Review – Girlhood

26224552Title: Girlhood
Author:
 Cat Clarke
Published by: Quercus
Publication date: 4th May 2017
Pages: 342, paperback
Genre: YA, contemporary

Harper has tried to forget the past and fit in at expensive boarding school Duncraggan Academy. Her new group of friends are tight; the kind of girls who Harper knows have her back. But Harper can’t escape the guilt of her twin sister’s Jenna’s death, and her own part in it – and she knows noone else will ever really understand.

But new girl Kirsty seems to get Harper in ways she never expected. She has lost a sister too. Harper finally feels secure. She finally feels…loved. As if she can grow beyond the person she was when Jenna died.

Then Kirsty’s behaviour becomes more erratic. Why is her life a perfect mirror of Harper’s? And why is she so obsessed with Harper’s lost sister? Soon, Harper’s closeness with Kirsty begins to threaten her other relationships, and her own sense of identity.

How can Harper get back to the person she wants to be, and to the girls who mean the most to her?

A darkly compulsive story about love, death, and growing up under the shadow of grief.

***

I’ve had a copy of Girlhood since YALC in the summer of 2017, and it intrigued me from the first time I heard about it. I haven’t read any Cat Clarke in a while, but a couple of years ago I made my way through the rest of her books, and I really enjoyed all of them, so I couldn’t wait to read this one! I raced through this book, and it is definitely one of the best YA contemporaries I have read in a while (I think it’s also important to point out, for those of you who are unaware, that this book does talk about eating disorders throughout the story, so that is something to bear in mind if that is a sensitive topic for you).

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Big Overdue Book Haul!

 

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I am finally getting around to posting my first book haul of the year! As I did not get many books in January, I thought I would give that month a miss, and just do a double book haul at the end of February . . . and then I ended up not writing anything for ages, and now have accumulated fourteen new books since the start of the year! There is a wide range of genres, but this book haul is definitely the most YA heavy one I have done in a while.

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Andersen Press Blogger Brunch!

Last Saturday, I was invited to Andersen Press’ Blogger Brunch to hear about their upcoming YA releases for 2018. Over the summer, I did a week of work experience at Andersen Press, and so it was so lovely to be invited back as a blogger, and I had a really great morning! We started the morning with some delicious brunch and a chat, and I met Louise, blogger at Book Murmation – we have been chatting on Twitter for a few months now, so it was really lovely to finally meet her! Harriet, Charlie, and Chloe from Andersen Press then gave us a presentation, going through each of the novels being released over the course of the year!

The first book is Rebound by Kwame Alexander, out in April this year. This is a prequel to the book The Crossover, also by Kwame Alexander, and what I find so interesting about this book is that it is told in the form of poetry. The story is about jazz and basketball, with each and every part told as a poem, which I think is really cool! We also watched a video from Kwame Alexander, who couldn’t be at the event with us, which was really interesting, and it was lovely to see all the work he does in schools in the UK. After that, we heard about Mud by Emily Thomas, out in July 2018. Told in the form of a diary, Mud is about a girl, living on a barge with her family, who has to cope with the many strains and grievances she and her family come under. Emily herself gave us some in depth insight into this book, and I was utterly transfixed by her storytelling. I was particularly excited to the cover of this book the screen, as in the summer, during my work experience, I sat in on a meeting where they were discussing the cover design for Mud, so it was really interesting to see the final result! Shadows by Meaghan McIsaac is the sequel to Movers, and has actually been out since the start of this month! The first book is set in a world where refugees are flooding in from the future, and in this novel, the protagonist has been thrown into the future – I will not go into too much detail (to avoid spoilers), but it sounds like a really action-packed, exciting read!

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YA Shot Blog Tour: Interview With Orlagh Collins!

Today is my stop on the YA Shot Blog Tour, and I have been looking forward to this for such a long time! Today, I will be sharing an interview with Orlagh Collins, author of No Filter, her stunning debut novel about love, friendships, and switching off from social media. You can read my review of No Filter from a few weeks ago here, and thank you to Orlagh, Bloomsbury, and the wonderful YA Shot media team for making this happen! I am also hosting a giveaway of No Filter over on my Twitter, so make sure to check that out.

