Blood Sisters

Blood Sisters

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

Previously reviewed by the same author:
My Husband’s Wife

Synopsis:

Three little girls set off to school one sunny May morning.
Within an hour, one of them is dead.

Fifteen years later, Alison and Kitty are living separate lives. Kitty lives in a care home. She can’t speak, and she has no memory of the accident that put her here, or her life before it.

Art teacher Alison looks fine on the surface. But the surface is a lie. When a job in a prison comes up she decides to take it – this is her chance to finally make things right.

But someone is watching Kitty and Alison.
Someone who wants revenge for what happened that day.
And only another life will do…

Thoughts:

After reading Jane Corry’s debut My Husband’s Wife, I was intrigued to read her next book. I was thrilled to get the opportunity to read Blood Sisters, which I found just as gripping as Jane’s debut.

Blood Sisters is told in dual narration from two sisters. They are half sisters and since childhood have not got on at all. An accident tears the sisters apart even more. Their lives become very different afterwards. One sister is left with a severe brain injury and the other sister is able to move on in her life although in very different directions than she first anticipated. There are secrets hidden from the accident and they’re not safe… the truth will out, eventually!

I enjoy reading stories where there’s sibling rivalries almost as much as I like reading about siblings that do get on. I thought this was an intriguing story because one of the sister’s severe disability. If you’re a regularly reader to my blog, you’ll know that I love diverse books and every type of person being represented, therefore I was super happy to read about a disabled character. I feel like Jane Corry must have researched brain injuries thoroughly in order to give such a detailed and what felt like a very realistic portrayal in this story. I was interested in reading both perspectives, I also really enjoyed how the narration switched from past to present tense.

I do think this book has some slower moments, which is why I didn’t rate it any higher than I did. Sometimes, I desperately wanted to know what was going to happen! It keeps you turning the pages and I think is a decent read for anyone into the thriller genre!

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

A page-turner of a thriller!

Banned Books #36 Saga: Volume 2 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

banned books

Welcome to the 36th Banned Books post which means we’ve been reading Banned Books for 3 years now! Awoohoo! Go us! Celebrations aside, this month we took on Saga: Volume 2 by Brian Vaughan and Fiona Staples.

Saga, Vol. 2 (Saga, #2)

First published: 2013
In the Top Ten most frequently challenged books in 2014 (source)
Reasons: anti-family, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit and unsuited for age group.

Do you understand or agree with any of the reasons for the book being challenged when it was originally published?

BETH: As a relatively recent release my answers for this and the next question are going to be pretty much the same. This month, like last month we’re looking at a book where the focus is mainly on illustrations with few words in comparison. UNLIKE last month, this graphic novel is very, very different. Let me get this straight. I don’t agree with banning or challenging books on any level. I love to get angry about why books are challenged/banned especially when the reasons for doing so are just damn stupid but you know when you read something and you can kind of see why some people might have had issues or been offended? This is the wonderful world of Saga. It doesn’t offend me at all (I’m not easily offended!) but I have been slightly taken aback at some of the images, although I must insist that the art is absolutely stunning and something I can look at for a long time (erm…perhaps unless it’s a very naked, quite terrifying giant monster).

CHRISSI: I actually laughed out loud at Beth’s comment about the naked, giant monster as I nearly took a picture of it to send to her as I was reading it. I agree that it’s easy to see why Saga is challenged. There’s some quite graphic pictures and some very strong language. I don’t think you’d expect that when you pick it up, if you go into it not knowing the controversy surrounding it. I’d totally agree that it has some beautiful images though. The illustrations are stunning… it’s just not for the easily offended (or children!)

How about now?

BETH: Most of the reasons for challenging Saga are completely correct, I hate to admit. Yes, it has explicit sexual content, nudity and offensive language. However, I don’t really agree with the anti-family message. Our two main characters have a small baby, Hazel and are very much together even though they are all “on the run.” Plus in this volume, the grandparents come into play which does show quite a strong family unit, especially when I consider the role of the grandfather in this volume. Also, unsuited for age group. Hmm. Well, it just depends where you make this graphic novel available to be perfectly honest! If it’s in the primary school library that’s a different kettle of fish entirely and completely inappropriate I agree. But if it’s in the local library adult section for teenagers to find for themselves I don’t think that’s too terrible.

CHRISSI: I understand why it’s challenged. I do. I don’t like admitting that, but I do understand why it is offensive to many. I think there should be the opportunity for it to be found in the right places. Like Beth said, a local library would be fine but in a education setting…not so much!

