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Review: Whiteout by Gabriel Dylan

Review: Whiteout by Gabriel Dylan

A school ski trip turns deadly when a storm springs up out of nowhere, cutting the town where the group are staying off from the rest of the world. The ski lifts are out of action, the townsfolk seem to have evacuated and the teachers […]

Review: The Way Past Winter by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

Review: The Way Past Winter by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

‘It was a winter they would tell tales about. A winter that arrived so sudden and sharp it stuck birds to branches, and caught the rivers in such a frost their spray froze and scattered down like clouded crystals on stilled water. A winter that […]

YA Book Prize 2019 shortlist

YA Book Prize 2019 shortlist

In case you missed it, yesterday the YA Book Prize revealed this year’s #YA10. I put my predictions up on Wednesday, so today I’m going to share my thoughts on the shortlist: which inclusions surprised me, and which ones I feel stupid for not guessing!

A Sky Painted Gold by Laura Wood

A Sky Painted Gold was praised by a lot of bloggers last year, so I’m surprised that I didn’t think of this one (but Amy of Golden Books Girl did, so well done to her!). I didn’t really know all that much about it – apart from the fact that it seems to be universally loved – but as soon as I checked out the blurb on Goodreads and saw the word ‘Gatsby-esque’ I got very excited. I’m looking forward to giving this one a go.

Big Bones by Laura Dockrill

My NetGalley request to read Big Bones was approved, but at the time I planned to pick it up a whole slew of negative reviews appeared on Goodreads and really put me off. I’m going to read it to make up my own mind, but I am really surprised to see this book make it onto the shortlist.

Clean by Juno Dawson

I KNEW Clean was going to be on the list, and I’m already rooting for it to win. It’s hard to focus on anything when you have a newborn, but Lexi’s narrative was so engaging that I read Clean in a couple of sittings. I think I might try and find time to reread this one before the winner is announced, but I can’t see my opinion changing.

Goodbye, Perfect by Sara Barnard

I’m still gutted that A Quiet Kind of Thunder wasn’t on the 2018 shortlist, but I’m glad that Goodbye, Perfect made it onto the list. I didn’t get a chance to read it last year, but this is the first of the shortlist books which I haven’t read yet that I’m going to pick up.

I Am Thunder by Muhammad Khan

I’ve been intending to pick up I Am Thunder for a while, but every time I’ve tried to borrow it from the library it’s already been out on loan. That’s already proof that it’s popular, and I’m mad at myself for not predicting this one – it was one of the most talked about debuts of last year, and almost everyone reviewing it gave it five stars.

I Was Born For This by Alice Oseman

I wouldn’t be surprised if I Was Born For This ended up winning the prize, because it was the only book anyone could talk about for months following its publication. I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, but if I love it anywhere near as much as I loved Oseman’s Radio Silence, it might be a strong contender against Clean as my winner.

Only Love Can Break Your Heart by Katherine Webber

I debated putting Only Love Can Break Your Heart on my list of predictions, but I changed my mind at the last minute because I also thought Wing Jones deserved to be shortlisted last year and I was wrong about that! I haven’t picked up Katherine Webber’s second YA novel yet, but I’m looking forward to reading it now that I have an excuse to purchase a copy. Hopefully it’ll be as brilliant as Wing Jones was, because I read that it one sitting.

Outwalkers by Fiona Shaw

Outwalkers was the biggest surprise on the shortlist, because I’ve literally never heard of it. According to Goodreads it’s a dystopian, and I normally enjoy dystopians… Although Outwalkers is chonky, coming in at over 400 pages. I’m going to leave Outwalkers until last, because I need to borrow it out of the library and I don’t have the time to read a book of that length right now!

The Surface Breaks by Louise O’Neill

I had The Surface Breaks on my list of predictions, but I removed it at the last minute and switched in Karen Gregory’s Skylarks instead (a book which I was so emotionally invested in seeing on the shortlist and am absolutely devastated by its exclusion). Although I love The Little Mermaid and I normally enjoy retellings, I wasn’t a huge fan of this one.

