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Blogtober Day 16: Top Ten Tuesday: Bookstores I want to visit

Blogtober Day 16: Top Ten Tuesday: Bookstores I want to visit

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish, but was recently relocated to That Artsy Reader Girl.    Every bookworm has a list of bookstores that they want to visit. Whether they’re renowned for their amazing events, have amazing social media accounts or are […]

Blogtober Day 15: Review: City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab

Blogtober Day 15: Review: City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab

‘In the end, I guess Mom was right. I have one foot in winter and one in spring. One foot with the living, and one with the dead.’ Cassidy Blake has a pretty interesting life, but it’s not for the reasons you’d expect. Daughter of […]

Blogtober Day 14: Review: You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott

Blogtober Day 14: Review: You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott

I don’t know why I keep picking up Megan Abbott’s novels, because they never impress me as much as I hope they will. I’ve already read The End of Everything and The Fever, and although I enjoyed Abbott’s writing style throughout both novels, I’ve constantly struggled with her pacing, as the stories seem to drag to a halt and limp along until they reach a rather inevitable conclusion.

The exact same issue crops up during You Will Know Me. The beginning of the story is gripping: we’re introduced to Devon Knox, a gymnast with Olympic potential who only starts performing as a form of rehabilitation after losing two of her toes in a freak accident during her childhood.

As soon as the characters are established, a spanner is thrown in the works: Ryan, the boyfriend of the head coach’s niece, is killed in a hit and run accident. Katie, Devon’s mother and our protagonist, she fluctuates between sympathy for Ryan and concern for her daughter, who should be focusing on the Senior Elite qualifiers that are rapidly approaching.

But when it seems increasingly likely that one of her family members was directly involved in Ryan’s death, Katie learns just how far she’ll go to protect her family, and Devon’s dreams.

There’s a problem with describing this book as a thriller, and it’s that the majority of the story moves at a snail’s pace. It’s the same issue that I’ve had with Abbott’s previous releases, so it didn’t surprise me too much. However, the others are focused on the coming-of-age development of girls, whereas this one looked like it was going to be very action-based, which is why I felt so disappointed.

Sadly, compared to the other novels of Abbott’s which I’ve read, the characterisation was lacking throughout You Will Know Me. The Knoxes are hyper focused on gymnastics, but that’s basically all you need to know about them. There’s the implication that Eric might be about to embark on an affair with the mother of one of the other gymnasts, but nothing ever comes of it. Katie is naive and ineffectual, and being inside her head is painful. The constant repetition is draining, and the flashbacks to the Tiki Party – at which nothing of substance really seemed to occur – had me groaning and skim reading huge swathes of text, something I always resist doing.

I borrowed You Will Know Me from the library at the same time as Abbott’s newest release, Give Me Your Hand, which I’m still planning on reading but am now feeling far less enthused for. On paper Megan Abbott should be one of my favourite authors, because the stories that she writes should be right up my alley, but unfortunately something always gets lost in translation.

 

If you’re interested in learning more about You Will Know Me, check it out on Goodreads. If you decide to buy a copy, please consider using my Amazon affiliate link: I’ll earn a few pennies from your purchase. Thank you!

 

Alyce

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Blogtober Day 13: Review: The Surface Breaks by Louise O’Neill

Blogtober Day 13: Review: The Surface Breaks by Louise O’Neill

“Why would they be afraid of us? We have no powers.” “Of course we don’t,” she says, looking away from me. “But the humans do not understand that. They fear that their men will be overcome with madness and dive into the depths of the […]

Blogtober Day 12: Review: Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett

Blogtober Day 12: Review: Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett

‘You can plot a course that will get you to your destination, but you can’t predict what you’ll find along the way.’  Zorie has a plan for the summer, and it involves staying as far away from the Mackenzie family as physically possible. But when […]

Blogtober Day 11: Top ten LGBT+ reads

Blogtober Day 11: Top ten LGBT+ reads

To celebrate #NationalComingOutDay, I thought I’d share the ten best LGBT+ books that I’ve read. I have so many rapidly piling up on my TBR, but these are my favourites of the ones that I’ve already gotten through.