What did you think of this book?:

BETH: We looked at the first volume of Saga in our Banned Books for 2016 – please find our post HERE. It had been a while since I read the first six chapters so I did re-read them before embarking on Volume Two and I remembered just why I enjoyed it the last time. As I mentioned before, the art is simply gorgeous and really intricate but the story is also intriguing and makes me want to keep on reading. I’ll certainly be continuing the series and am looking forward to Volume Three!

CHRISSI: Unlike Beth, I didn’t reread the first volume. I went into it cold and luckily remembered a lot from the previous volume. I really enjoyed this volume, possibly more than the first. The artwork is beautiful and I’m intrigued by the story. I can totally see why so many readers are lapping up this series of graphic novels.

Would you recommend it?:

BETH: Of course!

CHRISSI: Of course!

Love & Gelato

Love & Gelato

How did I get it?:
I received a copy from Walker Books. Many thanks to them!

Synopsis:

The dying wish of 16-year-old Lina’s mother was for her daughter to live in Tuscany and get to know her father, whom Lina has never met.

“Howard is the best man I’ve ever known,” her mother says, “he’ll keep you safe.” Why did her mother wait so long to tell her about him? Lina has a happy life in Seattle and doesn’t want to leave. Shortly after she arrives at Howard’s home, Lina meets Sonya, who gives Lina a diary that belonged to Lina’s mother, the one she had kept while she was a photography student in Florence. While Lina is living her life and exploring Tuscany with her handsome neighbour, Ren, she follows in the footsteps of her mother and gets to know her as never before. She also finds out the truth about her father. Mostly she finds out about herself.

Thoughts:

I have had Love & Gelato on my radar for the longest time, so I was incredibly happy to be able to read a copy, thanks to Walker Books! It’s a wonderful summer read. I think if you’re a fan of the contemporary YA genre, then this book is certainly for you this summer.

It’s set in Italy and follows Lina. Lina moves to Italy after her mum dies on her mum’s request to be with Howard- a man from the past. When Lina arrives in Italy, she is given her mother’s old journal. Lina starts to read the journal and learns much more about her mum and herself than she had ever anticipated!

I loved following Lina, who I found incredibly easy to connect to. I felt for her, having to deal with the loss of her mother and then have to move to Italy to live with a man that she had only just heard of. Lina really gets herself into awkward situations, but this made her all the more realistic in my eyes.

I was impressed that the author took their time with Lina’s grieving process. She did struggle at first, she did question. She didn’t just move to Italy and everything was magically better. That’s more real to read about!

Love & Gelato has made me want to visit Italy. The author really painted a picture with her words. It left me craving gelato too… I’m definitely more inclined to go to Italy after reading this cute story!

I can’t believe that this book was the author’s debut as it feels incredibly established. I would definitely pick up her next book!

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

A very cute YA contemporary read. Perfect for the beach!

Truth Or Dare

Truth or Dare

How did I get it?:
Received from Walker Books! Many thanks to them.

Previously reviewed by the same author:
Trouble
Remix
Unboxed

Synopsis:

How far is too far when it comes to the people you love? Claire Casey hates being the centre of attention. But if it means getting Sef Malik to notice her, it’s a risk she’s happy to take. Sef is prepared to do anything to help his recently disabled brother. But this means putting Claire’s love – and life – on the line. Because when you’re willing to risk everything, what is there left to lose?

Thoughts:

I do so love Non Pratt’s writing, so when I had the opportunity to read Truth Or Dare I jumped at the chance. Non Pratt is absolutely fantastic at representing teens. She just gets it and her books are raw, truthful and utterly relatable. Even if you’re not a teenager, her writing brings you right back to those teenage years. She is also fantastic at representing a diverse range of people.

Truth or Dare centres around Sef and Claire. Sef and Claire decide to open up a YouTube channel to raise money for Sef’s brother who has had a traumatic brain injury. The idea for videos is to complete ‘Truth or Dares’ where the viewers donate money to see certain dares. The money will go towards therapy for Sef’s brother. As a reader, we hear from Claire and Sef’s point of view. We follow Claire first and then flip the book over for Sef’s point of view.

