Monthly Roundup

Monthly Roundup: December 2015

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Every first Wednesday of the month, I’ll be posting a roundup of the month just gone, and writing about what’s to come in the next few weeks.

 

Spectacles Bridget Jones Bridget Jones Midnight Never Come Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1) by Sarah J. Maas Will Grayson An Ice Cold Grave The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde At Home Half Bad The 100 The Dinner

 

Last month I read a total of twelve books: Spectacles by Sue Perkins, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (Bridget Jones #2) by Helen Fielding, Bridget Jones’ Diary (Bridget Jones #1) by Helen Fielding, Midnight Never Come (Onyx Court #1) by Marie Brennan, Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1) by Sarah J. Maas, Will Grayson, Will Grayson by David Levithan and John Green, An Ice Cold Grave (Harper Connolly #3) by Charlaine Harris, The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, At Home: A Short History of Private Life by Bill Bryson, Half Bad (Half Bad #1) by Sally Green, The 100 (The 100 #1) by Kass Morgan and The Dinner by Herman Koch.

December saw three re-reads, two because I just fancied re-reading them when I was at my parents’ for Christmas (both Bridget Jones books), and the other in preparation for my Throne of Glass readalong! In terms of a standout book for December, I’d have to go for Bill Bryson’s At Home: A Short History of Private Life. I’ve always loved Bryson, he has a fantastic way of writing that makes just about anything interesting – proven once again by this book, where I was entranced by the history of everyday objects such as the lightbulb or the staircase…

 

Challenge progress:

  • The DC vs Marvel Challenge is now done and dusted, although I didn’t manage to complete it entirely! 2016 sees another version of the challenge, run once again by the wonderful Michael.
  • I beat my Goodreads goal – originally 52, then 75, then 100 books! 2015 saw me read 102 books.

 

Currently reading:

Cress
How was December for you?

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Review

Review: Every Day by David Levithan

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5 out of 5 stars | Goodreads
When I first read about this book, I thought that it sounded like a beautifully unique story, like nothing I’d ever read. And now that I’ve read it, I know that my first impression was entirely correct.

Some may criticise the book – how can we learn anything about A, when A is someone new every day? Well, A is only a different person on the outside – A’s personality remains. One day A might be a male jock, the next a suicidal young girl, the day after a super-shy, hard-working young man. A is able to access the memories of the body they are inhabiting, to avoid any awkward situations, and can generally pick up how that person might typically react to a situation.

So one day, A wakes up in the body of Justin. A girl walks up to him in the school corridor, and it turns out that this is Rhiannon, Justin’s girlfriend. A immediately picks up on her body language around Justin, and her surprise when A treats her so well, that this is a relationship of convenience, not love. They ditch school and take a trip to the beach, where A gets to know Rhiannon – and falls in love with her.

Okay, so it doesn’t take A long to decide that it is love. But as you read about A’s life (or lives, I suppose), you realise that to A, that is love. A has never been loved before – how can they, when they’ve never been with the same people for more than a day? Never had a real parent, boyfriend, girlfriend, grandparent to love them? A may have heard declarations of love in the past, but they were to the people that A was inhabiting the bodies of, not A. For someone who has never really experienced any sort of emotional closeness this is a huge leap, so A instantly wants to see Rhiannon every day. Luckily, A only inhabits the body of a teenager within a certain distance – so as long as A stays in Maryland, A is near Rhiannon.

A frequent writer of LGBT fiction, Levithan continues here – A is genderless, and meets up with Rhiannon whether male or female. She often hesitates when interacting with female versions of A, but over time begins to get more comfortable as she gets more and more comfortable with the person inside. Although it’s not a total LGBT story, like Boy Meets Boy or Two Boys Kissing, I hope it will become just as important in that sub-genre. A appears as straight, gay, lesbian – all bases are covered, with sensitivity and realism. To me it was a wonderful commentary on the walls that race, gender and sexual orientation can sometimes unnecessarily create.

Levithan’s writing flows so smoothly, and each character that A becomes is unique and well thought over. I liked the fact that there wasn’t a perfect ending, and whilst it’s a sad story, you’re left satisfied that the author didn’t take the easy way. An unusual love story, it works so well on many levels.

But you know what was the best thing about this book? The very clear and loud message that whoever you are, whatever you look like, whoever you like – you’re important. You’re a person worthy of love and kindness. Your life is worth something.

After all, it’s what’s on the inside that counts.

david leviathan signed

Recap

Cheltenham Literature Festival 2013: Sarah J. Maas, David Levithan & Maureen Johnson

On Sunday, as part of the Cheltenham Literature Festival, I attended a panel called ‘The American Dream’, featuring three American YA authors: Sarah J. Maas, David Levithan and Maureen Johnson. I was so excited for the event, having just read and absolutely loved Sarah’s Throne of Glass series. I somehow also managed to bag a front row seat, right in the middle…
 
As with yesterday’s event, each author briefly introduced themselves and their newest releases: Every Day by David Levithan, Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2) by Sarah J. Maas and Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson.

Maureen had laryngitis, but that didn’t stop her from making funny quips and comments! I’ve not actually read anything of hers, but may look into it now – she has a wonderful sense of humour and seems like a very warm person. She apparently has a big Twitter presence, which she often referred to (I’m now following her!) and one audience member asked her about her Coverflip project. 
 
The basic premise of the Coverflip project is to re-design a book cover, as if the author was the opposite gender. Maureen mentioned that she had noticed a certain ‘type’ of cover, depending on the gender of the author, and asked her Twitter followers to compile some opposites. She had a massive response, and Huffington Post have actually put together a gallery of the results. My particular favourites are A Game of Thrones (written by a ‘Georgette R. R. Martin’), Stardust (which really does not capture the book at all and I think works so well in the constraints of the experiment) and Heist Society (completely and utterly the opposite). Someone even did a grungy looking version of Throne of Glass, which Sarah said she absolutely loves!
 
