Monday, 17 July 2017

Last Week's Shenanigans (10th July - 16th July)...

It's been a long, boring week for me for the most part. But the most frustrating thing about it has been the big wait for the new season of Game Of Thrones. Mat and I rewatched every prior season leading up to it so that we could remember everything that had happened beforehand. It was especially satisfying watching Seasons 5 & 6 because we'd only watched them once, when they came out! I've also really started watching Grimm now, I'm a few episodes in and enjoying it immensely. Definitely filling the Once Upon A Time shaped hole in my heart, at least temporarily. I've also been watching the anime Elfen Lied which I've liked a lot. I watched it once before when I was very young, and thought it was great!

On Monday, Mat and I dropped my engagement ring in to have it resized and polished, which they did very quickly and it fits a lot better now! I'm still marvelling at it's beauty, I love it so much! We also went to Stratford and got a few well needed bits and bobs, as well as spending a much needed day out together! Work filled up the rest of my week except on Sunday, when Tash and George came over to watch some TV with us and generally hang out. A well needed afternoon after a boring management meeting in the morning.

I Read...

I Received...

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Book Review: Through The Woods; Emily Carroll.

On to book two that I got through today, a short graphic novel that has been on my TBR for so long but I've only just acquired thanks to a close friend of mine who only just bought it for me! I'm a big fan of anything macabre, gothic, and horrifying that plays upon Fairy Tales so this was the perfect book for me really!

SOURCE: Present
TYPE: Paperback

TITLE: Through The Woods
AUTHOR: Emily Carroll
PUBLISHER: Faber & Faber
PAGES: 208
GENRE: Graphic Novel, Horror, Short Stories, Young Adult

RATING: 4/5 Stars

'It came from the woods. Most strange things do.'

Five mysterious, spine-tingling stories follow journeys into (and out of) the eerie abyss.

These chilling tales spring from the macabre imagination of acclaimed and award-winning comic creator Emily Carroll.

Come take a walk in the woods and see what awaits you there...

What I Liked:
  • So let's start with the best part of the book - the art! Emily Carroll is seriously talented and the way that she designed each panel really made each story come alive. It felt unique, like something I'd never seen before, and I'm definitely a big fan of hers after reading this book. Art is something I love to appreciate just as much as I love reading a good story. I loved the dark, creepy undertones of her artwork. It was very gothic, a little macabre and certainly horrifying at points. Great stuff!
  • I loved the way that Carroll put so much imagination into the stories. Each one contained recognisable tropes from the horror genre, but they all felt fresh and new as well. There was a distinct 'Fairy Tale' theme which you'll all know that I enjoyed. Carroll took some distinctively memorable stories and gave them a fresh feel, which I liked a lot. This was particularly prevalent in 'A Lady's Hands Are Cold', which had a very Bluebeard-esque vibe to it.
What I Disliked:
  • The stories aren't very long. That in itself is not a problem if they're well structured, but with a couple of the stories I felt that they started well and built up nicely, but were a bit anticlimactic with very vague endings. Obviously the idea is that readers are supposed to draw their own conclusions, but for stories such as 'His Face All Red' and 'My Friend Janna' even that was a little difficult. I wish I'd had a little more direction as to the conclusion of such masterfully paced stories.
Overall Conclusion:
These stories were gorgeous. Beautifully drawn, and crafted well to fit the genre. They might not frighten you to death, but they are definitely unsettling and will give you chills. I liked the themes, the fresh take on classic tales, the way the author presented it all, everything! The only thing that let this light read down (though not for the faint-hearted) was the ambiguous endings that went beyond being 'left to the imagination' and left me totally clueless a couple of times. I like an ending in horror, and I don't like it to be vague.

Book Review: Goodnight Stories For Rebel Girls; Elena Favilli & Francesca Cavallo.

So, being my day off and realising I'm falling a little behind with my reading challenge, I decided to pick up a couple of reads that I recently acquired which I knew would be quick reads. This was my first. There really should be more books like this in the world. Books that promote the idea that women are just as powerful as men. That they can achieve.

