Summer Has Begun!


It has been a couple of years since I’ve had a summer TBR and so I thought it was about time for another one. I’ve found it difficult over the past year to read anything but contemporary YA. When life is tough, no other genre will do. It’s also my favourite genre to pick up when the sun’s out, so here’s what I’ve chosen to read this year (with an accidental blue and pink theme!).

I visited the beautiful new Waterstones in Crouch End and bought Sandhya Menon’s “arranged-marriage YA romcom” When Dimple Met Rishi. If the internet is raving about a YA contemporary novel, I’m all over it, and everyone on Twitterverse is saying how cute this story is. Next up is Nina LaCour’s Everything Leads to You. I’ve wanted to pick up a Nina LaCour story for a while and recently bought her latest, but We Are Okay didn’t quite sound like the ideal summer read… Everything Leads to You is about Emi, film buff and true romantic.

I also plan to read Katy Canon’s And Then We Ran. I’ve read her first novel, Love, Lies & Lemon Pies, and have high hopes for an adorable road trip story. Speaking of road trips, I was sent a copy of Clémentine Beauvais’ first YA novel, Piglettes. I adore Clém’s writing (she is the author of the fantastic Sesame Seade Mysteries) and so I can’t wait to get stuck into this tale of three friends and their summer adventures.

Walker Books sent me a copy of Love & Gelato, which instantly caught my attention because who doesn’t like gelato?! It’s about 16-year-old Lina, who moves to Tuscany after her mother dies. And more travels ensue in Sarah Mlynowski’s The Girl’s Guide to Summer  (two friends backpack across Europe) and Jenny McLachlan’s Sunkissed (Kat’s family send her off to Sweden for the summer. Jealous.). As I’ve just come back from Stockholm and my next holiday abroad isn’t until October, I’ll be living vicariously through these characters!

Have you read any of these summery YA novels?


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Shelf Swap with Lucy Powrie

Shelf Swap with Lucy Powrie
I love swapping book recs, so I’m asking one person each month to pick five books from my Goodreads shelves that they would like to read and five books from their own shelves that they think I might enjoy.

I’m happy to welcome Lucy Powrie, UKYA blogger, booktuber, Brontë-lover and host of #ukyachat, to Pretty Books for Shelf Swap!

5 BOOKS FROM STACEY’S SHELVES THAT LUCY WANTS TO READ

We Come Apart by Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan
I’ve read and loved all of Sarah’s previous books, so I was extremely excited when I heard she had another verse book out and this time written alongside Brian Conaghan. I know that this one is going to rip my heart into tiny pieces, which is why I’ve been putting off reading it for a while – I don’t know if I can bear the heartache!

The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon
I’ve got to be honest here: the main reason I want to read The Trouble with Goats and Sheep is because of the unusual but very gorgeous cover. I own the hardback and I love it – when was the last time you saw a sheep on the cover of a book?! I don’t read a lot of adult fiction, so it’s always a nice treat when I do. I like mixing up my reading; I don’t think I could read YA all the time!

The Diviners by Libba Bray
I can remember when The Diviners was first published and how excited I was to read it. I left comments on every blog post it was mentioned in, talking about how amazing it sounded and how I was going to read it immediately. Guess what? It never happened. I still haven’t read The Diviners and it is one of my biggest reading regrets. I think it is finally time that I read it, don’t you? I just wish I had the beautiful hardback from when it was first released!

Blankets by Craig Thompson
I find picking up graphic novel recommendations really difficult; I’m very particular with my style, so I have trouble with reading just anything. Blankets, though, sounds brilliant and I’ve heard enough people talk about it that I know it must be good. It’s a coming-of-age story, which I love, so I really must read this soon!

The Martian by Andy Weir
The Martian is probably a strange choice for somebody who has a blog called ‘Queen of Contemporary’ but really I just want to read it so that I understand the potato jokes people make when they talk about it. Is that so bad of me? I don’t know if I’ll enjoy it, but I’d like to give it a try anyway.

5 BOOKS FROM LUCY’S SHELVES THAT STACEY SHOULD READ

Counting Stars by Keris Stainton
Recently I’ve fallen head-over-heels in love with a Norwegian TV show called Skam and it was my greatest pleasure to pass on that love to Stacey. Counting Stars reminds me of Skam in many ways because the characters are slightly older teens and are living in a flat share, and the way that Keris writes them is so true to real life. Counting Stars is one of my favourite books and one that I insist everyone reads. Keris is one of the best UKYA authors out there!

Stacey says: I LOVE LOVE LOVE Skam. You had me at Skam (thankfully, I already own a copy of this!).

All About Mia by Lisa Williamson
I know how much Stacey loved The Art of Being Normal, Lisa Williamson’s debut novel, and I read All About Mia in February and loved it from the first page. The best thing about it is Mia’s unique voice – she’s not your typical, goody-two-shoes YA character; she’s rebellious and loud, and I’m so glad that characters like her are emerging in YA. At the heart of the novel is an interesting sibling relationship that explores the intricacies of family life, and I think Stacey will love it just as much as I did.

Stacey says: I read this recently (sorry Lucy, you were ahead of the curve!) and Lucy was spot on. Mia’s a complicated and frustrating character, but quite unique in YA and therefore fun to read.

The Encyclopedia of Early Earth by Isabel Greenberg
As I mentioned before, I am very fussy when it comes to graphic novels. That’s how I knew that The Encyclopedia of Early Earth was so special: it immediately hooked me and I was drawn into the beautiful myths and legends that Isabel Greenberg weaves. Her illustration style is breathtaking and she’s just as good at writing too – sometimes I find that one is better than the other with graphic novels, but Isabel Greenberg is an all-round talent.

