Sky Chasers

Sky Chasers

How did I get it?
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Synopsis:

An encounter with a boy dangling from the sky changes pickpocket Magpie’s life forever. His family, the Montgolfiers, are desperate to discover the secret of flight. Together with Pierre, Magpie is caught up in a world of inflatable bloomers, spies and unruly animals in a race to be the first to fly a hot air balloon – in front of the King and Queen of France.

Thoughts:

You might look at my previously read by the same author section and infer that I’m quite the fan of Emma Carroll. You’d be right. She’s one of my favourite authors. I always know that I’m in for a decent read when I pick up a book of Emma’s. I really enjoyed reading Sky Chasers and yet it again, it has me yearning to be in Key Stage 2 once more so I can teach it/read it to my class! They’re a little young this year for this book but it didn’t stop me thinking of the ways that this book could be used educatively.

This book comes from an idea by Neal Jackson who was the winner of Chicken House’s The Big Idea Competition. What an idea it was! Sky Chasers is a story that centres around the Montgolfier family. They are part of the race to discover the secret of flight. Alongside pickpocket Magpie, they begin to create a hot air balloon. They need to take it to King Louis XVI.  However, their mission is not easy and they have many obstacles in the way like spies and misbehaving animals.

This story is so much fun and I imagine children would be completely captivated by the tale. I know I was! Emma Carroll’s writing style is simply wonderful and always catapults the reader right into the action. I’ve mentioned before that it feels like you’re inside the story watching the action unfold.

Magpie is a wonderful female character. We’re always looking for strong female leads to inspire our girls at school because quite often it’s a strong male lead. Magpie had gone through so much. She experiences the loss of both parents and has to learn to live and survive on her own. There are some other brilliant characters who are so well developed. I immediately enjoy reading about characters in an Emma Carroll book because they’re well written and incredibly three dimensional.

It didn’t take me long to read this beautiful book! I definitely see myself using it if I ever get back to Key Stage 2. Until then I’ll highly recommend it to my junior colleagues.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

A wonderful read! Highly recommended!

Advertisements

White Lies

White Lies

How did I get it?:
NetGalley- thanks to Bookouture

Previously reviewed by the same author:
The Daughter

Synopsis:

Alexandra Inglis is a respected family doctor, trusted by her patients to keep their most intimate secrets. And if sometimes the boundaries between duty and desire blur… well, she’s only human. 

But when Alex oversteps a line with Jonathan, one of her patients, she knows she’s gone too far. Jonathan is obsessive, and to get what he wants he will tear Alex’s world apart – threatening not only her career but her marriage and family too. 

Soon Alex finds she’s capable of doing almost anything to keep hold of her perfect life, as it begins to spin dangerously out of her control… 

Thoughts:

I thoroughly enjoyed Lucy Dawson’s The Daughter so when I read about White Lies, I immediately wanted to read it. Luckily for me, the lovely people over at Bookouture approved my request to read it. This book immediately grabbed my attention. I’m pretty sure if I hadn’t had to go out I would have devoured it quicker than the 24 hours it took me to read it!

It centres around Alex who is a GP who loves her job. She’s respected within her practice and by those that work with her. Alex knows the ethics behind relationships with patients, having had experience in the past with her now husband. On a girly holiday with her friends, Alex sleeps with a young man. She never expected him to turn up in her office. He says she knows who he was. She says she’s never seen him before or has no recollection of seeing him before. After all, she sees so many patients a day. The story turns into a he said, she said, with many points of view and parts of the story. I really couldn’t put it down!

It’s so hard to review a book like this without giving too much away. It’s one of those that you want to discover as the story reveals itself. I don’t think I’ve ever jumped around so much with who was telling the truth. I really didn’t know who to believe. I wanted to believe Alex, but then Jonathan, the young man in question, made me think again. Also Alex’s previous history didn’t really help her case. I loved the uncertainty of the story though, I really did. It kept me desperately turning the pages!

I thought I had got to the truth, but I hadn’t. It took the last few pages for me to work it out which I loved. I really enjoyed the fast paced style and how nothing was straight forward. It read like a testimonial which was very interesting. There were twists along the way and a whole lot of doubt. I love that in this type of read. This is a book that will stay with me for a while!

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

I love it when you can’t work out characters! A fabulous read!

The Disappearances

The Disappearances

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Every seven years something goes missing in the remote town of Sterling: people’s reflections, the stars in the sky, the ability to dream. Aila realises that her mother may be to blame for the curse. But some mysteries are buried very deep and some secrets want to stay hidden – and one young woman’s desire to uncover the truth may not be enough to save Sterling from the past.

A beautifully told story of love, loss and finding the truth – no matter how difficult that might be.

