I have one question: how the heck did 2017 wrap up so quickly? It doesn’t feel like 12 months have passed at all. However, 2017 brought into my possession a great deal of amazing books. Yet I’ll only be picking seven, so here they are.
Wrapped in murder, mystery and intrigue, Stalking Jack the Ripper kept me fascinated on every page. I adored the relationship between Audrey Rose and Thomas, and the authenticity of Jack the Ripper within the story. An overall amazing YA historical fiction.
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
I have a confession: I watched the show before I read the book. Before you hate on me, I found the book to be just as raw and heartbreaking as the show. Despite the subtle changes to some characters, the grittiness and pain in Offed’s words will resonate with me for a long time.
A book about an Asian-American girl and the Monkey King from an Asian author – how could I not read it? Not only is the writing amazing, the characters are hilarious and down-to-earth, and I loved how Yee integrated the story of the Monkey King into a modern setting. A definite favourite!
I have so many feelings about this book, it’s not even funny. It’s so squishy and adorable. The writing is brilliant, the characters are extra cute and the message within the story are lovely. I’m getting all mushy thinking about it.
A fantastic debut by an Aussie author. This fantasy tale swept me off my feet and gave me so many feelings. I loved how well Scheuerer executed multiple perspectives and delivered a refreshing twist on YA fantasy. This is a must-read if you haven’t picked it up already.
The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night by Jen Campbell
Breathtaking, beautiful and macabre. Campbell has a way with words and weaving together intricate tales of love, loss and pain. Out of the 12 short stories, my favourite was Little Deaths. It was so strange that I fell in love so quickly.
Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
I’m just as surprised as you to see this book on my favourites list. I really wasn’t expecting to like it, let alone love it, but I did. The way Green wrote about Aza’s anxiety through metaphors was beautiful. While the plot itself is rather thin, its the characters that bring this book to life.
31st of October marks Halloween, an old Celtic tradition where fires were lit and people dressed in costumes to ward away ghosts and supernatural creatures. The boundary between life and death was blurred.
Now, it’s an annual holiday with trick-or-treating, pumpkins carved into jack o’lanterns and much more adventurous outfits. But whether you’re a believer in the supernatural or not, there are things out there that will scare you.
So to keep you in the spooky mood of Halloween, here are the top 5 books that will make your skin crawl:
Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King and Owen King
Like father, like son. In this collaborative novel, Sleeping Beauties asks one question: what would the world be like if the women disappeared? Set in a small town, the women fall asleep and become encased in a cocoon. If the gauze around their bodies is disturbed, the women wake up, feral and violent; if undisturbed, they sleep and go to another place. The men become primal, and among all this is a woman named Evie who has not fallen asleep yet. What is most horrifying about this book is it could potentially happen – the future is filled with possibilities.
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
This classic Gothic novel defined the sci-fi genre, and Shelley utilises horror conventions like a master. A cautionary tale about playing God and the power of science, Victor Frankenstein assembles a creature with stolen human body parts and animates it. The hideous creature, rejected by his creator, sets about exacting revenge. Asking questions about the nature of humanity, bio-terrorism and responsibility, this novel will thrill you.
Coraline by Neil Gaiman
This is a children’s tale, but don’t let it fool you, it is downright scary. The protagonist, Coraline, moves into a new home with thirteen doors and twenty-one windows. However, there is a fourteenth door, and it is locked. On the other side is a brick wall. But when Coraline unlocks the door, she finds a passage to an apartment just like hers, but things are different. In fact, they’re better. But everything has a price, and Coraline realises the cost of living in the new apartment comes with changing herself completely. The film is also amazing, so check it out if you can.
The Passage by Justin Cronin
This apocalyptic story features a desolate world overrun by vampire-like creatures enhanced by a virus, one that was created and unleashed by a secret U.S military department. With a handful of survivors left, it’s a constant struggle between predator and prey. FBI agent Brad Wolgast is haunted by his past, and encounters a six-year-old orphan named Amy Harper Bellafonte, a refugee from the military project that started the end of the world. Fighting to keep her safe, and unaware of Amy’s role in the new world, this novel will take you on a suspensful and chilling journey that documents the endurance of humanity in the face of extinction.
