Book Talk | My First Ever Unhaul!

I’ve never done a book unhaul before. If you could see the bookcases in my parents’ house this would be immediately obvious.

Unfortunately as we have a ton of Magic: the Gathering and gaming stuff I don’t have the option to line the walls in my own house with bookcases. Most of these books aren’t ones I hated, just ones that I feel I can bear to part with, and that will be better off in a school library rather than languishing on my spare room.

Most of them.

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The Truth and Lies of Ella Black

truth and lies

I hated this fucking book. I hate DNFing but oh boy did I come close. I know that it’s probably not aimed at my cynical 26 year old ass (and that’s the only reason I’m donating it instead of binning it) but 16 year old me would have hated it as well.

The Square Root of Summer

square root of summer

This book was…fine. It was just fine. I haven’t got room in my house for Just Fine, I’m afraid, and thus it’s off to be consumed somewhere else.

The Fandom

the fandom

This was one of the most highly anticipated books of last year, but because of this it ended up not lighting my fire at all. But I know how much fandoms can save lives and carry afloat the miserable, so this is going to reach someone at exactly the right time.

The Sun Is Also A Star

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Really enjoyed this, but if I’m going to be harsh with myself I’m probably not going to read it again. Sorry Natasha and Daniel. You live in New York though, so someone is going to love you they way you deserve.

The Art of Being Normal

art of being normal

This is absolutely not a bad book. I thoroughly enjoyed it. But as a book with some sensitive and important trans representation, I feel like it’s better off in a school library than sitting on my bookshelf.

Far From The Tree

tree

I liked this, but it ticked so many boxes that I feel like it is could tick those boxes for someone else. It’s wonderfully and sensitively written, and deserves a wider audience.

Blackbird

blackbird

This disappointed me. I think my crime-y tastes are too strong for YA. It’s not a bad book in itself though, so I’m sure someone else will enjoy it.

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Someone please tell me how to get rid of the crippling guilt that comes with taking books OUT of my house instead of the other way round.

Book Spotlight | Guitar Girl by Sarra Manning

Fame never comes for free, and Molly’s about to find out what it costs.

Guitar Girl

Guitar Girl is one of my all time favourite YA books. An underrated classic.

Molly is a seventeen year old who, along with her friends Jane and Tara wants nothing more than to be noticed for something. Anything. Even if you’re as anxiety-ridden a teen as I was, that’s relatable. So they start a band, pick up a couple of rude and aloof boys on the way, and boom. Fame, success and Molly is suddenly, and increasingly reluctantly in the shoes of her grrrl rock icon, Ruby X. I was fourteen when this book came out and I’m pretty sure I was given a copy not long after it was released. Everyone knew my aesthetic, even then.

If you like YA and you haven’t read this book, I would thoroughly recommend it. Molly is badass and vulnerable in equal measure and her narrative is spiky and relatable and warm. It’s the dream of learning three chords on the guitar and changing the world, and the nightmare of losing control of everything you stand for. Plus there are mysterious terribly-behaved boys, the dangerous side of fame and excess, and a song about Hello Kitty. Every box ticked.

On that note, if you want a cool girl band singing songs about relatable shit, may I recommend “Hey Siri, Open Tinder” by Childbirth. You’re welcome.

Book Spotlight | I Was Born For This by Alice Oseman

For Angel Rahimi, life is only about one thing: The Ark – a pop-rock trio of teenage boys who are currently taking the world by storm. Being part of The Ark’s fandom has given her everything – her friendships, her dreams, her place in the world.

Jimmy Kaga-Ricci owes everything to The Ark too. He’s their frontman – and playing in a band is all he’s ever dreamed of doing. It’s just a shame that recently everything in his life seems to have turned into a bit of a nightmare.

Because that’s the problem with dreaming – eventually, inevitably, real life arrives with a wake-up call. And when Angel and Jimmy are unexpectedly thrust together, they will discover just how strange and surprising facing up to reality can be.

iwbft

I love Alice Oseman. Radio Silence and Solitaire are both books I wish I’d had when I was in high school. Instead of trying to look at them from the perspective of the current young adult audience, these books resonate with Younger Me in a big way, and it’s both heartbreaking and pretty therapeutic.

