Is Young Adult fiction all it’s cracked up to be?

2018 was the year I was going to experiment with my reading a little more. 2017 was full of non-fiction and thrillers so I wanted to branch out and test the waters with some Young Adult fiction.

I can’t tell a lie, I had a lot of preconceptions about Young Adult lit. Partly because I don’t think I’d read any since I was about thirteen and partly because I am was a bit of a literature snob. You’ll be glad to know that this year has opened my eyes to a whole new genre, so let’s get into the nitty gritty.

According to the holy grail of Wikipedia, YA fiction is aimed at 12-18 year olds, and is usually centred around coming-of-age storylines, friendships, romances etc.

What I Read

My year started with reading The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, which truly couldn’t have been a better book to started. I loved the story and I realised that actually the book wasn’t that different to adult fiction, it literally just featured a younger protagonist. Hear me out, okay? It wasn’t that I thought YA was stupid, it’s just that I thought I wouldn’t enjoy reading about teenagers and I figured that there wouldn’t be all the twisty twists of the crime books I love. How wrong was I?

I was honestly surprised by the themes that the book tackled and was awed at how YA could be such a great gateway to opening younger readers eyes to more complex topics. But then I sat back for a second and realised that this book wasn’t just introducing teens to these topics but me too! And I continued to see this thread running through numerous YA books that I read over the year: Juno Dawson’s Clean tackles addiction, Muhammed Khan’s I Am Thunder is a powerful depiction of Islamophobia and radicalisation and The Death and Life of Eleanor Parker by Kerry Wilkinson, which definitely met my thriller criteria.

My goal for the year was to read more Young Adult fiction whether I enjoyed my first foray into it or not. I wanted to see what else was out there and I really liked it. Maybe 2019 will be my Sci-Fi year but I’m not convinced just yet…

Do you enjoy YA? What’s your favourite genre? Let me know in the comments!

Rachel x-x-x

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Recent Reads

The last month has been pretty good for reading, thanks to long train rides and night shifts. As usual they’re all thriller/mystery novels but I’m already thinking that 2019 might have to be the year I branch out from my favourite genre and try something new.

All The Hidden Truths – Claire Askew

This is a fact: Ryan Summers walked into Three Rivers College and killed thirteen women, then himself.

But no one can say why.

The question is one that cries out to be answered – by Ryan’s mother, Moira; by Ishbel, the mother of Abigail, the first victim; and by DI Helen Birch, put in charge of the case on her first day at her new job. But as the tabloids and the media swarm, as the families’ secrets come out, as the world searches for someone to blame… the truth seems to vanish.

I read this in the same week that a shooting took place at a video game tournament in Florida. This book had me hooked from the start. I really enjoyed the different narrative perspectives throughout the novel, particularly that of the shooter’s mother, a voice which is so often quashed.

Last Time I Lied – Riley Sager

Have you ever played two truths and a lie?

Emma has. Her first summer away from home, she learned how to play the game. And she learned how to lie.

Then three of her new friends went into the woods and never returned . . .

Now, years later, Emma has been asked to go back to the newly re-opened Camp Nightingale. She thinks she’s laying old ghosts to rest but really she’s returning to the scene of a crime.

Because Emma’s innocence might be the biggest lie of all…

Camp stories always give me the creeps and Last Time I Lied had the most eerie vibe to it. I read so many thriller novels that often books fall by the wayside as soon as I’ve read them but this story is so clear in my head even a month after I read it. The characters were really well written, the tension was palpable and the ending was so thrilling.

If you like Pretty Little Liars, Last Time I Lied will definitely be up your street.

The Death and Life of Eleanor Parker – Kerry Wilkinson

Seventeen-year-old Eleanor Parker wakes up cold and alone in the river that twists through her quiet village. She has no memory of how she got there. But she does know that another girl was drowned in the same river the summer before, held under the water by an unknown killer…

Determined to unlock the mystery of what really happened to her, Eleanor can’t escape the feeling that something awful links her to the previous summer’s murder. But will she find out the truth before it’s too late?

