Top Ten Tuesday: Best Books I’ve Read in 2017 So Far

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. This week’s theme is best books read in 2017 so far. I feel I’ve been very lucky in the books I’ve read so far this year, so I might struggle to choose ten! In no particular order then.

1. Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

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2. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

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3. Release by Patrick Ness

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4. A Conjuring of Light by V E Schwab

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5. The Scarecrow Queen by Melinda Salisbury

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6. All About Mia by Lisa Williamson

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7. The Book of Phoenix by Nnedi Okorafor

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8. Forever Geek by Holly Smale

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9. We Come Apart by Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan

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10. Shattered Minds by Laura Lam

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Oof, that was hard to narrow down! All five star reads, which pleases me greatly. What are the best books you’ve read this year? Are any of mine on your list? Let me know in the comments!

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Book Review: The Devil’s Poetry

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Today is my spot on the blog tour for The Devil’s Poetry by Louise Cole, and I was thrilled when Faye asked me if I wanted to participate because the book sounded right up my alley!

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Questions are dangerous but answers can be deadly.

Callie’s world will be lost to war – unless she can unlock the magic of an ancient manuscript. She and her friends will be sent to the front line. Many of them won’t come back. When a secret order tells her she can bring peace by reading from a book, it seems an easy solution – too easy. Callie soon finds herself hunted, trapped between desperate allies and diabolical enemies. The Order is every bit as ruthless as the paranormal Cadaveri.

Callie can only trust two people – her best friend and her ex-marine bodyguard. And they are on different sides. She must decide: how far will she go to stop a war?

Dare she read this book? What’s the price – and who pays it?

Commended in the Yeovil Prize 2016, this is an action-packed blend of adventure, fantasy and love story.

How cool is it to have a book where the hero’s superpower is reading? I loved the concept of The Devil’s Poetry because the idea of being able to change the world by reading a book is actually pretty empowering, if a little scary. I’m not sure I’d want that much responsibility, and I liked that Callie, our heroine, felt the same way. She wanted to consider all the information before making the decision, and I loved that she was relatively sensible about being thrust into an adventure.

The Devil’s Poetry is set in the near future, and therefore the world looks very familiar. The war that Callie needs to stop seems a realistic one, and it certainly added to the power of the book for me. Callie’s world is our world a few wrong steps in the future and that definitely gave the whole concept some extra heft.

There was a lot to like about The Devil’s Poetry. The scenes where we first meet the Cadaveri, and realise who they’re after, are exhilarating, as are the scenes at the end. I loved that we got the point of view of Cyrus, the leader of this particular band of Cadaveri, too, as it raised questions about who the good and bad guys actually were – there’s clearly a history there that hasn’t been fully disclosed yet, and while I’m disappointed it wasn’t in this book, I’m intrigued by it nevertheless. In fact, I liked all the points of view we got, as it gave a nicely rounded feel to the narrative, and also let us in on what was happening elsewhere. I loved Amber, who goes above and beyond the duties of a best friend time and again, and I even quite liked Ella. Callie herself is a strong, independent character who’s also not afraid of showing that she’s, well, afraid, and confused. I was never particularly convinced by her romance with Jace though, which was a shame (and honestly might be down to the fact he was introduced as a teaching assistant in the school she attended and teacher/student relationships squick me).

The Devil’s Poetry is an interesting book, with some very strong features. I would have liked to see more of the history of the Order and the Cadaveri, and there are some events which should definitely leave Callie much more traumatised than she is, but overall I enjoyed it, and I’m looking forward to reading the sequel.

The Devil’s Poetry was published on the 13th June by Kindle Press and is available to buy here. Don’t forget to check out the other stops on the blog tour in the banner below!

3/5

I received a copy of the ebook from Faye Rogers in exchange for an honest review

About the author

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Louise Cole has spent her life reading and writing. And very occasionally gardening. Sometimes she reads as she gardens. She can be seen walking her dogs around North Yorkshire – she’s the one with a couple of cocker spaniels and a Kindle. She read English at Oxford – read being the operative word – and hasn’t stopped reading since.

