YA Book Prize Shortlist 2016

Am I Normal Yet?, Holly Bourne 

All Evie wants is to be normal. And now that she’s almost off her meds and at a new college where no one knows her as the-girl-who-went-nuts, there’s only one thing left to tick off her list…
But relationships can mess with anyone’s head – something Evie’s new friends Amber and Lottie know only too well. The trouble is, if Evie won’t tell them her secrets, how can they stop her making a huge mistake?

One, Sarah Crossan

Grace and Tippi are twins – conjoined twins.
And their lives are about to change.
No longer able to afford homeschooling, they must venture into the world – a world of stares, sneers and cruelty. Will they find more than that at school? Can they find real friends? And what about love?
But what neither Grace or Tippi realises is that a heart-wrenching decision lies ahead. A decision that could tear them apart. One that will change their lives even more than they ever imagined…

Unbecoming, Jenny Downham

Three women, three secrets, one heart-stopping story…
Katie is 17 and in love with someone whose identity she can’t reveal. Her mother, Caroline is uptight, worn out and about to find the past catching up with her. Katie’s grandmother, Mary, is back with the family after years of mysterious absence and ‘capable of anything,’ despite suffering from Alzheimers. Disorientated and grieving, Mary’s presence brings daily chaos to family life. So, why does Katie feel drawn to her? Why are her allegiances shifting? And why does she feel able, for the first time in her life, to break the rules?
Three women at different stages of life bound together by a web of lies that only the youngest can untangle. Three women forced to confront the secrets of the past and discover exactly who they are, who they love and where they belong.

The Lie Tree, Frances Hardinge

Faith’s father has been found dead under mysterious circumstances, and as she is searching through his belongings for clues she discovers a strange tree. The tree only grows healthy and bears fruit if you whisper a lie to it. The fruit of the tree, when eaten, will deliver a hidden truth to the person who consumes it. The bigger the lie, the more people who believe it, the bigger the truth that is uncovered.
The girl realises that she is good at lying and that the tree might hold the key to her father’s murder, so she begins to spread untruths far and wide across her small island community. But as her tales spiral out of control, she discovers that where lies seduce, truths shatter…

The Curious Tale of the Lady Caraboo, Catherine Johnson

Out of the blue arrives an exotic young woman from a foreign land. Fearless and strong ‘Princess’ Caraboo rises above the suspicions of the wealthy family who take her in. But who is the real Caraboo? In a world where it seems everyone is playing a role, could she be an ordinary girl with a tragic past? Is she a confidence trickster? Or is she the princess everyone wants her to be? Whoever she is, she will steal your heart…

The Rest of Us Just Live Here, by Patrick Ness

What if you weren’t the Chosen One? The one who’s supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating ghosts, or whatever this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death? What if you were like Mikey? Who just wants to graduate and go to prom and maybe finally work up the courage to ask Henna out before someone goes and blows up the high school. Again. Because sometimes there are problems bigger than this week’s end of the world and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life. Even if your best friend might just be the God of mountain lions…

Asking For It, Louise O’Neill (not pictured)

In a small town where everyone knows everyone, Emma O’Donovan is different. She is the special one – beautiful, popular, powerful. And she works hard to keep it that way.
Until that night…
Now, she’s an embarrassment. Now, she’s just a slut. Now, she is nothing.
And those pictures – those pictures that everyone has seen – mean she can never forget.

The Sin Eater’s Daughter, Mel Salisbury

Seventeen-year-old Twylla lives in the castle. But although she’s engaged to the prince, Twylla isn’t exactly a member of the court. She’s the executioner.
As the Goddess embodied, Twylla instantly kills anyone she touches. Each month she’s taken to the prison and forced to lay her hands on those accused of treason. No one will ever love a girl with murder in her veins. Even the prince, whose royal blood supposedly makes him immune to Twylla’s fatal touch, avoids her company.
But then a new guard arrives, a boy whose easy smile belies his deadly swordsmanship. And unlike the others, he’s able to look past Twylla’s executioner robes and see the girl, not the Goddess. Yet Twylla’s been promised to the prince, and knows what happens to people who cross the queen.
However, a treasonous secret is the least of Twylla’s problems. The queen has a plan to destroy her enemies, a plan that requires a stomach-churning, unthinkable sacrifice. Will Twylla do what it takes to protect her kingdom? Or will she abandon her duty in favor of a doomed love?

