RELEASE THE KRA- um, Piecharts? (2016 Reading Stats and Habits)

So if you’re like me and feel like time moved unusual fast last year (you mean it’s not August 2014??!), you might be struggling to grasp the fact that it is in all seriousness 2017. Sorcery I tell you! Apparently I turn 20 this year and am not sure what to do with that information.

But since 2016 is behind us, it’s time tk get retrospective, and look back on my reading year. I’m also planning on doing the Reading Survey that I did last year, so I’ll post that here if/when it exists. 

At the beginning if last year, I  made the decision to track my reading in a spreadsheet after I’d seen a couple of posts by bloggers who’d done just that. So after a year of checking publication dates and agonising iver what genre a book falls into, I can CRUNCH SOME NUMBERS. Or, y’know, just get Google Sheets to do it for me.

I used this site to create all my pie charts for this post.

RATING


Apparently, my average rating for books I read/reread this year was 4.1 stars. I think I’m a fairly content reader, so that number isn’t entirely surprising. All my ratings were between 3 and 5 stars, which basically means they varied from meh to excellent. Managed to avoid reading any truly shocking books this year, which is always nice.
GENRE

You may notice something of a trend here. Nearly half (!!) of the books I read this year were contemporary YA. I’m quite proud of the healthy little non-fiction slice of pie, which was my second misread genre (kind of misleading, since I read various sub genres of non-fiction, I’ll admit). Prior to this year, I scarcely ever picked up non-fiction if it wasn’t for school, but I’m definitely going to keep on reading more of it this year.
SERIES VS STANDALONE

Ended up with some sexy numbers for this one. Exactly a quarter of the books I read this year were part of a series (two or more books), the other three quarters were standalones. Do I have commitment issues? Undoubtedly. 
AUTHOR GENDER 

‘Multi’ refers to books with multiple authors of different genders. I don’t find the numbers here particularly surprising.

AUTHOR NATIONALITY 

Or basically, #loveozya for the win! I’m quite proud of the number of Aussie books I’ve read this year. I think this is the most Australian books I’ve read in one year. It’s also a record year for me for books out of Iceland.

REREADING

I am something of a rereader. So the fact that roughly a quarter of the books I read this year were rereads comes as no surprise to me.

I’m one of those people who gets a real kick out of looking for patterns and comparing things, so I found keeping track of my reading habits was super worthwhile. I’m going to keep up the spreadsheet this year, with a couple of new catagories. I’m looking forward to seeing how the numbers compared.

Feel free to drop your thoughts in the comments, and if you’ve made it this far, thank you for reading!

Apologies in Advance For the Amount of Swooning Over Dashing Frenchmen in the Below Review (Review of London Belongs To Us by Sarra Manning)

 

A quick note: If you’re not in the mood to read my rambles and would rather listen to me ramble about this book instead (or if you want both!) I joined Diem over at Bookish Friends to talk about this book. You can hear our spoiler-free review here, or our spoilerific discussion here.

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There are a lot of quotes out there about how great London is. My favourite is from Samuel Johnson, who said, “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life”. I can agree with him there. London is one of those places I could endlessly return to and explore (if we ignore the cost because YIKES), so it took me about half the blurb of London Belongs to Us by Sarra Manning to be convinced this was I book I’d adore. This story reads like a love letter to London, and my initial reaction was correct – I completely adored it.

Here’s the synopsis (thank you Goodreads!):

Twelve hours, two boys, one girl . . . and a whole lot of hairspray.

Seventeen-year-old Sunny’s always been a little bit of a pushover. But when she’s sent a picture of her boyfriend kissing another girl, she knows she’s got to act. What follows is a mad, twelve-hour dash around London – starting at 8pm in Crystal Palace (so far away from civilisation you can’t even get the Tube there) then sweeping through Camden, Shoreditch, Soho, Kensington, Notting Hill . . . and ending up at 8am in Alexandra Palace.

