Thursday, 31 December 2015

Books I Read in 2015!

Hello, readers! It is time again for my yearly wrap-up of all of the books I have read this year. In a flash, we have come to the end of another year of reading, and for me, 2015 has stood out in terms of the numerous wonderful books I have read, some of them now being my all-time favourites. I managed to read 71 books this year, which is a vast improvement on the number of books I read last year, and I hope to continue improving on this number as the years go on! So, without further ado, here is the list of books I read in 2015...

The Perks of Being a Wallflower- Stephen Chbosky

The World According to Bertie- Alexander McCall Smith

Gone Girl- Gillian Flynn

 Brontë- Polly Teale

Bobcat- Rebecca Lee

Bitten- Kelley Armstrong

Finding a Voice- Kim Hood

Fangirl- Rainbow Rowell

Goose- Dawn O’ Porter

Only Ever Yours- Louise O’ Neill

A Song for Ella Grey- David Almond

Lobsters- Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison 

Half Bad- Sally Green

Salvage- Keren David

Say Her Name- James Dawson

Trouble- Non Pratt

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry- Rachel Joyce

The Minnow- Diana Sweeney

Emma- Alexander McCall Smith

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown- Holly Black

Orkney Twilight- Clare Carson

Read Me Like A Book- Liz Kessler

The Establishment- Owen Jones

The Puzzle of God- Peter Vardy

Rooftoppers- Katherine Rundell 

The Underwriting- Michelle Miller

Did I Mention I Love You- Estelle Maskame

Volpone- Ben Jonson 

The Wife of Bath- Geoffrey Chaucer

This Book Is Gay- James Dawson

Paper Aeroplanes- Dawn O’ Porter 

Back to Blackbrick- Sarah Moore Fitzgerald

Girls- Savannah Avery

Avalon- Vanessa Morgan

Jill Mansell’s A-Z of Happiness- Jill Mansell

More Than This- Patrick Ness

Half Wild- Sally Green

The Self-Esteem Team’s Guide to Sex, Drugs and WTFs?!!- Grace Barrett, Natasha Devon, Nadia Mendoza

Landline- Rainbow Rowell

We Were Liars- E. Lockhart

The Dead House- Dawn Kurtagich

The Final Empire- Brandon Sanderson

Higher Ed- Tessa McWatt

Saint Anything- Sarah Dessen

Lorali- Laura Dockrill 

King Lear- William Shakespeare 

Heart of Darkness- Joseph Conrad

Endgame- Samuel Beckett

Pride and Prejudice- Jane Austen

Beowulf- trans. Seamus Heaney

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight- trans. James Winny

The Nightingale and the Rose- Oscar Wilde

Six of Crows- Leigh Bardugo 

Emerald City- Jennifer Egan

The Paris Architect- Charles Belfoure

Waiting for the Barbarians- J.M. Coetzee

Walk The Blue Fields- Claire Keegan

Dear George- Helen Simpson 

Spinning Starlight- R.C Lewis

Small Hands- Mona Arshi

The Remains- Annie Freud

Wolf By Wolf- Ryan Graudin

Silence Is Goldfish- Annabel Pitcher

The Human Script- Johnny Rich

This Raging Light- Estelle Laure

Noah's Wife- Lindsay Starck

Hey Yeah Right Get a Life- Helen Simpson

I Call Myself A Feminist- Victoria Pepe, Rachel Holmes, Amy Annette, Alice Stride and Martha Mosse

Red Sky In The Morning- Elizabeth Laird

Killing The Dead- Marcus Sedgwick

Last Chance- Sarah Dessen

So, the grand total for this year is 71 books! And I'm quite happy with that number taking into consideration this year has been one of the busiest of my whole life! From A-Level exams to university applications and settling into my new life in Manchester... this year has been one whole new level of crazzaaaayyyy. But, after all, that's the way I like it! 

Check out the books I read in 2013 here:

Check out the books I read in 2014 here:

Check out my year in books here:

Until next time :) 

Monday, 21 December 2015

'Silence Is Goldfish' by Annabel Pitcher (*****)

Hello, readers, and Happy Christmas Eve! I’ve really been enjoying the Christmas holiday so far, and been getting so much reading done. It’s a great feeling to see my gigantic TBR pile shrinking- it seems as if every winter I get so many amazing books sent to me from publishing companies, which means loads to read on chilly Christmas nights. 

I was lucky enough to see Annabel Pitcher speak at the World Book Night flagship event in London earlier this year, but (shock horror) I've never read any of her books. I have heard so many great things about her other two books but I've just never got around to reading them- so when I got given a proof copy of her brand new book Silence Is Goldfish at YALC I was so happy I would finally get around to reading one of her books!

I was given an ARC of Silence Is Goldfish by Orion in exchange for an honest review :)

Intrigued? Read the blurb to find out more...

My name is Tess Turner - at least, that's what I've always been told.

I have a voice but it isn't mine. It used to say things so I'd fit in, to please my parents, to please my teachers. It used to tell the universe I was something I wasn't. It lied.

