#UKYADay: Taylor Swift Meets UKYA

12th April is UKYA Day! Hurrah! It’s hosted by the lovely Lucy @ Queen of Contemporary and she is encouraging bloggers and vloggers to celebrate with her. If it’s not obvious, UKYA is young adult literature written by authors who are from or currently live in the UK. To celebrate, I thought I’d pair UKYA books with songs from Taylor Swift’s 1989. I cannot take credit for this idea, unfortunately, as it’s been done by a few people including the amazing Elena @ Novel Sounds, but I haven’t seen anyone do it just for UKYA – do let me know if you have!



It’s a new soundtrack
I could dance to this beat, forevermore.
The lights are so bright
But they never blind me.
Welcome to New York
It’s been waiting for you.”

#UKYADay: Taylor Swift Meets UKYA


“They’ll tell you I’m insane
But I got a blank space baby
And I’ll write your name.”

#UKYADay: Taylor Swift Meets UKYA


“You got that long hair, slicked back, white t-shirt
And I got that good girl faith and a tight little skirt
And when we go crashing down, we come back every time.
Cause we never go out of style
We never go out of style.”

#UKYADay: Taylor Swift Meets UKYA


“Calling me up, but I don’t know what to say
I’ve been picking up the pieces of the mess you made.
People like you always want back the love they pushed aside
But people like me are gone forever
When you say goodbye.”

#UKYADay: Taylor Swift Meets UKYA


“And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate
Baby I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake
Shake it off, shake it off.”

#UKYADay: Taylor Swift Meets UKYA


“I wish you we could go back
And remember what we were fighting for
I wish you know that I miss you too much to be mad any more
Wish you were right here, right now, it’s all good, I wish you would.”

#UKYADay: Taylor Swift Meets UKYA
BAD BLOOD / SEVEN DAYS by Eve Ainsworth

“Did you think we’d be fine?
Still got scars on my back from your knife
So don’t think it’s in the past
These kind of wounds they last and they last.
Now did you think it all through?
All these things will catch up to you
And time can heal but this won’t
So if you come in my way, just don’t.”


#UKYADay: Taylor Swift Meets UKYA


“I said “No one has to know what we do,”
His hands are in my hair, his clothes are in my room
And his voice is a familiar sound, nothing lasts forever.”

#UKYADay: Taylor Swift Meets UKYA

HOW YOU GET THE GIRL / LOBSTERS by Tom Ellen & Lucy Ivison

“Tell her how you must’ve lost your mind
When you left her all alone
And never told her why.
And that’s how it works
That’s how you lost the girl.”

#UKYADay: Taylor Swift Meets UKYA


“In silent screams,
In wildest dreams
I never dreamed of this.

This love is good, this love is bad
This love is alive back from the dead
These hands had to let it go free
And this love came back to me.”

#UKYADay: Taylor Swift Meets UKYA


“They got their cages, they got their boxes, and guns
They are the hunters, we are the foxes and we run.
I know places we won’t be found and they’ll be chasing their tails trying to track us down

Cause I know places we can hide.”

#UKYADay: Taylor Swift Meets UKYA


“Cause baby I could build a castle
Out of all the bricks they threw at me
And every day it’s like battle
But every night with us is like a dream.”

Do you have any great UKYA + Taylor Swift suggestions? There must be books that match perfectly with Wonderland & Clean out there! Find out more about UKYADay here.


Behold the Pretty Books! / March Book Haul

Behold the Pretty Books! / March Book Haul

Here’s all the books I bought and borrowed in March, plus eBooks I downloaded in March and April (so far!).

I attended the UKYA Blogger Awards last month because many of my friends were nominated for (and won!) awards. Waterstones High Street Kensington kindly offered us ‘buy one get one half price’ on ALL their YA and science fiction for that night only, so of course I picked up a few books. I bought two new John Wyndham novels to add to my collection: Trouble with Lichen and The Kraken Wakes. I also bought I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak because The Book Thief has been one of my favourite novels for years, and The Ruby Circle, the last book in the Bloodlines series.

