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Top Ten Most Anticipated Releases For The Second Half Of The Year

Top Ten

Hosted at The Broke and Bookish

Do you ever have that moment when you write a post and then it doesn’t schedule properly and then you don’t find out until a week later because busyness occurred and then you’re MAD. That is what happened when I came to write this week’s Top Ten Tuesday and found that because of my inattention and hectic show week madness, this post didn’t publish for some reason. This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is supposed to be my Top Ten releases of 2016 so far but I have only read 4 new releases this year and they were all pretty damn good so ranked I have”

  1. Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clarelady midnight
  2. Never Evers By Lucy Ivison and Tom Ellen (I reviewed this here last week)never evers
  3. The Trials of Apollo: The Lost Oracle by Rick Riordantrials of apollo
  4. Stars Above by Marissa Meyerstars above

Without further ado, here is last week’s intended post as I would have been able to write very little for this week’s anyways.

The ten books which I am most excited about in the next six months are (in no particular order):

1. Harry Potter and The Cursed Child by J.K Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany – 31st July

harry_potter_and_the_cursed_child_script.0.0 I feel like this was the really obvious answer but I mean COME ON. It’s the 8th Harry Potter, who ISN’T freaking out over this?

hardly breathe
2. Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas – 6th September

empire-of-thrones-us

Despite still not being finished with Queen of Shadows, these books are too good not to eagerly anticipate!
3. Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff – 18th October

gemina

If you haven’t read book 1, Illuminae, then you are MISSING SOMETHING AMAZING. One of the most unique reading experiences I have had to date and a kick ass story which really fits the means by which it is told.
4. Turbo Twenty Three by Janet Evanovich – 15th November

turbo 23

Even though it’s the 23rd book in the series, these books never fail to have me cackling hysterically, I always love to come back to these crazy characters and see what they are going to get up to next.

another
5. You Know Me Well by David Levithan and Nina Lacour – 2nd June

you-know-me-well

6. London Belongs to Us by Sarra Manning – 2nd June

london

Both of these books managed to release themselves without me realising but I am super pumped to read them both in time for YALC

getcha head in the game

(Sorry for the excessive HSM gifs, I’m in a production of it in like a week and the excitement is getting real!)
7. United as One by Pittacus Lore – June 19th

united as one

I have been reading this series from the start and it honestly feels like I’m the only one but I don’t care. I am SO pumped to reach the conclusion and see how on earth all our heroes are going to stop the Mogadorians once and for all.

kept waiting
8. Lydia the Wild Girl of Pride and Prejudice by Natasha Farrant – October 25th

lydia the bad bennet girl

Pride and Prejudice. Lydia Bennet. What can I say?lydia
9. Heartless by Marissa Meyer – 8th November

heartless

I have had a Marissa Meyer shaped hole in my heart since I finished Winter and I need more books from her ASAP to try and fill it.
10. Think Twice by Sarah Mylnowski – 7th April

think twice

I swear to god, I have been waiting three years for this sequel and I kept tabs on it and there was literally no announcement that it was happening and then I found it in Waterstones and I haven’t been able to read it because I am too busy trying to get all my YALC books read!! But SOON I shall devour it.

Book Review and Discussion: Never Evers by Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison

 

bannernever evers

Kicked out of ballet academy and straight into a school ski trip, Mouse knows certain classmates can’t wait to see her fall flat on her face. Meanwhile, Jack looks forward to danger and girls, but hasn’t a clue about either. That’s until French teen sensation Roland arrives in the resort – who Jack’s a dead ringer for. When Roland persuades Jack to be his stand-in for a day, Jack, in disguise, declares his feelings for Mouse. But what happens when he’s no longer a pop star – will it be music and magic on the slopes?

Buy on Amazon        Buy at Waterstones

 

After seeing Lucy Ivison and Tom Ellen at last year’s YALC, I picked up their first novel “Lobsters”, devoured it and then couldn’t wait for their next book and wow, it did not disappoint!

squeal 2

This year Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison are running a “co-writing” workshop at YALC and will be speaking with Non Pratt at the Edinburgh Book Festival on the 13th of August.

Spoiler free

I’m going to keep my review short and sweet, just like this book: it’s awesome.

thumbs up

Going into the novel I was a bit concerned that the protagonists were quite young, at only 14, whereas in Lobsters they were 17, so closer to my age but it was a needless worry. The youth of the characters is more than made up for in their absolute hilarity. I was reading this book when I was the first person to wake up at a sleepover and had to smother my face with a pillow to avoid waking everyone else up with my laughter.

laughing

nevere evers numbers 2

This was such a fun book to read, the characters were so endearing to read about and I loved how they all had such an individuality about them without feeling like stereotype, they were all well built and wonderful.

squeal

never evers quote

I don’t even know what else I can say about this book. There are so many beautifully bizarre happenstances that I want to gush about but don’t want to ruin them for you so I guess that is really all that I can say!

shrug

5 stars

 

 

Ten Things I Love About (Fictional) Parties

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Hosted at The Broke and The Bookish

Okay so this post is coming 4 days shy of my 18th birthday and so I thought it might be topical to write about nine reasons I love parties (and one reason I don’t) with matched to a book in which you may find a party with the trait I am fond of. So here we go:

1 and 2. Getting Ready and Looking Pretty – The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson

art of being normal

Everybody loves the getting ready part. Choosing your dress, shoes, bag. Trying to figure out how to do your hair and get your make-up just right. I’m not going to lie, hair and make-up are not my forte. Fortunately, my little sister, Molly, is a pro and if it’s a big occasion I can normally talk her into doing it for me.

