Monday, 20 October 2014

My True Love Gave to Me, Stephanie Perkins

Pages: 355
Publisher: Macmillan
Release Date: 9th October 2014
Edition: UK hardback, review copy

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me... This beautiful collection features twelve gorgeously romantic stories set during the festive period, by some of the most talented and exciting YA authors writing today. The stories are filled with the magic of first love and the magic of the holidays.

I have been waiting for this book to be in my hands ever since I heard the author list and I haven’t been disappointed.

This book is beautiful inside and out. I love hardbacks that don’t have jackets, that have gorgeous endpapers, ribbon bookmarks and illustrations and My True Love Gave to Me has all of those. It really is a book for your shelf, and not just for the host of twelve wonderful stories inside. These are my favourites:

Midnights, Rainbow Rowell
What a way to start the collection! Midnights tells the story of Noel and Mags on their first meeting on New Year’s Eve in 2011 and checks in on them in the next three New Year’s Eves – the anniversary of their friendship. It’s an incredibly sweet look at the evolution of a friendship and the bubbling hope every year that they’ll get to be the other’s New Year kiss. And, who knows, maybe they will this time... So cute and gave me butterflies!

Polaris is Where You’ll Find Me, Jenny Han
I was completely surprised by this little story. It tells the tale of Natty, a fifteen year old girl who was adopted by Santa. Living among Santa’s elves in the North Pole, Natty doesn’t fit in at all and she’s desperate for a friend who understands her. It’s a sweet and heart-achey story that was magical in a way I didn’t expect. Gorgeous.

It’s a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown, Stephanie Perkins
This is by far my favourite story in the collection. North and Marigold are so perfect together that it was almost sickening! I loved the banter and spark between them; it should promise of a real relationship between them, one that extended beyond the 30-odd pages of the story. There was also more of a depth that I would ever expect from something so short. North and Marigold hinted at money struggles, family pressures, serious illness and parental separation – they had a life before this story and they will afterwards. God, that Stephanie Perkins is good.

Welcome to Christmas, CA, Kiersten White
I went into Welcome to Christmas, CA with absolutely no expectations having never read Kiersten White before, but I loved it. The idea of year-round Christmas-themed diner in a town called Christmas should be twee and cutesy, but it wasn’t at all. It had a grittier edge that the other stories didn’t. Maria hated everything about her town and her position in it, but the arrival of a new chef at Christmas Cafe changed all that. I loved the message of your loved ones loving and supporting you silently. I loved the focus on home and family at the Christmas as well as on the romance. Also, so much amazing sounding food in this story that my mouth was watering...

My True Love Gave to Me is a truly diverse collection that covers a range of ethnicities, religions, lifestyles and sexual orientations. Despite all being roughly the same length – around 30 pages – they were all unique and reflections of each contributing author. Fans of YA, of Christmas, of short stories and of having their heart warmed will be overjoyed at seeing this under their tree.

Thanks to Macmillan for the review copy!


Sunday, 19 October 2014

Letterbox Love #63

Letterbox Love all of the lovely, lovely books I’ve gotten in the post, bought and everything else. Summaries are taken from the cover, or Amazon/NetGalley/Goodreads in the case of e-books, unless otherwise stated. Hosted by Narratively Speaking.

For review:

Not the final cover!
The Fire Sermon, Francesca Haig (proof)

When Zach and I were born our parents must have counted and recounted: limbs, fingers, toes. We were perfect. They would have been disbelieving: nobody dodged the split between Alpha and Omega.


Cass and Zach were born a perfect pair: no missing limbs, no Omega mutation – but Cass has a secret...

In her dreams she has seen the day they will be separated. She has felt the searing heat of the Omega brand as it is burned into her forehead, marking her fate for all to see.

For years Cass hides her power of foresight from her family and brother as the eyes of the community bear down upon them: waiting for the day the Omega mutation appears.

When Zach discovers Cass’s secret he will stop at nothing to expose her and take his rightful place as Alpha. As her twin rises through the ranks of power, Cass must be locked away where no harm can befall her in order to keep him safe...

The power to change the world is in thie hands: one will have to defeat the other if their vision of the future is to come to pass...

But Omega and Alpha twins share more than the moment of their births, if one twin dies, so does the other...

This sounds fantastic and I love all the Twitter promo that’s happening with it at the moment. #IAmAlpha33


Friday, 17 October 2014

Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel, Sara Farizan

Pages: 296
Publisher: Alonquin Books
Release Date: 9th October 2014
Edition: US hardback, purchased

Other Titles by this Author: If You Could Be Mine

High school junior Leila has made it most of the way through Armstead Academy without having a crush on anyone, which is something of a relief. Her Persian heritage already makes her different from her classmates; if word got out that she liked girls, life would be twice as hard.

