ARC Review | First Day of My Life by Lisa Williamson

First Day of My Life

by Lisa Williamson

YA Contemporary

Goodreads | Bookshop | Book Depository


There are three sides to every story… It’s GCSE results day. Frankie’s best friend, Jojo, is missing. A baby has been stolen. And more than one person has been lying. Frankie’s determined to find out the truth and her ex-boyfriend Ram is the only person who can help her. But they’re both in for a shock… EVERYTHING is about to change.


Thank you so much to the publisher for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review as well as allowing me to be a part of this wonderful blog tour!

First Day of My Life is a book that had me hooked right from the very first page. Not only is the premise instantly intriguing – stolen baby and missing best friend, with a search that recruits our main character’s ex-boyfriend? Hello?! – but once again Williamson writes with her naturally inviting style that draws the reader right into the story.

I have been a huge fan of Lisa Williamson for years now. I think she is such a staple name in UKYA, and I’ve loved all of her other books. First Day of My Life is no different. It’s one of those books that don’t leave you a moment to take a breath and that’s the beauty of it. You’re gripped from the beginning, and if you’re anything like me, you end up racing through the pages wondering what’s going to happen next. Williamson masters the pace in this novel so there’s never a point where you’re left unsatisfied or bored as a reader. It’s one of her biggest strengths really – she knows exactly the points in this story where to slow down and build exposition for her characters and story, and then also knows the perfect points to amp up the story with all the brilliant twists and drama she’s known best for.

What I also love about Williamson as a writer, and about this book in particular, is the way she writes both humour and heart and weaves them together so effortlessly. Although on the surface this is a funny book, there’s so many points in it that I feel so connected to each of the characters and their struggles and their personalities. They really are all at the centre of this novel and for the whole book to take place over such a short period, it really allows us to dig deep and find out who they really are. Only so much can happen in twenty-four hours, so I feel like using this device was a superb way to give each of the characters a real chance to introduce themselves to the reader and give them a chance to be fully fleshed out. By the end I was rooting for them all, even though each of them had made questionable decisions throughout the novel.

If you’re looking for a good fast-paced contemporary, then look no further. First Day of My Life is the next book for you. Bright, witty prose combined with excellent and genuinely relatable characters, this was an instant five star read for the very first pages.


ARC Review: Floored

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Floored 

by Sara Barnard, Holly Bourne, Tanya Byrne, Non Pratt, Melinda Salisbury, Lisa Williamson and Eleanor Wood

YA Contemporary, Mystery

Buy HERE on Book Depository!


The Breakfast Club meets One Day in Floored, a unique collaborative novel by seven bestselling and award-winning YA authors: Sara Barnard, Holly Bourne, Tanya Byrne, Non Pratt, Melinda Salisbury, Lisa Williamson and Eleanor Wood.

When they got in the lift, they were strangers (though didn’t that guy used to be on TV?): Sasha, who is desperately trying to deliver a parcel; Hugo, who knows he’s the best-looking guy in the lift and is eyeing up Velvet, who knows what that look means when you hear her name and it doesn’t match the way she looks, or the way she talks; Dawson, who was on TV, but isn’t as good-looking as he was a few years ago and is desperately hoping no one recognizes him; Kaitlyn, who’s losing her sight but won’t admit it, and who used to have a poster of Dawson on her bedroom wall, and Joe, who shouldn’t be here at all, but who wants to be here the most.

And one more person, who will bring them together again on the same day every year.


*Thanks so much to the publisher and Beatrice May for sending me an ARC in exchange for a review, as well as giving me the opportunity to be on the blog tour!*

If you haven’t heard about Floored yet, you seriously must be living under a rock. It is, without a doubt, one of the most highly-anticipated books of the decade and a collaborative novel between seven of the UK’s leading, bestselling YA authors. And after reading this book, the hype is damn well worth it.

I’ve only read Barnard, Bourne, Pratt and Williamson’s works but that didn’t matter. I was thoroughly able to enjoy this fantastic book without reading any of Salisbury, Wood or Byrne’s. And better yet, Floored has definitely made me want to check them out.