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Me on the night of my school Leaver’s Ball, make-up done by my sister.

In “The Art of Being Normal”, David goes to a party as Kate, the girl he longs to be, and he spends ages getting ready, having his mum do his makeup and making sure he feels as beautiful on the outside as he is inside.

3 and 4. Meeting new people and flirting with boys – Lobsters by Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison

lobsters

Parties are a fun way to meet new people, it’s a fun but chill environment which is great for cultivating new friendships or even relationships.

look at him

In “Lobsters” Sam and Hannah meet for the first time at a party when one finds the other hiding in the bathroom. They have a really sweet, but very awkward, first conversation and then spend the rest of the book trying to find each other and see if they are meant to be – AND IT’S THE BEST THING EVER YOU ALL NEED TO READ THIS.

5.Dancing – Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Pride and Prejudice

Okay so it’s very different to how they did it in Austen’s day – I dread to think what she would say about “twerking” – but dancing has been done at parties for all of history. Whether it’s music you like or somehow the boys have managed to get control of the music and are playing some kind of metal nonsense (not a generalisation, I am speaking from experience with the crowd that I party with) dancing is always going to be fun.

dancing

Mr Darcy and Elizabeth have some of their first conversations while dancing at various balls and look how that turned out! Actually, that’s probably a bad example because she gathered that he was a douche from these encounters….but hey Jane and Bingley had fun!

6. The Food – Catching FireCatching Fire

I’m having a family party in my house which means my mum is doing all the food and I am SO pumped because party food, buffet style, is my favourite thing. We are having mini sandwiches, cocktail sausages, homemade potato salad (my mum’s is the best), homemade millionaire’s shortbread (maybe THIS is the best?) and so much more and I am going to be STUFFED but who cares? YUM

food

Pretty much everything in the world of the Hunger Games sucks, however the party food appears to be the exception which proves the rule, I think this page puts it best.

8. Watching the antics of drunk people – Clockwork Prince
clockwork prince
People watching is amusing when everyone is sober. When people are drunk it is downright hilarious.ross-drunk-o

In Clockwork Prince, Will and Tessa go to a masked ball and are served drinks with “warlock powder” which has similar effects and well, some steamy stuff occurs before Magnus catches them.

9. Watching the DRAMA – Cindercinder

Who’s honestly been to a party when everything goes smoothly? Literally nobody ever. From drunk and embarrassing family members to a random PDAs between people nobody expected (though hopefully at a party with friends rather than family, otherwise you may have a bit of a situation my friend) there is always something going on at a party! As long as you make sure you aren’t the one causing the spectacle then everything is okay.

thisll get messy

Cinder is a sci-fi retelling of Cinderella and I think we all know the kind of drama which occurs at the parties she goes to.

 

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  1. The next morning – Feat. Dubsmash

Spoiler Free Review: The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge

the_lie_tree_front_coverFaith’s father has been found dead under mysterious circumstances, and as she is searching through his belongings for clues she discovers a strange tree. The tree only grows healthy and bears fruit if you whisper a lie to it. The fruit of the tree, when eaten, will deliver a hidden truth to the person who consumes it. The bigger the lie, the more people who believe it, the bigger the truth that is uncovered.

The girl realizes that she is good at lying and that the tree might hold the key to her father’s murder, so she begins to spread untruths far and wide across her small island community. But as her tales spiral out of control, she discovers that where lies seduce, truths shatter . . .

Buy on Amazon      Buy at Waterstones

 

I bought the Lie Tree for my birthday last year with the intention of reading it before YALC 2015 and alas that didn’t happen. However I did take it with me and get it signed! This year I’m a bit more organised and with all the hype surrounding this book between the Costa 2015 Book of the Year and the YA Book Prize nomination, I couldn’t resist picking it up in preparation for this year’s YALC.

