2015 has begun much as 2014 ended; in a ridiculously busy haze. I really should learn to be less shocked by this and accept it as the norm. I finally moved into my new flat at the end of November, and after an exceptionally busy Christmas period at work, my new year has been filled with gigs, book events and the mountainous amounts of life admin that homeowning results in.
While I started the year in what felt like a post-christmas reading slump, Lucy Ivison and Tom Ellen’s Lobsters broke that quite spectacularly – it’s a book that I can’t recommend highly enough to those who enjoy contemporary YA. It’s awkward, sweet and genuinely funny in all the best ways, and had me laughing out loud in public places more times than is socially acceptable. Plus, hot ribena (<3). Since then I’ve been on something of a reading roll and have read over 20 books so far – a new high for me. Standout titles:
Louise O’Neill – Only Ever Yours
The best books do a number of things. They ask you both to devour and savour in equal measure, and through immersing you so thoroughly in their world, they remove you from the reality of yours. On finishing the book, ‘visceral’ was the only word that stuck with any conviction. While set in a speculative future, there are too many similarities with today to make Only Ever Yours a comfortable read, which is entirely the point. It’s absolutely unflinching in its portrayal of young women and their lives; the issues and pressures that society allows them to, or even makes them face every day.
Excellently constructed, sharply written and with a tightness of pace that ratchets up as we reach the conclusion, Only Ever Yours is a genuinely accomplished debut, and Louise’s next book, Asking For It is now at the top of my 2015 most anticipated list!
Robin Stevens – Arsenic for Tea
The sequel to last year’s Murder Most Unladylike, and arguably an improvement on its excellent predecessor. Another page turning mystery that kept me guessing until the end. It was lovely to see Hazel develop and come into her own while also building on the lovely friendship set up in the first book. I love the world that Robin Stevens has set up and can’t wait to read book 3.
Becky Albertalli – Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda
Thoroughly recommended by most people I follow on social media and with good reason as it’s such a lovely book. The comparisons to John Green and Rainbow Rowell are inevitable but deserved and complimentary; Albertalli has created a world so easy to immerse yourself in, with characters who you care about immediately. I devoured this in less than a day in my breaks at work and on my commute – so good I could barely put it down to actually get off the bus at my stop!
Non Pratt – Remix
One of my most anticipated reads of 2015; Non’s debut, Trouble, was one of my favourite books of 2014, and this book has at its heart two things very close to mine – music and friendship. I was lucky to receive an advance copy from the lovely folks at Walker books and devoured it in one sitting.
The love of music that permeates the whole book, from the chapter titles ( which reference some of my favourite songs/records, Jack’s Mannequin’s Dark Blue and Copeland’s In Motion to name a few), to the descriptions of the live performances feels truly, truly genuine, and the friendship between the two main characters in this book is so excellently portrayed – intense, imperfect and real. A great book.
I’ve also set myself a few reading challenges for the year:
More on this next time; my thoughts on the shortlist, the prize itself and a wonderful ceremony that I was lucky enough to attend a couple of days ago.
I’m making steady progress with this challenge, though I’ll need to crack on to get North and South (my title for March) read as I keep getting distracted by the wonderful proofs that arrive on my desk at work.
I have complex thoughts on the Carnegie list, as ever, but am very much looking forward to shadowing this year’s award with my CGK book group as last year’s process passed me by somewhat.
More next time, see you then!