Brief blogs for busy bees

Author: Alyce

Stripes YA Afternoon Equali-tea

Stripes YA Afternoon Equali-tea

It’s hard to believe over a week has passed since I hopped on the bus to London and headed to Stripes YA Afternoon Equali-tea, but I couldn’t resist sharing my experience with you all anyway. Unfortunately, on the morning of the event I woke up […]

Review: At the Edge of the Universe by Shaun David Hutchinson

Review: At the Edge of the Universe by Shaun David Hutchinson

‘Even when there’d been a whole universe to explore, Cloud Lake and Tommy had been my everything. “So that’s it?” I said. “I’m just supposed to go on living my life no matter how much the universe takes from me or how small it gets?” Dr. Sayegh nodded. “It’s what the rest of us do, Ozzie.” Ozzie’s boyfriend, Tommy, has vanished. […]

Review: Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow

Review: Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow

‘I’m so unwhole. I don’t know where all the pieces of me are, how to fit them together, how to make them stick. Or if I even can.’

Self-harm is a sensitive subject, no matter what form it takes. Some people find reading about cutting triggering, while others find it makes them feel seen and understood for the first time in months or years. It’s difficult to write about, because it’s almost impossible to strike the balance right: no matter how hard you try to help, you may end up hurting someone.

That’s why I think it’s impressive that Girl in Pieces has such a straight-talking, no-holds-barred protagonist. Charlotte Davis openly and honestly discusses not only her own personal brand of self-destruction, but also divulges the methods used by the other patients in the Creeley Centre. I’ve read books about self-harm in the past that have been filled with allusions, which always seemed false to me: in my personal experience, people who self-harm are often the ones most able to talk about it frankly, refusing to shy away from the truth of what they’ve done or why. It’s a relief to finally see that represented on the page.

Even without reading the author’s note at the end, it’s obvious that Kathleen Glasgow is telling this story from the heart. The short, diary-esque chapters bring Charlie’s character to life, slowly revealing her history and the reasons for her self-harm. Although she’s irrational and obtuse at times, you can’t resist rooting for her throughout the story. I found myself mentally cheering her along as she left Creeley and began adjusting to life on her own, valiantly battling the constant temptation to relapse.

However, self-harm isn’t the only story here. Charlie moves to Arizona to live near her friend Mikey, believing that he wants her to move closer to him so that they can be together, but it isn’t until she arrives that she learns he’s in a long-term relationship. She finds a job at a local diner and throws herself into it, finding herself falling for disgraced rock star Riley West.

Riley has his own issues, and Charlie finds herself learning that love isn’t the great healer she expected it to be. It’s always annoyed me that there’s a tendency in YA to make a character’s problems disappear as soon as they are in a relationship, so I was glad that Riley and Charlie didn’t fix each other immediately (although I’m not going to share whether they fix each other by the end of the book – you’ll just have to read it to find out for yourself).

If you’re a fan of YA that doesn’t shy away from difficult subject matter, I’d highly recommend Girl in Pieces. If you find yourself easily triggered by discussion of self-harm, I’d suggest waiting to pick this up until you’re feeling a bit more stable: if I’d read this book when I was in a bad place, I’m not sure if it would have done more harm than good.

Look after yourself, first and foremost, and remember I’m always here if you need someone to talk to.

Alyce

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Top Ten Tuesday: Recent TBR additions

Top Ten Tuesday: Recent TBR additions

Another week has passed, and it’s already the last Tuesday in January! It feels like it’s been such a painfully long month, but at least February is shorter – the weather will be warmer and the days longer before we know it. These ten books […]

Review: The Flower Girls by Alice Clark-Platts

Review: The Flower Girls by Alice Clark-Platts

‘Is this what marriage is like? she wonders. A constant balancing act between infatuation and impatience.’ At first glance, it appears as though The Flower Girls is going to be a pretty cut and dry thriller. A girl disappears from a hotel on New Year’s Eve, and when a terrible storms starts raging outside it’s a race against time to try […]

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I meant to read in 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I meant to read in 2018

It always feels as though my books I meant to read in 2018 list features the most popular books of the year, because I’m so hype-averse. As soon as a book tops most anticipated lists, I add it to my TBR and run as quickly as I can in the opposite direction, certain that I’m going to be the odd one out and hate the next big thing.

