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REVIEW: All Our Hidden Gifts by Caroline O’Donoghue

REVIEW: All Our Hidden Gifts by Caroline O’Donoghue

First things first, I’d like to say a huge thank you to Walker Books for accepting my request to read and review this title via NetGalley. All Our Hidden Gifts is a book which tries to do too much, but is still very enjoyable. Following 

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Books I’ll probably unhaul

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Books I’ll probably unhaul

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is a spring cleaning freebie, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to talk about ten books I’ll probably unhaul at some point. Some of these are ones that 

YA Book Prize 2021 Predictions

YA Book Prize 2021 Predictions

It’s that time of the year again! With the YA Book Prize shortlist being announced at 5pm on Wednesday (two days to go!!!), I thought it was the perfect time for me to showcase the ten books I’m expecting to see pop up on that coveted list.

2020 was a weird time for publishing. Half of the titles I’d expected to see on this list are awaiting publication having been pushed back to 2021, so there were a lot less books to choose from than normal when I was making my predictions.

However, that doesn’t mean that there weren’t too many good books to choose from. I’d like to give a special mention to Burn by Patrick Ness and The Love Hypothesis by Laura Steven, both of which I couldn’t squeeze into my predictions but still deserve to be celebrated!

So, without further ado… Here is my alphabetical list of YA Book Prize shortlist predictions. I’ve linked the Goodreads pages for each book in their title, so if you want to learn more about them, click away.

And the Stars Were Burning Brightly by Danielle Jawando




And the Stars Were Burning Brightly is a touching portrayal of grief, following the brother and a friend of a boy called Al who dies by suicide. Nathan’s distress at his brother’s death is compounded by the fact that he was the one who found Al, while Megan struggles to come to terms with the fact that she publicly shunned Al, keeping their friendship private in the attempt to maintain her popularity. This is a powerful debut novel, and one which almost brought tears to my eyes at multiple points. Danielle Jawando’s writing is lyrical, and because the story is set in Manchester it’s filled with a strong sense of voice. All of those things are normally present in the YA Book Prize, so And the Stars Were Burning Brightly should be a shoo-in for a shortlist appearance.



Blood Moon by Lucy Cuthew



The YA Book Prize shortlist regularly features novels in verse, and this year I have two in my predictions! The first novel in verse which I’m going to tell you about today is Blood Moon by Lucy Cuthew, another debut novel.

In Blood Moon, we follow a girl called Frankie as she has her first sexual experience with a boy, but unfortunately starts her period at the same time. Benjamin brushes it off, but somehow it ends up getting around the school, and Frankie finds herself unsure who to trust as she’s the eye in a hurricane of targeted bullying.

There isn’t much period-positive YA literature, but this story certainly packs a punch. I’m sure anyone who has periods will find themselves able to relate to Frankie’s story.



Every Little Piece of My Heart by Non Pratt



Non Pratt is one of the biggest names in UKYA, so I had to feature her most recent release.

Freya leaves town with no goodbyes and no explanation. When her best friend Sophie receives a parcel from Freya, she assumes that she’s finally going to be getting answers explaining her disappearance… But instead she is left with more questions, because Freya has sent her a letter addressed to Win, a girl Sophie thought Freya barely knew.

This book is described as being similar to Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard (which is a poignant novel focused on the intensity of female friendship), so I’m expecting a lot from this book, and I’m definitely expecting to see it on the YA Book Prize shortlist.



Good Girl, Bad Blood by Holly Jackson



“But Alyce,” I hear you cry, “you always complain when sequels are shortlisted for the YA Book Prize!”.

I’ll be honest, this feels like a controversial choice and I’m the one making the bloody predictions! But there’s something about Holly Jackson’s writing that makes me want to scream from the rooftops, so this predictions post wouldn’t have been complete without the second saga in Pip Fitz-Amobi’s story.

Good Girl, Bad Blood could be a standalone, which is why I’m featuring it. There are references to A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder, but in Good Girl, Bad Blood Pip is recounting the events of the first book through her podcast. This means it’s an accessible starting point to the series for readers who missed book one, and the mystery in the second book stands alone neatly.