Concentr8, William Sutcliffe

In a future London, Concentr8 is a prescription drug intended to help kids with ADD. Soon every troubled teen is on it. It makes sense, doesn’t it? Keep the undesirable elements in line. Keep people like us safe from people like them. What’s good for society is good for everyone.
Troy, Femi, Lee, Karen and Blaze have been taking Concentr8 as long as they can remember. They’re not exactly a gang, but Blaze is their leader, and Troy has always been his quiet, watchful sidekick – the only one Blaze really trusts. They’re not looking for trouble, but one hot summer day, when riots break out across the city, they find it.
What makes five kids pick a man seemingly at random – a nobody, he works in the housing department, doesn’t even have a good phone – hold a knife to his side, take him to a warehouse and chain him to a radiator? They’ve got a hostage, but don’t really know what they want, or why they’ve done it. And across the course of six tense days, with a journalist, a floppy-haired mayor, a police negotiator, and the sinister face of the pharmaceutical industry, they – and we – begin to understand why.

The Art of Being Normal, Lisa Williamson

David Piper has always been an outsider. His parents think he’s gay. The school bully thinks he’s a freak. Only his two best friends know the real truth – David wants to be a girl.
On the first day at his new school Leo Denton has one goal – to be invisible. Attracting the attention of the most beautiful girl in Year 11 is definitely not part of that plan. When Leo stands up for David in a fight, an unlikely friendship forms. But things are about to get messy. Because at Eden Park School secrets have a funny habit of not staying secret for long…

The winner will be announced on the 2nd June!

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Our Endless Numbered Days, Claire Fuller

days

Peggy Hillcoat is eight. She spends her summer camping with her father, playing her beloved record of The Railway Children and listening to her mother’s grand piano, but her pretty life is about to change.
Her survivalist father, who has been stockpiling provisions for the end which is surely coming soon, takes her from London to a cabin in a remote European forest. There he tells Peggy the rest of the world has disappeared.
Her life is reduced to a piano which makes music but no sound, a forest where all that grows is a means of survival. And a tiny wooden hut that is Everything.

I honestly don’t know what to say about this book.

I enjoyed it, for the most part. The characters were interesting- and looking at them from the eyes of 8-year-old Peggy was sometimes entertaining and sometimes strange.

From the start, you know there’s something…odd about her father- when her mother goes back on tour as a musician, he seems to lose the plot, letting Peggy off school and getting her to live at the bottom of the garden and forgetting about the house.

And then when he takes her away- well, ‘normal’ doesn’t really mix with telling a kid that they are the last people on earth.

Her life in the ‘wilderness’ was lovely to read about- Fuller had a charming way of writing about their survival and Peggy’s new world, and it does draw you in. From the time Peggys father decides to craft a piano to the cold hard winter they almost didn’t see the end of, to Peggy growing up and becoming a teenager in their small world.

I mean, the book in itself was not hard to read. Most of the twists were predictable, so when it came to the reveal you just shrugged and carried on- but then, not every book you read is for the twists and turns and on the edge of the seat reading. Sometimes It’s just…nice.

But it was the end I had a major problem is. It turned- in the last 20 pages- from this interesting survival thing to a creepy just…wrong… thing. I mean, after so many years of being alone there are bound to be some problems, but the father cracks up (thinking Peggy is her mother- which I’m sure you can all imagine is just…awful) but Peggy herself ends up going slightly mad to try and deal with her father.

And the end has annoyed me- because I loved the rest of the book but hated the last few chapters so much I could barely actually finish it.

Book Retellings

It’s no great secret that I love fairytales. It’s also no great secret that I will put my hands on any retelling I can- even if it’s of a book I havent even read yet (I read four retellings of Peter Pan before I actually read the original)

I love retellings. I love seeing what different people take out of a tale- if its the moral of the story, or the land, or who the characters really are. I love seeing well-known stories being twisted around until they look nothing like what they once were.
Some retellings make you fall in love with the villain. Others show you that the hero was never as good as you thought. But what each of them does is remind you why you first loved that story.

