My Bailey’s Book Prize reading as a 2017 Library Ambassador continued with The Power by Naomi Alderman and this was possibly this one I was looking forward to reading the most. For a start I’d heard about it and it was also about turning the world as we know it on its head without being an obvious dystopian/post-apocalyptic tale.
Sadly the book didn’t live up to my expectations – and even a week on I can’t quite explain why, it really should have ticked all my reading boxes. Strong women characters, alternative history…what’s not to like?
That I am still thinking so hard about this book must mean something but I think deep down I think that this would have made a brilliant short story or novella but that it was just a little too stretched into novel form. The framing device also didn’t quite work for me, although it did deliver up the best last line of a book I think I’ve ever read.
When I read and then reviewed the book straight after finishing it I was possibly more ambivalent than I am now. I’ve chatted about it with more people, in the real world and online, and while this is never going to be my favourite book I think I can cope if it wins – I think the problem is with me. I wanted the book to be more than it was.
This year’s theme is Norfolk’s Most Wanted, our top 20 most popular and in demand books asked for by library customers. Norfolk’s Most Wanted features Crime, Thrillers and Romance, including bestselling books such as ‘The Girl on The Train’ by Paula Hawkins and ‘The Night Manager’ by John Le Carre’.
Some of the Great Big Read – Norfolk’s Most Wanted titles are available as eBooks. To download an eBook visit the OverDrive eBook catalogue here
Some libraries will be holding events and activities to tie in with Norfolk’s Most Wanted. These include launch events, coffee mornings, book chats and quizzes. For details of these please visit www.norfolk.gov.uk/mostwantedbooks
If you’ve read one of Norfolk’s Most Wanted titles, please write a review and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org
Did you know that you can rate and review Norfolk’s Most Wanted Books? All you have to do is visit the library catalogue. Log in to your library account. Select your chosen Most Wanted book by clicking on the title and select Add your review. Write a short review and give the book a star rating.
I had read a few reviews about this book and seen the front cover in many shops and on websites so I felt quite drawn to it. I still like to share a book with my 12 year old son and he too had seen this book around at school, but had not read it, so it was the perfect choice for us.
Auggie has a severe facial deformity, the book tells the story of his first year at high school. I liked the way that each chapter told the story of Auggie’s year from the view of each of the central characters. It raised issues around bullying,acceptance and true friendship. The plot is down to earth which gives the book a huge sense of credibility. It tackles the fears that parents have around their child feeling accepted and the bravery needed to send them out into what can be a very cruel world.
Whilst the book is a great awareness raiser around the subject of facial deformity it is also a genuinely good read for teens and adults.
A really heart-warming young adult novel with a focus on transgender people. The central character was born with a male body but longs to be recognised as the girl she feels herself to be- at the same time struggling with the usual teenage concerns of bullying, popularity, friendship, negotiating relationships and attraction.
I felt that I understood some of the feelings and difficulties faced by transgender people better after reading it – and it was an enjoyable and touching read along the way.
Frances Hardinge is the author of several books, has won and been short-listed for many awards, and now this year wins the Costa Children’s Book award. The awarding judges said: “We all loved this dark, sprawling, fiercely clever novel that blends history and fantasy in a way that will grip readers of all ages.
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 realizes 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 the tree bears more and more fruit, she discovers something terrifying – that her lies were closer to the truth than she could ever have imagined.
I adored this book and raced through the rest of the trilogy as soon as I finished this one (I even went out to buy myself book 3 in hardback as an early Christmas present, instead of waiting a week for the library reservation!). It’s a wonderful fantasy series aimed at young adults (but certainly one to be enjoyed by adults too). The characters are well rounded and they grow through the stories, maturing and changing as they discover more about the world and themselves. Warriors become disenchanted with war, princesses develop steeliness and young lovers discover the bitterness of disappointment.
I was initially a bit unsure, because of certain, shall we say, ‘parallels’ with George R R Martin’s epic Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones series – but don’t let that put you off. These similarities (and they feel rather substantial) are very quickly left behind as the books grow into something very much their own.
Although book one is dominated by a central male character, female characters are very well done and much more to the forefront in subsequent books – this was a real treat.
If you’re recommending them to teen readers, it’s worth noting that the violence in these books is much more restrained than in George R R Martin’s books, and that the young character’s first sexual experiences are superbly treated.
If you enjoy reading fantasy, be sure to pick these up, they are marvellous.
Unusual and thoughtful, this is aimed at young adults but older readers will find plenty to enjoy. Hard to pigeonhole, this book is ultimately philosophical and concerned with what we make of our lives. One character is gay and his relationships (as with all the relationships portrayed in this story) are beautifully well-written, still a rarity in mainstream fiction.
A boy called Seth drowns, desperate and alone in his final moments, losing his life as the pounding sea claims him. But then he wakes. How is that possible? And where is this place? It looks like the suburban English town where he lived as a child, before an unthinkable tragedy happened and his family moved to America. But the neighbourhood around his old house is overgrown, covered in dust and completely abandoned. What’s going on?
An engaging and original Young Adult fantasy, the first in a new trilogy. The mythology of the invented world is unlike anything I have read before & the central character is appealing. Worth a read for fans of young adult fantasy.
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. 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 favour of a doomed love?
Only Ever Yours has just won the first ever Young Adult Book Prize, and it’s very easy to see why. This is a book that gets under your skin and lodges firmly in your heart. It’s not an easy read in places, bad things happen to well-liked characters, and the whole book is set in a very grim dystopian world.
It is really excellent on how it feels to be a teenage girl. It’s nearly 20 years since I was the age of the central character in this book, but after reading this it feels like it could have been yesterday. And, in a strange way, I think I feel different – more kindly- towards the girl I was, than I did before I read this.
If I had a teenage daughter, I would be buying her a copy. I shall certainly buy one for my niece (but she’s only just turned 12, so I will keep it to one side for a year or two).