My 2017 YA Favourites List

Hello everybody!


Welcome to day 20 of blogmas! Today, I’m going to be speaking about my 10 favourite YAs in 2017. This was a tough choice, and I still love all of the books on my mid-year favourites list too! There’s one book on here that I didn’t give 5 stars as I can’t actually remember why not and I really enjoyed it,  and I highly recommend everything I’ve rated that not on this list too. I’ll be doing a seperate list for MG books in a few days, and I’m leaving it till last as my 3 overall favourites of this year are all MG.
 Note- not all of these are from 2017. Some are books I’ve read this year that were either published before 2017 and others aren’t out till 2018

Onto the books!


The Summer of Telling Tales
– this was beyond heartbreaking. It’s a tough but hopeful read, and reminded me of Jacqueline Wilson at her very best. I think this is massively underrated, so if you get a chance to read it (I stumbled on my copy at the library, for example) please, PLEASE do.

The Exact Opposite of Okay
-I  feel so lucky to have read this already, seeing that it isn’t out till next March. It has a wonderfully witty narrator who made me snort and cackle multiple times and I think a lot of people are going to fall in love with this when it’s released.


This Beats Perfect-
A wonderful boyband YA, with a really nice romance and a prontagonist I loved, as well as a superb cast of secondary characters. I also just really liked the writing style, which felt unusual but I can’t explain how, and I’m looking forward to the sort of sequel that’s due out in February.


The Graces
– this was so chilling and creepy it gave me goosebumps in places, and I couldn’t put it down to revise for my French exam (which I read it on the day of… oopsies). I passed though, so my love for this book remains very much in tact. Also, the last line is GLORIOUS; roll on the Curses right now please!


Radio Silence
– This was another book from my last week of exams, which I also read in a day (the day of my Modern Studies exam). The thought of going back to this got me through a challenging paper, and it’s just phenomenal! Aled is one of my favourite characters ever.


Stargazing for Beginners
– I read this after a bit of a reading slump, around the start of May I think, and it’s just wonderful. Meg is such an inspirational, yet flawed and realistic character, and watching her struggle with caring for her little sister after their mum jets off and abandons them is so sad in places. Her friends, such as Annie, are hilarious, and I also loved her romantic interest Ed.


The Empty Grave-
this was pretty much the perfect finale to a pretty much perfect series. The trademark drama, humour and adventure combo was as slick as ever, and the characters continued to be exceptionally awesome in every way. And it made me cry at the end!


Wing Jones
– I read this at the start of 2017 and it got me through the very difficult night before my MRI scan (which I find really difficult). Wing’s journey of finding her passion for running and falling in love is stunning from start to finish, and I adored the magical realism element.


Moxie
– This is a fierce, feminist read that’s guaranteed to make you want to start your own revolution. It tells the story of Viv as she starts up her own zine and creates the Moxie movement to shake up her sexist school.


Noah Can’t Even
– I genuinely have no idea why I didn’t give this 5 stars. It made me giggle loads and it was amazing fun, and Noah is so sweet and nerdy. DEFINETELY a favourite of this year in spite of the stupidity of past me’s star rating. (Which I have now went and swapped on Goodreads)

EDIT- I forgot a book! One of the most special things I’ve read this year is Forever Geek by Holly Smale, which was the final instalment of one of my favourite series (Geek Girl). I am MOST ashamed that I forgot it, but it’s definetely worth going over my 10 books.

What have your favourite YA books of 2017 been? Do we share any choices? I’d love to read your list if you have one! Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @GoldenBooksGirl!

Amy xxx

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Top Ten Tuesday: Books I’m Hoping to Find Under my Tree 

Hello everybody, and welcome to day 19 of blogmas!

Today, I’m taking part in the Top Ten Tuesday meme, hosted by the Broke and the Bookish, for which the theme today is books we’re hoping to get for Christmas. 

Onto the post! 