Thoughts:

I had a really weird experience when I read this book. I started off really loving it and was wondering why I had took so long to get around to it. However, when I got deeper into the book, I started to lose a bit of interest in it. I don’t know whether that’s because it took me so long to read because work was super busy or whether it just didn’t capture my attention as much as I wanted. Either way, The Disappearances is an interesting book full of magical realism. I’m not disappointed that I read it.

The Disappearances is set in the 1940s. It’s about a town where Disappearances occur every seven years. The people living in the town have lost strange things though like their reflections or their sense of smell. Aila is desperate to find out what is going on in the town. Is it a curse? The town has something called Variants which help to counteract the Disappearances but they can take some time to make. Aila wants to discover the truth and uncovers many mysteries along the way.

As I mentioned, at first I found this book really intriguing. It didn’t necessarily read like historical fiction. It was however, filled to the brim with magical realism. I think if you enjoy magical realism then you’ll really like the idea of the Disappearances and Variants. There were constant nods to Shakespeare, which didn’t really do much for me, but if you’re into Shakespeare then that might delight you!

I loved Aila as a character. She was feisty and I always enjoy a strong female character. I feel like Emily Bain Murphy really brought her character to life.

I don’t want to come across as negative about this book, because it was good. It was light-hearted and easy to read. It just wasn’t the read I thought it was going to be! It is however, unique and worth checking out.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! 3.5 stars

I had mixed feelings about this book. It is well written and unique though!

A List Of Cages

A List of Cages

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

When Adam Blake lands the best elective ever in his senior year, serving as an aide to the school psychologist, he thinks he’s got it made. Sure, it means a lot of sitting around, which isn’t easy for a guy with ADHD, but he can’t complain, since he gets to spend the period texting all his friends. Then the doctor asks him to track down the troubled freshman who keeps dodging her, and Adam discovers that the boy is Julian—the foster brother he hasn’t seen in five years.

Adam is ecstatic to be reunited. At first, Julian seems like the boy he once knew. He’s still kindhearted. He still writes stories and loves picture books meant for little kids. But as they spend more time together, Adam realizes that Julian is keeping secrets, like where he hides during the middle of the day, and what’s really going on inside his house. Adam is determined to help him, but his involvement could cost both boys their lives…

Thoughts:

I had this book on my radar for 2017 but for some reason I never got around to it. I heard such amazing things about it, but you know what the life of a bookworm is like. Sometimes it’s hard to get around to every book. So I’m making it my mission this year to catch up on some debut releases from 2017.

I read A List Of Cages in early March and I thought it was a simply incredible book. I will warn you that it is intense. I wasn’t expecting that. I feel like I need to say that there is heavy abuse in this story, so if that is something that would be too much for you, then perhaps this book won’t be for you. If you can manage to read this book, even with a heavy heart, I do think this book is really worth a read.

It’s a book about Adam and Julian. Adam is a popular boy at his school. He has ADHD and finds sitting still a challenge. He becomes an aide for the school psychologist. He has to track down a peer that is completely avoiding the school psychologist. Adam realises that it’s Julian, a younger boy who used to be fostered by Adam’s family. Adam grows closer to Julian once again, but Julian is hiding massive secrets which will soon come to the forefront.

As expected, this book is not necessarily an easy read. It’s incredibly hard to read due to the abuse involved in the story. It absolutely tore at my heart. I was desperate for Julian to find happiness. I also loved how Adam, despite being four years older, was completely there for Julian. It was the sweetest and most genuine friendship.

Dual narratives don’t always work for me, but in this book they are perfect. I could get a sense of the characters from their points of view. They were so incredibly different. Adam was the life and soul. Mr Popular. Julian was deeply affected by his past and his current home situation. He was timid and withdrawn. I loved how Robin Roe portrayed Adam and Julian’s characters. Their friendship is one of the best I have ever read.

I also appreciated how the characters didn’t find school easy. Adam struggled with his ADHD and Julian struggled academically. I wasn’t overly impressed with how the educators in the story dealt with their struggles, but hey, you can’t win them all! Being a teacher myself it’s something that does grate on me.

This book doesn’t hold back any. It is raw, brutally honest and heart-breaking. Yet, there’s something hopeful about the future for these characters. Highly recommended!

Would I recommend it?:
Without a doubt!

Stunning writing. A wonderful albeit hard to read book!

Talking About ‘Close To Home’ with Bibliobeth!

Close to Home (DI Adam Fawley, #1)

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Someone took Daisy Mason. Someone YOU KNOW.

Last night, 8-year-old Daisy Mason disappeared from her parents’ summer party. No one in the quiet suburban street saw anything – or at least that’s what they’re saying. DI Adam Fawley is trying to keep an open mind. But he knows that nine times out of ten, it’s someone the victim knew. That means someone is lying. And that Daisy’s time is running out…

Introducing DI Fawley and his team of Oxford detectives, CLOSE TO HOME is a pulse-pounding race against time and a penetrating examination of what happens to a community when a shocking crime is committed by one of its own.