So here are a few retellings. Those that I have read are in italics, those that are just in bold are on my TBR

Fairytales:

The Lunar Chronicles
Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl.
Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

Cruel Beauty
Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom-all because of a foolish bargain struck by her father. And since birth, she has been in training to kill him.
With no choice but to fulfill her duty, Nyx resents her family for never trying to save her and hates herself for wanting to escape her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, Nyx abandons everything she’s ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, destroy his enchanted castle, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people.
But Ignifex is not at all what Nyx expected. The strangely charming lord beguiles her, and his castle—a shifting maze of magical rooms—enthralls her.
As Nyx searches for a way to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex’s secrets, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. Even if she could bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him? With time running out, Nyx must decide what is more important: the future of her kingdom, or the man she was never supposed to love.

Beastly
I am a beast.
A beast. Not quite wolf or bear, gorilla or dog but a horrible new creature who walks upright—a creature with fangs and claws and hair springing from every pore. I am a monster.
You think I’m talking fairy tales? No way. The place is New York City. The time is now. It’s no deformity, no disease. And I’ll stay this way forever—ruined—unless I can break the spell.
Yes, the spell, the one the witch in my English class cast on me. Why did she turn me into a beast who hides by day and prowls by night? I’ll tell you. I’ll tell you how I used to be Kyle Kingsbury, the guy you wished you were, with money, perfect looks, and the perfect life. And then, I’ll tell you how I became perfectly … beastly.

Beauty
Beauty has never liked her nickname. She is thin and awkward; it is her two sisters who are the beautiful ones. But what she lacks in looks, she can perhaps make up for in courage.
When her father comes home with the tale of an enchanted castle in the forest and the terrible promise he had to make to the Beast who lives there, Beauty knows she must go to the castle, a prisoner of her own free will. Her father protests that he will not let her go, but she answers, “Cannot a Beast be tamed?”

A Court of Thorns and Roses
When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.
As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it… or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

The Sleeper and the Spindle
On the eve of her wedding, a young queen sets out to rescue a princess from an enchantment. She casts aside her fine wedding clothes, takes her chain mail and her sword and follows her brave dwarf retainers into the tunnels under the mountain towards the sleeping kingdom. This queen will decide her own future – and the princess who needs rescuing is not quite what she seems. Twisting together the familiar and the new, this perfectly delicious, captivating and darkly funny tale shows its creators at the peak of their talents.

Of Beast and Beauty
In the domed city of Yuan, the blind Princess Isra, a Smooth Skin, is raised to be a human sacrifice whose death will ensure her city’s vitality. In the desert outside Yuan, Gem, a mutant beast, fights to save his people, the Monstrous, from starvation. Neither dreams that together, they could return balance to both their worlds.
Isra wants to help the city’s Banished people, second-class citizens despised for possessing Monstrous traits. But after she enlists the aid of her prisoner, Gem, who has been captured while trying to steal Yuan’s enchanted roses, she begins to care for him, and to question everything she has been brought up to believe.
As secrets are revealed and Isra’s sight, which vanished during her childhood, returned, Isra will have to choose between duty to her people and the beast she has come to love.

Stitching Snow
Princess Snow is missing.
Her home planet is filled with violence and corruption at the hands of King Matthias and his wife as they attempt to punish her captors. The king will stop at nothing to get his beloved daughter back—but that’s assuming she wants to return at all.
Essie has grown used to being cold. Temperatures on the planet Thanda are always sub-zero, and she fills her days with coding and repairs for the seven loyal drones that run the local mines.
When a mysterious young man named Dane crash-lands near her home, Essie agrees to help the pilot repair his ship. But soon she realizes that Dane’s arrival was far from accidental, and she’s pulled into the heart of a war she’s risked everything to avoid. With the galaxy’s future—and her own—in jeopardy, Essie must choose who to trust in a fiery fight for survival.

East
Since the day she was born, it was clear she had a special fate. Her superstitious mother keeps the unusual circumstances of Rose’s birth a secret, hoping to prevent her adventurous daughter from leaving home… but she can’t suppress Rose’s true nature forever.
So when an enormous white bear shows up one cold autumn evening and asks teenage Rose to come away with it– in exchange for health and prosperity for her ailing family– she readily agrees.
Rose travels on the bear’s broad back to a distant and empty castle, where she is nightly joined by a mysterious stranger. In discovering his identity, she loses her heart– and finds her purpose– and realizes her journey has only just begun.

