Tender

Tender

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Synopsis:

Marty and Daisy spend their lives pretending. Marty pretends his mum’s grip on reality isn’t slipping by the day. Daisy pretends her parents aren’t exhausting themselves while they look after her incurably ill brother. They both pretend they’re fine. But the thing about pretending is, at some point, it has to stop. And then what?

Thoughts:

Aw. This book is heart-breaking but so very necessary. I have enjoyed reading Eve Ainsworth’s books because they tend to be about tough subjects written in a raw and real way. I think it’s so important that young adults have material like this out there to read. Her books do often come with a warning that it has sensitive content within the story- so if you feel like it might trigger you then I don’t necessarily recommend reading them. However, if you can manage to read the tough content then I think you’re in for quite the read. Eve Ainsworth clearly understands teenagers/young adults and their emotions. With every book, I think she nails the emotions needed.

Tender centres around two young carers, Marty and Daisy. Marty’s mum is suffering with her mental health after her husband died. Daisy is living with parents who are falling to pieces due to her brother’s life-threatening, incurable disease. Heart-break. The story follows Marty and Daisy’s journey as they find each other and learn about each other’s lives.

I absolutely loved Marty and Daisy. It was tough to read about them hiding their feelings as they didn’t want to burden their family. I loved it when they found one another and were able to open up and feel better through talking to each other. I have known a few young carers throughout my teaching career so far and quite often they just need to know that someone cares about them.

I loved that this book wasn’t centred around romance. Sure, there’s feelings there, but it’s not the focus of the story. The focus of the story is to think about the now, because we never know what is around the corner. I think that’s such an important message to send out. Eve Ainsworth does it with ease and left me feeling incredibly reflective.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

I thought this was a very touching read. It explores mental health in a sensitive but raw and real way.

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Talking About Last Letter Home With Bibliobeth!

Last Letter Home

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

On holiday with friends, young historian Briony Andrewsbecomes fascinated with a wartime story of a ruined villa in the hills behind Naples. There is a family connection: her grandfather had been a British soldier during the Italian campaign of 1943 in that very area. Handed a bundle of letters that were found after the war, Briony sets off to trace the fate of their sender, Sarah Bailey.

In 1939, Sarah returns with her mother and sister from India, in mourning, to take up residence in the Norfolk village of Westbury. There she forms a firm friendship with Paul Hartmann, a young German who has found sanctuary in the local manor house, Westbury Hall. With the outbreak of war, conflicts of loyalty in Westbury deepen.

When, 70 years later, Briony begins to uncover Sarah and Paul’s story, she encounters resentments and secrets still tightly guarded. What happened long ago in the villa in the shadow of Vesuvius, she suspects, still has the power to give terrible pain. 

CHRISSI: What were your initial impressions of this book? Did it hook you from the start or did it take you a while to get stuck into the story?
BETH: I have to admit, like a lot of books in the past (and very recently!) I judged this book by the cover again. WHY do I keep doing that?! I thought it looked like a bit of a fluffy, contemporary romance which is a genre I’m not really into but I was willing to give it a chance, especially when you told me that you thought I would enjoy it and that it had a historical edge that reminded you of one of my favourite ever books, The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons. However, I do have to be honest and say I wasn’t initially hooked by the beginning. When a narrative flows across two time periods, I often find myself preferring the historical tale and this was the same initially speaking, for Last Letter Home too.
BETH: In one of the very first scenes, Briony in contemporary times is trolled for some remarks she makes on feminism on a TV show. How do you think this affects her self esteem initially in trying to find information out about her mysterious grandfather?
CHRISSI: I think initially, Briony was really knocked by the after effects of the TV show. It takes her a while to get over how she was treated in the aftermath. Trolls are evil and can totally affect your self-esteem and self-worth, so this was utterly relatable. I feel like Briony was quite unstable at the start of the story and deeply affected. However, getting stuck into finding out more information about her grandfather draws Briony out of her shell and begins to give her some self belief. She has determination, that’s for sure.
CHRISSI: Do you think the dual timeline worked for this story?
BETH: At the beginning, it took a little while for me to get into it. I kept getting the main character in the contemporary time period, Briony messed up with Sarah in the historical period and it took me a little while to get their stories and who they’re involved with in the present time straight in my mind. However, once I had got this sorted, I really enjoyed how the dual time periods told such a fascinating story (from BOTH women’s points of view) and there were certainly secrets revealed that I wasn’t anticipating.
BETH: Were you aware at any points of the men “not to trust” and the men “who could be trusted,” in the narrative? Was it interesting to see the parallels between Briony and Sarah’s own lives?
CHRISSI: I’m always wary of characters in books which might say something about me. I was sure that Paul could be trusted as he seemed to be such a sweetheart. I loved reading about his interactions with Sarah. I really enjoyed the dual narrative of this story. It was interesting to see how Briony and Sarah shared many qualities with one another. They were both persistent, driven characters in their own time. I also liked how both story lines had elements of betrayal and deceit within them.
CHRISSI: Did you have a favourite narrative?
BETH: The historical narrative was hands down my favourite narrative. Although its not as overtly romantic as The Bronze Horseman, I can really see why you made that connection. I felt so awful for Sarah and her love interest in the novel, the strange triangle she found herself in and how other people’s attitudes at the time affected how she should be behaving/where she should be looking for a husband. I only wish we had heard more about her younger sister, who I found an incredibly intriguing character.
BETH: Sarah and her younger sister both have to deal with death at quite a young age – how do you think they cope with this as individuals?
CHRISSI: Good question! Sarah definitely dealt with the death in the family better than her younger sister. Sarah became really supportive towards her family. Sarah’s sister very much closes herself off from talking about death. She appears to be coping less well but I can’t say too much without spoilers! 🙂
CHRISSI: Did you feel like the chapters based during WWII were realistic?

