What I Read in 2017 | Young Adult Fiction

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Now then, it’s time for the FINAL What I Read in 2017 instalment.  You’ve had the autobiographies and non-fiction books, the general fiction, poetry and thriller books, the children’s fiction books and the women’s fiction books.  I do hope you have enjoyed reading these posts… *sweats nervously*.  It’s time for the Young Adult Fiction books I read in 2017.

Get t’kettle on, this is a long blog post!

Young Adult Fiction

What I Read in 2017 - Don't Bend the Spine, UK Book Blog

Instructions for a Second-Hand Heart by Tamsyn Murray | Rating: 4*

One of the first YA books I read in 2017 was Instructions for a Second-Hand Heart and I was not expecting it to be SO GOOD.   Jonny has spent most of his life in hospital, waiting for a heart transplant.  When Neve’s twin brother Joe dies in a tragic accident, he receives Joe’s heart.  Curious about the donor and his life, Jonny can’t resist learning more about Joe, and in turn, Neve.  You can probably guess what happens next…  Instructions for a Second-Hand Heart was emotional, beautifully written and un-put-down-able.  A definite recommend from me.

Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland | Rating: 3* [review]

I had high expectations for Our Chemical Hearts but unfortunately, it did not live up to them.  Henry isn’t looking for love when new girl Grace walks into his class.   When he falls in love with her, he doesn’t understand why she isn’t returning his feelings.  That’s how love works, right?  Whilst I applaud the exploration of grief, the characters didn’t have the believability I wanted.  My in-depth review is available above.

The Moonlight Dreamers by Siobhan Curham | Rating: 4*

I had seen some gushing reviews about The Moonlight Dreams on Twitter, so I decided to give it a go when I saw a copy available at my local library.   I have to say, the reviews were right.   Four girls from different backgrounds come together to form The Moonlight Dreamers.   Through thick and thin, they will be there for each other.   What I loved most about the book was the scene where Amber had a period. #MorePeriodsinYAPlz

Della Says OMG! by Keris Stainton | Rating: 4*

In 2017, I participated in Keris Stainton’s Writing for Teenagers course.  Della Says OMG! was included as part of the recommended reading list, so we could see what editing notes Keris had received as part of the editing process.   Della Says OMG! is about Della, a teenage girl who loses her diary.  She’s horrified when she begins to receive excerpts of it from an anonymous person, especially when she receives the embarrassing parts!   Della Says OMG! was such a fun book to read; I think this book may have started my love for Keris’ books.

What I Read in 2017 - Don't Bend the Spine, UK Book Blog

Counting Stars by Keris Stainton | Rating: 5*

After I read Della Says OMG! I went on a hunt for more books from Keris.  I read Counting Stars on holiday, and I LOVED it.  Counting Stars is about a young girl called Anna, who moves to a houseshare in Liverpool.   This was a book that I could not put down… because I didn’t want to!  One to re-read (and possibly review?) in 2018.

Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella | Rating: 3*

How many Kinsella books did I read this year?!  Wait, don’t answer that.  Finding Audrey is Sophie Kinsella’s first YA novel about a young girl battling anxiety and depression.  Audrey struggles to go outside, and she has pushed all her friends away.  However, when her brother’s friend Linus appears in her life, she begins to take small steps to get better.   I had mixed feelings about Finding Audrey.  I loved how Audrey was undergoing therapy and taking medication.  However, I didn’t like the “love story” aspect of this. It felt rather forced to me, and I didn’t particularly like the guy either.  I’m also not sure what the deal was with Audrey’s mother; it sounded like maybe she needed therapy more than Audrey.

Silver Stars by Michael Grant | Rating: 4* [review]

Silver Stars is the second book in the Soldier Girls series by Michael Grant, an imagining of an alternate history where young girls and women could enrol as soldiers in World War II.  In Silver Stars, the war continues, and so does the action, fighting and violence.   I was surprised at how much I enjoyed Rainy’s perspective in this instalment, as I had dismissed her story in Front Lines.   I reviewed Silver Stars in detail (link available above), and I hope to bring you a review of the third book, Purple Hearts, on this blog very soon.

