Spring/Summer Releases on my TBR

Hi everyone! I feel like I haven’t done a bookish post in a while, so here I am. I’m talking about the YA releases of this spring and summer which I’m getting really excited for. This is by no means an exhaustive list, and I’m sure there’s more wonderful books that I’ve left off — these are the ones that came to my mind.

City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab

Okay, I only just realised this was being released in summer, and it sounds excellent. Please give me the haunted Edinburgh ASAP.

Run, Riot by Nikesh Shukla

There’s some great UKYA being released in the next few months! I’m very excited for Run Riot, a crime thriller which looks at gentrification and police brutality.

Floored by various authors

And a second great UKYA! Floored is a collaborative novel by some of my favourite authors like Non Pratt and Tanya Byrne. It’s such a cool concept, right?? I read a sampler of it last summer and it really got me hooked.

Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli

This is another book by an author I love; I’m so excited to see more of the characters we say in Simon Vs, and also YAY a bi girl MC!

Clean by Juno Dawson

Okay, I know this is technically already out, but shhh. It wasn’t out when I first drafted this post. I might have to prepare myself mentally before I read this but I’m also very interested in this since I’ve enjoyed several of Juno Dawson’s other books.

 

The Brightsiders by Jen Wilde

I loved Jen Wilde’s Queens of Geek! And this book also looks SUPER BISEXUAL! Yay! From my look at the reviews, it also seems like it has a genderqueer character? I can’t wait to see. And it’s about a band, which brings me onto my next book…

I Was Born For This by Alice Oseman

You all know that I am actually obsessed with the work of Alice Oseman and I simply cannot shut up about her books. This is a about band fandom, the internet, and the danger of fame. It has two MCs who I am already in love with — Angel, a hijabi Muslim girl, and Jimmy, the lead singer of her favourite band The Ark. I crave trans characters so badly, I can’t wait to meet Jimmy! (Also, side note, but I can’t think of any other UKYA with trans characters of colour. Are there any???)

From Twinkle, With Love by Sandhya Menon

I loved Menon’s first book so I can’t wait to try this one. It’s about an aspiring filmmaker, and also from the blurb I think it has some internet romance? Anyways, I am READY.

 

Theatrical by Maggie Harcourt

I am SO READY in my SOUL for Theatrical. When I read the author’s other book about conventions, I said that someone should write a book about theatre tech, and NOW IT’S HERE. Or it will be.

Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers

I admit, I haven’t actually yet read the second book in the Wayaferers series… But I’m super excited for this nonetheless, because I adored the first one. I love good good queer space books.

Oh dear, I am rather tired today, but reminding myself of all the wonderful books out there cheered me up.

what releases are you excited for? did I miss any crucial ones out? what are you reading right now?

A Recap of the Excellent YA Shot 2016

ya shot RECAP.jpg

This post is ridiculously late, but NEVER MIND. The weekend before last I was lucky enough to attend YA Shot, an all-day literary festival celebrating young adult books and authors in Uxbridge! I admit that it took me a little while to get there, but I made good progress into The Archived by Victoria Schwab. (I mean, OBVIOUSLY I had to read a book on my way to an event in which I listened to people talk about books all day… What could be better? :P)

I had missed my first train so I arrived about 15 minuted late which was annoying, but thankfully I was allowed to pop into the co-writing panel. 🙂 I hadn’t read books by any of the authors but it was really interesting to hear about their writing and there were some very amusing questions right at the end! (Like which celebrity do people mistake you for, among others.)

There were SOOO many things that I wanted to go to at the noon slot but I decided to head off to a workshop by @helloiammariam on blogging, publishing and feminism. (And there were also some other really cool bloggery/bookish people there. I was such a smol person.) We chatted about stuff like reasons for blogging, and how that’s evolved, and the blogging community, and on creating a space for yourself online — like, it’s okay to share different levels of things. Also, there was TURKISH DELIGHT.image

Although I had missed Alice Oseman’s event which I was disappointed about, I still wanted to get my book signed! So I brought along a copy of Radio Silence and a postcard of Frances and Aled from Alice’s Redbubble shop. (I’d got Solitaire signed at YALC haha.)

