Added to My Shelves: March & April


Here are the books I’ve added to my shelves recently!

In March, I was lucky to attend Andersen Press’ first ever blogger brunch. We got to hear all about their lovely upcoming books, eat lots of pastries and discover whether we were an optimist, realist or pessimist to celebrate Susin Nielsen’s Optimists Die First (I’m most definitely a pessimist). In our goody bags, we were given Troublemakers, Goodbye Days, The Way Back Home, and Encounters. I was intrigued to hear that Encounters was based on a true story – in 1994, students from a Zimbabwe school claimed to see a UFO land on the school grounds. The Way Back Home and Goodbye Days are both emotional reads, so they’re right up my street.

I was also extremely lucky to receive a whole bunch of surprise review copies from publishers. In my contemporary pile, you’ll find Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index, Stargazing for Beginners, Everything Beautiful is Not RuinedNoah Can’t Even, Release and I Have No Secrets. I’m excited to delve into all of these, but Release (it’s Patrick Ness, obv.) and Stargazing for Beginners (I’ve heard such amazing things about Jenny McLachlan’s latest) are high up on my TBR.

I also received copies of Doing It!, The Bookshop Girl and Things a Bright Girl Can Do. I’ve already read The Bookshop Girl and absolutely adored it, so check back for a review very soon. I even match the cover! I was also happy to receive Hannah Witton’s debut book and a copy of Things a Bright Girl Can Do – one I heard all about at Andersen Press – about three suffragettes, Evelyn, May and Nell.

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And lastly, I took a trip to Foyles and bought It’s All Absolutely Fine – which I’ve wanted for ages, and I follow Ruby on Instagram – and I received All My Friends Are Superheroes for my birthday from my lovely friend Louise, which sounds like an incredibly unique short story!

Have you read any of these books?

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Shelf Swap with Lucy Powrie

Shelf Swap with Lucy Powrie
I love swapping book recs, so I’m asking one person each month to pick five books from my Goodreads shelves that they would like to read and five books from their own shelves that they think I might enjoy.

I’m happy to welcome Lucy Powrie, UKYA blogger, booktuber, Brontë-lover and host of #ukyachat, to Pretty Books for Shelf Swap!

5 BOOKS FROM STACEY’S SHELVES THAT LUCY WANTS TO READ

We Come Apart by Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan
I’ve read and loved all of Sarah’s previous books, so I was extremely excited when I heard she had another verse book out and this time written alongside Brian Conaghan. I know that this one is going to rip my heart into tiny pieces, which is why I’ve been putting off reading it for a while – I don’t know if I can bear the heartache!

The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon
I’ve got to be honest here: the main reason I want to read The Trouble with Goats and Sheep is because of the unusual but very gorgeous cover. I own the hardback and I love it – when was the last time you saw a sheep on the cover of a book?! I don’t read a lot of adult fiction, so it’s always a nice treat when I do. I like mixing up my reading; I don’t think I could read YA all the time!

The Diviners by Libba Bray
I can remember when The Diviners was first published and how excited I was to read it. I left comments on every blog post it was mentioned in, talking about how amazing it sounded and how I was going to read it immediately. Guess what? It never happened. I still haven’t read The Diviners and it is one of my biggest reading regrets. I think it is finally time that I read it, don’t you? I just wish I had the beautiful hardback from when it was first released!

Blankets by Craig Thompson
I find picking up graphic novel recommendations really difficult; I’m very particular with my style, so I have trouble with reading just anything. Blankets, though, sounds brilliant and I’ve heard enough people talk about it that I know it must be good. It’s a coming-of-age story, which I love, so I really must read this soon!

The Martian by Andy Weir
The Martian is probably a strange choice for somebody who has a blog called ‘Queen of Contemporary’ but really I just want to read it so that I understand the potato jokes people make when they talk about it. Is that so bad of me? I don’t know if I’ll enjoy it, but I’d like to give it a try anyway.

5 BOOKS FROM LUCY’S SHELVES THAT STACEY SHOULD READ

Counting Stars by Keris Stainton
Recently I’ve fallen head-over-heels in love with a Norwegian TV show called Skam and it was my greatest pleasure to pass on that love to Stacey. Counting Stars reminds me of Skam in many ways because the characters are slightly older teens and are living in a flat share, and the way that Keris writes them is so true to real life. Counting Stars is one of my favourite books and one that I insist everyone reads. Keris is one of the best UKYA authors out there!

Stacey says: I LOVE LOVE LOVE Skam. You had me at Skam (thankfully, I already own a copy of this!).

All About Mia by Lisa Williamson
I know how much Stacey loved The Art of Being Normal, Lisa Williamson’s debut novel, and I read All About Mia in February and loved it from the first page. The best thing about it is Mia’s unique voice – she’s not your typical, goody-two-shoes YA character; she’s rebellious and loud, and I’m so glad that characters like her are emerging in YA. At the heart of the novel is an interesting sibling relationship that explores the intricacies of family life, and I think Stacey will love it just as much as I did.

Stacey says: I read this recently (sorry Lucy, you were ahead of the curve!) and Lucy was spot on. Mia’s a complicated and frustrating character, but quite unique in YA and therefore fun to read.