Along the way Sunny meets a whole host of characters she never dreamed she’d have anything in common with – least of all the devilishly handsome (and somewhat vain) French ‘twins’ (they’re really cousins) Jean Luc and Vic. But as this love-letter to London shows, a city is only a sum of its parts, and really it’s the people living there who make up its life and soul. And, as Sunny discovers, everyone – from friends, apparent-enemies, famous bands and even rickshaw drivers – is willing to help a girl on a mission to get her romantic retribution.

A fast-paced, darkly funny love letter to London, boys with big hair and the joys of staying up all night.

This is the first of Sarra Manning’s books that I’ve read, but it certainly won’t be the last (in fact I’ve already read another: The Worst Girlfriend in the World, which I also enjoyed). I whizzed through London Belongs to Us in a matter of hours, and holy guacamole were those a delightful few hours. don’t was one of those books that I felt happier and uplifted for having read it.

I’ll admit that I may have developed a teensy crush on Jean-Luc Godard, one of the dashing young French boys who join Sunny on her hunt for her no-good boyfriend. I have to hand it to Sarra Manning, she sure can write a swoon-worthy character.

The character development throughout the story was all A+, but I particularly enjoyed seeing Jean-Luc and his cousin Vic develop over the course of the story from the two good-looking, sharply dressed, mysterious and almost caricature-like French dudes we meet at thr beginning of the story into two very distinct, lovely and flawed (though still sharply-dressed) characters. Sunny’s friendship, and how it develops is also brilliantly executed.

WARNING GUSHING AHEAD (also very minor spoilers that won’t ruin your reading of the book but still refer to things that happen towards the end so be careful my friend)

And oh Jean-Luc. It’s been a while since I’ve read about a character I’ve so completely adored. And the BROOM I TELL YOU. When he appears at the end after he gets lost (as someone who doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to public transport mishaps, I could relate. Always double check you’re getting on the right train, kids) I was flailing a little. Even when he was surly and pretending not to speak English, I adored reading about him. His relationship with his cousin, Vic, was gorgeously written and hilarious (You used my name?) and I found him to be this quietly lovely, dashing character who was totally crush-worthy.

I recently found out that Sarra Manning’s books are all set in the same universe, so I’m holding onto the hope that he’ll make a reappearance.

French boys weren’t the only reason I loved this book, believe it or not. And I feel a little bad for all the gushing, because this isn’t really a book about boys. It’s a book about self-discovery and learning to fight for what you deserve and the beauty of London. The true love story in this book is between Sunny and her city, with London springing to life off the pages. The sense of place was just wonderful.

Sunny, as a protagonist, was sensational. Even though the story is set over a time span of less than 24 hours, her growth never feels forced or unnatural – she doesn’t have a sudden epiphany, rather everyone she meets and everything she experiences over the night slowly add up to build her into a very different person to who she was at the beginning of the book. At the beginning, she’s a self-proclaimed doormat, in fear of being the “angry black girl”, but by the end she’s able to stand up for herself and recognise that she doesn’t have to take crap from anyone (particularly the UTTERLY DESPICABLE AND ALL SORTS OF HORRIBLE SLEAZEBALL Mark. Ugh). This book isn’t so much about Sunny finding herself as it is about herfinding her voice, and one of my favourite things about this story is seeing her grow from the girl who is intimidated by everyone and everything into a confident you woman.

Another element of London Belongs to Us that I loved was that it managed to touch onto some issues that are a little more serious than I was expecting to find in a loght-hearted contemporary. Namely racism – in particular racial stereotypes – and slut-shaming. And I felt like this was done in a way that was neither superficial nor out of place. As important as issue books can be, I’d like to see more fun books take into account things like racism and slut-shaming (without making light of them, obvs) and weave them into the story and have characters affected by them, just like people are in real life, but still not being the point of the story. I thought that both issues were included in a way that was nuanced and considerate, and brought a lot to the story.

