BOOKBLOG: Karen M. McManus

One of Us Is Lying: kept me guessing the entire time. I LOVED IT.

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“Yale hopeful Bronwyn has never publicly broken a rule.
Sports star Cooper only knows what he’s doing in the baseball diamond.
Bad body Nate is one misstep away from a life of crime.
Prom queen Addy is holding together the cracks in her perfect life.
And outsider Simon, creator of the notorious gossip app at Bayview High, won’t ever talk about any of them again. He dies 24 hours before he could post their deepest secrets online. Investigators conclude it’s no accident. All of them are suspects.
Everyone has secrets, right?
What really matters is how far you’ll go to protect them.”

So I didn’t know that much about One of Us Is Lying before YALC – I had seen it being talked about and I had seen ALL OF THE PRAISE for it, but it didn’t quite ding my radar. However, having hear Karen talk about this book at YALC, I wanted to get my hands on it. I wanted to make my own judgement on it. 

It’s not a book that I would usually pick up BUT I am glad I did. My friend Kelly read this and kept telling me to read it, so I picked it up to read at the end of the #SundayYAthon (I had finished my 3 books, so was just looking for another book to tide me over). I read this book in a day. One day. All in all it probably only took me a few hoursit is THAT good.  

The story gripped me straight away – these 5 kids go into detention but one of them ends up dying and the rest of them are the suspects… what ensues is a rollercoaster of emotions, twists and turns galore and one almighty shock at the end. I personally didn’t see the suspect being the person it ends up being… I had my suspicions ALL ALONG. (Kelly had an immense amount of fun being the recipient of all of my texts about who I was suspicious of!)

I loved learning their secrets. I did not expect ANY OF THEM. 

The exploration of family relationships in this book is special too. There’s pushy dads, absent mothers, alcoholic fathers, run of the mill lovely parents, poorly sisters – all encapsulated in these 5 very complex kids. There’s scenes between father and son, with revelations really turning a father/son relationship on its head, which I loved seeing explored too. 

I loved Nate. Read this and try to tell me you don’t love Nate. Because we can’t be friends if you don’t (only kidding, but I do love him). He’s tough as a nut but then a total softie. Bronwyn was an interesting character – I definitely grew to like her. 

This book is brilliantly paced. I didn’t want to stop reading. I wanted to know what was happening at EVERY POINT. My suspicions of the killer changed every page. I just adored that. It’s such an easy book to read and read because the story is gripping

My goodreads review:

“What an absolute winner. 
Amazing plot. Characters. Stories. Surprises. Twists. I did not see them coming. I was led down many a wrong path. I had my suspicions and they were all wrong. 
All of this and a romance that I just adored? YES THANKS.”

I’d love to read more books like this! 

Have you read this?
Did you have a favourite kid?
CAN WE TALK ABOUT WHO YOU THOUGHT IT WAS?

Do you have any recommendations of books like this? Cause this was BRILLIANT and I want more like it in my life! Let me know! 

S x

#SamplerSunday

This past weekend, my friend Kelly (over at Kelly’s Ramblings) decided we would get some of the samplers we got at YALC read! It was really tough choosing the 5 we would read but in the end we came up with these:

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(I was in my trusty Starbucks, at the window, as usual on a Sunday!)

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First up, we read Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart. It was a great, very fast paced book. I was on edge the entire time reading the sampler! If the book is as fast paced as the sampler, I’m not sure my brain will be able to cope! The story seems to be very intriguing – a woman, who constantly changes her identity, running away from something and someone. The MC (Jule) is intense. I think she might be a polarising MC. I want to know more about her though, the glimpses we got I enjoyed. I will keep my eye out for this.

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Next, we read Clean by Juno Dawson. I love the look of this sampler! It was so hard to get a picture of though. The thing that struck me was the interesting dynamic between Lexi and her brother. He’s trying to help her. She’s mean and devious and doesn’t want his help, whereas he SEEMS TO BE just trying to help (blackmail does help!). Reading it I was interested and then her age is brought up and I was VERY interested. There’s quite a bit of swearing in this and I LOVED IT. This one definitely peaked my interest – I have so many questions: why is she addicted to drugs? What happened? I will definitely be buying this as soon as it comes out! 

