Top Ten Tuesday: Books for when I’m sick of reading.

Nobody’s ever sick of reading, really, but the term “reading slump” makes my teeth grind involuntarily so…

Anyway, as I’ve spent god knows how many weeks now reading nothing but fanfiction, this seems appropriate. If you’re also a victim of this particular pit, my sympathies.

Since I’m rusty I’ve only done five books that I can pick up to get back into the game. I suggest reading it twice.

Knots and Crosses – Ian Rankin

knots and crosses

I can’t remember the last time I became so heavily invested in a series and a character. The only thing stopping me from reading this again right now is that there’s a whole series of them I haven’t read.

It definitely helps that the books are set in Edinburgh. As someone who works in the city I love trundling past places I’ve read about

Six of Crows – Leigh Bardugo

six of crows

This is the most deliciously dark and all-consuming and evocative story I’ve read for a long time. Leigh Bardugo has created such a grubby yet gorgeous universe and set of characters.

The Disaster Artist 

the disaster artist

I’ve read this account of the filming of cult movie sensation The Room several times, and it’s still one of the few books that makes me actually wheeze with laughter. Knowledge of the movie isn’t necessary but strongly recommended.

Additionally, if you haven’t seen The Room, I’d thoroughly recommend gathering some of your closest friends and watching it. It’s the only time in my adult life I’ve come close to peeing myself.

Speak – Laurie Halse Anderson

Speak

Laurie Halse Anderson is my ride or die. She’s my idol. Speak is a book that not only shuts me up for at least a day, but it also reinforces my belief that YA is the most vital of all genres.

The Pellinor Series – Alison Croggon

the singing

Everyone’s heard me screaming about this series by now, but I love it so much and it’s my go-to when I really can’t be arsed reading anything else. I always have time for Maerad and Cadvan.

On the Road – Jack Kerouac

on the road

Jack Kerouac typed the manuscript for On the Road on a single, continuous piece of paper. In three weeks. Goals.

Because of this, the language feels like it’s dropped straight out of Kerouac’s brain into the pages, and it’s so authentic and glorious that every time I read it I feel completely alive with how great writing can be. Hugely pretentious sounding, but true.

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What other books are good for when I hit the wall? GO.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Loved but Will Never Re-Read

“Loved” isn’t the right word. If I really loved a book I won’t have an issue re-reading it. Here’s ten books that I enjoyed well enough but wouldn’t be upset if they went missing.

Wuthering Heights

wuthering

I didn’t dislike Wuthering Heights. I was expecting more gothic-horror-ness than I got out of it, I found the characters so distinctly unlikeable there were only two I liked (fortunately one of them was the primary narrator) and I couldn’t make myself even slightly care about what happened to them. I really must look up some analysis of it because I’m sure I’m being dense about what it all MEANS but for now, I remain underwhelmed.

Game of Thrones

game of thrones

I’ve read the first book twice, made it to halfway through the second and admitted defeat. Will I go back to it? Probably. High fantasy isn’t usually my jam, but I’m discovering a slight taste for it. Will I read the first book again? Unlikely. Twice was quite enough, thanks. Plus I’ve seen the first series of the TV show. I know the story.

Never Let Me Go

never let me go

I loved this book, but reading it was a very bizarre experience. Not just because it’s got a pretty effed up plot hiding behind the beautiful writing, but because I am ninety-nine percent sure I have read this book twice now. I couldn’t have told you what happened or what was going to happen during the last read-through, but the sense of déjà vu that came with me as I read it was so pervasive that it made the book very surreal.

At least this time I can remember that I’ve read it.

Fangirl

Fangirl

I really liked Fangirl. Anxiety and struggling to find your place in the world at university? Hello. But it was long, and if I’m ever going to read a long book again, it needs to batter me round the head and leave me lodged in between worlds until I don’t know which way is up. As much as I enjoyed it, Fangirl didn’t. Sorry, Rainbow Rowell fans. Please don’t egg my house.

