Wednesday, 30 December 2015

My 2015 Favourite Reads

Before we begin, you must know that this was really hard. I didn't read a lot of great books this year, and perhaps that's me becoming more critical, but in this top ten I've had to reach into the four star books too, just towards the end. Additionally, this in order from favourite book of the year and then down from that. The five star books I read this year were so difficult to rank. Every book in this list has inspired me in one way or another, and in many cases has helped shaped the person I am at the close of the year. Here are my top ten books of 2015!

1. Only Ever Yours by Louise O'Neill
Only Ever Yours was purely disturbing and by the end, I was left in horror. This is one of the best books I've ever read. Whether I'd read this again or not is questionable, as I don't need to open this to be haunted by it's messages, but I've recommended it to countless people. I've even wrote essays on this book and it's ties to feminism. O'Neill's writing is extraordinary, and her themes of body image, weight, feminism, inequality and identity will resonate with me for a long time. (Read in June) [REVIEW]

2. Winter by Marissa Meyer
On concluding the Lunar Chronicles, Winter finalised this as one of my favourite series. At 830 pages, it is the longest book I've ever read, and one of the best conclusions to a series too. The writing was enchanting, and Meyer didn't leave any loose ends untied. Winter beautifully entwined links to the original Snow White story, and also wrapped up the other fairytales in the story - Cinderella, Rapunzel, Red Riding Hood. Read in November [Review live in January]
3. Fairest by Marissa Meyer
The struggle to decide which was better out of Fairest and Winter was extremely tough, as they're both wonderful. Fairest solidified my love for The Lunar Chronicles. It was fascinating to read the backstory behind the villain of a series, and try to - no matter how twisted and creepy it was - to understand the motives behind her actions. Meyer's writing excelled and the world building of Luna was just what I needed next in this series. Read in October [REVIEW

4. Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
DIVERSITY. DIVERSITY. DIVERSITY.  This is the first graphic novel I'd ever read, and immediately fell in love with the plot and characters. Noelle Stevenson's art style is gorgeous; the variety of bold block colours adds such vibrancy and sheer delight as you turn the pages. Laugh-out-loud funny and a heartwarming read. Read in August. [REVIEW]

5. Every Day by David Levithan
Every Day has changed the way that I think, act and live. Seriously, I doubt I'll ever properly review this book - it's been 7 months and still, I'm just speechless when it comes to this story. Quietly extraordinary. READ THIS BOOK, PEOPLE! Read in May. 

6. Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson
This made me cry. It wasn't a sob situation, but my mascara was going down my face in a rather messy manner. Before Second Chance Summer, I'd never cried at a book before - and for something to have the power to have done this, that in itself is deserving of being in my top 10. This is a story that also made me just want to learn everything about my family members, and understand the people I love while we have time. Read in June [REVIEW]

7. Between Shades of Grey by Ruta Sepetys
This should be required reading in schools, whether you're taking History or not. What unfolds  in the pages of this story is something that I, and a lot of people, never knew existed. Such an important read that not only is good for it's diversity, but also for the fact that it is educative in a place where many education systems fail. Read in September.

8. The White Rose by Amy Ewing
Everything I needed in a book I'd been waiting a year for, all the questions I needed answers to, were all in this book. The world building and character building was fantastic, and Amy Ewing has definitely excelled herself, making this my favourite dystopian series. If I could have the final book, that would be perfect. Read in October. [REVIEW]

9. The Year of the Rat by Clare Furniss
Being the second book I read in 2015, I'm struggling to recall what I loved so much about this book. The Year of the Rat was raw, compelling, and brutally honest. Furniss really just understands grief, and what it's like to feel lost. A wonderful debut. You have to read this. Read in January.

10. Lost in Translation by Ella Frances Sanders
Getting this for Christmas, I sat and read Lost in Translation in an hour on Boxing Day. It's just the most lovely, delightful anthology - bursting with incredible illustrations. There were words in here that I've been looking for and have needed all my life. If you love learning about other cultures, or just have a thirst for knowledge, then this is perfect for you. Read in December. 