In her day-job she is an award-winning journalist, a former business magazine editor and director of a media agency. She writes about business but mainly the business of moving things around: transport, logistics, trucks, ships, and people.

Her fiction includes short stories, young adult thrillers, and other stuff which is still cooking.

Her YA and kids’ fiction is represented by Greenhouse Literary Agency and she is also published on Amazon as one of the Marisa Hayworth triumvirate.

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Happy Birthday Harry Potter

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Twenty years ago today, a little book called Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was published and somehow changed the world. I was 17 when it came out, far too old to be taking any notice of children’s books, so it was another three years before I read it at the insistence of my friend. The first four books were published at that point; I read them six times that year.

I was too old by then for Harry Potter to change my life in any significant way. I didn’t spend my childhood waiting for my Hogwarts letter. I didn’t learn how to let my imagination run wild – Blyton and Lewis had taught me that many years earlier. But what it did was this: Harry Potter made it cool to read children’s books, even if you were an adult. I think it’s fair to say that without that little revelation, I wouldn’t be here posting this today. We still get judged for it by small-minded people, of course we do, but there are more of us than there are of them.

And that, of course, is the other thing Harry brought me – a community. One of the greatest experiences of my life was sitting down with a group of fellow fans in the Palace Theatre just over a year ago. The atmosphere in that theatre was electric, because everyone was already a fan. I can open a conversation with anyone in the YA community by asking them who their favourite Harry Potter character is, or which House they belong to, and they will know exactly what I mean.

So thank you J. K. Rowling for writing down that story that popped into your head on a random train journey, and thank you Bloomsbury for publishing it. I may have been late to the party but I’m definitely here to stay.

Now please excuse me. I’m off to read my Hufflepuff House edition of Philosopher’s Stone.

 

Things That Made Me Happy This Week

So the lovely Grace at Almost Amazing Grace yesterday challenged other bloggers to post about what’s made them happy this week. It sounded like a good, positive thing to do, so here goes.

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Reading four brilliant YA books. Being unexpectedly affected by a film. Dinner out, by myself. My period arriving unexpectedly and making so much sense of how I’d been feeling. Payday finally arriving. Eating more healthily and sticking to it (mostly). Discovering how to use photo editing software on my phone. Awesome post. Finding a bookshop with the IBW Harry Potter 20th anniversary bag. Stumbling across Makefest Liverpool and getting crafty. The atmosphere at the Mersey River Festival and Armed Forces Day. Wandering around my favourite part of my favourite place in the world.

There were more there than I thought there’d be to be honest. This week hasn’t been great, but yesterday was amazing. I love living in Liverpool! I can’t promise I’ll do this every week but I’ll try to do it occasionally.

What’s made you happy this week? Let me know in the comments, or link me to a blog post!

My Summer TBR

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So it’s taken me so long to write this post that I’ve actually read 3.5 books off this list already. All of them have been great too, which is not helping me narrow down what I want to take to YALC! Because yes, my summer TBR is my YALC TBR, which at last count potentially had 35 books on it. Yeah. Even I think I’m being optimistic there.

But not to fear! I was organised when I made my list and there are three categories on it. The first is books by faves that I know I’ll want signed (so Our Dark Duet, Traitor to the Throne and Blood for Blood for example) and they’re at the bottom of the TBR. If I get to them, great, but they’ll be in my suitcase anyway so no rush.

The second category is books I own but haven’t read yet. The idea of this list is to decide if I like them enough to keep them. If I’m keeping them, I’ll want to take them to be signed. This is the priority category – I don’t want to miss authors that I’ll end up regretting.

The third category is books I’d like to read but haven’t bought yet. I think we all have lists like that, don’t we? *g* I’ll pick them up in dribs and drabs over the next few weeks, but I probably won’t mind too much if I don’t manage them.