Cold Spell
Kai and Ginny grew up together–best friends since they could toddle around their building’s rooftop rose garden. Now they’re seventeen, and their relationship has developed into something sweeter, complete with stolen kisses and plans to someday run away together.
But one night, Kai disappears with a mysterious stranger named Mora–a beautiful girl with a dark past and a heart of ice. Refusing to be cast aside, Ginny goes after them and is thrust into a world she never imagined, one filled with monsters and thieves and the idea that love is not enough.
If Ginny and Kai survive the journey, will she still be the girl he loved–and moreover, will she still be the girl who loved him?

1001 Nights

A Thousand Nights
Lo-Melkhiin killed three hundred girls before he came to her village, looking for a wife. When she sees the dust cloud on the horizon, she knows he has arrived. She knows he will want the loveliest girl: her sister. She vows she will not let her be next.
And so she is taken in her sister’s place, and she believes death will soon follow. Lo-Melkhiin’s court is a dangerous palace filled with pretty things: intricate statues with wretched eyes, exquisite threads to weave the most beautiful garments. She sees everything as if for the last time. But the first sun rises and sets, and she is not dead. Night after night, Lo-Melkhiin comes to her and listens to the stories she tells, and day after day she is awoken by the sunrise. Exploring the palace, she begins to unlock years of fear that have tormented and silenced a kingdom. Lo-Melkhiin was not always a cruel ruler. Something went wrong.
Far away, in their village, her sister is mourning. Through her pain, she calls upon the desert winds, conjuring a subtle unseen magic, and something besides death stirs the air.
Back at the palace, the words she speaks to Lo-Melkhiin every night are given a strange life of their own. Little things, at first: a dress from home, a vision of her sister. With each tale she spins, her power grows. Soon she dreams of bigger, more terrible magic: power enough to save a king, if she can put an end to the rule of a monster.

The Wrath and the Dawn
In a land ruled by a murderous boy-king, each dawn brings heartache to a new family. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, is a monster. Each night he takes a new bride only to have a silk cord wrapped around her throat come morning. When sixteen-year-old Shahrzad’s dearest friend falls victim to Khalid, Shahrzad vows vengeance and volunteers to be his next bride. Shahrzad is determined not only to stay alive, but to end the caliph’s reign of terror once and for all.
Night after night, Shahrzad beguiles Khalid, weaving stories that enchant, ensuring her survival, though she knows each dawn could be her last. But something she never expected begins to happen: Khalid is nothing like what she’d imagined him to be. This monster is a boy with a tormented heart. Incredibly, Shahrzad finds herself falling in love. How is this possible? It’s an unforgivable betrayal. Still, Shahrzad has come to understand all is not as it seems in this palace of marble and stone. She resolves to uncover whatever secrets lurk and, despite her love, be ready to take Khalid’s life as retribution for the many lives he’s stolen. Can their love survive this world of stories and secrets?

Peter Pan

Unhooked
For as long as she can remember, Gwendolyn Allister has never had a place to call home—all because her mother believes that monsters are hunting them. Now these delusions have brought them to London, far from the life Gwen had finally started to build for herself. The only saving grace is her best friend, Olivia, who’s coming with them for the summer.
But when Gwen and Olivia are kidnapped by shadowy creatures and taken to a world of flesh-eating sea hags and dangerous Fey, Gwen realizes her mom might have been sane all along.
The world Gwen finds herself in is called Neverland, yet it’s nothing like the stories. Here, good and evil lose their meaning and memories slip like water through her fingers. As Gwen struggles to remember where she came from and find a way home, she must choose between trusting the charming fairy-tale hero who says all the right things and the roguish young pirate who promises to keep her safe.
With time running out and her enemies closing in, Gwen is forced to face the truths she’s been hiding from all along. But will she be able to save Neverland without losing herself?

Neverland
Although Angelina McFarland loves reading fairytales, she never dreamed of falling right into one herself. Literally! But who is this flying boy who saved her? And why doesn’t he want to grow up?
Desperately trying to find a way off this cursed island, Angelina runs into a ruthless pirate. Hook captures her and keeps her trapped on his ship, the Jolly Roger, to lure the flying boy out of his hiding.
But is Hook really the heartless man she heard about? The more time Angel spends with him, the more she starts to wonder. Her growing feelings for him are as intense as shocking, and soon she can’t stop thinking about how soft his lips felt on hers when he kissed her under the stars.
As time passes, an old train ticket to London is all she has left to remind her of her former life and why she can’t give up trying to find a way home.
Or is staying in Neverland forever the better choice after all?