Friday, 25 December 2015

Every Christmas is Last Christmas

"Every Christmas is last Christmas." - Clara Oswald, Doctor Who Ep. "Last Christmas"

So this is Christmas, and what have you done? (So sorry, I couldn't help myself.)
We can live every day like there are infinity left to go. Or we can live them like there is no tomorrow. Either way, this Christmas might be your last. Perhaps it might be my last. Or I might have sixty more to go. Who knows.

For me, last Christmas was terrible. Probably...possibly... the worst I've had. I feel guilty saying that, because we all tried to make it a good day under the circumstances, but nothing could hide the fact that my brother was so ill that he didn't want to help do the Christmas tree in early December - something he loves - and spent most of December 25th sleeping. And then I was ill too, my second endless-seeming saga with Acid Reflux, which triggered Anxiety and feeling permanently low. My 16th birthday had been on Christmas Eve, and, well let's just leave it at most of that day I'd be quite happy to forget.

I saw Doctor Who's Christmas special and clung onto Clara's words as if they were hanging from strings before me, just within reach. A single sentence made me realise how sad it would be if that was the last Christmas. Things are so different this December though. For one thing, I'm no longer ill, and although my brother still is, he is improving with every day. More than anything right now, I want this Christmas to be something actually worth remembering. Something that maybe in June when I inhale the scent of a cinnamon Yankee Candle my mind will go back to sitting around by the Christmas tree before the sky has awoken, unwrapping presents and smiling. 

What is happening in the world right now is horrific. Tensions are growing across the globe towards certain targets and are escalating at a frightening rate. We don't know what will come in the next year, and the way the wind will blow. And how Christmas will be in 2016.

We can live every day like there are infinity left to go. or like there is no tomorrow, and every Christmas is no exception. Because every Christmas is the last Christmas, and so live it to the fullest, love every moment, and forget how many calories are in that mince pie. 

Merry, Merry Christmas. 

Holly x

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

The Christmas Tag

What's Your Favourite Christmas Film?
Truth be told, I've not seen many Christmas films... perhaps 4 at most. Home Alone cannot be a contender in this - as I've suffered through watching it far too many times. We have a collection of Christmas DVD's, but I've just never gotten round to seeing most of them. However, every time I see it, I adore Elf. It's up there with my favourite films ever. There's some thing so magical and genius about such a story - this is making me want to watch is again. 

Do You Open Your Presents on Christmas Eve or Christmas Morning?
My birthday is actually on Christmas Eve, which has its positives and negatives. So I get birthday presents on my birthday, and Christmas presents on Christmas day. My family don't open Christmas presents before December 25th because of this - and that's the way it's always been. Every time I tell someone that December 24th is my birthday, I am asked the question "Do you only get Christmas presents then?" - The answer to that is no, as my parents decided that it wouldn't be fair otherwise (which I agree with.)

Do You Have a Favourite Christmas Memory?
Not that I can think of. I've always loved Christmas and so there are a lot of great memories, but I don't think there's one I can rank above the others. I remember in 2005, where i live had European Christmas Markets for the first time. It was snowing and I remember my mum and I eating roasted Chestnuts. Then, there's the memories of hours my brother and I spent playing on a Scalextric we'd received for Christmas in 2006. A lot of favourite Christmas memories are more in the Christmas season, and often surround that my birthday. (Well, aside from my 7th birthday when my Dad got me a bag of oranges because I had a cold, thanks Dad.)

Favourite Festive Food?
Favourite part of Christmas Dinner: Roast Potatoes.
Favourite festive food in general? My Grandma makes a trifle at Christmas and New Year and it's one of the best things I've ever eaten.

