Literally

Literally

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Annabelle’s life has always been Perfect with a capital P. Then bestselling young adult author Lucy Keating announces that she’s writing a new novel—and Annabelle is the heroine. 

It turns out, Annabelle is a character that Lucy Keating created. And Lucy has a plan for her. 

But Annabelle doesn’t want to live a life where everything she does is already plotted out. Will she find a way to write her own story—or will Lucy Keating have the last word? 

Thoughts:

I had heard so many things about this book that I knew it was one that I wanted to read. Being a book blogger though there are so, so many books that I want to get to it. I finally found time for Literally though and I’m glad I’ve read it. I can see that it would appeal to loads of readers, especially fans of YA.

Literally centres around Annabelle who has always been pretty perfect. She’s clever and well liked. However, one day she finds out that bestselling YA author Lucy Keating (yes, the author) is writing the story of her life. Annabelle doesn’t want to live her life plotted by an author. She wants to live her own life. Annabelle’s life has become drama filled with her family home being sold, her parents’ separation and a love triangle. It really does seem like Annabelle’s life is right out of a YA novel.

This was such a strange book, but different at the same time. I’m not quite sure whether I think the author being in this book is cringy or cool. Sometimes I thought it was genius and other times it seemed a little awkward. I’m sure it was meant in a tongue-in-cheek way. I think the Lucy Keating in this book was an exaggerated version of herself.

At the heart of it, Literally really is your typical YA story. It’s love triangle, romance and drama galore. If that’s what you want in a book, then you’re in for a treat with this one. I did enjoy this book, especially for the risk that Lucy Keating took in writing herself into the story.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes!

A very unique book. It’s not one I would rave about, but I’m glad that I read it!

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All That She Can See

All That She Can See

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:

On The Other Side

Synopsis:

Feelings are part of life – feelings are life. If you take away what people feel, you take away anything meaningful. Wanting to diminish the evil in this world is a good cause, one I have fought for the majority of my life, but not like this . . . 

Cherry has a hidden talent. She can see things other people can’t and she decided a long time ago to use this skill to help others. As far as the rest of the town is concerned she’s simply the kind-hearted young woman who runs the local bakery, but in private she uses her gift to add something special to her cakes so that after just one mouthful the townspeople start to feel better about their lives. They don’t know why they’re drawn to Cherry’s bakery – they just know that they’re safe there and that’s how Cherry likes it. She can help them in secret and no one will ever need to know the truth behind her gift.

And then Chase arrives in town and threatens to undo all the good Cherry has done. Because it turns out she’s not the only one who can see what she sees . . . 

Thoughts:

Ooh. I find Carrie’s books incredibly hard to review. I don’t want to come across like I’m judging her because she has such an internet presence. It’s clear that Carrie works hard towards her goals. I sometimes feel annoyed that she gets judged because of who she is and not on her writing itself. Sure, her internet presence has to help in securing her book deals, but she did spend the time on her books. They’re not ghost written. So surely, we as reviewers, should give her a fair chance? That’s what I like to do with every author regardless of their ‘fame.’

All That She Can See has an interesting premise. It centres around Cherry who is a baker (I cringe a little at Cherry being a baker’s name) but she’s not just any baker. Cherry has a hidden talent. She can put her feelings into her creations and help others to erase their bad feelings. Once people have devoured Cherry’s creation, they start to feel better. People are always drawn back to Cherry’s shop, but they don’t know why. Cherry moves on to different towns when she feels she has done her job. Everything seems to be going well, until Chase appears on the scene. He threatens to undo all the good that Cherry has done.

At the start of reading this book, I was all for it. I was seeing 5 stars in its future. It was magical, whimsical and so easy to read. It reminded me of one of my favourites for magical realism, Cecelia Ahern. It was charming and a little silly but so easy to read. Then… the second half of the book just completely lost it for me. It felt like a different book entirely. I didn’t mind the story line in the second half, but it just seemed so different and disconnected than what came before. It didn’t fit and I found myself losing interest in the story which was a great shame as I was so invested at the start.

Carrie’s writing style won’t be for everyone, but I found it pleasant enough and easy to read. The book didn’t take me long to read at all. It’s engaging enough, even with my niggles about the plot line. I think once again, Carrie’s book is being billed as adult fiction, but to me it still screams YA. There’s nothing wrong with that of course, I’m a huge lover of YA.

