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BLOG TOUR: Stop That Dinosaur! by Alex English and Ben Cort

BLOG TOUR: Stop That Dinosaur! by Alex English and Ben Cort

Hello everyone, and welcome to my stop on the Stop That Dinosaur! blog tour. First off, I’d like to say a huge thank you to Blue at Kaleidoscopic Book Tours for organising this blog tour. They feature the best titles, and they work so hard 

REVIEW: The List by Patricia Forde

REVIEW: The List by Patricia Forde

To begin, I’d like to thank SOURCEBOOKS Jabberwocky, for accepting my request to read and review this title via NetGalley. The List introduces a dystopian world where vocabulary is being restricted and words are being systematically destroyed. The story follows Letta, the Wordsmith’s apprentice, as 

REVIEW: Rules For Being a Girl by Candace Bushnell and Katie Cotugno

REVIEW: Rules For Being a Girl by Candace Bushnell and Katie Cotugno

First things first, I’d like to say a huge thank you to Macmillan Children’s Books for accepting my request to read and review Rules For Being a Girl via NetGalley.

Rules For Being a Girl is a book I wish I could give to my teenage self.

Marin adores her English teacher, Mr Beckett. He’s just awesome. Down to earth, relatable, more of a friend than a teacher. Until he gives her a lift home late one night. On the way to her house, Bex swings by his apartment to pick up a book he keeps forgetting to lend to Marin. While they’re in his home, he kisses her.

She doesn’t know what to do. Marin’s certain that it was a simple misunderstanding. She must have been giving Bex the wrong impression, sending signals that she hadn’t been intending to send. She resolves to put it behind her and not allow it to taint their relationship.

However, Bex does the exact opposite. Suddenly he’s treating Marin harshly, grading her unfairly, and even interfering with her future. Marin has always followed the unspoken rules for being a girl: she’s been a model student, a good girl, and would never dream of causing a scene. But she’s starting to learn that some rules are meant to be broken…

Marin makes the best of a terrible situation, deciding to focus on educating herself on issues surrounding women’s equality and the difference in societal expectations between men and women. Straightforward and unafraid, Marin calls it how she sees it. This makes her seem like a much older character – it’s the kind of confidence which comes with growing up, and I didn’t know anyone who could call out sexist jokes or stereotypically macho behaviour in their teens – but it also makes her the kind of inspirational character that teenage girls need as a role model.

I didn’t understand feminism until I was in my very late teens, but if Rules For Being a Girl had been out when I was younger I would have been calling myself a feminist much earlier in my life. It was brilliant to see Marin start a feminist book club, and recommending titles by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Roxane Gay lays the groundwork for readers to explore feminist non-fiction written by women of colour. It allows interested readers to learn about intersectional feminism, and the way that feminist issues impact upon people from different backgrounds, from outspoken authors sharing their lived experiences.

I also really enjoyed the relationship between Marin and Gray, and I found myself rooting for them more than I have for a YA couple in quite a while. I’m hoping that Bushnell and Cotugno consider writing a sequel to this story, because Marin and Gray’s relationship has a lot of potential for development in the future. I felt sad at the end of the book because I was attached to both of the characters and I wanted to see more of them, and that’s not something which happens to me very often.

The only reason I didn’t give Rules For Being a Girl five stars is because I wasn’t a fan of the ending. It’s rushed. Compared to the rest of the novel – which builds up tension slowly, making you wonder what Marin will do next and whether Bex will get his comeuppance – the end of the story falls flat.

It’s hard to talk about my main issue with the ending without giving spoilers, but let’s say that it is highly unrealistic (which is a shame, because the rest of the novel is written so believably). If it had played out a bit more slowly, Bushnell and Cotugno might have been able to address exactly how the events are supposed to play out… But instead the main characters plot off the page, intending to give the reader a satisfying reveal when we discover what they’ve done, but it didn’t seem possible that they would have been able to get away with it.

However, if it wasn’t for the ending this book would have been a five star novel. The topics explored are relevant (even if some of the pop culture references already feel painfully dated for a book which was only released last summer!) and are important for young people to be able to discuss. I’ve seen this novel favourably compared to Moxie and The Nowhere Girls, so I’ll be checking both out as soon as I can.