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
This supernatural thriller is a part of the works that defined the horror genre. Truly terrifying, the story follows four people who arrive at Hill House looking to encounter a scary phenomena: Eleanor, a woman who is well informed about poltergeists; Dr. Montague, an occult scholar searching for evidence of a haunting; Theodora, his assistant; and Luke, the heir to Hill House. But the house has its own agenda, and looks like one of the four will have to stay in Hill House.
Helen Scheuerer is the founding editor of Writer’s Edit and the author of Heart of Mist, out now! Heart of Mist is the first book in The Oremere Chronicles, an epic fantasy series from new imprint, Talem Press. You can find Heart of Mist on Amazon and Goodreads.
First off, a big congratulations to Helen on her debut! Heart of Mist is a fantastic book (you can read my starred review here) and I had the honour of interviewing Helen about her writing. We discuss the nitty gritty of her strong female characters, her inspiration for Heart of Mist, and what it means to be a YA author.
Where did you find inspiration for strong female characters?
Before Heart of Mist, I had a contract with a small publisher for a literary fiction novel. I think that novel was very much shaped by my creative writing degree where we were reading a lot of “serious” literature. The common theme in this literature was it was written by men about men from men’s perspectives.
From that, I fell into a rabbit hole where I thought “serious” literature had to be about men and if it was from a women’s perspective, it would be perceived as “chick-lit” or it wouldn’t be taken seriously. Which is why this literary fiction novel had parallel perspectives of a young boy and a man.
It was during the structural edits of this book that I started reading YA fantasy again, books like Throne of Glass, The Winner’s Curse, and TheQueen of the Tearling. What they all had in common was a main strong female protagonist who was kicking butt and being awesome. I loved reading these stories. I started asking myself, “Why aren’t I writing what I love reading?” I was sick of writing about men for men. I want to have fun while I was writing. I wanted to reach an audience I was invested in – young adult women. I wanted to be taken seriously, especially as a female author.
Who are your top 5 favourite female characters?
While these ladies are not all the stereotype of strong, they are all unique and brilliant in their own way. I believe that you shouldn’t want or have to strip away femininity in order to be ‘strong’. You can have both.
Delilah Bard from A Darker Shade of Magic
Laia from Ember in the Ashes
Aelin Ashryver Galathynius/Celaena Sardothien from Throne of Glass
Claire Fraser from Outlander
Molly Weasley from Harry Potter
I’d like to do a comparison between Bleak and Henrietta. With consideration on the word ‘strong’, how did you craft these two very different women?
When it came to Henri and Bleak, I was wary of the female warrior trope being associated with masculinity, and I didn’t want to have a strong female character who was masculine. Bleak isn’t particularly feminine, but she’s not your typical idea of strong. One of her strengths is her battle with her alcohol addiction.
Initially, these characters came to me with certain traits and blurry faces. It was during the revisions of my first draft that they started to form into more wholesome characters. I created mood and character boards for them on Pinterest, and while I wrote one perspective, I’d have their board up on a second monitor. Their boards had physical attributes, as well as aesthetics to give me a feel of them.
I had this really strong feeling about Henri, like she was abrasive. She’s hard around the edges. In contrast, Bleak was murky. With my visual aids, it really helped in developing them. Her alcohol addiction is a big part of her, and it’s a huge thing for a young character to deal with. I had to consider the consequences and withdrawal symptoms, diving into research on alcoholism. It was really interesting, and I used a particular case to shape how Bleak handled her withdrawal.
I wanted them to be independent and not be seeking out the ‘other half’ to themselves. Each of them is a whole person, and while they’re both so different, they’re similar in their inner strengths.
What was your inspiration for the Valian?
When I was in year 12, we studied the Spartan society and one thing that always stood out to me was the fact that if a child wasn’t strong enough it got left out to die. The whole point of this was to try and weed out the weak, but what they didn’t realise was strength came in different ways.
Of course, the Amazons also inspired the Valian, so in essence, the Valian are a mash-up of the Amazons and the Spartans. It’s a society of women, run by women, with an attitude of ‘take no prisoners’. But I didn’t want to put it on a pedestal and say ‘this is a perfect society’.
Was the feminist tone throughout Heart of Mist intentional?
