Added to My Shelves: February

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Here are the books I added to my shelves last month!

In February, I attended the wonderful YA Stripes blogger event and picked up Fir and Following Ophelia. We got to hear from the lovely authors themselves, write a spontaneous YA novel, learn about Stripes’ upcoming books, and go on a visit to Leighton House to discover more about the Pre-Raphaelites. It was a beautiful and fascinating visit (and it was fun to feel like we were on a school trip…). Stripes also sent And Then We Ran for review in the most gorgeous package.

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I went on a few bookshop adventures last month. I finally bought a finished copy of Sara Barnard’s A Quiet Kind of Thunder (one of my favourite books) and picked up Nina LaCour’s Everything Leads to You and We Are Okay (I love love love the cover). I adore beautiful contemporary novels and I’ve been meaning to try one of her books for a while now.

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I also received a few books for review from generous publishers: One of Us is Lying, See How They LieDamageSilver Stars & Dead of Night. I’m particularly excited to read One of Us is Lying, described as The Breakfast Club + murder. I don’t remember the last time I saw a book receive so many 5* reviews before it’s even published (132 and counting), so I’m extremely intrigued and want to pick this up soon.

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Have you read any of these?

Shelf Swap with Katherine Webber


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 Katherine Webber, author of Wing Jones, to Pretty Books for Shelf Swap!

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

Who Runs the World by Virginia Bergin
Okay, full confession, I went off of some of Stacey’s wishlist shelves for this because I’d read quite a lot of what she’d read. I am SO excited for this feminist dystopia by Virginia Bergin. I hugely enjoyed The Rain and I’ve been waiting for this book ever since I heard about the premise.

Release by Patrick Ness
New Patrick Ness. OF COURSE I WANT IT. And has there *ever* been a better pitch than Forever meets Mrs Dalloway?

Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild
*hides head in shame* I can’t believe I’ve never read this! It seems like everyone absolutely loves it. I feel like it is a big hole in my classic kid lit knowledge!

Invictus by Ryan Graudin
I’ve absolutely loved everything I’ve read by Ryan Graudin but I think this might be my most favourite yet just based on the premise. Time travel romance adventure? Yes, please!
See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng
I hadn’t heard of this one but it sounds absolutely lovely. It says it is for fans of Wonder, The Curious Incident o the Dog in the Night-Time, and Walk Two Moons – all books I really love. And I love the whole concept of a book about a boy recording things on earth to send to space for other life forms to learn about humans. It sounds charming and smart and sweet, all things I love in MG.


5 BOOKS FROM KATIE’S SHELVES THAT STACEY SHOULD READ

Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamara Pierce 
I actually found this surprisingly tricky because I think that Stacey and I have similar taste – so I knew she would have already read lots of my favourites and visa versa! Although I strongly disagree with her rating of A Wrinkle In Time, one of my childhood favourites. Another childhood favourite is the Alanna books by Tamara Pierce. I love the whole quartet, but of course she’d have to start with The First Adventure. This book inspired me to be a feminist from a really young age. Alanna is a complex, interesting character and I’ve always admired her. And I’m still madly in love with George Cooper *swoons*.

Stacey says: I think this is where mine and Katie’s tastes diverge – she loves fantasy and I really struggle with it! However, I am intrigued by feminist characters… 

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
This was a recent read for me and I ADORED it. Definitely one of my favourite contemporaries (although it is technically set in the 80s…) I know Stacey loves wonderful contemporary books, and I think she’ll love this. It’s beautiful and raw and funny and heartbreaking and life affirming.

Stacey says: I removed this from my Goodreads wishlist recently because I figured I was never going to get round to it, but it’s one I’ve always heard such wonderful things about. *puts back on wishlist*

Ash by Malinda Lo
This is a jewel of a book. I know Stacey usually reads contemporary, but I think she’ll enjoy this Cinderella retelling. It is such a fresh take on Cinderella, and the fairy tale tropes, that anyone who is familiar with the classic fairy tales can enjoy it. I love everything Malinda Lo writes, but this was the first thing I read by her so I always try to recommend it.

Stacey says: Ah, I usually avoid fairytale retellings *hides from Katie*. I asked my housemate Charlie whether she’d read it and she loved it too. Maybe I can be convinced? Maybe…

The Secret History by Donna Tartt
I loved The Graces and I can’t wait for Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo, and both of those books have shades of The Secret History in them. It’s been years since I’ve read it, but I think I’m due a reread. The Secret History is technically adult, but in a lot of ways it feels like a YA coming-of-age/thriller. I’m really curious to see what Stacey thinks of it!

Stacey says: I have a copy of The Secret History! I cannot believe I haven’t read yet as it’s super popular. Boarding school + mystery = sold.