1. Three words to describe No Filter?

(Refreshingly) grounded & sweepingly romantic. These are Bloomsbury’s words, but I’ll take ‘em.

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Five Feminist Book Recs (for five different genres!)

Happy International Women’s Day! I have spent some time thinking about what sort of blog post I wanted to put out to celebrate this day, and I decided that I wasn’t quite ready to do a personal sort of post (but maybe next year). So, today I am sharing some feminist book recommendations. I did a similar post last year on International Women’s Day, however this year I am picking five different types of books, so that no matter what kind of reader you are, fan of YA or not, hopefully at least one of these books appeals to you!

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For fantasy lovers – although fantasy is probably my favourite genre, unfortunately the tropes that accompany this genre are often problematic and distinctly un-feminist (think damsel-in-distress, alpha males, etc.). That said, I have found that the fantasy YA being written and published is becoming more and more empowering, and one example of this is Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh. This is a Mulan retelling, and is just as awesome as the Disney film – the main character, Mariko, is a wonderfully fleshed out character, and I just love the pro-female message that runs throughout this book! My review of Flame in the Mist is here.

An older book – 1600s kind of old, in fact. The Duchess of Malfi by John Webster is one of the plays I am studying for English A Level, and although its Shakespearean language can be hard to decipher at times, myself and all my classmates have loved how progressive the main character, the Duchess, is. The other characters in the play are incredibly misogynistic and try to oppress the Duchess, but she herself is very dignified and surprisingly feminist, considering the book is set in the early 1500s.

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In February I Read | 2018

Unlike January, my February reading was spread out throughout the month, and I managed to read four books, including two YA fantasy books (a genre I don’t read nearly enough). I entirely forgot that February is missing a few days, and didn’t realise it was March until the evening on the first, meaning that I did not finish my fifth book this month. Nonetheless, I am pleased with all the books I did succeed in reading.

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Firstly, I finished reading The Duchess of Malfi by John Webster, which I have been reading for the past few months as part of my English A Level. It took me a while to get used to the style of writing, as it was written in the early 1600s and set even earlier, but I have really enjoyed picking my way through this play. The imagery in this play is super complex, and the Duchess herself is really kick-ass, especially considering she was a woman in the 1500s being constantly oppressed by patriarchal figures. I have been studying The Duchess of Malfi alongside A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams, and I’m thinking of doing a blog post on this later on in the year – let me know your thoughts!

I decided it was time to read some more YA fantasy, so I picked up my copy of Flame in the Mist by Renée Ahdieh, which, if you have read my review, you’ll know I absolutely loved. The characters were unique, the plot was fantastic and had me hooked from the very beginning, and it had excellent representation. Make sure to read my full review if you want to hear my thoughts in full – it’s definitely the most heartfelt review I have written in a while!

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After that, I finished another book that I had been reading for a while: Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood. I started reading this back in December, but as it is quite long, and I was trying to meet my goal of reading 100 books in 2017, I put it aside for a little while. I picked it up again about halfway through February, and I was immersed in the story immediately. Grace Marks was an unreliable narrator who kept me second guessing myself throughout the novel, and by the end of the story I still couldn’t make up my mind about her character. I have been wanting to read more from Margaret Atwood for ages, and now I want to read even more!

I found myself reaching for YA fantasy throughout the month, and so next I read A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas. I’ve mentioned this book a couple of times since reading it, as it was one I had conflicting feelings over; on the one hand, I thought it was very well written, especially in comparison to other books I have read by Sarah J. Maas, and I did find the plot interesting. However, it sounds like it gets more angsty and problematic in the following two books, so whilst I did enjoy A Court of Thorns and Roses, I do not think I will continue with the series.

***

The books I read this month were all quite big, and I am proud of myself for getting through them – I am hoping that March will be a big reading month for me, and over the next couple of months I want to find time to read some more YA. I would love to hear about your February reading, and any recommendations you may have for the coming month!

Second Chances: Will I Reread These DNF’d Books?

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DNFing books is an all-too-real struggle for readers, and for years I have been discarding books that I found boring, badly written, or just didn’t like. However, I thought it was time to reflect on the books I DNF’d a while ago, and consider giving them a second chance. For now, I have simply chosen three books – one that I will definitely reread, one that I may try again, and one that will remain unfinished.

