Behold the Pretty Books! / August Book Haul

Behold the Pretty Books! / August Book Haul

Here’s all the books I acquired in August!

I was excited to receive Rebecca Stead’s Goodbye Stranger from Andersen Press because I adored both When You Reach Me and Liar & Spy. I also received two wonderful historical novels from Walker Books for review: The Hired Girl (told via the diary of fourteen-year-old Joan, living in Pennsylvania during the summer of 1911) and The Red Shoe (told by six-year-old Matilda, part of an ordinary family living in the Northern Beaches of Sydney during the 1950s). And I received another Penguin English Library classic from Caboodle, this time North and South!

Daphne kindly gave me Night Owls and Look Who’s Back (Berlin, Summer 2011. Adolf Hitler wakes up on a patch of open ground, alive and well). I’m particularly intrigued by Look Who’s Back. I’ve also heard wonderful things about Night Owls and I adore the cover – that gold!

I also acquired Louise O’Neill’s Asking For It, one of the most highly anticipated YA novels of the year. I’m excited (i.e. scared) to read it because her first novel, Only Ever Yours, was incredible – read my review here.

Behold the Pretty Books! / August Book Haul
I ventured onto NetGalley and downloaded James Dawson’s All of the Above, a funny and moving love story about friends, first loves and self-discovery, as well as Tonight the Streets Are Ours and Mosquitoland. Apparently all I want to read is YA contemporary! And lastly, I bought Courtney Summers’ All the Rage. It’s essential and brilliant that rape is talked about in YA, but I do find it one of the most difficult things to read about, so I’ll have to mentally prepare myself before I pick up both All the Rage and Asking For It.

Have you read any of these? Let me know what you thought of them in the comments.

Behold the Pretty Books! / August Book Haul
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Book Review: The Last Summer of Us by Maggie Harcourt

Book Review: The Last Summer of Us by Maggie Harcourt

Shelved: Young adult fiction (contemporary)
Buy: Hive
More: Goodreads
Challenge: Hooray! It’s Summer – #4

I bought Maggie Harcourt’s The Last Summer of Us during my trip to Topping & Company Booksellers in Bath. As it’s a summery story about three best friends on a road trip, it seemed like the perfect choice for me on my own trip across the UK!

I picked The Last Summer of Us to be one of my summer reads – and got stuck in shortly before summer ended. The Last Summer of Us begins sadder than expected: Limpet (an affectionate nickname) is attending her mother’s funeral and feels suffocated by grief, so leaves the rest of her friends and family to meet her two best friends, Steffan and Jared, by the lake. Shortly after, the three teenagers – who are all struggling with family, life and the future in their own ways – spontaneously embark on a journey through the countryside, cramped together in Steffan’s old car.

Limpet, Steffan and Jared were difficult characters to get to know. The Responsible One, The Rich One, The Quiet One. All three are uncomfortable over-sharing, anxious about how they are meant to continue after their last year of school; and find it tough to come to terms with the fact that their parents, the people who they’re supposed to look up to, are far from perfect. But I adored the times when the friends just got to be free, happy, and themselves, and the little moments they shared, from Jared ‘saving’ Limpet from potential axe murderers to Steffan playing the violin, so absorbed that he doesn’t notice his travel buddies approaching.

The Last Summer of Us is a different take on the road trip novel and even though I never felt close to Jared, Steffan and Limpet, all flawed and full of angst, I appreciated the chance to take a trip through the Welsh countryside, surprise ostriches and all!

Published: 1st May 2015
Publisher: Usborne
Pages: 304

Book Review: Lorali by Laura Dockrill

Book Review: Lorali by Laura Dockrill

Shelved: Young adult fiction (fantasy, contemporary)
Buy: Hive
More: Goodreads

I love being surprised. I wouldn’t normally be drawn to a mermaid book and I’m not sure that I’ve ever read one before, but I picked up Lorali because:

1) After reading Hi So Much, I trusted Laura Dockrill to create amazing contemporary characters
2) It’s so shiny! And pretty! And BLUE!
3) It was my book club’s pick for August

I started reading, not knowing what to expect, and then, a few hours later, I had finished.

Lorali begins with the arrival of a naked mermaid on Hastings pier, discovered by Rory on his sixteenth birthday. Lorali has turned her back on her destiny to be an underwater princess in the Whirl, and has become human – a walker. With beautiful, well-written characters and a story like no other, Lorali takes us under the sea.