It took me a long time to finally embrace the fact that I was bisexual, and these books (particularly the book in the top spot!) really helped me understand who I was, so if you’re not sure of exactly which label to use, hopefully one of these will also help you to find the right word for yourself.

10A Kiss in the Dark by Cat Clarke

A Kiss in the Dark by Cat Clarke

Honestly, I still feel conflicted about A Kiss in the Dark. Alex pretends to be a boy because she finds herself falling deeply in love with Kate, who is straight. In hindsight it is a bit problematic – no one should be lied to in such a horrendous manner, and things get worse for them both throughout the story – but I like the message that it carries: you really can fall in love with someone despite their genitalia.

9) Far From You by Tess Sharpe

Far From You by Tess Sharpe

Far From You is one of my favourite books on this list, but it does feature Kill Your Gays, so I didn’t want to put it too highly on a list which is all about celebrating sexuality. It’s not done unnecessarily, but a lot of the book is about coming to terms with loss and handling grief, which makes it one of my less optimistic recommendations.

8) Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

The next two books on the list are related, because although they contain heterosexual protagonists…

7) Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett

Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett

…they contain same-sex couples raising teenage kids (and, spoiler alert, they’re good kids!). Lola’s dads are some of the best dads that I’ve ever seen in YA, while her biological mother is an absolute mess. Meanwhile, Lennon’s mums are caring and compassionate, and are far more involved in their child’s life than Zorie’s dad is. I think it’s important to show a range of familial structures in YA literature, and these novels both do great things – particularly for young people who may be feeling abnormal due to the under-representation of LGBT+ parents.

6) Golden Boy by Abigail Tarttelin

Golden Boy by Abigail Tarttelin

Golden Boy is still the only novel I’ve read with an intersex character, but it’s highly educational (if a little heartbreaking). It’s also the perfect book to recommend to people who say that “there are only two genders” because there literally aren’t: people can be born with a combination of both genitalia, because it’s not all black and white.

5) Skylarks by Karen Gregory

Skylarks by Karen Gregory

I still haven’t been able to write a review of Skylarks, because I loved it so much. It’s been playing on my mind for the last five months, but I can’t put my feelings into words! Not only does Karen Gregory explore the ups and downs of a lesbian relationship, she also tackles the difficulty in dating someone outside of your social class: an issue that can sometimes be an even bigger deal.

4) The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson

The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson

I loved The Art of Being Normal because it doesn’t use the transgender character for their shock value (something which I’ve sadly seen happen time and again). We’re in David’s head, and we know that he wants to transition and is struggling with his gender identity, and we root for him every step of the way.

3) Run by Kody Keplinger

Run by Kody Keplinger

If you haven’t read Run, you’ll probably recognise the title, as there was a lot of outrage when this book was first released. A review warned against the inclusion of Bo, a bisexual character who does nothing involving her sexuality on the pages of the book (while the straight character goes all the way!). Bo is one of the first openly bisexual characters I can remember reading, and I thought Kody Keplinger did a wonderful job of exploring her sexual orientation while demolishing all of the stereotypes.

2) All of the Above by Juno Dawson

All of the Above by Juno Dawson

Toria from All of the Above is a character who I hugely relate to. Toria and Nico are instalove at its finest, but she also harbours feelings for her best friend Polly, and she just doesn’t know what to do. She thinks she’s in love with both of them… But is there any way that can be true? I read All of the Above in one sitting and ended up crying my eyes out because I understood Toria’s struggle. I’ve still been unable to bring myself to reread it in case it’s not as magical second time around.

1) Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda had to be top of this list. I’ve recommended it so many times in the past, because I truly came to terms with my sexuality while reading this book. Simon’s narration is so frank and honest, and the way that he was so unapologetic about who he was – despite people trying to make him feel otherwise – made me realise that I just needed to own who I was, no matter what people thought.