Behold the Pretty Books! / March Book Haul

At the UKYA Blogger Awards, we were also given Monster by C.J. Skuse (hurrah for boarding school novels!) and Keris Stainton was nice enough to give me a copy of her latest book, Spotlight on Sunny. I need to pick up the first book, Starring Kitty. I also attended the YA Book Prize and bought the winning novel, Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill. I can’t wait to read it – I’ve been told it’s an ‘uncomfortable’, important, feminist read.

A few of my lovely blogger friends loaned me books last month. Jim loaned me Cowgirl and Daphne loaned me My Heart and Other Black Holes. And last, but definitely not least, I received Remix by Non Pratt (author of Trouble) for review from Walker Books. It’s my current read and although I’ve not read much, I can tell it’s going to be another hilarious, brilliant and realistic story.

Behold the Pretty Books! / March Book Haul

As for eBooks, I should have stayed away from NetGalley because I got a bit carried away – I think I’ll need to dedicate a month to reading only eBooks! I picked up Don’t Stay Up Late because I love a bit of YA horror and who better to turn to than R.L. Stine? As always, I’m drawn to YA contemporary so I downloaded Everything, Everything (‘Madeline Whittier is allergic to the outside world. So allergic, in fact, that she has never left the house in all of her seventeen years’), The DUFF (because it has just been adapted into a movie) and Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella (I enjoyed the Shopaholic novels I’ve read so I’m looking forward to reading her first YA novel).

I also downloaded a couple of adult eBooks: The Quality of Silence by Rosamund Lupton (who is one of my favourite mystery authors – I loved her previous novels Sister and Afterwards) and Our Endless Numbered Days. And lastly, I bought The Humans because had been on my wishlist for a while!


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Book Review: Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey

Book Review: Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey

Shelved: Adult fiction (mystery)
Buy: Hive
More: Goodreads

Maud has one of the most poignant, memorable and distinctive voices I’ve ever read. She’s eighty-two years old and suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, meaning that everyday life is struggle for her, although she doesn’t always realise it herself. Maud buys tins of peaches even though she has a cupboard full of them. She makes cups of tea and leaves them to go cold. She has to be told don’t leave the house, don’t cook, don’t keep calling the neighbours.

One day, Maud finds a piece of paper in her pocket that says “Elizabeth is missing”. Elizabeth is one of Maud’s closest and dearest friends, so she embarks on a confusing and disorienting journey to find out the truth. She needs to find ways to ensure she doesn’t forget her mission, so she makes little notes of her discoveries. Maud’s present experiences are twisted with memories of her sister Sukey’s disappearance decades before, and she often cannot tell whether she’s living twelve-year-old Maud’s story or her future.

If you’ve ever struggled to comprehend what having dementia must be like, surely Elizabeth is Missing is one of the most vivid ways of experiencing it for yourself. As the reader, we’re in the mind of Maud. It’ll leave you frustrated on behalf of Maud and a little angry at the way people with dementia are treated, yet you’ll find yourself understanding it at the same time. It’s a lose-lose battle for everyone. Maud frustrates her daughter, annoys the doctor and amuses the police, and not one of them is able to help her find Elizabeth. Because dementia is one of those things that both fascinates and terrifies me, I adored the present story (“Elizabeth is missing”) but occasionally wanted to push past her sister Sukey’s. As the story went on, I couldn’t wait to see how both stories were connected.

Elizabeth is Missing is brilliant not because of the mystery aspect of the story, although it kept me on edge, but because of its unforgettable perspective. It’ll leave you questioning your own memories and ability to hold onto them. Elizabeth is Missing has done a fabulous job in showing the world just how serious dementia is – it doesn’t receive as much attention as illnesses affecting younger people, but Maud – as a much older protagonist – shows us that she is most certainly still here.