Favourite Christmas GIft?
Sometimes it's hard to remember which gift was for my birthday, and which was for Christmas - like, right now I'm trying to come up with an answer and I can't even remember what I got for Christmas last year - hmm. 

Favourite Christmas Scent?
Another fun fact: i have little to no sense of smell - I can't even smell burning. One of the only scents i can smell is the general "scent of Christmas." This answer cannot be limited to just one scent - I love the smell of the Christmas tree, cinnamon, gingerbread, berries and a Yankee candle I have Christmas Memories - which is exactly how Christmas smells. My nose may be failing me, but if there's only a few things I can smell, I'm very glad one of them is the scent of Christmas.

Do You Have Any Christmas Eve Traditions?
 Because of my birthday, Christmas Eve is probably very different for me than it is for you. We don't really have "Christmas Eve;" we have "Holly's Birthday" instead. And I should also note that that isn't me being big headed, selfish, or self centered - that is how things have been for my whole life. In some ways, the circumstances to sadden me , because I'll never know what a traditional Christmas Eve is like. 

What Tops Your Tree?
We have an angel/fairy that my mum has had for years. We've tried stars but they never stay on the tree, so the Christmas fairy sits on some of the highest branches.

As a Child, What Was the One (Wild, Extravagant, Crazy) Gift For But Never Received?
I've always been very down to earth, sensible and realistic in the gifts that I've wanted or asked for. When people ask me what I want for Christmas, aside from books and the odd DVD, I never know. Like last year, my Dad got me an IPad Air for my birthday - I didn't even know about it. I don't really do extravagance. 

What's the Best Part About Christmas for You?
If I have to choose something it's the anticipation. When December comes, knowing that Christmas is just around the corner is always exciting. The shops are decorated beautifully, the TV and music is great, and there is this immense feeling of love, whether it be for Christmas itself or for people. It's just a wonderful holiday.

Thank you so much to Amber for tagging me to do this! You can see her post here. I tag Zoe from Books for Birds, Gee from The Books Bandit, Rita from Weaving Pages, and Rebekah from Wings Made of Words.

Holly x

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Letter to Winter

(The evident mess of Christmas wrapping can be seen in the bottom right corner.)
Letter to Winter 2014
Dear Winter,

Hello. Hey. Hi. You're back again. I really missed you.
Last time I wrote to you, I was a mess. Life was a mess. Honestly, it felt like a mess that couldn't be cleaned up. Staining, bleached, permanence. Then slowly, things changed. 2015 has treated me rather well, I'd say. With the arrival of December, this year is coming to a close, and although I'll be sad to see 2015 leave, I'm ready to move forward.

In a few weeks, it's my 17th birthday. I'm changing. The world's changing. And soon I'm going to be 18, and that freaks me out. But I'm happily comfortable with the pacing of time and the beat at which the clocks tick. Days, weeks, months; they all pass by at a speed I'm finally okay with, and that's a first. 17. 18. 19. 20. Here I come.

Ready or not, here I come. 

Holly x

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

5 Books You Need to Read This Winter

The air is bitterly cold and the trees are growing bare. Knowing that Winter is just around the corner. As they days grow shorter and the nights longer, you will definitely need some great reading material to fall in love with on the coldest of evenings.

A wonderfully diverse graphic novel, bursting with colour, emotion, and humour. Nimona is a story of love, fantasy, science, dragons and sidekicks. At just under 300 pages, this is lovely for nights when you climb into a warm bed and watch the pages come to life right before your eyes. The art is stunningly beautiful and is filled with warmth. You don't even have to like science. I hate science and still love this to pieces. [REVIEW]

Walton's debut novel wasn't written, it was delicately crafted and woven with threads of the past. This isn't a happy story. It's a story of lost love, betrayal and desperate times in Ava's family history. Oh... and Ava has wings. A bittersweet and horrifyingly tragic tale at times, but the descriptions of Seattle, the character development, and enchantingly gorgeous prose make it an absolute must read. 