CHRISSI: Did you have any preconceptions about this book before you started it?

BETH: I really try not to have preconceptions about any book before I read it but I think it’s human nature, you do make a snap judgement depending on how the book looks and what you’ve heard about it. Luckily, I had heard only good things and if anything, the preconceptions were basically high expectations based on the number of positive reviews I’ve read and the fact it was picked for the Richard and Judy Spring Book Club list this year. Always a good sign! However, we do know there have been books that have been chosen that we haven’t particularly loved – would this be one of them? No chance. I adored this book and believe it’s the start of a hugely promising crime series that I’m now desperate to follow.

BETH: Our lead detective, DI Adam Fawley is reported in this novel as also experiencing tragedy in his life. Were you as eager as me to know his back story?

CHRISSI: So very desperate. I loved how it was teased throughout. That sounds like I mean that I was happy he experienced tragedy, not at all, I just loved the way the details were drip fed to us. Anticipation. I really wanted to know what had happened to DI Adam Fawley. I was intrigued throughout and wanted to know what had happened to him. I grew to love him as a character and felt like I could feel his pain through the pages of the book. He’s not real, Chrissi, he’s not real!

CHRISSI: What does this novel say about children and the world they’re growing up in now?

BETH: Interesting and very tough question! And I’m going to try and do this without spoilers….One of the things that I enjoyed most about this book was the use of different media to tell the story. For example, we have Twitter feeds, news articles, interview transcripts etc. and not only did this give an alternative look at the story from a number of points of view, it broke up the narrative in a really fun-to-read way. However, I think it illustrated perfectly how powerful and dangerous social media can be in distorting views, inciting hatred, giving false information and potentially endangering lives. We already know from the very start of the novel that Daisy has disappeared with someone “close to home,” and it makes you wonder if you can really trust anyone – a terrifying thought.

BETH: Who do you think is a better parent to Daisy, Barry or Sharon?

CHRISSI: Well this is an evil question, Beth! They both have their flaws. Definitely. I have to say that I doubted them all the way through at different points in the story. Cara Hunter is awesome at keeping you guessing, I have to say. If I had to choose it would be Barry. I think. Argh! I don’t know. I don’t like this question, Beth. I don’t know if I’m picking Barry because I intensely disliked Sharon!

CHRISSI: Cara Hunter sets her novel in Oxford, a place that’s been portrayed many times in crime fiction. What do you think of her version of the city?

BETH: I’ve visited Oxford a couple of times now (once with you fairly recently!) and I loved Cara’s version of this beloved and well-known city. I enjoyed that we got to hear about a few staples of the city, like the spires but it generally felt much more focused on an ordinary street with very ordinary people living there but where an extraordinary and very traumatic thing has occurred. I liked how the author focused on the community around the Mason family, what they saw, how they connected with the Masons and how they reacted to the event.

BETH: Without spoilers, did you see this ending coming and what did you think of it?

CHRISSI: That ending! Oh my goodness. I don’t want to spoil it at all, so I’m going to be very careful around discussing it. It deserves to be read without knowing what’s going to happen. If you manage to get it without spoilers (like I did!) then your mouth might drop open…a bit like mine did. I definitely didn’t see it coming. As I mentioned before, Cara Hunter totally kept me guessing. The ending that happened never, ever crossed my mind. Mind blown.

CHRISSI: How does this book compare to others in the (heavily) populated genre?

BETH: It’s up there with the best in my opinion. As I mentioned, I loved the way in which Cara Hunter styled this novel and used a vast array of other media to tell this tale. It felt unique, different and was a clever little break from a cliffhanger in the narrative that just made you want to read as fast as you could to get back to the main crux of the novel and find out what happened next! These parts were ever so important however as they brought vital information into the case of Daisy Mason that you wouldn’t want to miss by glossing over these sections. There was not only a stellar plot (and THAT ending) but I absolutely adored all the characters, even those you love to hate. They were frank, authentic, fully formed and I felt just as interested in them as I did in what happened to Daisy. Can’t say enough good things, it was brilliant.

BETH: Would you read another book by this author?

CHRISSI: Yes, yes I would. I have automatically downloaded the next book in the series on NetGalley, which I’m super excited about. I tend to find crime fiction a bit overpopulated and a little bit samey, but I’m happy to say that I found Cara Hunter’s book to be incredibly unique and well worth reading. It kept me captivated throughout. I’m excited to see where this series goes.

Would WE recommend it?:

BETH: Without a doubt!
CHRISSI: Without a doubt!

Look To Your Wife

Look To Your Wife

How did I get it?:
NetGalley- thanks to Harper Collins UK

Synopsis:

Lisa Blaize – teacher, and would-be fashion writer, mother and second wife – feels out of place when her high-flying husband becomes the headmaster of a school in a country town. Isolated and far from her metropolitan upbringing, she turns to the one place where she learns she can be uninhibited.