I Was Born For This is both completely different and exactly the same.

It’s the story of how pervasive and consuming pouring your heart and soul into something can be. A band, a TV show, a book…it’s an authentic look at how how important, and how destructive these things can be when they become everything. It’s also a testament to the friends and communities that build up around things can be to someone who’s lonely or struggling. It can save lives.

So why only four stars?

This didn’t resonate with me in the same way the previous two did, which is not a fault of the book. Most of my fandom adventures were solitary, borne of loneliness in school and mental illness, and I didn’t have anywhere near the experiences of Angel and Juliet. If I’d been more heavily involved? Hell yeah, I can see another version of me in this book.

Overall, not my favourite Alice Oseman book because it didn’t hit my buttons in the specific video-game-puzzle-solving order like the previous two, but still a gr8 book. Alice Oseman is one of the very best YA authors around, and I have absolutely no doubt that pretty much everyone who’s ever used the internet will see themselves in the pages.

Rating: ****

Book Spotlight | Wing Jones by Katherine Webber

Jandy Nelson meets Friday Night Lights: a sweeping story about love and family from an exceptional new voice in YA. With a grandmother from China and another from Ghana, fifteen-year-old Wing Jones is often caught between worlds. But when tragedy strikes, Wing discovers a talent for running she never knew she had. Wing’s speed could bring her family everything it needs. It could also stop Wing getting the one thing she wants.

wing jones

Oh, Wing Jones. For months you sat on my bookshelf, a purchase from the Edinburgh Book Festival, a signed copy I fell upon the same way I did my first bowl of mashed potatoes when I had norovirus.

I can’t believe I had solid gold sitting in my living room since last summer.

I don’t throw the word “perfect” around a lot, but as someone who’s an aspiring YA author, when I eventually manage to string enough words together to constitute a book, god I hope it’s even half as good as Wing Jones. It’s perfect. It’s got everything: romance, drama, an overcoming the odds story, loveable characters from all walks of life. Wing has to overcome adversity on a phenomenal scale, whether it’s the tragedy that strikes her family or her own personal tribulations, and she does it in such a very human very that turns into something else entirely. You feel Wing’s exhilaration in every single line on every page.

It’s a story about finding who you are and what you love and how it can free you, and I wish I’d had it when I was in school. This should find its way into the hands of every young person.

Plus Wing’s grandparents are my favourite and I would windmill slam money down for a book where they go on adventures with each other.

Rating: *****

Book Review | The Fandom by Anna Day

Cosplay ready, Violet and her friends are at Comic-Con.

They can’t wait to meet the fandom of mega movie, The Gallows Dance. What they’re not expecting is to be catapulted by freak accident into their favourite world – for real. Fuelled by love, guilt and fear, can the friends put the plot back on track and get out? The fate of the story is in their hands …

A fast-paced, genre-flipping YA fantasy adventure from a brand new author, writing in homage to the best YA fiction.

the fandom

As a solid fandom-goer from my very early teens, I knew I was going to read The Fandom before I’d even read the synopsis. Such was my excitement that I dispatched my mother to Blackwell’s in Edinburgh to pick it up for me. Thanks Ma.

The Fandom is a book I’d loved to have written for a hundred different things, a story set inside a world that’s been lived in through fanfiction and YouTube videos and hyperactive conversations. It’s a hot plot twist in what has the potential to be a dystopian story all on its own, with characters you’re never sure you can trust and a really grubby, grimy setting.

I loved the fact that even in the middle of peril Violet et al were still fangirling at recognising moments from canon, and discovering new things in the fabric of their favourite story, which is 100% what I’d be doing in her situation. In fact, I spent a lot of the time while I was reading it thinking about how well I’d do if I was sucked into the world of some of my fandoms, and the answer was almost universally “be picked off in about five minutes”. Still, I can dream.