Blackbird

blackbird

I bought Blackbird purely on the fact that it’s based in Scotland (Orkney) and I am absolute trash for anything set in Scotland. It was enjoyable enough, but I was expecting more mystery than I ended up getting, and the setting wasn’t enough to catapult me there and keep me.

The Fandom

the fandom

One of the most hyped books I’ve seen in the UKYA sphere. It wasn’t a bad book, but it a) had had its flames fanned so much that it couldn’t help but fall a bit flat, and b) wasn’t at all what I was expecting. I find myself turned off more and more by dystopian-future books, and that was what the Fandom turned out to be for me, above all else.

The Hunger Games

hunger games

Ditto. Although I promised Sean I’d read them again because he says the second one is incredible and I’ve only read the first, so this might be cheating.

The Loneliest Girl in the Universe

loneliest girl

TLGITU is another case study for not going on the internet, ever. All I heard about before I read it (which, in fairness, took me a long time after I first noticed it and then bought it) was about how SHOCKING the TWIST was, and when you’re reading a book and you know a twist is coming, you inadvertently turn into Poirot. Now that I’ve read it all the way through, I think the impact will probably be even less.

The Cursed Child

cursed child

Yes, I didn’t hate this the first time I read it. But I think my brain has rejected it as canon, because I can’t remember much about it. Maybe it’s an absolute belter on the stage, but I remain unconvinced, and I can’t work up the motivation now to have another go.

The Square Root of Summer

square root summer

Enjoyable enough. It’s a holiday book: would read it on the plane, but I’m not going to start climbing the walls raving about it. Not for me.

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What’s on your list? What sort of burglars are robbing my house and taking ten specific books? Weigh in!

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books I Meant To Read In 2017 But Didn’t Get To

So this is a bit of a cop out for me. Mainly because my previous Top Ten Tuesday of “Books I’m Planning on Reading Over Winter” sees me knock about…three off the list, namely A Christmas Carol, Blackbird and A Shiver of Snow and Sky.

At the risk of repeating myself, I suggest you go back and read that post. However, to make up numbers, I’ve got another three books that have been glaring at me for months until I want to die from the shame.

Wing Jones – Katherine Webber

wing jones

I’ve got a signed copy of Wing Jones that I picked up at the Edinburgh International Book festival this year, because a) I’ve heard literally NOTHING but good things about it, and b) I love signed books and sprayed edges. It’s been “next on my TBR” for so long and I always end up with something else that I want to blog about or want to read for a Twitter chat, but not this year because this year I am actually GOING TO READ IT.

Orangeboy – Patrice Lawrence

orangeboy

I’ve heard SO many good things about Orangeboy. And Patrice Lawrence in general, actually. This one is a book I picked up as part of a mad spree and it’s been sitting in my bookcase for a shamefully long time. I’m going to read it, and them I’m going to buy and read Indigo Donut too.

Babylon Berlin – Volker Kutscher

BABYLON BERLIN AW.indd

I’d never heard of Babylon Berlin until not too long ago. Apparently it’s a major TV series, which shows how on the pulse my finger is. Or isn’t. I’ll hold my hands up and say I wanted to read this for AGES before I even found out what it was about purely because it’s got a really cool title. I’m a marketing team’s dream.

Fortunately it only got cooler when I read the synopsys. Plus the English language version has been released by a Scottish publisher, Sandstone Press all the way up in Dingwall! Marvellous.

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Thus begins my TBR list for 2018. What else should be on it? Hit me!

Friends Reunited: The Lost Book

Gather round everyone, it’s time for the heartwarming story of a boy who loved a book, and why occasionally the internet isn’t a total cesspool.

A couple of years ago, while on a weekend away in Peebles with Sean, the conversation turned to a book he’d read and loved as a child. He couldn’t remember the title or the author, just a few fragments from his memory. The front cover, a young boy doing his homework while scenes from the game dance around him. The main characters. Plot points.

“Let’s Google it!” Said I, because obviously Google has all the answers.

We uncovered a plethora of books vaguely matching the description. None of them were the right ones. We spent a long time trawling the internet, me adamently refusing to believe that this book could be impossible to find, but it certainly looked that way.

peebles
You’d never guess we’d been up half the night on a book hunt.