Okay, so you've probably read this, or heard me mention it a thousand times. But hear me out. Not only is Rainbow Rowell exceptionally good at writing love stories that make your heart want to explode, but this is set in the week running up to Christmas. As always Rainbow Rowell has created an endearing story that will make you smile so hard you'll melt the snow outside. [REVIEW]
My True Love Gave to Me
The truth is I didn't finish this last year, but am going to reattempt it this Christmas. My True Love Gave to Me is an anthology of Christmassy short stories by some of the famous names in YA fiction. There is such a variety of contemporary, magical realism, and fantasy stories, and all by some of the best loved authors. These are fluffy, sweet, and great for reading in the 12 days running up to Christmas Day. If you want a book that'll get you excited for the festive season, then this is exactly what you need. 

The Jewel by Amy Ewing
I read this last November, on a cold Sunday afternoon and was hooked all the way through. Amy Ewing's writing is truly addictive. The Jewel is set on a dystopian island where the royalty can't have children themselves, and so use surrogates- teenagers who have magical powers- to create heirs. Enchanting and captivating, with every shock, twist, and turn, you will fall deeper in love with Violet's chronicle. This won't be everybody's cup of tea, but if you liked The Handmaid's Tale or The Selection. [REVIEW]

What are your Winter must reads?

Holly x

Friday, 27 November 2015

My Life Next Door:: REVIEW

My Life Next DoorThe Garretts are everything the Reeds are not. Loud, messy, affectionate. And every day from her rooftop perch, Samantha Reed wishes she was one of them... until one summer evening, Jase Garrett climbs up next to her and changes everything. 
As the two fall fiercely for each other, stumbling through the awkwardness and awesomeness of first love, Jase's family embraces Samantha - even as she keeps him a secret from her own.Then something unthinkable happens, and the bottom drops out of Samantha's world. She's suddenly faced with an impossible decision. Which perfect family will save her? Or is it time she saved herself?

Truth be told, has been a very long time since I read this book. I read My Life Next Door in June 2014, but then happened to received a surprise review copy from Electric Monkey too.

This probably won't be great, because I didn't write a Goodreads review at the time, and I can't remember half of what happened. But I still have a few things I need to say about this interesting and insightful read.

Like with every book, there were positives and negatives here. Whilst I enjoyed this, My Life Next Door is very long for a contemporary. I love contemporary fiction, but this became dragged out, especially towards the final quarter of the story. Samantha's friends and the relationships between her friends were left unexplained and vague, so when things turn dramatic towards the end, their actions made no sense, but still, I struggled to ever really warm to, or understand Nan and Tim. 

With it's family centric themes, My Life Next Door is perfect for fans of Gayle Forman. I loved how Huntley Fitzpatrick managed to show the stark contrast between the hostile relationships in Samantha's family, with her mother only concerned with her political job and her obsessive cleaning, and then Jase's family, bursting with life and in spite of the parents having 8 (EIGHT!) kids, they manage to keep everything under control and enjoy their lives. Samantha and Jase's relationship was slow burning, originally a friendship (although, let's be real, it's so obvious it's going to end up romantic), and this I've never seen a YA book that deals with sex so well before. The topic was covered in a way that was responsible and in a way that so many YA books have missed. 

My Life Next Door is released in the UK on January 7th 2016. Thank you once again to Electric Monkey for sending me a proof copy to review.