Overall, 4/5 stars – I’m going to stop reading hype for books because it taints the way I read them, and nine times out of ten I end up being disappointed. But I really liked The Fandom, and I loved the idea of fandom becoming reality and vice versa, and my heart was left bereft. I won’t spoil it by saying why – if you want to weep with me, find me on Twitter and let’s hook up.

Oh, and Katie’s insults. Speaking right to my soul, girl.

Rating: ****

Book Review | The Gilded Cage by Vic James

In modern-day Britain, magic users control everything: wealth, politics, power – and you. If you’re not one of the ultimate one-percenters – the magical elite – you owe them ten years of service.

Do those years when you’re old, and you’ll never get through them.

Do them young, and you’ll never get over them.

This is the darkly decadent world of Gilded Cage. In its glittering milieu move the all-powerful Jardines and the everyday Hadleys. The families have only one thing in common: Each has three children. But their destinies entwine when one family enters the service of the other. They will all discover whether any magic is more powerful than the human spirit.

Have a quick ten years. . . .

gilded cage

Free books are my jam (thanks to Sarah from Sarah Withers Blogs for the heads up that this was the iBooks free book of the week) but I don’t expect very much. Which means I’m pleasantly surprised when I become actively invested in them.

The Gilded Cage reminded me in a lot of ways of the Doctor Who episode Turn Left – a dark, alternate parallel of our own world. For most of the characters I either wanted to put them in my pocket to keep them safe or push them off a cliff, but in a chunky number of cases I’m not sure which. There’s magic and rebellion and some REALLY dark politics – for real,  some of the reviews I’ve seen cite the political aspects of the book as a reason they DNF’d it, but take it from someone who will windmill slam a book closed if it gets political and turgid: it’s not anywhere near that bad. Vic James makes it enough to be interesting without it being a slog.

Solid 4/5 stars, with the missing star purely because at some points I didn’t quite jam with the style of writing and the romantic subplot did absolutely nothing for me – but that’s not really the fault of the book, and I’ll definitely be continuing the series.

Rating: ****

Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Have Been On My TBR the Longest and I Still Haven’t Read

I feel like I’ve mentioned most of these before, which gives you some idea of how miserably extensive my TBR list is. Maybe I’ll get so sick of myself that I’ll do something about it. Advance!

Wing Jones – Katherine Webb

wing jones

The fact that I’m putting this on a TBR list AGAIN brings me skin-crawling shame. I’ve had this since the Edinburgh Book Festival last year and its sprayed edges keep looking at me from the cabinet in the living room. Once I’ve read The Fandom, Wing Jones. I promise.

Six of Crows – Leigh Bardugo

six of crows

Bought Six of Crows before going to Florida last year, got about five pages in on the red eye flight home and fell asleep after a gin and a dose of Kalms. I will read it again without any of these factors in the mix and hopefully stay conscious.

The Sun is Also a Star – Nicola Yoon

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This is one of my two longest-standing TBR books. I picked this up with Orangeboy and The Hate U Give, read THUG and then never quite got round to starting the other two. Oops.

Orangeboy – Patrice Lawrence

orangeboy

See above.

Les Miserables – Victor Hugo AND The Complete Fiction of HP Lovecraft

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Look at the cover of that Lovecraft anthology. Every time I pick it up to read it I end up staring at it instead.

Sean bought me that glorious hardback edition of Les Mis for a birthday present after he saw me eyeing it up. This means it looks really pretty in the bookcase, where it’s been sitting ever since. Multiple people have told me it’s even more of an experience than the musical, so I really have no excuse.

Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

wuthering heights

I always felt like a horrible English student because I couldn’t stand the “classics”. I found them chronically dry, far too wordy and very difficult to read. In my old age (ha) I’m finding that I too am chronically dry, far too wordy and very difficult to read, and therefore I’m more inclined to give them another go.

Doctor Sax – Jack Kerouac

doctor sax

I don’t even remember buying this, but I loved On The Road (see last week’s TTT) so I’m assuming that was my motivation. Kerouac is one of my favourite writers, so I know this is going to be good…I just wish I didn’t keep forgetting I actually own it.