SOURCE: Bought
TYPE: Hardcover

TITLE: Goodnight Stories For Rebel Girls
AUTHOR: Elena Favilli & Francesca Cavallo
PUBLISHER: Particular Books
PAGES: 212
GENRE: Children's Fiction, Non Fiction, Short Stories

RATING: 4/5 Stars

What if the princess didn't marry Prince Charming but instead went on to be an astronaut? What if the jealous step sisters were supportive and kind? And what if the queen was the one really in charge of the kingdom? Illustrated by sixty female artists from every corner of the globe, Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls introduces us to one hundred remarkable women and their extraordinary lives, from Ada Lovelace to Malala, Elizabeth I to Serena Williams. 

Empowering, moving and inspirational, these are true fairy tales for heroines who definitely don't need rescuing.

What I Liked:
  • There are one hundred different female role models in this book, and while I loved seeing the obvious ones (Elizabeth I, the Bronte Sisters, Cleopatra etc.) but loved reading about women I'd never heard of before too (favourite stories included Brenda Chapman, Grace O'Malley, Michaela Deprince and Almna Al Haddad among many others). Their were some truly inspiring tales, and they are all about real life events so this is the perfect, empowering book for young or older children to read in order to learn more about the past contributions of women!
  • I loved the diverse coverage found in this book. First of all, the women were not all white! They came from so many different places around the globe - all continents! It was such a relief because it's hard enough to find books about inspiring women generally, let alone if they aren't from a Western civilisation! While there could have been a few more LGBT+ stories, they were included in this book and I especially liked reading about Kat Coy. The achievements were diverse too - from conquering countries, to curing diseases, to even fighting for the right to drive. Awesome stories!
  • The art! Obviously! It was probably the most awesome part of the book! I love the story of how this book actually came together, and that it was so well funded via Kickstarter. The pictures that are drawn for each woman are the most interesting, and the credits to each Artist at the end of the book are so important! 
What I Disliked:
  • The stories were a little on the short side, each filling up only a page. Of course they are aimed at children, but while they normally started well, the endings were a little vague and lacklustre in a lot of cases. Many details had to be left out of course, but I felt like the ending hadn't been properly covered in a lot of cases. Also, the quotes for each lady were mixed. Some were great, others were vague and a bit boring.
  • Some of the choices were a little interesting...I'm thinking particularly of Margaret Thatcher of course. I liked how they handled it - they never commended her actions, only her iron will and steely determination, which is something to be commended. However, you chose her over other great figures such as Joan of Arc? I find that unbelievable! This really is such a little thing, but it did bug me a little bit...
Overall Conclusion:
This book is designed for children and frankly, it's one that we need! Great examples of real-life women who have not listened to men telling them they can't do things, and gone ahead and done them anyway. They are told in a Fairy Tale style which I also liked because not all Fairy Tales should be Princesses waiting for Princes to rescue them. I liked the diversity and the large spectrum of women in terms of fame and what they fought for. I wish the stories had been longer of course, and some obvious examples were not included which was a shame. Overall however, this is a book that is good for children to read, boy or girl, because it teaches a valuable lesson!

Monday, 10 July 2017

Last Week's Shenanigans (3rd July - 9th July)...

On the surface, this didn't feel like a particularly busy week but actually, upon reflection, we did a lot more than I originally remembered. On Monday Mat and I returned home from visiting family, and after unpacking and doing a little bit of cleaning, we headed over to visit our friend's new flat! It's so bizarre when you realise how quickly time flies, as it was only a little less than a year ago since we moved into ours, and yet here we are! It was a gorgeous flat with great views, and it made me look forward to a time when Mat and I will have our own place even more!

Later on in the week, Mat and I headed back down to Kent but this time in the name of charity! Mat's family are very closely associated with the charity We Are Beams which raises money to help families with disabled children all around Kent. They organised a 5k Colour Run to raise money, and Mat and I (along with our friend George) decided to take part and run in order to raise some money. I was a little worried as I had pulled a muscle in my foot that was really bothering me at work all week, so we ended up walking most of it, but it was great fun and I'd do it again in a heartbeat!