I will be disappointed if Good Girl, Bad Blood doesn’t appear on the shortlist, but I also won’t be terribly surprised.



Hideous Beauty by William Hussey



The synopsis of Hideous Beauty is giving me serious Far From You vibes, and I’m mad at myself for sleeping on this book for the last nine months.

Dylan and Ellis find their secret relationship exposed on social media, but instead of being met with vitriol and hatred, they find themselves celebrated and accepted. Sadly, their happiness is short-lived. On the drive home from their high school dance, Ellis crashes his car. Dylan is pulled from the wreckage; Ellis sadly dies.

After that it sounds as though it turns into a bit of a mystery thriller, with Dylan vowing to investigate Ellis’ death and to get to the bottom of who the boy he loved really was, and what exactly happened on the night of his death. I think this book is going to be heartbreaking, but the YA Book Prize normally showcases very impactful novels, and that blurb sounds pretty impactful to me.



Hold Back the Tide by Melinda Salisbury



Hold Back the Tide is Melinda Salisbury’s first standalone novel (even though Goodreads seems to think it’s the third book in the Sorrow series!).

The blurb for this book is ridiculously vague – mentioning a girl called Alva, and something bad happening to her mother – but the main reason I’m featuring this one is because it’s being described as a dark YA, and it’s got a very watery cover. Sounds quite similar to Deeplight by Frances Hardinge – which was featured on the YA Book Prize shortlist last year – so they definitely have an interest in YA books with unique settings and darker stories.



Loveless by Alice Oseman

I will eat my boot if Loveless isn’t on the YA Book Prize.

It seems like a no-brainer. One of the first UKYA novels focusing on asexuality, from one of the most loved UKYA authors? If it’s not on the shortlist, something has gone seriously wrong.

Loveless tells the story of Georgia, who is off to university. She’s the only person in her year who has never been kissed, but she’s sure her great love story is waiting for her in Durham. It isn’t until she gets there that she begins to realise that she might not want a great love story, and that she just might not experience attraction the same way that most of her classmates do.

Although Loveless primarily explores sexuality, there’s also a great focus on friendships and family, and the huge life transition that going off to university can be. It ticks all of the boxes, and as soon as we finished reading it I turned to Sean and told him I thought we’d just read the 2021 YA Book Prize winner… So if this doesn’t even appear on the shortlist I’m going to look like a massive idiot.



The Reckless Afterlife of Harriet Stoker by Lauren James



I am a sucker for ghost books. Following a girl called Harriet Stoker who falls to her death, The Reckless Afterlife of Harriet Stoker introduces a gang of ghosts who each have a special power. Harriet’s more interested in destruction, though, and before long eternity is at stake…

Even though I wasn’t a huge fan of Lauren James’ 2020 shortlisted The Quiet at the End of the World, I can still appreciate that she is a well-loved UKYA author, and I’m hoping that The Reckless Afterlife of Harriet Stoker appears on the shortlist so that I’m forced to give her another chance.



Run, Rebel by Manjeet Mann



Run, Rebel is the second novel in verse that I’m showcasing today.

Reminiscent of Wing Jones, Run, Rebel follows a girl called Amber who only feels free when she’s running, escaping from a claustrophobic home life where her father is desperately trying to get her to wait for an arranged marriage like her sister.

Amber’s running is a rebellion, so it sounds like this book is going to be intensely focused on parental expectations and defying them in the attempt to be true to yourself. It’s always brilliant to see diversity on shortlists and that’s something the YA Book Prize normally manages, so I’m hoping that Run, Rebel will make an appearance.



Wonderland by Juno Dawson



Last, but certainly not least, I had to include Wonderland, the newest novel from the reigning YA Book Prize champion. Juno Dawson won in 2020 with Meat Market and was shortlisted in 2019 with Clean, so it’s only fair that the third book in the London trilogy gets the same shortlist treatment.

Wonderland follows a girl called Alice who is investigating her friend Bunny’s disappearance. In her search she discovers Wonderland – the party to end all parties – and she finds herself getting sucked into three days of hedonistic excess.