BETH: I did. It wasn’t overtly graphic but it felt really authentic. It was simply the story of how normal people cope in extraordinary circumstances when food is reduced, danger is prominent and they are forced to live their lives they may not necessarily have imagined living them. One of the stand on scenes in the entire novel for me has to be when Paul is sent away to Italy as part of the war effort and has to witness a very difficult event, something that ends up changing his life forever.

BETH: Would you read another book by this author?

CHRISSI: I think it would depend on the subject matter. I did really enjoy Rachel Hore’s writing and the story was interesting, but she wasn’t an author that I’d read automatically when her book released.

Would we recommend it?:

BETH: Of course!

CHRISSI: Yes! 3.5 stars

Listen To Your Heart

Listen to Your Heart

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Standalone

Synopsis:

Talking to other people isn’t Kate Bailey’s favorite activity. She’d much rather be out on the lake, soaking up the solitude and sunshine. So when her best friend, Alana, convinces Kate to join their high school’s podcast, Kate is not expecting to be chosen as the host. Now she’ll have to answer calls and give advice on the air? Impossible.

But to Kate’s surprise, she turns out to be pretty good at the hosting gig. Then the podcast gets in a call from an anonymous guy, asking for advice about his unnamed crush. Kate is pretty sure that the caller is gorgeous Diego Martinez, and even surer that the girl in question is Alana. Kate is excited for her friend … until Kate herself starts to develop feelings for Diego. Suddenly, Kate finds that while doling out wisdom to others may be easy, asking for help is tougher than it looks, and following your own advice is even harder.

Thoughts:

I’ve spent some of my summer catching up with my Kasie West contemporary books! My goodness, does she release books quickly! It’s quite easy to get a bit behind. I like Kasie West’s books because they are sweet, easy to read and perfect escapism if you love contemporary YA. I did enjoy Listen To Your Heart even though I could tell where it was going to go from quite early on.

Listen To Your Heart centres around Kate and her friend Alana. Alana convinces Kate to sign up for a podcast class. Kate puts forward the idea of featuring advice in the podcast. She never expects her teacher to go for the idea but she does and she wants Kate to host it. Kate ends up throwing herself into the job and finds that she is actually quite good at it. The podcast gets an anonymous call from a guy who has a crush. Kate is sure that it is her Alana’s crush, Diego trying to get closer to Alana. However, Kate starts to develop feelings for Diego…

I’m pretty sure that most people will be able to guess where this story went. It’s not a story that stands out, especially in the genre. However, there was something about it that kept me reading. I really do enjoy Kasie’s writing style. The romance was adorable and the characters were sweet and easy to like. I also adored how close Kate was to her huge family.

Listen To Your Heart definitely screams Summer to me. It’s perfect for the beach or for a lighter read between books. It might not be the most memorable read, but I enjoyed it!

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! 3.5 stars.

This book may be predictable- but it’s super cute, easy to read and fun for the beach!