When we arrived back in London, Mat's friend from America was visiting England for a few days so dropped by for Chinese food and some fun! It rounded off what was already a super fun week!

I Read...

I Received...

- 'The Ones That Disappeared' by Zana Fraillon: Approved by Netgalley (04/07/17)
- 'False Hearts' by Laura Lam: Bought on Amazon (04/07/17)
- 'Solitaire' by Alice Oseman: Bought on Amazon (08/07/17)
- 'Good Night Stories For Rebel Girls' by Elena Favilli & Francesca Cavallo: Bought On Amazon (09/07/17)

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Book Review: The Sleeping Prince; Melinda Salisbury.

I've been dreading reading this book a bit, I must admit, because I spent a long time feeling so let down by book one! The gorgeous cover and huge hype gave me such hope, and it fell short of most of my expectations. That being said, it wasn't the worst book I'd ever read, and I was intrigued enough by the world-building that I wanted to continue with the series, because it had potential. This book did impress me more than book one, it's true, but there were a few issues with it still.

SOURCE: Bought
TYPE: E-Read

TITLE: The Sleeping Prince
AUTHOR: Melinda Salisbury
SERIES: The Sin Eater's Daughter (#2)
PUBLISHER: Scholastic Fiction
PAGES: 336
GENRE: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance

RATING: 3.5/5 Stars

Ever since her brother Lief disappeared, Errin's life has gone from bad to worse. Not only must she care for her sick mother, she has to scrape together rent money by selling illegal herbal cures. But none of that compares to the threat of the vengeful Sleeping Prince whom the Queen just awoke from his enchanted sleep.

When her village is evacuated as part of the war against the Sleeping Prince, Errin is left desperate and homeless. The only person she can turn to is the mysterious Silas, a young man who buys deadly poisons from Errin, but won't reveal why he needs them. 

Silas promises to help her, but when he vanishes, Errin must journey across a kingdom on the brink of war to seek another way to save her mother and herself. But what she finds shatters everything she believed about her world, and with the Sleeping Prince drawing nearer, Errin must make a heartbreaking choice that could affect the whole kingdom.

What I Liked:
  • Errin is a MUCH better MC than Twylla ever was for a whole host of reasons. All Twylla ever did in book one was mope and sing and wander the palace like a lost puppy, whining about her horrible life. Errin actually does something about it! She was feisty and stubborn, vulnerable but kickass and I loved her so much! I never once felt bored reading from her viewpoint and though there wasn't as much questing as I'd hoped, at least she actually left the village in her book!
  • Let's talk about the romantic side of things, another aspect of book one that I didn't like. I really didn't enjoy reading Twylla and Lief together because I though she was a bit of a wet blanket and I hated Lief. Such an arrogant, horrible guy, whose ultimate betrayal was just awful and I don't understand why people are hoping Twylla will forgive him. Silas, Errin's love interest, was a total sweetheart and I adored him. Much more like the book boyfriends I'm used to adoring and I liked way their relationship built and panned out over the course of the book. I care about his and Errin's future a lot more.
  • Salisbury really has done a great job with the world-building, something I enjoyed about book one too. The whole thing is very detailed and nicely mapped out - I like the folklore and fairy tales behind it all, the historical context and the political complexities within the kingdom. I've always been impressed by this lady's writing style and the way that she creates such vivid settings for her story, and this was definitely developed upon in this book.
What I Disliked:
  • So, as I mentioned, there were elements of this book I still didn't enjoy. The biggest one was how Salisbury handled Twylla and Lief. Starting with Twylla, she's in the book and her characterisation felt virtually untouched. She was still boring and a bit prudish, and despite her strong will I didn't understand why she was being treated as if she were so special. Lief...ugh. I don't want to give away any spoilers, but I will say that I hated him even more strongly coming out of this book. Flashbacks to his childhood reaffirmed my decision rather than making me question it.
  • Salisbury builds a great Fantasy world, it's true, but I'm afraid areas of this book contained very extreme cases of info-dumping and they were a bit of a battle to get through. Especially when Errin went underground towards the end. I really wanted more action at that point and I felt like I didn't understand half of what was being talked about anyway! It just didn't aid me in feeling immersed in the world in the same way that other Fantasy series I've read have.
Overall Conclusion:
This book produced so many mixed reactions in me. On the one hand, I really felt the improvement from book one but there were still things about this book that left me feeling disappointed. It's a shame because this series has gorgeous covers and gets so much hype, I wish I could see the attraction in the same way. I'm definitely invested enough to want to know what happens though, and I have to applaud Salisbury for not letting her book suffer from 'book two syndrome' (which is a real thing). I hope 'The Scarecrow Queen' is a good finale for this series because if it ends strongly, I'll feel like the trawl has been worthwhile!