This sounds like it’s going to be a bit of a mystery, a bit of an exposé of the sordid underground of the British elite, and a deep dive into mental health as well, and I’m here for all of it.





And those are the ten books I’m sure are going to be featured on the YA Book Prize shortlist when it’s revealed on Wednesday.

Make sure to follow the YA Book Prize on Twitter (and on their newly created Instagram!) so that you don’t miss the shortlist when it’s revealed.

You might also like to subscribe to my YouTube channel The Bumbling Blogger, where I’ll be posting my reaction to the shortlist on Wednesday evening.

Are there any books that I’ve missed that you think are definitely going to be appearing on the shortlist? Let me know down in the comments!

Thank you for reading,

Alyce

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REVIEW: It Sounded Better in My Head by Nina Kenwood

REVIEW: It Sounded Better in My Head by Nina Kenwood

It’s hard to review It Sounded Better in My Head, because the reality is that not a lot happens in this book. That being said, I bloody loved it. Main character Natalie gets a nasty surprise for Christmas when her parents announce that they are 

REVIEW: Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly

REVIEW: Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly

Stepsister is a brilliant fairytale continuation with a lackluster ending (and far too many chapters!). I wrongly assumed that Stepsister was going to be a fairytale retelling of Cinderella from the point of view of one of the ugly stepsisters. Instead it’s a continuation of 

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Purple, yellow and green book covers

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Purple, yellow and green book covers

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl.

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is all about celebrating books with purple, yellow and green covers because today is Mardi Gras! Without further ado, here are some pictures of the best purple, yellow and green books that we own.

I hope you enjoyed this Top Ten Tuesday post! Which purple, yellow or green cover is your favourite?

Alyce

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REVIEW: Breathless by Jennifer Niven

REVIEW: Breathless by Jennifer Niven

First things first, I’d like to say a huge thank you to Penguin for accepting my request to read Breathless via NetGalley. Breathless was my first Jennifer Niven read, and it didn’t live up to the hype. Following a girl called Claude as her parents 

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Adult romances on my radar

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Adult romances on my radar

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. I’ll be honest, I have no idea how to talk about adult books. I would call all of the books on this list contemporary romances, but I don’t actually know if they are: 

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Books written before I was born

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Books written before I was born

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl.

Because this week’s topic is rather vague, I’ve decided to split this list into two.

I’m going to start this list by talking about five books that were written before I was born (April 24th 1996, to be specific!) that I have read and enjoyed. I’m then going to talk about five books that were written before I was born that I still haven’t read (but want to, sooner rather than later!).

So, without further ado… Let’s start talking about five old books that I’ve read and love!

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen (published December 1st 1817)




I read a Jane Austen novel a month back in 2016-17, and Northanger Abbey was the only one that I gave five stars. The others were all very high four stars, but there’s something about Jane Austen’s take on the gothic novel that charmed me more than her most popular stories did.

The thing that struck me most during my read of Northanger Abbey was how strong Jane Austen’s voice comes across in the narrative. She’s so sassy and outspoken, not afraid to lace social commentary through her novels at a time when it was still very rare for women to be allowed to write, and it made me wish that she was still alive so that she could be my friend.




The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (published January 10th 1892)
The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman




The Yellow Wallpaper is only a short story, but it’s a remarkably powerful one.

Following a woman who is experiencing postpartum depression, and the husband who refuses to listen to her wishes regarding treatment, this is a semi-autobiographical story that brings awareness to the plight of women in the 19th Century.

Charlotte Perkins Gilman was a brave woman to write a story like this, and it’s well worth a read if you haven’t picked it up before (particularly if you are interested in the origins of feminism!).




The Lottery by Shirley Jackson (published June 26th 1948)
The Lottery by Shirley Jackson






I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: The Lottery is one of the best short stories of all time.

This is the only one of Shirley Jackson’s short stories that I’ve read so far, but I was lucky enough to find a copy of The Lottery and Other Stories on the Kindle Daily Deal for 99p last month, so I’ll be reading more of her short stories soon.