Bel Canto by Anne Patchett
This is one of my all-time favourite books. I can still vividly remember exactly where I was when I read it, and how I felt when I finished it. It is a book I push on everyone. It is one of those books that is so vivid and real, you feel like you are reading about something that really did happen instead of fiction. I think Stacey will appreciate the complex and changing relationships between the characters, and the humour woven throughout the drama. The writing is also impeccable and each sentence is a joy to read.

Stacey says: I’ve never read anything by Anne Patchett before but this one is on the Rory Gilmore Reading List…!

Thank you, Katie, for swapping shelves with me!

Which of these books sounds great to you?

What I’ve Read / We Come Apart, The One Memory of Flora Banks & Unconventional

What I've Read / We Come Apart, The One Memory of Flora Banks & Unconventional
Here are reviews of three books I’ve read this year!

We Come Apart by Sarah Crossan & Brian Conaghan
One is one of my favourite novels ever (seriously, read it). Like One, We Come Apart is told in free verse but, unlike One, we’re introduced to two narrators. Jess’s home life is tough and Nicu recently emigrated from Romania. When they’re both arrested for theft, Jess and Nicu become unlikely companions. And Jess’s friends – who throw racist remarks and abuse at Nicu – won’t let them forget it.

We Come Apart is very current. It’s not about bullying or racism or abuse – it’s about Jess and Nicu – but we see how these affect the two teenagers’ lives. We Come Apart is also incredibly sweet. I love books about friends and We Come Apart sees a close friendship develop at different rates. Nicu wants to know more about Jess once he first sets eyes on her whereas Jess needs a little more convincing about Nicu. Due to the free verse and the book’s length, the story is fast-moving and we quickly become wrapped up in the lives of these two underdogs.

If a dual-perspective, in my opinion, is done well, we should be able to tell who’s speaking without checking. In We Come Apart, there’s no need for character headings; it’s always easy to tell Nicu’s passionate broken English apart from Jess’s indignant thoughts. I loved switching between them seamlessly. Poignant, beautiful and captivating, We Come Apart is a short hit straight to the heart.

Credit: Visit Norway

The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr
Svalbard, Norway. It’s somewhere I’ve never been, but somewhere that’s been etched in my mind ever since reading The One Memory of Flora Banks.

17-year-old Flora suffers from anterograde amnesia, meaning she’s lost the ability to create new memories. She doesn’t know she’s 17. She doesn’t know her address. And she doesn’t know that her best friend’s boyfriend kissed her. Except that she does, this time. Flora is determined to find out how this one boy managed to unlock her memory and so sets off alone to the Arctic.

Whilst reading Flora Banks, I constantly felt the chill of lost memories. But I perhaps wanted a little bit more from the mystery itself. I understood why Flora was so desperate to cling onto this boy – it’s the first time she’s able to remember something since the damage to her brain – but I was also resistant because Drake is a severely unlikeable character. And yet Drake moving abroad meant that Flora was able to embark on a journey for herself, meeting fascinating people along the way. If you enjoyed Elizabeth is Missing, why not give Flora Banks a shot?

Unconventional by Maggie Harcourt
If you want the UKYA Fangirl, here it is. Unconventional is pure fun. Lexi Angelo has assisted her Dad with the running of popular film and comic book conventions ever since she can remember. And she’s pretty good at what she does. But debut author Aidan Green doesn’t think so. He’s rude and sarcastic and has made fun of Lexi’s clipboard several times. So why does she find herself falling for him?

Unconventional is adorable. I’ve attended YALC at LFCC (London Film and Comic Con) and volunteered at London Comic Con, and so could picture the busy, sweaty and geeky atmosphere of conventions. As soon as we meet our teenage duo Lexi and Aidan (aka Haydn Swift), we can see there’s going to be something between them. But that’s because they’d also make pretty excellent friends. They play off each other really well and I adored their conversations (and many arguments). I also enjoyed seeing the complicated father/daughter relationship. Lexi’s frustratingly under-appreciated by her frantic and somewhat intimidating father, who’s in the middle of planning his wedding. I desperately wanted Lexi to stand up to her Dad but it was great to see a parent feature so prominently in a YA story.

Unconventional is super sweet and lots of a fun – stupendous a love letter to UKYA fandom. I sort of want Lexi’s life.

(Plus, I squealed upon seeing my authory friends, Non Pratt and Mel Salisbury, mentioned in the story!).

…And a little bonus:

100 Hugs by Chris Riddell
Thank you to my housemate, Charlie, for gifting me this lovely book to cheer me up! It’s exactly what it says: Chris Riddell has sketched 100 different hugs, accompanied by poignant literary quotes. Perfect for when you’re in need a hug yourself.