I sort of hung around and ate lunch after this until the Melinda Salisbury and Julia Gray event in Waterstones! Now, I’d actually never heard of Julia Gray before but there was a lot of talk about darkness and the nature of evil. And her book has NORSE GODS. HOW AWESOME. Plus lots of darkness… It sounded absolutely awesome and I’ve now firmly added it to my TBR. And you can too! It’s called The Otherlife.

Melinda Salisbury was also wonderful and basically there was lots of talk about evil, religion and their roles in both authors’ books. Melinda talked about how freeing it was for her to write such an evil character, which got some laughs but is also something I deeply relate to. (I mean, like, this is in smol Eve forum era. But I just created utterly AWFUL characters who manipulated all the fierce red-haired green-eyed girls, ha. Good times.)

After this I hurried off the the Terms of Endearment panel about navigating feminism and romance. (With Holly Bourne, Harriet Reuter Hapgood, Holly Smale and Rachel McIntyre.) This was one of the highlights of my day — they talked about examples of problematic vs healthy relationships and how we can write healthy relationships. Wise advice is imagine the person is Wormtail and then see if their actions are creepy. Because sometimes physical attractiveness makes us excuse problematic behaviour.image

My next panel was called Little Women and it was about fantasy and gender with Samantha Shannon, Alwyn Hamilton and Zoe Marriott! I adore Zoe Marriott’s books but I never see many people talking about them, which is very sad. Anyways, this was ALSO a fabulous panel! Yes to more complex female relationships, especially friendships and to awesome retellings where the girls can drive the story themselves. Yet more books added to my TBR, mwahaha. 😉

Finally I attended the Resurgence of YA Sci-Fi panel with SF Said and Kat Ellis, chaired by Lauren James. I read Lauren’s book The Nest Together just the other week and it was SO GOOD GUYS. Time travel and humour and reincarnation and cute romance! It was just so enjoyable. I was excited for this panel because my WIP is technically sci-fi (that I’m supposed to be writing for NaNoWiMo, oops) and I think it definitely did inspire me. Sci-fi doesn’t have to be a ‘classic’ sci-fi book; it can blend genres. And sometimes real technology is even crazier than fiction…

I got my last books signed and then I hopped back off home on the Tube! Overall I had SUCH an amazing day and I would really recommend it to any book lovers who are able to go.

Good Grades = Job = Money = Happiness?

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I recently read Alice Oseman’s Radio Silence. I thought it was a fabulous novel — I loved the characters and the plot and I could talk a lot more about those — but the message of education particularly caught me/

Frances, the protagonist, has only one goal: studying English at Cambridge university. It’s all she’s ever wanted. And…her story really struck a chord with me. I’m quite an academic person, and I tend to be good at exams. But I don’t feel — like I’ve worked that hard for that, you know? Obviously I do revise. Yet I it isn’t like like I’ve poured my soul into it. I hate that my academic success can be the only thing that defines me. I’m the smart, quiet girl.

Of course I’m incredibly grateful that by some miracle I slightly understand exams. (I feel extremely arrogant for saying that. I REALLY DON’T MEAN IT TO SOUND THAT WAY.) So much of our life depends on them, yet I don’t feel particularly pleased with the school system; even as it’s benefitting me. I don’t like that my entire life is focused and depends on a few hours in an exam hall. I’ll be the first to stress that being good at exams is not the same as being intelligent. People tell me that “It’s easy for me to say,” since I’m the one getting good grades. But I don’t feel intelligent because I made up some waffle English analysis. I really dislike seeing that genuinely clever people are upset by feeling worthless just because they didn’t get a good mark in an exam. It seems incredibly upsetting and anxiety-provoking.

A lot of people think I love English. It’s true that I do love words. That does not mean I  want to study English at A-Level or university. I don’t enjoy analysing books. I like writing, but I feel like it’s something you can hone alone. As far as I can see creativity is sucked more and more out of the school English curriculum as you progress. I don’t want to spoil Radio Silence for you, but I really appreciated the message that uni isn’t for everyone. It’s okay to want to do other stuff. You don’t have to take the one that will look best to other people.