I could ramble for ages about all the little touches the the book that I thought were fantastic: the lists and pie charts, the histories of different parts of London, the side characters. Everything about London Belongs to Us added up wonderfully to create a book that was without a doubt one of my favourites of 2016. It’s something I can see myslef rereading many times in the future.

4.5 stars

 

The Smashing & Dashing 2016 Character Awards Tag (feat. An Unusual Amount of CAPITALISATION)

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I like talking about characters. I like talking about characters A LOT. So when I saw that Cait over at Paper Fury had created this tag/awards/thing about characters, I knew that I had to do it.

I’m going to stick to books I’ve read this year, BUT I’m going to include rereads because ahahahahaha my reading hasn’t been that great this year so I’ll take what I can get.

1. MOST RELATABLE CHARACTER

I’ve always felt a bit of a kinship with Sam from Life in Outer Space by Melissa Keil. Back when I first read it in 2013, when I was an Inky Awards judge (I’ll just slip that little bit of bragging in there) and it was on the longlist, Sam seemed like a male version of myself to an eerie extent (aside from the fact that he likes horror movies because I’m way too much of a wimp for that), and although I relate to him a little less these days, I feel like we’re still on a similar wavelength. Predominately because we’re equally incapable of dealing with having feelings for other human beings (aka DENIAL DENIAL DENIAL).

2. MOST PURE AND PRECIOUS ANIMAL COMPANION

The default answer to this question is Bovril, from Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan trilogy. Which I’ve started rereading again and realised with horror that I had not yet read them this year.

(Not that I haven’t read all three books a million times before, BUT if I missed reading them this year this would be the first time since they were published that there had been a year where I had not read at least one of them. Which would be a travesty).

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3. FIERCEST FIGHTER

This is a DIFFICULT QUESTION when you read predominately contemporary YA. Also I have a concerningly minimal recollection of the books I read early this year.

War from Good Omens was pretty deadly. I mean, well, it’s more that she causes fighting but I’m going with her anyway.

4. MOST AMAZING SIDEKICK

If I was going to go gallivanting around London hunting down a no-good boyfriend, like Sunny does in London Belongs to Us by Sarra Manning, I’d want Vic and Jean-Luc as my sidekicks. How much this has to do with them being dashing Frenchmen who run a bakery and have a snappy sense of fashion I will not disclose.

*fails to resist urge not to mention The Sidekicks by Will Kostakis because I have no self-control*

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5. ONE YOU’RE SURPRISED YOU LOVED

I ended up liking Adam from Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman a lot more than I thought I would. Didn’t think he’d end up tugging on the ol’ heartstrings as much as he did.

I’d like to quickly note that I almost wrote Food Omens rather than Good Omens which we don’t even need to interpret, naturally.

6. BEST SASSMASTER

…goes to Crawly Crowley, “An Angel who did not so much Fall as Saunter Vaguely Downwards” from Good Omens (again). To be honest, I’m not sure if he was strictly speaking sassy, but THE AWARD GOES TO HIM ANYWAY because he’s fab.

7. BEST ANTI-HERO AND MORALLY GREY GRAPE

Crowley again! I’m not sure if he technically qualifies as an anti-hero, but he is in league with the devil (quite literally).

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8. BEST WORST VILLAIN TO HATE

Remember when I said mentioned I read predominately contemporary YA? Where the villain is usual something like unrequited love, or miscommunication, or FEELINGS?

But I guess, even though he’s not like a Big Bad kind of villain, my most hated antagonist (trumped only by Umbridge) is John Thorpe from Northanger Abbey because he is the King of the Douchebags and is such a slimy little sleazeball that I take much pleasure in UTTERLY DESPISING.

And on a similar note, Mark from London Belongs to Us. If John Thorpe is King of the Douchebags, Mark’s the heir to the throne.

9. TRULY ASTOUNDING WORST PARENTS

I’ve altered this question slightly from the original, which was YA parents, because the worst parental units weren’t from YA, but from Mansfield Park by Jane Austen. Really, all the adults in this one are pretty shocking people. But Sir Thomas and Lady Betram pretty much do nothing in their children’s lives and then wonder why things turned out the way they did.