All of the characters in this novel are so well-polished and though they’re all bizarrely different, they complement each other so well! The mystery of the book too is built up so well from the very first page. It was such a hard book to put down! Every time I stopped reading I was just dying to know what was going to happen next. Also, I think it was such a clever idea to set it over a couple of years and give each character a chapter per year. Being an avid Holly Bourne fan going in, I thought I’d immediately be able to suss what character was hers but I just couldn’t! My guesses are on my Twitter if anyone wants to look but I cannot wait to find out.

I would 100% recommend this book to you all if you haven’t already got it on your wishlist! It comes out on the 12th of July, in just five days’ time!

floored blog tour

 

 

You can also check out my next Floored post on the 14th of July, which is part of a really special blog tour or this! There are some amazing bloggers involved so I would really keep an eye out for it!

I hope you enjoyed this review and can’t wait to see what you all thought of this fantastic book in the comments below!

 

Until next time, Ross!


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#LGBTQMonth: Author Interview – Lisa Williamson!

I’m delighted to announce we have the amazing Lisa Williamson for an interview today. She’s the author of the fantastic The Art of Being Normal and most recently, the hilarious All About Mia. Both are fabulous books so I urge you to read them if you haven’t already, after you’ve read her interview of course 😉 Enjoy!

1. Do you try and portray homo/bi/transphobia in your works?
This was certainly the case with TABON. Not all trans people encounter bullying and prejudice but the majority do and I felt I had to explore this. I didn’t want to paint an overwhelmingly gloomy picture though. While working as an administrator at the Gender Identity Development Service, I came across so many young people who were surrounded by amazing support networks and I wanted to represent this in TAOBN alongside the instances of bullying and transphobia. 

2. Do you have an LGBT+ role model?
Lots! Rebecca Root, Juno Dawson, Ellen Page, Kristin Stewart and Jack Monroe to name just a few. 

3. Which LGBT literature character do you admire?
The entire cast of Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan. It’s such a powerful, beautiful and heart-wrenching book. 

4. From a lot of LGBT+ people in the reading world, there is now a stigma against authors who include white, cis, straight characters in their works. What are your thoughts on this?
As an author, I always want my books to represent the world around me and, certainly where I live in London, this world encompasses people of all ethnicities, gender identities, sexual identities and social and economic backgrounds. I don’t think there should be a backlash against authors who include white, cis, straight characters and I doubt there’s anything to gained for attacking authors and their existing works for this reason. It is far more effective to put our efforts into encouraging own voices writing. Writing should never be a tick box exercise and I strongly believe representation for the point of representation alone usually fails to resonate with readers. It always needs to come from a place of authenticity. This doesn’t necessarily mean basing our writing on our personal experiences but it does mean writing about LGBT+ themes from a place of sensitivity and truthfulness. 

5. Out of all of your works, which was your favourite to work on and why?
All books present their own challenges and the process is generally one of intense highs and lows. TAOBN was special for me because it came from a place of real love. Writing it, I had no idea it would be published one day – I just knew I needed to tell this story, even if only a handful of people read it. The fact it’s now been read by thousands of people blows my mind every single day.  

6. Do you have an essential LGBT+ literature recommendations?
Lots! I’m going to limit it to three though: Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green & David Levithan, Everything Leads To You by Nina LaCour and I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson. 

7. Any advice for aspiring authors?
Tell the story only you can tell. This doesn’t mean it has to be based on things you’ve experienced firsthand. It just needs to come from a place deep within you. Don’t be too hard on yourself or feel you have to make every word poetic and perfect. Just get the story down, and don’t get bogged down with style or feeling you have to comply to a trend. Often simplicity can pack the biggest punch of all. Finally, don’t rush or force it – it’ll be ready when it’s ready. 

8. What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Hmmmm, I’m not sure I’m all that quirky in my approach of writing. Unlike a lot of writers who need silence to work, I like a bit of a buzz around me. In fact, from next week I’ll be renting a desk in a busy shared office. I’m a sociable thing and really feed off other people. 