Me with Frances Hardinge at YALC 2015

Me with Frances Hardinge at YALC 2015

Spoiler free

The Lie Tree is a book which is miles out of my reading comfort zone. I very rarely read anything in the realm of historical fiction, preferring dystopian or urban fantasies. I am so glad that I took this venture though because I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, it was ace! Our protagonist, Faith, is a fourteen year old girl on the cusp of being considered an adult in the Victorian time period in which the book is set. Her progression into adulthood is hindered by her family’s relocation to a small island named Vane where she is forced to essentially act as both nurse and teacher to her younger brother, Howard. Faith dreams of being a natural scientist like her father but she is constrained by her gender, a fact which she laments throughout the novel.

i am woman hear me roar

The period setting brings about a really interesting family dynamic because Faith, her mother and her father are all very strong willed characters but obviously Faith and her mother are subordinate to her father, who goes by “The Reverend” and seeing them trying to work around the social construct of the era is fascinating to watch play out. Furthermore the murder mystery element to the story is really cool, it’s like Victorian Cluedo but more twisted because there are so many people with different types of motives and you don’t know who can be trusted.

trust no one

The Tree itself is a super creepy concept and reading Frances Hardinge’s rich imagery of it really adds to that feeling, probably not helped by the fact I was reading at night as well. I don’t want to spoil you any further on that because figuring it out is part of the joy of reading this novel.

“The stone shelf reared before her, now cocooned in black tendrils. The dark spidery mound on top of it glimmered faintly in the dull, gauzy light of the lantern.

too spooky

Watching the plot unfold from the perspective of a fourteen year old girl is amazing because she is just so underestimated by every other character in the book which is why she gets away with so much sneaky and underhanded stuff, it’s glorious to witness her absolutely playing all the other characters because they truly expect nothing remotely interesting from her and she sees that as advantageous and WORKS IT.

“Women and girls were so often unseen, forgotten, afterthoughts. Faith herself had used it to good effect, hiding in plain sight and living a double life.”

patriarchy

Not to mention that she is INCREDIBLY sassy, particularly for the time period, as I expressed in some tweets this week:

pew pew pew

 

lie tree quote

So those are my thoughts on the Lie Tree! I really enjoyed this book and would definitely recommend it to both fans of the genre and people who are looking to read something a bit different because this is certainly unlike anything I have ever read before and that is AWESOME.

4 stars

 

 

Zombie Apocalypse Tag!

I normally plan to do a Top Ten Tuesday on a Tuesday hosted over at The Broke and the Bookish but this week’s theme is Top Ten Beach Reads. I am not overly fond of the beach, the sand is ick and it gets everywhere; I have fun when I go but it is never worth the infinity sand that is found everywhere later.

sand

Even when I do go to the beach, I don’t read. The sun is in my eyes and it’s too hot so nope, I frolic about in the sea and get all sunburned. Therefore I have no Beach Reads recommendations as I don’t know what constitutes a “Beach Read” and I have no reading desires for the beach. Instead, I wanted to do something I’m WAY more into – ZOMBIES. They are my favourite, from The Walking Dead (though I’m reconsidering my watching of that after the most recent finale) to iZombie (oh my god this show is my precious child, Ravi must be protected at all costs. If you watch it, hit me up because we are now best friends).

pew pew pew

I was searching the internet for tags and came upon this one over at Dreamland Book Blog – you need to check it out, her background art is absolutely STUNNING.
Without further rambling, I present – THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE BOOK TAG.Zombie Apocalypse Book Tag

I used an online number generator to pick 5 books at random from my shelf, opened to a random page in each and then used the first two characters I saw to fill the scenarios below. So my zombie apocalypse team is as follows, leave in the comments how long you think I’m going to survive!

City of Glass by Cassandra Clare
1. The first person to die: Clary Fairchild

oh no 2

Well…that’s unfortunate. At least it’s book 3 Clary rather than Lady Midnight Clary because she’d have been very useful. As it is, City of Glass Clary had a lot on her mind because well SPOILERS, HIGHLIGHT TO REVEAL she’s in love with her not quite brother and then kisses her actual brother so I imagine that was pretty distracting and got her killed.

2. The person you trip to get away from the zombies: Amatis Herondale

could be worse

I feel kinda bad about this. However, if she dies here then she can’t MORE SPOILERS YOU KNOW THE DRILL be turned evil by Sebastian in COLS and cause terror in COHF so bearing that in mind I can live with this action.

The Host by Stephanie Meyer
3. The first person to turn into a zombie: Jeb Stryder

NOPE

That’s gonna be a severe blow. I mean he managed to survive and protect a large group from an alien invasion, He would have been so good to have around! I think we’re kinda screwed now.

4. The person that trips YOU to get away from the zombies: Ian O’Shea

nooooooooooooooo

IAN?! Say it ain’t so! How will my heart cope? I loved you and you have betrayed me! My heart pangs with the sting of your betrayal!

Heir of Fire
5. The idiot of the team: Rowan Whitethorn

thisll get messy

I feel like he would kick my ass for this. Its not MY fault! I didn’t choose! However if he’s the dumbest on my team then I’m liking our chances because he knows his stuff.

6. The “brains” of the team: Dorian Havilliard (I got SO close to spoiling myself for Book 4 when I Googled the spelling of his name and I am so relieved right now)

what just happened

Don’t know how I feel about this. I mean he’s definitely not stupid but he thinks too much with his heart rather than his head so this could lead to some slip ups for my team.