Every now and then in the following months and years it would come up in conversation and we’d look again, dozens of different search terms, wording them slightly differently, scrolling through Goodreads and forums and Google Images. Sean had started to wonder if the book was something he’d made up, a writing prompt that had snaked its way into his subconscious. I wasn’t so sure. The details he could reel off to me were too precise.

It was hugely annoying. I’m a stubborn crow and I have great faith in the internet, both of which were being tested strongly by this bloody nameless, formless book.

After it raised its head again late last year, I suited up and went in. But this time, I had a different plan: Reddit.

There’s a subreddit called r/tipofmytongue, where you post things you can’t remember the name of with a few descriptive details and hope that someone will recognise what you’re talking about and enlighten you. Reddit can be a…questionable place, so I wasn’t sure how well this would work. Or if it would at all. Or if I’d be soundly flamed.

But would you believe it, within a few hours I had a single, solitary response, from a user called GitaTcua.

It must be Gameplayers by Steven Bowkett.

I looked it up. Immediately checks out.

gameplayers 2

If I’d been alone, I would have screamed. As it was, I was with my Granny, and I didn’t want to give her nervous breakdown.

For the grand total of £3.72, I was able to secretly acquire a copy (HUGE shout out to Abe Books and The Children’s Bookshop for stocking it and delivering it so promptly) and present it to Sean as a belated Christmas present. He’s notorious for not doing big emotional displays but the level of carefully contained joy he exuded was high.

Basically, tenacity pays off and I am the best fiancée ever. Happy Christmas Seanathon!

gameplayers
His childhood book with his childhood teddy bear. Glorious.

Book review | A Shiver of Snow and Sky by Lisa Lueddecke

asosas

On the frozen island of Skane, the sky speaks. Beautiful lights appear on clear nights, and their colours have meaning: Green means all is well, and the Goddess is happy. Blue means a snow storm is on the way.

And then there’s red. Red is rare. A warning.

Seventeen years ago, the sky turned red just as Ósa was born, unleashing a plague that claimed the lives of hundreds of villagers, including her own mother. This time, when the night sky once again bleeds crimson, she must discover how to stop the onslaught before so many lives are lost again.

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Buying books based on the cover can be a hit and miss approach. I’ve read some turgid books because they look pretty. Fortunately, A Shiver of Snow and Sky is both stunning AND excellent.

There’s fantasy, there’s magic, there’s heart. Beautiful book, beautiful words. Lisa Lueddecke dumps you headfirst into a crisis and it doesn’t really let up until the end.

The heroine, Ósa, will break your heart and have you punching the air in the same breath. The world is so deliciously chilly and evocative that you can imagine every burn of he snow and boat on the water. The switch between the points of view in the narrative is awesome because it lines up the contrast between Ósa’s surreal journey and the much more grim events in the villages. My only negative takeaway was that I thought the ending was a little abrupt, which was disappointing, but it was a very minor blip in what was a brilliant debut.

There’s still time to pick one up as a gift for a reader you know – it’s the perfect book for a chilly holiday night. It reminded me in a lot of ways of Skyrim, so if you know anyone who’s ever had their life consumed by The Elder Scrolls, why not send them a copy of this for the holidays?

Serving suggestion: Christmas tree lights, hot chocolate and Baileys, gentle snowfall.

asosas pic

My Winter TBR: an update, or “oops I accidentally went Christmas shopping for myself”.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a Top Ten Tuesday blog post on the books I was planning on reading over winter. I went for a day trip to Edinburgh with my mum to hang out at the Christmas market – my motivations had more than a little bit to do with the sloe gin apple toddies – and me being me, I nipped into Waterstones to get some books for Christmas presents.

I wasn’t including myself in that but Y’KNOW WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO.

book blog

These are three books that I’ve been DYING to read for ages, so I’m looking forward to cracking open the bottle of ginger nut liqueur I’ve got and getting stuck in. I’m considering doing some book reviews in the new year – although I might have to work on turning down the sarcasm and bitterness a wee bit – so one of these might be the inaugural entry in the PBPR Book Review series.