I already knew I enjoyed Katie Cotugno’s writing, but this collaboration seems to have elevated her to the next level. If these authors decide to work together again in the future, it’ll be an autobuy for me.

I hope you enjoyed this review. See you again soon!

Alyce

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TOP TEN TUESDAY: Misleading book titles

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Misleading book titles

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. Today’s Top Ten Tuesday topic is actually funny book titles, but after wracking my brains for hours I still couldn’t think of any. Instead, I’ve decided to shine a spotlight on ten books that 

Irish YA Showcase

Irish YA Showcase

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! In honour of today’s celebration, I thought it would be the perfect time to talk about five of the best YA books I’ve read by Irish authors. I’m also going to feature five Irish YA novels that I can’t wait to 

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Books on my spring TBR

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Books on my spring TBR

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

Oh boy, it has been a while since I’ve written a seasonal TBR post for Top Ten Tuesday. I am notoriously bad at actually reading any of the books that I feature on these lists, so I’ve tried to pick a selection of books which I’m not too desperate to read (just in case tradition prevails!).

I won’t be featuring any of the books on the YA Book Prize 2021 shortlist (which I released a chaotic reaction video for) or my 25 Before 25 list, so make sure to check out the books appearing on those lists if you’re interested in my reading plans throughout April.

But for now, let’s talk about what I’m planning on reading throughout the spring months.

Bridge of Souls by Victoria Schwab

The third book in the Cassidy Blake series, Bridge of Souls was finally released at the beginning of March after being postponed from September 2020. Following Cassidy, her parents, her best friend Jacob (and her cat!), Bridge of Souls will focus on the city of New Orleans and the ghosts that walk within its walls. I normally order the newest Cassidy Blake book for Sean for his birthday and we read it during his birthday week, so instead I think it’ll be nice to celebrate my birthday by rereading the first two books before finishing the series!

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

We started The Catcher in the Rye back in September, after picking it during a hectic game of Becca’s Bookopoly. Our intentions were good – both Sean and I wanted to read more classics – but unfortunately we read the first few pages of The Catcher in the Rye during a car journey and then never picked it up again. Oops. I would love to get this one finished soon so that we can spring clean it off of our Goodreads currently reading shelf.

The Fires of Heaven by Robert Jordan

We’re currently halfway through The Shadow Rising – book four in the Wheel of Time series – and I’m beginning to struggle with it. The pace is much slower, not all that much is happening, and there’s far too much Rand compared to The Dragon Reborn! However, I still want to persevere with the Wheel of Time series, so I’m hoping to finish at least one more installment before the spring ends.

Ghostcatcher by Sophie Green

The third and final book in the Potkin and Stubbs series, Ghostcatcher is one that I’m slightly apprehensive about reading. I love the idea of the Potkin and Stubbs novels – set in a noir town where it’s always raining, following a wannabe journalist and the ghost who finds her to investigate his death – but I haven’t been overly impressed by the first two books in the series. I love Karl James Mountford’s illustrations, but these are definitely on the younger end of the middle grade age range. Hopefully the loose ends will all come together nicely and the final installment will be satisfying.

Hollow City by Ransom Riggs

I finally read Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children last month, and I enjoyed it but I didn’t love it as much as I’d hoped I would. This is a series which I’m hoping to continue sooner rather than later – it’s taken me ten years to read the first book in the series, so I don’t want to wait another ten before I read book two!

Mister Impossible by Maggie Stiefvater

The sequel to Call Down the Hawk, Mister Impossible is one of my most anticipated 2021 releases. As soon as I finished Call Down the Hawk I found myself wishing that I’d waiting for the entire Dreamer trilogy to be released before I started it, because it ends on one heck of a cliffhanger! This is another one which I’m thinking of rereading before I pick up the sequel, as I want to be as immersed in the world as possible.