Published: 5th June 2014 (UK) 10th June 2014 (US)
Publisher: Penguin Books (UK) Harper (US)
Pages: 288

Book Review: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Book Review: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Shelved: Adult fiction (science fiction, post-apocalyptic)
Buy: Hive
More: Goodreads

I really love children’s and young adult fiction; it’s what I’m most passionate about. I also equally enjoy adult fiction, but I just don’t get the chance to read it as much. I named March “a month of adult fiction” and despite the fact that I failed terribly and only read two books, I’m so glad I got the chance to read Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven. I was a little apprehensive because I used to adore post-apocalyptic and dystopian fiction before it exploded, but when so many people started naming Station Eleven one of their favourite books of 2014, I finally bought a copy – I didn’t want to miss out!

Station Eleven is a delicious, vividly rich story spanning several decades. It follows individuals whose lives are interconnected before and after a highly-contagious and fast-moving flu virus wipes out most of the world’s population, leaving only a smattering of people to figure out how to survive in a new world without electricity. Yet Station Eleven isn’t a story about how to survive in a post-apocalyptic world after a devastating pandemic, but how people survive with each other.

Jeevan Chaudhary is at the theatre watching a rendition of King Lear when one of the actors, Arthur Leander, has a heart-attack. Because he is a trained paramedic, Jeevan jumps on stage but he is unable to save Arthur. Kirsten, a young actress, is watching him from afar. Fifteen years later, she is part of a Travelling Symphony, a small group of travellers who create moments of happiness for the remaining settled communities, from performing dramatic Shakespearian acts to colourful melodies that spark memories. Station Eleven tells the stories – both present experiences and past exploits – of some of these individuals and the relationships they forge.

Station Eleven is so beautifully written that it doesn’t feel like a post-apocalyptic novel. Sometimes in science fiction, characters can be an insignificant device through which the plot develops, but this story wouldn’t be what it is without its characters – a magnificent and vast exploration of people, whether a creative young PA or a dangerous religious prophet. Station Eleven‘s array of characters is its strength. It has just enough world-building to satisfy the reader, but not so much that it overwhelms or becomes unnecessary. It doesn’t feel like a story with a typical beginning, middle and end – Station Eleven could keep on going if you let it.

Station Eleven is my first adult (non-classic) book of the year and it reminded me why I love fiction so much. It’s beautifully written, clever, thoughtful and incredibly exciting, despite the lack of action and adventure – it doesn’t need it.

Because survival is insufficient.

Published: 9th September 2014 (US) 10th September 2014 (UK)
Publisher: Knopf (US) Picador (UK)
Pages: 339

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken (Classic #2)

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken (Classic #2)

Shelved: Classic (fantasy and adventure)
Published: 1962 by Jonathan Cape
Rating: ★★★★★
Challenge: Classics Challenge – #2
Buy: Hive
More: Goodreads

Here’s my second post for the 2015 Classics Challenge! I picked The Wolves of Willoughby Chase because I was looking for a wintry classic to curl up with this February. It’s not too late to join me (and 150+ other people) in reading one classic per month!

Can you go a little faster? Can you run?

Long ago, at a time in history that never happened, England was overrun with wolves. But as Bonnie and her cousin Sylvia discover, real danger often lies closer to home. Their new governess, Miss Slighcarp, doesn’t seem at all nice. She shuts Bonnie in a cupboard, fires the faithful servants and sends the cousins far away from Willoughby Chase to a place they will never be found. Can Bonnie and Sylvia outwit the wicked Miss Slighcarp and her network of criminals, forgers and snitches?

WHEN I Discovered This Classic
I actually don’t think I had heard of The Wolves of Willoughby Chase until I discovered the Vintage Children’s Classics, my favourite series of children’s classics – I just love the design and the selection of well-known and lesser-known classics! I bought I Capture the Castle in 2012 followed by The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, The Dark is Rising, Fly Away Home and Charlotte Sometimes in 2013.