I thoroughly enjoyed the alternating perspectives: Lorali, Rory and, yes, The Sea. I knew about this unusual perspective before starting the book and I wasn’t sure how it would work, but it does a wonderful job of constructing the world for the reader, both the history and the present. I unexpectedly enjoyed discovering how the mermaids came to be and how their world was kept secret from humans – plus all the other creatures and antics under the sea, like fellow mermaid Orla, who revels in being a celebrity!

Laura Dockrill’s poetic writing combined with a modern setting and relatable teenage characters made me feel comfortable, as if I were reading a summery young adult contemporary story about family, friendship and falling in love, but with a twist. I found Lorali’s naivety and enthusiasm charming, and Rory a loyal and friendly support. And you can’t have a mermaid without a pirate: the Abelgare boys – Otto, Oska and Jasper – were both delightful and chilling to read about.

Dark, often violent and with a little social commentary thrown in, Lorali is unique, inventive and impressed me a whole lot.

Published: 2nd July 2015
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Pages: 352
Source: Thank you to the publisher for providing this book for review!

Book Review: This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki & Mariko Tamaki

Book Review: This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki & Jillian Tamaki

Shelved: Young adult fiction (contemporary, graphic novel)
Buy: Wordery
More: Goodreads
Challenge: Hooray! It’s Summer – #3

This One Summer was the third book I picked up for my (unofficial) summer reads challenge. I spontaneously bought it a few months ago while paying a visit to Foyles, Charing Cross Road.  I love the large graphic novel section in the shop and I bought This One Summer along with Through the Woods – and I’m happy to say that I really enjoyed both!

I was expecting a cute and fluffy, picture perfect story about two girls and their summer friendship together in a beautiful beach cottage, enjoying the sun, sea and sand, but This One Summer was much grittier and intense.

This One Summer is about the sort of friendship that’s not day-to-day – Rose and her younger friend Windy only see each other every summer. Naturally, they have grown apart over the year and are no longer interested in the things they enjoyed the  summer before. Windy wants to dance, drink pop and build forts while Rose wants to talk about her summer crush and watch grisly horror films, but the two girls are determined to stay friends. Rose is also dealing with family drama and Awago Beach is no longer her refuge from life. In This One Summer, there’s talk of sexuality, sex, miscarriage, adoption, body image, misogyny and sexism, and depression, even if fleetingly. It’s a tough summer for Rose and This One Summer is a beautiful and evocative coming-of-age story about two girls growing up.

I adore graphic novels because they only take an hour or so to read, but the stunning artwork in This One Summer means that you feel like you’ve spent the summer with the girls and gone through what they have. Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki – two Canadian cousins – make the perfect author/illustrator partnership. Jillian Tamaki’s artwork is gorgeous. Many of the spreads are utterly beautiful and the way the artwork transitions between scenes is wonderful. I could almost hear the sea at Awago Beach; the traffic outside my window was transformed.

Join Rose and Windy on an unforgettable trip and discover how one summer can change everything. There aren’t many young adult contemporary graphic novels out there, but This One Summer shows that there should be.

Published: 6th May 2014
Publisher: First Second
Pages: 320

Book Review: This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki & Jillian Tamaki

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A (New) Little Tour of My Bookshelves

I thought I’d share a few photos I’ve taken of my bookshelves recently. I gave away about 140 books, so my shelves look much tidier. I love my bookshelves – they’re my favourite thing in my room! Each shelf can hold three rows of books, although this does mean you can never see what’s behind!

My Bookshelves

I keep children’s fiction on the top row – there’s loads of children’s classics here. YA takes up the next two rows. I love my bookish candles from Frostbeard Studio.

My Bookshelves

On the third row is more YA (unsurprisingly – it’s what I read the most!). The shelf below it is the tallest, so it holds a mixture of books, from Jodi Picoult paperbacks to larger YA hardbacks and smaller children’s hardbacks. The bottom row is where I keep my adult fiction (and it’ll start to creep up to the shelf above it!). I also love my bookish mugs!

My Bookshelves

And then on the other side of the room, I have another built-in bookcase. Here I keep a mixture of the largest hardbacks, smaller hardbacks, non-fiction and proof copies. They’re not in the photo, but I also keep my Agatha Christie novels and Penguin’s Great Food series on the shelf above the hardbacks, because they’re teeny-tiny, alongside my CDs (mostly Taylor Swift) and DVDs.

My Bookshelves

And here’s the very latest photo – I’ve now added flowers and Sadness.


Sadness is so cute!

You can see a very old tour of my bookshelves here. How do you organise your bookshelves?