 The Last Duchess by Laura Powell– I’ve heard this is similar to a few books I love (such as the Murder Most Unladylike Mysteries), and I’d really like to give it a go for that reason. I love historical mysteries and I also really like Upstairs, Downstairs sorts of things focusing on servants (such as Frost Hollow Hall by Emma Carroll) as it’s an area of history you don’t see that often.


Queens of Geeks by Jen Wilde
– this one’s had very mixed reviews, so I’m interested to see what I’ll think of it. It sounds like a fun read though, and I’m willing to try it.


Gabriel’s Clock by Hilton Pashley
– I’ve had this recommended to me by a few bloggers I really trust, and the concept is intriguing. I also loved Hilton Pashley’s guest posts during the blog tour for Michael’s Spear (the final book of this trilogy) so I want to see if I enjoy the first book.


Troublemakers by Catherine Barton
– I’ve only seen good reviews of this, and I’m interested by it as it touches on political issues, which is something I don’t see directly in books often.


This Careless Life by Rachel McIntyre
– I was a huge fan of Rachel McIntyre’s previous releases, and though I know this is quite different sounding in tone/subject matter I’d still very much like to unwrap it on Christmas day. I love a good mystery, and I’m hoping this might be similar to One of Us Is Lying.


Della Says OMG by Keris Stainton
– even though this is a few years old now, I saw a hugely positive review of it recently and I’m very much hoping to recieve this. It sounds like the mix of serious and fun I always enjoy when done well too.


Jessie Hearts NYC by Keris Stainton- 
I read and liked One Italian Summer by this author earlier this year and thought the worldbuilding of the Italian settting was exceptional, so I’m looking forward to  to seeing her take on New York (which I adore as a setting in general). 
 

Frostblood by Elly Blake
– I’m pretty fussy with YA fantasy (I vastly prefer the MG variety) but this sounds like something I’m likely to enjoy.

Here We Are Now by Jasmine Warga
– I love stories with long lost family members reuiniting, I’ve heard brilliant things about this one and I’m adding it to my Christmas wishlist as I’ve had my eye on it since before it’s release.


Rubies and Runaways by Janine Beacham
– I really enjoyed Janine Beacham’s debut Black Cats and Butlers earlier this year, and I really want to read Rose’s second adventure soon. It’s set at Christmas too, so it seems like the perfect book to read soon after if I get it. I think this is quite different to other MG mysteries out at the moment, mainly due to the AMAZING, super cool secret society of butlers.
What books are you hoping to recieve this Christmas? Have you read any of my list? What did you think of them? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @GoldenBooksGirl!

Amy xxx

A Festive Q&A with Katy Cannon 

Hello everybody, and welcome to the 18th day of blogmas. Today, I have a Q and A with Katy Cannon, author of Love, Lies and Lemon Pies (among other great books too, but I like to mention LLALP as much as possible since I love it so much 😉). 

Onto the post!

Hi Katy! Thank you so much for being here!

1. Love, Lies and Lemon Pies was your first YA book. Was there any particular inspiration behind it?

I was actually eating cake with my agent, Gemma, in a local coffee shop, talking about ideas for a new book. I wanted something that resonated with my own interests, and I was doing a lot of baking with my daughter at the time (it was at the height of the Great British Bake Off’s popularity) so Gemma suggested a school Bake Club. We started brainstorming around that, and suddenly I had a whole book’s worth of ideas!

2. The book balances a more serious side and fun so well. Was it difficult to get this just right?

There’s always a balancing act in all books, and I never get it right the first time! As with all things in writing, it takes a lot of revising and editing to get the balance right. But it’s always worth it in the end, when the book works. 

3. I`m going to be very mean, seeing how hard I`d find it to answer this! Who`s your favourite member of Bake Club?

I think my favourite is Jasper, because he reminds me of my youngest brother. 