To me, All That She Can See was a wonderful, imaginative idea, but the two different stories did not gel together. I would have preferred either one or the other not a mismatch of both. If one story had been focused on, then the characters and relationships could have been developed more and this book would definitely have been rated higher than I have done.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes!

I can see this book dividing a lot of readers. Carrie Hope Fletcher has a wonderful imagination, I just didn’t enjoy the execution of this particular book!

Windfall

Windfall

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Synopsis:

Alice doesn’t believe in luck—at least, not the good kind. But she does believe in love, and for some time now, she’s been pining for her best friend, Teddy. On his eighteenth birthday—just when it seems they might be on the brink of something—she buys him a lottery ticket on a lark. To their astonishment, he wins $140 million, and in an instant, everything changes. 

At first, it seems like a dream come true, especially since the two of them are no strangers to misfortune. As a kid, Alice won the worst kind of lottery possible when her parents died just over a year apart from each other. And Teddy’s father abandoned his family not long after that, leaving them to grapple with his gambling debts. Through it all, Teddy and Alice have leaned on each other. But now, as they negotiate the ripple effects of Teddy’s newfound wealth, a gulf opens between them. And soon, the money starts to feel like more of a curse than a windfall. 

As they try to find their way back to each other, Alice learns more about herself than she ever could have imagined…and about the unexpected ways in which luck and love sometimes intersect.

Thoughts:

I enjoy Jennifer E. Smith’s writing so I was looking forward to reading it. I was especially intrigued about the subject matter… winning the lottery. It’s not just about the good parts of winning the lottery, it’s about the trouble that goes with it. The fame, those that crawl out of the woodwork and the way it undeniably changes you.

Windfall centres around Alice, Teddy and Leo. Alice buys Teddy a lottery ticket for his birthday as a joke. She never expects him to win, but when he does she worries about him changing. Teddy really wants Alice to take some money, but she is stubborn and doesn’t want the money to change things. Alice has liked Teddy as more than a friend for a long time and is longing to be with him. Will the money change the Teddy that she has loved for a long time?

The thing I love about Jennifer’s writing is the characters that she creates and Windfall is no different. Alice, Leo and Teddy are such fabulous characters (even if they do irritate at times, but who wants a perfect character?) Alice in particular, has gone through a lot in her life after losing her parents not long after one another. Alice lives with her Leo (her cousin) and his parents that took her in when her parents died. They’re incredibly close and so is Teddy, their friend. They look out for one another and it’s adorable.

This is a book that it is heavy with the plot. Not much happens, but at the same time it is an exploration of family and what that means.  The plot is pretty predictable, but I didn’t mind that. I wanted to see how things would turn out for the three. To me, it’s definitely a character driven novel. It’s a story that doesn’t take long to read at all.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes!

A very sweet, easy to read YA story!

Love, Hate & Other Filters

Love, Hate & Other Filters

How did I get it?:
NetGalley- thanks to Hot Key Books/Bonnier

Synopsis:

A searing #OwnVoices coming-of-age debut in which an Indian-American Muslim teen confronts Islamophobia and a reality she can neither explain nor escape–perfect for fans of Angie Thomas, Jacqueline Woodson, and Adam Silvera.

American-born seventeen-year-old Maya Aziz is torn between worlds. There’s the proper one her parents expect for their good Indian daughter: attending a college close to their suburban Chicago home, and being paired off with an older Muslim boy her mom deems “suitable.” And then there is the world of her dreams: going to film school and living in New York City—and maybe (just maybe) pursuing a boy she’s known from afar since grade school, a boy who’s finally falling into her orbit at school.

There’s also the real world, beyond Maya’s control. In the aftermath of a horrific crime perpetrated hundreds of miles away, her life is turned upside down. The community she’s known since birth becomes unrecognizable; neighbors and classmates alike are consumed with fear, bigotry, and hatred. Ultimately, Maya must find the strength within to determine where she truly belongs.

Thoughts:

I have heard so much about this book over the past few months. I wanted to read it because I knew it was an important story for the author. One of my best friends is Muslim and Islamophobia is something that I feel very, very strongly about. This book wasn’t quite the amazing read that I wanted it to be. It was incredibly powerful at points and heart-breaking at times.