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The third sampler we read was Tangleweed and Brine by Deirdre Sullivan. I picked this up after hearing her talk at YALC in the Fairytale panel and knew I needed to read it. I love a good fairytale. This one is based on one of my favourite fairytales of all time… one which is SO UNDERRATED – Rumplestiltskin. It took me a minute to get into it, but once I was in I was HOOKED. I loved that there was some back story and the illustration at the end was creepy and perfect. The other thing that struck me was that the girl in the story was imperfect: she has this incredible hair but she describes herself in such imperfect words. This is definitely one I’m going to be watching out for: it’s so atmospheric and beautiful that it needs to be in my life.

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Then we moved on to one of our faves, Holly Bourne. This sampler is of her new book It Only Happens in the Movies. Holly is one of my faves, she always gets it right and this sampler shows that this book should be very much of the same. There’s a brilliant speech by the MC in the sampler about women in films and it is so spot on that I wanted to cheer. Women in films are NEVER imperfect. Holly always gets this right. I really liked LouLou too. She seems like she’s going to be a great character. I have a suspicious eye on Harry. I can’t wait for this to be out in October. It’s going to be a good one. I can feel it in my bones. 

THE GRAND FINALE OF #SAMPLERSUNDAY.

For those of you who follow me on any of the social media you’ll know that Melinda Salisbury is my fave. When I heard there was going to be a sampler of her new (currently untitled) book #SorrowBook, I needed it. I needed it straight away. I have put off reading it because I knew that once I had read it, I would want to read the rest. And man was I right.

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I won’t embarrass myself by showing you the texts between Kelly and I, but suffice to say we absolutely adored and devoured this sampler. I was hooked in the first page. “A bridge built of starlight” just had me. I absolutely love Mel’s ability to instantly create a world: I always get sucked in. This world is no different. I know this is going to be an incredible book – I have a feeling there is going to be some MAJOR event happening in the book and that Sorrow will grow up to be quite the young woman. I am VERY EXCITED and March can not come soon enough. I could ramble on about this for hours. Just know I loved it and that you need to get your hands on it… if you can! (side note: I found out today it’s a duology and YAAAAAAAAAS)

Did you pick up these samplers at YALC?
What did you think of them?
Which of these 3 are you most excited about?

Let’s talk! I want to know your feels about these and any other samplers you picked up at YALC. Talk to me in the comments or on twitter! While you’re at it… take yourself over to Kelly’s post and see what she thought of these samplers – clicky click

S x

YALC haul

So… unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll know that this year was my first year at YALC. If you’re curious as to what my highlights of YALC were then check out my 2 posts about it: YALC #1 and YALC #2. These posts were dedicated to my highlights… today’s post is dedicated to my haul. ALL OF THE BOOKS. I hope you’re ready!

Samplers
(These are snippets of books that are to be released in the future. Generally a chapter or two)

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Hole In The Middle – Kendra Fortmeyer
Spare and Found Pars – Sarah Maria Griffin
Fire Lines – Cara Thurlbourn
The Space Between The Stars – Anne Corlett
Sorrow – Melinda Salisbury
It Only Happens In The Movies – Holly Bourne
Floored – Sara Barnard, Holly Bourne, Tanya Byrne, Non Pratt, Melinda Salisbury, Lisa Williamson, Eleanor Wood

(also pictured: my gorgeous bag from Mel’s Books to Bags workshop… LOOK AT IT)

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Grave Matter – Juno Dawson
Clean – Juno Dawson
Hope – Rhian Ivory
A Shadowful of Shadows – Frances Hardinge
The Last Days of Archie Mazwell – Annabel Pitcher
Tangleweed and Brine – Deidre Sullivan

I AM SO EXCITED ABOUT SOME OF THESE. So so excited. Like I can’t wait for 2018 because SO MANY GOOD BOOKS. 

ARCs

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Blackbird – ND Gomes
The Truth and Lies of Ella Black – Emily Barr
There’s Someone Inside Your House – Stephanie Perkins
The Sacrifice Box – Martin Stewart
The Invasion – Paedar O’Guilin
The Arsonist – Stephanie Oakes

I wasn’t expecting to get so many ARCs! However, I was not leaving without The Invasion. Once I knew it was going to be given out, I NEEDED IT. So chuffed I got it. Can’t wait to read it!