The Encyclopedia of Early Earth by Isabel Greenberg
As I mentioned before, I am very fussy when it comes to graphic novels. That’s how I knew that The Encyclopedia of Early Earth was so special: it immediately hooked me and I was drawn into the beautiful myths and legends that Isabel Greenberg weaves. Her illustration style is breathtaking and she’s just as good at writing too – sometimes I find that one is better than the other with graphic novels, but Isabel Greenberg is an all-round talent.

Stacey says: I’ve heard such lovely things about this graphic novel. I own a copy of The Hundred Nights of Hero, but I really ought to read this first.

Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig
Reasons to Stay Alive is a beautiful book about mental health that simultaneously takes on the role of being a self-help guide and a memoir. It’s one of those books that I think everybody should read at some point in their lives because it allows you to deeply understand the themes discussed within it. It’s also pretty short, so it’s possible to read in a day if you set your mind to it!

Stacey says: It’s my aim to read more books about mental health this year, and this will definitely be one of them!

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
Nimona was the first graphic novel I ever read, but I knew it wouldn’t be the last. It solidified Noelle Stevenson as my favourite graphic novelist and I haven’t forgotten it even though it’s been a while since I last read it. The main character, Nimona, is hilarious and her relationship with evil villain Lord Blackheart offers a twist on the usual superhero story. It’s impossible not to smile as you’re reading it!

Stacey says: I have a copy of Lumberjanes: Beware the Kitten Holy, so if I love that, I’ll definitely check this out. I know it’s many people’s favourite by Noelle.

Thank you, Lucy, for swapping shelves with me!

Which of these books do you want to read?

What I’ve Read / History is All You Left Me, All About Mia & Radio Silence

I’m obsessed with contemporary YA. I often feel I should branch out and read more adult fiction or science fiction or non-fiction, but I just can’t tear myself away from first loves, boarding schools and road trips – so I haven’t, yet. Here is what I thought of three rather excellent books I’ve read this year!

History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

History is All You Left Me is so sad – intensely, honestly, fiercely sad. And I really, really love sad books.

Griffin and Theo are best friends > boyfriends > ex-boyfriends > best friends. And then Theo dies. I cannot know what it’s like to lose a life partner at seventeen, but Griffin does. I often pick up a book without reading the description, or I’ll have read it months before and so won’t remember what the book is about, just that I want to read it. I did that with History is All You Left Me. I couldn’t recall how Theo died and I wasn’t sure what was to come. I was always feeling everything for the first time, waiting for the next emotional hit.

Even though it’s a heartbreaking story, The History is All You Left Me is a wonderful exploration of relationships. I adored the chapter that takes Theo and Griffin to a pub quiz, complete with Harry Potter and Star Wars questions. It made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. History is All You Left Me is a dazzling story about heart-wrenching love, close friendship and devastating grief. It’s about discovering who you are, now that the one person you were relying on has gone, and about learning more about the people you already thought you knew. You’ll really want to get to know our four boys: Griffin, Theo, Wade and Jackson.

All About Mia by Lisa Williamson

I’m an only child. I’ll never know what it’s like to have someone who ‘gets’ your family the same way you do. I don’t know what it’s like to grow up with someone always by your side. I had close friends, of course, but sibling relationships always felt otherworldly to me; something I’ll never get to experience. And so I was eager to pick up Lisa Williamson’s All About Mia, just about that very thing.

Mia is the middle child. She has a younger sister, Audrey, who’s a champion swimmer, and an older sister, Grace, who’s perfect in every way. What’s Mia got? She’s great at styling hair and has a feisty attitude… who cares about that? But when Grace comes home with some shocking news, Mia thinks it’s time for her to shine. She’s a fascinating, refreshing character in YA. Mia’s unlikeable, really, but that makes you want to get to know her more. Slowly, slowly I began to see her point of view – when Mia began spiralling out of control, I desperately wanted to make sure she was okay. I adored the Campbell-Richardson family, both loving them and hating them (that’s Mia’s influence rubbing off on me) at the same time. All About Mia picks out everything complicated there is about family and gives us a joyous, funny UKYA read.

Radio Silence by Alice Oseman

I had been told to read Radio Silence so often over the past year that I decided March was Time. And gosh, do I wish I had picked it up earlier. It really shouldn’t be surprising because she is one, but Alice gets teenagers. She gets, in particular, what it’s like to be a teenager (or a millennial, let’s say) on the interwebz. She understands how social media communities work and how they can go from making you feel comforted and part of something to overwhelmed and suffocated. It’s always incredible to read something and feel like the author gets you.

Frances has only one goal in life: to get into Cambridge University, and then she meets Aled, the creator of her favourite sci-fi podcast, Radio Silence. She has been a fan since the first episode, so much so that she posts incredible fanart on Tumblr. She cannot believe her luck that the Creator was living across the road from her all this time. But Frances is also the only one who knows why Cerys, Aled’s twin sister, ran away all those months ago… and as they become closer and closer, it becomes more difficult for her to keep the secret.

I loved the close friendship between Frances and Aled. It’s an incredible friendship and one that feels so real. It grows through their mutual love of Radio Silence – and Aled loves Frances’ geeky clothes while Frances loves Aled’s bright Vans – and then it becomes so much more. But it’s always just friendship and that’s so, so lovely to read. I adored their hilarious and realistic Facebook messages – they reminded me of the joy those late night conversations with your best friends can bring. I kind of just want to start re-reading Radio Silence right now.

P.S. Radio Silence is also worth reading purely for Frances’ mum. Promise.

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