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Final Round-Up

Monday, December 22, 2014

I am conscious that the last few posts have either been lists or non-book related thoughts. As this blog is primarily a book blog, I thought it would be nice to just do a final round-up of the last few books I've read. 

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Sáenz
This was such a beautiful book about family, friendship, growing up and beginning to figure out who you are. For a start, I love the names Aristotle and Dante so I was immediately on their side. The writing was wonderfully poetic and the characters were loveable. Most contemporary YA is about maturing and having mini-breakthroughs. Occasionally it can get tiresome but this story was handled so delicately and lovingly. Yes, it was a book filled with love and it's a great book if you are searching for diverse reads. 

Yes Please by Amy Poehler
First and foremost, the hardback is lovely. The pages are thick and glossy, the colours stand out, and there are loads of pictures. As for the actual writing...BRILLIANT! In a similar vein to Bossypants, there's a mix of memories and advice. I really found Amy's advice helpful - from the very beginning when she advises on saying 'yes please', to smaller nuggets such as a career is something that often happens to you rather than something you sit down and plan at 18 and then carve out (I'm paraphrasing). Anyway, I'd recommend this to absolutely everyone - regardless of age, sex, background, whatever. 

We Are Called to Rise by Laura McBride
Wow. I was blown away by this book. It reminded me of the film Crash in the way that all of the characters are connected by this one, horrible event.  I think the thing that got me was the truth and humanity within the story and I had a lump in my throat throughout most of the story. Nobody's perfect but we just try to do the best for our loved ones and ourselves. Bashkim and Luis will stay with me for a long time. 

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
For me, this was just ok. I think it started off strongly and the world-building was brilliant in the beginning but then it went off on a tangent and by the time we got back to the original quest, I was a little bit lost and little bit bored. However, I would never describe myself as a gamer, so perhaps I'm not the target audience. A few of the cultural references made me chuckle though and the world in which Wade resides highlights an important question about how far we're going to go with this whole internet thing.

Even in Paradise by Chelsey Philpot
It took a while for me to get into this one, probably because I'm not much of a Brideshead fan (I tried but I just wasn't into it). Also, I continually saw comparisons between Even in Paradise and The Great Gatsby but I didn't really get that vibe. Anyway, I think generally I prefer to just read about the rich and troubled rather than through the eyes of an outsider, however by the end I didn't want it to finish. Just as Charlotte grew to love the Buchanan family, so did I. It was dreamy and melancholy in just the right way. Oh and Charlotte herself was a great character. I will definitely read Chelsey Philpot's next offering. 

YA Superlatives Blogfest 2014 - Day Four - Best In Show

Thursday, December 18, 2014

For more information or to join in, please visit the brilliant hosts of the YA Superlative Blogfest: Katy UppermanTracey NeithercottAlison Miller, and Jessica Love

Very cute - just like the book. It reminds me a bit of Rob Ryan's work. 

The couples in Flat-Out Celeste by Jessica Park
As I said in my review, it's a YA novel so I don't think I've spoilt anything for anyone by saying Celeste has a romance. There are some other couples in there too that are very swoon worthy. 

We Were Liars by E.Lockhart
I'm sure it has already won lots of awards and there will be more to come. 

Flat-Out Celeste by Jessica Park
Can you tell I really loved this book? 
Ashes to Ashes by Jenny Han & Siobhan Vivian
As I said earlier in the week, I was a little underwhelmed by this one but the series was great. I'll probably re-read it. 
Such a warm and sweet summer story. I really like this book.

Amazing! It was published 22 years ago but is still relevant. Definitely one I'd recommend to teens today.

Perfectly Messy by Lizzy Charles
I liked the first in the series but thought this was even better. The characters really grew up and the issues were handled well. It even pre-empted the celebrity photo hacking. 

Blue by Lisa Glass
I haven't come across any reviews of Blue amongst the blogs I regularly frequent. It's really engaging, packed with interesting characters, and not just a summer read! 