I would like my entire school life to not be focused around getting a job. Of course that’s super important to support yourself as an adult, but I’m not living just to earn money and survive. I’m not learning just to earn money. If I enjoy a subject, odds are it’s because I’m interested. I just want to learn it! I want to make new discoveries and find elegant methods and analysis or ANYTHING. Doing everything for a job is like…doing everything for money. They’re very closely linked. Having a job and money does not equal happiness.

We all like books about adventures, or with wonderful character relationships. Characters who just sit there and work hard are deemed boring goody two-shoes, even if we’re told studying is a good thing. And I know life isn’t a book. I wish people would remember that life isn’t spending all your time in a textbook, either.

It’s amazing that I’ve had the oppurtunities I do — I mean, I go to a good school (and I can go to school). I know I’m addressing all the problems with no solutions, but still: I feel like there should be some better way to do thing. With less of a focus on academia and exams, or something. School can be so stress-inducing. (It’s probably the number one source of anxiety for me, at least.) I wish that we weren’t told that we have to do everything in order to go to uni and get a good job and earn money. Our lives are not defined by a letter on a piece of paper.*

*OR MAYBE A NUMBER. If they change the grade system like they’re planning to, because everyone needs confusing more.  Ahem.

what do you think about school? do you find exams stressful? have you read radio silence? (YOU ALL TOTALLY SHOULD; it’s fabulous.)

Should We Judge Books By Their Authors?

solitaire books by their authors

I am 100% guilty of buying books because of their pretty covers. I know that the author has no part in the design, and that a good cover doesn’t always equal a good book, but all the same… I WANT PRETTY BOOKS ON MY SHELVES.

I’ve started thinking that I’m also quite guilty of judging books by their authors. It’s not quite the same, because, y’know this time the author actually is responsible for changing my opinion, but I’m still not just basing my opinion off a book. If it’s by an author I already think is cool, I’m waaay more likely to enjoy the book. Maybe we should all cover our books in brown paper so we can’t judge them before reading…

My opinion of a book can change so much once I look more into the author. When I read Solitaire by Alice Oseman at the beginning of this year, I didn’t enjoy it that much… It was okay. I think I dove into it a feeling bit jealous because A BOOK PUBLISHED AT 19?!?! (The same goes for The Catalyst by Helena Coggan. I spent a lot of time wondering how on earth she managed to write a cohesive novel at the age I am now.) Now, though, I will tell you that I ABSOLUTELY ADORE SOLITAIRE AND ALICE AND I WILL READ EVERYTHING SHE WRITES. Diverse characters and Welcome to Night Vale and amazing art, what a cool author?!? (And also she is cute as heck.) I’m super excited for Radio Silence.

Social media has really connected me. I’ve seen how badass Maggie Stiefvater is. I’ve even found new authors and actually gone out to read their books! Being in the book community has led to me attending so many book events, and I seriously just respect Patrick Ness even more than I did before. I enjoy seeing that writers are actually HUMAN BEINGS and not unicorns with mystical powers. (Because how else would you create worlds, right?!)

I think I enjoy many author’s work more because of their online presence; Alice Oseman is only the start. For instance: is it not awesome that Rainbow Rowell loves Sherlock too, and that you can literally go and read her favourite fanfiction? And Malinda Lo does so much work for diversity in literature beyond writing awesome books. And Samantha Shannon answers all the crazy asks on tumblr about the world of The Bone Season.

Maybe I should be judging books on just their content. But I think if all the books I read were just stories covered in blank paper… I wouldn’t enjoy them as much! I love getting excited about books and authors and seeing behind their writing process. It’s really cool. It isn’t even always a conscious thing; sometimes I can enjoy one trope in a book by my favourite author and utterly dismiss it in another, without realising. I’m a terrible reviewer because I’m so biased. 😛

Despite all the lovely benefits of authors on social media, I don’t think it should be used to excuse you from faults in yours book. I love Harry Potter, but it really annoys me that JK Rowling announces diverse characters all over her twitter that she didn’t include in the books. I’d be cool with it if she admitted her mistake, but as far as I know…she hasn’t. I respect her, but even if you’ve written the most popular modern series of all time it’s not okay. (But as this excellent tumblr text post will tell you, Harry’s complete inability to notice literally anything allows for a lot of fandom headcanons.) Yep, it works the other way, too: I know that many people who experienced all the Cassandra Clare Harry Potter fanfiction drama don’t like to read her books out of principle. I wasn’t there; I don’t feel I can make a judgement on it, but I like to keep that knowledge in the back of my mind.