Supernatural fiction doesn’t normally appeal to me but I did enjoy this. If you can suspend your belief far enough to get past the premise then it’s a really deep and quite chilling novel. I liked the narrative voice and the main characters and the ending was just as good as the rest of the novel, an aspect that I think sometimes falls a little flat in young adult fiction.

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Recent Reads: The Thrillers You NEED This Summer

Is it just me or is Netflix a bit dreary of late? I keep refreshing in the hope that something good will turn up but more often than not I’ve been reaching for a book instead. Here are some of my top picks from the last couple of months.

The Retreat – Mark Edwards

Mark Edwards is a huge favourite of mine. I always storm through his books and The Retreat was no exception. I’m a bit of a sucker for books about people writing books so I knew I’d love this one.

Two years ago, Julia lost her family in a tragic accident. Her husband drowned trying to save their daughter, Lily, in the river near their rural home. But the little girl’s body was never found—and Julia believes Lily is somehow still alive.

Alone and broke, Julia opens her house as a writers’ retreat. One of the first guests is Lucas, a horror novelist, who becomes obsessed with finding out what happened to Lily. But within days of his arrival, the peace of the retreat is shattered by a series of eerie events.

When Lucas’s investigation leads him and Julia into the woods, they discover a dark secret—a secret that someone will do anything to protect…

What really happened that day by the river? Why was Lily never found? And who, or what, is haunting the retreat?

I finished this so quickly and loved every second. If you like folklore or ghost stories or just want something that’s going to make you feel a little unsettled then I highly recommend The Retreat. I always try to guess the ending when I’m reading a thriller but I couldn’t have been further from the truth with this one.


An Unwanted Guest – Shari Lapena

A cup of coffee and a whodunnit are truly all I need for a good day. It turns out last Monday was a really good day because I spent the entirety of it cosied up in an armchair reading Shari Lapena’s newest novel cover to cover.

As the guests arrive at beautiful, remote Mitchell’s Inn, they’re all looking forward to a relaxing weekend deep in the forest, miles from anywhere. They watch their fellow guests with interest, from a polite distance.

With a violent storm raging, the group finds itself completely cut off from the outside world. Nobody can get in – or out. And then the first body is found . . . and the horrifying truth comes to light. There’s a killer among them – and nowhere to run.

I’m a huge lover of Miss Marple and An Unwanted Guest paid homage to Agatha Christie in the best way. (I promise at some point I’ll review some books that aren’t crime/thrillers but today is not that day!).

After finishing An Unwanted Guest, I immediately rang my Dad to tell him he HAD to read this book. We both love thriller novels but I only recommend the best to him. Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None is one of my favourite books so to read this more modern version with a few differences was a real treat.


Guess Who – Chris McGeorge

WHO

A waitress. A cleaner. An actress. A lawyer. A student. Everyone is a suspect.

WHERE

In a locked room – with no escape, and no idea how they got there.

WHAT

In the bathtub, the body of a man they all knew. Someone murdered him. Someone in this room.

WHY

They have three hours to find out. Or they all die.

I’ll be honest here and say I couldn’t really get on with this book. I think it was more a “It’s not you, it’s me” situation though because I was so busy when I was reading this that I could only manage a few pages a time before having to pack up boxes and do other boring moving related tasks.

However, in saying that, I did really enjoy the premise of the book and I was pretty hooked a guy in a horse head mask. I would have liked a little more depth to the characters and I found the ending a bit disappointing, but all in all I did enjoy the book and regret not giving it more of my time.

What’s your favourite thriller novel? Let me know in the comments!

Rachel x-x-x

 

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Differently Normal Review

I’ve mentioned many a time on my blog over the past few months that this was the year I wanted to read more YA fiction. In truth, my experience so far hasn’t been mind-blowing (that’s a post for another day) but then Tammy Robinson’s Differently Normal happened.

For Maddy, life is all about routine. It has to be, to keep her autistic sister happy and healthy. With just Maddy and her mother as Bee’s full-time carers, there’s no time in Maddy’s life for complications like friends, let alone a boyfriend. So when Maddy meets Albert, the last thing on her mind is falling in love. 