4. This is another tough one. What`s your favourite scene of the book, and why?

That one is tough – especially since I haven’t read it for a long time! But I think probably the scene with Mac and Lottie outside on the trampoline at Grace’s party.

5. Was it fun to return to these characters for Secrets, Schemes and Sewing Machines? Would you ever write more stories in the Bake Club world? 

It was so much fun! And I loved seeing the world through Grace’s eyes for a change, too. I also loved going back to write Jasper’s Christmas short story – Love, Lies and Mince Pies. As for any more stories in the Bake Club world… well, I’m off to Paris next week, so maybe there’ll be a short story of Lottie and Mac in Paris yet!

6. Before the quickfire round, can you say a little bit about your story in I`ll Be Home for Christmas and why you wrote it? 

My story, Christmas, Take Two, is about Heather, who is spending her first Christmas at her Dad’s new house with his new girlfriend and her family. For me, home always means family, but families come in so many forms that I wanted to explore a little bit how we can make any family home – biological, adoptive, step or half family, or just the family that we choose. As long as we have people on our side whoever they are, we have a home. 

CHRISTMAS QUICKFIRE

Hogwarts house? (they have amazing Christmas scenes, plus I love asking people this!) 

Ravenclaw

Favourite food to eat?

Risotto. It’s my ultimate comfort food.

Would you rather meet a penguin or a polar bear?

Penguin. 

Favourite Christmas film?

The Muppets’ Christmas Carol. 

Favourite Christmas song?

Carol of the Bells (note: this is my fave one too! And no one has ever heard of it, so I love that this is Katy’s too!)

Your Christmas traditions?

Too many to name in a Quickfire round! But my favourite is Boat Sunday – the day my whole extended family go out for dinner before Christmas, and then we all sing Christmas songs together. 

Thank you so much for reading! Are you a Katy Cannon fan too? Do you like Carol of the Bells? 😉. Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @GoldenBooksGirl, I’d love to hear from you!

Anthology Review- I’ll Be Home for Christmas 

Hello everybody, and welcome to day 17 of blogmas!

Today, I’m going to be reviewing the short stories in Stripes’s anthology I’ll Be Home for Christmas, which I loved. 

Onto the reviews! 


*Note- I’m not reviewing the poem included in this anthology, as I don’t know very much about poetry and never especially enjoy it*


Ghosts of Christmas Past by Non Pratt
– even though I was bound to love this one already since one of the charcaters is a Scottish girl called Amy, I found lots of other high points. There’s an ADORABLE bulldog called Violet, I love main character Sam and his narration, Non Pratt’s dialogue is as sharp as ever and I love the idea itself, which is that Sam (a boy who is struggling to adapt to his new home/life after his parents ‘ divorce) meets Amy, who now lives in his childhood home and them getting to know each other.

If Only in My Dreams by Marcus Sedgwick
– While I loved the idea behind this, I struggled a bit with the execution, for example the unusual way of marking speech. The ending was incredibly unsettling and upsetting though. It’s about astronauts flying round the Earth, and the discussion of an unusual dream.


Family You Choose by Cat Clarke
– While very much not what I’d have expected from the queen of thrillers, I really enjoyed this story of people with no one else coming together for a festive feast and making unexpected friendships. I loved the people that main character Effie meets, especially Leonard and I thought that the story as as a whole captured the true meaningof Christmas.


The Associates by Kevin Brooks
– this was a sort of fly on the wall story of following two homeless men for a day. I loved the friendship between Manny and Hugh, which was the main focus of the story, and I thought the prose in this was oddly beautiful. I’ve never read anything by Kevin Brooks before, but I’m definetly interested now.

The Afterschool Club by Holly Bourne
– this is my absolute standout favourite of this anthology; which came as no surprise. Holly Bourne managed to make me love unlikely friends Mercedes and Ben in such a short piece, while also making them both flawed and incredibly fleshed out for a short story. She also deftly mixes humour and a more serious tone perfectly, and the ending has left me desperate for a full book about these characters to further explore their relationship and the unseen horror of Mercedes’s home life.