But ‘Twitter may be my undoing’, Lisa discovers as her one-time private life becomes all too public. Soon she is dealing with an online stalker and her husband’s reputation is put at risk, but will she be able to give up her addiction?

From the gossip of the classroom to our obsession with instant communication, Look To Your Wife is witty and brilliantly observed, revealing the pleasures and pains of contemporary life. 

Thoughts:

There’s a few things that immediately capture my attention in a synopsis…. one of which is mention of education. Being a teacher myself, I’m always intrigued by books that mention teaching/education. Another is when social media is involved. I love modern stories especially when they’re about the perils of social media! These two things made me request this book. I’m glad I did because I found Look To Your Wife to be an interesting read.

It centres around Lisa Blaize whose husband is an incredibly successful headteacher. He moves to a public school in order to turn it around. Lisa and her husband Edward have been married before, but fell for each other when working at the same school. Lisa has to move from her beloved Liverpool, leaving her friends and family behind. After having children, Lisa doesn’t work. She is desperate to finish her second book. She finds herself on Twitter. This turns Lisa’s life in a totally different direction. She embarks on an affair with another man. Lisa over tweets (some are incredibly cringey) and finds herself dealing with an anonymous stalker.

I really enjoyed the story unfolding. I wasn’t sure where it was going to go. I enjoyed reading Lisa’s interactions on Twitter. I loved how it turned from a light hearted story into something much sinister. Lisa’s stalker got creepier and creepier as time went on. I was trying to work out who it might be. There are so many possibilities, because Lisa isn’t the most likeable of people. I certainly found myself rolling my eyes at some of her antics. Some of which made me laugh though. I loved that element of the story.

I wasn’t a fan of Lisa as a character, but that really didn’t affect my enjoyment of the book. I don’t think she deserved the ‘attention’ she got from Twitter. The blog posts were incredibly creepy as well. It really made me cautious about the internet.

I haven’t read any of Paula Byrne’s non fiction books, but I have to say that I really enjoyed her writing style. I liked how the story was so very modern. Lisa is completely taken in by social media which is incredibly relatable to many. It does make you think about what you put out there on social media. It’s true that we only put out what we want to, but others interpretations can be very different than what your intentions were.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes!

I enjoyed this book! It made me think about intentions on social media!

Words In Deep Blue

Words in Deep Blue

How did I get it?:
Netgalley- thanks to Hatchette Children’s Books

Synopsis:

This is a love story.
It’s the story of Howling Books, where readers write letters to strangers, to lovers, to poets.
It’s the story of Henry Jones and Rachel Sweetie. They were best friends once, before Rachel moved to the sea. 
Now, she’s back, working at the bookstore, grieving for her brother Cal and looking for the future in the books people love, and the words they leave behind.

Thoughts:

I had heard such good things about this book that I was almost worried to start reading it. That dreaded hype monster can get around sometimes and I was nervous that it might capture this book. I needn’t have worried though. It was a fantastic, easy to read book. It both broke my heart and warmed it at the same time!

First things first, this book is about BOOKS. A book about books. A sure way to a bookworm’s heart. It centres around Henry and Rachel who were best friends. Henry’s family own a second hand book shop. Rachel moves away and doesn’t keep in touch with Henry. After a terrible event, Rachel is back in town working at the bookshop and grieving at the same time. Books and letters bring Henry and Rachel together once again. It is just so precious.

There’s a lot to love if you’re a book lover in this story. There are so many book references as expected. It quite often brought a smile to my face when I came across a title that I knew. I loved that there was a nod to writing in books, annotating and leaving messages. I struggle to do that myself but I think it’s such an adorable idea. Conversations about books with like-minded people? Yes please! I loved that there was a section of the bookstore for writing letters and putting them into books for others to find. Just so sweet!

I really enjoyed most of the characters in this story. I say most because Henry frustrated me a bit at times, so hung up on someone else who really wasn’t worth the time. My favourite characters were Rachel and Henry’s sister George. I loved how the characters were complex. Rachel was struggling with grief and finding it hard to keep on living. George was cautious and holding back. There was also no insta-love in this story which gives it a huge thumbs up for me. That’s not to say there was no romance, but the romance that was included was definitely slow burning. I was also very surprised that I enjoyed the romance because… love triangles. Urgh, not my favourite thing. However, I didn’t mind them in this book.

I think this book has a lot of heart. In less than 300 pages, I really got to know the characters. I was rooting for my favourites to find happiness and begin to move on. All of the characters experienced tough times, it wasn’t easy going at all for them. I loved reading about them and would highly recommend this book, especially if you’re into YA fiction.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

A fabulous read!