I was sliiiiiightly worried when I posted that TTT entry, as I’d forgotten that the new Destiny 2 expansion Curse of Osiris came out on December 5th and I was mentally prepared for it to be a major timesink for me. So many space children, so little time, and I have to fit my colossal TBR in as well!

Much to my dismay, I don’t think that’s a risk anymore…but that’s a blog post for next week.

Have a good weekend folks – and let me know if there’s any other books I should be throwing my debit card at this winter!

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I’m Reading Over Winter.

It’s Top Ten Tuesday! This week, it’s the top ten books on my winter TBR list. This list in general is longer than a Disneyworld ride queue, so it’ll need a cold snap of Game of Thrones proportions for me to make a dent in it, but these are the ten books that have come out on top.

Six of Crows – Leigh Bardugo

six of crows

I bought Six of Crows as part of my pre-holiday haul, and promptly fell asleep on the red-eye flight home with the book open. Not a commentary on the book, more a commentary on my ability to handle gin in the middle of the night.

I’ve heard nothing but heaps and heaps of praise for Leigh Bardugo, so I’ll be drinking a few “special” hot chocolates (add Baileys liberally) and getting stuck in.

A Shiver of Snow and Sky – Lisa Lueddecke

a shiver of snow and sky

Oh man, the cover for this one. I judge books by their covers all the time, and just LOOK at it. Have you ever seen a more wintery book? I’m pretty sure if you lick it it’ll taste of brandy, posh cheese and the way pine smells.

I need it, and the next time I bundle myself up in more wool than a sheep and head into town I will have it.

The Northern Lights – Phillip Pullman

northern lights

I’m preparing for everyone to windmill slam the “Unfollow” button, but I’ve never read any of His Dark Materials.

I know. I can hear my mother preparing the emancipation papers as I type.

I’m going to “acquire” them from the bookcase in my parents’ house over Christmas and read them in order to rectify this situation. Plus the Book of Dust hype is real at the moment. My mum has that too. Bingo.

The Gift – Alison Croggon

pellinor

This is a reread, but I’m including it because it’s long overdue. I love these books. I talk about them whenever I can. I’m sure everyone’s sick to death of me talking about them but I don’t care. They’re awesome and I could read them again and again. So I’m going to. Sorry TBR list.

Knots and Crosses – Ian Rankin

knots and crosses

I am slightly ashamed that I’ve never read any of Ian Rankin’s books, given that he’s so local I’m surprised I haven’t bumped into him. Crime fiction isn’t a circle I usually move in, however given my taste in comfort TV (as I talked about last week) I’m starting to think that I should explore it. And what better place to start than a local legend?

Killing Floor – Lee Child

killing floor

My dad’s a massive Lee Child fan and has all the books in hardback. In the spirit of widening my horizons, this is another one I’ve picked up. I read Killing Floor years ago and never got round to getting to the rest of series, so let’s whack on some Slade and go for it.

The Cost of Living – Rachel Ward

cost of living

I was turned onto the Cost of Living through the Sunday YA Twitter chat. Reading everyone’s reviews and hearing (or reading!) Rachel Ward talking about it has hyped me up, plus after years and years in retail I’m so ready for some retail worker sleuthing. Gimme.

Blackbird – ND Gomes

blackbird

Um hello, mystery novel set on Orkney. I am already obsessed. I’ve seen this one all over Twitter and had resolved to read it before I realised where it was set, and as someone who loves Scotland and loves books set in Scotland and thinks there should be more books set in Scotland…

Plus the cover is awesome and I love mysteries. Sold.

Daughter of the Empire – Raymond Feist and Janny Wurts

feist

This is a Sean book. High fantasy really isn’t my thing at all, and I got less than a quarter into Magician by Raymond Feist before I had to admit defeat, but this was recommended to me as being “sort of entry level” by Sean, so I’ll give it a go. I’ve already read a few pages but I sort of…drifted away and read something else, so I really need to go back to the start and slog past the slow start and hope that I can be persuaded!