Sea of Monsters  – The relief I was feeling over avoiding spoilers a minute ago has been abandoned because when I picked up this book there was  spider on it and now the book has been thrown across the room…

spiders

Having retrieved it (or getting my dad to…) I have got my characters

7. The team’s medic: Annabeth Chase

okay

Things are looking up, I mean she’s not a child of Apollo but I feel like Annabeth knows her stuff and she’ll bring along some Nectar and Ambrosia for the ride which will be helpful (surely the mortals not being allowed it thing will go out the window in a Zombie Apocalypse).

8. The weapons expert: Percy Jackson

yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaas

We have GOT this team, our chances for survival just doubled, everything will be fine, Percy knows what he is doing, we will be just fine.

The Fall of Five by Pittacus Lore

I’m going to take a moment to tell y’all how fab this series (The Lorien Legacies) is. They’re widely known but not very widely read which is a CRIME because they are outstanding. The exhilaration you feel reading these books is ridiculous, never mind on the edge of my seat, I’ve fallen onto the damn floor!

9. The Brawler: John/ Number Four

yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaasyaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaas

 

 

Why was I even worried? John is a kick ass fighter and with his powers he will be able to protect the whole group, between him and Percy, the Zombies should be fearing US.

10. The Team Captain: Number Eight

booyah

Okay he’s a bit of a hothead which might be a problem as our Team Leader but Eight will be competent enough and he’s a good fighter too.

Overall I’m feeling okay about our chances. I think I definitely have a stronger group than The Walking Dead did in season 2, seriously Shane what even are you? I think we’ll make it a good while – at least until the food runs out or whatever, but even then we could figure out how to escape to Lorien, or maybe the Demon towers of Idris would keep out zombies? But then again both of our Shadowhunters are probably dead….Hmmmmm.

I had a great time doing this tag and I’m going to tag Annalise at Annalise Books, Lara at Another Teen Reader and Laura at Under A Mound of Books. Have fun!

YALC TBR

Once again, this year I am going to be attending YALC (Young Adult Literature Convention) in London from July 28th – August 1st. It’s a wonderful event and the biggest book convention solely for Young Adult Literature in the UK. I went last year and it was an absolutely wonderful weekend.

5th April 2015 - 10th April 2016 360

The Dystopian Fantasy Panel

5th April 2015 - 10th April 2016 451

Me with Patrick Ness

5th April 2015 - 10th April 2016 587

The combined books my friend and I brought home

You can find the full list of authors attending the convention here, with some of my personal highlights being Malorie Blackman, David Levithan, Sophie Kinsella, Lucy Ivison and Tom Ellen. In preparation for the event this year I have made a TBR list for the next few weeks so that I am 100% ready for the trip. I would also like to say thanks to Annalise Books for her 5 part list on the must read books for YALC as I used it extensively when I was doing my research for what I wanted to read. You can find the first part of her list here.

  1.  The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson
    art of being normal

David Piper has always been an outsider. His parents think he’s gay. The school bully thinks he’s a freak. Only his two best friends know the real truth – David wants to be a girl. On the first day at his new school Leo Denton has one goal – to be invisible. Attracting the attention of the most beautiful girl in Year 11 is definitely not part of that plan. When Leo stands up for David in a fight, an unlikely friendship forms. But things are about to get messy. Because at Eden Park School secrets have a funny habit of not staying secret for long . .

 

This one I read last week and reviewed it here but oh my goodness it was absolutely fantastic and I am so excited to meet Lisa Williamson and get my book signed!

2. The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge

the_lie_tree_front_cover

Faith’s father has been found dead under mysterious circumstances, and as she is searching through his belongings for clues she discovers a strange tree. The tree only grows healthy and bears fruit if you whisper a lie to it. The fruit of the tree, when eaten, will deliver a hidden truth to the person who consumes it. The bigger the lie, the more people who believe it, the bigger the truth that is uncovered.

The girl realizes that she is good at lying and that the tree might hold the key to her father’s murder, so she begins to spread untruths far and wide across her small island community. But as her tales spiral out of control, she discovers that where lies seduce, truths shatter . .

The 2015 Costa Book of the Year that I bought and got signed last year but then didn’t read…UNTIL NOW! I bingeread the first 250 pages on Thursday night and plan to finish the rest tonight but it is AMAZING.

3. Never Evers by Lucy Ivison and Tom Ellen

never evers

Kicked out of ballet academy and straight into a school ski trip, Mouse knows certain classmates can’t wait to see her fall flat on her face. Meanwhile, Jack looks forward to danger and girls, but hasn’t a clue about either. That’s until French teen sensation Roland arrives in the resort – who Jack’s a dead ringer for. When Roland persuades Jack to be his stand-in for a day, Jack, in disguise, declares his feelings for Mouse. But what happens when he’s no longer a pop star – will it be music and magic on the slopes?

