of her family and the transcripts of it are interspersed throughout the book with Audrey overhearing things she shouldn’t and walking in on moments that ought not be filmed.

“DAD (V.O)
I don’t want to imagine. I want yo to describe them to me, very slowly, in a French accent.

MUM (V.O)
(half giggling, half cross)
Chris stop it!”

lol 3

Overall this was such a delightful read and I would strongly recommend it. At only 263 pages it’s not going to take you long to read, I managed to blast through between 1am and 3am on the Monday morning of Book-Tube – A -Thon. 4 stars

Book Review: The Next Together by Lauren James

next togetherA powerful and epic debut novel about fate and the timelessness of first love. Katherine and Matthew are destined to be born again and again. Each time their presence changes history for the better, and each time, they fall hopelessly in love, only to be tragically separated. How many times can you lose the person you love? For Matthew and Katherine it is again and again, over and over, century after century. But why do they keep coming back? How many times must they die to save the world? What else must they achieve before they can be left to live and love in peace? Maybe the next together will be different.

Buy on Amazon

Buy at Waterstones

 

I read The Next Together in preparation for YALC where Lauren James is running a workshop with Alice Oseman called Creator vs. Fandom -Authors on Social Media. I cannot WAIT to meet her and get my book signed!

Spoiler free

The Next Together has such an interesting concept that I have heard of before but had never managed to find well executed. A key example of this was on DC’s Legends of Tomorrow which is presently my favourite TV show. The show featured a relationship wherein the two characters were reincarnated and fell in love all across time but it was honestly the aspect of the show which really brought it down because it was done so badly.

hawkman-and-hawkgirl-dcs-legends-of-tomorrow-s1e1

However, Lauren James manages to hit the nail on the head with this book as it is done with just the right amount of a) timelines b) dramatic irony and c) unique information display.booyah

What I mean by this is that we are not overwhelmed by six or seven different timelines, we get three and a half (confusing in theory but works very well in practice). We meet our main characters in 1745, 1854, 2019 and 2039 and they all have very different paths to follow, though as the book progresses they begin to intertwine. The storytelling is spread out very evenly and as a reader you care about all the incarnations of these characters and both the period specific and timeless struggles they face. squeal

As I said in my review of The Lie Tree , I am not usually one for historical fiction and I did definitely prefer the two modern timelines to the two set in the past. That being said, I was fascinated by the stories set in 1745 and 1854 as both are periods of history which I had very little knowledge of, never having studied them before. In the 1854 timeline Matthew and Kate have a very different dynamic than the other three times as Katherine is in disguise as a man which is fascinating to watch unfold.i never thought id say that

Another fun aspect of the story is that the 2019 timeline is only seen by the reader through the post-it note exchanges of Katherine and Matthew, rather than having written Katherine POV as found in the other three periods. This really lets you get to know these characters in a casual setting which is fun and also quite rare in books as, for the sake of the story progression, characters are often on edge and doing stuff. It was nice to see them just living and interacting normally.awww

To give you any more information would be to delve into spoilers and that I cannot do! I will leave you with the fact that The Next Together will certainly leave you theorising and hungry for book 2. The Last beginning comes out on October 6th and you can pre-order it from Amazon here.4 stars

 

The TV Top Twenty: Game of Thrones

I want to say that the irregular posting of late has been due to actual reasons, like my new job, school production or upcoming driving test. But no. It has literally been because I have been bingeing Game of Thrones and I couldn’t stop. I realised that this is often a trend with me and so I have come up with a new feature : “The TV Top Twenty” in which, after bingewatching a show, I shall list my ten favourite and least favourite things about it.Tv Top Twenty GoT

 

While seasons 1 and 2 took a while, I watched season 3 in two days, season 4 in one day and then seasons 5 and 6 in 4 days, I have a problem. So I thought I’d share my experiences, though warning, there will be spoilers of Game of Thrones up until the end of season 6 beyond this point.spoilers

Top Ten Things I Loved

  1. Daenarys, Brienne of Tarth, Jon Snow. Tyrion.tyrion jon snow daenarys Brienne_S3
  2. Yara Greyjoy – she’s so awesome that she gets her own line, I LOVE her.yara
  3. The cinematography. The Battle of The Bastards was ART. It was visually stunning and I cannot, it was breathtaking.cine 3 cine 2 cine 1
  4. Arya and Sansa Stark’s progress through life and taking control of their stories.starks
  5. Podrick’s magical sex powers.pod 2
  6. Lady Olenna’s Shade.olenna shade 0 olenna shade 1
  7.  Dragons.dragons
  8. Daario: “So what skills do you actually have? Can you fight?”
    Tyrion: “no”
    Jorah: “Can you track animals?”
    Tyrion: “Not really”
    Daario: “Can you ride a horse?”
    Tyrion: “Welllll….”
    Jorah: “So basically you talk?”
    Tyrion: “And drink! I mean I’ve survived this long!”
  9. Lady Lyanna Mormont, my ten year old QUEENtumblr_o93q51XdNN1sg5amvo1_250
  10.  The way that anytime a grumpy old man pisses of Dany she just goes “Flambé”flambe