But when a sophisticated, beautiful new girl, Saskia, shows up, Leila starts to take risks she never thought she would, especially when it looks as if the attraction between them is mutual.

Struggling to sort out her growing feelings and Saskia’s confusing signals, Leila confides in her old friend, Lisa, and grows closer to her fellow drama-tech crew members, especially Tomas, whose comments about his sexuality are frank, funny, wise, and sometimes painful. Gradually, Leila begins to see that almost all her classmates are more complicated than they first appear to be, and many are keeping secrets of their own.

After falling in love with Sara Farizan’s incredibly powerful debut, If You Could Be Mine, last year, Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel went straight onto my must-read list. I definitely made a good call, there.

Though a short read, Sara Farizan’s second novel has as much impact as her first. The story of a teenage girl of Iranian heritage dealing with her first crush on a girl a refreshing take on an LGBT novel. Leila’s story begins not in a place where she is still questioning her sexuality, or just discovering that she is gay, but at a time where she knows who she is, she’s just not quite ready to announce it to the world. And face the consequences from her family! I really liked this approach; it was unexpected.

Leila’s take on her own sexuality also somewhat lessened the focus on her feelings being for a girl. She was just a teenage falling or someone. There was awkwardness, fumbled attempts at a connection, ding everything in your power to be in that other person’s vicinity without the usual self-censure of a character fighting or denying their feelings. But this also fell into Leila’s character. Not one of the cool kids, but a joker, prone to excellently witty one-liners and internal comments that made me snort – she’s hilarious. Leila alone would propelled me through the novel; I want to be her bestie. She’s so genuine, and I feel like a lot of misfit teenagers will empathise with her whether they are gay or straight and that’s important in an LGBT novel, I think. No one should be alienated from the characters or view them differently because of who they fancy.

Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel has a very strong love interest. Saskia is an interesting character and I loved the uncertainty and mystery that surrounded her from the off – you just never know what will come of her relationship with Leila and it kept me on my toes. Their story took an unexpected turn and I was really pleased with how it evolved. It could so easily have been a run of the mill I-like-you-and-you-like-me story, but it went on a satisfying detour.

Sara Farizan’s second offering is heart-warming and empowering while staying a cute, funny and utterly readable story of a girl falling in love. This woman deserves a lot more notice than she’s getting.


Thursday, 16 October 2014

Books I Want to Read for the First Time (Again)

Inspired by Epic Reads’ 78th episode of Tea Time, Fandom Fun!, I am going to share with you the books I would most like to read again for the first time. On a side note, if you don’t watch Epic Reads’ YouTube channel you’re seriously missing out – lots of YA goodness in them.

Without further ado, the four books I most wish I could read again for the time:

Harry Potter and the Philospher’s Stone, JK Rowling

My mum bought me the first three books for the Christmas before Goblet of Fire was released and I wasn’t interested. I’ve always been a contemp girl and the idea of a magic school? Nah, not for me. Then we had the first chapter read to us at school and I was mesmerised. Not only did it make me a lover of fantasy, it also got my sister into reading after I bribed her to read just the first book (she read all of them in two weeks!).

How I Live Now, Meg Rosoff
I know I talk about this book all the time but I really, really mean everything I say about it. It’s brave, beautiful, heart-breaking and completely shocking; in story and style. I read this back in 2006 and I’ve read it about five times since. I want to experience the discomfort of the narrative style, the horror at the war, the blossoming and discomforting romance between Daisy and Edmund, the fear that it won’t turn out okay in the end. Argh, such a wonderful book that I want to throw it at people.

Graceling, Kristin Cashore

A feminist, epic fantasy with unparalleled world building and characters that burrow right into your heart: what more could you wish for?! I went into this book knowing that everyone loved it, but realising my strange relationship with epic fantasy meant I could easily end up hating it. I just remember starting it and then looking up and it being nearly 1am and I had moved to the other end of my bed in search of a new reading position. This was a case of falling unexpectedly, and head over heels, in love with a book.

Twilight, Stephenie Meyer
Now this would be for purely experimental reasons. When I first read Twilight way back when (just after New Moon had come out) it didn’t have the stigma that it does now, and I fell hard. The feeling of being fully ensconced in a world and in characters hadn’t hit me that hard since Harry Potter and I honestly don’t know if it has since, not to that extent, at least. At the time didn’t pick up on the borderline sociopathic actions of Edward, the controlling relationship and the complete lack of strength in Bella and I wonder if I went in blind now – seven years and a English Lit and Creative Writing degree later – how I would react to this story. I wonder...and yet I wouldn’t want to change my experience of reading this series for the world.

What would you read again for the first time? Do you worry it would change your feelings for that book?