Life in a Fishbowl by Len Vlahos | Rating: 2*

Life in a Fishbowl was an odd book, and one I will remember for the wrong reasons.    Whilst I give it points for originality, it could have been better.   Jackie’s dad has a brain tumour.  In order to pay the bills, he puts his life up for sale on eBay.   The highest bidder is a TV show, following the family 24/7.   Soon, the family find themselves trapped in their own home, unable to escape the cameras.  Whilst the drama unfolds inside the house, the tumour chomps away at memories.   Something that made me feel uneasy about this book was how the topic of euthanasia was included. My personal opinion is that if you are going to include it in a book, you should treat it with sensitivity, and I do not feel Life in a Fishbowl does.  It also contains some scenes and language that I do not feel are appropriate for a young audience, and I’m surprised Life in a Fishbowl is being marketed as a YA novel.

Young Adult Fiction - What I Read in 2017 - Dont Bend the Spine, UK Book Blog

Margot & Me by Juno Dawson | Rating: 4* [review]

I was excited to hear of a new Juno Dawson book after loving her previous YA novel, All of the Above.  Set in the Nineties, Margot & Me is about a young girl called Fliss, who moves to her grandma’s farm when her mother is ill.  However, Margot isn’t a stereotypical grandma and Margot and Fliss clash instantly.   After an argument, Fliss finds Margot’s diary in the attic.  Initially wanting some “leverage” to use against her, Fliss finds herself seeing a different side to Margot.  Bittersweet and emotional, I really enjoyed it.   My full review is available above.

The State of Grace by Rachael Lucas | Rating: 4*

The State of Grace was a book that kept popping up on my Twitter feed, and before a long train journey, I couldn’t resist buying a copy from Waterstones.  It’s an #ownvoices novel about a girl called Grace who has Aspergers.   When popular boy Gabe kisses her at a party, she doesn’t know what to do.  Coupled with a young sister going off the rails, and a mum who is rebelling, Grace is overwhelmed.  Sweet and thoughtful.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas | Rating: 5* [review]

If you don’t know about The Hate U Give, I will assume you were literally born yesterday.  Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, everyone needs a copy of this powerful book.  My full review is available above.

Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli | Rating: 3*

A book that languished on my TBR list for quite some time was Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda, purely for the amount of hype surrounding it.  Whilst I thought it was cute, it was lacking in plot and at times a bit too slow for my liking.

What I Read in 2017 - Don't Bend the Spine, UK Book Blog

Orangeboy by Patrice Lawrence | Rating: 2*

When a book wins the Bookseller YA Prize, you want to know why.  Orangeboy follows a young boy called Marlon who finds himself going down the wrong path when a girl dies on their date.  I hate to say this, I really do, but I didn’t enjoy this book.  However, I would applaud it for its representation; we need more books that talk about similar situations and characters like Marlon.  I would definitely read more from the author in the future.

Damage by Eve Ainsworth | Rating: 3*

I like Eve Ainsworth’s novels as they tackle sensitive topics that are affecting teenagers today.   Gabi is struggling after the death of her granddad and turns to self-harm to help her cope.  I applaud Eve for tackling such a difficult topic however I can’t help but feel that Damage could have been better. It was quite short for its subject matter and it ended too soon in my opinion. I feel like there was a wasted opportunity to discuss counselling and support for Gabi; there could have been some scenes with her GP/counsellor to show what it’s like when you make the decision to get help.

Silence is Goldfish by Annabel Pitcher | Rating: 3*

As I had enjoyed Annabel’s previous novels Ketchup Clouds and My Sister Lives on the Mantlepiece, I couldn’t wait for her newest release.  Silence is Goldfish follows Tess, who becomes mute after a shocking discovery.  I had high expectations for Silence is Goldfish but I was disappointed that I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would.  I have a review copy of this so I will try to get my full thoughts up soon.

One Italian Summer by Keris Stainton | Rating: 5*

One Italian Summer is yet another Keris Stainton novel that I LOVED.  After the death of their dad, Milly and her sisters take a trip to Rome for a family wedding, hoping to heal from the heartbreak.  When her crush Luke arrives, Milly tries to keep away. After all, this trip is about their dad… right?  This was a gorgeous, summery read that had me daydreaming about Italy and a little bit about Harry Styles (I have a feeling he was the inspiration for Luke).  Another one to re-read in 2018.

