Shelf Swap with Anna James

Shelf Swap with Anna James

I love swapping book recommendations, so I’m asking one person each month to pick five books from my Goodreads shelves that they want to read and five books from their own shelves that they think I might like to read.

I’m delighted to welcome Anna James (@acaseforbooks), books journalist, event chair, literary scout, and vlogger, to Pretty Books for Shelf Swap!


The Yellow Wall-Paper by Charlotte Perkin Gilmans
I’m determined to fill in some more gaps from my feminist reading list this year, and this is near the top. I’ve read a lot about it and know the story and ideas, but want to experience it first hand.

Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas
My love of epic YA series was reinvigorated earlier this year by binge-reading all of Cassie Clare’s The Mortal Instruments books and Sarah J Maas is next on list. I’ve heard so many good things about both of her series.

Relish by Lucy Knisley
I really enjoyed Lucy Knisley’s debut graphic novel, French Milk, about a six-week trip to Paris she took with her mother so would love to read more of her work. And then this one is about cooking, which is my second love after books so I think it’ll be right up my street.

Nothing to Envy by Barbara Demick
North Korea is a fascinating and terrifying place I’d like to know more about and I’m a big fan of narrative non-fiction to learn more about the world. This account of real lives in North Korea won the Samuel Johnson Prize so it’s sure to be well researched and well written.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
I don’t quite know how this one passed me by considered what a fanbase it has but I’m determined to read it before the film comes out!


All My Friends Are Superheroes by Andrew Kaufman
From looking at Stacey’s Goodreads shelves I think she’d really like this whimsical novella about an ordinary guy whose friends, and wife, are superheroes. It’s sharp and weird and funny and a little bit heartbreaking.

Charmed Life by Diana Wynne Jones
I think Stacey enjoys quite classic feeling children’s books but with a bit of edge, and Diana Wynne Jones is my go-to for that category. I love the whole Chrestomanci series but this is the one I started with; weird and wonderful, I think Diana Wynne Jones is a genius.

The Portable Veblen by Elizabeth McKenzie
This probably comes as no surprise if you follow me on Twitter as I’ve been raving about it since I read it in January and was then over the moon that it made this year’s Baileys shortlist. It’s quirky and clever and thought-provoking and all about identity and independence. And squirrels.

Momo by Michael Ende
This is the book I recommend to everyone; it is in my all time top five and is a must for book lovers. It’s a super quirky, beautifully written story about using your time well, friendship, loyalty and the power of storytelling.

Frances and Bernard by Carlene Bauer
One of my favourite books of 2014, it’s told entirely through letters and is loosely inspired by the relationship between writers Flannery O’Connor and Robert Lowell. It’s gorgeous, witty and romantic although it goes to some pretty dark places. It’s all about words and letters which think Stacey will like.

Thank you for swapping bookshelves, Anna!

Which of these books would you read?

Book Review: Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne

Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne

Series: Spinster Club (#1)
 Young adult fiction (contemporary)
Buy: Foyles
More: Goodreads

Am I Normal Yet? is a much loved UKYA novel that had been on my TBR since last summer. I heard such good things about it from the Twitterverse and couldn’t wait to get stuck in (I’d already bought the companion sequel, How Hard Can Love Be?).

I knew that Am I Normal Yet? was a story of teenage friendship, feminism, and mental health, so it was my first choice book to give out on World Book Night on April 23rd. I left copies on coffee shop tables and at bus stops for teenagers around my local community to pick up.

I read Am I Normal Yet? months after selecting it for World Book Night. After picking it up, I raced through the story and looked forward to sharing it with other people. I loved Holly Bourne’s lively Spinster Club – Evie, Amber and Lottie, three friends facing the tough world of being a teenage girl. Am I Normal Yet? is Evie’s story. She’s off to a new college after having a breakdown at her previous school due to her troubling OCD and anxiety. But she’s better now, right? Normal? She’s going to parties, taking less medication, and not washing her hands all the time… but life is complicated and recovery isn’t easy.