It never occurred to me that everyone else was lying too. But the words that really hurt weren't the lies: it was six hundred and seventeen words of truth that turned my world upside down.

Words scare me, the lies and the truth, so I decided to stop using them.

I am Pluto. Silent. Inaccessible. Billions of miles away from everything I thought I knew.

Tessie-T has never really felt she fitted in and after what she read that night on her father's blog she knows for certain that she never will. How she deals with her discovery makes an entirely riveting, heart-breaking story told through Tess's eyes as she tries to find her place in the world.

I loved the premise of this book. Coming-of-age novels make some of the best YA out there- but often they can be cheesy and not very believable. However, in the very first chapter Pitcher blew this straight out the water- a girl who has just discovered a life-changing secret runs away, then by the end of the chapter, gets a taxi back to her own front door. The one thing I automatically noticed upon picking up this book was how well Pitcher treated adolescence, and the thorny problems it throws up. The narration was perfect and the writing style beautifully and carefully crafted. When I read some reviews online a few people didn't wholly like the character Tess but I absolutely loved her- she was funny, quirky, relatable- everything you could want in a coming-of-age novel.

I've never read anything before where the protagonist actually stops speaking. It was such a fascinating twist on the novel, and Pitcher managed to perfectly encapsulate Tess' reactions to everything going on in the story- all whilst eradicating her ability to voice these thoughts out loud. The story touched on so many issues including family, mental illness, bullying and body image. I haven't read a lot of books with a 'bigger' protagonist (or, not when this aspect is especially mentioned) and this was such an empowering element of the novel. The other characters in a book were so carefully crafted and interesting to read about; they were so believable and it was enthralling to read about how they all fit into Tess' life. Isabel, Henry, Tess' gran and Mr. Goldfish were standout characters for me. They were all witty, believable and compelling people (and fish) who fit into the story perfectly. And obviously, I loved the setting of the book in Manchester, as that is now my new home! 

Altogether, I absolutely loved Silence Is Goldfish, and it has made me want to run over to the nearest bookshop and pick up Pitcher's other two novels. I completely get why so many people regard Annabel Pitcher as one of the best YA novelists out there. Have you read My Sister Lives On The Mantlepiece or Ketchup Clouds? Let me know!

Buy Silence Is Goldfish here:

Check out Annabel Pitcher here:

Merry Christmas everyone! And until next time :) 

Sunday, 20 December 2015

'Wolf By Wolf' by Ryan Graudin (*****)

Hello readers, and a Merry Christmas to you! Can you believe there are only five days to go? And what better way to kick off this Christmas reading season than with a five star review?! I have been a huge fan of Ryan Graudin and her novel The Walled City for a good few years now, so when I found out that she was releasing a new book I couldn’t be more excited! Luckily for me Orion knew that I was a super fan and I was fortunate enough to be able to attend Ryan’s blogger’s tea- where she introduced Wolf By Wolf to us UK readers! I devoured the whole book as soon as I got home but unfortunately I couldn’t publicise my reading on Goodreads, twitter or this blog, as it was all very top secret. However, now having re-read the book and loving it just as much as I did the first time, I am now able to share my thoughts with you!

I was kindly given Wolf By Wolf by Orion in exchange for an honest review :)

Wolf By Wolf is an absolutely fantastic book set in the years after WWII, imagining a world where the allies are destroyed and the Third Reich emerge triumphant. All the horrors of the Nazi regime are still very much a reality and the nightmare continues for almost the whole of the world the Nazis have occupied. Intrigued? Read the blurb…

The year is 1956, and the Axis powers of the Third Reich and Imperial Japan rule the world. To commemorate their Great Victory over Britain and Russia, Hitler and Emperor Hirohito host the Axis Tour: an annual motorcycle race across their conjoined continents. The victor is awarded an audience with the highly reclusive Adolf Hitler at the Victor's ball.

Yael, who escaped from a death camp, has one goal: Win the race and kill Hitler. A survivor of painful human experimentation, Yael has the power to skinshift and must complete her mission by impersonating last year's only female victor, Adele Wolfe. This deception becomes more difficult when Felix, Adele twin's brother, and Luka, her former love interest, enter the race and watch Yael's every move. But as Yael begins to get closer to the other competitors, can she bring herself to be as ruthless as she needs to be to avoid discovery and complete her mission?

As soon as I heard Ryan read the first few words of the novel at the blogger tea, I was hooked. Alternate history is such a fascinating area of thought and whenever I was taught about World War II at school I couldn’t help wondering how the world would have turned out if Britain hadn’t have won, and the Nazis had carried out their sickening, nightmarish plans for the world. Ryan Graudin does a superb job at imagining this world. Wolf By Wolf is a fantastic imagination of what the world would look like, feel like, be like, if the lingering sense of hopelessness, fear and hatred was still present with the Third Reich ruling the world. Out of this world, however, seemingly without goodness or hope for a better future, comes the Resistance, a movement with one aim: to kill Adolf Hitler and bring the domination of the world by the Axis to a violent and permanent end. And it seems all the more fitting that the person responsible for executing this mission is a strong, resilient female character: Yael. 