The List

Books I’m definitely taking

  • Our Dark Duet
  • Traitor to the Throne
  • The Other Half of Happiness
  • False Hearts
  • The Dark Days Pact
  • Blood for Blood

Books I own but haven’t read

  • Crongton Knights
  • The Weight of Water
  • Runemark
  • Songs About A Girl
  • The Pearl Thief
  • Frozen Charkotte
  • The Royal Tour
  • Troublemakers
  • Smoke
  • Another Place
  • The Call
  • The Girl In Between
  • Dear Charlie
  • The Summoner series
  • The Name of the Blade series
  • One Of Us Is Lying

Books I’m interested in

  • Indigo Donut
  • After the Fire
  • Needlework
  • Becoming Betty
  • Showstopper
  • And Then We Ran
  • Spellbook of the Lost and Found
  • If Birds Fly Back
  • Noah Can’t Even

So that’s my TBR for the next 6 weeks (ish). What’s yours like? Are you going to YALC this year? If so, do you know which authors you’d like to meet? Let me know in the comments!

 

Book Review: A Tragic Kind of Wonderful

I really enjoyed Eric Lindstrom’s first book, Not If I See You First, so I was eager to see what his second book was like, and I’m pleased to say I enjoyed it just as much, if not more. A Tragic Kind of Wonderful is full of interesting characters, a cute romance and what seemed like a good depiction of bipolar disorder (with the disclaimer that it is something I know very little about and certainly have no personal experience of).

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How can you have a future if you can’t accept your past?

Mel Hannigan doesn’t have it easy. Mourning the death of her firework of a brother, facing the loss of three friendships that used to mean everything to her and struggling to deal with a condition that even her closest friends don’t know about. To protect herself and everyone else, Mel tries to lock away her heart, to live quietly without pain – but also without hope.

Until the plight of an old friend, and meeting someone new, shows her that the risk is worth taking, that opening up to life – and who you really are – is what can make everything glorious… And that maybe Mel can discover a tragic kind of wonderful of her very own.

A beautiful, captivating story about living with mental illness, and loving – even with a broken heart.

Mel isn’t an easy character to like – she’s purposely closed herself off as much as she can after the death of her brother, to the extent that some of her friends don’t even know she had a brother. Her closest companions are probably the residents of the care home she works in (and incidentally, I loved Dr. Jordan, but I’d have liked to see more of Mrs Li), and her aunt, Hurricane Jean, who lives with Mel and her mum. She has friends, she just doesn’t really see them as friends. I found myself warming towards Mel as the story went on though. Her charts that she tracks her moods with were an interesting piece of character building, and actually, it’s entirely understandable that she behaves in the way she does, considering the things that have happened. There are sections of the story set in the past, so we see how Mel got to this point, and how much she adored her brother, and I think this really helps us to get to know her.

There were a few things I really liked about A Tragic Kind of Wonderful. The first was that it was very clear that not everyone with bipolar disorder will experience life in the same way, that Mel’s disorder needs to be treated differently to her aunt’s. The second is that love does not miraculously cure Mel, as it might do in other books. There is a point where it looks like David, the boy Mel likes rather a lot, might be about to solve all Mel’s problems, and it actually turns out that he’s made the most sensible decision possible in the situation (trying to explain this without spoilers is *really* difficult!). Mel’s family is fantastic – her mum and her aunt are always looking out for her, although I don’t feel we got to know her dad very well. I also liked how the writing made it obvious if Mel was late with her medication, because her thought process speeded up. The gradual reveal of the central mysteries worked well too, although I did feel like Zumi needed to get a grip of herself

A Tragic Kind of Wonderful is a really enjoyable book. It’s not perfect, and it did feel like it was dragging a little at some points, but overall I would recommend it.

3.5/5

ARC received from the publisher, Harper Collins Children’s Books, via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Series I’ve Been Meaning To Start

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Tuesday again! Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish and this week’s theme is series I’ve been meaning to start, but haven’t. I must admit, I’m wracking my brains on this one, mostly because I do keep starting series, I just don’t finish them! Let’s see how it goes.

1. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas.

