Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Books Read In January

In 2017, I'll be aiming to review everything that I read and I'm happy to recommend (I generally give up on stuff I WOULDN'T be happy to recommend fairly quickly.)

For reviews as soon as they're written, follow me on Litsy or check the pinned thread on Twitter. I'll be doing a monthly round-up, though - and here's the first one.

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Vintage, bought) 

Stunning essay which I wish had been written when I was a teen. At that point I think I was one of the boys who would have said "I don't even think about gender." I am slightly more awake to the world today - but even if I wasn't this short, accessible and brilliantly powerful book would definitely have opened my eyes. A call to action which will definitely make me think more about what I can do to challenge gender inequality. Required reading.

Plain Vanilla by Ines Bautista-Yao (self-published, bought) 

Fun, sweet romance novella with a lovely couple at the centre who I really liked together. Tempest's family are great too and I found this to be a quick and cute read. Would definitely read more by Ines Bautista-Yao!

Waiting For Callback: Take Two by Perdita and Honor Cargill (Simon & Schuster, sent for recommendation consideration)

This was one of my most highly-anticipated contemporaries of the year - I really enjoyed the first WFC book - and it definitely didn't disappoint! As with the first in the series, it's a hilarious read with a fab main character. The excellent dialogue sets it above most of the other similar books in a crowded field (which includes lots of great reads!) while the extracts from a gossip site and emails from Elektra's agent were great touches. 

Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet, vol 1 by Ta-Nehisi Coates and Brian Stelfreeze (Marvel, borrowed)

I haven't read many Black Panther comics before, but Ta-Nehisi Coates as a writer was enough to get me on board for this one, and I'm very glad I tried it. He gives us a complex political storyline populated with rich characters - T'Challa himself is excellent while the two who interested me the most were the former guards of the Dora Milaje, 2 female lovers. I was also impressed by the portrayal of the villains, who were well-rounded. Add in stunning artwork from Brian Stelfreeze, vividly bringing the characters and the Wakandan setting to life, and this is a seriously superior superhero story.

God Smites and Other Muslim Girl Problems by Ishara Deen (Deeya Publishing, bought) 

This was a fun read and it's awesome to see a Muslim MC taking centre stage (as a non-Muslim I can't speak for the rep, but reviews I've seen from Muslim bloggers have praised it.) Asiya is a fabulous lead and I loved her relationship with her family, especially. I found the mystery a tiny bit predictable (although it was nice to solve one before the MC did for once!) but it was still engaging and held my attention. Looking forward to book 2!

Mind The Gap by Phil Earle (Barrington Stoke, sent for recommendation consideration) 

Phil Earle puts all his trademark warmth into this lovely, compassionate story of two boys - Mikey, who's just lost his father, and his best mate trying anything he can to support him in his grief. These two are the stand-outs but there's a rich cast of characters, including street performers, a school bully. and an agent. As always with Barrington Stoke the story is brilliantly plotted and paced - their 'super readable YA slogan' is spot on!

Wed Wabbit by Lissa Evans (David Fickling Books, bought) 

Definitely the strangest, absolutely the most imaginative, and almost certainly one of the very best children's books of recent years. The story of Fidge and Graham's desperate attempt to escape the tywanny of Wed Wabbit is simultaneously hilarious and moving, with great character arcs for both of them. An amazing set of supporting characters adds to the fun, while Lissa Evans's world-building is A+. Utterly spectacular, an absolute must-read.

Root of Unity by SL Huang (self-published, ebook sent for recommendation consideration) 

This is one of my favourite thriller series and Root of Unity definitely doesn't disappoint. Cas is an awesome action hero and her backstory is gradually becoming more and more fascinating. I also really love her moral struggle as she tries to be less ruthless and a better person, influenced by her friends. This seemed significantly darker than the previous 2 books (although it's a while since I've read them) but is still a really good read.

Orangeboy by Patrice Lawrence (Hodder Children's, sent for recommendation consideration) 

Stunning contemporary telling the story of Marlon, caught up in danger when a date ends tragically. He's an incredible main character and my heart went out to him and his mother, already heartbroken by an accident his brother was involved in several years previously. The way Marlon gets drawn into the world Andre had occupied is brilliantly paced - although it's a tough read as it's so clearly leading to bad things. A really outstanding debut!

History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera (Simon & Schuster, sent for recommendation consideration)

Oh wow! My first Adam Silvera and it's just as wonderful as I'd been told his writing is (but a serious tearjerker; stock up on tissues.) I fell totally in love with Griffin, Theo and Jackson, all three are amazing characters and I thought the details of Theo's relationships with both other boys were incredibly well-portrayed. In addition, I loved Adam's really perfect depiction of Griffin's OCD; definitely one of the best I've seen in YA. In addition, as devastating as it is, it's also hopeful - a stunning look at heartbreak, grief and forgiveness.

Trust Me I'm Lying by Mary Elizabeth Summer (Random House, borrowed) 

I'm a huge fan of books about con artists and this was SUCH a fun read (although it got surprisingly emotional towards the end.) Julep is a really awesome main character, the plot isn't especially plausible but worked for me because it's so pacy and exciting, and I'm really glad that I have the sequel to hand because while the main mystery is wrapped up nicely, a question raised late in the book has me desperate to know the answer to it.

The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon (Corgi Children's, bought) 

WOW! The unique structure - mostly a dual narrative, but interspersed with stories of lots of people the MCs meet - got my attention quickly but Nicola's beautiful writing and the superb central pairing are even more impressive. I loved the chemistry between them while the author also brought New York to life perfectly. A stunning look at love, science, poetry, fate, and so many other topics. And oh, that ending! An incredible read.

Book of the Month:

Really close call; Wed Wabbit was hilarious and is up there with upcoming release The Dragon With The Heart of Chocolate by Stephanie Burgis (Bloomsbury) as one of my favourite MGs for years, while We Should All Be Feminists brilliantly combined accessibility with powerful writing. I also adored the first two YA contemporaries I read this year; History Is All You Left Me was incredible but overall I think The Sun Is Also A Star was my absolute favourite of the twelve.

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