What I Read in 2017 - Don't Bend the Spine, UK Book Blog

Unconventional by Maggie Harcourt 3*

During a leisurely stroll around the library, I decided to pick up Unconventional as I know its a book blogger favourite.   Lexi helps her dad plan, organise and manage conventions.   When arrogant author Aiden turns up unannounced, Lexi is annoyed to find her plans are thrown into chaos.  Whilst it was an easy read, it didn’t rock my world.

Perfect by Cecelia Ahern 3*

As I had read Flawed, the first YA novel by Cecelia Ahern, I couldn’t resist borrowing the sequel from the library.  Celestine is on the run from Judge Crevan, with the knowledge that could see the Guild come crashing down.  As I had found with Flawed, Perfect was readable, but it wasn’t anything groundbreaking.  I’d say the Flawed series would be a great introduction to dystopia for young readers; older readers may agree that this book doesn’t add anything new to the genre.

Lobsters by Lucy Ivison and Tom Ellen 3*

My first book from Lucy Ivison and Tom Ellen.  In Lobsters, Sam and Hannah both want to meet a special someone over the summer; in Hannah’s words, her “lobster”.  However, it doesn’t quite go to plan and in true teenage style, there is dramatics and misunderstandings.  Lobsters reminded me of my own teenage years, making it ideal for its target audience.

This Beats Perfect by Rebecca Denton 2*

During yet another visit to the library (I just love books, ok?), the cover of This Beats Perfect caught my eye.   Unfortunately, I struggled to connect with this one.   Amelia loves music and dreams of performing one day, despite her struggles with self-doubt and confidence.  When she meets Maxx, the lead singer of boyband The Keep, she doesn’t expect to find a kindred spirit.   This Beats Perfect is not one I would recommend to those similar in age to me, but perhaps younger readers would like it.

What I Read in 2017 - Don't Bend the Spine, UK Book Blog

Countless by Karen Gregory 4*

When recovering anorexic Hedda finds herself pregnant, she makes a promise to herself; she will eat until the baby arrives.  Countless was incredibly emotional and an impressive debut.  I would definitely recommend this.

A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard 5*

I was ecstatic to hear of a new Sara Barnard novel after loving Beautiful Broken Things.  Steffi is a selective mute.  When a new boy arrives at school, Steffi is chosen to be his buddy.  As Rhys is deaf, he and Steffi communicate via sign language and slowly fall in love.  It was no surprise that I LOVED it.  A Quiet Kind of Thunder is sweet, addictive and original.  Sara Barnard is quickly becoming one of my favourite authors, and I will make sure to write a full review of this novel soon. 

Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer 3*

Letters to the Lost was yet another impulse read from the library.  I’ve seen a lot of love for this but I think I was too cynical to enjoy this novel.  Juliet finds comfort in leaving handwritten letters at her mother’s grave.   During community service, Declan finds a letter at a grave, and without thinking, writes a reply.  Perhaps it was the e-book version that made the story lose some of the magic, but I would give points for the cute ending.

Noah Can’t Even by Simon James Green 3*

Noah Can’t Even follows Noah Grimes, a young boy dealing with his sexuality and an embarrassing mother.  When Noah kisses his best friend Harry, he’s not sure what to do.    I would have liked it if this novel was written in the first person tense, rather than third.  I didn’t particularly like Noah as a character, although I loved Harry.

What I Read in 2017 - Don't Bend the Spine, UK Book Blog

One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus 4*

A book I couldn’t resist picking up is One of Us is Lying.  Five teenagers arrive in detention, but only four of them leave.   Can you guess who killed Simon?  I bet you can’t!   Once I started reading, I couldn’t put this book down.

Songs about a Girl by Chris Russell 3*

Songs about a Girl is another book blogger favourite, so I decided to finally grab the copy from my library and read it.  When Charlie becomes the backstage photographer for teen heartthrobs Fire&Lights, she doesn’t expect her world to be thrown upside down.  It’s a little too young for me, but it’s surprisingly addictive & readable.  I have to say, it is a bit long for the genre at 400+ pages.