Holly x

Friday, 20 November 2015

recent reads:: October '15

When a book is by your favourite author and is essentially a fanfiction of your favourite series, you can only have high expectations. And this was disappointing. I liked Simon and Baz's relationship, and I loved the secondary characters too (especially Penelope), but for a fantasy, it didn't feel original enough. I missed Rainbow Rowell's beautifully witty and wonderful prose that I had grown to love so much. I missed the romance that made my heart feel like it was overflowing with happiness. I missed Rainbow Rowell, as this didn't feel like it was one of her books. 3/5

Fairest has solidified by love and obsession with The Lunar Chronicles. Additionally, whilst Cress is my favourite, this was by far the best written. Marissa Meyer's stories just get better and better, with more shocks and twists and shippings of 3 year olds. (That sounds weird unless you've read these books, I know.) Everything about Fairest was stunning; from the descriptions of life on the moon or characterisation of Levana, Evret, Solstice, Channary and others. Meyer has the extraordinary capacity to make you feel somewhat sad and heartbroken for a person whose blood is like ice. Fairest has made me beyond excited for Winter's publication, and, if anything, has made me hate Levana even more. 5/5

As soon as I heard about The Next Together, I couldn't wait to start reading it. This is another one of those books that has the potential to be phenomenal but falls flat in the middle section. Reading The Next Together is like reading AU fanfictions for Kate and Matt: they're together in 1745, 1854, 2019, and 2039. A fascinating story, but I didn't care about what happened to these characters and it didn't hurt to watch them be torn apart time after time. Some elements of the time travel weren't properly explained and so for the last 100 pages I was so lost. If you live confusing historical/future/time travel plots then you might be interested, but it didn't quite work for me. 3/5

With a year long mourning period following on from The Jewel, I was incredibly excited to find out what happens to Violet next. So much world building was added into this story, giving realistic, and somewhat shocking reasons for as to why in the Lone City, the surrogates are used. Everybody has a past and a story, which is what so many YA dystopias haven't providedAmy Ewing gave me the answers I'd be waiting a year for and created a near perfect sequel. Her writing never fails to suck me in and is so addictive. I couldn't put this down. 4/5

Sunday, 15 November 2015

LUNAR REVIEWS:: Scarlet + Cress by Marissa Meyer

Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles, #2)Scarlet Benoit's grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn't know about her grandmother or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother's whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him. And he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner. 

If you are going into Scarlet thinking that the entire book is going to be from her perspective, then think again. Remember Cinder? The cyborg from New Beijing? Well, it's half in her perspective too. Obviously dual perspectives do not appeal to everybody, but Marissa Meyer ties the plots together so effectively, that boredom never strikes, and you never find yourself craving the other perspective.

Scarlet is a sharp witted, fierce, and dauntless character. We see her gradually grow more and more bitter, desperate to find her last connection to family. I guess in a way this sounds like Cinder, but Scarlet is a breath of fresh air in the series.  I loved how reading from Scarlet's perspective, you become absorbed in this cold world that is rarely broken down.Contrasting with this, I didn't like Wolf, and I didn't like the relationship that formed between him and Scarlet. To me, it doesn't feel right that Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf fall in love. It just doesn't make sense to me. But that was my only problem with this book.

Unlike Cinder, the plot goes in a full arc. There is a clear beginning, middle, and end, and the plot goes at such a fast pace that you will fly through this. Scarlet left me with a ridiculous book hangover. I ended up in a month long slump in between finishing this and the wait for Cress. The reality is that this is my least favourite book in the Lunar Chronicles, but there's always going to be a least favourite, and it's still a fantastic read.

Cress (The Lunar Chronicles, #3)
Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, now with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they're plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army. Therebest hope lies with Cress, a gilr imprisoned on a satellite since childhood who's only ever had her netscreens as company. When a daring rescue of Cress goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing prevent her marriage to Emperor Kai.

The beauty of the Lunar Chronicles is that each book gets better and better. And if we're only talking about the novels (and excluding the Fairest novella), Cress is the best so far.

SO much happens in 500 pages. There's a trip to Africa, someone ends up on the moon, and we get so much more information on Letumosis, shells, and the glamour. If you've been confused about how the workings of future Earth and Luna go, then this will answer your questions. 