 

Last year I saw these two on a hilarious panel and impulse bought their first book, Lobsters. I am eternally glad that I did because it was such a cute story but so relatable and I was left hungry for more of their work, which I now have!

4. The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

bone-season-samantha-shannon-bloomsbury-cover

The year is 2059. Nineteen-year-old Paige Mahoney is working in the criminal underworld of Scion London, based at Seven Dials, employed by a man named Jaxon Hall. Her job: to scout for information by breaking into people’s minds. For Paige is a dreamwalker, a clairvoyant and, in the world of Scion, she commits treason simply by breathing.

 

 

 
Samantha Shannon moderated quite a few panels last year and I really wanted to grab a copy of her book but erm…. I had kind of already bought 24 books and there was no room left in my suitcase, much to my dismay and so I’m determined to read it for this year!

5.The Lost and the Found by Cat Clarke and Undone by Cat Clarke

lost and founf LOST.

When six-year-old Laurel Logan was abducted, the only witness was her younger sister. Faith’s childhood was dominated by Laurel’s disappearance – from her parents’ broken marriage and the constant media attention to dealing with so-called friends who only ever wanted to talk about her sister.

FOUND.

Thirteen years later, a young woman is found in the garden of the Logans’ old house, disorientated and clutching the teddy bear Laurel was last seen with. Laurel is home at last, safe and sound. Faith always dreamed of getting her sister back, without ever truly believing it would happen. But a disturbing series of events leaves Faith increasingly isolated and paranoid, and before long she begins to wonder if everything that’s lost can be found again…

undone

 

Jem Halliday is in love with her gay best friend. Not exactly ideal, but she’s learning to live with it.

Then the unspeakable happens. Kai is outed online … and he kills himself.

Jem knows nothing she can say or do will bring him back. But she wants to know who was responsible. And she wants to take them down

 

 

I have heard such amazing things about this author and these two books have such interesting premises and I cannot wait!

6. All of The Above by James Dawson

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.

 

On the plane home from last year’s YALC, instead of reading one of the many books which I had bought that weekend, I decided to read all of the little samplers I had acquired and this one was by far my favourite, I’m so glad to be finally getting around to it!

7. The Next Together by Lauren James

next togetherKatherine 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…

 

 

COUPLES DESTINED TO FALL IN LOVE THROUGH TIME. I NEED THIS. ‘NUFF SAID.

8. 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 . . .

This was one of the Booksplosion books for last year and everybody had such lovely things to say about it so this seems like the perfect time to get it read.

More books that I really want to read and hope I manage to get around to:
other 5
The Raven Boys by Maggie Steifvater
The Manifesto on How To Be Interesting by Holly Bourne
Another Day by David Levithan
Crow Moon by Amy McKerrow
The Ask and The Answer by Patrick Ness

Review and Discussion: The Art Of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson

art of being normal banner art of being normal“Two boys. Two secrets. David Piper has always been an outsider. His parents think he’s gay. The school bully thinks he’s a freak. Only his two best friends know the real truth – David wants to be a girl. On the first day at his new school Leo Denton has one goal – to be invisible. Attracting the attention of the most beautiful girl in year 11 is definitely not part of that plan. When Leo stands up for David in a fight, an unlikely friendship forms. But things a
re about to get messy. Because at Eden Park School secrets have a funny habit of not staying secret for long…”

Buy on Amazon             Buy on Waterstones.com

I read “The Art of Being Normal” by Lisa Williamson this week in preparation for YALC as she is going to be in attendance this year. She was there last year but I unfortunately just missed her so I can’t wait to meet her this summer! My review is written in two parts: first without spoilers if you haven’t read it yet, and then in full spoilery discussion if you have and are bursting with thoughts and feelings like I am!

Spoiler free

THIS BOOK. Oh my god. Where to begin?

i-love-it

This amazing story was one which NEEDED to be told. Not only is it the first YA book that I have read with transgender representation but it’s also NOT SOLELY about that, which is awesome. The two central characters in this book are David, a fourteen year old boy who longs to be a girl and is terrified of telling his parents, and Leo, a boy in the year above him who has just moved to David’s school under unknown circumstances. The two boys come from very different walks of life with David living in a posh part of town and a very stable home whereas Leo lives in a rougher part of the city and his family life is turbulent, at best.

David’s internal monologue as he struggles with his biological identity working against who he knows he is is heartbreaking to read.

“When I was eight my class was asked to write about what we wanted to be when we grew up.”
“I kind of got that feeling you sometimes get after an exam, when you come out and at first you’re feeling pretty confident but then everyone starts discussing their answers and it dawns on you that you’ve totally messed up”

“I wrote I wanted to be a girl”

It’s such a wonderfully written book and it captures all of the emotions of these two characters who are just going through so much so well. Even though it’s difficult as a reader to relate to the issues the boys are going through, because they are not issues I have ever faced, it is so easy to understand their pain and feelings and it HURTS. Never in my life did I think I would feel sympathy for a character who wants to have a period because  – like most females, I imagine – I see them as a pain in the ass. But somehow, I was devastated on his behalf because of it.