This book is and isn’t easy to read. Its subject matter makes it challenging to read, but it’s completely engrossing at the same time. Kam’s disability is obviously at the core of the story, Sef is really struggling to deal with the extent of his big brother’s injury. Other diverse elements include Claire’s best friend Seren being asexual. I had never read this in a book before, so I was really happy to see it included in a young adult book. As well as disability and sexuality being represented, Sef isn’t a white British character. Despite this book covering so many diverse subjects, it never feels like its diversity is being shoved down your throat. It’s subtle, it’s realistic and it’s wonderful.

I think this book would appeal to young adults and adults alike. There’s something in there for everyone.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

A fabulous, realistic read!

Talking About ‘I See You’ by Clare Mackintosh

I See You

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

You do the same thing every day.

You know exactly where you’re going.

You’re not alone.

When Zoe Walker sees her photo in the classifieds section of a London newspaper, she is determined to find out why it’s there. There’s no explanation: just a website, a grainy image and a phone number. She takes it home to her family, who are convinced it’s just someone who looks like Zoe. But the next day the advert shows a photo of a different woman, and another the day after that.

Is it a mistake? A coincidence? Or is someone keeping track of every move they make . . .

CHRISSI: What were your initial thoughts before reading this book?

BETH: I was excited! We reviewed Claire’s debut novel I Let You Go as part of our “Talking About” feature and we both really enjoyed it so I was looking forward to reading this one. Particularly when I read the synopsis which sounded so intriguing that I had high expectations for the novel as a whole. Plus I received a copy recently from the lovely Book And A Brew subscription box people and I was trying to make room and time to read it so when it appeared on the Richard and Judy bookclub list (which we follow almost religiously) I was very pleased as I would finally have a chance to get to it.

BETH: What did you make of Zoe’s relationship with her ex-husband Matt compared to her current relationship with Simon?

CHRISSI: A good question! I actually found Zoe’s relationship with Simon to be a little bit too good to be true. I didn’t like Simon much as a character. He grated on me, for some reason! He was jealous of Matt which made things awkward for Zoe. I thought that Zoe got on remarkably well with her ex-husband. She seemed to rely on him a little bit compared to Simon. I guess when you have children together there’s going to be a connection there still, especially if it ends amicably.

CHRISSI: Did you find this book predictable at all?

BETH: No, not really to be honest. Now I’m wondering if you did? I didn’t really see anything coming, from the start of the book and the reason why women’s photographs were being used in the paper to the end of the novel and the “final reveal” where the perp is unmasked. I always appreciate it when I can’t see things coming and the author manages to surprise me.

BETH: The character of Kelly, a policewoman, is a bit of a “loose cannon,” did you enjoy reading about her story?

CHRISSI: I really enjoyed reading Kelly’s story. I actually liked Kelly. She was a well meaning character even if she was a little bit of a ‘loose cannon’. She was incredibly eager. Her heart was always in her actions and you can’t ask for more than that!

CHRISSI: Zoe is a very ordinary woman – do you think a central character in a thriller needs to be relatable to make the story work?

BETH: Great question! Hmmm, yes I do think they do but I never thought about it in that way before. A normal, relatable character like Zoe who is incredibly ordinary and has the same worries, pressures and flaws as the rest of us made me instantly like her and connect to her story more than I would have done if the character had been entirely alien to me. It made me sympathise with her predicament a lot more and root for her and her family.

BETH: Were you shocked by the final page at all? (no spoilers!)

CHRISSI: TOTALLY! This answers your earlier question to me about predictability. No, I did not see that coming at all. I can imagine that I looked like a cartoon character with their eyes popping out. Yes, that was totally me when reading that final page. I love it when author’s can shock me and Clare totally did that.

CHRISSI: Does this book live up to Clare’s debut?

BETH: Oh gosh. This is where it’s going to get tough. I Let You Go was such a brilliant read that I think it was going to be very difficult to live up to. When I first started I See You, I have to admit to being slightly concerned as it read very slow for me at the start and I kind of wondered when the action would start to kick in. About two-thirds of the way through however, I did become much more invested in the story and, as I mentioned, in Zoe’s character although I did find the ending slightly rushed. Is it as good as her debut? Not quite but it’s still a solid thriller that I’d recommend.

BETH: Would you read another book by this author?

CHRISSI: I would. Even though I felt like this book was a little slow to start, I was captivated before long and the plot twists really got me. That ending as well… superb! Clare Mackintosh is a great writer for this genre and I wouldn’t think twice about picking up her next book!

Would we recommend it?:

BETH: Of course!

