My Thoughts on Carnegie Medal 2016

carnegie cover2Every year my school hosts a shadowing group for the CILIP Carnegie Medal, which is basically where we read all the books on the shortlist and discuss them over smoothie and brioche. I’ve loved it for all the years I’ve participated and this has been no exception! I actually think that the shortlist this year was the best in a while. Perhaps that’s because it catered more to my taste in YA rather than MG, but hey.

This post is a little late because One by Sarah Crossan was announced as a winner the other week, but I thought it would still be fun to tell you guys my personal opinion on all the books.

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We read about one book a week, and I managed to finish them all this time. 🙂 Here’s a lovely infographic showing how I rated them. I’ll go from least favourite upwards so that we end on a positive note!

The Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus Sedgewick I regret to say that this was definitely my least favourite. (I rather liked the author’s other book, Midwinterblood.) It was very carefully crafted and Deep. But…I just didn’t get it. Although beautifully written, the stories didn’t grip me, and I couldn’t understand the heavy-handed theme of the spiral. I DON’T KNOW WHAT IT ALL MEANT, GUYS. So it wasn’t really for me.

Fire Colour One by Jenny Valentine I was one of two people in our whole book group who didn’t enjoy this one, so perhaps I’m in the minority. It was better than I had initially anticipated — and I think it did well to try and remove itself from typical grief/uplifting story, but it just annoyed me. The prose was too purple, the characters boring cut-outs. (MANIC PIXIE DREAM BOY MUCH. Dear Librarian: Thurston is definitely not Donna Tartt’s Boris. Uh-uh. Nope.) In a different year I might have placed I higher, but as it is it stays here.

Five Children on the Western Front by Kate Saunders Again, in a less strong year this might have been higher. I thoght I’d hate this — especially since I haven’t read the original Five Children and It — but I thought it was a cute adventure story. And IT WASN’T SUPER PATRONISING. Thank God for that. Carnegie has a habit of picking patronising MG novels. *sighs*

The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness What?! you cry. You’re putting a Patrick Ness 4th? After raving about this for so long? I know, I know. I do love this book. But upon re-reading it, I realised that…I don’t know, it just isn’t my favourite Ness book. There were other excellent books this year. And I still think that this book is really important and that the whole not-Chosen one thing actually does work. But it’s just not up there for me.

There Will Be Lies by Nick Lake Weirdly, this book moved up in my estimation from when I first read it. I understood I a lot better! And I COULDN’T REMEMBER HALF THE TWISTS. So there were a lot of surprises. *coughs* The Dreaming parts really dragged the pacing, especially since the ‘real world’ bits were pretty fast action-y, but overall a strong contender.

The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge I love this book! It’s one of my favourite MG reads in ages. The combination of pseudoscience/fantasy things, gothic Victorian aesthetic and historical feminism is SO GOOD. It’s just a solid novel.

One by Sarah Crossan This was wonderful; I’ve read several books by Sarah Crossan and I still think that her strength lies in verse novels. (Is that what I call them? Poetry novels? Anyway. ) She does them so well, writing beautiful poems whilst still creating a narrative! IT IS VERY IMPRESSIVE. My main problem was that it did feel a bit clichéd and expected… I don’t know, I guess I’d just have liked a bit more of a twist.

Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley When I first saw this was on the shortlist, I thought it would be my favourite. And…well. It still is! I adored this book even more the second time I read it. History! Civil rights! Queer people in history! (And awesome chapter titles.) SO MANY THINGS TO LIKE. The ending was wrapped up a bit too neatly, but to be quite honest we need more happy queer characters in historical fiction. Lies We Tell Ourselves will probably have a personal space in my heart for a long time. 🙂

Although One was crowned the eventual winner, I’m not too upset because it was my second choice. I thought the judges would probably go for it. And Lies We Tell Ourselves actually won the popular vote in the inter-schools event I attended, so I’m super happy that other people have enjoyed it! (Also, OUR TEAM WON THE QUIZ. Mwahaha delicious maltesers as a prize.)

read any of the books on the shortlist? do you attend a shadowing or book club? which one would have been your favourite?

7 Books That Should Have Made the Carnegie Shortlist

7 books that should have been on the carnegie shortlist

I have quite mixed feelings on book awards. On one hand: author recognition! Cake and smoothie every Thursday morning! Exciting book events! On the other hand: seriously bad choices. Especially in children’s book awards, when to a young person (such as my good self) just reads the books and sees ‘This is what adults think kids like to read’. I spent 80% of my time at Carnegie Medal Shadowing ranting about the books. And a lot of that time is spent glaring at the bad books and saying that it would be a lot better if we were reading (insert book here) instead. So: THE BOOKS I WOULD ACTUALLY LIKE TO SEE ON THE SHORTLIST! As chosen from previous nominations! Because some people were really dumb when narrowing down the nominations.

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1. Out of the Easy Ruta Sepetys This is a book that I mention a lot. You might be getting a bi tired of it now but it should have at least made the longlist. I don’t read much historical fiction, but I think it’s a testament to the author how much enjoyed it. Josie is absolutely fabulous. This book manages to capture the setting whilst still having an actually interesting plot. The writing is ridiculously amazing. I DON’T UNDERSTAND. I mean, seriously, it even has the morals and stuff which seem to be pretty popular with judges but at least doesn’t deliver them in a patronising way.