I like that I can make emotional connections with authors. Sometimes I find that I love the text far more than the person behind it, sometimes it’s the other way round — it’s still a lovely relationship to have.

Which authors do you look up to? What do you think of authors on social media? Have you read any books with beautiful covers but disappointing contents?

December Favourites! Bookish Bingo!

december favourites

Yup, it’s that time again! This month I’ve got a bumper crop. My cat pillow somehow snuck in the picture there too.

1. Red Rising by Pierce Brown Post-book high? Nah, I don’t think so. Okay, maybe. But I bought this from Waterstones a few days ago (hence the half price sticker) and OH MY GOSH IT WAS AWESOME.

Drooling gif

It fixed almost everything wrong with The Maze Runner: bad writing style, bad romance (*cue music*), bad world-building. Darrow was kind of a Gary Stu, but I’m a sucker for the underdogs who have to keep their secret. (Think Throne of Glass, Curse Workers, Merlin.) (Gosh, I’ve used so many brackets already and we’ve only got to one out of nine.)

2. After Eights I love these things. You know, the mint thins? Yeah, those. I don’t understand people who don’t like mint chocolate.

3. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell Am I ever going to get over this book? Probably not. At least, not in the near future. But it’s CARRY ON SIMON GUYS IT’S COMING! (I discovered this in the dressing room at the Royal Albert Hall. Torture ensued.) I’m re-reading it in celebration of the news and to fuel my secret Simon Snow fanfiction

4. Totoro plushie As given to me be a friend, because they sold these at our school fair. (!!) I love my little Totoro so much ❤

5. Belphegor’s Prime If you missed my flailing over this beautiful number then I’ll tell you again: THAT IS ONE AWESOME BIT OF MATHS.

6. Whisper of the Heart I have a long-standing love affair with Studio Ghibli movies, and this one is no exception. It’s basically the story of my life – introverted reader with no fashion sense secretly writes a book – except that I’m not in love, obviously. But I like the romance, all the same. It’s not because Shizuku is pretty; she has the same conventional hairstyle and clothes as half the other girls in her class. It’s because of who she is. And it includes the Baron, inspiration for the later film The Cat Returns and all-round badass statue.

7. Winter Town by Stephen Emond This is one cute ball of fluff, I’m telling you, though it has some serious elements too. Again, I could really relate to the main character – STORY OF MY LIFE – and the comics were an awesome touch.

8. The Spirited Away soundtrack I don’t know how I managed to fall in love with a soundtrack, but I did. This is the time when I wish I’d kept at the piano, because I’m finding Chihiro’s Waltz atrociously hard to play. My favourite track of all is probably The Dragon Boy, because Haku. And brass. I just really like brass in music, okay? Says she who plays a wind instrument

9. Solitaire by Alice Oseman I wasn’t sure if I’d enjoy this, but I did. For some reason, I thought Michael Holden was going to be the pretentious idiot who introduced Tori to Solitaire, but he wasn’t. He was awesome. My main qualm was that it was over too quick. 😦 I think need to read more slowly. (Plus, go teen writers!)

Bookish Bingo December

I’ve also got Holiday Bookish Bingo to round up, it seems! It’s hosted by Great Imaginations, and the next round is available for sign-ups if you’re interested. (I already have.) You may notice that my green ticks are rather few and far-between this time compared to the other months, and that#’s because…well…I kind of forgot about it. Oops.

awkward laugh

But the books I read that managed to fit the terms this month were:

Creature on cover: Sisters Red by Jackson Pierce. The cover was beautiful, but the book was a bit eh.
Set on Halloween: Unrest by Michelle Harrison
Mystery: Cuckoo Song by Francis Hardinge. Is this mystery? I don’t know. A lot of books have mystery in them. Maybe Messenger of Fear by Michael Grant would have been a better choice, but it was a worse book so #WHATEVER I’M A REBEL

And that, my friends, concludes my little December round-up. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have The Bane Chronicles to begin reading…