Tiger Lily
Fifteen-year-old Tiger Lily doesn’t believe in love stories or happy endings. Then she meets the alluring teenage Peter Pan in the forbidden woods of Neverland and immediately falls under his spell.
Peter is unlike anyone she’s ever known. Impetuous and brave, he both scares and enthralls her. As the leader of the Lost Boys, the most fearsome of Neverland’s inhabitants, Peter is an unthinkable match for Tiger Lily. Soon, she is risking everything—her family, her future—to be with him. When she is faced with marriage to a terrible man in her own tribe, she must choose between the life she’s always known and running away to an uncertain future with Peter.
With enemies threatening to tear them apart, the lovers seem doomed. But it’s the arrival of Wendy Darling, an English girl who’s everything Tiger Lily is not, that leads Tiger Lily to discover that the most dangerous enemies can live inside even the most loyal and loving heart.

Never Never
James Hook is a child who only wants to grow up. When he meets Peter Pan, a boy who loves to pretend and is intent on never becoming a man, James decides he could try being a child – at least briefly. James joins Peter Pan on a holiday to Neverland, a place of adventure created by children’s dreams, but Neverland is not for the faint of heart. Soon James finds himself longing for home, determined that he is destined to be a man. But Peter refuses to take him back, leaving James trapped in a world just beyond the one he loves. A world where children are to never grow up. But grow up he does. And thus begins the epic adventure of a Lost Boy and a Pirate. This story isn’t about Peter Pan; it’s about the boy whose life he stole. It’s about a man in a world that hates men. It’s about the feared Captain James Hook and his passionate quest to kill the Pan, an impossible feat in a magical land where everyone loves Peter Pan. Except one.

Other Classics (children and adults)

Return to the Secret Garden
It’s 1939 and a group of children have been evacuated to Misselthwaite Hall. Emmie is far from happy to have been separated from her cat and sent to a huge old mansion. But soon she starts discovering the secrets of the house – a boy crying at night, a diary written by a girl named Mary and a garden. A very secret garden…

Five Children on the Western Front
Have you ever wondered what happened to the Five Children and It characters when the First World War began?
Cyril is off to fight, Anthea is at art college, Robert is a Cambridge scholar and Jane is at high school. The Lamb is the grown up age of 11, and he has a little sister, Edith, in tow. The sand fairy has become a creature of stories … until he suddenly reappears. The siblings are pleased to have something to take their minds off the war, but this time the Psammead is here for a reason, and his magic might have a more serious purpose.
Before this last adventure ends, all will be changed, and the two younger children will have seen the Great War from every possible viewpoint – factory-workers, soldiers and sailors, nurses and the people left at home, and the war’s impact will be felt right at the heart of their family.

Dorothy must Die
I didn’t ask for any of this. I didn’t ask to be some kind of hero.
But when your whole life gets swept up by a tornado – taking you with it – you have no choice but to go along, you know?
Sure, I’ve read the books. I’ve seen the movies. I know the song about the rainbow and the happy little bluebirds. But I never expected Oz to look like this. To be a place where Good Witches can’t be trusted, Wicked Witches may just be the good guys, and winged monkeys can be executed for acts of rebellion. There’s still a yellow brick road – but even that’s crumbling.
What happened? Dorothy.
They say she found a way to come back to Oz. They say she seized power and the power went to her head. And now no one is safe.
My name is Amy Gumm – and I’m the other girl from Kansas.
I’ve been recruited by the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked.
I’ve been trained to fight.

Wicked
An astonishingly rich re-creation of the land of Oz, this book retells the story of Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, who wasn’t so wicked after all. Taking readers past the yellow brick road and into a phantasmagoric world rich with imagination and allegory, Gregory Maguire just might change the reputation of one of the most sinister characters in literature.