 

A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens

dickens

I’ll hold my hands up and say I’m not a fan of the classics. I never have been. I’m trying to read more widely, even though they don’t particularly inspire me. Dickens is a bit too old and dusty for me, but since it’s Christmas, this seems appropriate.

Also the Muppet movie version. Obviously.

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What are you reading over Christmas? If you’re sitting going “Oh my GOD she’s not reading my favourite winter book” let me know. Scotland is cold and I don’t go outside, so I have plenty of time.

A round up of books

I keep thinking “Right, Kirsty, given that you’ve got the word ‘Paperback’ in your blog name, maybe you should talk about books some more”. I keep meaning to review books that I’ve read and liked, but of course I never get round to it. Life and all that.

So to start off a trend of actually talking about books, here’s a quick run through some Books I Have Read And Thoroughly Enjoyed In The Last Few Months And Not Talked About Yet.

Editing Emma – Chloe Seagar

Editing Emma

Rare is the book that makes me ugly laugh out loud in the middle of the night, but Editing Emma managed it. I won a copy through Twitter after sharing my most embarrassing teenage moment. (My orange stripy hair has finally redeemed itself after over a decade.)

Editing Emma is of the best YA books I’ve read this year. As well as being hilarious, it’s refreshingly honest about what it’s like being a teenage girl in the social media age. (I hate writing that, because it makes me feel like an old lady, but it’s true.) It’s refreshingly honest about what it’s like being a teenage girl full stop, actually, and there’s things touched upon that are very rarely, if ever, mentioned in YA. I loved it.

There was a particular scene involving a Facebook messenger mishap that made me cringe so hard I nearly turned myself inside out. WE’VE ALL BEEN THERE. DON’T TELL LIES.

Hings – Chris McQueer

Hings

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I picked up Hings. Having finished, I’m not entirely sure what I’ve experienced. It’s the most bizarre series of stories I have read in a long, long time. I loved it.

‘Korma Police’ features a house raid in a curry-prohibition world. There’s a story where the world wakes up with backwards knees. ‘Bowls’ is a crime saga set against the backdrop of Glaswegian bowling greens. There’s a story called “Pish The Bed”. It’s like a series of Burnistoun sketches on a cocktail of drugs. It has to be seen to be fully appreciated, but I would thoroughly recommend if you like surreal escapades through working class Scottish communities. You probably do. Even if you don’t know it yet.

Plus some stories are written in Glaswegian dialect. Why not leave a copy of Hings on your coffee table to intrigue and perturb any non-Scottish friends or relatives? It’s the ultimate Christmas party game.

Beneath the Skin – Sandra Ireland

Beneath the Skin

Sandra is a fellow University of Dundee creative writing graduate whose writing I always thought magnificent, and it took me a shamefully long time to pick up Beneath the Skin. I went out on a mission at the Edinburgh Book Festival with my plastic glass of wine this year and picked up a copy

It checks all the important boxes. Army vet suffering from PTSD takes a job in a taxidermists. Set in Scotland. Creepy, mysterious characters. Sweet characters that warm the heart. Chilly sense of unease that never really goes away and means you have to keep reading to find out how all the loose ends tie up. Added points for stuffed birds. Everywhere.

Oh, and just in case you thought I was biased, Beneath the Skin has been shortlisted for the Saltire First Book of the Year Award. It’s marvellous. Ask for a copy for Christmas.

The Outsiders – S.E. Hinton

The Outsiders

I knew of The Outsiders before I saw it in Barnes & Noble in Orlando. I’d seen it described as the first “real” YA book – in that it was among the first, if not THE first to deal with realistic teenagers and their peers and surroundings. S.E. Hinton was only fifteen years old when she started writing The Outsiders (and eighteen when it was published), which explains why it’s so authentic – and in the author notes of my copy she says

“At that time realistic teenage fiction didn’t exist. If you didn’t want to read Mary Jane Goes to the Prom and you were through with horse books, there was nothing to read.”