It centres around Maya who is torn between two paths. There’s the path in which her parents want her to be the good Indian daughter, get a respectable job and marry a suitable Muslim boy and the path where she wants to follow her dreams and go to NYU to study film and pursue a guy that she’s interested in. Alongside Maya’s confusion, there’s a horrific crime. Her peers, neighbours and community become consumed with fear and hatred. She experiences Islamophobia. Maya has to find her way in a world that seems to hate her and parents that are determined for her to be a certain way.

Maya came across as a teen very well. Apart from the mention of being Muslim, I don’t feel like she had much of a Muslim identity. I don’t know if that was intentional by the author- making her seem like all her peers. It was just something I observed.

I really enjoyed reading a story from a different voice. I do think I expected more about Islamophobia and I got more about the romance. Don’t get me wrong, it was good to read. I enjoyed Maya as a character and thought her romance was very sweet. I liked how this book had important messages about not judging those on their race and religion. Maya and her parents were often discriminated against, even though they’d been in the community for a while, they weren’t fully accepted due to their religion which is infuriating.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! 3.5 stars

A fabulous debut about love but also sadly, hate!

Wait For Me

Wait for Me

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

It’s 1945, and Lorna Anderson’s life on her father’s farm in Scotland consists of endless chores and rationing, knitting Red Cross scarves, and praying for an Allied victory. So when Paul Vogel, a German prisoner of war, is assigned as the new farmhand, Lorna is appalled. How can she possibly work alongside the enemy when her own brothers are risking their lives for their country?

But as Lorna reluctantly spends time with Paul, she feels herself changing. The more she learns about him—from his time in the war to his life back home in Germany—the more she sees the boy behind the soldier. Soon Lorna is battling her own warring heart. Loving Paul could mean losing her family and the life she’s always known. With tensions rising all around them, Lorna must decide how much she’s willing to sacrifice before the end of the war determines their fate.

Thoughts:

I have read so many books about World War II so I always get very excited when new books come out. Imagine my excitement when I heard about Wait For Me which was YA based. I do love YA and I’m not afraid to admit it!

Wait For Me centres around Lorna who lives on a farm in Scotland. It is 1945 and alongside going to school, Lorna is helping her father on the farm whilst her two brothers are fighting in the war. Life changes for Lorna and hr family when Paul, a German prisoner of war is sent to help at the farm. Lorna is very hesitant at first, but over time she learns more and more about Paul and finds herself falling for him. This is a dangerous relationship, but Lorna is completely drawn to Paul.

I absolutely devoured this book. I loved Lorna and thought she was such a great character. I loved her determination and her acceptance of Paul as he was. Paul is completely likeable as well. I loved how Caroline Leech portrayed his story and showed the reader his history. They were a likeable, believable romance. As well as Lorna and Paul, there were some more fabulous characters. I really liked Nellie, who helped them on the farm. I also enjoyed reading about Lorna’s dad.

This story is definitely more about the romance and not so heavy on the World War II content. It is there, but it’s more about the relationship developing between Lorna and Paul. So if you’re into romantic historical fiction then this book could be for you!

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

A sweet WWII romance. A fantastic debut!

Talking About ‘The Keeper of Lost Things’ with Bibliobeth

The Keeper of Lost Things

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Once a celebrated author of short stories now in his twilight years, Anthony Peardew has spent half his life lovingly collecting lost objects, trying to atone for a promise broken many years before.

Realising he is running out of time, he leaves his house and all its lost treasures to his assistant Laura, the one person he can trust to fulfil his legacy and reunite the thousands of objects with their rightful owners.
But the final wishes of the Keeper of Lost Things have unforeseen repercussions which trigger a most serendipitous series of encounters…

With an unforgettable cast of characters that includes young girls with special powers, handsome gardeners, irritable ghosts and an array of irresistible four-legged friends, The Keeper of Lost Things is a debut novel of endless possibilities and joyful discoveries that will leave you bereft once you’ve finished reading.

CHRISSI: What were your first impressions of this book?

BETH: Generally, I thought that it was very easy to read and almost fairy tale like in its execution, particularly with the little short stories that we are told about the lost objects. Some I enjoyed more than others but overall, it seemed to be an intriguing little read.

BETH: How would you describe this book to someone who was interested in reading it?

CHRISSI: It’s a difficult one because it fits into so many genres, so you can’t exactly market it as in a specific genre. I think if I had to pick a word to describe this book it would be whimsical. It’s a story of two parts that meet together even if you don’t expect that they will.

CHRISSI: How does the story of Eunice and Bomber relate to Laura and Anthony’s story? Did you find the two plot strands difficult to juggle, perhaps too distracting? Or do the two tales enhance one another?