Blog Tour- Show Stealer (Show Stopper #2)

Show Stealer (Show Stopper #2)

How did I get it?:
Sent to me by the publisher for the blog tour. This did not affect my opinion of the book.

Previously reviewed by the same author:
Show Stopper

Synopsis:

Hoshiko and Ben have been on the run since they burned Silvio Sabatini’s circus down to the ground at the explosive finale of SHOW STOPPER. But Ben’s mother will stop at nothing to track him down and get her revenge: backing him into a corner where he is forced to sacrifice himself to save Hoshiko. The deadliest show on earth has been resurrected and if Ben thought he’d seen into its dark corners as an outsider, the true extent of the horrors that lurk
beneath the Big Top are about to be revealed as he becomes the circus’ new star attraction…
 

Thoughts:

I was contacted to see whether I’d like to review this book by Scholastic. At the time, I didn’t realise it was a series, so when I received the book and realised that, I purchased a copy of the first book and read it, so that I knew what was going on. I thoroughly enjoyed the first book in the series, so I’m thrilled that I got the chance to read Show Stealer. I’m very into circus reads at the moment and this one completely captivated me. If you do want to read this book, I’d highly recommend reading Show Stopper first as it will really enhance your reading experience.

In Show Stealer, we continue Hoshiko and Ben’s journey as they’re on the run after burning down Sabatini’s circus to the ground. Hoshiko and Ben are not safe, Ben’s highly influential (and evil) mother is determined to get her son back. The police are also searching for them. It’s such a fast-paced read as the runaways are finally caught up with. It’s super hard to review this book without spoiling the story. Just know that it’s so captivating and action-packed.

I love how the chapters alternate between our main characters. It picks up so well, it didn’t feel like I had week gaps between reading these books. I absolutely adore Hoshiko and Ben. I’ve loved watching them grow throughout the two books. However, they are not the only stars of the show. There are many wonderful secondary characters, like Greta and Ezekiel, who I loved! The villains in this story are simply sublime.

I really enjoy Hayley Barker’s writing. It’s so easy to become engaged and enthused by the story. I’m excited to see where she goes next. In Show Stealer, Hayley has created a story with a strong and important message. It’s about society and how it (still) can be divided between different people/groups. It’s a message about coming together and being united rather than divided. It’s about respecting differences and learning to live with those different to you. What a message that is!

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

Seven Days Of You

Seven Days of You

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Sophia has seven days left in Tokyo before she moves back to the States. Seven days to say good-bye to the electric city, her wild best friend, and the boy she’s harbored a semi-secret crush on for years. Seven perfect days…until Jamie Foster-Collins moves back to Japan and ruins everything.

Jamie and Sophia have a history of heartbreak, and the last thing Sophia wants is for him to steal her leaving thunder with his stupid arriving thunder. Yet as the week counts down, the relationships she thought were stable begin to explode around her. And Jamie is the one who helps her pick up the pieces. Sophia is forced to admit she may have misjudged Jamie, but can their seven short days of Tokyo adventures end in anything but good-bye?

Thoughts:

I have had this book on my TBR for over a year now, so I thought it was about time that I got around to reading it. I was aware of some reviews that weren’t overly complimentary about the story. In some ways, I can see why, but I thought it was an okay read and it definitely didn’t take me long to read at all. I think it would make a good beach read or a book in-between heavier books.

Seven Days of You follows Sophia who is entering her last week in Tokyo before she moves back to the US. She’s struggling with the thought of leaving her friends and the place that she loves spending time in. Sophia has set an alarm counting down the days, hours and minutes until she leaves. An old friend named Jamie is back in Tokyo during Sophia’s last week and he makes the last week pretty unforgettable.

I think my main frustration with this book was that I didn’t feel like I got to know Tokyo. I’ve never been there, so I really wanted the setting to be rich and descriptive. I wanted to go on an armchair adventure, but it definitely wasn’t for me. It really could have been set anywhere because I didn’t get a strong sense of place.

I did think the romance was believable and I liked how it was initially based on friendship. I think the relationship was hopeful for the future at the end of the story. To me, this story isn’t a love story for Tokyo, it’s a story about finding out who you are readdressing the friendships in your life. I don’t think Sophia’s friendships were as strong as she thought they were and it was interesting to read her discovery of this fact!

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! Read this book if you’re into contemporary YA and you’re looking for a quick read.