CHRISSI: Yes! 3.5 stars

Trust Me (Social Media Murders #3)

Trust Me (Social Media Murders, #3)

How did I get it?:
I received it from the publisher, Avon. Many thanks to them!

Previously reviewed by the same author:
Follow Me
Watch Me

Synopsis:

What do you do if you witness a murder…but no-one believes you?

When Kate sees a horrific murder streamed live on her laptop, she calls the police in a state of shock. But when they arrive, the video has disappeared – and she can’t prove anything. Desperate to be believed, Kate tries to find out who the girl in the video could be – and who her killer is.

Freddie and Nas are working on a missing persons case, but tensions in the police force are running high and time is ticking. When Kate contacts them, they are the only ones to listen and they start to wonder – are the two cases connected?

Dark, gripping, and flawlessly paced, Trust Me is the brilliant third novel in the hugely popular social media murderer series.

Thoughts:

This is the third book in the Social Media Murders series, and I swear the books are getting better and better. Whilst I enjoyed Follow Me, I thought Watch Me was even better and Trust Me certainly lived up to my expectations.

It centres around Kate, Nasreen and Freddie. Kate was watching live videos on the internet and saw someone being sexually assaulted and then stabbed. Pretty gruesome, right? Kate immediately phones the police and they’re not sure she’s telling the truth. There were no reports from anyone else and the account seems to have disappeared after the assault. Nasreen and Freddie feel like they have enough to go on to investigate Kate’s claims. Freddie believes Kate from the start and after a while Nasreen comes around. They’re determined to find out what has happened to the girl and see if there’s a link with another girl that’s gone missing.

I thought this book was really gripping. I wasn’t sure where it was going to go, but I was eagerly turning the pages. I thought it was incredibly well paced. I have really enjoyed getting to know Nasreen and Freddie better throughout the series. I definitely think both characters have got more likeable over time.

I’m glad to say that I didn’t predict what was going to happen. I love that in books! I like to be kept guessing and for me Trust Me did exactly that.

I don’t know if it was the author’s intention to make readers more wary of social media, but I really am more wary after reading this series. I always teach the children in my class (primary school) about internet safety, but I’d never thought about how dangerous it is for adults out there too.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

A creepy crime read which can be enjoyed as a standalone!

Watch Me (Social Media Murders #2)

Watch Me (Social Media Murders, #2)

How did I get it?:
Received from the publisher, Avon- Many thanks to them!

Previously reviewed by the same author:
Follow Me

Synopsis:

YOU HAVE SIX SECONDS TO READ THIS MESSAGE…

The body of a 15-year-old is found hours after she sends a desperate message to her friends. It looks like suicide, until a second girl disappears.

This time, the message is sent directly to the Metropolitan Police – and an officer’s younger sister is missing.

DS Nasreen Cudmore and journalist Freddie Venton will stop at nothing to find her. But whoever’s behind the notes is playing a deadly game of hide and seek – and the clock is ticking.

YOU HAVE 24 HOURS TO SAVE THE GIRL’S LIFE.
MAKE THEM COUNT.

Thoughts:

As you would’ve seen on Monday, I found the first book in the series to be a slow starter. This one is completely different. I was immediately gripped by the story. It’s not often that I find a second book in the series to be stronger than its predecessor, but I totally felt like this was the case with Watch Me. 

Watch Me centres around Nasreen and Freddie once more. Yet again, it highlights the dangers of the internet and how you never really know who is behind the messages. This book uses Snapchat as the media behind the crime. Chloe is dead and has sent a suicide note via the app. Another girl has been abducted and several people (including the police) have been sent a Snap to tell them they have 24 hours to save the girl’s life. The girl in question is the sister of DCI Burgone. Here starts a very intriguing read as the book spans the 24 hour period and the chase to save the girl’s life. Nasreen and Freddie put away the Hashtag Murderer (see previous book) and they’re surprised to see that there’s a link between that case and the current case. They can’t see how there can be a link between them, as he’s in prison with no internet…but if it isn’t him, then who is it?

I loved that this book included Snapchat and Instagram. Like I said in my review of the first book in this series, it makes these crime books utterly modern.Watch Me doesn’t cover light subjects. There’s revenge porn and exploitation of young teens. However, its subject matter makes it an incredibly intriguing, intense page-turner.  I found it incredibly hard to put down!

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

Look out for the third book in this series, Trust Me, coming tomorrow!

A fabulous follow up to Follow Me, this book can be enjoyed as a standalone, but makes much more sense if you read its predecessor!