white cover of Happyland book

“Prince Gobbledygook wears his heart on his head and his headache is akin to a heart attack”.

Prior to reading Tes Mekonnen’s Happyland, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Modern fairytales are not a new addition to the world of books, however Happyland without a doubt stands on its own as a wonderfully weird read, filled with delightfully quirky concepts and innovative linguistic devices. Not to be confused with the kind of traditional fairy tale that sadly, many young adults may be quick to write off as ‘been there, done that’, the book is a thought-provoking yet humorous read, that will likely satisfy language lovers of a whole range of ages.

On the surface, the story tells of the inexplicably sad Lily Marshmallow, who is discovered by Prince Goobledygook and led henceforth to a promised land of sorts, known to the Prince as Happyland. Sounds pretty stereotypical, prince meets potential princess, they face a significant life event together, and live happily ever after, right? However, the story is far from being a fictional fairy tale. Instead, the characters’ journey tells of Tes Mekonnen’s own story, and his perceptions of modern society. Here’s what he had to say about how his own life experiences infuse into his book: View Post

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pile of books with candle on top

Throughout 2017, I’ve indulged in some absolutely brilliant reads, and I looked forward to writing this Books You Need In Your Life post in particular: October- December marks cosy reading time, with cosy reading books, being all kinds of cosy reading goals. However, October in particular was a really disappointing reading month for me: I did read a lot, but none of the books I encountered over the month really stood out as ones I’d recommend. There are fewer books in this reading wrap-up than usual, however don’t let that take away from the wonderful works included below: two of them are also two of my favourites of the entire year…

Girlhood by Cat Clarke

‘The Hole is not as bad as it sounds. In the grand scheme of things, it’s definitely not a big deal. But it’s a tradition, and traditions are a big deal in a place like this. And if, to an outsider, it sounds a little bit like torture, all I can say is that boarding school can be a bitch’.

Girlhood was my first experience of Cat Clarke’s writing, and I can now safely say that it certainly won’t be my last. Clarke’s writing style is right up my street, and that, combined with such complex subject matter that I’d never seen tackled in any YA book previous to this, made for a really brilliant, refreshing read. Had I the time, there’s a huge possibility that I would have devoured this entire book, cover to cover, in one sitting.

I’ve always been fascinated with stories set in boarding schools, with Enid Blyton’s Malory Towers series being a huge comfort read of mine. In a way, Girlhood is like a 21st century Malory Towers, just with less teamwork and hockey tournaments, and more passive-aggressive friendship drama, vodka shots, and complete disregard for authority figures. The subject matter combines family trauma, mental illness and manipulative friendships into a plot that simply sucks you in: the background information about the characters provided in the first few chapters alone was enough to have me invested in Rowan’s story right from the very beginning. I loved how Clarke was fearless in showing the main character’s faults, with no stone left unturned when it came to Kirsty’s complex background and how this affected the dynamic of her relationship with the other girls. This was such a satisfying read that really took me out of my own life and plonked me firmly within Duncraggan Boarding School, and I strongly invite you to plonk yourself in there with me. I’ll bring the shot glasses. View Post

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Flatlay of The Little Big Things book, press release, insert, and two quote cards, on a beige background

After reading the final page of The Little Big Things, I slowly closed the book and sat alone with my thoughts for a while. It’s not often that I feel divided about something I’ve read; usually, by the time I’m halfway through, I have my thoughts somewhat in order. However, this memoir had me to-ing and fro-ing so much that I went back to the publisher who sent me the book and asked whether they really did want me to be one of the reviewers. After talking to Seven Dials and hedging my thoughts and concerns, they encouraged me to go ahead and post an honest review. So… here we go.

The Little Big Things is the memoir and work of Henry Fraser, an incredibly talented individual who creates impressive works of art using only a mouth stylus. The book tells the story of Henry becoming paralysed after an accident on holiday at the age of 17, and his process of learning to live with his condition and find his new normal. Before I get to the review, I want to make clear that I think Henry sounds like an ace person, and definitely somebody who I’d be friends with. None of my critiques of the book are really a reflection on him.

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‘I wonder if Mum will be Mum again when she comes home. I wonder if she will remember that she tried to steal clothes from Debenhams and that she burnt our photographs in a saucepan. I wonder if she will remember that Dad is having an affair with a girl who, only last year, was too young to legally drink alcohol’.

Today I’m talking to author Emily Critchley about her debut YA novel, Notes On My Family. As one of my absolute favourite reads of the year, I jumped at the chance to chat to her more about it…

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“Anybody can look at you. It’s quite rare to find someone who sees the same world you see.”

2017 has been A Bloody Good Year for YA book releases, and yet I don’t think I’ve ever anticipated reading a novel as much as Turtles All the Way Down. John Green is without a doubt one of the most influential novelists of our generation, and as I’m sure they have for countless other people, his books have had a significant impact on my life. Both Looking For Alaska and The Fault In our Stars are on my mental ‘Books That Shaped Me’ list, and I could not WAIT to see whether Turtles would be joining them in my hypothetical hall of fame.

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