“All I can think about is how I’ll never experience what Livvy’s experiencing tonight, It’s a biological impossibility so unfair it makes my entire body throb”

Watching their stories intertwine, its lovely to see Leo’s confusion at David’s quirks and David’s eagerness to figure Leo out. Their friendship was one of my favourite parts of this book, though it’s too tough to choose a definitive favourite part because a) there are too many, I love everything and b) SPOILERS!art of being normal quote

I think that’s probably the point at which I must conclude my spoiler free review because if I go on any further, my feels are going to burst out of me and spoilers will occur.
I would rate this book five stars, it was wonderful and everyone needs to read it!

5 stars

You can follow Lisa Williamson on Twitter here. “The Art of Being Normal” is shortlisted for the YA book prize and this week is #TeamWilliamson week. There was a twitter chat this Tuesday with Lisa Williamson which you can find here. It was great fun and she answered loads of questions about The Art of Being Normal so it should make for some fun reading.

 

spoilers ahead

I’m going to jump right in and address the plot twist right now. Who saw that coming? I sure as hell didn’t, the thought didn’t even occur to me because Leo is so unquestionably a boy. I really appreciated the fact that we didn’t find out about the Megan secret until so far through the book. In the #TeamWilliamson chat, Lisa Williamson said that initially, when this was just David’s story, the reader found out much earlier in the book but I’m so glad that this was changed. I think it beautifully reinforced the message that it is not obvious from an outside point of view if somebody is not their birth gender and that is OKAY. It’s a message that society as a whole definitely needs. To find it in a young adult novel, particularly one with younger YA protagonists is so remarkable because it’s accessible to younger readers as well.

the best

David going out as Kate on  that trip to Tripton-on Sea made me so uncontrollably happy and I had some outfit jealously, I love a shirt dress. As Leo commented, Kate’s immediate increase in confidence was so heart warming, I was sat grinning at my book like a total spanner. Their whole trip was fantastic, I was living vicariously through their fun. Well, except for that bit where Leo’s dad was a douchebag, but let’s not talk about that.
not amused

The moment when David placed that scrapbook on the table gave me some intense butterflies, my heart was in my stomach because I was so nervous about what was going to happen.

heart palpatations

“It’s only an hour before I hear the knock at the door, but it feels like days. And even though I’ve been expecting to hear it, it still makes me jump”

I really liked the reactions of David’s parents, even though everybody wants to see them 100% accept and be okay with it and say “we always knew”, taking it really easily, it would have been a betrayal to the story if it had gone this simply.

“Your mum and I love you very much. We always have and we always will. But we also need a bit of time to digest this, OK?”

This isn’t the kind of news parents are going to immediately be totally cool with, the situation can’t be sugar coated. Their tentative acceptance and support of David had relief surging through me and even though it hurt, seeing their small signs of stress, confusion and sadness over his circumstances, their hesitation felt right. In the midst of all this I had to take a pause for a minute because without a doubt, my funniest moment of the book came next when David and his parents are getting emotional and then:

“Noisy crying must be genetic because we’re so loud Livvy comes barging in assuming Granny must have died. Mum whisks her out of the room, reassuring her Granny is very much alive.”

I don’t know why but the pause from the emotional stuff even for just this line made it so much more impactful, also that gem of a line, it’s hysterical.

I found it really interesting to consider that Leo had managed to sum up the confidence to tell his family before David did. Fair enough, Leo is older than David but David is in a position where he appears to have the more obvious support system in place than Leo does because his relationship with his mother and her revolving door of boyfriends is so strained. Meanwhile David is a lot closer with his parents despite feeling like an outsider, though this may mean that he feels he has more to lose should they not accept him, whereas Leo feels like he has less going for him? I don’t know it was just something I was thinking about.

Furthermore:

  • Tia endlessly watching Disney movies was so great, she didn’t care what was going on (unless Leo was sad) she just wanted to watch Tangled dammit!
  • Maybe I’m the only one but I pictured Spike as James Marsters in Buffy, dark hair aside!spike - art of being normal
  • Livvy appearing at the disco at the end made me really happy, I mean it obviously sucked that she had a fight with her friends but the exchange her and David had when he goes over to talk to her gave me the warm fuzzies.

yaya

I think that concludes my thoughts on the book! If you’ve read it, please leave me a comment either linking me to your review or telling me how you felt about it! I hope you loved it as much as I did.

Ten Books I Feel Differently About After Time Has Passed

Top Ten

Top Ten Tuesday is Hosted at The Broke and Bookish

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pride and prejudice

I first experienced Pride and Prejudice as “The Lizzie Bennet Diaries” on Youtube when I was 14 and, being the eager reader that I was, I set about reading the original. I dragged myself through it and decided that:

“yeah, it was okay but like, I dunno, I don’t think it was worth the effort. The old language was too hard to read but I liked the story” – actual words from 14 year old self.