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Review – A Court of Thorns and Roses

22839894Title: A Court of Thorns and Roses
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Published by: Bloomsbury
Publication date: 5th May 2015
Pages: 419, paperback
Genre:
 young adult, fantasy, romance

Feyre is a huntress.

She thinks nothing of slaughtering a wolf to capture its prey. But, like all mortals, she fears what lingers mercilessly beyond the forest. And she will learn that taking the life of a magical creature comes at a high price…

Imprisoned in an enchanted court in her enemy’s kingdom, Feyre is free to roam but forbidden to escape. Her captor’s body bears the scars of fighting, and his face is always masked – but his piercing stare draws her ever closer. As Feyre’s feeling for Tamlin begin to burn through every warning she’s been told about his kind, an ancient, wicked shadow grows.

Feyre must find a way to break a spell, or lose her heart forever.

***

I have had A Court of Thorns and Roses on my kindle for ages now, and have been deliberating about reading it for even longer. Some people seem to adore this book and this series, and have done nothing but sings its praises, whilst others have criticised it for being problematic. I decided to read it for myself to make up my own mind, and despite the many cliché aspects to this book, I enjoyed it far more than I expected!

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The A-Z Bookish Survey

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Bookish questions are my absolute favourite questions to answer – there is just something I find very satisfying in sifting through the books you’ve read to figure out the answers to a book-related tag. So, today I am doing the A-Z Bookish Survey: 26 bookish questions, each starting with a different letter of the alphabet. Thank you to Alice (@ Most Ardently Alice) for tagging me; I have seen this tag floating around for a while and loved the look of it, so I am very excited to answer the questions myself!

Author you’ve read the most books from:

Definitely Cassandra Clare – I have read all of her books, I’m pretty sure, and I own all except the two books in The Dark Artifices series. They have their own space in my room, so that I can go back and reread them easily.

Best Sequel Ever:

For this, I have to say The Sleeping Prince by Melinda Salisbury. I really enjoyed The Sin Eater’s Daughter, but the sequel was the book that really made me fall in love with the trilogy, and it added so much wonderful depth to the plot.

Currently Reading:

I am currently reading Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen, which I am loving – I really enjoy Jane Austen’s writing, and I always find her books entertaining and adorable.

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Review – Flame in the Mist

23308087Title: Flame in the Mist
Author: Renee Ahdieh
Published by: Hodder & Stoughton
Publication date: 16th May 2017
Pages: 416, hardback
Genre:
 young adult, fantasy, romance, retelling

The daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has long known her place—she may be an accomplished alchemist, whose cunning rivals that of her brother Kenshin, but because she is not a boy, her future has always been out of her hands. At just seventeen years old, Mariko is promised to Minamoto Raiden, the son of the emperor’s favorite consort—a political marriage that will elevate her family’s standing. But en route to the imperial city of Inako, Mariko narrowly escapes a bloody ambush by a dangerous gang of bandits known as the Black Clan, who she learns has been hired to kill her before she reaches the palace.

Dressed as a peasant boy, Mariko sets out to infiltrate the ranks of the Black Clan, determined to track down the person responsible for the target on her back. But she’s quickly captured and taken to the Black Clan’s secret hideout, where she meets their leader, the rebel ronin Takeda Ranmaru, and his second-in-command, his best friend Okami. Still believing her to be a boy, Ranmaru and Okami eventually warm to Mariko, impressed by her intellect and ingenuity. As Mariko gets closer to the Black Clan, she uncovers a dark history of secrets, of betrayal and murder, which will force her to question everything she’s ever known.

***

Flame in the Mist was one of my most anticipated releases of 2017, but somehow I never got around to reading it! I finally picked it up after writing my blog post on my fantasy TBR, which got me really in the mood for this genre, and I am so glad I did not wait any longer. I have been looking forward to sharing this review all week, as I have so much love for this book!

What intrigued me about this book from the beginning was it’s marketing: a retelling of Milan. Sounds perfect, right? Once I started reading, I found that it the story followed the plot of Mulan very loosely; aside from the fact that Mariko disguised herself as a boy, the story really took on a life of its own, which I loved! This book was action packed, with a little bit of romance and mystery, which, in my opinion, is absolutely perfect.

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