Inspiring, frightening, hilarious, heartbreaking...I read some great 'adult fiction' this year and these were just a few I enjoyed the most. 

Burn for Burn Trilogy by Jenny Han & Siobhan Vivian or We Were Liars by E.Lockhart
I'm still pushing for this from last year. As I said before, Dawson's Creek meets Vampire Diaries meets Pretty Little Liars. If that's not a recipe for teen television heaven then I don't know what is. We Were Liars would make for a nice mini series too. 

YA Superlatives 2014 - Day Three - Elements of Fiction

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

For more information or to join in, please visit the brilliant hosts of the YA Superlative Blogfest: Katy UppermanTracey NeithercottAlison Miller, and Jessica Love

A nice, original idea having the love story told from the perspectives of all those around the protagonists.

Jennifer E.Smith wins this one again. New York, Scotland, California...lots of nice places in this one. Also the surf books (Rough Waters by Nikki Godwin and Blue by Lisa Glass) - one was set in California and the other Cornwall, England. The latter isn't that far from me but I've never been. 
Open Road Summer by Emery Lord
I thought this was beautifully written. The prose matched the subject matter - it was very lyrical. Oh and the actual song lyrics were great! 
Sonia from Let's Get Lost
Her story just tugged my heartstrings. The most memorable amidst a host of memorable supporting characters. Second place goes to Matt from Flat-Out Celeste. 

We Were Liars by E.Lockhart
I liked the use of fairytales in this one. 

YA Superlatives Blogfest 2014 - Day Two - Popularity Contest

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

For more information or to join in, please visit the brilliant hosts of the YA Superlative Blogfest: Katy UppermanTracey NeithercottAlison Miller, and Jessica Love

Tia from Biggest Flirts
She was a laugh, always bringing band practice to a halt with her shenanigans.

Well, since they're already in a band...

AJ from Rough Waters
Even though he managed to (mostly) stay out of trouble in this book, I'm sure we'll see old AJ return if anyone messes with Haley in the next one. 

Tia & Will from Biggest Flirts
Naturally. Special shout out to Bruno from Wish You Were Italian also. 
Lillia from Ashes to Ashes
Second year in a row for Princess Lillia. She upped her game in Ashes to Ashes too - we got stylish Valentine's Day outfits, riding boots, and dream prom dresses. 
The whole Drenaline Surf gang from Rough Waters
I love them all. Whilst the storyline for Rough Waters wasn't my  favourite, the friendships were still superbly written. Who wouldn't want a gang of surfers as BFF's? 
Hudson from Let's Get Lost
The beginning of Let's Get Lost was magical and although he wasn't in most of the novel, he was still memorable. Runner up would have to be Matt Finch from Open Road Summer
Ringer from The Infinite Sea
Obviously. She's a superbad genius. 
Sara and Brielle from Tease
People seemed to either appreciate or complete hate Tease. Sara and Brielle were awful but..they were behaving like many teenage girls and got their comeuppance.

Celeste from Flat-Out Celeste
She's complicated and amazing and quite possibly my favourite character of the year. 

YA Superlative Blogfest 2014 - Day One - Head of the Class

Monday, December 15, 2014

For more information or to join in, please visit the brilliant hosts of the YA Superlative Blogfest: Katy UppermanTracey NeithercottAlison Miller, and Jessica Love

I was really excited to participate in this year's YA Superlative Blogfest until I scanned my Goodreads 'read' shelf. I've only read 18 YA books published this year but most of them wouldn't make my end of year favourite's list. I read some great books but they were either published a few years ago (especially as I tried to catch up with everyone's recommendations from last year!) or they were adult (I can't stress enough how much I loved The Rosie Project and The Rosie Effect). Still, I'll try and give it a go but just know I'm kind of clutching at straws! 