Heart of Mist was a reaction of mine to a lot of conversations I was having when I was writing it, particularly with my girlfriends about how being a woman affects your everyday life differently to men. When you think about the subtle misogynistic things that women face on a daily basis, it’s incredibly difficult. So I suppose rather than intentional, it was just something that came naturally to the book.
What’s your opinion on sex in YA?
I don’t believe in glossing over stuff for young adults. It’s a time when young adults have a lot of firsts, so to have a book aimed at young adults about young adults for the most part and not include any sex, romance or feelings doesn’t do anybody any justice. I’m very much all for including those aspects in my writing. If a character presents those kinds of feelings then I’ll happily write about it.
Why do you want to write YA?
All the books I’ve fallen head over heels for are in that genre. I also find the community to be so wonderful and great to be a part of. Everybody is supportive, everyone is talking and exploring. I’m 27 and I still love YA. Even though Heart of Mist is marketed as YA, everybody is welcome to enjoy the story.
Heart of Mist is the first book published from Talem Press, a fantasy imprint of Writer’s Edit. What’s really cool is Talem is latin for empower, which I think encompasses what I want a lot of our stories to be like. We want to be publishing works that empower young women. Give me more books about empowering young women. Reading about female experiences and talking about it with other people is what it’s about.
Helen is a YA fantasy author based in Sydney and has her own website here. She can also be found on Twitter and Instagram. You can purchase Heart of Mist from Talem Press or Amazon.
Hi everyone! I am so freaking excited because I’m signing up for #TheReadingQuest! This is a video-game based reading challenge created by Aentee @Read at Midnight and oh my lord, isn’t this just the best thing ever? The lovely graphics are done by the one and only CW @Read, Think, Ponder and what a fantastic job she’s done. I’m in love with her work.
The quest is running from August 13th to September 10th, which in all honesty isn’t a lot of time considering I’ve been reading at the pace of a sloth. But hey, I believe in myself.
So without further ado, because I love to procrastinate, here is my TBR for #TheReadingQuest.
1. A book that has a TV/movie adaption
For this I’m going with The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. After watching the TV series, I figured it’d be appropriate to read the book considering it’s so well regarded.
2. A fairy tale retelling
I’ll be reading Scarlet by Marissa Meyer. This is the second book in the Lunar Chronicles and after reading Cinder last year, I feel like I need to give the series a chance and continue it.
3. A book with striking typography
I mean, I have to read A Darker Shade of Magic by Victoria Schwab. Just look at that typography.
4. A book translated from another language
Since I don’t own too many, I’ll be reading The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank. I never finished it when I started it a few years ago, so it’ll be good to get back into it.
5. A banned book
For this category I’ll be reading Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut.
Side Quest: Grind
I hope to read Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor. The cover is stunning and I’ve heard such amazing things about it.
I know I’m so late to reading this trilogy, but holy moly it is amazing. Daughter of Smoke and Bone was mind-blowing. The world-building, character development, the tension and romance and family elements. It was simply incredible.
2. Best Sequel You’ve Read So Far in 2017
Gemina by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman. Talk about an amazing sequel to Illuminae. I didn’t think they could beat it, and then they did and blew me away again. I can’t.
I have a review for Gemina you can check out here.
3. New Release You Haven’t Read Yet But You Want To
Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare. But I need to finish Lady Midnight first (I am so sorry, forgive me for not reading it yet) and I’ve been so busy I kind of forgot about it.
4. Most Anticipated Release for The Second Half of the Year
Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff. I mean, Nevernight was insane af. I need to know what happens to Mia.
5. Biggest Disappointment
A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas.
Now before you hate on me, this book had the biggest hype of all time and I’m just gonna say it: it was a disappointment. I almost DNF’d this because I was so frustrated with it. It felt rushed, there wasn’t much tension anymore and this looming war that was meant to be a major aspect of the trilogy didn’t quite feel so devastating as it should have. And the ending, I mean. Need I say more?
6. Biggest Surprise
The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli. I wasn’t sold by the blurb but decided to give the book a go and it’s one of my favourite YA contemporaries of all time, if not the best.
You can check out my review for this stellar book here.
7. Favourite New Author (Debut or New to You)
Laini Taylor. She is magical! I adore her writing style and the world she created in the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy (which I am only halfway through).
8. Newest Fictional Crush
I adore Karou from Daughter of Smoke and Bone. She’s independent, cynical, sassy, has peacock blue hair and is an artist. Marry me.
