I’m Back! (with goodies to share)

First of all, I am well aware it has been An Age since I last posted on my blog. Even my well intentions around June for Pride fell flat because of Reasons but I finally find myself in the right state of mind that I am not only excited but actually capable of posting things again (whoo!). Before you all panic, I will not be backlogging the last three months with posts, but I will be posting a lot of my posts that were meant to come out during that time i.e my AWW update, my book bingo update etc. So I will combine those into one post and the last couple updates can be done in one go and I can get back on track.

I am not coming back with nothing. I have a huge amount of reviews to share because while I have not been posting I have still been reading. One thing I am eternally grateful for is audiobooks, for which the last five months have been keeping me sane. For all those times I haven’t even been able concentrate on reading a physical book I have had my headphones in my ears with a book playing. I have kept up my Goodreads reading challenge by reading book after book and being able to do that when I have had such an intense 2020 has been an absolute life saver.

Of course, writing many of these reviews still need to happen but I will get there because I have been taking notes and once I get back into the swing of things I will be able to post with my usual schedule. I will be posting less than before but if I can I will post more, so don’t panic if I post something and then you don’t hear from me for a week. I don’t want to post everything I have and in a few weeks be back with nothing to share.

And it’s not just my prattling that you get to enjoy again, since I am back I can celebrate and reward everyone for sticking with me and not abandoning me on the socials and for still visiting my dormant blog – you’re all wonderful! I know I promised this months ago for the Facebook group but I am going to combine and join forces with the blog. I will be running two giveaways to thank you all – one here and one on Facebook. Full details will be below and you are more than welcome to enter both!

I will leave you with my gratitude again, and my apologies because while I know a lot of us have had a hell of a 2020 due to the pandemic and a whole bunch of other things, and so many people have been affected in one way or another, I’m glad I can come back here to this community, to my little corner of the internet and find some sense of normalcy in a year that has been far from normal.

Giveaway

Now for the fun part! I am giving you a chance to win one of the books off my Top 5 from 2019 list. The full list is below or you can visit the original post page for extra details and links to my reviews. To enter into the giveaway I will be running them slightly differently: Head over to Facebook to check out my pinned post and learn how you can enter that one, if you’d like to enter the blog one head over to Rafflecopter and get your entries in to win. The prize is the same but you can enter both.

The giveaway will run until 11:59pm AEDT 21st October 2020 and is open internationally

Good luck and thank you!

Titles Up For Grabs

The Dead Queens Club by Hannah Capin

How to Fight A Dragon’s Fury by Cressida Cowell

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

The Vanishing Stair by Maureen Johnson

The Adventure Zone: Murder on the Rockport Limited by Clint McElroy

Giraffe Problems by Jory John

Llama Destroys the World by Jonathan Stutzman

Little Puggle’s Song by Vicki Conley

The Rough Patch by Brian Lies

I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen

Top Five of 2019

I will be the first to admit this is long overdue. Overdue in that I normally publish this in early January and it is now May, but since this year’s been A Challenge already it kept getting put off by various natural disasters in the area and pandemics, briefly forgotten about, then put off again. Now I am making myself put it up because the completionist in me needs it up, but also it is a great chance to revisit the books I loved last year and hope to share my enthusiasm for them at the same time.

After the success of adding books through the year I felt were contenders, I ended my list with 11:  6 books and 5 picture books. This means my honourable mentions is quite light with only one but after thinking I could scrap it entirely, I changed my mind because I really enjoyed the extra book. It was a toss-up between which one I would switch out but I think I’ve made the right choice.

The Dead Queens Club by Hannah Capin

43709211This was the first book I put on the list at the start of 2019. It wasn’t the most amazing book I had read in terms of emotions or how it moved me, but I loved it so much because it is a story that is so cleverly told it is hard not to be constantly amazed at Capin’s skill. The reflections with historical events and reimaginings of historical people is divine and each time I realised a reference, a moment, or a character portrayal I fell even further in love. This is Tudor England set in a US high school and honestly those two things are perfectly fitting with a class system, drama, and chaos. I love that era and seeing it play out in the modern era was an absolute joy.

 

 

30619981How to Fight A Dragon’s Fury by Cressida Cowell

Honestly this whole series could be on this list so please start at book one if you pick this up. The reason I chose book twelve though, the final in the series, was because this book in particular was incredible. I loved every one of these books and inhaled them one after the other but this book in particular broke my heart. After the journey I had been on with the other eleven books, this was the perfect ending that brings the whole life of Hiccup and his adventure together. It had no right to make me cry through the majority of it and while each of these books will move you and break your heart a little, this one throws everything at you and it’s simply perfect.

 

 

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

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This book, oh my gosh. It took me a couple goes to start but then I was in and was not leaving. It is heart wrenching, fascinating, and the world is so incredibly built that the fact not everything about the society and world was explained didn’t matter because it was established and functional and the focus is on the characters and their reactions to it. It is deep and impactful and brilliantly told.