The Lottery focuses on a quaint village with a dark secret, and even though the foreshadowing is rather heavy throughout, the payoff is delectable.



The Collector by John Fowles (published 1963)
The Collector by John Fowles





The Collector was the first book I studied at sixth form, and it completely changed the way I thought about classics.

I’d always thought classic novels were dry, dusty tomes that had no relevance in modern life (and I definitely didn’t think that they’d include a guy chloroforming the girl he ‘loves’ and locking her in his basement!).

If you’re interested in stories about obsession, The Collector is definitely the classic for you.







The Dragon Reborn by Robert Jordan (published October 15th 1991)
The Dragon Reborn by Robert Jordan




I could have easily featured any of the first three books in the Wheel of Time series, because I’ve enjoyed every installment of this series so far. However, I have had to go with The Dragon Reborn because it features the least Rand!

If you haven’t started the Wheel of Time series, it follows a bunch of main characters, but the primary protagonist is a man called Rand al’Thor. For some reason, he really annoys me. However, he’s off on his jollies during The Dragon Reborn so the rest of the characters get more time in the spotlight, and it made reading this book so much more enjoyable than my experience with the first two.



And now, onto the books that are older than me which I still need to read!

Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens (published 1838)




I haven’t read anything by Charles Dickens – not even Oliver Twist – which is embarrassing when you consider the fact that I played a fruit seller during Who Will Buy? at a school concert.

I’d like to read anything by Charles Dickens, but this was the one that Sean suggest putting on this list because come on, I literally played a character in the musical version of this story and I still haven’t read it! What is wrong with me.




Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte (published December 1847)




If I’m honest, the main reason I haven’t read Wuthering Heights is because I despise the song by Kate Bush which was inspired by this book.

I hate the song so passionately – surely the book can’t be any better?

But I’d still like to read Wuthering Heights eventually, just to see what all the fuss over Heathcliff is about. Also, I didn’t enjoy Jane Eyre, so surely one of the Bronte sisters must be for me!




The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells (published February 2nd 1897)




I really enjoyed both The War of the Worlds and The Country of the Blind and Other Selected Stories by H.G. Wells, so I don’t know why I haven’t read more of his work.

It might be because I wasn’t a huge fan of The Time Machine, which put me off picking up any classic sci-fi for quite a while… But my memories of Wells’ writing is fond enough that he had to feature on this list.

I’d like to read either The Invisible Man or The Island of Doctor Moreau sooner rather than later, but I can’t see me prioritising these at any point in the upcoming months.



Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (published October 19th 1953)
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury




I’ll be honest, I wasn’t that interested in Fahrenheit 451 until I read this absolutely wild review TRASHING it. Since then I’ve found myself intrigued by it and desperate to know if it’s as bad as that review says it is. That’s proof that bad reviews can still sell books!

That being said, I don’t own a copy of Fahrenheit 451, so it’s another book that I won’t be prioritising at any point in 2021. If I happen to see a copy in a charity shop (when they eventually reopen), or it pops up on the Kindle Daily Deal, I’ll grab it while I can.



The Shining by Stephen King (published January 28th 1977)




Again, Sean picked this book for me, because there are too many Stephen King novels that I want to read.

Pet Sematary, The Waste Lands, The Stand, ‘Salem’s Lot… They’re all older than me, and I’m yet to get to any of them! However, The Shining is another hugely iconic King novel – and an iconic film which I won’t let myself watch until I eventually read the book – so this is the one I should probably prioritise.

I’d eventually like to read all of Stephen King’s novels, but there are just too many. Maybe one day, though.




And that’s it for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday! Let me know down in the comments the best book you’ve read which is older than you, and a book you need to read which is older than you.

See you next week!

Alyce

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REVIEW: Love & Olives by Jenna Evans Welch

REVIEW: Love & Olives by Jenna Evans Welch

I was so excited when Love & Olives popped up as one of the Riveted Lit Free Reads in December. Love & Luck is still one of my favourite YA contemporaries of all time, and I thought Love & Olives was sure to impress me