Posted in discussion

Favourite Books Of The Year | 2018

The arrival of a brand new reading year means that it is time to reflect back on the many stories I consumed in 2018. Sadly, it is not a year will miss as I spent most of it in a big old slump. More often than not, I’d find a gem I adored, finish it and be left thinking “now what?” So, while those standouts were few and far between, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t worthy of a place on this list.

The Extinction Trials: Books 1 &2 by S.M.Wilson

Yes, it’s cheeky to start my summary with two books not only from the same author, but from the same series. But it’s my list and I make the rules!

The Extinction Trials tells the tale of two continents: one inhabited by humans and the other by dinosaurs. The human continent is vastly overpopulated and vital supplies such as healthcare are in short supply. Every year citizens are invited to volunteer to take part in a series of trials to prove that they are worthy of being sent to the dinosaur continent, Pilora, in search of more sustainable resources. Stormchaser and Lincoln both have their reasons for joining the cause.

This book is just so vivid and well written with an incredible cast of characters, all of which you can sympathize with. Oh, and of course dinosaurs. Lots and lots of dinosaurs.

How To Stop Time by Matt Haig

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A book that would have completely passed me by if it wasn’t shoved into my hands by a friend, How To Stop Time follows a man who has a rare condition meaning that he has been alive for centuries. Every few years he is forced to change everything in his life in order to avoid detection, while also searching for his missing daughter who also has the same condition.

A beautiful, though-provoking read that tackles history and importance of identity, wrapped up in breath-taking prose.

The Loneliest Girl In The Universe by Lauren James 

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Sci-fi is a genre that I have tried many times to dip my toes into but just don’t get on with. However, I kept hearing a lot of buzz in the YA community about this book. So I went into the reading experience hoping it would prove me wrong, and boy it did.

The Loneliest Girl In The Universe follows teenage girl Romy as she flies a spaceship to a new Earth in the hopes of starting new life. Besides the mundane ship maintenance she carries out every day, her existence revolves around the emails she receives – a year after they were sent- from a woman at Nasa.

It’s isolating, character driven brilliance and I found myself sharing Romy’s excitement every time she got the notification that a new message had arrived. I still think about this book every day.

Paper Girls: Volume 1  by Brian K.Vaughan and Cliff Chiang 

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Another genre I’ve always struggled with is graphic novels. It’s such a big intimidating corner of the bookstore and I always feel like other shoppers can tell that I clearly don’t know what I’m doing or looking at. But one day I noticed this face out on the shelf and something about the cover just made me go “yes please!” I started reading and knew I had to buy it; despite being skeptical that it was by the same writer of Saga which I hated.

Paper Girls is… well about a group of paper round girls in the eighties who come together on a night when all manner of weird things begin to happen. I love all their different personalities and the artwork is simply gorgeous!

A Very Large Expanse Of Sea by Tahereh Mafi 

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Tahereh’s step into YA contemporary sees her putting a lot of her experiences as a fashion obsessed, breakdancing muslim teenager into the character of Shirin. The story takes place a year after the events of 9/11 and documents the shift in how she is perceived in the world.

Shirin is an amazingly well-rounded character and while I can’t relate directly to her story, I felt so hard for her when she opens up to the reader about what she expects from those around her. So imagine her surprise when a rather attractive boy called Ocean (yes, Ocean) starts paying an interest in her.

It’s been such a long time since I’ve felt such a weight of emotion in my chest finishing a book. I can’t remember the last time I finished a book and wanted to read it again straight away.

So there you have it! That’s my round up of 2018.
Did any of your books make my list?
What were some of your standouts?

Posted in children's fiction, discussion, lgbt, romance, young adult

Favourite Books Of The Year 2017

Another year has slipped by and it’s time to sit back and reflect on the reading year. I’ve frequently said that 2017 was a bad year for me in terms of quality rather than quantity. I read a lot of books that just left me feeling a big deflated and didn’t think about again once I put them on a pile to be donated to one of my local libraries. I feel that this is reflected in the minimal number on the list. But that in no way should diminish the spotlight on the ones I mention as they deserve all the love and praise in the world. So let’s get into it:

The Upside Of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli 

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The story follows a girl called Molly who really wants a boyfriend but feels that no one will ever love her because she’s a big girl and so she must settle for her list of unrequited crushes.

If you’ve been following me at all over the past year, you will know that I simply cannot stop talking about this book. It has pansexual, bisexual, jewish, fat and anxiety representation but it’s all weaved into the story in such a way that none of it feels like it’s there just to tick boxes. I’ve not connected to a book like this in such a long time. It made me feel valid in terms of body issues and the way my anxiety can be a real hinderance at times and it was nice to see a grown  bisexual woman represented in a Young Adult book. It felt like this book was giving me a hug and telling me that I am valid. If you’re interested in a full review, you can read it here.
Noah Can’t Even by Simon James Green 

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This book is about a boy called Noah who just wants to be a normal sixteen year old boy and decides he’s going to cement this by kissing the beautiful Sophie at a party… but he ends up kissing his best friend Harry instead.

I came across this book because of an interview Amber from themilelongbookshelf did with the author. Simon pointed out the lack of British LGBT books which really got me thinking about how I actually couldn’t name any myself, which is what pushed me towards picking up a copy. There’s been a lot of discussion about YA books where the characters feel “too old” and Noah Can’t Even really feels like reading a story about a teenage boy. The internal monologue is embarrassing and cringy, but my gosh it’s downright hilarious. There were some parts of this book that had me laughing to myself for days after I’d finished it. I’m even laughing now writing this thinking about some of my favourite moments. If you’re interested in a full review, you can read it here.

The Christmasaurus: Musical Edition by Tom Fletcher 

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All William Trundle wants for Christmas is a pet dinosaur… and it just so happens that the elves at the North Pole have discovered a dinosaur egg. A wondrous turn of events leads to a truly magical Christmas Eve adventure.

I was in two minds about whether to include the musical edition on this list as, while it is a re-release, the original made it onto my list of favourites in 2016. But then I figured, I shouldn’t deny myself small pleasures and also this is my list therefore I make the rules. There are honestly not enough words to describe how brilliant this story is. It’s festive, magical and heart-warming and I shed many tears again, even though I knew what happened. If you’re interested in a full review you can find that here and my comparison review of the two editions can be found here.
The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin 

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The story follows a twelve year old girl called Suzy who finds out her best friend, Franny, has died. The cause of death doesn’t make sense to Suzy as her friend was an incredibly good swimmer so she struggles to understand how drowning could be the cause. Through a school trip to an aquarium she learns about jellyfish and comes to believe that one type in particular was the real culprit. She starts learning everything she can about jellyfish and looks into experts who can help prove her theory to be correct.

This book punched me right in the heart… several times… just to make sure it hurt enough. In these pages, the reader sees a girl facing her own mortality for the first time and trying to cope with the death of a loved one for the first time and it’s utterly heartbreaking to read. But I feel it’s something we can all relate to: searching for rational answers to something as unpredictable and -at times- nonsensical as death.

I’ve not been this affected by a book since I read The Book Thief but I think it’s finally found some competition.  Again, if you’re interested in a full review, you can find it here

And that concludes my favourite books of the past year! Here’s to another book-filled one!

Happy Reading!

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