Jane BOSSten

Jane BOSSten

So 6th year at school came along and for Advanced English I had to write a 3000 word dissertation. Knowing P&P vaguely well I decided that this would be my book, which meant I had to reread. Pride and Prejudice is now my all time favourite book. The previously difficult to read old time language now translated as 19th century shade throwing, but Jane Austen doesn’t just throw shade, she casts goddamn eclipses. Pride and Prejudice man….it’s great, the sass is too much.

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twilight

Okay so I think we all had our Twilight phase and at the time (circa 2010), I adored these books. I lived for Edward Cullen, purchased throw blankets for each of the movies and several ‘Team Edward T-shirts. As I moved past this stage and Twilight was being constantly bashed in mainstream media, my love faded to dislike of the series because that’s how everybody else felt. I’m not going to say that The Twilight Saga is the best YA series out there –  its not. Having had time to reflect and a reread in the last couple of years though, it’s not as bad as the demonisations make out; It is in fact enjoyable, even as a guilty pleasure.

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before i fallwe were liars

Before I Fall and We Were Liars go together because when I first finished both of these books I was in shock and so I wasn’t sure if I liked them or not and had to take some time to reflect. Having reflected, they are both absolutely fab and they will haunt you for a while after you have read them.

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charlie bone The Children Of The Red King series by Jenny Nimmo was a cornerstone of my childhood, which is really weird because I don’t know of anybody else who has even heard of them, but I was in love. They were oozing mystery and fun but were also really sinister and I was hooked from the first chapter. It’s kind of like a crazy mash up of Harry Potter and The Famous Five. It’s set in a boarding school for children gifted in music, art and drama and then among those there are about a dozen kids with special, magical abilities. The administration of the school are all evil and corrupt and these kids are just trying to live their lives without being manipulated by them amidst child kidnappings, ancient magic and even a small pinch of time travel. Basically, these books were fantastic. My opinion has changed because the mystery element in these books is SO huge that they are impossible to reread once you know the answers. You find yourself being frustrated at the characters for not figuring things out sooner. That aside, if you haven’t read these books, you NEED to get on that ASAP. mortal instrumentsthe-mortal-instrument-redesignalec be

Alec Lightwood. Literally the only thing that has changed about my opinion on these books is that the first time through I greatly underappreciated Alec because I’m rereading and oh my gosh he is the best.

 

 

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Harry_Potter_and_the_Order_of_the_PhoenixWhen I initially read this book, it was my favourite Harry Potter book, but then the movie came out and I got blinded by my absolute hatred for Umbridge that I forgot how cool the rest of the book is because the movie had to leave so much out. Upon rereading I rediscovered all of the things which made me love it so much the first time and it is once again my favourite HP book.

 

 

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Confession time: I didn’t love The Fault in Our Stars. I read it at the height of its popularity in 2012 when everybody was going nuts over it and it just kind of fell flat for me. However, BECAUSE everyone else was loving it so much, this twisted my experience of it making me hate it because why was I the only person who didn’t experience a life-altering epiphany with this book and walk away a changed reader? That was happening to everyone else, so it seemed. Now I can see that no, I just felt apathetic and disappointed by the book, I don’t actually hate it.

My top ten is only a top eight because I usually remain pretty constant in my opinions about books, however a couple of bonus selections go to the Vampire Academy and Mortal Instruments movies which I loved when I first saw them but then changed my opinion on when I saw them at a later point because they are really not the greatest. I mean as movies themselves, they both stand up as being pretty good but in terms of adaptations, they left something to be desired.

mortal instruments moie VampireAcademy

 

The Music Tag

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I was tagged by Em @ Keystroke to do the music tag and she very kindly allowed me to use her graphic too 🙂 Music is a huge part of my life and I can’t wait to share some of the random songs in my iTunes!

The Rules

  • Link the blogger who tagged you
  • Shuffle all your songs and use the first ten that play (no skipping!)
  • Write you favorite lyric from each song
  • Tag some other bloggers to share the fun!

My Songs

  1. Chasing Cars (cover) by The Wind and The Wave

“I don’t quite know  how to say how I feel
Those three words are said too much. They’re not enough”

 

  2. A Single Man Tear from Supernatural the Musical

“He shows emotion without a trace
He hides behind a mask so strong
Worried that he could be wrong”

3. No Air by the Glee Cast

“I walked, I ran, I jumped, I flew
Right off the ground to float to you”

 

4. A Little Less Sixteen Candles, A Little More Touch Me by Fall Out Boy

“You’re just the girl all the boys want to dance with
And I’m just the boy using too many chances”

 

5. Zou Bisou Bisou by Gillian Hills

“Dans les buissons sous le ciel du mois d’août
Les amoureux glissent à pas de loup”

which translates to

“In the bushes under the August sky
Lovers on tiptoes, stealing by”