The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien

I have been procrastinating finishing the Lord of the Rings series, because I have hated it so far. I loved The Hobbit, but the first two books in the Lord of the Rings trilogy have been boring, uneventful and have each almost sent me into a reading slump. This is probably the perfect time to read The Return of the King – my concentration is shot and I can hardly read at the moment, so it’s not as though Tolkien can make it any worse! – but I just can’t force myself to pick it up. I will finish the series eventually, though…

Rose Interrupted by Patrice Lawrence

Another book which has been sat on my currently reading list for months. I read half of Rose Interrupted in one sitting and felt so invested in the story and the characters, and then I put it down and somehow managed to never pick it up again! The copy of Rose Interrupted that I’m reading is a library copy, so I’m going to need to return it sooner rather than later as the UK begins to come out of lockdown, so this one is a high priority to get finished.

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

The Shadow and Bone TV series is premiering on Netflix at the end of April, and I’m determined to reread the first book (at least!) before it’s released. I’ve never read the Six of Crows duology because I wanted to reread the original Grisha trilogy before diving back into this world, so depending on how quickly I can get through these I would love to get the five books in the first two Grisha series read before I start watching the show.

With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

I loved both The Poet X and Clap When You Land, so I’m looking forward to reading Elizabeth Acevedo’s only currently published prose novel. Although I enjoy verse, I always find that I connect to characters and stories more when I read traditional prose, so if Elizabeth Acevedo’s prose writing is as strong as her verse then she’ll definitely be cemented as one of my favourite authors.

And those are ten of the books I’m hoping to get read in the next few months! Feel free to link your spring TBR posts down below. Are we reading any of the same books?

See you soon, and thanks for reading,

Alyce

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REVIEW: How To Disappear by Gillian McAllister

REVIEW: How To Disappear by Gillian McAllister

First things first, I’d like to say a huge thank you to Michael Joseph for accepting my request to read and review this title via NetGalley. How To Disappear tells the story of a girl called Zara, who has to enter witness protection after lying 

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 I didn’t enjoy much and I’m not sure I’ll reread, some of these are ones that I’m hanging onto for nostalgic values but I don’t really want in my house anymore, and some of these are ones that I don’t know if I’ll ever actually read!

I’ll be doing this list alphabetically again, because there’s not really an order of preference to when/if I’ll get rid of them. It’ll just depend on how I feel at the time of my next unhaul.

So, without further ado…

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

Sean owns two copies of this novel – one in the standard blue cover, and one in a gorgeous lilac – while I also have a copy of the blue cover edition. Since moving in together it has meant we have three copies of the book on our shelves, and neither of us have actually read it! I read Breathless by Jennifer Niven in January and sadly didn’t love it, while Sean DNF’d it at 25%. If we end up feeling the same way about All the Bright Places when we eventually read it, we’ll definitely be unhauling these multiple editions.

Everless by Sara Holland

When I first read Everless, I really enjoyed it. The epilogue put a bit of a dampener on things, but I was still excited to pick up the sequel, Evermore. It ended up being majorly disappointing. I’m currently keeping hold of my copy of Everless because it has red sprayed pages and looks really cool, but I definitely won’t be rereading it so it is just taking up unnecessary space.

The Gunslinger by Stephen King

We’re lucky enough to live near a charity shop which gives away free books. When we went in there just before the first lockdown, we somehow managed to find fancy special edition hardbacks of the last two books in the Dark Tower series, and it has made us determined to get the matching set at some point. The copy of The Gunslinger that we currently own is paperback, so if we ever find a special edition hardback copy we will be replacing it!

The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

My reasons for wanting to unhaul this should be obvious. I vehemently disagree with the personal views J.K. Rowling has been spouting on her Twitter throughout the past year (so much so that her name became the first phrase I ever muted on Twitter).

Two reasons stand between me and unhauling these books. First of all, I haven’t actually finished reading the series yet! I was planning on reading them last year, read the first three books and have not yet continued because I don’t want to promote her or discuss her writing. Some part of me still wants to finish the series just so I know what all of the fuss is about, because I haven’t been overly impressed with any of the first three novels.