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2. The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan If this wasn’t a bloody well-written book then KICK ME NOW. It had scary beautiful mystic witches and mermaids and creepy islands and betrayal and families and I’m still in love. It had so many elements of fantasy that I love. Okay, maybe it was a little slow but HAVE I MENTIONED THE WRITING?!? (This also seems like quite a good sign.

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3. Killing God by Kevin Brooks Killing God doesn’t really get any less weird than the title. It’s not an easy book. But I felt like it was a great book about being a teenager and dealing with trauma without (again) being patronising. Dark humour features. I don’t know, maybe people thought it was…too dark? At least Kevin Brooks’ The Bunker Diary got on the shortlist last time. (Though there was a lot of controversy over its win.)

the boy in the striped pyjamas
4. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne Another book that isn’t really a light read, but is still important nonetheless. It’s just so horrific to be reading and the narrator doesn’t know what’s happening but the reader knows. This seems to be a bit of a theme with my list, but maybe people thought it was too dark? I don’t think books should be censored like that. This was a great book. Not everything is fluffy and happy.

i coriander
5. I, Coriander by Sally Gardner I, Coriander reads like a dream, in the literal sense: half-nightmare, half-reality, with a good dollop of fantasy. It’s another historical fiction book that’s stayed with me… Maybe I wouldn’t like it as much now, but I loved it when I was younger and Carnegie technically is more geared towards that age group.

6. Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin Okay, maybe this is a life-after-death book, but it’s a good life after death book. It’s another strangely fantastical book about love and grief and pain. It has a beautiful format – the end at the beginning! the beginning at the end! – and really, I love the world a lot. It’s a little slow and definitely crazy but…I still liked it. It was far more interesting than a good portion of the Carnegie books I’ve read.

how i live now
7. How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff This book was painful to read. It’s in a sort-of-future with World War III and is written bluntly and without much punctuation from the point of view of a slightly bratty teenager. That kind of got on my nerves, but it was scary to see how possible it would be; that’s what makes it such a unique read.

Also! Yesterday same-sex marriage was legalised across the US (and also Mexico). This isn’t the be-all and end-all in equality, but it’s a pretty good step.

What do you think of book awards? Have you read any of the books on this year’s Carnegie shortlist? 🙂 Are there any ones you’d like to see on there?

March Favourites!

I’m pretty sure I say this every single time, but I CAN’T BELIEVE IT’S APRIL ALREADY AAH! (I’m counting down the days to ACOTAR, guys. I really am.)

march favourites

1. Twitter This was the month I got Twitter. (And also revived my Tumblr, if you’re interested.) I think it’s probably my favourite social networking site so far of the ones I’ve tried – I’m definitely going to be trying to keep up with it. (Maybe that’s not a good thing, though…?)

2. The Bone Season & The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon LONDON. CRIME. MAGIC. MORE FUN THINGS. Yeah, both of these were fun. They had their flaws, but I still devoured them – they kind of reminded me of a more British and magical Red Rising?

3. Half Wild by Sally Green One word: GABRIEL. Annalise is a boring and flat character, okay? It kind of sucked that a lot of the book was about finding her. But hopefully that’ll change. It was still a very pleasing read.

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4. The Tale of the Princess Kaguya I am a crazy Studio Ghibli fan, okay? The. Best. Princess Kaguya was no exception, with SUCH A BEAUTIFUL (but also kind of sad) STORY and CHARACTERS and FREAKING LOOK AT THE ART

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5. Spotify I love 8tracks, I really do, but sometimes it’s nice to be able to see the songs you’re playing and shuffle them and the like. (It probably helps that against all the odds, Spotify has an app for my miserably lonely phone.)

6. Princess Princess by Strangely Katie This webcomic was recommended to me by the wonderful Evie @ Where Books Never End and OH MY GOSH IT WAS ADORABLE. It’s like the cutest kick-ass princess story ever, drawn in the Hello Kitty colour palette. GO READ IT NOW OKAY.

7. More Than This by Patrick Ness I first read this around a year ago and had mixed feelings. I re-read it for Carnegie Shadowing and WOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOW OKAY. The IDEAS. The WRITING. (Third person present tense. Frikkin’ hard to pull off, I’m telling you.) Also, I felt like it was a little bit similar to my current WIP so I spent a lot of time observing how Seth basically interacted with like 5 characters throughout the entire book. Yeah, so I liked it.

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Stuff from around the internet

My most viewed posts this month were Poetry: Lady of the Lake, I’m Scared of Being a Teenager and My Hero Monday: Nimona.
I wrote a disgustingly fluffy Simon Snow fanfiction instead of planning my Camp NaNo.
Books, Tea and a Onesie turned one!
Alyssa @ The Devil Orders Takeout talked about the awesomeness of print books. (And also got a site makeover!)
I joined the team for Big Book Project. Watch out for its launch on good Friday!
#VeryRealisticYA, created by John Hansen over at Teens Can Write Too went viral. (You only need to have a quick browse of the tweets to see its genius!)

Bookish things that have happened

The Paper Towns trailer was released.
The TMI TV show rumours were debunked, and it’s been announced that it will air on ABC family.
It was World Book Day!
Half Bad by Sally Green won the Waterstone’s Children’s Book Prize.
The Carnegie Medal 2015 shortlist was released.

Phew, March has been an action-packed month! Posts might become more scarce in the next month or so, as I’m taking Camp NaNoWriMo, but never fear – I’m not abandoning you! You can still always contact me on my Camp account as Taile, or tweet me on the shiny new Twitter at @appletaile.

How was your month? Have you read any of these books? Are you a Studio Ghibli fan too? 🙂