9. What does your work schedule look like when you are writing?
On a typical day, to get up around 7.30 and do a quick workout (some weights or yoga, maybe a run if the weather is nice). Then it’s breakfast, a shower, then down to work. I always stop at 12 for lunch and a bit of telly before getting back to it around 1pm. I’m not very good at knowing when to stop for the day which is one of the reasons I’ve decided to rent office space. I’m going to treat it like a proper 9-5 job and avoid writing at home where at all possible, in an attempt to get a better work/life balance going.

10. Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?

Everywhere! Newspaper articles, snippets of conversation, talking to friends, other books etc. I also sometimes just get ideas popping into my head when I least expect it. Once I’ve got an idea, I usually turn to the internet to find out more. I like to let ideas percolate for a few months before I start writing, scribbling lots of ideas in notebooks as I go along.

Thanks so much for interviewing, Lisa!

 

#LGBTQMonth: Extracts from The Art of Being Normal!

Hey everyone! Welcome back to my blog. Today for #LGBTQMonth we have two exciting extracts from Lisa Williamson’s debut novel The Art of Being Normal. It is an incredible piece of fiction that follows the story of David as he realises he is trans, and when he meets Leo and strikes up an unexpected friendship, some big secrets start to reveal themselves. I really enjoyed it and considering we have an interview with the fabulous author herself coming up, I decided to choose two extracts from the book to urge you all to pick it up and read it!

One afternoon, when I was eight years old, my class was told to write about what we wanted to be when we grew up. Miss Box went round the class, asking each one of us to stand up and share what we had written. Zachary Olsen wanted to play in the Premier League. Lexi Taylor wanted to be an actress. Harry Beaumont planned on being Prime Minister. Simon Allen wanted to be Harry Potter, so badly that the previous term he had scratched a lightning bolt on to his forehead with a pair of craft scissors. 
But I didn’t want to be any of these things.
This is what I wrote:

I want to be a girl. 
(from chapter one)

I can’t help but get a shock every time I look at him. Not that he looks bad, because he doesn’t, but it’s hard to get my head round him being here, dressed like, well, like that. But the weirdest thing is that it’s not actually that weird, because the clothes he’s wearing suit him, way better than anything else I’ve seen him wear. He seems less awkward in them, less self-conscious about what his body is doing. I even start to feel a bit guilty about continuing to think of him as a ‘he’ at all.
(from chapter thirty-six)

Thanks for reading and join us tonight at 8PM on Twitter for our first #LGBTQChat!!

Review: All About Mia, by Lisa Williamson

AAM

Author: Lisa Williamson
Publisher: David Fickling Books
Release Date: 2nd February 2017
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Pages: 360
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One family, three sisters.
GRACE, the oldest: straight-A student.
AUDREY, the youngest: future Olympic swimming champion.
And MIA, the mess in the middle.
Mia is wild and daring, great with hair and selfies, and the undisputed leader of her friends – not attributes appreciated by her parents or teachers.
When Grace makes a shock announcement, Mia hopes that her now-not-so-perfect sister will get into the trouble she deserves.
But instead, it is Mia whose life spirals out of control – boozing, boys and bad behaviour – and she starts to realise that her attempts to make it All About Mia might put at risk the very things she loves the most.

–––
I’m writing this review right now, fresh off the bat from finishing this utterly amazing book. I have waited so long for this book. Ever since I heard about it at Deptcon2 back in October, I knew I was in desperate need of it. I actually picked up a teaser at the book while I was there, and I have been bringing it into school since for when we get to read for 15 minutes each morning. I feel like I could quote the first 60 pages inside-out, and although I’d mainly brought it in because it was skinny and fit in my bag, it didn’t stop me from enjoying it any less!

Where, oh where, do I honestly start? This book made me laugh so much throughout it. At points it was just so funny that I had to tell someone about it.

Mia Campbell-Richardson is a middle child, and one stuck between two mega-talented sisters. She feels worthless compared to them, but that doesn’t stop her from enjoying her life with her three best friends. When her older sister Grace turns up on their family doorstep, back from Greece and heavily pregnant, Mia is delighted and thinks that Grace will finally get in the trouble that she’d always hoped she would. But quite the opposite happens, as her Mum and Dad are over the moon excited for the baby on the way.