And don’t get me started on Mrs Norris.

OH and also Minnow’s parents in The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly. I’m not exactly in a position to be offering parenting tips but DUDE. Joining a cult that doesn’t recognise women as people and brainwashes the children into thinking that everyone else is an enemy? Not the best move.

(There are more reasons why Minnow’s parents are pretty dodge, but SPOILERS. Although I think her mother redeems herself a little in the end? I can’t remember)

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10. TRULY ASTOUNDING BEST PARENTS

If I remember correctly Romy’s mum and stepdad in All The Rage were pretty cool (my brain hurts from all this remembering).

I also really liked Lily’s mum in The Twelve Days of Dash and Lily. Talk about someone with their head screwed on. She’s there for Lily when she needs her, but also isn’t afraid to give her daughter a (VERY NEEDED) reality check. I wish we’d gotten to see more of her.

11. TOOT TOOT BEST SHIP OF THEM ALL

Me and Jean-Luc Goddard, one of the French boys from London Belongs to Us. 

Fiiiine. Bluesey is forever a favourite. I’m not a massive shipper, really.

I almost ship Crowley and Aziraphale from Good Omens, but not in a romantic way so much as a “please keep hanging out and bickering together forever” way.

12. THE MOST IN NEED OF PROTECTION

Probably Henry, from Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley. Although, what he needs is not so much protection as someone to jump out and whollop him over the head every time he tries to talk to Amy.

It would be emotional protection, I swear (I promise I’m not a violent person).

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13. MOST BORING AS A BARNACLE

I thought Jack from Night Owls by Jenn Bennett to be kind of bland. I know that I read this book early last year so there’s little reason to expect me to remember much, but the fact that I had to look up the review I wrote of Night Owls in order to remember his name means that he wasn’t exactly memorable. But apparently I forgot his name right after reading the book, anyway.

Soz dude.

14. BEST LITTLE ROYAL

Does the Antichrist count as royalty? I think he gets referred to as the Prince of Darkness at one point by the satanic nun. If yes, then Adam from Good Omens. I love that kid.

Oh, and how could I forget Alek from Leviathan?

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15. VERY SURPRISED YOU’RE STILL ALIVE

Charlie from The Flywheel by Erin Gough. What are you doing with yourself, my dude.

16. BEST AT HORRIBLE DECISION MAKING

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAND it’s Charlie again. I think these last two categories go hand in hand.

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17. CUTEST DORK

Henry Tilney from Northanger Abbey. He’s such a little smart-alec and I love it. Also Sam from Life in Outer Space because he’s such a sweetheart and so totally dorky.

18. CLEVEREST LITTLE HELLION

BOVRIL. The one character in the Leviathan trilogy who knows everyone’s secrets and it’s a talking loris. Volger and Dr Barlow have nothing on the creature.

19. MOST IN NEED OF A NAP

Sunny from London Belongs to Us. You deserved it, girl.

I feel like Mr Darcy could probably do with one, as well.

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20. WANT TO READ MORE ABOUT YOU

Pretty much any of the characters I’ve mentioned here.

Except John Thorpe.

Never John Thorpe.

A proper answer is Crowley and Aziraphale from Good Omens. 

And Deryn Sharp, obviously. There’s no such things as too much Deryn.

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas… (Review of The Twelve Days of Dash and Lily by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan)

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There’s a part of my brain going “Dude! Publish a review of The Twelve Days of Dash and Lily for Christmas!” because in my brain Christmas is still a very long way away (we’re talking months), and it’d be sooo original to write a review of a Christmas book for Christmas, wouldn’t it? But apparently it is in fact December, and only a couple of weeks out from Christmas Day, so I’m not as premature in posting this as my brain thinks I am.

