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? 

A chat with Fiz Osborne from Plum Literary

Meet Plum Literary

Plum Literary logo illustrated by @AntoniaWoodward

I have an exciting new post for those of you who are interested in the publishing industry! Fiz Osborne joins me today to chat a little bit about Plum Literary, a new literary and editorial consultancy specialising in children’s literature, from picture books to YA.

Hi Fiz! Can you tell us a little bit about Plum Literary?
Sure! There are two halves to Plum Literary. The first half is the literary agency. As an agent, I have close relationships with the writers I look after – we brainstorm ideas, talk about how their manuscripts could develop and I’m there for guidance and support in what can often seem like a confusing industry. I’m also the bridge between a writer and a publisher (think advance negotiations, contracts, schedules, etc.) and, I suppose, a contacts book in human form!

The second half of Plum Literary is the consultancy, which is a place for writers to work with an experienced editor to improve their writing, develop a manuscript and learn about the publishing process. Plum Literary is a small agency, so we’re not able to represent every good writer we meet, but the consultancy allows us to work with more writers on a project-by-project basis and help set them on the road to being published.

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Top Ten / Authors Whose Books I’ll Auto-Buy

It’s Top Ten Tuesday and today’s topic is top ten authors whose books you’ll add to your Goodreads wishlist before there’s even a blurb or cover!

Top Ten / Authors Whose Books I'll Automatically BuyNon Pratt
I adored Trouble and Remix two brilliant UKYA contemporary novels – and I’ll definitely be reading Non Pratt’s next book, Truth or Dare.

Top Ten / Authors Whose Books I'll Automatically BuyRuta Sepetys
Ruta Sepetys’ two YA historical novels – Between Shades of Gray and Out of the Easyare so very different from each other. I can’t wait for her upcoming book, Salt to the Sea, which I added to my wishlist without even thinking!

Top Ten / Authors Whose Books I'll Automatically BuyPatrick Ness
If it’s a YA novel by Patrick Ness, I’m reading it. I have read his books A Monster Calls, the Chaos Walking trilogy and More Than This – and I’ll soon be reading The Rest of Us Just Live Here.

Top Ten / Authors Whose Books I'll Automatically BuyMorgan Matson
Even though I’ve (shockingly) not yet read Since You’ve Been Gone (soon, soon!), I wanted it as soon as I found out about it. Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour and Second Chance Summer are two of my favourite YA contemporary novels. I also have Broken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things to Mend, which she wrote under the name Katie Finn.

Top Ten / Authors Whose Books I'll Automatically BuyStephanie Perkins
It doesn’t yet have a title, cover or blurb, but I’m very much looking forward to Stephanie Perkins’ upcoming contemporary YA horror story. Anna and the French Kiss, Lola and the Boy Next Door, and Isla and the Happily Ever After are among the best in contemporary romance.

Top Ten / Authors Whose Books I'll Automatically BuyRebecca Stead
I adored Rebecca Stead’s two middle grade mystery novels – Liar & Spy and When You Reach Me and I cannot wait to delve into her latest book, Goodbye Stranger.

Top Ten / Authors Whose Books I'll Automatically BuyJandy Nelson
I only read Jandy Nelson’s I’ll Give You the Sun and The Sky is Everywhere for the first time this year, but I’m reading Fall Boys & Dizzy in Paradise as soon as I can – especially if it’s heartbreaking!

Top Ten / Authors Whose Books I'll Auto-BuyLouise O’Neill
Louise O’Neill’s in a unique position on this list because I haven’t yet read her latest book, Asking For It. But I know I’ll be reading whatever she writes next because I can tell, having read Only Ever Yours, that her writing is stunning and her stories are incredibly important – and need to be told.

Top Ten / Authors Whose Books I'll Automatically BuyRainbow Rowell
Whether they’re young adult novels or adult fiction, I’ll be reading Rainbow Rowell’s upcoming books for a long time yet. I’ve read all of her books so far: Eleanor & Park, Fangirl, Landline & Attachments.

Top Ten / Authors Whose Books I'll Automatically BuyJohn Green
And lastly, now that I’ve read and enjoyed all of John Green’s novelsLooking for Alaska, Paper Towns, The Fault in Our Stars, An Abundance of Katherines and Will Grayson, Will Grayson – I have added his as-yet-untitled and highly anticipated next book to my Goodreads wishlist. How could I not?

Are any of these authors on your auto-buy list?