Splintered
Alyssa Gardner hears the whispers of bugs and flowers—precisely the affliction that landed her mother in a mental hospital years before. This family curse stretches back to her ancestor Alice Liddell, the real-life inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Alyssa might be crazy, but she manages to keep it together. For now.
When her mother’s mental health takes a turn for the worse, Alyssa learns that what she thought was fiction is based in terrifying reality. The real Wonderland is a place far darker and more twisted than Lewis Carroll ever let on. There, Alyssa must pass a series of tests, including draining an ocean of Alice’s tears, waking the slumbering tea party, and subduing a vicious bandersnatch, to fix Alice’s mistakes and save her family. She must also decide whom to trust: Jeb, her gorgeous best friend and secret crush, or the sexy but suspicious Morpheus, her guide through Wonderland, who may have dark motives of his own.

Scarlet
Will Scarlet is good at two things: stealing from the rich and keeping secrets – skills that are in high demand in Robin Hood’s band of thieves, who protect the people of Nottingham from the evil sheriff. Scarlet’s biggest secret of all is one only Robin and his men know…that she is posing as a thief; that the slip of a boy who is fast with sharp knives is really a girl.
The terrible events in her past that led Scarlet to hide her real identity are in danger of being exposed when the thief taker Lord Gisbourne arrives in town to rid Nottingham of the Hood and his men once and for all. As Gisbourne closes in a put innocent lives at risk, Scarlet must decide how much the people of Nottingham mean to her, especially John Little, a flirtatious fellow outlaw, and Robin, whose quick smiles have the rare power to unsettle her. There is real honor among these thieves and so much more – making this a fight worth dying for.

Ophelia
He is Hamlet, Prince of Denmark; she is simply Ophelia. If you think you know their story, think again.
In this reimagining of Shakespeare’s famous tragedy, it is Ophelia who takes center stage. A rowdy, motherless girl, she grows up at Elsinore Castle to become the queen’s most trusted lady-in-waiting. Ambitious for knowledge and witty as well as beautiful, Ophelia learns the ways of power in a court where nothing is as it seems. When she catches the attention of the captivating, dark-haired Prince Hamlet, their love blossoms in secret. But bloody deeds soon turn Denmark into a place of madness, and Ophelia’s happiness is shattered. Ultimately, she must choose between her love for Hamlet and her own life. In desperation, Ophelia devises a treacherous plan to escape from Elsinore forever … with one very dangerous secret.
Lisa Klein’s Ophelia tells the story of a young woman falling in love, searching for her place in the world, and finding the strength to survive. Sharp and literary, dark and romantic, this dramatic story holds readers in its grip until the final, heartrending scene.

Longbourn
In this irresistibly imagined belowstairs answer to Pride and Prejudice, the servants take center stage. Sarah, the orphaned housemaid, spends her days scrubbing the laundry, polishing the floors, and emptying the chamber pots for the Bennet household. But there is just as much romance, heartbreak, and intrigue downstairs at Longbourn as there is upstairs. When a mysterious new footman arrives, the orderly realm of the servants’ hall threatens to be completely, perhaps irrevocably, upended.

The Austen Project books
Six authors and six retellings of Austens books.

MARTians, Blyth Woolston

Martians

Last girl Zoë Zindleman, numerical ID 009-99-9999, has just been graduated. Early. Her options: wait for her home to be foreclosed and stripped of anything valuable now that AnnaMom has moved away, or move to the Warren, an abandoned strip-mall-turned-refuge for other left-behinds—a safe place, and close to AllMART, Zoë’s new employer, where “your smile is AllMART’s welcome mat.” Zoë may be the last girl, but her name means “life,” and Zoë isn’t ready to disappear into the AllMART abyss. Zoë wants to live.

It’s not often I get annoyed at books. Oh, I get angry at them, I often shout at them. I cant hate them, love them- but be annoyed?

So this book is all about a future were corpoeration owns everything. If you dont have the money to shop, you spend your life sellin products, meaningless, stupid products no one ever actually wants.

Schools get shut down to make way for new factories. People are thrown out of their houses and houses torn down- so they have to turn to places like AllMART for help, so the supermarket owns them.

This book…it had a good premise. It could have been a brilliant, dark and creepy dystopian where, well, our lives was the big evil enemy.

It had promise.

But it fell so short.

Zoe was almost a non-character. Again, she had promise, and I got flashes of it. Right at the start, when she was talking about maths. But then that was forgotten- and I know maybe it was because AllMART was turning her into another ‘slave’ but you have to have personality.