I read Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares several years ago, at the age of thirteen or so. I remember enjoying it immensely, which says a lot because I read very little contemporary fiction back then. I never thought to expect a sequel, so when I heard that The Twelve Days of Dash and Lily was being published, I was surprised. Pleasantly, because I knew my younger self had enjoyed the first book, but I’ll admit I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from a sequel.

Because it had been so long, I decided to reread Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares before reading The Twelve Days of Dash and Lily (henceforth referred to as Dash and Lily and The Twelve Days respectively because those titles are a lot of work to constantly type out). I don’t think I loved it as much this time as I had when I was thirteen, but that said, I still found it pretty enjoyable. It was cute and fluffy and very sweet, and it accomplished what it set out to do. It wasn’t anything mind-blowing, and won’t be making the list of my all-time favourite books, but I had fun reading it.

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Memory refreshed, I could happily read The Twelve Days. Synopsis, courtesy of Goodreads, below:

Dash and Lily have had a tough year since they first fell in love among the shelves of their favorite bookstore. Lily’s beloved grandfather suffered a heart attack, and his difficult road to recovery has taken a major toll on her typically sunny disposition.

With only twelve days left until Christmas—Lily’s favorite time of the year—Dash, Lily’s brother Langston, and their closest friends must take Manhattan by storm to help Lily recapture the unique holiday magic of a glittering, snow-covered New York City in December.

I feel like The Twelve Days suffered from a bit of Second Book Syndrome. Dash and Lily’s story was sufficiently concluded in the first book, and I didn’t think that the sequel added anything significant to their story. I gave both books for 3.5 stars, but I had very different feelings about each of them. Dash and Lily was fun but a little vanilla, while I couldn’t put The Twelve Days down, but it was missing the charm and fun of the first book.

Lily had gone through a lot in the year since Dash and Lily and it’s clear that her grandfather’s failing health is weighing heavily on her and she can’t can’t bring herself to be the cheery, optimistic person everyone knows. Rereading the first book, I noticed that Lily was rather immature, but it was balanced by a sweetness that meant she was still a likeable character. But in The Twelve Days, she lost much of the sweetness and she ended up being kind of bratty, with one of my character pet peeves rearing its head.

Said pet peeve is when something happens in a story and all a character cares about is how it impacts them. Maybe it’s realistic, maybe it isn’t, but selfish characters get on my nerve. It’s not so much the fact that they’re upset by whatever event happens, it’s the lack of conflicting emotions that would probably make it more realistic. A little “this is horrible! But it’ll make them happy! But how could they do this to me?” and I’d probably be happy. Lily, unfortunately, lives up to this pet peeve several times during the story, and was more selfish than I remember her being in the first book.

Example: (Not really a spoiler, but if you don’t want to know any deets about the story, skip this paragraph) Her brother Langston tells her he’s moving in with his boyfriend. Lily’s reaction is something along the lines of how could you do this to me? In fairness, Lily is going through a lot, and Langston might have chosen a better time to tell her, but his decision to move out wasn’t about Lily, and yet in Lily’s mind it is.

There were some hints of brilliance in terms of Lily’s character development at times. The familiar angst of trying to be more mature and knowing you aren’t a child any more, but not quite recognising yourself as the adult you’re trying to be. In these moments, when Lily is wrestling between maturity and immaturity, the story is at its strongest and most recognisable. I only wish there were more of these moments.

Dash was Dash. He didn’t really seem to change from the previous book to this one. Considering I was mostly unhappy with how Lily had changed, I was a little relieved to be on familiar ground with Dash. But still. There were opportunities for growth, and I didn’t really see any.

I enjoyed revisiting the supporting characters. Boomer was as sweet and guileless as ever. Mrs Basil E was formidable. I liked seeing a bit more of the parental units of both Dash and Lily in this book. I was a fan of Lily’s mother, who gives Lily some very good advice (and basically what I was wanting to shout at her, but a bit more articulate).