9. Newest Favourite Character
It has to be AIDAN from the Illuminae Files. I simply love AIDAN to pieces. As an AI, I never thought I would be so attached to it (I don’t know whether AIDAN requires a pronoun?) and his sections in both books were A+. This is a new level of fictional love for characters when they’re technically not human.
10. Book That Made You Cry
The Upside of Unrequited. Have you ever seen me ugly cry? That was me with this book.
11. Book That Made You Happy
Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde. I loved the convention setting, the characters, the romances and friendships and ultimate fangirling. It was brilliant.
With a light nip in the air, the doors to the Riverside Theatres opened. The foyer was buzzing with activity, people from all genders and ages smiling and gathering; a bookselling table was crowded with eager buyers. Tickets were being pulled from book bags as a sound resonated through the building like a school bell. It was time for the first events of The Sydney Writer’s Festival‘s All Day YA program.
Young adult has always been a go-to genre of mine and to have a whole day dedicated to it was simply incredible. Having expanded their program this year, All Day YA hosted ten events with two running parallel to each other and was convened by Catriona Feeney.
Seated in the Love OZ YA Anthology: Begin, End, Begin panel, the theatre was filled with excited voices and subtle tweeting. Run by Danielle Binks, the panel featured Amie Kaufman, Will Kostakis, Jaclyn Moriarty and Gabrielle Tozer, all of whom are brilliant YA Australian writers and offered a lot of insight into the Aussie literature community and the development of the #LoveOzYA hashtag. What started as a meeting of authors in a small restaurant in Melbourne has now started a movement promoting Aussie YA works.
With engaging discussion on diversity, queer content, explosions in space and the importance of literature for young adults, it was an energetic and hilarious panel.
Will: Contemporaries are not all Aussie YA fiction can be #AllDayYA
Keeping Company: Characters Across a Series offered an excellent insight into the creation of characters and how they adapt across a long period of time. Run by Catriona Feeney, the authors in discussion were James Bradley, Amie Kaufman, Garth Nix and Lynette Noni whose books range from fantasy to sci-fi to dystopia. What is it that actually keeps characters going across books?
It depends on the author; sometimes there’s a lot of thought involved like questionnaires, casting actors and writing childhoods, or the characters come mostly formed and the author simply fills in the pieces. Lynette trusts in her characters to tell the story and take her through the motions, and James believes you need to know things about them that makes them real, even if it’s not nice. Not all characters will be loved either; one person’s favourite may be someone else’s most disliked for different reasons.
On the topic of side characters, they’re are incredibly important to the story. It’s those interactions that sometimes define pivotal moments throughout a series. Amie gave a lovely analogy about side characters being like seasoning, they’re good in certain amounts without overwhelming the story.
The More than Meets the Eye: Diversity in YA Fiction panel led an eye-opening discussion on the portrayal of diverse Australian teenagers in literature. Mediated by journalist and author Sarah Ayoub, she was joined by writers Randa Abdel-Fattah, Erin Gough and Will Kostakis to talk from personal experience about their sense of identity, the issues within writing diversity in YA and what is it like to be pigeonholed.
Randa kicked off the conversation by stating that as a minority, it is a calling to humanise those who are not represented. As a Muslim woman, she has often been in situations where she’s had to humanise her religion.
On the other hand, Will spoke about the conflict between being a Greek and gay, finding it hard to understand why one is okay to talk about over the other. He found a lot of backlash from Christian schools on his book The Sidekicks which featured a gay character, and has since sought to understand his clash of identities where only one is accepted by society, placing Will in his pigeonhole as a Greek writer.
Following on the thread of identity, Erin Gough said, “I don’t wake up and look in the mirror and say ‘Hey, look, it’s Gay Erin’ … okay sometimes I do.” The inability for writers to not only write about diverse characters but be diverse themselves is a dilemma slowly being addressed.
Randa: Identity is fluid. I want to right to feel like a Muslim woman one day, and an Australian woman the next. I define me.
Talking Tough Topics with Jennifer Niven saw a shift in the room as the heavy issues were dived into. Jennifer was gentle and respectful as discussion moved from relationships, suicide, mental health, body image and dysfunctional families.