Whilst I wasn’t blown away by this book, I did think it was easy to read and it barely took me long to read at all!

The Nowhere Girls

The Nowhere Girls

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Who are the Nowhere Girls? They’re every girl. But they start with just three: Grace, the preacher’s daughter who unwittingly moved into the old house of a victim whose pain adorns the walls. Bold Rosina, whose heart has become hardened by all of the straight girls who broke it. And misunderstood Erin, the girl who finds more solace in science and order than she does in people.

They are brought together by the idea of changing the narrative of a girl they had never met, Lucy Moynihan, the victim of a sexual assault who was victimised further by people who found it easier to believe she had cried wolf than to confront what had really happened to her. A girl who, through the course of one evening, went from an excited teenager who felt wanted by a boy for the first time, to someone else entirely, with ‘a voice in the darkness, giving her a new name: Slut’. Together, they form the Nowhere Girls, and decide to avenge the rape of a girl none of them knew.

Thoughts:

I knew that this book wasn’t necessarily going to be an easy read. It’s about rape culture. We know right from the start that this book is going to be heavy-going read. Yet I think it’s absolutely sensational. It is so harrowing, so raw, but so importantly, sadly, today. Especially with the #MeToo movement. The Nowhere Girls follows three girls, but includes snippets from many girls within the story.

Grace, Rosina and Erin are the girls we hear the most from. Grace is new to the city after moving when her Mum needed to find a new job. Rosina’s a strong character but with so many family duties and an ‘interesting’ relationship with her Mother. Erin has Asperger’s, her Mother is constantly trying to find ways to help Erin. All three girls may seem like an unusual friendship group, but their friendship works. Together, they form The Nowhere Girls. The Nowhere Girls join together to give the girls at school a voice. It encourages the girls to really think about what consent means.

I think it was clever how elements from others were slipped into the story. We got to see perspectives from many different viewpoints. Some of the girls felt very different to one another about sex and it was interesting to read such an open and honest dialogue between the female characters. There were also snippets from a male blog that did make my blood boil. Some of the comments about females were disgusting. However, this isn’t a male bashing book. There are some lovely male characters within the pages too.

I found this book quick to read but it certainly wasn’t an easy read. I went through a range of emotions including disgust, horror, heart-break and pride at how the girls were determined to stick up for what was right. It’s an incredibly powerful book which deserves to be read widely!

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!- with caution. It involves some very heavy content, so be prepared!

Heavy going but powerful. I was blown away by this book!

Love, Life and The List

Love, Life, and the List

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Abby Turner’s summer isn’t going the way she’d planned. She has a not-so-secret but definitely unrequited crush on her best friend, Cooper. She hasn’t been able to manage her mother’s growing issues with anxiety. And now she’s been rejected from an art show because her work “has no heart.” So when she gets another opportunity to show her paintings Abby isn’t going to take any chances.

Which is where the list comes in.

Abby gives herself one month to do ten things, ranging from face a fear (#3) to learn a stranger’s story (#5) to fall in love (#8). She knows that if she can complete the list she’ll become the kind of artist she’s always dreamed of being. But as the deadline approaches, Abby realizes that getting through the list isn’t as straightforward as it seems… and that maybe—just maybe—she can’t change her art if she isn’t first willing to change herself.

Thoughts:

I adore Kasie West’s books because they’re books I can just slip into without much thought. I know that they’re going to be enjoyable and quick to read. I know they’ll be a good summer read. That’s exactly what Love, Life and The List was for me.

The story centres around Abby who adores painting. Everyone around Abby tells her that she’s talented and she believes them. She is shocked to be rejected into an art show because her work doesn’t have enough ‘heart’. Abby comes up with a list of things she needs to do in order to grow as a person and an artist.

Having heart is something that Kasie West’s books definitely have. I thought this book was particularly strong at portraying Abby’s relationships. It wasn’t just her love interest, the relationship between her grandfather, mother and father were also developed brilliantly. Abby’s mother suffers with anxiety and I thought this was an interesting inclusion into the story. I loved that Abby had relationships with others aside from the love interest. Abby wanted to improve for herself and her art. Yes!

The love interest was cute, if a little predictable. Cooper was a cute character, but I think it would’ve made the story more interesting and less predictable if Abby had made different choices. However, there’s nothing wrong with a happily ever after in some stories, right?

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! 3.5 stars

A sweet story with some very interesting characters!