Cress herself is extremely sweet, and has the great mental strength that I suppose comes from being trapped in a satellite your entire life. A hopeless romantic, she has these ideals based on romantic earthen films she has watched, and quickly falls for Thorne, who, in Cress just becomes an even better Jack Sparrow (like that was even possible). The relationship between these two characters is adorable; she wants the "perfect" romance, but forgets the fact that Thorne is the first male she has ever met. I LOVE THEM TOGETHER. 

The characters will always be the best part of the Lunar Chronicles. Of course, the story is fantastic, but the characters make the story what it is. Every character is so different from one another, and mean that unexpected twists and directions are taken. My only problem with Cress was that given what happened in this book, it could have been shorter than 500+ pages. Some parts were dragged out, but nevertheless, I really, really enjoyed reading this.

At the time of writing this, there are still two weeks until Winter is released: I am beyond excited to find out what happens next. I have also reviewed Cinder, and my review of Fairest will be up in the next week.

Holly xx

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Lost in a Library is 3!!!

So...Lost in a Library is 3 years old. That's kind of crazy.
If you've been here a while then you'll know that I did posts on my first and second blogoversaries too, usually consisting of thank you's, and me acting like this blog is my child. But I'm going to do things a bit differently this year. I'm going to be frank.

I've been a dreadful blogger this year. I've posted 38 times. That's it. All year.
I got into the swing of scheduling my posts in Oct/Nov/December of last year, and that hit a reef in April when my exams started. I just didn't have time to blog, and I still haven't gotten back into it. 

I've also had a lot less faith in what I'm doing. I don't feel like anyone reads this anymore. It might say that there's 61 bloglovin followers, and 40+ GFC followers, but it feels like none of you are there. It feels like nobody reads what I write. I see posts that I worked really hard on only receive 20 page views at most. And it hurts. Because it feels like I've missed the point in what I was trying to convey. Any blogger will know how proud you feel after working so hard on a blog post, the excitement when it goes live, but then, which not all of you will feel, the disappointment, when there are no comments, no responses, no sort of feedback on what you have written. I'm so grateful for every single follower, but I want to discuss with you and Fangirl with you and see what you feel about a book.

I don't know where I'm going wrong, or if I'm going wrong. But I want to know how to improve, how to make Lost in a Library better, how to feel listened too. Please comment, please retweet or favourite, or tweet me, please, just read this. 

In my fourth year, I want to improve, and I don't know how that is going to happen. I've started a lifestyle blog, but I'm struggling with managing The Highest Cloud and Lost in a Library. Honestly, I want to know what you as a reader want to see, because if you like to read it, and I like to write it, then maybe we'll be getting somewhere. 

Here, I'm going to insert a link to a Google Form, PLEASE fill it out. I should have done one of these a while ago, but I'm scared that I'll get one response, if any. PLEASE be honest. 

I need to thank everyone who has stuck by me. Anxiety hasn't been kind in the past year, and there are some bloggers who have been incredibly supportive at times where I didn't know where to turn anymore. I really want to thank you for your kindness, and everybody who retweets, comments, reads, follows and shares what I write. Now going into the fourth year of blogging, I only want to make things better and better, so please, bear with me whilst I take the journey in getting there. 

Holly xx

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Alice Oseman: "Writing and Studying is not Impossible" + Giveaway


…sort of. I don’t mean you can literally write a story while reading your biology textbook. I don’t think even the most talented of multi-taskers can do that. (If you can, email me. Seriously. I want to know your secrets.)

One of my most frequently asked questions as an author who wrote a book while she was at school and wrote her second while at university is – how do you find the time to write while studying?

It’s a fair question. Both school and university can use up one hundred per cent of your free time. We’re living in the age of ridiculous amounts of homework and coursework, exams so hard that you need to start revising six months in advance, and teachers telling you that your school grades are going to determine your future success and happiness (total bull, by the way).