White Rabbit, Red Wolf by Tom Pollock

This was another book that people couldn’t stop talking about after its release, so I was kicking myself for forgetting to include it. I borrowed it from the library already and am looking forward to reading this one, because I was planning on reading it at some point in the next few weeks even before it was on the shortlist!

What are your thoughts on this year’s shortlist? Do you already have a winner picked out from these ten?

Alyce

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Review: The Burning by Laura Bates

Review: The Burning by Laura Bates

New girl Anna Clark moved from Birmingham to Scotland to escape something terrible that happened in her past. But you can’t outrun your demons quite that easily, especially not when they’re plastered all over social media for the world to see. While the other students […]

YA Book Prize 2019 predictions

YA Book Prize 2019 predictions

With all of the excitement of giving birth last March, I didn’t have enough time to read all of the books that were on the 2018 YA Book Prize shortlist. Indigo Donut by Patrice Lawrence, Philip Pullman’s La Belle Sauvage and the winner – After […]

Top Ten Tuesday: Places I want to visit

Top Ten Tuesday: Places I want to visit

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is supposed to be all about the places in books that you want to visit, but I was having a hard time coming up with a list of books that featured the places that I want to visit.

Instead, I’ve decided to talk about the ten places that I want to visit most in the entire world (some linked to bookish reasons, some just because!).

10) Marrakech

There’s something about the beautiful architecture of Marrakech that has always captivated me, and I would love to see it in real life. The busy market squares are particularly famous, and although I’ve heard that they are similar across Morocco I’ve also been told that none really hold a candle to the atmosphere in Marrakech.

9) South Africa

Having grown up being absolutely obsessed with Wild at Heart, it’s not a surprise that one of my dream holiday locations is South Africa. Going on safari and seeing giraffes, lions and elephants in the wild would be an unforgettable experience.

8) Hawaii

My boyfriend travelled to Hawaii in October 2017 for his mum’s wedding, and the pictures that he took while he was there are unbelievably beautiful. There are even black sand beaches, which was something I’d never even heard of before he went!

7) Japan

There’s one reason particular reason I want to visit Japan – to visit the Pokémon store in Tokyo. I have loved Pokémon since I was very little and have seen so many pictures and videos of other people’s trips to the store, and I think I’d absolutely love it there.

6) Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh

I absolutely love walking, regularly walking a minimum of 10km each and every day. Arthur’s Seat is the end of a two hour walk, the main peak of a group of hills in Scotland, and I’ve heard so much about the awe-inspiring view that I would love to see it for myself one day. I’m also pretty sure it’s where Steffi and Rhys walk to in Sara Barnard’s A Quiet Kind of Thunder (but it’s been a couple of years since I read it, so don’t quote me on that!) and it’s also definitely mentioned in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

5) New Zealand

AJ, who used to contribute the Travel Thursday posts over on Everything Alyce, is from New Zealand, and he’s one of my oldest friends even though I’ve never met him in real life. I’d love to get to visit New Zealand and meet him one day, and see the bountiful amounts of sheep that he promises me cover the hills.

4) Pacific Coast Highway, California

The Pacific Coast Highway is meant to be one of the most gorgeous drives you’ll ever experience, which is why it’s so commonly featured in movies and TV shows. I’d love to be able to see the view of the ocean from this road.

3) German Christmas markets

I almost went on a trip to the Christmas markets in Germany while I was in school, but I wasn’t the most socially comfortable person so I decided to stay at home instead. My best friend visited there with her boyfriend last year, though, and took some gorgeous pictures that made me really want to go myself! Hopefully I’ll be able to get there some day.

2) Australian outback

I’ve always wanted to see a red sand desert, and the creatures of Australia absolutely fascinate me so it would be awesome to see kangaroos out in the wild in their natural habitat.

1) Paris

The setting of so many of my favourite books – particularly Anna and the French Kiss! – Paris is one of those places that I’ve always wanted to visit for so many reasons. The Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, the Arc de Triomphe… And, of course, Shakespeare and Company, which was the top of my bookstores I want to visit list!