Monday, 3 July 2017

Last Week's Shenanigans (26th June - 2nd July)...A Week With Family!

So as you may remember from last week's post, Mat and I made our way back to our hometown in Kent to see our families! We started the first half of the week with Mat's parents, and I honestly have to say how nice it was to just relax and have some downtime. Monday and Tuesday were spent around the house, making sure that we didn't over exert ourselves. We watched TV, I blogged and read, and it was lovely! I got to do so much catching up! On Wednesday Mat and I headed to Canterbury for the day, and it was a really nice time out. It's been a while since we've been to that city, but it was mostly the same as I remembered it. I bought some bits from Lush and had a lovely relaxing look around Waterstones! We then headed to the nearby pub to meet up with a friend of mine from University who I haven't seen for ages!

Thursday, Mat and I headed over to my parents and Mat spent the day out with friends while I got on with things in preparation for them coming home! We played some games in the evening, which was fun. My sister and I also found time to have a really good look at some of the wedding magazines she'd bought for me. Then on Friday we spent the day at home again, enjoying the weather and catching up with more reading. Saturday was for family and we spent it all with my parents and sister. In the afternoon we headed off to see my grandparents and enjoy a lovely cup of tea and a chat! Sunday was lots of fun too, I saw two of my friends from school who I haven't seen in a long time! I met Rosie in the morning for a Starbucks frappe and a chat, followed by playing on Dad's Xbox One (Little Nightmares is a great game for those interested) in the evening with her and Imogen! Then we went to Chiquitos for a long, overdue dinner out together and reminisced on the past to end the week nicely!

I Read...

I Received...

- 'No Is Not enough' by Naomi Klein: Approved by Netgalley (27/06/17)
- 'Through The Woods' by Emily Carroll: Present from Imogen (02/07/17)


Top Ten Tuesday: Best Books I Have Read In 2017 So Far

I Posted...

June Wrap-Up
Planned Reads For July

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Planned Reads For July.

It took me quite a while to compose this list, Summer just really gets me in the reading mood and choosing from my huge TBR is hard. I narrowed it down, but I really can't promise I'll stick to it...

'The Sleeping Prince' by Melinda Salisbury and Emily Barr's 'The One Memory Of Flora Banks' are on the list because they are two of the books I didn't quite get to last month and really do want to read before I commit to this month's planned reads.

  1. 'The Final Empire' by Brandon Sanderson. Summer is the time for an epic fantasy or two because it makes me think of far-off places and distant lands. As 'Green Rider' didn't quite give me the full fantasy experience, I really want to give this one a try. My friends all loved it, as did most of the book community. It's been on my TBR for way too long.
  2. 'Ivory & Bone' by Julie Eshbaugh. This was actually a Summer release and retells the classic 'Romeo & Juliet' but with a twist - it's set in prehistoric times! I've definitely never read a book with that setting, it should certainly be interesting. I hope it's done well because it looks awesome! Plus, I really need to get through some more Edelweiss reads!
  3. 'What Is Not Yours, Is Not Yours' by Helen Oyeyemi. What is a TBR of mine without something that is to do with fairy tales? I've wanted to read something by Helen Oyeyemi for a long time. Her books are highly rated and I was delighted when Netgalley accepted my request for this book because it is right up my street!
  4. 'Only Ever Yours' by Louise O'Neill. So I'm a little scared about reading this because I know it covers some really heavy topics that I'm not entirely comfortable with. But I'm also really excited about it and I want to step outside of my comfort zone. I'm definitely going to try it out, and hopefully it won't freak me out too much.
  5. 'The Outliers' by Kimberly McCreight. I've been desperate to read this thriller for some time, because it looks so good! A series of clues, big mysteries, and friendships too! I am desperate for something a bit fast-paced that will totally hook me. I've got a good feeling about this book.
  6. 'If I Was Your Girl' by Meredith Russo. I am finally going to read this awesome sounding book focused on a trans MC! I've never read a book that has this kind of MC so it's actually really cool to finally be reading one. The cover is really cool as well, and I look forward to seeing how Russo handles this topic.