Homo for Christmas by Juno Dawson
– I thoroughly enjoyed this one. It’s about Duncan, who is extremely anxiously about going home for Christmas and coming out to his mum, and the relationship that’s inspired him to do so. His narration was brilliant; witty and funny and easy to read, and I loved the ending of the story.


Amir and George by Sita Brahmachari-
While I found the writing style of this hard to read, it mosy definetely fit the story it was telling ofa refugee called Amir and his story. I thoughtAmir was extremely brave and inspiring, and I thought his journey to England was both heartbreaking and heartwarming.


The Letter by Tracy Darnton
– this story takes place in a bowling alley and it’s about Amber, whois in care and her reaction to a letter from her absent father. This subverted all my expectations about what would happen and in my opinion is a hugely deserving winner of the Stripes Short Story prize that it won to be included in this book. I’m very muchlooking forward to Tracy’s debut novel in 2018.


Claws by Tom Becker
– I didn’t really gel with this one unfortunately. I’m not a big fan of horror, which possibly explains it. I also found the bitty sections hard to follow, and it took till the end for anything to really make sense. I did like the prose, however.


Christmas, Take Two by Katy Cannon-
this is my joint favourite of the anthology with the Afterschool Club. It’s the story of Heather, who’s spending Christmas with her dad and his new family. The story itself of Heather coming to terms with this is lovely, Katy Cannon’s writing is fantastic with subtle humour sprinkled throughout, and I felt like I knew these characters really well. I especcially loved neigbour Owen.
 When Daddy Comes Home by Melvin Burgess- even though I’m not sure I understood this story 100%, and I had to reread certain parts a few times to catch anything, I still enjoyed the sarcastic narrator and the overall idea. It’s about a prime minister’s son in a near dystopian future going iver his childhood memories, and realising they might not be all they seem…
The Bluebird by Julie Mayhew- this is a melancholy story about a girl called Rae, and her finding the courage to disobey her dad, still wracked with grief over her mum leaving. The writing style was very difficult to adapt to but I loved it once I got into it, and I really liked how it references and resembles fairytales.

Routes and Wings by Lisa Williamson- this was an amazing ending to the anthology; heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time. My heart broke for narrator Lauren, who is homeless after moving to London as her situation was so tragic. The ending was lovely (and very unexpected for me) and is an excellent sum up of the message I got from a lot of this anthology; Christmas is about kindness, and trying to do good for others.

What are your favourite stories in this, if you’ve read it? Is it on your TBR? Are you a fan of any of the authors who contributed? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @GoldenBooksGirl!

Amy xxx


My 5 Favourite Book Animals

Hello everybody, and welcome to day 16 of blogmas!


Today, since animals are my favourite part of of a lot of traditional Christmas stories and my dogs are some of my favourite company on the day itself (😉), I thought it would be fun to


*Note- there is a reason why there are no dogs/cats on this list, to be revealed at some point in 2018… 😉

 

Flit the bat from Vlad the World’s Worst Vampire
– Flit was a cynical, hilarious sidekick for the little vampire and I adored him. He really made me laugh and he is absolutely adorable in Kathryn Durst’s fabulous illustrations throughout.


Eve and Bones the yaks from Running on the Roof of the World
– these were both such lovely companions for main characters Tash and Sam, and there were several scenes involving them that made me sob. I’m so excited to meet the leopard in her 2nd book.


Bob the fish from Alex Sparrow and the Really Big Stink
– this is the most hilarious fish you will EVER read about. His conversations with Alex’s friend Jess were more often than not a snort worthy level of funny, and I’m very much hoping he’ll pop up come the 2nd book in the series.