It’s gritty, unforgiving, controversial then and now because of its depictions of violence and gang culture – but I’m a firm believer in “controversial” books for young adults, because teenagers deserve not to be patronised by people telling them they’re not old enough or mature enough to deal with difficult topics in literature, and the controversial books are the ones that often deal with issues that affect young people. They deserve to be read and discussed.

I read The Outsiders in one sitting on the plane back from Orlando. I adore it.

Fangirl – Rainbow Rowell

Fangirl

Fangirl is the first RR book I’ve read, but the first time I heard of Rainbow Rowell was a Tumblr post criticising Eleanor and Park for the way it portrayed minorities. So I picked up Fangirl based on the title – I, a fellow fangirl, can appreciate a kindred spirit when I see one – but not without a little trepidation.

I loved it.

Rowell has a really glorious prose style that’s warm and witty (as horrible and cliché as that sounds, it is!) and so evocative without ever feeling like it’s layering it on thicker than

It was sweet, it was relatable, the characters were so vibrant I felt like they were my friends after I’d finished the book. It’s up there with the best impulse book purchases I’ve ever made.

I’m not sure about E&P, but we’ll see.

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What’ve you read recently? Let me know!

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Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books I Want My Future Children to Read

It’s Top Ten Tuesday, and this week it’s books to hand down to your future kids! Or someone else’s kids, if they’re not really your bag.

Fortunately, I learned to read at some stupidly early age (my parents found out when I innocently asked who Colin Montgomery was after seeing his name in the paper my dad was reading) so I have no shortage of material from my formative years to choose from.

With a little help from my mother, here’s ten books that I’ll be forcing into the grubby little hands of any future kids I have.

Dogger

dogger

Yes, this is a real book, and yes I did produce it and triumphantly yell “DOGGER!” in the middle of Waterstones once to prove it to my mum.

We can forgive the name, given that it was released in 1977. (Believe me, I googled VERY carefully to find the date.) It’s a beloved classic, a boy with his favourite toy dog and what happens when it goes missing at the funfair. Reach the end without crying. I dare you.

Harry Potter

harry potter

I mean, come on. Do I even need to elaborate on this one? Harry’s consumed my life since I was in single digit numbers and my future children will be force fed the books once they’re old enough to understand. If they’re not looking for their Hogwarts letter at some point I will have failed as a parent.

The Famous Five

famous five

Another classic. I can’t think of an Enid Blyton book I DIDN’T love to be fair, but the Famous Five were always my favourite. Who didn’t want to go on an adventure with all your friends, a remarkably intelligent big dog and lashings of ginger beer? With a combined age of less than fifty they seemed to be more competent than every single police force in the series.

That Book About The Jumper

I can’t for the life of me remember what this book was actually called, but one of my earliest memories is getting a bus to the library in Inverkeithing and insisting that my mum check me out this book about a favourite jumper. Remember it Ma? I had a real vested obsession. (No pun intended.)

Old Bear Stories

old bear

Find me a more perfect childrens’ series. Spoiler alert: you can’t. I can’t formulate the words to describe how nice these books are. Even as an adult all I have to do is think about Little Bear’s Trousers or hum the theme tune and I regress into a fugue state.

In fact, I think I might go out and buy the whole lot and never leave the house ever again.

The Gruffalo

the gruffalo

This one’s a little past my time for picture books, but having a mother who worked in early years education meant that I have had the praises and relative merits of pretty much everything Julia Donaldson has ever written. There’s something charming about the Gruffalo, warts and claws and all.

Plus we – as in my entire, adult family – always end up watching The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child on TV every Christmas morning.

If Only They Could Talk

if only they could talk

When I was little I wanted to be a vet, before I realised my ineptitude in maths and science might be a hindrance. It did lead me to James Herriot, and his stories of veterinary practise in the Yorkshire Dales. Fun for the whole family.

I have vivid memories of lying on the sofa ill as a child with books piled around me, reading about prolapsed uteri, obese Pekingese dogs and the best way to treat mastitis.