Friday, 30 June 2017

June Wrap-Up.

This month has been so much better for me and I actually managed to get through a fair number of books despite reading a long one this month! I'm very pleased! I managed five of my eight chosen reads. Not bad!

  1. 'A List Of Cages' by Robin Roe. I really wanted to like this book more than I did, especially after it received such good reviews! I'd never read a book with an MC that has ADHD before and I actually thought that Roe handled that part of it really nicely. In fact, Adam's chapters were great! I was less impressed with Julian's side of things. His characterisation felt a bit one-dimensional, his story-line was much darker than I expected and I felt that the situation felt more like a plot device than anything, which sucked. Still, it kept me on my toes. 3.5/5 Stars.
  2. 'Green Rider' by Kristen Britain. Another book that I enjoyed but found disappointing because I thought I'd like it more. 'Green Rider' had all the makings of being the opening to a great fantasy series: great world-building, intriguing plot and a feisty, likeable MC. I liked the switched POVs too and I thought that Britain didn't make nearly as much use of it as she could have done. I didn't like the excruciating info-dumping conversations when Karigan meets the Berry sisters. I also think that this book lacked a USP that sets it apart from the thousands of other fantasy series out there. 3.5/5 Stars.
  3. 'One Of Us Is Lying' by Karen M. McManus. This was, without a doubt, my favourite read of the month. I'm not normally a fan of teen high-school dramas and shows such as 'Pretty Little Liars' have never really caught my attention, but this book managed where others have failed! I loved the characters, especially the POVs. McManus really went in-depth and made them all very unique. I also liked how well the plot moved along, this mystery really has some great twists and turns along the ride! 5/5 Stars.
  4. 'Release' by Patrick Ness. It took me a long time to properly rate this one because most of this book I adored but one element really threw me off. Adam's story was heart-wrenchingly sweet and told in the beautiful style that I'm used to reading from Ness. Great characters, awesome friendship group, and an interesting situation. It was also the best portrayal of a gay relationship I have ever read. But what on earth was going on with the dead body coming back to life, the seven foot deer and the psychopathic Queen spirit-thing who could potentially destroy the world? I have no idea. 4/5 Stars.
  5. 'Good Bones' by Margaret Atwood. I really wanted to read something by this highly recommended author, who has been on my radar for a while. I also really felt that a collection of short stories would be perfect, and I enjoyed this one immensely. It covered a vast array of topics that explored the bare 'bones' of humanity, society and life itself. It re-invented well-known tales, classics and folklore, and the archetypal characters found in them. I loved that! There were a few stories that didn't grab my attention in the same way that the rest of them had, but I actually didn't mind that so much. 4/5 Stars.

Now it's time to see how I did with my challenges this month!

This month I have read three books for the Netgalley & Edelweiss Challenge, bringing my yearly total so far to sixteen. My reads were:

- A List Of Cages
- One Of Us Is Lying
- Release

This month I have read three books for the 2017 New Releases Challenge, bringing my yearly total so far to seven. My reads were:

- A List Of Cages
- One Of Us Is Lying
- Release

This month I have read two books for the LGBTQIA Challenge, bringing my yearly total to eight. My reads were:

- One Of Us Is Lying
- Release

This month I have read three books for the Diverse Reads Challenge, bringing my yearly total to twenty. My reads were:

- A List Of Cages
- One Of Us Is Lying
- Release

And here's my start on this quarter's Bookish Bingo card, courtesy of Pretty Deadly Blog!