Tender Is The Night – F. Scott Fitzgerald

tender is the night

Similarly, I’m fairly sure I bought this because I loved The Great Gatsby, but have not read.

I must stop doing this.

 

Am I Normal Yet? – Holly Bourne

am i normal yet

I’ve never read any Holly Bourne books. Grab your pitchforks. Then chase me into a shop and force me to buy it without being distracted by notebooks and shiny covers. Thanks!

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Is there a support group for people like me? Cause I think I need one.

Throwback Top Ten Tuesday: Books I’d Take to a Desert Island

Surprise! I’ve decided that when I’m struggling with a Top Ten Tuesday topic instead of dropping something mediocre (my greatest fear) I’ll go back into the Broke and the Bookish archive and pick a previous topic instead. Won’t find me slacking, no sir.

Since the very first prompt was “Childhood Favourites” and I’m pretty sure I talked about mine not long ago, I’m going for the top ten “Books I’d Take to a Desert Island”. Commence!

On The Road – Jack Kerouac

on the road

If the words in On The Road were a drink, they’d be a good gin, just the right amount of tonic, bit of lime, ice and a sprig of mint. And I’d put my entire face into it forever.

The Singing – Alison Croggon

The Singing

Hello. If we haven’t already met, I’m the one that bangs the Pellinor drum at every opportunity I get.

The Singing is the final book in the series, but it’s my favourite. I finished The Crow on a train and spent some time furiously tagging onto crap WiFi to download The Singing with the last of my student loan money because I couldn’t bear the idea of having to WAIT and go to a BOOKSHOP before I could read it. It was a good decision.

I think I might need a Pellinor anthology just in case.

Radio Silence – Alice Oseman

Radio Silence

Radio Silence is the book I wish I’d had in school, when I was struggling with who I was and who I wanted to be. Plus I want to pick Aled up and put him in my pocket.

Speak – Laurie Halse Anderson

Speak

Laurie Halse Anderson was my introduction to YA, when I was a kid and I read the Wild at Heart series. One of my favourite series when I was younger, and I made A Loud Noise when I realised later – after I’d read Speak – that LHA was the author.

If you haven’t yet read Speak, please read Speak. USYA gets an unfairly bad rap as being Not Realistic and Not Relatable, but Melinda is a character that will get under EVERYONE’S skin regardless of whether you can relate to her trauma or not.

The Outsiders – S.E. Hinton

The Outsiders

The Outsiders is one of my favourite books of all time. Grubby, gritty, written by a teenage girl, I read the whole thing on the plane back from Florida last year. Essential reading for anyone with even the slightest interest in YA as a genre. Stay gold.

The Hobbit – J.R.R. Tolkien

the hobbit

I’ve had the full LOTR set of books for like, EVER, and I’ve never managed to get stuck into them (high fantasy generally tends to not be my thing) so being trapped on a desert island with a finite amount of reading material seems like decent encouragement.

Insomnia – Stephen King

insomnia

The Shining is one of two books that has ever actually terrified me (the other is by Joe Hill, King’s son, so go figure) but I love Insomnia. I’m due a reread as I’ve only tackled it once, but it was lingering sinister…ness rather than outright freaky freaky, and it’s long so it’ll be good for afternoons if there’s sharks or something and I can’t go swimming.

The Disaster Artist

the disaster artist

The Room is the pinnacle of cinema. Nothing will ever compare. Second only to the viewing experience is the book about the making of the film by actor Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell.

Never has a book had me in full on tears of mirth like The Disaster Artist. Definitely watch the film first, but if you enjoy trying not to howl on public transport then this is the book for you.

I keep forgetting that there’s a pretty well rated film adaptation and I didn’t catch it at the cinema, so that’s on my list. Oh hi Mark!

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

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As if I’d ever not take a Harry Potter book. If I’m only going to take one, it’s going to be my signed first edition for pure nostalgia. Might be difficult to keep it in good condition on a desert island, though.

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What would you take to a desert island? Why are we on a desert island? Does anyone know how to build a boat? Let me know!

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!

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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