Books I bought

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The Loneliest Girl In The World – Lauren James
(Early selling at YALC and I NEEDED TO GET ONE. Can’t wait to read this!)
One Italian Summer – Keris Stainton
(This was from my gorgeous friend Lizzie!)
Stolen – Lucy Christopher
(Someone in one of the queues recommended this to us, so Kelly and I had to buy it!)
Exodus – Julie Bertagna
(MyKindaBook were doing a ‘Mystery Book’ for £5, so I went for it! I have neither read nor heard of this, so I am excited to dig in!)

LOOK. I didn’t buy as many as I expected. And I didn’t even buy 2 of these! What a good human I am! I showed good restraint. 

So there you have it: my YALC haul. I’m sure there’s a few bits and bobs that I missed, but this is the vast majority of it!

What did you get at YALC?
Which of your books are you most excited for?
HOW EXCITED FOR FLOORED AND SORROW BOOK ARE YOU THOUGH?
(I may be a little excited)

Let me know in the comments, or on twitter! I would love to see your YALC hauls! 

S x

YALC #2

Hello! Yesterday you saw YALC Highlights Part 1, today we have YALC Highlights Part 2. Bear with me. I just had such an incredible weekend that I need to talk about it. 

I hope you’re sitting comfortably with a cuppa (or equivalent).

Awesome authors
Now, I think awesome authors is a GIVEN when going to a book event BUT it is such a wonderful experience meeting these wonderful humans and getting to talk to them. There were SO MANY authors there that I admired, whose books have had a lasting impact on me that I was initially quite overwhelmed. The list was as long as my arm and the fact that I was going to get to meet them made me quite emotional. It goes without saying that there was a lot of fangirling going on, but being the awesome humans that they are they were all incredibly kind and some even fangirled back at me. Shout out to Tanya Byrne for fangirling at me for tweeting her so much about her story in #ChangeBook. As a reader you get to read these incredible collections of words that an author has produced and to get to go up to them and say this is my favourite part, or these character makes me so angry, or this part changed my life is an incredible part of the reader/author relationship. Kelly and I waited around a while for one of our faves Alwyn Hamilton, only to tell her that if she kills one of her characters we will NOT be her friend. I could talk for hours about the conversations I had with authors and how much I fangirled but no one needs to read that. (If you go to book things and see an author you love, TELL THEM). 

(see: Queen Sara, Katie Webber, Queen Mel, Non Pratt, Alwyn Hamilton)

Melinda Salisbury
Speaking of awesome authors, my queen was there. #QueenMel. For those of you who are unaware who this awesomely wicked human is, Mel is the author of my favourite trilogy of all time: The Sin Eater’s Daughter/The Sleeping Prince/The Scarecrow Queen. Now poor Mel puts up with me ALL the time being her number 1 fangirl, so when the schedule told me there was going to be a workshop, I NEEDED to be there. Kelly and I were very lucky to be in the queue early enough on the Saturday to put our names down and be in the chosen 10 to get into the workshop. It was brilliant fun. Her workshop was ‘Books to Bags‘ and we used ACTUAL TSED hardback books to make them into bags. The workshop was a lot of fun, although I’m not sure who allowed Mel to handle a staple gun. It was a gorgeous, informal environment to talk to her and a few others in the workshop. The workshop was filled with broken staple guns, talks of weapons, and laughtera perfect Saturday morning activity. Aside from the workshop, I got to hear Mel talk a few times and even managed to bag myself a Team Mel badge (even though I wasn’t on Team Mel for the quiz… I AM Team Mel in life though). The signing queue for Mel was of epic length but I had 1 copy of TSP to be signed so we waited in the queue. She is one of my favourite humans. Thanks to Mel for dealing with my fangirling this weekend (and forever)

Debut author talks
Yesterday I talked about the talks in general but 2 of my favourite talks were the New Voices talks. The first panel of each day included some brilliant new, debut author talks. When the schedule was announced, I scanned the New Voices talks in awe. I had read quite a few of the debut books, so going to hear the authors talk was a given. We got to hear about their journeys to becoming published, their inspirations and what surprised them about being published. I loved that all of their journeys were different and that the one thing that came out from all of them was that the book they have had published is a book that was special to them. These panels were only half an hour, chaired by the gorgeous Katie Webber, but they could easily have been hours long and I would’ve been happy! A few highlights included meeting Alice Broadway (gorgeous human and author of Ink), Harriet Springbett (who is a SundayYA regular and an all round gorgeous human), Karen Gregory (creator of Countless, which will break your heart) and Tamsin Winter (author of Being Miss Nobody, perfect for teenagers). Debut author talks are always great to go to because they will introduce you to new authors and new stories.