She expressed her belief that young adults go through a tough time during their teens with issues that are sometimes not represented in literature. With characters like Libby, Finch, Violet and Jack from her novels, she sought to not only write their story, but address these issues in a way for young adults to understand.
“All of the novels I’ve written are stories I wanted to read,” she said. We can only hope that Jennifer dives further into these topics in her upcoming novels.
This year’s YA program was a success! With a variety of authors, publishers, publicists and editors, the conversations were endless and engaging. The Sydney Writer’s Festival has done a brilliant job at celebrating Australian and international YA stories, leaving us exhilarated and warm-hearted.
March has been a hectic month for me with university, editing and bookstagram. I managed to crack 900 followers, I finished editing Taylor‘s novel, and I’m already drowning in assignments. However I did manage to squeeze in some books to tide me over and keep me sane. I did a buddy reading of Gemina with some lovely people on bookstagram such as Beth, who has been an absolute gem to me. I also finally finished the Grisha trilogy with Shelby and she is one of the sweetest people you’ll ever meet.
So, without further ado and ramblings from moi, here is my March wrap up with their respective reaction gifs that sum up how I felt about them.
Summer is upon us and this means relaxing by the pool with an ice cold drink and a good book while getting your tan on. Or you can stay indoors with your cat and lounge in bed. It’s your choice.
As we roll into the summer of 2017, it is looking promising, so here are some of the ones you should pick up on your next book haul. There’s a book for everybody!
Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth
As the author of Divergent, Roth takes us on epic sci-fi adventure through the stars. In a world where its citizens develop currentgifts which will help shape their world, the protagonists Akos and Cyra find their currentgifts to be vices upon themselves. Thrown into orbit together, the two must find a way to navigate a world of tyrants, different intergalactic nations and right the wrongs of the stars.
This ‘sort of memoir’ recollects and reveals Fisher‘s Star Wars memories from intimate to outrageous. Having recently unearthed her handwritten journals which contained her musings while filming Episode IV, she found love poems, naivety and a vulnerability she’d never noticed. Now complied into a book, this collection of excerpts from her journals unfold what actually happened behind the scenes of one of the most famous film series of all time. Filled with her sense of humour, the pros and con of celebrity life and Hollywood royalty, this is a diary you want to read.
Start summer off with this contemporary romance which follows the story of Griffin who finds out his first love and ex-boyfriend, Theo, has died in a drowning accident. Despite not being together and seeing Jackson, he’d always known Theo would come back, that they’d be back and the future Griffin had envisioned is now dissolving into nothing. On a downward spiral, his secrets and history are rising to the surface and the only one who seems to be able to help is Jackson. Filled with heartache, loss and recovery, Silvera’s writing will surely leave you breathless.
Inspired by The Black Lives Matter movement, the books follows 16-year-old Starr who is torn between the two worlds she lives in: the poor neighbourhood where she’s from and the upper class high school she attends in the suburbs. As if the struggle switching between the two wasn’t hard enough, it is completely destroyed when Starr is the only witness to her best friend’s death – a fatal shooting by a police officer. Her friend was unarmed. Now Starr’s voice has power, has meaning, and it can either get her killed or bring justice to her community.
Summer isn’t right without a good thriller. Eclipse chasers Kit and Laura are travelling the world together to see as many eclipses as possible, following the path of the dark moon. However, one evening at a festival in Cornwall they stumble across a man and woman and Laura knows this is something terrible. Yet the man denies it. So Laura tells a white lie, the victim’s gratitude becomes obsessive and things spiral out of control from there. Hachette Australia are calling this the suspense novel of 2017, filled with controversy, secrets and a truth that may destroy a marriage or prove fatal.
If you’re looking for a serious read, this one is for you. From the Ambassador of the UAE to Russia comes a gripping insight into what it is like to be a Muslim in the 21st century. As a personal collection of letters to his sons, Ghobash discusses his struggles between being a father and an experience diplomat. He also raises the question as to what it means to be a good Muslim and is concerned with how Muslims today can band together to find a voice that is true to Islam while being active in a technologically advanced and modern world. Despite being a heavier read, this will prove to be fantastic exploration of the struggles of Muslims today.