WHY I Chose to Read It
It was freezing in February and I was looking for a wintry classic to read as part of the challenge. It had been sitting on my TBR for a while and I hadn’t picked up a Vintage Children’s Classic for a while, even though I own quite a few now. It’s also meant to be adapted as a BBC drama this Christmas, but I have not heard any more about it since it was first announced in 2013. I really hope it goes ahead!

WHAT Makes It A Classic
It’s a classic children’s adventure story, full of beautiful descriptions of the landscape, treacherous characters and a thrilling mystery to solve. It has a bunch of characters – from Bonnie and Sylvia themselves to the adult servants that aid their mission – that you’ll be rooting for all the way. A debate arises now and again about how dark children’s and young adult literature has become, but you only have to meet Miss Slighcarp and her allies to realise it has always been that way – they’re truly ghastly! Although The Wolves of Willoughby Chase is over 50 years old, its themes of friendship, class, gender, and the tendency of adults to underestimate children still resonate today.

WHAT I Thought of This Classic
I adored it instantly! I was fascinated by the idea of an alternative Britain where wolves may attack at any time. I expected the story to be more about the wolves, but it’s actually about how the wolves aren’t the real enemy here. It’s wonderfully written and I loved the vivid descriptions of Willoughby Chase, from the stark white landscape to Bonnie’s delightful toy room. It has secret passages, charming characters (like Simon the gooseboy) and a story that doesn’t patronise children. It has everything you could want. I’m looking forward to reading Black Hearts at Battersea, the next book.

WILL It Stay A Classic
I think so! It still feels fresh and exciting. I hope the forthcoming BBC drama does the book justice and encourages more people to read this wonderful story. And once you’ve done that, there’s 11 more books in the series for you to read.

WHO I’d Recommend It To
People who love children’s books and want to delve into the world of classics. People who love children’s adventure and mystery stories, like the Laura Marlin mysteries. People who love how atmospheric Gothic literature can be, like Jane Eyre.

Have you signed up to the 2015 Classics Challenge?

Behold the Pretty Books! / January & February Book Haul

Behold the Pretty Books! / January & February Book Haul

We’re already halfway through March (and it’s no longer winter, hooray!), so here’s a little about the books I bought/borrowed/received in January and February!

Have you seen the Little Black Classics, published to celebrate 80 years of Penguin Books? I bought two: The Old Nurse’s Story (#39) by Elizabeth Gaskell and The Yellow Wall-Paper (#42) by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and I’m sure I’ll be buying many more!

I actually meant to include this in my previous Behold! post but I completely forgot: I borrowed Friends With Boys from Debbie in January. We exchanged graphic novels and I loaned her Relish: My Life in the Kitchen. Faith Erin Hicks will be illustrating Rainbow Rowell’s upcoming graphic novel, so I’m quite looking forward to this! I am signed up to Caboodle, the rewards programme from National Book Tokens. I got to pick a free book and chose another classic I’ve not yet read: Oliver Twist. One for the 2015 Classics Challenge perhaps?

I attended the Scholastic Bloggers’ Brunch in January and got to hear about their wonderful upcoming books. They were kind enough to treat us to brunch, lovely authors and publishers as well as a few goodies. Seven Days, The Sin Eater’s Daughter (written by my awesome buddy Mel) and An Island of Our Own are three completely different but wonderful-sounding books.

I do not request review copies any more, but if I’m offered them I do find it difficult to say no! I accepted Half Wild by Sally Green as Half Bad is one of the (many!) books at the top of my TBR. I’m also excited about two new books from Hot Key and Piccadilly Press: Fish Out of Water, the first YA contemporary novel from Natalie Whipple (author of Transparent) and The Scandalous Sisterhood, a charming middle grade mystery. I’ll be tucking into those shortly! I also received a surprise copy of Lottery Boy by Michael Byrne, from Walker Books, which is ‘a young boy’s story of loss and unbearable hope as he survives on London’s streets‘.