Non’s headshave
As #QuizYA was such a winner, Non had raised enough money to mean she had to have her head shaved. This delight came on Saturday night, after all of the panels had finished. The scene was set for an epic headshave in the name of charity. Authors and fans could pay £5 to cut a bit of Non’s hair off before the shave and PEOPLE DID. It was hilarious. So picture the scene: Non with hair cut off (Mel took GREAT JOY being first cutting hair), head being shaved by the lovely Carlie Sorosiack (If Birds Fly Back author) and almost 200 people watching this happen… only for Benedict Cumberbatch to walk past. BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH. HIS FACE. IT WAS BEYOND HILARIOUS. THERE WAS PANDEMONIUM. The head shaving had to be paused for a minute as everyone was laughing too much. Cumberbatch probably thought “yeah we’ll go this way, there’ll be no one there or they’re just bookish people, they’re chill” ONLY TO SEE 200 people watching a head shave. His face was a picture. If you search on twitter, I can guarantee you’ll see his face (side note: he became a YALC wanderer on the regular. I must’ve seen him about 7 times over the weekend, he said “good morning” to me at one point). The gorgeous Lucy Saxon took over the head shaving in the end, all whilst cosplaying. (Big shout out to Saxon’s cosplaying… Scorpius Malfoy on Sunday too. Brilliant)

Massive congrats to Non for raising so much money for charity. I think the last total I saw was about £2,800. Also, Non ROCKS the shaved head look. 

Books
Yes, yes, I know. I know. I went to a book convention, there would be books. BUT THERE WERE BOOKS. It was like book heaven. HERE HAVE THE BOOKS. HERE ARE SOME FOR FREE. READ THIS. HERE IS A SAMPLER OF A BOOK. There will be a blog post about my YALC haul, so I won’t go on for hours about it here BUT I must mention it. There were a few samplers I needed to have when I heard they were announced, so I gravitated towards those stalls first. Massive props to the people on the stalls, who designed them and who manned them, they did a brilliant job all weekend. I managed to get a few proofs of books which I am SO excited for (one in particular, I hassled the people for 2 days before the announcement). I’m hoping to do some ARCs for August so watch out for those. Come back in a few days for more details of the books I acquired. 

Okay, that’s enough words for today. I hope you’re still awake. There is one more highlights post to come. I will be back tomorrow with that post. YALC haul will be up next week! 

S x

YALC #1

Morning!

So it’s Wednesday, I am back from YALC and I am SO sad to be home. BUT today and tomorrow (and possibly the day after) I will be sharing my YALC highlights – there are MANY, but I have tried to keep it to 10 (or so). These posts are not going to be short, so grab yourself a cuppa and a biscuit (milk, one sugar for me and a bourbon thanks) for the ride!

So here goes… (they aren’t in any particular order, I have many feels)

YALC Highlights: Part 1

#QuizYA
For those of you who didn’t know, #QuizYA was a quiz organised by the gorgeous author Non Pratt to raise money for charity and if enough money was raised Non was going to have her head shaved. The quiz was held in the pub across the road from Olympia and all the quiz goers were split into groups with authors as team captains. My gorgeous Welsh friend Kelly and I made our way on to #teamBarnard (because Sara Barnard is one of our faves) and we were on a team with some absolute lovelies! There were some intense timed rounds with missing vowels and an Only Connect round of ‘find the link’ – we bossed them both, cause we clever. Other highlights of the rounds included London Underground… “HOUSE” (trying to find the underground stations with all the vowels), Comic book heroes and YA Book shortlists. It was a tight race to the top but in the end the best team was victorious. #teamBarnard FTW. 


Thank you so much Non for organising such an awesome night
. It truly is one of the highlights up there on my list! Made my YALC experience even more memorable. Can’t wait for next year now! 

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#takeawayYA
Anyone who follows me on twitter will know that I stayed in an AirBnB with 2 of my most favourite humans in the world, Kelly and Cora. We met on SundayYA and have become really close friends, so when we decided we were all going to YALC, we decided to share a house. As you do when you share houses, you have takeaway (because it would be rude not to). #takeawayYA quickly became a thing and a lot of people commented on how fun it was to see what we were eating! From Prosecco, to wine, to diet coke, Indian food, Chinese food and pizza… it was all covered. (Plus, it saved us cooking AND washing!) Sharing a house with my faves made my experience even more enjoyable. 