Albert has resigned himself to always being a disappointment to his strict father. But then he meets Maddy, and gets a glimpse of what being part of a functioning family can be like and the tremendous sacrifices people will make for the ones they love. 

But are Maddy and Albert willing to make the biggest of sacrifices for each other? Some things, they are about to discover, are outside of their control…

Annoyingly, I was super busy when I started reading Differently Normal, so it took a good few days to get really into it but then when I did, bam, I was hooked. Firstly, I loved Albert. I’m definitely too old for him but I was loving the surfer vibes and his character felt so authentic.

I also really loved the portrayal of autism throughout the book. I’ve read some pretty shoddy depictions of autism but this was spot on. I really liked the way Bee wasn’t just used to progress the story, but a real character, and it was nice to see a depiction of autism that wasn’t a stereotypical ‘socially awkward, high-functioning’ person. I really hope this book gets people thinking about the whole spectrum of autism, instead of the one portrayal so often shown in the media.

Overall, I thought the story was great and while I’m obviously not going to give anything away, just make sure you have some tissues handy while you read.

I keep seeing the book being compared to Me Before You and The Fault in our Stars, which is a huge accolade but I really hope Differently Normal will stand out on its own because I truly enjoyed it.

Make sure to check out the other dates on the Blog Tour!

Rachel x-x-x

 

 

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May Reads

How fast has May gone? I haven’t read as much as normal this month because I’ve been so busy with uni work. But I have still managed to read three books and restarted Harry Potter so not an unsuccessful month by any stretch of the imagination.

Our Kind Of Cruelty – Araminta Hall

Mike and Verity have a special game. The Crave. They play it to prove what they already know: that Verity loves Mike. That she needs Mike. Even though she’s marrying another man. Now Mike knows that the stakes of their private game are rising. This time, someone has to die…

When I started Our Kind of Cruelty, I thought it was great. It was refreshing, a storyline that I hadn’t read before. The concept of The Crave really hooked me and the first half of the book was great. But for me, the second half tailed off a little. I won’t go into the details because spoilers but it just didn’t hold its own throughout which was disappointing.

However, having said that, I do think it’s a really good book, so maybe just not my kind of thing.


Now You See Her – Heidi Perks

Charlotte is looking after her best friend’s daughter the day she disappears. She thought the little girl was playing with her own children. She swears she only took her eyes off them for a second. Now, Charlotte must do the unthinkable, tell her best friend Harriet that her only child is missing. The child she was meant to be watching. Devastated, Harriet can no longer bear to see Charlotte. No one could expect her to trust her friend again. Only now she needs to. Because two weeks later Harriet and Charlotte are both being questioned separately by the police. And secrets are about to surface.

I don’t know if it’s alright to admit, but missing children storylines are just a bit more exciting than your average thriller aren’t they?

Something about the blurb of this novel really captured and I loved it from start to end. It’s an absolutely perfect gritty family thriller with credible characters and I really hope it’s a Summer success. What I loved most about the book was that it was different. I read so many thriller books where it’s the same old guessable conclusion and even though I had an inkling as to the ending, it wasn’t quite what I thought.

Easily one of my favourite books this year.


I Never Lie – Jody Sabral

Alex South is a high-functioning alcoholic who is teetering on the brink of oblivion. Her career as a television journalist is hanging by a thread since a drunken on-air rant. When a series of murders occur within a couple of miles of her East London home she is given another chance to prove her skill and report the unfolding events. She thinks she can control the drinking, but soon she finds gaping holes in her memory, and wakes to find she’s done things she can’t recall. As the story she’s covering starts to creep into her own life, is Alex a danger only to herself – or to others?

I have a few reservations about this book. Firstly, I’m a little confused about the title, which I still can’t quite work about its relation to the content of the novel. Secondly, a lot of the book is centred around alcoholism, which isn’t a topic that excites me to read about. However, with that out the way, I did really enjoy this book.

We all know I love a thriller and although some plot points were predictable, overall it was a good read that I finished within two days.

I’m a sucker for a good twist and this definitely had a few to keep momentum, but not one of my favourite books this year.

What did you read in May? Let me know your recommendations.

Rachel x-x-x

 

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