The Polka Dot Horse

polka dot horse

This was – ironically, given the plot of the book – a forgotten favourite from when I was REALLY small. I haven’t read it for years, but I can still remember the pictures of the lonely little wooden polka dot horse rolling down the street in the dark.

Fortunately, it has a happy ending, but if this doesn’t make you want to weep, I fear you.

Wild at Heart series

wild at heart

OK so I LOVED these books as a child (see above re: veterinary dreams) and absorbed pretty much the whole series when they were sent to me from the US by my auntie Fee. I didn’t find out until years afterwards that they were written by Laurie Halse Anderson, who in my later years became my YA lit hero and the author of some of my favourite books. Now I love them even more.

Dorling Kindersley Eyewitness

I’ve always been a huge nerd and I loved these non-fiction books. Probably the reason my general knowledge is as broad as it is. In particular, anything involving animals and space. Or animals IN space.

And a special bonus shout-out to…

Every single electrical appliance my parents bought in my childhood. I had a bizarre proclivity for reading instruction manuals, which meant that as a youngster my understanding of how to work the TV, VCR, kettle, washing machine and hi – fi was sounder than that of my parents. It also meant that I was remarkably easy to entertain – just stick me in the middle of the room with a file full of instruction books and I was happy for hours.

Then I’d fix the clock on the oven.

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Share your favourite childhood books with me! Or if you know the jumper book I’m talking about, y’know. For nostalgia’s sake…

Top Ten Tuesday: “Hidden gems” of YA Fiction

I’d like to dedicate this list of “hidden gems” to the people who suffer Twilightitis. You all know it, that strange condition some people suffer where they hear the phrase ‘Young Adult books’ and immediately shout “Twilight!” despite the fact that Twilight a) was published twelve years ago and b) isn’t – brace yourselves – the only book for teenagers that’s ever been written. I know! It’s not even one of the best. Let that sink in.

If you or someone you know suffers from Twilightitis, rejoice! I’ve got ten books for you to educate yourselves with. None of them feature sparkly vampires and none of them have lengthy scenes where the main character thinks she might as well just stop living as now that her boyfriend, who her entire life and purpose revolved around, has gone away. Enjoy!

(All blurbs are from Goodreads – links are included.)

Speak – Laurie Halse Anderson

Speak

“Speak up for yourself–we want to know what you have to say.” From the first moment of her freshman year at Merryweather High, Melinda knows this is a big fat lie, part of the nonsense of high school. She is friendless, outcast, because she busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops, so now nobody will talk to her, let alone listen to her. As time passes, she becomes increasingly isolated and practically stops talking altogether. Only her art class offers any solace, and it is through her work on an art project that she is finally able to face what really happened at that terrible party: she was raped by an upperclassman, a guy who still attends Merryweather and is still a threat to her. Her healing process has just begun when she has another violent encounter with him. But this time Melinda fights back, refuses to be silent, and thereby achieves a measure of vindication. In Laurie Halse Anderson’s powerful novel, an utterly believable heroine with a bitterly ironic voice delivers a blow to the hypocritical world of high school. She speaks for many a disenfranchised teenager while demonstrating the importance of speaking up for oneself.

The Princess Diaries – Meg Cabot

Princess Diaries

‘You’re not Mia Thermopolis any more, honey,’ Dad said. I raised my head. ‘I’m not?’ I said, blinking. ‘Then who am I?’ He went, kind of sadly, ‘You’re Amelia Mignonette Grimaldi Thermopolis Renaldo, Princess of Genovia.’

A PRINCESS??
ME???

Yeah, right.

One minute Mia’s totally normal. Next minute she’s heir to the throne of Genovia.

Well, her dad can lecture her until he’s royal-blue in the face, but no way is Mia going to behave like some posh princess. And they think she’s moving to Genovia? Er, hello?