There were obvious ‘plot twists’ that I think were meant to have you gasping in shock, but they just fell flat. Because they were so obvious, I had guessed right at the start about one of them.

And the end- it just…stopped. There was no…nothing. The book just finished, and I wasnt left wanting more, but I also wasnt left not wanting more. It was sudden, but almost a relief.

And all of that annoyed me.

Because honestly, this book could have been amazing. If they had stuck with the dark ‘people disappear when they stand up to AllMART.’ line. If they had stuck with What happened if you gave in and asked for help- how people disappeared and the only time they were ever seen were on ad breaks. If they had stuck with the idea of someone trying to break out of this life- how they would have survived in a world were they couldnt live anywhere, buy anything, be anoyone, because without AllMART they were nothing. That would have been great.

If there had been more world building, more…anything.

It could have been so good. But it just wasn’t.

And that annoys me more than anything else, because I read the whole thinghoping and got nothing.

Picture Books Every Person Should Read

childrens books.png

Picture books are amazing. Yet so underrated- because surely a picture book is just for a child? Nope- if a picture book is done well, then they can e read to a child while laughed at by a parents, while people of all ages can fall in love with the artwork inside.

So here are a few of my favourite picture books, from my own childhood and from more recent discoveries.

Pictured Above

How the Library (and not the Prince) Saved Rapunzel
Rapunzel sits on the sixteenth floor of an inner city block, bored, dreaming and looking out at the rain. No one can rouse her from her apathy, not the milkman or the postman or the baker or her aunt or even the prince. But when at last a letter is delivered, it contains news that has Rapunzel on her feet again. She has a new job at the library! And suddenly her life is busy, sparkling, exciting and stimulating. For despite her long hair and her ravishing looks, she loved nothing better than reading good books!?

Sam and Dave Dig a Hole
Sam and Dave are on a mission. A mission to find something spectacular. So they dig a hole. And they keep digging. And they find… nothing. Yet the day turns out to be pretty spectacular after all.
(The Pictures make this book perfect)

Wanted! Ralfy Rabbit, Book Burglar
Some rabbits dream about lettuces and carrots, others dream of flowering meadows and juicy dandelions, but Ralfy dreams only of books. In fact, he doesn’t just dream about them, he wants to read them ALL THE TIME. Soon his obsession sends him spiralling into a life of crime!
(The book titles in this book are so clever like you have to look at every page closely)

Can’t you Sleep, Little Bear
It’s bedtime, and Little Bear can’t get to sleep. He’s frightened of the dark, the dark all around, which not even Big Bear’s largest lantern can light up. Big Bear finds a way to show Little Bear that there is no need to be afraid.
(THIS WAS MY FAVOURITE BOOK AS A CHILD OH GOD ITS SO CUTE)

Mog the Forgetful Cat
Mog always seems to be in trouble because she is such a very forgetful cat. She forgets that she has a cat flap and she forgets when she has already eaten her supper. But one night, when an uninvited visitor turns up at the house, Mog’s forgetfulness comes in very handy!
(The entire series is adorable)

Hairy Maclary
Hairy Maclary is looking for some peace and quiet for his afternoon doze. But everywhere he goes he’s followed by an irrepressible yellow duckling, Zachary Quack, who wants to footle and frolic and play. Hairy Maclary keeps trying to skedaddle away only to be followed by the pittery pattery duck.

Lionheart
Richard hears something in his room before bedtime. Is it a monster? He doesn’t wait to find out and sets off running through the streets, over the hills, through the forest, and into the fields until he finds himself in a magical jungle. With the help of his stuffed lion Lionheart, Richard finds the courage he needs to face his fears.
(This book is so beautiful, it came out the a few weeks ago and I think my heart melted when I saw it)

The Dawn Chorus
Peep awakes one morning to the sound of a beautiful song – but where is it coming from?
It’s the Dawn Chorus! And Peep is desperate to sing with them. But no matter how hard he tries, he just can’t make it happen. Little does Peep know, he’s just about to meet someone very special who will show him just how enchanting nightingales like him can be …

Grandads Island
At the bottom of Syd’s garden, through the gate and past the tree, is Grandad’s house. Syd can let himself in any time he likes. But one day when Syd comes to call, Grandad isn’t in any of the usual places. He’s in the attic, where he ushers Syd through a door, and the two of them journey to a wild, beautiful island awash in color where Grandad decides he will remain. So Syd hugs Grandad one last time and sets sail for home. Visiting Grandad’s house at the bottom of the garden again, he finds it just the same as it’s always been — except that Grandad isn’t there anymore.
(Not only is this a beautiful book, its a simple and lovely way to teach children about loss and death.)