Going back to what I said about this book suffering from Second Book Syndrome, it also had a nasty case of characters-got-together-and-were-happy-at-the-end-of-the-first-book-so-let’s-put-the-relationship-in-danger-at-the-start-of-the-second. I didn’t really buy a lot of what went on in terms of Dash and Lily’s relationship in The Twelve Days. Not so much the fact that their relationship was more uncertain and at risk of ending (although we had a considerable amount of miscommunication going on, that felt a little OTT). But (MILD SPOILER WARNING, SKIP TO END OF PARAGRAPH IF YOU DON’T WANT TO BE MILDLY SPOILED) there’s a point where Dash and Lily kiss and make up, and they go from just about broken up to astronomical levels of lovey-dovey, with none of their issues (ever really) resolved. There’s a little bit of uncertainty in the relationship after that point, but it was too fast a 180 for me to buy it.

One of the main aspects of Dash and Lily was the dares and quests they sent each other on. They weren’t nearly so prominent in The Twelve Days, and I felt like those that were included pushed my suspension of belief a little too far. Even with Lily’s extensive family and all its connections, the quests that Dash and Lily were pulling off seemed a bit too unbelievable.

All that said, I couldn’t put The Twelve Days down. How much of that was due to the writing and how much was due to the fact that my body clock was a little bit messed up and it was 3am and I couldn’t sleep and my brain was a bit goopy and only able to focus on one thing at a time. But I read most of it in a sitting, which at the very least says it was engaging.

I wasn’t overly impressed with The Twelve Days of Dash and Lily, and although there were elements I liked, as a general rule I thought it wasn’t a necessary sequel.

3.5 stars

I’m Baaaack! (Probably) [Where I’ve Been For the Last Eight Months, What I’ve Been Reading and Why I’ve Decided to Keep it Simple This Time – Does Not Apply to Blog Post Titles]

The last post I, well, posted here was way back in April, so “it’s been a while, huh?” doesn’t quite cut it in this situation. It’s been an interesting eight or so months since then, and I’ve debated whether or not book blogging is something that I want to spend my time doing. I’m still not sure, but I want to get back into my book photography, and I still relish the opportunity to talk about the books I’ve read, so here I am.

Let’s see how it goes this time around.

So what have I been doing in the time I’ve been not-posting? I’ve attempted to write a few posts that haven’t really gone anywhere (think a rambly mush of word vomit). I’ve been reading, mostly the usual YA, with a little non-fiction and some adult stuff as well. And, for five of the eight months it’s been since my last post, I was backpacking through Europe, an experience I like to think has changed me for the better, or at the very least was a hell of a lotta fun. In some ways, I feel like travelling has also changed my relationship with reading, something that I’d like to discuss in a future blog post.

I didn’t read much while I was away, but I’ve been doing what I feel like is a decent job of making up for that since I got home. I’m currently reading two books: The Secret History by Donna Tartt and The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay. Both books were recommended to me by family members – The Secret History is one of my aunt’s favourite books, which I received as a birthday present, and the (well-loved and battered) copy of The Power of One that I’m reading belongs to my mum.

Both books are a little different to what I’m used to reading. The Secret History because it’s an adult novel as much as anything else, and also because it’s peppered with Classical references that mostly go over my head when there isn’t an explanation of them. That’s not to say that I’m not enjoying it, although I do feel like it’s a book that I’ll appreciate more on the reread.

I’m not sure whether The Power of One is considered YA, perhaps partly because it was published well before YA was the the thing it is now. But it’s certainly YA-esque, so more familiar territory there. I confess that my knowledge of South African history is pretty limited. So I’m on a bit of a learning curve with this one. One of the perks of a child narrator (I’m still quite early on in the story – Peekay is currently six years old) is that they’re just as confused and bewildered and unaware of history as you are. Which helps!

I’ll leave this as a shorter post, and won’t make any promises as to when my next one will be. One of the problems I think I ran into earlier this year was that I was over-complicating things – I wanted to do too much. I had all these different ideas on the go but wasn’t really getting around to pulling them off. And I think I was comparing myself with other blogs too much. So I’ve decided that I’m going to stick to reviews, and maybe the odd reading related discussion. And sharing my bookish photography, hopefully.