By far, the most poignant thing that stuck out for me about this novel was Yael. Apart from the protagonist Jin in The Walled City, I don’t think I have ever come across such a stronger female character in YA. She was such an interesting person to read about, and I as the reader was allowed into her world and given access to all of her imperfections and flaws, which just made her seem all the more realistic. Uncommon for an alternate history or dystopian story: Graudin’s world and characters are hauntingly realistic and believable.  The plot was perfectly crafted and I was gripped throughout; there was not a single moment where I was bored, or where I knew what was going to happen. The plot twists and small revelations about the characters kept me interested and shocked, and that is the mark of an outstanding storyteller. Not only is the world Graudin creates in Wolf By Wolf believable, but her method of storytelling is simply infallible in its execution. 

I adored Wolf By Wolf, and can’t wait for what Graudin produces next. She is without question one of the best YA writers out there, and I hope that she continues writing books as exceptional as two of my now favourite books of all time: The Walled City and Wolf By Wolf. If you haven’t read either of these, do yourself a favour and go and pick one up. Believe me, you won’t regret it.

Check out the Wolf by Wolf cover reveal and blogger's tea here

Check out Ryan's last takeover of Delightful Book Reviews here

Check out my review of The Walled City here

Check out Ryan Graudin here

Buy Wolf by Wolf here

Until next time :)

Monday, 7 December 2015

'Spinning Starlight' by R.C. Lewis (****)

Hello readers, and happy Monday! Today I have a book review for you, the hugely talented R.C. Lewis' Spinning Starlight. I was sent this book a while ago but it has only just made it's way to the top of my TBR pile. So I am very pleased today to be able to review it here on Delightful Book Reviews.

I was sent an uncorrected bound proof copy (and also the finished copy!) of Spinning Starlight by Turnaround Publisher Services in exchange for an honest review!

As soon as I read about Spinning Starlight, I knew it was a book I simply had to have. I have never read a fairytale retelling before, and I love a good genre mixing- so sic-fi and a fairytale retelling seemed the perfect combination! I was immediately drawn to this new world with hyper dimensional transportation systems, technological innovation workshops and the 'vidcams' that cloud the sky that are strangely reminiscent of our paparazzi. 

Intrigued? Read the blurb to find out more...

Sixteen-year-old heiress and paparazzi darling Liddi Jantzen hates the spotlight. But as the only daughter in the most powerful tech family in the galaxy, it's hard to escape it. So when a group of men show up at her house uninvited, she assumes it's just the usual media-grubs. That is, until shots are fired.

Liddi escapes, only to be pulled into an interplanetary conspiracy more complex than she ever could have imagined. Her older brothers have been caught as well, trapped in the conduits between the planets. And when their captor implants a device in Liddi's vocal cords to monitor her speech, their lives are in her hands: One word and her brothers are dead.

Desperate to save her family from a desolate future, Liddi travels to another world, where she meets the one person who might have the skills to help her bring her eight brothers home-a handsome dignitary named Tiav. But without her voice, Liddi must use every bit of her strength and wit to convince Tiav that her mission is true. With the tenuous balance of the planets deeply intertwined with her brothers' survival, just how much is Liddi willing to sacrifice to bring them back?

Haunting and mesmerizing, this retelling of Hans Christian Andersen's The Wild Swans strings the heart of the classic with a stunning, imaginative world as a star-crossed family fights for survival in this companion to Stitching Snow.

I automatically warmed to the character of Liddi; she was a really strong, determined female protagonist, who risks everything in order to save her eight older brothers from a fate almost worse than death. To have a young girl be the character to hold the fate of eight other males in her hands made this a surprising feminist read. The narrative style was perfect in terms of me as the reader being able to understand and relate to Liddi. There was such a great and interesting inner conflict throughout almost the entirety of the novel where Liddi continually questioned herself and her ability to be the novel's hero. This was such an interesting twist on your average YA novel, and one that I fully appreciated. Liddi's character development as she finally came to the realisation that she was (excuse the cliche) her parents' 'chosen one', and she was the worthy heiress of her parent's name. 

Another thing I loved about Spinning Starlight was the way that Liddi's narration (for about 80% of the novel) was inner narration, and an implant in her throat forbade her to speak, or her brothers would be killed. This was such a fascinating and well thought-out twist to the novel, and one that made the relationship development between Liddi and Tiav a whole lot more interesting. Liddi and Tiav develop a romantic relationship... all whilst she has never been able to speak to him. I honestly loved this aspect of Spinning Starlight, and this was just one element that R.C. Lewis obviously carefully crafted to create the perfect YA blend of fairytale, sic-fi, action and romance. 

The only complaint I would have about Spinning Starlight is the complicated scientific explanations and world descriptions- at times I found it very hard to imagine Liddi's world of Sampati and the technological descriptions of moving worlds was at times a little hard to remain focused on. However, this isn't necessarily a criticism of the book itself, more a criticism of me not reading enough sic-fi!

Altogether, I loved Spinning Starlight, and I'm pretty sure you will too! I highly encourage you to check it out :)

Buy Spinning Starlight here:

Check out R.C. Lewis here:

Until next time :)