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2. Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas

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3. The Percy Jackson Series by Rick Riordan

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4. Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy

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5. The Winner’s Curse Series by Marie Rutkoski

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6. The Selection Series by Kiera Cass

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7. The Graceling Realm Series by Kristin Cashore

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8. The Star-Touched Queen Series by Roshani Chokshi

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9. The Temeraire Series by Naomi Novik

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10. The Broken Earth Series by N K Jemisin

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I know, I know. There are series on this list that I really should have read by now. Have you read any of these? What would be on your list? Let me know in the comments!

I Dare You Book Tag

So a ridiculous amount of time ago, Alice over at Reading, Writing, Blogging tagged me for the I Dare You Book Tag.

The rules are:

  • You must be honest
  • You can’t not answer a question
  • You have to tag at least four people

So here we go!

  1. Which book has been on your shelves the longest?
    On my bookshelf there sits a copy of The Enchanted Wood by Enid Blyton, which was one of the first books I ever owned, so I would guess it’s that!
  2. What is your current read, your last read and the book you’ll read next?
    Current read: Truth or Dare by Non Pratt and The Devil’s Poetry by Louise Cole
    Last read: A Tragic Kind of Wonderful by Eric Lindstrom
    Next read: Hopefully All Good Things by Emma Newman
  3. What book(s) did everyone like and you hated?
    Oh, lots! Most recently, Heartless by Marissa Meyer, which I gave up on because I was so bored. Or Stealing Snow by Danielle Page (same). Or The Monstrous Child by Francesca Simon, which went as far as being nominated for the Costa. I did manage to finish that one, but only because it was short and a book club book.
  4. Which book do you keep telling yourself you’ll read, but you probably won’t?
    Pride and Prejudice. I do really want to – I love all the adaptations of it, but I’ve tried to read it and never get past the first few chapters. That’s probably not going to change.
  5. Which book are you saving for “retirement”?
    I suppose I kind of have a plan to read all those classics (see above!) I’ve avoided!
  6. Last page: read it first or wait till the end?
    I’m a terrible, terrible person and will almost always read the end while I’m still near the beginning. I tried to stop after I realised spoiling Half Blood Prince for myself had been a bad idea, but I can’t help myself! The exception is when I’m reading on kindle, but only because it’s so much more difficult to flip to the back of the book.
  7. Acknowledgements: waste of ink and paper or interesting aside?
    I love reading the acknowledgements! Some of them have actually made me cry too.
  8. Which book character would you switch places with?
    Most of the books I read take place in worlds with horrible things happening, so I’m not sure I’d want to switch with any of the characters, but maybe Rosemary from The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, because everyone in that book is so lovely to her!
  9. Do you have a book that reminds you of something specific in your life?
    I read Lost in a Good Book, the second Thursday Next book, while sat in an airport on my way to New Zealand, and I remember being so desperate for the next one when I’d finished – which was at home – I trawled the airport bookshops for it. Sense prevailed and I waited til I got home (FOUR weeks later!) before finally getting to read it, so that whole series reminds me of that trip!
  10. Name a book you acquired in some interesting way.
    Most of the books I’ve obtained at YALC have been acquired in an interesting way! I had to tell the Scholastic stand an embarrassing secret to get a copy of  Super Awkward by Beth Garrod, for example, or I chased people dressed as doctors around so they could stamp my hand for a copy of Contagion by Teri Terry. That’s just two examples from last year!
  11. Have you ever given away a book for a special reason to a special person?
    My books are mine. MINE I tell you! So no. But I buy books for most people I know – I found a first edition of The Adventures of Tom Bombadil in a bookfair once going relatively cheap (because it was slightly damaged) so I bought that for my brother who is a huge LOTR fan.
  12. Which book has been with you to the most places?
    Dreamweaver by Jonathan Wylie used to come with me every time I went abroad as my ‘plane’ book – it was a book I loved, but didn’t need to concentrate on too much, and it didn’t matter if I didn’t finish it so it was perfect to take away with me. So that, probably.
  13. Any “required reading” you hated in high school that wasn’t so bad two years later?
    I don’t think I’ve ever revisited any books from school, because I really did hate them all so very much. I love some of the plays we did but then I liked them at the time too, so I don’t think I have an answer to this. I will say though, that while I am very much of the thought that plays were written to be seen, not studied, having studied Macbeth and The Crucible at GCSE, I have a different appreciation for them than the plays I didn’t study.
  14. What is the strangest item you’ve ever found in a book?
    The only things I’ve found in books have been other people’s bookmarks or shopping lists.
  15. Used or brand new?
    I prefer brand new (so shiny!), but I’ll happily trawl charity and secondhand shops and pick up books for cheap. Also, I have a pretty extensive collection of Chalet School books, almost all of which were secondhand.
  16. Have you ever read a Dan Brown?
    Yup. I read the first three Robert Langdon books. I enjoyed the first two, while acknowledging they weren’t very well written (imo) but the third I hated and it put me off reading any more.
  17. Have you ever seen a movie you liked better than the book?
    Not a movie, but I much prefer the TV versions of The Crow Road and Neverwhere to the books (although I have not yet read the author’s preferred text edition of Neverwhere, and my opinion might change!).
  18. A book that NEVER should have been published.
    I honestly don’t know. I have thoughts about this that are far too serious to be in a fun book tag.
  19. Have you ever read a book that’s made you hungry, cookbooks being excluded from this question?
    I don’t think so. I spend a lot of time hungry so hard to separate that from the reading! *g*
  20. Who is the person whose book advice you will always take?