I also downloaded two eBooks for review: The Accident Season (the blogger world has been buzzing about this one recently) and All That Glitters (the fourth book in the Geek Girl series). I also bought Judith Kerr’s When Hitler Stole the Pink Rabbit and Marcus Sedgwick’s The Ghosts of Heaven.

Behold the Pretty Books! / January & February Book Haul
Behold the Pretty Books! / January & February Book Haul Continue reading

Pretty Books Deserve Pretty Bookmarks

Pretty Books Deserve Pretty Bookmarks
I haven’t counted but I think I must have over 100 bookmarks – I’m never without one! I thought I’d share a few of my favourites below. (Plus there’s a sneak peek of some of the books I’ll be reading next month).

Pretty Books Deserve Pretty BookmarksThis one is my oldest bookmark. I bought it at school aged around 10-12 when some of the older children were selling homemade goodies to raise money. It’s in pretty good condition considering! See, teachers weren’t lying about lamination…

Pretty Books Deserve Pretty Bookmarks
Pretty Books Deserve Pretty BookmarksThis is my favourite bookmark size. Daunt Books bookmarks are among my favourites – I love the illustration of Daunt Books, Marylebone. Unfortunately I do not use The Book Depository any more, but when I did, I’d always look forward to receiving a bookmark along with my book. They hosted a bookmark design competition last year and so some really lovely ones are available at the moment.

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Book Review: The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson

Book Review: The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson

Young adult fiction (contemporary)
Buy: Hive
More: Goodreads

You must have heard about The Art of Being Normal by now and, if not, I’m not sure how you have managed to miss it. Published on 1st January, it’s one of the most talked about UKYA novels published this year so far, and has certainly set a high standard.

Fourteen-year-old David Piper has only told two people – his two best friends, Essie and Fox, who have both been incredibly supportive – that he has wanted, needed, to be a girl ever since he was a small child. David has written a letter to his parents explaining how he feels but cannot bring himself to give it to them. He already suspects that they think he’s gay, but he’s not ready tell them the whole story just yet. And he’s certainly not going to tell anyone else at school – he’s already being called a freak show. David meets newcomer Leo Denton on his first day at Eden Park School. He walks over to him even though Leo doesn’t seem to want to talk to anyone at all, let alone make friends. When the school bully just won’t leave David alone, Leo steps in, and now David just has to get to know him. But Leo’s had to move schools for a reason and David’s about to be the first one to discover why.

I’ve been reading a lot of American young adult contemporary novels lately and so it was a bit of a shock to step into such an obviously English voice, even though I knew The Art of Being Normal was UKYA. It made me realise how much I miss it. I don’t know why (are we really that different?), but even though the world of school and the struggles of growing up are essentially the same across the pond, UKYA just makes teenage life feel that little more vivid and relatable. But what is normal, huh?

I have yet to meet someone who didn’t enjoy The Art of Being Normal. It has a brilliant – as well as important – title because it’s not an ‘issues’ book. It’s not really about being transgender, but is a story that just happens to have a transgender character. David doesn’t feel like he’s not normal, he’s just trying to find a way to communicate that to everyone else. It’s about what it’s like to grow up, make friends and deal with family. It’s about class and identity, and how people are perceived by others. It’s all heightened when you are a teenager because it’s difficult not to care less; you can’t live on your own and you can’t do what you want. It can be quite suffocating, so it’s helpful to hear stories about teenagers going through the same experiences as you.

The Art of Being Normal is one of the first books I’ve read that talks about transgender lives. Lisa Williamson not only writes an incredible contemporary novel, full of laughs and emotion, but also a responsible and respectful one. If you’ve never read a book that talks about being transgender, if you want to read more diversely, or if you just want a realistic, empathetic coming-of-age story, pick up The Art of Being Normal and start to dismantle the definition of ‘normal’ bit by bit.

Published: 1st January 2015
Publisher: David Fickling Books
Pages: 368

Behold the Pretty Books! / January (So Far) Book Haul