Because of that, there’s a few books on this list which you’re going to be surprised I haven’t read. I’m hoping to actually get around to reading some of these over the next twelve months (unlike my books I meant to read in 2017 list, of which I’ve read one – Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor – and am halfway through another – The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas).

10) Floored

Floored is a collaborative novel featuring some of my favourite authors, so I was planning on picking it up as soon as it was released, but something about all of the different viewpoints and writing styles is making me apprehensive. I’ve read a book with seven viewpoints before and it was a success, but that was one writer crafting seven characters who were quite different. I don’t know how it will work with so many different people contributing.

9) Giant Days by Non Pratt

A novelisation of one of my favourite graphic novels was a dream come true, but I’m putting this one off until I need a pick-me-up.

8) Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli

Leah on the Offbeat is a companion novel to Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, which is one of my favourite books of all time, but I saw some reviewers calling the book biphobic which is why I ultimately avoided it. I’m probably going to read it eventually to make my own mind up, but I wasn’t in the right headspace to put myself through that last year.

7) Death in the Spotlight by Robin Stevens

I read the entire Murder Most Unladylike series last year, and I was planning on reading Death in the Spotlight as soon as it was released, but the library didn’t get a copy in so I had no way of reading it as I couldn’t afford to buy new books and pay bills! Thankfully my boyfriend bought me a copy for Christmas, so I’ll be reading that one in the next couple of months (and perhaps rereading the rest of the series, too).

6) Are We All Lemmings and Snowflakes? by Holly Bourne

It Only Happens in the Movies was one of my favourite reads of 2017, so I bought Are We All Lemmings and Snowflakes? the day it came out, but for some reason I haven’t picked it up yet.

5) Iron Gold by Pierce Brown

I got 100 pages into Iron Gold and got scared, so I put it down and am yet to pick it up again. I’m planning on finishing it before Dark Age is released, but with Pierce Brown pushing its release date further and further back, I’m pushing back my planned read of Iron Gold, too. There are so many new characters which I’m beginning to care deeply about, and I know how murderous Brown is!

4) Indigo Donut by Patrice Lawrence

Over the last few years I’ve strived to read every book shortlisted for the YA Book Prize before the winner is announced, but I failed that in 2018. I got halfway through After the Fire (and I’m planning to finish it eventually) and started Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series to allow me to eventually read La Belle Sauvage, but I didn’t even pick up Indigo Donut, and Patrice Lawrence won the previous year’s prize!

3) State of Sorrow by Melinda Salisbury

I’m halfway through reading State of Sorrow, so this kind of doesn’t count, but I was hoping to finish it by the end of last year. I abandoned it when I gave birth, as tiny babies and fragile paper things aren’t the best combination, but now my daughter is a bit older and I can fight her off I’m planning on starting this one again fairly soon.

2) Goodbye, Perfect by Sara Barnard

I read Beautiful Broken Things and A Quiet Kind of Thunder within a month of their release dates, then struggled to wait for Sara Barnard to release another title. I decided to wait to read Goodbye, Perfect until she’d announced her fourth book… But then I kept procrastinating it! Her fourth book is out in a couple of weeks, so I’m planning on catching up on this one and rereading Beautiful Broken Things before Fragile Fierce Hearts is released, as it is a companion novel.

1) Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Children of Blood and Bone was the biggest debut of 2018, hands down. Tomi Adeyemi practically became a household name overnight, and although she hasn’t always been talked about for the best reasons (*cough* that tiff with Nora Roberts *cough*) it’s pretty much universally accepted that COBAB was one of the best books released in 2018. With the sequel rapidly approaching, I’m hoping to pull my finger out and read this sooner rather than later.

I hope you enjoyed this Top Ten Tuesday. Did you read any of these books in 2018, and if so would you recommend them?

Alyce

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Review: Pink Hair and Other Terrible Ideas by Andrea Pyros

Review: Pink Hair and Other Terrible Ideas by Andrea Pyros

When Josephine’s mum announces that she has breast cancer, it turns Josephine’s life upside down. Instead of worrying about getting invited to the hottest party in school, she’s now counting down the days until her mum has to have life-saving surgery. Josephine doesn’t want anyone […]

Review: Scared To Death by Anthony Horowitz

Review: Scared To Death by Anthony Horowitz

“Why go digging up the past when all it will give you is dust in the eye?” Scared To Death is the first Anthony Horowitz book I’ve ever read, which should be impossible because he’s published so many. I’ve been recommended both the Alex Rider series and […]

Top Ten Tuesday: Authors I Discovered in 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Authors I Discovered in 2018

Hey guys! This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is another fun topic, especially because I pushed myself out of my comfort zone last year and discovered quite a few new authors who became instant favourites. I think some of you will be surprised that I waited as long as I did before reading books from some of these authors, but if any of you haven’t tried them yet I highly recommend all of them.