BETH: There is a reason for the inclusion of Eunice and Bomber’s story and I won’t go into it too much but it relates to the lost objects that Laura is looking after/trying to find homes for. I wasn’t sure at first how the two stories were connected and to be perfectly honest, preferred the current day story of Laura and Anthony to that of Eunice and Bomber. This is quite a departure for me as usually I much prefer a timeline set in the past compared to a contemporary one and I’m not sure why. Eunice irritated me slightly as a character so perhaps this put me off.

BETH: Which character did you connect with most in this novel and why?

CHRISSI: Ooh that’s hard because I really enjoyed two of the characters. I loved Laura and really felt for her at the beginning. She seemed incredibly broken and I really wanted a fix for her. I wanted her to be happy. A character that I really connected with was Sunshine. I thought she was an extraordinary character. I loved her insight. She easily understood things that others didn’t. I loved her view of the world.

CHRISSI: Did you connect with both Eunice and Bomber/Laura and Anthony?

BETH: Haha, I’ve managed to ramble right into the next question!! I didn’t really connect with Eunice as a character I have to say and Bomber was just a bit so-so for me. I found his sister, Portia to be a much more fascinating character to read about although there were some tender moments in the narrative involving these characters and their parents which I really appreciated. Laura and Anthony I liked more but the character who I enjoyed exploring the most was probably Sunshine who be-friends Laura quite near the beginning and becomes a very important part of the novel.

BETH: Did any of the stories about the objects stay with you and if so, which one and why?

CHRISSI: I wish I did have a story that stood out for me, but I really don’t. I thought all of the stories were intriguing in different ways. However,  there were so many of the stories that I couldn’t really focus in on one. There wasn’t one that immediately stuck with me. That’s not to say they weren’t well written. They were! Some were incredibly charming.

CHRISSI: How does this book compare with others in its genre?

BETH: I’m not quite sure where to place this book genre wise. Some parts of it are historical, others contemporary, others kind of magical and fantastical. As a fantasy novel I think there’s a place for it but it’s much more gentle and not as complex as other books in the genre. For me, this was a decent read that I enjoyed but I wasn’t completely blown away.

BETH: Would you read another book by this author?

CHRISSI: I would. I thought this was an impressive debut. It read like it was from a very established author.

Would WE recommend it?:

BETH: Yes! 3.5 stars

CHRISSI: Yes!

Beth and Chrissi Do Kid-Lit- Finding Jennifer Jones

Finding Jennifer Jones

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Synopsis:

Kate Rickman seems just like any other nineteen-year-old girl. She goes to university, she dates nice, normal boys and she works in her local tourist office at the weekend. But Kate’s not really normal at all. ‘Kate’ is in fact a carefully constructed facade for a girl called Jennifer Jones – and it’s a facade that’s crumbling fast. Jennifer has spent the last nine years frantically trying to escape from her horrifying past. Increasingly desperate, Jennifer decides to do something drastic. She contacts the only other girl who might understand what she’s dealing with, breaking every rule of her parole along the way. Lucy Bussell is the last person Jennifer expects any sympathy from, but she’s also the last person she has left.

Thoughts:

I really enjoyed Looking For JJ when we read it last year, so I was intrigued to read the sequel. Looking For JJ was a dark and intriguing read. I wondered whether the sequel could possibly match it. I wasn’t disappointed though, even though for me, it didn’t quite match its predecessor!

The story takes place some time after Looking For JJ. JJ is living as Kate and attending University. She lives off campus, has a job and is attempting a normal life after the terrible events that have happened to her. However, Kate is not happy. She’s trying to move on with her life but things keep getting in the way. Nearby, a girl is found after drowning in the sea. Kate has a past and there are things that connect her to the suspected murder. Kate also reaches out to a childhood friend, Lucy, who was also involved in Kate’s past.

I loved reading about the difficulties Kate suffered. That sentence sounds wrong. I don’t like reading about misfortunes, but I appreciate when characters go through hardships after experiencing something awful as that’s real.

Finding Jennifer Jones tied up some loose ends and left me satisfied with how life was going to continue for our main character. I grew to love this character, despite some awful choices that she made. I really enjoy Anne Cassidy’s writing!

For Beth’s wonderful review, please check out her blog post HERE.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes!

Come back to Chrissi Reads on 2nd January 2018 to see the Kid Lit choices for 2018!