Wilbur from Charlotte’s Web
– Wilbur is the sweetest animal I can ever remember reading in a book, and I adore him with all my heart. He’s so innocent about his fate (which I’m welling up just THINKING about) and is so friendly and caring towards his friends. He really is Some Pig, that one, and even though it may break me I need to reread this soon.


Malkin the fox from the Cogheart Adventures-
Malkin is a mechanical fox, and he’s sardonic and witty and I love. He’s my favourite part of these books hands down and I can’t wait to see more of him in the 3rd book (which now isn’t releasing till October 2018, *sobs*)


Who are your favourite book animals? Do you love any on my list? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @GoldenBooksGirl 😘


Amy xxx

Guest Post: Christmas With Year 3 by Christina of Chrikaru

Hello everybody! 

Today, I have a lovely guest post from my fabulous friend Christina, who blogs about books and modern languages (aka two of my favourite things in the world) all about books she reads with her class at Christmas. 

Over to Christina and her lovely post now!

Amy xxx 


In my classroom we read everyday, several times day. Any time we have a spare minute we read. Read a story, poem or article together as a class, with a friend or alone, we’re always reading. I like to share my favourite stories with the children in my class and consider one of the most important parts of my job is that children leave my class having identified books as sources of joy, inspiration, comfort and information. Books as ‘ uniquely portable magic’ in the words of Stephen King.

I like to match books with what we’re learning about or link them to things that are happening in the real world. Books have started so many valuable, deep conversations with my class and I have seen the impact with children queuing to borrow their own copy, reading more on that subject or in the reports I hear from parents about their once reluctant reader who is now lost inside a book at every opportunity.

The lead-up to Christmas in school is exciting, yet tiring with lots of things going on. To give you an example, in the month leading up to Christmas we have parent-teacher conferences, Arts Week (where each class spends a whole week creating art, culminating in an installation in and around school), Open House  (where children perform, then show their parents around school), flu sprays, Christmas pudding cooking, etc etc. I could keep going!

In amongst all these activities and excitement, it is important to have the sanctuary of reading as that quiet, calm place we all enjoy spending time in, even when the sculpture we’ve spent two hours building has collapsed in a crumpled mess.

So, what do we read?

Here are a few suggestions for any KS1 or KS2 class (ages 4 – 11).

Little Robin Red Vest by Jan Fearnle -Little Robin has given all his nice warm vests to seven chilly friends in need. On Christmas Eve, with no vest left for himself, he huddles on an icy roof… until someone very special comes to the rescue.

I first came across this when teaching Year 1 and it has been a firm favourite with every class I have shared it with. A really cute story about the importance of kindness and sharing!

The Jolly Christmas Postman by Allan and Janet Albert- The Jolly Postman brings a batch of wonderful letters for Christmas, including notes from the Big Bad Wolf and all the King’s men.

If you loved the original Jolly Postman book, you will also enjoy this holiday edition where the postman delivers letters to various fairytale characters.

The Polar Express by Chris van Allsburg- A young boy is awakened from his Christmas Eve rest by a train that magically appears just outside his home. 

And so, a magical adventure begins! Truly a classic for Christmas!

The Snowman by Raymond Briggs- Wordless picture book with beautiful soft illustrations – lovely to share with children as you can discuss what is happening on each page.

Yet another classic, The Snowman had charmed and enthralled every child to whom I have introduced him to!

The Gruffalo, The Gruffalo’s Child and Stick Man by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffer

Not traditionally Christmas stories, but the storytelling at home fits well with cuddling up with your family during colder weather and The Gruffalo’s Child is set in winter. Stick Man is also a fun read at this time of year, especially as Santa Claus makes an appearance!

Father Christmas by Raymond Briggs

A cute look at what Santa does before and after Christmas – quirky humour and graphic-novel style illustrations make this a winner!

The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore

This needs no introduction – remember reading this on Christmas Eve with my parents when I was younger and I’m sure that many other families also have this tradition.