 

 

 

The Vanishing Stair by Maureen Johnson

39893545Book two of the Truly Devious series and it does not disappoint. It is filled with answers, new questions, a deeper descent into the mystery of this school and this kidnapping and as Johnson plays it out you can’t help but be enraptured.

 

 

 

 

 

The Adventure Zone: Murder on the Rockport Limited by Clint McElroy

41812788Pretty sure these graphic novels will be on here every single year if they continue with their publishing schedule. From the A-MA-ZING podcast Clint has once again transferred it brilliantly into written form. The illustrations are fantastic, the humour is fantastic, and the story is wrapped up but there’s an ongoing arc to keep your interest piqued.

 

 

 

Honourable Mention

His Hideous Heart by Dahlia Adler

 

Top Five Picture Books

Giraffe Problems by Jory John

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Llama Destroys the World by Jonathan Stutzman

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Little Puggle’s Song by Vicki Conley

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The Rough Patch by Brian Lies

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I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen

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Top Five of 2018

I made a good decision last year to add all the books I thought worthy of my top five into a list as I finished them. It worked out well because I didn’t have to scramble and try and remember anything I had read or try to recall plot points and emotional responses come December. I ended the year with 5 books on that list, perfect, easy, ready to go and then there came an 11th hour addition on 31st December which made me rethink the entire thing and kick one of my books out. In the end, I think I chose the right books.

This year I have brought back the Honourable Mentions because a couple really do need mentioning. I have also started a Top Five Picture Books because they were remarkable as well and didn’t want to crowd my list. If I was really enthusiastic I might make it a top ten and just merge them together but that is a lot of pressure for next time. This way I can highlight some amazing picture books as well. Click the title to read my review.

 

A Thousand Perfect Notes by C. G. Drews

This was the first book I added to my list as soon as I finished it back in May. I patiently waited for this to publish and was not disappointed at how spectacular it was.

 

 

 

 

 

Ready Player One (#1) by Ernest Cline

I adored this book. If you love cleverness, video games and are forgiving about having the 80s shoved down your throat then you will love this. There is a sequel coming after the popularity of the movie. I’m not sure I agree but I am willing to give it a go.

 

 

 

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

I could not put this book down. I listened to the audio and literally had it in my ears from dawn till dusk. It is amazing and so well planned out.

 

 

 

 

Loving Lakyn by Charlotte Reagan

Technically a prequel, technically a sequel but it can be read on its own. Either way, it is amazing and I fell hard and fast for these characters. The emotional journey I went on with these boys was incredible and heartbreaking. If I could read about them forever I would.

 

 

 

What If? by Randall Munroe

I had been reading this book on and off for weeks, piece by piece at night before I went to sleep. I finally finished it on NYE and something about it made me instantly decide to add it to my list. It was clever, funny, creative, fascinating. All of these wonderful things the entire time but it was upon finishing it I realised how much I genuinely loved this book. Therefore I had to bump another contender and rise this up the ranks.

 

 

Top Five Picture Books

A Hungry Lion or A Dwindling Assortment of Animals by Lucy Ruth Cummins

Eric the Postie by Matt Shanks

Naughty Kitty by Adam Stower

A Boy, a Bear, and a Balloon by Brittany Rubiano

What’s Up Top? by Marc Martin

 

Honourable Mentions

Soulless (#1) by Gail Carriger

Truly Devious (#1) by Maureen Johnson

Boys Will Be Boys by Clementine Ford

What the Fluffy Bunny Said to the Growly Bear by P. Crumble

Penguin Problems by Jory John

 

Top Five of 2017

Top 5 2014There were some books that immediately made their way on this list and some that I had to think about whether they made the cut. The problem is if it’s months later the emotional experience lessons and I’m not sure how I felt about a book. This is why reviews are very handy when I actually write them! It also helps to create a list through the year, which normally I am very good at, but while three books stuck out as clear winners, it was hard finding the other two books to add to the list. I think I have chosen well though,  there is a mixture of non-fiction, YA, and different genres. It’s a nice little diverse list actually which was a surprise.

La Belle Sauvage (Book of Dust #1) by Philip Pullman

I HAVE to include this because this has been on my TBR pile for about 5 years while I waited for it to even be written and I am so excited that I have had a chance to read it finally! Not that I wouldn’t include it otherwise this book was 100% worth the wait of the last few years, it was beautiful, important, magical and all the things that make HDM brilliant 20 years before. If you are going to read it, I suggest you have read the original three first. The surprises in HDM aren’t surprises in this book and it will ruin your experience.

The Martian by Andy Weir

I have been planning on reading this book ever since it came out, I had a feeling I would love it and I was totally right. Ever since I read it I find myself thinking about it all the time. I could easily reread it and I would love it all over again. I want to give it to people and make them read it. Also, while the book is super hilarious and amazing, the movie is actually very close, but not nearly as funny.