The other reason – and the one more important to me personally – is that these novels were all gifts from my mum. I vividly remember her buying me the first two books, because I didn’t often get books brand new. I was such an avid user of the library that I didn’t need to own them! I also remember reading the third book out of the library when I was younger, and when I got to the end the last page was missing and my mum specifically went to town that day to buy me my own copy so that I could finish the story off. I aspire to be that good of a mum to my little ones when they’re a bit older. She even bought me a copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows on release day, just in case I caught up and wanted to read it as soon as possible.

I have fond memories of my Harry Potter books, even though I’m not the biggest fan of the series so far. I will never purchase another book by J.K. Rowling – hell, I’ll never borrow another of her books from the library because the UK has PLR and authors get paid for their books being borrowed – but because she’s already been given the money for the books that I own I still might read them. This is the inclusion on this list that I feel the most torn about.

The Maze Runner series by James Dashner

I’m considering unhauling this series for similar reason to my Harry Potter books. James Dashner has exhibited some problematic behaviour in the past, and even though I’m still interested in reading this series (it comes very highly recommended by my best friend!), I just can’t bring myself to actually pick it up. I had multiple copies because of how gorgeous the covers were, and I’ve already unhauled a set of them, so I don’t think it’s going to be too long until I call it quits and clear these off of my shelf.

Nowhere Else But Here by Rachel Cotton

Nowhere Else But Here is a cute YA contemporary romance about a boy who disappears, only to turn up on our protagonist’s doorstep, leaving her no choice but to hide him in her bedroom. I’ll be honest, I can’t remember why he disappears or why she feels the need to hide him, and that makes me very tempted to reread this book. However, I don’t often reread YA contemporaries, because there are just too many new ones that I haven’t had a chance to pick up yet.

My main reason for keeping this book is that it was kindly sent to me by the publisher, as I took part in the blog tour, and it came with a pair of socks! It was the first advanced copy I’d ever received with a bonus gift, and for that reason it gives me really happy memories.

The Ragwitch by Garth Nix

The Ragwitch was a pretty mediocre debut novel, especially from an author who has gone on to become as famous as Garth Nix. However, some of the vivid scenes still stick in my mind. It makes me wonder whether I’m going to end up enjoying his later novels much more than his first one. My main justification for keeping The Ragwitch is that I think it would be fun to read to the babies when they’re older. The creepy setting and fantasy elements are ones that I would have loved in my bedtime stories, but I’m not sure whether to unhaul this and find a better book to read with them.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

My copy of Ready Player One is a paperback with a movie tie-in cover. My copy of the sequel, Ready Player Two, is a fancy signed hardback with sprayed pages. I want these to match, so I’ll probably unhaul the paperback and splurge on a hardback of book one.

Top Marks For Murder by Robin Stevens

Sean won’t let me unhaul this book, but I’m tempted to do it. I ordered Top Marks For Murder as a gift for Sean just after it was released. It got put on the bookcase and not taken off until we read it at the end of 2020, when I discovered that my memory had lied to me. I thought we had the sprayed pages edition, but it’s just a normal, white paged copy!

We eventually want to own all of the sprayed pages editions of the Murder Most Unladylike series (even though it will mean that we’ve got multiple copies), but because this one lied to me I’m tempted to get it off of our shelves and replace it as soon as possible. I definitely won’t, because Sean is too attached to it because it was a gift from me, but I’m looking forward to the day that we finish our collection of sprayed editions!

Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson

I’m a bit confused about what Twisted actually is. The synopsis reads like it’s a standalone, but I swear I saw somewhere that it’s actually a companion novel to Speak. If it’s a companion novel I would like to reread Speak before picking it up, but I don’t have easy access to a copy which is one reason I’m put off from this book.

The other reason is that Laurie Halse Anderson is very much a Marmite author to me. I’ve loved some of her books (Wintergirls, The Impossible Knife of Memory) and I’ve hated some of her books (Prom, Catalyst). Twisted could fall in either camp, but I’m very apprehensive about picking it up.




And those are all of the books I’m thinking of unhauling at the moment! If you have strong feelings on these books either way – if you love them and you’d recommend I keep them, or hate them and want me to get them out of my house ASAP – please let me know down in the comments.

Please also share your spring cleaning freebie topics! Freebie weeks are always so much fun.

As always, thank you for reading,

Alyce

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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