At The Edge of the Universe by Shaun David Hutchinson
Another diverse read to add to your collection is this YA contemporary romance. From the author of We Are the Ants, Hutchinson brings us the story of Tommy and Ozzie, best friends since second grade and boyfriends since eighth. One day, Tommy just vanishes, completely erased from history and the only person who can remember him is Ozzie. And to make matters worse, it seems that the universe is shrinking around him.
From the award-winning powerhouse Roxane Gay whose best selling works include An Untamed State and Bad Feminist, she returns with a collection of stories filled with the words of difficult women. The characters in these stories live through the consequences of beauty, pain, poverty, privilege, passion, human connection. It is described to be a haunting and wry vision of modern America, and its women.
So… let’s be honest. I haven’t read much this year. I’ve been sporadic with reading, writing and reviews because of factors such as university, my mental health, my job and other volunteer positions that I dedicate time to.
However I haven’t lost the moments of finding a good book and savouring every word. They’ve been there, like wisps of sunlight in during my fiction deprived days. So without further ado, here are my top books of 2016 (which have not necessarily been published in 2016):
“Once a thing is set to happen, all you can do is hope it won’t. Or will-depending. As long as you live, there’s always something waiting, and even if it’s bad, and you know it’s bad, what can you do? You can’t stop living.”
This tiny tale was the required reading for my creative writing subject this year and I am so glad it was. It masterfully blends journalism and creative non-fiction to produce a haunting and fascinating read on the murders of the Clutter family in Holcomb, Kansas. It was a heavy read, weighing down on my heart as I tried to understand how two people can do something like this and that was the beauty of it. You thought, you questioned, you discovered. As a reconstruction of the events, Capote’s extensive research and skill with words gives an insight into the harrows of violence and the fragility of life.
“Aelin had promised herself, months and months ago, that she would not pretend to be anything but what she was. She had crawled through darkness and blood and despair-she had survived.”
As the fifth book in the Throne of Glass series, this book is fiery with the character development, plot points and writing. Aelin, our fire breathing bitch queen, surprised us all with her determination and self-sacifrice to ensure Terrasen is safe and in capable hands. While steamy with smut and romance, there were more badass moments in this novel that have defined the characters: Manon and her defiance against all she had believed in, Lysandra and her strength, Elide and her determination and selflessness despite her injury, and of course, Aelin. I also found new ships that I pray will not sink, especially Lorcan and Elide. I need this pairing! Overall, strong female leads, a strong fifth installment.
“And I wondered if love was too weak a word for what he felt, what he’d done for me. For what I felt for him.”
I just had to have two Sarah J. Maas books on my list! The second installment of A Court of Thorns and Roses was a million times better than the first. What made it so great was the way Sarah developed her characters, especially Feyre and Rhysand who were the pinnacle of this novel. We got answers to the things covered up in A Court of Thorns and Roses, and the true colours of some original favourites were revealed. More importantly, Feyre’s struggles after what she endured Under the Mountain are validated and her recovery is something that Rhysand makes a priority. Once again, this is somewhat character-driven and the Inner Circle were great supporting characters, adding to the plot rather than acting as pretty things to discuss. The plot points throughout the novel were solid and dramatic, with only a couple being a bit off-putting and contradictory to the first installment. Overall, the writing was brilliant, the characters hold a special place in my heart and Feyre and Rhysand are my ultimate OTP on my long list of OTPs.
“He was good. The best fighter she’d ever faced. But Safi and Iseult were better.”
I’d been looking for a YA fantasy book that didn’t have romance as one of its main themes. I wanted something with friendship, struggle and fantasy and this book delivered exactly that (with a side dish of a blooming romance that wasn’t the crux of the novel). The concept of witches in this universe was intriguing are that they have their own skillset, with Safiya’s being truth and Iseult’s being threads. What I loved was that Safiya and Iseult have a bond like sisters and it’s their loyalty to each other that drives the story as they flee from a Bloodwitch and travel with a Windwitch. The politics of their world feel like a sub-plot, but it’s made up for with action scenes and witchy goodness. Overall, Dennard has a brilliant writing style, the fantasy elements are great and the witch culture is interesting. Worth a read!
“First, the colours.
Then the humans.
That’s usually how I see things.
Or at least, how I try.”
This is a re-read because why not. The beauty about re-reading books is you pick up on things you missed the first time, and this time I found that this book is more wonderful than I initially thought it was. Death as a narrator will always be my favourite thing about this book, aside from the beautiful writing and the heartbreaking plot. There’s something about WW2 books that I just can’t get enough of.