Until next time,

Sarah

Honey, I Shrunk the Reviews (Mini-Reviews!)

Because I’m kinda horribly out of the habit of review-writing (that, and also incredibly lazy), instead of writing actual, full length reviews of the books I read during the time I was wallowing in my creativity slump-induced angstiness, I’m going to devote a single post to a few mini-reviews. This may be something that reappears at a later date, as a way of me talking about books that I read but didn’t review because a) I didn’t have time b) I didn’t have enough thoughts about to devote an entire review to c) I abandoned this blog again. I have a few ideas brewing in the back of my brain re: things I’m going to do differently, and these mini-review posts are one of them.

But onto the books. !!!! Titles are linked to Goodreads pages.

The Sidekicks by Will Kostakis — 4 stars

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I absolutely adored The First Third. It was a dead charming novel that had me in the rather unglamorous state of laughing and crying at the same time, and pretty much meant that The Sidekicks was an instant-buy. Will Kostakis has a rather incredible ability to fill his stories with so much heart and you can’t help but want his characters to end up happy. The character development in The Sidekicks was absolutely superb, and each of the three narrators – Ryan, Harley and Miles – felt super realistic.

I thought that the format of three separate novella-esque sections, each from a different point of view, was very effective, and worked so much better than a standard split-POV/alternating chapters. With each of the boys’ perspectives you learnt more, and gained more insight into their lives and how they related with each other.

As much as I loved reading The Sidekicks, it did feel a little disorientating, because the story pretty much instantly throws you into the mind of these grieving characters, but you never really get introduced to the person they’ve lost, or at least, you don’t until much later. But that aside, The Sidekicks was an absolutely gorgeous novel.

Remix by Non Pratt — 4 stars

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Remix got off to a somewhat rocky start for me. The characters were pretty whiney and unbearable, and it looked like all anyone could think about was sex, sex and more sex. But after a while the story definitely grew on me, and I found myself really enjoying it.

I’m pretty much guaranteed to like anything where female friendships are the main relationship, and even though there is some romance (using the terms super loosely there) in this book, it’s really Kaz and Ruby’s relationship that’s the focus of this book. And as much as their friendship (I initially mistyped that as “firendship” and one of the suggestions was “midshipmen” o.o) was really put through the wringer, and there was plenty of angst and miscommunication going on, you could really see how much they cared for each other, and just how well they knew each other.

Part of me wants to write a longer review of this one because I have quite a few thoughts about it, so maybe if I reread it in the future I’ll write a full review. But Remix was a book that had surprising depth and complexity, much more than the first few chapters suggested. Really good use of dual-POV, although the very short chunks written from each girl’s perspective was a little jolting at times. In all though, Remix was a pleasant surprise.

All The Rage by Courtney Summers — 4.5 stars

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I’ve been wanting to read All The Rage for what feels like forever. But for reasons unknown, it was only released here in January (with the weird yellow cover, whyyyyyyyyy), which made me feel a little better about not getting to it, because it wasn’t actually out yet. I’m a massive Courtney Summers fan, and even though I don’t think this was quite on the same level as This Is Not A Test, I couldn’t put it down.

If you’ve read any of Courtney Summers’ other books, you’ll know that nothing gets sugar-coated or glossed over, and this is true for All The Rage. I think the blurb is a little misleading. It’s not incorrect, but I think the focus is a little off, because this book is about the aftermath, and the long-term effects of rape culture. It’s not about Kellan Turner, it’s about Romy and how the events of the night she was raped continue to affect her life – not only on a personal, psychological level, but also in how she interacts with others, as well as how rape culture

All The Rage looks at the consequences of rape culture, something which Courtney Summers touched on in Some Girls Are, but fully explores here. This is a powerful and important novel.

Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit — 3 stars

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I really have no idea how to feel about this book. I mean, the writing was absolutely stunning, and the settings leapt off the page thanks to really evident research. But I just didn’t get it? I’m not sure what the point of the story was, and I feel like it maybe all just went over my head or something. I mean, I enjoy a little arty-farty literary stuff from time to time, but this one lost me big time.

Sometimes the narration felt a little too reminiscent of The Book Thief but more contrived. And I have no idea who the target audience was, because it wasn’t middle grade, but it didn’t quite feel entirely YA-ish either. I mean, child narrators in YA aren’t unheard of, but this book seemed way too dark and miserable for how simplistic the writing was sometimes. As I said, I’m really not sure how to feel about this one. The plot felt muddled, and although there were some really lovely moments, and moments where it seemed like we were finally getting to the point, they didn’t go anywhere.

So yeah. Not sure how to feel about this one. If you like literary fiction maybe give it a shot, but otherwise I wouldn’t really go out of my way to encourage anyone to read this. It’s a fairly tentative three stars.


When will my next post be? Who knows, but in the meantime, you should totally check out Bookish Friends, a podcast started by a friend of mine that’s all about – surprise! – books. The podcasts are currently about the books longlisted for this year’s Inky Awards, and the latest is about I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson. I’ll be appearing on a few of the future podcasts. But if you like bookish discussions, definitely give Bookish Friends a listen!

A Sheepish Return (The Word “Whoops” Comes to Mind) + Music, Inkys and New Directions

So… um, yeah. Somewhere not long after my last post I descended into the pits of a hardcore creativity slump where I only managed to get through two books between the end of January and about a week ago. I managed to decide that book blogging was this utterly pointless endeavour that would only lead to misery (or something like that). Then I realised I was sick of moping around all day and spending hours doing nothing productive on the internet. So I’m back, and with a shiny new layout for the blog to boot.

I was tagged for the three daily quotes tag that I never did finish, and I have about six partially-written posts sitting in my Drafts folder. I do want to start kind of fresh-ish though, so I won’t be doing anything with them at this point in time. Part of the problem, I think, was a bit of burnout, and I also got a bit too hung-up in counting stats and followers and views and that wasn’t particularly helpful. There’s a moral in there somewhere.

Going forward, I’m changing my approach a little bit. I’m not going to obsessively check my stats everyday, for one. I’m still going to take part in the community – or try to, at least – but without getting too caught up in the “they’re doing that, should I be doing it too?” kind of mentality I was developing. I think I’ll also keep the posts a little shorter, so I can write them in one or two sittings, instead of stringing the writing over several days. That sort of thing, so that this blog doesn’t start feeling like a chore.

Onto more positive things! Although my creativity slump pretty much killed my desire to read or write or be productive, it was pretty decent fodder for obsessively listening to music. I’ve pretty much had The Goon Sax’s debut album Up To Anything playing on repeat ever since it came out, and I’ve lost count how many times I’ve watched the video for ‘Boyfriend’.

The Inky Awards longlist was also announced while I was gone. The Inkys have a very special place in my heart, not only because I was one of the teen judges back in 2013, but also because Inside A Dog always provided an environment where everyone else loved books and reading as much as I did. I could spend an entire blog post talking about the awesomeness of the Inkys (and maybe I will??? Who knows???). I’ve read a few of the titles on the longlist, and hope to read a bit more of the list this year.

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Image courtesy of Inside A Dog

If you’re between the ages of 12 and 20, and live in Australia, you should totally apply to be an Inky Awards Judge. You’ve still got a couple of days to apply, and I can personally attest to how amazing an experience being a judge is. 

In terms of “what is Sarah reading?” news, I currently have a bag of books sitting beside my bed. There are a few books sitting on my bedside table that I recently bought when I decided that I’d had enough of being in a constant state of bleh. The bag contains mostly reading copies (including a couple of ARCs) that I’m reading for my local bookshop, so I’m pretty set for reading material.

So, I’m back. Hopefully I’ll do a better job of sticking around this time.