Top Ten Things I Hated

  1. The High Septum/Sparrow nonsense that dragged on FOREVER. Why was it there? It SUCKED.sparrow
  2. Joffrey and Ramsey – duhjoff
  3. They killed all my faves – RIP Jojen, Catelin, Shae, Osha and Rikon.it isnt fair crying
  4. Littlefinger is such a creeper, like why?creepy
  5. So much rape happens, so much. I mean I understand why it has to be there but it is appalling.everything sucks
  6. Anything North of the Wall or in Dorne. (Except Gilly, Sam and Jojen)bored
  7. Trying to remember what each house’s symbol was so I could understand what army was doing what.alcoholism
  8. The fate of poor Princess Shireen, Stannis can actually throw himself off the great wall.shireen
  9. The fact that they reduced Shae to a jealous whore, even though we know none of her backstory so who can say for sure she actually was a whore?shae
  10. The fact that I watched 60 episodes in two weeks and i now have to wait a year for another ten or maybe less.season 7

Book Review: All of the Above by Juno Dawson

all of the above banner
all of the above
When sixteen-year-old Toria Bland arrives at her new school she needs to work out who her friends are, all 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 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

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Spoiler free

All of the Above is a book full of peeing-your-pants laughter and drowning-in-tears heartbreak and the two are blended together effortlessly in a true to life, ridiculously relatable tale of young adult life. Our protagonist, Toria, is an I-spend-too-much-time-on-Tumblr fangirl who finds herself in a new school in a small town and slots into the group of “Alt kids”. thumbs up

She meets the foul-mouthed Polly Wolfe who is loud, proud and could murder anybody who tries to get in her way.i am woman hear me roarReading moments with Polly in them are great fun because all of her profanity has been replaced by **** and so it’s a fun “count the stars and look for the context” fill in the blanks game of cursing that you get to play alongside the story.confused

It is really stressed throughout the story (and in the title) that the story is not just about sexuality or eating disorders or falling in love or alcoholism or anything else, it is going to cover literally everything because that’s how life is.Some reviews I read going into this that the number of themes makes it messy and the story is worse off for it but I am passionate in my disagreement.shut up or ill eat you Life often feels like everything is piling up at once until you can’t breathe, even if your problems are nowhere near as serious and it helped to engulf the reader in how overwhelmed Toria feels.

“It’s just so fast. Nothing happens for ages and then it all comes at once.”

A unique thing about All of The Above is that there are poems interspersed throughout as Toria likes to write them. In a poem whose title I won’t reveal because of spoilers, I found what may be one of my favourite quotes to date:Poem

sad

All of the poems are wonderful and give the book something to make it really memorable in comparison with other contemporary YA novels, it’s certainly going to stick with me for a while.

Juno Dawson will be attending YALC on the 29th and 31st of July in the London Olympia.

5 stars

Top Ten Books With Under 2000 Ratings on Goodreads

Hosted at The Broke and The Bookish

  1. Never Evers by Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison – 93 ratingsnever evers
    Okay I’ve raved about this book and these authors in a million posts since my return to the blogosphere so I’m just gong to reiterate that it is fab and link you to my review, here.
  2. All of The Above by Juno Dawson – 326 ratingsall of the above
    Finished this book last week and the review is coming on Thursday but I absolutely adored this book and was inspired by these characters and the journies they go on,
  3. Gathering Water by Regan Claire – 491 ratings20693807
    This was one of my first ever blog tour books and I loved it! It’s a paranormal YA novel with a new kind of species that I’ve never encountered before rather than just vampires or werewolves or something. I’m going to link to my review here but be warned that this was from my pre-resurrection days so it won’t be all that coherent.
  4. The Dollhouse Asylum by Mary Gray – 679 ratings14741373
    Mary Gray was the first author I ever met at the Houston Book Rave back in 2013, I had such a fabulous day at my first book event, back in the day I made a Booktube video about the Houston Book Rave which I did initially link but then 15 year old me was so cringey I wanted to die so i removed it. I have also reviewed the book here.
    It’s a crazy story about this guy who kidnaps all these people and makes them pretend to be famous literary couple and act out their stories and deaths.
  5. This Book Is Gay by James Dawson – 1347 ratings22074335
    Picked this up when I met the author at last year’s YALC and found it to be very informative as well as managing to blend humour into the discussion of serious topics in a way that worked and made it thoroughly enjoyable.
  6. Lobsters by Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison – 1400 ratingslobsters
    See above, brilliant book, hilarious and also talked about a million times.

I was only able to muster up 6 books with under 2000 ratings to put on this list so I thought to make up the other four I’d list the four books with the most ratings that I enjoyed the least:

  1. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green – 2,023,409 ratingstfios
    I don’t know why, everybody LOVES it but it just really wasn’t for me.
  2. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck – 1,364,315Of Mice and Men
    In fairness, it’s not that I didn’t like the book, it is just forever associated with the torturous process of analysing it (I swear to god if I have to hear about it’s “cyclic” nature ever again I will end someone).
  3. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling – 261,276 ratings 10335308
    This one just fell flat for me, it wasn’t as funny as I had hoped.
  4. Angelfall by Susan Ee – 110,492 ratings11500217
    I heard about this one from Christine of PolandbananasBOOKS and normally I LOVE everything she recommends, but I loathed this book…passionately.

    You can find me on Goodreads here.