My best friend has never steered me wrong (well, maybe once or twice) in the 25 years I’ve known her. One of the reasons we became friends is because we liked the same books!

I have no idea who hasn’t done this yet, so apologies if I tag you when you’ve already done it!

Amy @ Golden Books Girl

Kristin @ Kristin Kraves Books

Louise @ Book Murmuration

Lyndsey @ Lyndsey’s Book Blog

Top Ten Tuesday: My Dad’s Ten Favourite Books

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and The Bookish, and this week’s theme is a Fathers’ Day freebie. I thought about all the different types of dad-related lists I could do, but settled on my dad’s favourite books. This afternoon I really confused my dad by asking him to tell me his ten favourite books. He doesn’t know about this blog, and I didn’t fancy explaining it all, so I left him in his confusion! But onto the list.

1. Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell

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2. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

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3. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

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4. Coming Up for Air by George Orwell

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5. The Shining by Stephen King

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6. Exodus by Leon Uris

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7. Trinity by Leon Uris

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8. Catch 22 by Joseph Heller

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9. The King’s Deception by Steve Berrykings deception

10. The Blackhouse by Peter May

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As you can see, my dad and I do not share much taste in books! What do you think of my list? Have you read any of them? Let me know in the comments!

 

Discussion: Tackling The TBR Pile

So my blog turned a year old last week. I know – I was surprised too, but I suppose that’s because I’ve only really been posting regularly since December. (As an aside, I’m planning some sort of giveaway to celebrate, but I’m still thinking about what to do exactly!) When I saw the little notification telling me about my blogaversary, I obviously had to go and check, and sure enough, my blog was created on the 6th June 2016. Hurrah for a year of blogging!

But doing that made me remember that the subtitle of this blog is ‘Tackling the TBR Pile’, and that I was supposed to use this to make me read and review the books I already had. I…have not done that. At all. In fact, the TBR pile is at least twice as large now as it was last year.20170330_220107.jpg

(This is a tiny fraction of the pile, and is from March. I have acquired at least 70 books since then!)

I just get sucked in by the pretty new books. Sometimes it’s because it’s an author I love, so I’m obviously going to buy their book, or an author I’ve never read before but heard a lot about. Sometimes it’s the shiny cover and sometimes it’s just because it’s cheap (I love trawling charity and secondhand shops). I just can’t resist buying new books. I think it might be getting to the point of being a problem. *g*

So my question for you is this: how do you manage your TBR? Is yours as out of control as mine is? Can you help me control mine? (PLEASE.) Let me know in the comments!