Stacey says: I’ve heard such lovely things about this graphic novel. I own a copy of The Hundred Nights of Hero, but I really ought to read this first.

Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig
Reasons to Stay Alive is a beautiful book about mental health that simultaneously takes on the role of being a self-help guide and a memoir. It’s one of those books that I think everybody should read at some point in their lives because it allows you to deeply understand the themes discussed within it. It’s also pretty short, so it’s possible to read in a day if you set your mind to it!

Stacey says: It’s my aim to read more books about mental health this year, and this will definitely be one of them!

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
Nimona was the first graphic novel I ever read, but I knew it wouldn’t be the last. It solidified Noelle Stevenson as my favourite graphic novelist and I haven’t forgotten it even though it’s been a while since I last read it. The main character, Nimona, is hilarious and her relationship with evil villain Lord Blackheart offers a twist on the usual superhero story. It’s impossible not to smile as you’re reading it!

Stacey says: I have a copy of Lumberjanes: Beware the Kitten Holy, so if I love that, I’ll definitely check this out. I know it’s many people’s favourite by Noelle.

Thank you, Lucy, for swapping shelves with me!

Which of these books do you want to read?

Shelf Swap with Katherine Webber


I love swapping book recs, so I’m asking one person each month to pick five books from my Goodreads shelves that they would like to read and five books from their own shelves that they think I might enjoy.

I’m happy to welcome Katherine Webber, author of Wing Jones, to Pretty Books for Shelf Swap!

5 BOOKS FROM STACEY’S SHELVES THAT KATIE WANTS TO READ

Who Runs the World by Virginia Bergin
Okay, full confession, I went off of some of Stacey’s wishlist shelves for this because I’d read quite a lot of what she’d read. I am SO excited for this feminist dystopia by Virginia Bergin. I hugely enjoyed The Rain and I’ve been waiting for this book ever since I heard about the premise.

Release by Patrick Ness
New Patrick Ness. OF COURSE I WANT IT. And has there *ever* been a better pitch than Forever meets Mrs Dalloway?

Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild
*hides head in shame* I can’t believe I’ve never read this! It seems like everyone absolutely loves it. I feel like it is a big hole in my classic kid lit knowledge!

Invictus by Ryan Graudin
I’ve absolutely loved everything I’ve read by Ryan Graudin but I think this might be my most favourite yet just based on the premise. Time travel romance adventure? Yes, please!
See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng
I hadn’t heard of this one but it sounds absolutely lovely. It says it is for fans of Wonder, The Curious Incident o the Dog in the Night-Time, and Walk Two Moons – all books I really love. And I love the whole concept of a book about a boy recording things on earth to send to space for other life forms to learn about humans. It sounds charming and smart and sweet, all things I love in MG.


5 BOOKS FROM KATIE’S SHELVES THAT STACEY SHOULD READ

Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamara Pierce 
I actually found this surprisingly tricky because I think that Stacey and I have similar taste – so I knew she would have already read lots of my favourites and visa versa! Although I strongly disagree with her rating of A Wrinkle In Time, one of my childhood favourites. Another childhood favourite is the Alanna books by Tamara Pierce. I love the whole quartet, but of course she’d have to start with The First Adventure. This book inspired me to be a feminist from a really young age. Alanna is a complex, interesting character and I’ve always admired her. And I’m still madly in love with George Cooper *swoons*.

Stacey says: I think this is where mine and Katie’s tastes diverge – she loves fantasy and I really struggle with it! However, I am intrigued by feminist characters… 

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
This was a recent read for me and I ADORED it. Definitely one of my favourite contemporaries (although it is technically set in the 80s…) I know Stacey loves wonderful contemporary books, and I think she’ll love this. It’s beautiful and raw and funny and heartbreaking and life affirming.

Stacey says: I removed this from my Goodreads wishlist recently because I figured I was never going to get round to it, but it’s one I’ve always heard such wonderful things about. *puts back on wishlist*

Ash by Malinda Lo
This is a jewel of a book. I know Stacey usually reads contemporary, but I think she’ll enjoy this Cinderella retelling. It is such a fresh take on Cinderella, and the fairy tale tropes, that anyone who is familiar with the classic fairy tales can enjoy it. I love everything Malinda Lo writes, but this was the first thing I read by her so I always try to recommend it.

Stacey says: Ah, I usually avoid fairytale retellings *hides from Katie*. I asked my housemate Charlie whether she’d read it and she loved it too. Maybe I can be convinced? Maybe…

The Secret History by Donna Tartt
I loved The Graces and I can’t wait for Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo, and both of those books have shades of The Secret History in them. It’s been years since I’ve read it, but I think I’m due a reread. The Secret History is technically adult, but in a lot of ways it feels like a YA coming-of-age/thriller. I’m really curious to see what Stacey thinks of it!

Stacey says: I have a copy of The Secret History! I cannot believe I haven’t read yet as it’s super popular. Boarding school + mystery = sold.

Bel Canto by Anne Patchett
This is one of my all-time favourite books. I can still vividly remember exactly where I was when I read it, and how I felt when I finished it. It is a book I push on everyone. It is one of those books that is so vivid and real, you feel like you are reading about something that really did happen instead of fiction. I think Stacey will appreciate the complex and changing relationships between the characters, and the humour woven throughout the drama. The writing is also impeccable and each sentence is a joy to read.

Stacey says: I’ve never read anything by Anne Patchett before but this one is on the Rory Gilmore Reading List…!

Thank you, Katie, for swapping shelves with me!

Which of these books sounds great to you?