Fight Like A Girl by Clementine Ford

I don’t normally read a lot of non-fiction but this is a book we all need to read: women, men, all genders and all ages. There are so many moments in this book where you realise the same thing has happened in your life or someone you know, or even just when Ford opens your eyes to things you already knew but now have confirmation. It’s an amazing read as a female and it is important to read for men.

Before I Go To Sleep by S. J. Watson

I was so surprised by this book. It draws you in, it’s fascinating, engaging, then Watson turns it on its head and throws another twist at you. I implore that if you love thrillers, and love to be surprised and enthralled, that you should read this book.  This also has a movie adaptation, which is very good, but the book is still a better experience in my opinion.

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

I have been reading Maureen Johnson’s books for a few years and I have to say this one might be my favourite. This series anyway. It is a mystery and a ghost story wrapped up together and it has you not only enthralled by these characters and Johnson’s writing, but it will have you on the edge of your seat, frantically turning pages and immediately making you pick up the second book upon completion.

Top Five of 2016

Top 5 2014I had The Sidekicks picked as my favourite book of 2016 in March, and when I mentioned this to Mr Kostakis  he told me that I would find something better by the end of the year. I told him that wasn’t possible, and by December I hadn’t, but I did find one that was its equal in The Yearbook Committee. This was such a great year for books. I discovered so many new authors and some amazing new stories I will love for years to come. Two were from my book club, two were from the Penguin YA Squad, and one was chosen because there was a Melina Marchetta quote on the cover.

1. The Sidekicks by Will Kostakis/ The Yearbook Committee by Sarah Ayoub

The Sidekicks

“If I could shove this book into the hands of everyone I passed on the street I would be happy. This isn’t a book that will automatically change your world or your opinion or try to teach you anything. It may do that, I don’t know, but this book is a fantastic and invigorating experience. You become so invested in every little aspect of this book and these three guys and their lives.”

I was left an emotional mess by the time I had finished The Sidekicks. I was barely able to finish it for the all the Emotions I was having. This is a brilliant book, one you must read if you haven’t yet. The three boys who tell their story are so different, yet they have one thing in common, their friend Isaac. This connection brings them together and each of their lives will break your heart in so many ways. It’s beautiful.

The Yearbook Committee

“I knew a Melina Marchetta recommendation wouldn’t let me down and a reading binge until 4am proves me right. The Yearbook Committee is a beautiful story that encapsulates how people from different situations can come together (albeit unwilling) and can have their lives changed forever.”

This is a tie for first place because what Ayoub has done is create a beautifully tragic story that is almost too realistic with its unapologetic honesty. It is a story that shows how important peers can be and the effects these peers can have one people and how that influences their actions. The Yearbook Committee is a brilliant story because there are no heroes, just ordinary kids with their own problematic lives trying their best and sometimes failing.

2. Yellow by Megan Jacobson

“To quote a line from an incredibly wise author by the name of Megan Jacobson, ‘this is the kind of book that makes you stop and just rest the pages on your chest from the truth of it’. Yellow is a brilliant, emotionally charged book that reveals so much about the various struggles in people’s lives. There is an incredible amount of beauty and honesty and raw strength in this story; Jacobson captures so much from so many angles and connects them together into this life of a fourteen-year-old.”

I loved this book, it is sweet, honest, complicated, and relatable. Kirra’s story is one that will stay with you long after you have finished it and will continue to break your heart as you read it. When you finish it you can feel you have had an experience and one that has changed you in a small way. Kirra will forever be my hero. I love her so much.

3. Time and Time Again by Ben Elton

Time travel and history is always a wonderful combo. This story is based on the premise that if you could go back and change one thing in history what would it be. Elton plays on this and it is perfect the way he weighs up the pros and cons of tampering with history. It isn’t as simple as that either, there are some incredible moments that come out of nowhere and after a while you just go along for the ride because you never know what is going to happen next. It is a thrilling story that continually keeps you guessing right up until the last page.

4. The Midnight Watch by David Dwyer

For those who love the story of the Titanic are going to adore this book. Dwyer looks at the tragedy of April 1912 with a new focus. He tells the story of The Californian, the ship that saw the Titanic sink and could have saved it but didn’t. While it is fiction, it’s a story based on true accounts, court transcripts and real people and real mistakes. I didn’t even know this ship existed until I read this book. It was a fascinating and sad story about how close the Titanic came to being rescued if it weren’t for a few key details.

5. Wish List by Belinda Williams

“For me this is the best and most wonderful ending to a series and a book I’ve read. The continual surprises and little bits of joy and intensity are an emotional ride but I wouldn’t change a thing. As I read my heart was pounding, I had knots in my stomach, a smile on my face, continually holding in gasps and squeals as my eyes flew across the page trying to read faster and possibly physically immerse myself in the story.”

This is the final novel in the City Love series and Williams goes out with style. Having read the other three accounts I was eager to get into the fourth and final story. There is love and independence in this story, it is all about working out who you are and what you want from life. Williams’ writing draws you in, surprises you, lulls you into safety then springs on you out of nowhere. It’s a beautifully complicated story that is the perfect ending to the series.

 

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