Editing Emma by Chloe Seager 4*

Editing Emma was a book I went into with low expectations, and I ended up really enjoying it.  When Emma is “ghosted” by Leon, she uses her secret blog as a diary to vent her emotions and feelings.  Editing Emma gave me a Louise Rennison vibe and had me laughing out loud.  I would advise reading the paperback version of this one.  I read the ebook version via my local library and it got a bit confusing reading some of the text message exchanges, as it didn’t seem to be formatted that well.

All About Mia by Lisa Williamson 3*

After enjoying The Art of Being Normal, I was excited to read Lisa’s second novel All About Mia.  An enjoyable novel about a middle sibling who feels inadequate in comparison to her overachieving older sister and her Olympic swimmer younger sister.  Even though there was a serious topic underpinning the story I couldn’t get on with Mia.  An ideal read for young teenagers.

What I Read in 2017 - Don't Bend the Spine, UK Book Blog

Confessions of Georgia Nicholson by Louise Rennison #1-#10 [re-read: no rating]

I can ‘t remember what came over me, but I had the urge to read all of the Georgina Nicholson series.  It didn’t take me long to find (and buy) the full boxset on Amazon for the reasonable sum of £20.  As they are quite short in length, I read them all over a weekend. I hate to say it, but the jokes haven’t particularly aged well… *gulp*  I will say that I still love Dave the Laugh as much as I did when I read these books the first time around.

Truly Madly Awkward by Beth Garrod 4*

After loving Super Awkward, I couldn’t wait for the sequel.  In Truly Madly Awkward, Bella Fisher is back, and still as awkward as ever.    Her mum has set up a shop selling ice cream for dogs, her friends are hiding secrets and she can’t stop embarrassing herself in front of Fit Adam.  What I liked about Truly Madly Awkward was how Bella was maturing and it wasn’t simply a repetition of the previous novel.  I can’t wait for the next awkward instalment.

It Only Happens in the Movies by Holly Bourne 5*

A new Holly Bourne book?  Yes, YES, YAAAAAS.    I love Holly Bourne, and this depiction of a teenage romance had me hooked.  Audrey no longer believes in love after watching her parents’ marriage implode.  When bad boy Harry pursues her, she can’t resist his charms.  But is love truly like the movies?   I read this book in a matter of hours.  I laughed, I cried, I loved it.

Tell It To the Moon by Siobhan Curham 4*

After enjoying The Moonlight Dreamers I was happy to see there was a sequel available.   We are reunited with the Moonlight Dreamers, and it’s heartwarming to see how the girls support each other during some difficult times.  A sweet depiction of female friendship, I would love another book in the series.

What I Read in 2017 - Don't Bend the Spine, UK Book Blog

Freshers by Lucy Ivison and Tom Ellen 4*

Even though I didn’t go to university, I couldn’t resist reading Freshers.  Set over the course of the “fresher” period, Phoebe and Luke navigate Quidditch societies, relationships and a LOT of drinking.  If you went to university, or are going to university soon, you’ll love this slice of contemporary.

Truth or Dare by Non Pratt 3*

I was happy to spot Non Pratt’s latest novel Truth or Dare at my local library as I had been considering buying the paperback version.   In Truth or Dare, Sef needs to raise funds in order to pay for his brother’s care after a spinal injury.  He enlists Claire’s help to set up a YouTube channel where they play games of truth or dare.   What I liked about this book was how the story was split.  You started by reading Claire’s story first, and then you read Sef’s version of events after.  I have to say though that after I read Sef’s perspective, I didn’t like him anymore.

The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James 4*

My last YA read of the year was The Loneliest Girl in the Universe.  Romy is the only person aboard a starship to a new planet.  Watching her favourite tv show, writing fanfiction and emailing her therapist on Earth, Romy has become accustomed to loneliness.  However, that is set to change when she begins to receive messages from J, who is aboard a starship that will soon catch up with her in order to help her mission.   For some reason, I expected a love story but it was far from it.  It was an edge-of-my-seat, chew-my-nails, must-keep-reading, heart-pounding thriller.

Congratulations if you made it all the way down here!  You know what, you should treat yourself to a book…

Daniella x

13th January 2018
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