I hope you enjoyed this Top Ten Tuesday. Have you ever visited any of these locations, or are they on your travel bucket list too?

Alyce

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Blog blitz: A Testament to Murder by Vivian Conroy

Blog blitz: A Testament to Murder by Vivian Conroy

Hello, and welcome to my blog blitz post! I’m hugely excited to be sharing an extract from A Testament to Murder with you today, but I’m going to share a bit more information about the book first to whet your appetite. A Testament to Murder […]

Review: The Taking of Annie Thorne by C.J. Tudor

Review: The Taking of Annie Thorne by C.J. Tudor

‘When my sister was eight years old, she disappeared. At the time I thought it was the worst thing in the world that could ever happen. And then she came back.’ It’s hard to share my thoughts on The Taking of Annie Thorne without getting […]

Review: Love & Luck by Jenna Evans Welch

Review: Love & Luck by Jenna Evans Welch

Addie is heartbroken, so spending the summer in Ireland watching her Aunt Mel get married (again) is not the one.

It’s made even worse by the fact that her and Ian – her brother and her closest friend – are at each other’s throats constantly. He won’t let her forget the fact that she didn’t trust his advice earlier in the summer and it blew up in her face.

Oh, and then she misses her flight to Italy because Ian decides he’s going across Ireland on a road trip with Rowan (an internet friend he’s literally never mentioned before who he met through his secret indie music blog) to Electric Picnic to see his favourite band, Titletrack, perform their last ever show. Totally not part of their travel itinerary, particularly not in Clover, Rowan’s beaten up car which is barely roadworthy before they even start their journey.

But luckily she has Ireland for the Heartbroken, a travel guide to Ireland with challenges to complete in each location which promise to help the reader recover from their heartbreak. If Addie can’t have Italy, hopefully guidebook lady’s advice can save the day.

Love & Luck is the contemporary novel I never knew I needed. Every single part of this book appealed to me, and I don’t think I’ve ever fallen in love with a book so fast.

I think part of the charm is that I relate deeply to both of the main characters.

Addie’s heartbreak is the violent, messy kind. She doesn’t sit around weeping and moaning; she gets in a fistfight with her brother and shouts so much that she can’t help but cry.

Meanwhile, Ian’s addiction to Titletrack reminds me of how palpable my excitement used to be every time I saw a new band live for the first time. His sadness at Titletrack’s impending split is something that every music fan will feel deeply, and I found myself wistfully wishing that I’d been able to travel across country to see some of my favourite bands’ final shows.

Each chapter of Addie’s story is followed by an excerpt from the guidebook, introducing a new location in Ireland for the group to travel towards. This structure pushes the story on incredibly quickly, because you learn about the place – in a fun, conversational way, completely at odds to what I’d expect from the narrator of a travel guide – and then barrel full steam ahead towards it, overcoming the many obstacles that crop up.

Jenna Evans Welch cleverly relates the stories of the locations and then links them to an aspect of the history of Titletrack, explaining the reason both Addie and Ian would be interested in each landmark they visit. I found myself getting overly invested in a fictional band, and my heart was racing when they finally took to the stage at the end of the novel!

This is a story that’s focused on getting past heartbreak with the help of your friends, not rushing headfirst straight into a new relationship. There’s obviously chemistry between Addie and Rowan but nothing happens between them and I appreciated that. When you’ve just been burnt by someone you thought you were in love with, it’s inadvisable to throw yourself at the next person you meet. It’s a shame that so many YA contemporary novels about heartbreak still fixate on this way of dealing with it.

I wasn’t aware that Love & Luck was a companion novel to Love & Gelato until I was already a fair way through the book, but having fallen in love with Welch’s writing style I’ve already bought the first book on my Kindle. I’ll hopefully get around to reading it sooner rather than later, because I know I’m going to fly through it just as quickly as I devoured this.

Alyce

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Review: Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi

Review: Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi

“You know what I’m talking about,” she said. “You’ve known from the day we met. Even on text, where there are no inflections or nuance or tone for non sequiturs. You’ve always spoken fluent me.” When Sam’s ex-girlfriend Lorraine – the great love of his […]