The Chronicles of Pellinor – Alison Croggon

Pellinor

Maerad is a slave in a desperate and unforgiving settlement, taken there as a child after her family is destroyed in war. She is unaware that she possesses a powerful gift, one that marks her as a member of the School of Pellinor. It is only when she is discovered by Cadvan, one of the great Bards of Lirigon, that her true heritage and extraordinary destiny unfold. Now she and her new teacher must survive a journey through a time and place where the forces they battle stem from the deepest recesses of otherworldly terror.

The Impossible Knife of Memory – Laurie Halse Anderson

The Impossible Knife of Memory

For the past five years, Hayley Kincain and her father, Andy, have been on the road, never staying long in one place as he struggles to escape the demons that have tortured him since his return from Iraq. Now they are back in the town where he grew up so Hayley can attend school. Perhaps, for the first time, Hayley can have a normal life, put aside her own painful memories, even have a relationship with Finn, the hot guy who obviously likes her but is hiding secrets of his own.

Will being back home help Andy’s PTSD, or will his terrible memories drag him to the edge of hell, and drugs push him over?

What Every Girl (Except Me) Knows – Nora Raleigh Baskin

What Every Girl (Except Me) Knows

Twelve-year-old Gabby Weiss is in the market for a stepmother. If only her father would cooperate, Gabby would have someone to tell her what is and isn’ t happening to her body. For awhile her father’ s girlfriend, Cleo, forms a bond with Gabby. But when the adults break up, Gabby’ s hopes for a stepmother are shattered. Still, sharing feelings with a woman has awakened Gabby’ s curiosity about her own mother’ s mysterious death. Once and for all, Gabby is determined to discover the truth.

Radio Silence – Alice Oseman

Radio Silence

Frances has always been a study machine with one goal, elite university. Nothing will stand in her way; not friends, not a guilty secret – not even the person she is on the inside.

But when Frances meets Aled, the shy genius behind her favourite podcast, she discovers a new freedom. He unlocks the door to Real Frances and for the first time she experiences true friendship, unafraid to be herself. Then the podcast goes viral and the fragile trust between them is broken.

Caught between who she was and who she longs to be, Frances’ dreams come crashing down. Suffocating with guilt, she knows that she has to confront her past…

She has to confess why Carys disappeared…

Meanwhile at uni, Aled is alone, fighting even darker secrets.

It’s only by facing up to your fears that you can overcome them. And it’s only by being your true self that you can find happiness.

Frances is going to need every bit of courage she has.

A Quiet Kind of Thunder – Sara Barnard

A Quiet Kind of Thunder

Steffi has been a selective mute for most of her life – she’s been silent for so long that she feels completely invisible. But Rhys, the new boy at school, sees her. He’s deaf, and her knowledge of basic sign language means that she’s assigned to look after him. To Rhys, it doesn’t matter that Steffi doesn’t talk, and as they find ways to communicate, Steffi finds that she does have a voice, and that she’s falling in love with the one person who makes her feel brave enough to use it. 

The Hate U Give – Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give

Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs. The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Now what Starr says could destroy her community. It could also get her killed.

Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this is a powerful and gripping YA novel about one girl’s struggle for justice.

Guitar Girl – Sara Manning

Guitar Girl

Seventeen-year-old Molly Montgomery never planned on becoming famous. Molly’s band, The Hormones, was just supposed to be about mucking around with her best mates, Jane and Tara, and having fun. But when the deliciously dangerous Dean and his friend T join the band, things start happening fast. Soon The Hormones are front-page news, and their debut album is rocketing up the charts. Molly is the force behind the band, but the hazards of fame, first love, screaming fans, and sleazy managers are forcing the newly crowned teen queen of grrl angst close to the edge. Fame never comes for free, and Molly’s about to find out what it costs.

Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale – Holly Black

Tithe

Sixteen-year-old Kaye is a modern nomad. Fierce and independent, she travels from city to city with her mother’s rock band until an ominous attack forces Kaye back to her childhood home. There, amid the industrial, blue-collar New Jersey backdrop, Kaye soon finds herself an unwilling pawn in an ancient power struggle between two rival faerie kingdoms – a struggle that could very well mean her death.

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Now repeat after me: there’s more to YA fiction than Twilight.