Over 5 Years Old: Green Rider; Kristen Britain.
Red Cover: Good Bones; Margaret Atwood.
Latinx MC: One Of Us Is Lying; Karen M. McManus.
LGBT+: Release; Patrick Ness.
White Cover: A List Of Cages; Robin Roe.

Book Review: Good Bones; Margaret Atwood.

This is my first ever Margaret Atwood read. Can you believe it? I've heard so much about this lady, especially 'The Handmaid's Tale' which is due to become a television series, and it made me want to get into some of her work. This collection of short stories and poetry felt like the perfect place to start!

SOURCE: Bought
TYPE: E-Read

TITLE: Good Bones
AUTHOR: Margaret Atwood
PAGES: 160
GENRE: Short Stories, Adult, Poetry, Literary Fiction

RATING: 4/5 Stars

These wise and witty writings home in on Shakespeare, tree stumps, ecological disasters, bodies (male and female), and theology, amongst other matters. 

We hear Gertrude's version of what really happened in Hamlet; an ugly sister and a wicked stepmother put in a good word for themselves, and a reincarnated bat explains how Bram Stoker got Dracula hopelessly wrong. 

Good Bones is pure distilled Atwood - deliciously strong and bittersweet.

What I Liked:

  • Atwood's writing style really lived up to my expectations, and after hearing such great things, they were high. This is made even better when I read reviews telling me that this is not even her best collection of stories! I loved her use of language and the symbolism/deeper meaning behind her words. It was powerful stuff! She took so many well known characters, stories and archetypes and completely turned them on their heads (demonstrated in stories such as 'The Little Red Hen Tells All', 'Gertrude Talks Back', 'Unpopular Gals' and 'There Was Once'), which we all know is something I really enjoy reading! Bravo!
  • So many stories were included, and they each covered very different themes that were designed to make the reader try to understand what, in essence, makes us human and the bare 'bones' of society. Personal favourites were of course focused on revisiting classic stories and changing them of course, but I liked the more analytical stories too. Especially those that seemed to try to understand our race from a creatively 'alien' perspective: 'Cold-Blooded', 'Alien Territory' and 'Homelanding' were such examples. Some of the stories had a bit of a Dystopian feel too, which I enjoyed.
What I Disliked:
  • The danger in any short story collection is there will almost always be a few stories that might not be so appealing or likeable. This 'rule' does not exclude Atwood's collection, sadly. I honestly felt that there would be a story here for pretty much everyone, considering the variation but it also meant that stories such as 'An Angel', 'In Love With Raymond Chandler' and 'Bad News' were entirely skippable in my honest opinion and I skimmed them.
Overall Conclusion:
This was pretty much what I wanted it to be: a good introduction to Atwood's style of writing, a great collection that reimagined some classic tales and stereotypes, and a reflective look on our society filled with symbolism and deep thoughts. I loved it! There were a few stories that didn't tickle my fancy, it's true but I really didn't hold that against this collection because there was too much good, and the 'bad' wasn't really even that bad. Just uninteresting. All in all, Atwood is well and truly on my 'must read more' list!

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: My picks for 'The Best Books I Have Read In 2017 So Far'.

These sorts of categories are always my favourite because they allow me to excitedly reflect upon my reading year so far, as well as see everyone else's recommended reads from their reading year too! I've had some great reads too, so I'm really happy to be sharing them!

1) 'The Bear & The Nightingale' by Katherine Arden.

This was actually one of my very first reads of the year, and a glorious one it was too because it was a Fairy Tale retelling of Russian folklore, which has always been fascinating to me! I loved the house spirits and creatures that Vasya encountered, the many tales incorporated into one, the characters were well-written and showed personality while also falling into famous fairy tale archetypes and the setting was beautiful! There are some unanswered questions but there will be a book two so I'm excited to see the loose ends resolved then!

2) 'A Quiet Kind Of Thunder' by Sara Barnard.