(see: Chinese, pizza, Nandos, Indians)

Panels
Another one of my favourite parts of YALC were the panels. There were some absolutely brilliant talks this year. It’s always really interesting to hear the authors talk about their books and discover more about the books and the authors that you love. I managed to make it along to all of the panels that I wanted to and tagged along with Kelly to some panels that she wanted to – this made me discover some authors I had never read and now that I really want to! The ‘Heroines‘ panel was a brilliant look at the highs and heroines in books written by some amazing female authors (Melinda Salisbury, Alwyn Hamilton, Laure Eve, Amy Alward, Sophia Bennett). ‘Writing What You Know‘ gave an insight into the authors and the well known phrase “you should write what you know“. This talk highlighted that whatever you write, be it what you know or not, that you need to treat the story with respect and do some research! (Alex Wheatle, Lisa Williamson, Rachael Lucas, Lisa Heathfield, Hannah Witton) I love when panels/talks introduce me to new authors that I never would’ve come across before and this is exactly what the ‘Myths, Magic and Fairy tales‘ panel did. In this brilliant chat, it was brilliant to hear authors talk about one of my favourite elements for books… MAGIC. I love any book that includes magic, so books that call upon magic and mythology are always a winner for me. This chat also introduced me to Deidre Sullivan, who is not only adorable but her books sound RIGHT up my street. I went straight over to Amazon to order a book or 2 of hers! It was also lovely to finally meet Paedar who wrote the incredible ‘The Call’ and hear about its origins (if you haven’t read this yet, what is wrong with you? Get on it!). Some brilliant myths were mentioned and I will definitely be reading some more! (Joanne Harris, Julia Gray, Laura Dockrill, Zöe Marriott, Deirdre Sullivan, Peadar O’Guilin) On Saturday, I also tagged along to the Laini Taylor and ‘Books that made me‘ panels with Kelly and they turned out to be really interesting. I haven’t read anything by any of the authors but I am definitely going to seek out Strange the Dreamer in particular. Laini seems like the loveliest person ever and Katie Webber did an amazing job chairing the panel (not just that one, she was an incredible chair all weekend!) Sunday brought me back to #teamBarnard as Sara was on the ‘Life advice‘ panel. This was one I KNEW I needed to get to from the moment I saw the schedule. It was a brilliant look at giving advice (or not giving advice and offering resources) and life. Sara was with Holly Bourne and Hannah Witton (who is gorgeous) on this panel and it was brilliant to hear them talk about everything from feminism to loneliness and bullies. The final panel I tagged along to was Patrick Ness (chaired by the awesome Juno Dawson). I was very lucky to have met both of these awesome authors in the past few months, but I went along anyway – it’s not every day you get to hear Patrick Ness speak! It’s always really interesting to hear authors talk and answer questions that I NEVER would’ve thought of.

My favourite quote of the weekend came from Joanne Harris when talking in the ‘Books that made me’ panel. 

“The authors who make you are kind of your family. You get to choose them”

Meeting twitterfolk
Being a twitterer (I do twitter on, I do apologise) I have made some amazing friends and I was super excited to meet them all at YALC. To say I was nervous however was also a truth. I was PROPER nervous. Here are a bunch of people who I have never met IRL and they’re finally going to see me IRL. I didn’t quite know what to do. Friday I was a bit shy and didn’t really introduce myself to many people but Saturday I knew I had to just bite the bullet. I am SO GLAD I did. (Seriously though, do it. GO say hi to those faces you recognise from Twitter. It is never as awkard as you think). Massive shoutout to one of my favourite humans in the world, Lucy (@ldlapinski on twitter, go follow her, she’s bloody awesome) for her amazing cosplay – look at how fierce she is. I was SUCH a fangirl and I apologise so much. (sorry for my face but LOOK HOW AWESOME)

I got to meet so many other wonderful twitterfolk and I REALLY slacked on the selfie front and it makes me sad, but here are some of my other fave faces and twitterpeople. (If you have a selfie with us in it, send me it! I want all of the memories!) 

(See: Liv, Lizzie, Grace, Zoe)

 

I think that’s enough for one day! Sorry for my rambling! Come back tomorrow for more YALC highlights!

S x