Sarah signing away!
 
Sarah spoke about how she has been working on her series since the age of sixteen, so for eleven years now, professed a love for fanfiction and her gratitude for her fans that have been following her since she first posted on Fiction Press. She cites Garth Nix, author of Sabriel/the Abhorsen series as one of her influences, which was exciting as I absolutely love that series and have done ever since I first read it at the age of twelve. And just to top it off, Sarah is a self-professed geek who often felt alone in her interests until she found people with the same enthusiasm online – much like myself.
 
David spoke a little about how he has often had trouble with his books – banned, pulled off shelves, censored – often just because of the title (a previous novel of his is entitled Boy Meets Boy, and his newest release is called Two Boys Kissing). Which is shocking, as I believe he is a prominent author in LGBT literature, and people should not have that sort of support taken away. He said he’s been told by many people that the presence of the books alone, books about people like themselves, has made them feel represented. What I didn’t realise was that he has done a lot of editing – including for Suzanne Collins, author of The Hunger Games.
 
Sneaky picture of David. Maureen was never quite in my sight!

We discussed social media – the host asked who in the audience had interacted with the authors some way online, and a lot of us raised our hands! As I said previously, Maureen is a frequent Twitter user, whereas David much prefers Facebook. In fact, he uses his Twitter so infrequently that his Book Lovers Dictionary project that was supposed to take four months has taken two and a half years, and he’s still only on the letter G! 
 
Sarah told us a funny story about her early experiences with social media and blogging platforms – when she was a teenager she started using Livejournal, blogging about her everyday life and writing down absolutely everything. This went on for a while, until a girl at her school told her to ‘keep a lock on her diary’ – all her classmates had been reading her Livejournal, and placing bets on who would be mentioned next!
 
Another of the topics of conversation was the stigma that comes with young adult fiction. It’s surprising how many people look down on it, or the authors, and see it as a ‘lesser’ genre because it’s aimed at teenagers. Yet Maureen made a wonderful point when she said that she thinks the young adult readership are better readers, because we accept so much within a story – we don’t go into a book expecting one thing, and one thing only, to happen. Genres can get mixed up and we’re fine with that. We’re also more likely to be vocal about things we’ve loved and hated, which is great for the author. It doesn’t matter what you read or write, it just matters that you are reading or writing.
 
There was just so much wonderful conversation, and the three authors worked really well together. I didn’t take notes this time so most of this is from memory, and to avoid a wall of text I shall move on to the signing!
 
 
I spoke to David first, and told him that I loved Every Day and that I thought it was a really unique story – my five-star review of the book is still to come. I like the little message he wrote for me, and will be looking out for Boy Meets Boy and Two Boys Kissing. Two Boys Kissing isn’t released in the UK until April though, sadly – I’ve already read some wonderful reviews of it by bloggers from over the pond.
 
 
I didn’t actually get anything signed by Maureen – I didn’t have any of her books and the queue meant that you could go between authors rather than going past each one at a time. But they were giving out some pretty promotional postcards and little badges for her new book, which you can see above.
 
 
And then I got to speak to Sarah! I told her that her books were my favourite books of the year, and she asked me to sign a hardback copy of Throne of Glass whilst she signed my books. She’s been taking it round on tour and getting fans to sign it, which I think is a lovely idea. I mentioned to her about some blogger friends of mine (Paola and Charlene!) who had been to her Crown of Midnight launch party in LA, and brought Finnikin of the Rock for her to sign (as she is a big fan of the book, and so are they). She remembered them (yay!) and said she felt almost like she was defacing the book, haha! I also told her that her writing playlist is basically exactly the same as my reading playlist, and she recommended the Oblivion film soundtrack to me.

After that, I wished her the best of luck and that was the end of the event – and how brilliant it was. I loved the chatter and found each of the authors easily approachable. Now I look forward to Charlene and Paola’s Finnikin readalong, and maybe if I meet Sarah again I’ll take that one along too!
 
 
I also bought myself an amazing book covers poster. I couldn’t decide which cover I wanted, so I did the best thing and got one with ALL the covers.

Monthly Roundup

Monthly Roundup: September 2013

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Every first Wednesday of the month, I’ll be posting a roundup of the month just gone, and writing about what’s to come in the next few weeks. This is replacing my Exciting New Releases feature, which may be integrated into this one.
 
 
I read ten books this month. Dragon Age: The Stolen Throne (Dragon Age #1) by David Gaider, Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles #1) by Marissa Meyer, Every Day by David Levithan, Fire (Graceling #2) by Kristin Cashore, Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1) by Sarah J. Maas, Prince of Thorns (Broken Empire #1) by Mark Lawrence, Guardians of Paradise by Jaine Fenn, I Am Venus by Barbara Mujica, The Daylight War (Demon Cycle #3) by Peter V. Brett and Article 5 (Article 5 #1) by Kristen Simmons. Which meant that by the end of September, I had read 68 out of 75 books for the 2013 Reading Challenge!

 

Currently reading:

 

Reviews on the blog this month:

Book group related posts:

Other stuff on the blog:

Upcoming:

  • A couple of reviews, including Every Day by David Levithan and Aphrodite: Goddess of Love by George O’Connor.
  • My Horror October posts, every Tuesday this month! My schedule is here.
  • My account of the Cheltenham Literature Festival – this weekend I’ll be seeing/meeting David Levithan, Sarah J. Maas, Maureen Johnson, Patrick Ness and Meg Rosoff, then Mary Beard next Sunday!