My year of great Contemporary YA reads began here. Wow! I loved 'Beautiful Broken Things', Barnard's debut, but this topped it in so many more ways than I can imagine. It was such a diverse book, which connected with and reached out to the deaf community, a group of people that I don't often see referenced in books! It did a really great job of it too! I've recently been trying to learn BSL too, and this book was part of my inspiration for it. 

3) 'Radio Silence' by Alice Oseman.

Another great Contemporary YA read that everyone else has read and adored before me because it took so long for me to get round to it! Finally I managed it though, and it was such a good read, perfectly describing fandom and how it can affect people's lives in many ways. I loved the friendship focus in this book, the LGBT relationships, the diverse characters and relatable setting. Great job Miss Oseman, I'll be back for more of your work, that's for sure!

4) 'A Darker Shade Of Magic' by V.E. Schwab.

I've been wanting to start this Fantasy series by Schwab for a long time because so many people have recommended it. It's well constructed, talking a simple idea of parallel worlds that look completely different other than having the City of London in common, a loveable magician who can travel between them, and a young, ass-kicking thief desperate to tag along. Kell and Lila had a great friendship, I was pleased to see that it stayed that way too. Amazing stuff and I look forward to getting to book two!

5) 'Noteworthy' by Riley Redgate.

After reading 'Seven Ways We Lie', Redgate's fantastic debut, I knew that I would read anything she wrote from then on. This book was set in a Performing Arts college too, so was relatable in a way that I had never anticipated. All the musical and theatrical jargon...I got it! I totally related to the drama of it all too (Performing Arts students are just as highly strung as you'd imagine) and I was pleased that Redgate crafted such a great story from the concept. I loved the diverse cast too - plenty of different ethnicities, cultures, sexualities and classes to keep me interested. 

6) 'One Of Us Is Lying' by Karen M. McManus.

This was actually a really recent read of mine, but warranted a five star rating because it was so addictive! I've never been a fan of Teen Dramas, and the show Pretty Little Liars only mildly caught my interest, but this was ridiculously good! I loved the plot direction, all of the twists and turns, and reading the POVs of each character as more of their secrets were revealed. This is an astonishingly good debut from Karen M. McManus.

7) 'Under Rose Tainted Skies' by Louise Gornall.

This book has been on my radar for a while, mostly because of the gorgeous front cover I'll confess. YALC 2016 really got me excited about it though, so much so that I bought a copy while I was there. It, for me, was a really good depiction of mental illness. And, it even covered self harm which was very dark but sensitively discussed. Not many books actually broach that topic, so I'm glad to read a book that's trying to spark conversations on something so taboo! The writing was beautiful as well, and I'm glad to be reading more Contemporary YA with great parental figures.

8) 'Ash' by Malinda Lo.

You can probably see from my list so far that I've read so many amazing LGBT books this year, but this retelling of the classic 'Cinderella' was one of my favourites for a different reason - it's Fantasy setting. It's actually extremely difficult to find a good LGBT Fantasy, especially if twists a well-known tale. But this did a really great job of normalising it and the story itself was so good! Well built and gorgeously written! 

9) 'Three Dark Crowns' by Kendare Blake.

I really liked the dark sense of danger that Blake purveys in this book, and though it was a slow starter, it was what drew me in from the beginning of the novel. It was macabre, filled with shocks and twists, and managed to give me ASOIF vibes while feeling entirely different and original as well. I went in with a game plan of liking and supporting only one of the sisters, but ended up unable to choose because their individual stories are crafted so well. It did have it's flaws of course, and certainly recieved some mixed reviews, but for me it had that dose of gothic that I love to read. Great job!

10) 'Dear Ijeawele, Or A Feminist Manifesto In Fifteen Suggestions' by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

I had to end this list with something non-fiction. A book that has continued my quest to read more books on the subject of Feminism. Having already read Adichie's 'We Should All Be Feminists', I knew this would be good! What a great way of handling the topic of future generations and how we can work to change society's stereotypes by raising them. I liked the personal touch too, it made it feel like something that was happening now rather than someone proposing a hypothesis to be tested.