“You wanted to feel alive, right? It doesn’t matter if you’re monster or human. Living hurts.”
Dystopian world, monsters big and small, two main characters who will snatch your heart and make it ache. Just for some background, V-City is divided in two and swarming with monsters big and small. Kate Harker is the daughter of the crime lord who runs the North, and August Flynn is the son of the rebels in the South. As per usual, these two characters find each other tangled in a race to find out how to save their city and themselves. But this one was different – there is no romance, no cliche, nothing you would have expected. As my first Victoria Schwab novel, this took me a wild ride and I was blown away. It raises questions on morality, on what it means to be human, on what you’re willing to sacrifice. I also loved how dimensional Kate and August were as protagonists. An excellent read!
“And I asked myself about the present: how wide it was, how deep it was, how much was mine to keep.”
This satricial piece is my first Vonnegut novel and I was not disappointed. His writing is effortless yet so powerful as he draws on his own WW2 experiences, a manipulation of fiction and non-fiction. The Narrator introduces the story of Billy Pilgrim and his story is mostly linear as we jump between his war life, life before the war and post-war life, with the bombing of Dresden, an event Vonnegut witnessed, being the reason behind the story. It’s about war, about life, about love and hate, about sanity and about death. It’s thought-provoking and it will leave you bewildered.
The famous quote “Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt” finally makes sense, yet I found that there were other parts of the novel that resonated with me more. Vonnegut’s repetition of “So it goes,” as a narrative transition and as a means of explaining the things he cannot explain hit me harder than anything else. The way Vonnegut writes about the continuation of life, especially after death, is raw and somewhat jumbled, but it suits the existential and postmodern concepts of the novel. This reads like an autobiography, as an outlet for Vonnegut’s experiences he couldn’t put to words when it was all initially happening. I had no expectations going into this and I was thoroughly impressed at how much I enjoyed this anti-war novel.
“My words are unerring tools of destruction, and I’ve come unequipped with the ability to disarm them.”
Can I say I officially think Stiefvater is one of my new favourite authors? The Raven Boys is a beautifully written first installment, dusted with touches of magic and Welsh mythology. I love how character driven it is, and oh the characters. Blue Sargent, you are too precious for this world. Growing up around psychics, Blue is a unique character whose determination and kindness shines through. And all the raven boys: Gansey, Adam, Ronan and Noah. They act like a tight knit family more than school friends, and I love their interactions varying from sassy banter to fierce arguments. Their loyalty to each other is admirable. The overarching quest to find Glendower is ever present, but I found myself more intrigued with the characters than anything else. They’re just so interesting! This is an excellent read!
I adored the TV show (Sam and Caitriona have the best chemistry as Jamie and Claire) so picking this up was a no-brainer, and I loved it. The book is rich, vibrant and full of action, romance and complicated relationships. I loved the Scottish elements, the touch of magic and how the story just sang off the page. A perfect read for lovers of Scotland, romance and drama.
As the only poetry collection I read this year, it delivered everything I could have wanted and more. Reminiscent of those poems I read on tumblr, Kaur’s writing is raw, heartbreaking, yet warms the bottom of your chest. The themes of survival, feminism, loss and love are all written beautifully and it’s a testament to modern poetry, especially feminist poetry.
That’s it for my top 10 for 2016! What were your favourite books this year? I’d love to hear about them.
Writing is something I love doing. It’s been a passion since the beginning of high school and I showed my English teacher, who was also the school librarian, a first draft of my novel. I recall her saying, ‘Good but the concept is cliche. It’s been done before.’
But what hasn’t been done before? Originality is so important in fresh discoveries for published books, but how can we be original when we are inspired by so many incredible authors? How can I be a writer when everything I want to write has been written? (At least, this is how I feel about being a writer. Maybe one day I’ll write something so bizarre it’ll be dubbed the next big thing).
I’ve complied a list of the many struggles of being a writer and as I was writing these I realised there are more than 15, but I decided to stick with these for fear of having a list of 100 things we all relate to. So, are we incredible writers or just majorly sleep deprived and fantasising left, right and centre? Or maybe we’re just too good for this world where writing isn’t as awesome as it should be.