 

6. Liberty Walk by Miley Cyrus

“And you know in the end, it’ll be ok
‘Cuz all that really matters are the steps you take”

 

7. Lifesize by A Fine Frenzy

“We smiled so bright the sun went down
Rose above the maddening crowd
We lit the streets with the sweetest glow”

 

8. Natural Disaster by Pentatonix

“My heart was flying in tornadoes,
My heart was flying in your love, in your love”

 

9. I’ll Cover You from Rent

“I think they meant it
When they said you can’t buy love
Now I know you can rent it
A new lease you are my love
On life, oh my life”

I very nearly put the whole song here because I think this has to be my favourite love song ever written, its so beautiful and its from such a great musical *squeals*. If you haven’t seen it, you HAVE TO watch RENT! It’s on Netflix 😉

 

10. No Rest for the Wicked by Lykke Li

“There’ll be no rest for the wicked
There’s no song for the choir
There’s no hope for the weary
If you let them win without a fight”

Okey dokes, I’m going to tag Julie at Chapter Break to do this next!

5 Things I’ve Missed About Blogging

Okay so as I’m writing this post, it has been exactly 1 year, 7 months and 15 days since my last post. I’ve completed two sets of exams, applied to and been accepted at university. I’m getting ready to start this next chapter of my life and it’s one I intend to have blogging be a part of again. The new exam system and staggering amount of work I had to do in the 2014-15 school year prevented me from keeping the blog up and then the following year I had just fallen out of the flow.

But exams are now over and I have a whole four months before I’m expected to do anything, so what a wonderful opportunity I now have to pick up from where I left off, though hopefully now I’m a bit wiser and more coherent.

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taking to other readers

This is the ultimate platform for getting to know people who read what you do, who share your interests and get just as passionate as you do about your favourite things. I feel like I’ve been sitting on the sidelines of this amazing community for a year and a half and I’ve missed being able to get in on the action.

getcha head in the game

Everybody would be talking about the newest book they’d read or an interesting topic they’d explored in a blog post this week and I would just hover in the background silently watching it all unfold on twitter. I felt unable to join in because I wasn’t sharing in that experience too, I wasn’t consistently writing about my passion for books because my studies had swooped in and stolen that passion from me, my focus being diverted instead to Biology or Maths. I mean who needs photosynthesis when everybody is fawning over what Dorian did in Queen Of Shadows, but you haven’t had time to finish the book yet? …. I still REALLY need to get on that)

reading

As I just mentioned, the amount of reading I was able to do seriously decreased. With no prolonged interaction with the YA community and the mental gymnastics I was doing at school everyday, my motivation to read plummeted. (Sidenote: I managed to watch a STAGGERING amount of TV so if anyone ever wants to chat about the Flash or Prison Break, I’m your gal).

I went away to YALC for a weekend and returned with 24 new books. Do you know how many of those I have read since last July? FIVE. Literally 5. Ugh. I mean that’s not to say I haven’t read a lot of fantastic books in the past 19 months, I have read what are now some of my favourite books in that time. But do I wish I had read more? Yes. Do I wish I had kept that hunger for books? Most definitely. Am I going to work like hell to play catch up and get some extreme reading done between now and university? You can bet your ass I am.

read it

keeping up with YA News

I didn’t realise how much I relied upon this community for book recommendations and new releases until I left it behind. The lack of reading I was doing meant that I generally just read what I already owned, which was great…until I realise that I only read about three new releases last year, and two of those were the end of series. I have no idea what great books came out in 2015 and I haven’t read any of them, which is really sad because it meant, once again, I wasn’t really contributing to the online conversation, I was just living vicariously through other people’s reading habits

talking to Authors

When I was doing all of the reading that I was before, finishing a book meant turning to twitter and sending out a 145-character burst of appreciation of the book to the author. I needed to let everyone, and especially them, know how much I adored it.

yaya

While I have still sort of done that, it’s been nowhere near the same extent as it used to be. One of the best parts about this community is the ease in which authors and readers can connect online. It’s wonderful being able to direct your feelings about a book to the person who wrote it and know that they can see it. Questions can be answered or even just seeing little details about their writing process as life progresses. It’s a unique position we are in and its glorious.

exploring reading ideas

The creativity required in the upkeep of a blog is tantamount to my return. I miss thinking up new things to write about each week. I miss being able to write freely as much as I want to and share my opinions online. When I started this initially, it was an opportunity for me to explore new corners of the reading world, consider new authors and genres and challenge myself to push further from my comfort zone of YA. Doing a weekly Top Ten Tuesday forced me to really think about what books I would match to the TV shows I loved or maybe consider the movie adaptation of a book in a different way (Please be warned that those links lead to the disorganised and at times nonsensical ramblings of my 15 year old self).

So it is with these five things in mind that I move forward to my blogging future, hopefully filled with books, new friends and a lot of fun.