Norman, the slug who saved Christmas by Sue Hendra

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27686688-norman-the-slug-who-saved-christmas

This was recommended to me by a friend who is also a primary teacher – I was a bit sceptical at first but the kids loved it! When a big sack of presents lands by Norman the slug, at first he thinks he must have been a very good slug that year. Then he spots the name labels and realises that the presents must have fallen off Santa’s sleigh…

How to Catch a Star by Oliver Jeffers

Not strictly a Christmas book, but a beautiful story to share with children at any time of the year!

The Stolen Sun by Amanda Hall

A Native Alaskan story about the changing of the seasons – lovely to share with children who may not be familiar with the original folklore.

The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Anderson– This is a classic for a reason and one of my childhood favourites – like most popular fairy tales there have been several different re-imaginings of it, but I always enjoyed Gerda striking of into the snow to save her friend

The Twelve Days of Christmas- A fun way to count down the days with your children – it is just an illustration of the song, but it is fun to read as you sing and talk about what each gift might represent or what they might orefer instead!

The Nutcracker- Another Christmas classic, my family watches the ballet together every year. Did anyone else ever imagine themselves as Clara, dancing with the Sugar Plum fairy?

Walk with a wolf, The Emperor’s Egg and Ice Bear- Brilliant faction (fact but illustrated like fiction) books which have fascinated every class I have ever read them to!

How the Grinch stole Christmas by Dr Seuss- This one probably needs no introduction – the inimitable Dr Seuss takes on Christmas through the eyes of the Grinch who hates everything about it!

Okay, am going to stop here although the more I think about it, the more wonderful books I come up with!

Have you read any of the books above? 

Will you add some to your seasonal reading list?

Let me know!

Christina


5 Books Which Feature Chocolate

Hello everybody!


As with my post about brilliant bookish food the other day,  today I’m going to be talking about one food in particular (one of my favourites), chocolate and some books it features in prominently.


Onto the books! Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl- this is the story of Charlie Bucket as he wins the opportunity  the worldbuilding of this book is exceptional, and I for one would love to explore the Chocolate Factory and sample all the delights it has to offer. It’s probably in my top 3 of Rolad Dahl books after Matilda and the Witches, though it’s been quite a few years since I read it.


The Whizz Pop Chocolate Shop by Kate Saunders
– this is the story of siblings Lily and Oz as they discover their ancestors were magical chocolate makers and set off on an adventure to defeat villains who want to get their hands on old stock. This is a magical realism triumph with humour, heart, friendship and plenty of chocolate. And adorable animals in hilarious cat Demerara and rat Spike (I have a special fondness for rats, even though I didn’t actually include any on my list of favourite animals later in blogmas 🙈. The rat in the Last Wild trilogy is really sweet too!)


The Great Chocoplot by Chris Callaghan
– this is a more recent read, about Jelly as she investigates the supposed “chocopocalypse” that is hitting the world in just a few days, and discovering it may not be all that natural a disaster… It’s zany, silly and well worth a read if you enjoy slightly younger MG. I’m very glad there isn’t a real chocopocalypse coming though!


The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart by Stephanie Burgis
– this is the tale of dragon Aventurine as she is turned into a human by a food mage and develops an affection for chocolate and her subsequent journey of finding a job and keeping it. I loved this an awful lot, and I’m very excited for the companion novel coming out next year, which I hope is just as chocolate focused!


The Chocolate Box Girls by Cathy Cassidy
– this series is mainly about the Tanberry-Costello siblings and their personal lives/problems, but it also features their parents chocolate business the Chocolate Box. I genuinely can’t describe to you how much I desperately wish this business was real, because I would buy so many of their flavours I’d go bankrupt (I’d especially enjoy Coco Caramel I think). Maybe it’s just as well it isn’t real after all…


What are your favourite books which feature chocolate? Do you agree with any of my choices? I’d love to hear from you in the comments or on Twitter @GoldenBooksGirl!


Amy xxx