There’s so much humour in this book, and it’s something I adore about Williamson’s style. I loved The Art of Being Normal and I certainly loved this! The characters were totally engaging, also, and I am literally obsessed with them all. Like Audrey was freaking adorable, Mia was a wreck but completely hilarious and Mikey and Kimmie were superb supporting characters.

Also, it’s one of those books where you’re crying when you read the last line. It doesn’t even have to be a sad ending or a really happy ending, because you’re just crying because it’s an ending. Full stop. The fact that it’s over and I’ll never experience Mia’s story for the first time ever is a really upsetting thought, so I’ll leave this review of this incredible book here.

5 out of 5 stars OBVIOUSLY.

Review: I’ll Be Home For Christmas

ibhfc

Publisher: Stripes Publishing
Release Date: 22nd September 2016
Genre: YA, Short Stories
Pages: 384


The UK’s top Young Adult authors join together in this collection of new stories and poems on the theme of home. Contributors include: Tom Becker, Holly Bourne, Sita Brahmachari, Kevin Brooks, Melvin Burgess, Katy Cannon , Cat Clarke, Juno Dawson, Julie Mayhew, Non Pratt, Marcus Sedgwick, Lisa Williamson and Benjamin Zephaniah. GBP1 from the sale of every book will be donated to Crisis, the national homelessness charity. 


I think it’s quite obvious from the books that I’ve read that I was really excited to get this book. I feel like I’ve been saying I’m excited for this book repeatedly in my last few blogs, but I can’t help it, I just am really excited about lots of books, lmao…
Anyways… the main authors I was looking forward to reading in this were HOLLY BOURNE (AKA MY QUEEN), LISA WILLIAMSON and my recently discovered new favourite NON PRATT!
It’s hard to talk about this book without going into too much detail about each and every individual story. If I had to pick my top three it would honestly be Lisa Williamson’s, Non Pratt’s and Juno Dawson’s!
I know, I know, Holly’s name isn’t in my top three and I feel like I’m saying the biggest sin right now but her story just didn’t do it for me. I found it (not dissimilar from a few others, might I add) to be a bit boring. I think my problem with it is that maybe I wanted more because I didn’t really feel like it told a story with a beginning, middle and end. Anyways, I’m going to STOP myself right now from slating Holly Bourne because she is a cinnamon roll and does not deserve it.
Overall, I was a bit disappointed with the stories because most of them I found to be too short but I think that his kind of anthology is a great way to discover never-before-read UKYA authors! Like for example, I’ve read nothing by Cat Clarke before but now I’m more than ever eager to get my hands on The Lost & the Found!!
Yeah…so, it was a small tiny bit disappointing but some of the stories hit home for me (Juno) so I’m glad that I read it.
Also, it put me in a real Christmassy mood so only 11 months to go!!!

I’m gonna give this 3 stars out of 5, although my Goodreads differs :/

Review: The Art of Being Normal, by Lisa Williamson

TAOBN

The Art of Being Normal is Lisa Williamson’s first novel. For this author who is involved so much in acting, I was pleasantly surprised how well-written this book was.

This, and I’m saying it without a doubt, was one of my favourite reads of this year. Upon meeting the author herself at a convention where she discussed how she worked for two years with young people who struggled with their gender identity. As she listened to their stories, she was inspired to write a novel regarding the elements of gender and the like.

Williamson’s main character, David, is a young cheerful teenager who hides a secret: he wants to be a girl. Sharing only this wish with two of his closest friends, he’s not prepared for when Leo Denton walks into his life, grumpy and wanting to be invisible. The novel tells the story of how Leo and David meet, and how they bond with each other and learn more about one another.

In the middle of the book as it reaches its climax, David finds out a shocking secret of Leo’s; the real reason he left his old school and moved to David’s school. A plot twist that I did not see coming, nor one that I will be forgetting anytime soon.

I easily fell in love with these characters, as Williamson writes them oh so marvellously well. The lot was quite engrossing throughout the entire book that I simply couldn’t put it down. And bravo to Williamson, who unlike many other YA authors, for showing some representation of the trans community in her books and not making them so miserable.