Am I Normal Yet? will be a welcome addition to any teenage (or not-so-teenage) girl’s bookshelves. If you feel at home on Twitter, the girls’ discussions on feminism may feel like conversations you’ve joined in with before. But if you’re a teenager who doesn’t have a group like this to turn to, it may be your first introduction. Am I Normal Yet? is tactfully told through Evie as she navigates the world of friends, boys, and school. We discover how difficult it is to tell what someone’s going through, even if you’re best friends with them, by following Evie’s Recovery Diary entries and trips to therapy – we’re with Evie the whole way and Holly Bourne shows us exactly what it’s like inside her head.

Am I Normal Yet? is a fresh young adult contemporary story that packs so many important things into one book. But it’s also about the fun friendship between the girls – and I’m ready for Amber’s story!

Published: August 2015
Publisher:  Usborne
Pages: 434

Behold the Pretty Books! / April Book Haul

Behold the Pretty Books! / April Book Haul
Here are the books I added to my shelves last month!

I received an exciting mix of books from publishers in April: My Favourite Manson Girl, NightwanderersMystery & Mayhem, You Know Me Well, London Belongs to Us, The Moonlight Dreamers and The Square Root of Summer. I love book post and the surprises that come with them, including a magnifying glass and London bus pin!

Pushkin Press kindly sent me a couple of titles from Found on the Shelves, their new non-fiction series of books that provide interesting insight into the treasures that can be found while browsing in The London Library. I was sent On Reading, Writing and Living with Books and Life in a Bustle: Advice to Youth, both containing essays for bibliophiles – see the whole collection here.

Behold the Pretty Books! / April Book Haul
I also attended the first YA Salon in April and it was utterly fabulous, full of humorous conversations with The Babysitters Club author Ann M. Martin and 80s/90s chatter. We were given goodie bags containing If I Was Your Girl and Nothing Tastes As Good. It was one of the most enjoyable bookish panels I’ve been to, so I can’t wait for the next one! I also attended the YA Book Prize drinks and picked up a copy of Vendetta, a novel I’ve wanted to read ever since Lucy raved about it, and the exciting Books With Bite blogger evening, where I picked up early copies of The Bone Sparrow and Loneliness of Distant Beings. The Bone Sparrow sounds like an extremely poignant novel about refugees – keep a look out for it later this July!

And lastly, Jim kindly gave me Cogheart, a stunning middle grade novel that I’m looking forward to delving into.

Behold the Pretty Books! / April Book Haul
Are any of these books on your TBR?

Continue reading


I haven’t had the chance to read it (although it’s on my “to read soon” TBR), but in Harriet Reuter Hapgood’s The Square Root of SummerGottie and Thomas bury a time capsule. Readers everywhere are being encouraged to share #ThisIsWhoIAm and five things that represent who they are now. Here’s my five!

I love pretty things
Even before I called my blog Pretty Books! I love pretty white furniture, decadent cakes, and patterned dresses. (I was so glad Macmillan kept the US cover for The Square Root of Summer!). I always keep my room and work area pretty and neat and tidy – it’s just what I do!

I’m a fan of Taylor Swift
I’ve listened to Ms. Swift since 2008 and even though music does not define me as much as it used to (I wrote my university dissertation on music, fandom, and identity), I’m still fiercely protective of the musicians I listen to – especially Taylor Swift!

I eat all kinds of food
Aside from talking about books, reading books, and attending book events, I spend most of my time talking about food, eating food, and going out for food. I’m a little bit of a foodie and it’s probably the thing I spend most of my money on outside of bills.

I read books
I never thought books would become such a huge part of my life before I left university, but now they dominate it. Books brought me my career, my hobbies, and my friends. I really do not know who I’d be without the world of books (although I really ought to find out). I love immersing myself in someone else’s creation, whether that’s young adult, children’s, fiction or classics.

I love blue
Blue has been my favourite colour ever since I discovered that I didn’t have to like pink. My friends will tell you that most of my clothes and accessories are blue, from baby blue to dark navy. If it comes in blue, I’ll probably buy it. You can never have too many blue things.