 

If you’re interested in purchasing any of these books, please consider using my Amazon Affiliate link (found in the book’s title). If you’d like to read more about each book, please click their cover: you’ll be redirected to their Goodreads page.

 

I hope you enjoyed these recommendations. Are you celebrating #NationalComingOutDay too?

Alyce

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Blogtober Day 10: Blog tour: Jackson Saves an Owl by Darren Garwood and Carl Osborne

Blogtober Day 10: Blog tour: Jackson Saves an Owl by Darren Garwood and Carl Osborne

Hi there! Welcome to my stop on the Jackson Saves an Owl blog tour. I’d like to say a big thank you to Faye Rogers, for allowing me to get involved in the blog tour for this charming picture book. Zophia loves owls, so as soon as […]

Blogtober Day 9: Top Ten Tuesday: Longest books I’ve read

Blogtober Day 9: Top Ten Tuesday: Longest books I’ve read

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish, but was recently relocated to That Artsy Reader Girl.    I don’t read many long books, because I have the attention span of a moth and struggle to focus on anything longer than 400 pages. I’m […]

Blogtober Day 8: You Me At Six – Sound Knowledge, Marlborough, 07/10/18

Blogtober Day 8: You Me At Six – Sound Knowledge, Marlborough, 07/10/18

Another Sunday, another trip to Sound Knowledge, this time to see the indefatigable You Me At Six. It’s been a busy couple of years for the band – this is their second full-length release in the space of eighteen months – and this show was the second of a string of album release shows, preceding two back-to-back tours at the end of the year.

Some people might have called the decision to independently release their sixth album reckless, but You Me At Six seem reinvigorated by the release of VI. Stylistically close to 2014’s Cavalier Youth, blending indie-rock with subtle hints of dance, compared to last year’s Night People this album is a marked departure for the five lads from Surrey.

This is a band who have decided to ignore the haters and produce the music that they want to make. Although it’s a more upbeat sound than the majority of their previous releases, the lyrics are bitter – most notably during Fast Forward, with Josh Franceschi barking “I might be down, but I’m not fucking out,” adding a vitriolic twist to a sentiment first explored back in 2010 with the release of Underdog.

Lead single 3AM was markedly improved in a live setting. While the recorded version verges on over-produced, the slowed down acoustic version of the track gave it a yearning, desperate feel. Meanwhile, Back Again was just as bouncy as ever, Franceschi’s falsetto on the chorus reminiscent of Brandon Flowers, the flamboyant frontman of The Killers.

We all know it’s the ten year anniversary of Take Off Your Colours: that’s why the band have two tours rapidly approaching – one to celebrate the release of VI, one to perform Take Off Your Colours in its entirety. They decided to celebrate the anniversary at the end of their set by performing Always Attract, but it unfortunately turned into a bit of a car crash. Franceschi laughed it off, joking, “I’ve murdered it!” and cutting the song early, but it’s good to know that the quintet have already started practising for what’s going to be a very special run. Even though it wasn’t the smoothest rendition, it was emotional to hear such an old song performed in an intimate setting like this, and was definitely a treat for the older fans in the room.

Setlist:

Fast Forward
Back Again
3AM
Straight To My Head
Always Attract

 

Meeting the guys after their set was a bit of a surreal experience, particularly because Josh was so infatuated with our daughter that he gave her a cuddle while we had our picture taken. (I’ll be honest, I’m a bit jealous).

Josh and Zophia

Zophia, Sean and I would like to say a huge thank you to the band for being so welcoming and lovely: we’re looking forward to seeing them at two of their Brixton shows later in the year (although Zophia will be staying at home for those!)

Alyce

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Blogtober Day 7: Review: The Case of the Missing Treasure by Robin Stevens

Blogtober Day 7: Review: The Case of the Missing Treasure by Robin Stevens

Back at the start of summer Robin Stevens released a short story narrated by Daisy Wells, in which the Detective Society and the Junior Pinkertons team up to investigate a string of museum robberies. I bought it the day it was released, but I decided […]