So when people ask me how I did it, I usually tell them these three things:

1. Organise your time. If you’re going to keep up with your schoolwork and write as well, you do need to sort out when you’re going to get things done. My policy while I was at school was that I did most of my homework and coursework at school (during my free periods and at lunchtimes) so that I had all my time at home for writing. It worked pretty well!

2. Writing a story sometimes has to take priority. Sometimes, you have to say no to homework and yes to writing. Writing a book takes a lot of time, determination, effort, stamina, and perseverance. If you’re constantly giving your schoolwork priority, it will take you a very long time to write a book. School does not have to be the most important thing in your life – your dreams and passions should be important too. So give them some attention. My policy was that if a teacher or tutor wasn’t going to check the homework, I didn’t do it. Maybe this is bad advice. I don’t know. But it worked.

3. Writing should never feel like work. I know I said that writing a book takes a lot of determination and perseverance, but it should mainly be fun. It should be something you really want to do. If you’re not enjoying it, I can honestly say that there’s absolutely no point you doing it. So don’t stress about publication or writing something groundbreaking – just relax and let writing be something you do to chill out. Write your book for you. That in turn will help you to write something you love, which will make a better book. I used to rush home from school with an idea for the next chapter in my head, desperate to write it down. Writing is hard but it’s also relaxing because I genuinely enjoy it.

Hopefully something here will help you balance your academic and literary endeavours! Workloads at school and university can be hellish – trust me, I know. But if you want to write a book, you’ve got to know when to say no to school and yes to doing what you want to do.

You can write a book if you want to. You just need to give yourself the time. And sometimes give homework the slip.

Good luck!

Thank you so much to the lovely Alice Oseman for agreeing to do a guest post on Lost in a Library! This is part of the YA Shot Blog/Vlog Tour. YA Shot took place on Wednesday 28th October in Uxbridge promoting YA and the power of libraries. 

Alice is also kindly giving away one signed copy of Solitaire - her debut novel. The giveaway will be open from Sunday 1st November-Thursday 5th November 2015. After that the winner will be sent their prize via the author. You must be a UK Resident, and have permission to share your address if you win.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

NimonaNimona is an impulsive young shapeshifter with a knack for villainy. Lord Ballister Blackheart is a villain with a vendetta. As sidekick and supervillain, Nimona and Lord Blackheart are about to wreak some serious havoc. Their mission: prove to the kingdom that Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin and his buddies at the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics aren't the heroes everyone thinks they are. But as small acts of mischief escalate into a vicious battle, Lord Blackheart realizes that Nimona's powers are as murky and mysterious as her past. And her unpredictable wild side might be more dangerous than he is willing to admit.

Nimona is all kinds of wonderful. Imagine you wake up inside a kaleidoscope. Everything is dark, but as soon as you open your eyes, you see everything. You see all the colours. The light from the outside world is streaming through the tinted glass and the colours dance around you with calm chaos. That's Nimona. All the colours at once.

This was the first graphic novel I'd ever read and I fell in love with it on the first page. This was absorbed, loved and felt in one sitting, and at the end I was somewhat speechless.

The diversity in Nimona was truly fantastic. I loved how Nimona wasn't stick thin. She wasn't fat, but by no means was she the typical thin girl we constantly see represented in fiction. Ironic as it sounds, whilst this is fantasy, if anything, this made Nimona seem more realistic. Also, and I don't think this is a spoiler but I love the fact that it was never verbally said that Ballister was Gay. It emphasizes the fact that we shouldn't have to be labelled. It was quietly and subtly hinted at in such a beautiful way.

The relationship between Nimona and Ballister Blackheart is touching and ridiculously sweet. It's one of those unlikely friendships that works so well. It's nice to see how the villan and his sidekick in this world are really hugely complex characters with such endearing personalities.

The book is extremely funny, I found myself constantly laughing out loud. What I liked especially was how there were running jokes throughout the 250 pages, something which I've not really seen in fiction before. But then there are also darker points, that are so moving and sad in their explanations of the characters' past. You grow to love Ballister, Nimona, and Goldenloin, and well, everything else too!