Not Pictured (but just as good!)

Marmaduke the Very Different Dragon
Marmaduke’s not like all the other dragons – his ears are too big and he never even tries to fly. He just doesn’t fit in, however much he wants to, and so he feels terribly lonely.
And Princess Meg? Well, she wears trainers and breaks into dance at the most inappropriate of times, which means that she sticks out like a sore thumb. She doesn’t really have any friends, but then she’s far too busy having fun to notice … Until one day when Marmaduke and Meg’s lives collide in the most exciting, brilliant and surprising way and they both realise just how much they need each other.
And, who knows, maybe a princess and a dragon will make the most perfect best friends
(I fell in love with this book the first time I picked it up, because it teaches the lesson that just because you are different, doesn’t mean you are bad or useless. Sometimes, being different is perfect)

The Fairytale Hairdresser (entire series)
The entire series is about a hairdresser of fairytale characters as she cuts their hair and goes off on adventures to help (and normally) save them.

The Colour Thief
Zot lives in a world without colour – no green grass, no blue sky, no yellow sun and no red flowers. From his lonely mountaintop, he gazes at Earth, sparkling with brilliant colour, and thinks it must be a very happy place. He sets off to steal some of that happiness for himself …

The Day the Crayons Quit
Poor Duncan just wants to color. But when he opens his box of crayons, he finds only letters, all saying the same thing: We quit!
Beige is tired of playing second fiddle to Brown. Blue needs a break from coloring all that water, while Pink just wants to be used. Green has no complaints, but Orange and Yellow are no longer speaking to each other.
What is Duncan to do?

Fangirl, Rainbow Rowell

Fangirl

Cath and Wren are identical twins, and until recently they did absolutely everything together. Now they’re off to university and Wren’s decided she doesn’t want to be one half of a pair any more – she wants to dance, meet boys, go to parties and let loose. It’s not so easy for Cath. She’s horribly shy and has always buried herself in the fan fiction she writes, where she always knows exactly what to say and can write a romance far more intense than anything she’s experienced in real life.
Now Cath has to decide whether she’s ready to open her heart to new people and new experiences, and she’s realizing that there’s more to learn about love than she ever thought possible …
A tale of fanfiction, family, and first love

You can count the amount of contemporary fiction I love on one hand, I think, so it means that the few I do adore mean a big thing to me.

This, from the moment I first saw it, has been on that list.

How could it not be, when I understand it perfectly, when its almost a story about me (without the college or lovely guy trying…and failing?…to flirt with me)

I understand Cath. I understand the fear of not being able to go down to get food, just because there is no guide on what to do. I understand the thing of not being too late, not being too early. I understand how sometimes, I wrote to disappears.

I also understand how a book can shape everything.

In this book, its fanfic about ‘Simon Snow.’ (Sidenote, please read Carry On, its amazing) and we get snippets of the ‘real’ books and also what Cath writes as fanfic.

What I love about this is that if you say ‘fanfiction’ to someone, most people automatically think first of terribly written sex scenes between two main characters. I mean, theres a lot of that around, but what this book puts forward is the fanfic that is like another book. Just someone else’s take on it. I think this book makes it more understandable- that fanfic is not (always) a dirty little secret. Sometimes, its just about loving the characters of someone elses book.

I remember when I gave Fangirl to my mother to read, she gave it back to me with the words ‘I think I understand you more now.’ and I think thats kinda true. Not just for the fanfic part- but because this book talks about writing everything. Why to write. Why, sometimes, its impossible to write.

But how, to some people, writing is the biggest part of them. And without that writing, they dont know who they are.

But often, the writers dont realise who they are to others- look at Cath and Levi (I want my own Levi.) a part of her doesnt understand why he likes her, because she doesnt understand that theeres something about her to like. I think everyone has thought that at least once. I love their relationship so much- and I love that he doesnt put her down because of what she writers. I love that he tells her not to give up on her second chance. Everyone needs their own Levi.