FAVOURITE DYSTOPIAN The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey
I didn't really enjoy this as much as The 5th Wave - I think it ran out of steam and what happened to strong, independent Cassie? - but I loved Ringer's storyline. 

FAVOURITE CONTEMPORARY  Flat-Out Celeste by Jessica Park
Probably one of my favourite books of the year actually. I just love Celeste and all the other characters and the world Jessica Park has created. I hope there's another in the series (well there better be given what happened at the end!)
A fun rom-com. Great setting (I will always love a book set in Florida) and I loved the high school marching band drama. I need to get the next one because I liked those characters even better. 
So cute! Such a pleasant surprise. Again, I loved the setting and the adventure and the growth of the characters. 
Even though this felt like a bit of a let down, I still had to include it because the series overall is very good. Also, there's an epilogue/'where are they now' type ending, which is always a winner for me.

Top Ten Tuesday: First Encounters

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's theme is: Top Ten New To Me Authors I Read In 2014. 

I glanced back at this year on Goodreads and to be honest, I'd say about 75% of this year's list is comprised of new to me authors. So, I whittled it down by saying 'ok, the story was great but how about the writing?' because you can have a brilliant story and some rather questionable writing, can't you? 

Ridley Road by Jo Bloom

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Publisher: W&N
Source: Netgalley
Rating: 3/5

Synopsis from Goodreads:

For fans of Maggie O'Farrell and Sadie Jones, amid the rise of fascism in sixties London, one woman searches for her lost love . . . Summer, 1962. Twenty-year-old Vivien Epstein, a Jewish hairdresser from Manchester, arrives in London following the death of her father. Alone in the world, she is looking for Jack Fox, a man she had a brief but intense love affair with some months before. But the only address she has for him leads to a dead end. Determined to make a new life for herself, Vivien convinces Barb, the owner of Oscar's hair salon in Soho, to give her a job. There, she is swept into the colourful world of the sixties - the music and the fashions, the coffee bars and clubs. But still, Vivien cannot forget Jack. As she continues to look for him, her search leads her into the fight against resurgent fascism in East London, where members of the Jewish community are taking to the streets, in and around Ridley Road. Then one day Vivien finally spots Jack, but her joy is short-lived when she discovers his secret . .
I was drawn to this book for a few reasons. Firstly by the title - Ridley Market reminds me of my childhood. Secondly the cover is lovely. Finally, the time period and the Jewish aspect. On the whole, I liked Ridley Road. It was comforting in the way of a Sunday night drama on ITV. The blurb says it is for fans of Maggie O'Farrell and I would agree. 

With regards to the characters, Vivien started off really strong. In fact, the beginning of the story in itself is very strong. She was intriguing and I was looking forward to her journey. However, she kind of became a background character in, what I believed to be, her own story, which was a shame. On the other hand, Jack wasn't much of a character but his story was interesting. This is where I encountered my only real issue with Ridley Road. I think wished the story was focused on one thing or the other - either a girl moving to London who, whilst getting used to all the glitz and glamour, meets a man from the shadows OR a man dealing with life as part of a fascist group. Full stop. Personally, I would read both - especially the latter as some of the scenes with Jack at the HQ were really great. 

There were quite a few supporting characters, who we might've gotten to know more about if the story had been one or the other. Either way, they were all likeable in their own way - even mixed up Stevie. Oh, and I definitely wanted to know more about Vivien's land lady for some reason - I liked her a lot. 

Before reading Ridley Road, I didn't know anything about the anti-Jewish activities in 1960's East London. Due to my background, I know about the racism but nothing about the Jewish story, so I found that part of the book really interesting. I'll have to look up some of the sources listed by Jo Bloom at some point. 

Still, overall, Ridley Road is a nice read. My commute is long and boring, so I don't have much patience for books that don't particularly grab me these days, however I quite looked forward to catching up with story each morning and I finished the book, which isn't something I have been doing a lot recently.