Holly x

Monday, 19 October 2015

Five Stars Doesn't Mean Favourite

Just because you give a book 5/5 stars, by no means does it have to automatically be a favourite. It may just be an exceptionally good book. I have a big problem with this, and perhaps this is because people assume that it is a favourite, but the reality is that the book could just be an incredibly good read.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell: My favourite book. I gave this five stars, but if I could have given it more then I absolutely would. For me, Fangirl spoke to me in a way that no other book ever had, because Cath is me. This is more like 100000/5

Every Day by David Levithan: A truly genius and thought provoking book. Again, I gave this 5/5 stars. Every Day is such an original, heartbreaking, and fantastic novel. And I have gained so much appreciation for life from it, but it's definitely not a favourite of mine.

A favourite exceeds the rating scale. A favourite takes your breath away and you remain breathless. A favourite is tattooed on the surface of your brain, unable to be scrubbed away. A favourite leaves a permanent mark. 

Books that I've rated 5 stars, but are not favourites: 
The Great Gatsby, We Were Liars, Lies We Tell Ourselves, Love Letters to the Dead, Between Shades of Gray, Love Aubrey, Lola and the Boy Next Door, Finding Cherokee Brown. 

These were all amazing, but none of them are books that if someone asked me what my favourite books were...none of these would spring to mind.

Of course, any 5 star book has the power to metaphorically blow you away, and but there are some that you will shout about from the rooftops and recommend to every human being. Those are the favourites. And they're on their own level of wonderful.

Holly x

Monday, 5 October 2015

You're the One that I Want by Giovanna Fletcher

Image result for you're the one that i want giovannaMaddy, dressed in white, stands at the back of the church. At the end of the aisle is Rob - the man she's about to marry. Next to Rob is Ben - best man and the best friend any two people ever had. And that's the problem. Because if it wasn't Rob waiting for her at the altar, there's a strong chance it would be Ben. Loyal and sensitive Ben has always kept his feelings to himself, but if he turned round and told Maddy she was making a mistake, would she listen? And would he be right? Best friends since childhood, Maddy, Ben and Rob thought their bond was unbreakable. But love changes everything. Maddy has a choice to make but will she choose wisely? Her heart, and the hearts of the two best men she knows, depend on it...

When I read this back in November 2014, straight after I logged into Goodreads and in the review section for this book wrote the following:

"My emotions are playing tricks with me right now. Every time I think of this book I want to cry and smile and laugh and just read it all over again. It's going to take a while to get over this..."

You're the One That I Want is about Maddy, Rob, and Ben; 3 friends who since the age of 5, have spent there entire lives together. Maddy is about to marry Rob, but there is a past that could stop her going through with it. I never read Chick-lit, and so the only reason I read this is because Giovanna is Tom Fletcher from McFly's wife. Also, if I had read Billy and Me first (which I didn't like) I would have never read this - which was one of my favourite reads of 2014.

I still stand by the italic statement above, as I feel like I will never get over what happened in this book. And i have a feeling that this is going to be a difficult review to write, because it completely broke my heart. The way that we saw the three characters grow up, we see them from age 5 up until their mid thirties, and the development of Maddy, Rob and Ben was phenomenal. We discover their feelings as they discover their feelings - which makes sense in my head. Everything felt live, and as if I grew up a little bit over the course of my reading experience along with the characters.

From the start, I rooted for Ben. I found myself shipping Maddy and Ben together, in spite of the fact that from the very start Maddy is going to at least get engaged to Rob. Ben was my kind of person, quiet and sensitive, where as Rob was the most popular boy in school. Maddy was easily swayed, and all the characters did stupid things at times, in particular Rob. Another reason why the book temporarily destroyed me.

If I never read another Chick-lit book again, then I'll be fine with that, because You're the One that I Want was perfect.
Holly x