10) C.J. Skuse

Surprisingly, I read both of C.J. Skuse’s adult releases – Sweetpea and In Bloom – in 2018, but I still haven’t read any of her YA novels. I’ve owned a couple of them for a few years but haven’t felt compelled to pick them up, but Sweetpea was utterly gripping and I really enjoyed the first installment in Rhiannon’s story.

9) Sophie Cameron

Sophie Cameron’s debut novel, Out of the Blue, was released in 2018, so it’s not a surprise that I first read one of her books in 2018. But I’d been following Sophie’s Twitter since her publishing deal was announced, so I’d been anticipating it for a while!

8) Philip Pullman

This might be cheating, because I still haven’t finished Northern Lights (I’m good at procrastinating, and I own this in a hardback bind-up of the entire trilogy which is just too heavy to read while juggling a wriggly baby!) but I thoroughly enjoyed the first half of the story. I can’t believe I waited as long as I did to experience Philip Pullman’s writing, which is magnificent.

7) Sally Nicholls

I only read Things a Bright Girl Can Do because it was shortlisted for the YA Book Prize, and I always make the effort to read every book on the shortlist. Sally Nicholl’s epic feminist YA novel was very enjoyable and I’m planning on reading more of her books soon, especially because friends have been recommending her work to me since All Fall Down was published back in 2012.

6) Emily Barr

Another author who I finally read thanks to the YA Book Prize. When Emily Barr’s debut, The One Memory of Flora Banks, was released, it seemed as though EVERYONE was reading and absolutely loving it. If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ll know that one of the things that scares me away from books quicker than anything is hype… So although I was really excited to read this book, I was too nervous about it. I’m so glad that I finally got past that, because Flora’s story is brilliant.

5) Mel Darbon

I read Rosie Loves Jack without knowing much about it, as I only borrowed it because it was new to the library eBook app and it had a pretty cover. Rosie has Down’s syndrome and runs away from home because her parents won’t let her see her boyfriend, Jack, resulting in a harrowing plot which explores the good and bad sides of humanity.

4) Marie Lu

Marie Lu is one of those authors everyone loves, but I’d been too scared to actually try any of her novels. I’ve still only read one of her books – her Batman novel, Nightwalker – but it did the unthinkable: it made me like Batman. That’s proof that Marie has a serious talent.

3) Adam Silvera

I didn’t start reading Adam Silvera’s novels until the end of the year, but I read two of them back to back in December. There were a lot of similarities between them making it hard to distinguish between the two stories at points, so I’m going to wait a while before trying They Both Die at the End and More Happy Than Not, but I can definitely see what all of the fuss is about.

2) Jenn Bennett

Jenn Bennett’s Starry Eyes might have been my favourite read of 2018. It was certainly the one that I found most heartwarming and comforting, especially because I read it at a time when I was hardly getting any sleep! Zorie and Lennon kept me company during a pretty difficult time, feeling more like friends than characters on a page, so I’m looking forward to making friends with more of Bennett’s characters this year.

1) Robin Stevens

The best discovery I made in 2018 was Robin Stevens and her Murder Most Unladylike series. I don’t often binge-read series – I intend to but I never follow through, abandoning ship two or three books in – but I only have one book in the series to read and then I’m completely up to date (and that book was only published in October). I’m even considering re-reading them because I love them that much, and that’s something I hardly ever do.

I hope you enjoyed this Top Ten Tuesday! Did you discover a new favourite author in 2018?

Alyce

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Review: Dry by Neal and Jarrod Shusterman

Review: Dry by Neal and Jarrod Shusterman

‘This is the true core of human nature. When we’ve lost the strength to save ourselves, we somehow find the strength to save each other.’ California has been experiencing a drought for a while. The Tap-Out has led to the introduction of the Frivolous Use […]