Beth and Chrissi Do Kid-Lit- The Enchanted Wood (The Faraway Tree #1)

The Enchanted Wood (The Faraway Tree, #1)

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Joe, Beth and Frannie find the Enchanted Wood on the doorstep of their new home, and when they discover the Faraway Tree they fall into all sorts of adventures!

Thoughts:

Well, well, well… I used to be quite the fan of Enid Blyton when I was younger. I loved her whimsical writing and I was looking forward to getting stuck into the adventures once more. It is still totally charming, but I’m a little sad that they’ve changed the name of the characters. I believe Frannie was once Fanny. I can see that children would laugh at that now but they probably would’ve done so when reading it when it was first published too. Beth reminded me that Dame Snap had been changed from Dame Slap. For goodness sake, censorship is a little ridiculous nowadays. I don’t see any harm in those names at all. I know when I read about a character named Dick in my class, the children giggle. I just have to explain that it’s short for Richard and they tend to get over it quickly. This is a story and children aren’t as delicate as we think.

Mini rant aside, I thought this book was just as whimsical and lovely as I remember. I remember absolutely loving Moon Face! 🙂 I loved their magical adventures and always wondered what land would come up next. As an adult, I think I look at it more critically which is a shame. However,  it’s strange to think how easy-going the children’s parents were. It was apparently fine to go off until midnight into a magical land! If you can put little things like that  aside, then I really think this story will bring you a lot of joy. It certainly perked me up!

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

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

Next up in the Beth and Chrissi do Kid-Lit Challenge (June):
What Katy Did- Susan Coolidge

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Forget Me Not

Forget Me Not

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

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Apple Of My Eye

Synopsis:

It’s six in the morning during the hottest summer on record when Elizabeth O’Loughlin, out walking her dog, comes across Clare, a victim of a horrific knife attack, clinging onto life at the side of the road.

Clare dies minutes later, but not before whispering her haunting last words to Elizabeth.

When it becomes clear that Clare’s killer has more than one murder on his mind, Elizabeth has to take drastic action or face losing everything.

But what if she can’t stop a killer determined never to be forgotten? 

Thoughts:

I absolutely adored Apple Of My Eye, so I was intrigued to read Forget Me Not by Claire Allan. I thought this was another incredible read. Claire Allan is certainly becoming one of my favourite authors in the thriller genre. I highly recommend checking out her books if you haven’t done so already.

Forget Me Not opens with Elizabeth O’Loughlin walking her dog. She comes across Clare, a victim of a horrific attack. Clare’s dying, but manages to whisper some words to Elizabeth. Elizabeth soon realises that there could be more victims and she needs to do something about it.

I liked how the story was told from two different points of view. I think this works particularly well in a thriller. It gives you a break from one perspective but at the same time, if done well, it cleverly intertwines the story and this is what happened with Forget Me Not. Claire Allan is a master at building tension. Right from the start, I couldn’t stop turn the pages. It’s so fast paced that it’s hard to put it down.

This is definitely one of those books where you don’t want to know too much about it. It would completely ruin the story. It’s a book full of twists and turns. Some I did see coming, but some I admit, did surprise me. I really do need to check out Claire’s debut!

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

Another excellent read from Claire Allan!

Banned Books #59- Crazy Lady

Banner made by Luna @ Lunaslittlelibrary

Welcome to this month’s edition of Banned Books. This month, Beth and I read Crazy Lady by Jane Leslie Conly.

Crazy Lady!

First published: 1993
In the Top Ten most frequently challenged books in 2005 (source)
Reasons: offensive language.

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

BETH: I don’t know why I put myself through this each month – as soon as I see the reasons for books being challenged/banned, I get cross! Haha. This book was originally published in 1993 which feels occasionally like a million light years ago but strangely enough, at the same time, it feels not long ago at all for me, it’s a year I remember quite well. Attitudes have changed quite dramatically from the nineties, especially regarding children with special needs (thank goodness!) but as for the reason this book was challenged? I just don’t get it. It states offensive language and well, there are many moments in this book where the characters “cuss,” but no mention is ever made of the particular words they use. All that is said is the word “cuss,” which isn’t offensive by itself – not to me, anyway. So I’m left feeling slightly confused as to where the offensive language was?!

CHRISSI: We never agree with the reasons for things being challenged and I really don’t see the problem with any language in this book. As I’ve said before, children and young adults hear and see much worse in their family home. Even in the 90s! I don’t think offensive language is reason enough to challenge a book. I really don’t!

How about now?

BETH: Nowadays I would hope that the mere mention of the word “cuss” or “swear,” wouldn’t send people running for the hills but sadly, that still appears to be the case. Well, when it was challenged in 2005 that is! Fair enough, not everybody appreciates bad language, I personally don’t use it in my reviews because I don’t want to offend anyone but I understand and enjoy the fact that everyone is different. However, I don’t understand why when the “bad words,” aren’t even mentioned that some people still have an issue with this book? Perhaps I’m being incredibly naive.

CHRISSI: I can’t believe that this book was challenged in 2005, especially when TV and the media have much worse language occurring. I mean, seriously?! If the language was more explicit, then I could probably get why it was challenged, but it’s really not that bad at all. I’ve read worse and I’m sure teenagers/young adults have heard worse too. I think we can censor our children/young people too much and it makes them curious to seek out what is being challenged.

What did you think of this book?:

BETH: Crazy Lady was a quick and easy read for me but nothing I really want to shout from the rooftops about. It was interesting to see the depiction of a special needs child written in the nineties (but set in the eighties) and how far we’ve come as a society since then in our attitudes and treatment. I thought the alcoholic character of Maxine was an interesting addition but I have to admit, she frustrated me slightly especially as it seemed like she wasn’t making any effort to really help herself or her son Ronald.

CHRISSI: It has an interesting story-line and one I’m pleased is represented in children’s literature. It wasn’t a book that I’d rave about. I found the ending to be a bit of a let down. Mainly, like Beth, it made me appreciate how our treatment with people with special needs has progressed. We still have a way to go, but we’re definitely taking steps in the right direction. I liked how it didn’t try and talk down or be condescending.

Would you recommend it?:

BETH: Probably!

CHRISSI: Yes!

Dead Girls

Dead Girls

How did I get it?:
It was a gift from Beth!

Previously reviewed by the same author:
Golden Boy

Synopsis:

When her best friend Billie is found murdered, eleven-year-old Thera – fearless and forthright – considers it her duty to find the killer.

Aided by a Ouija board, Billie’s ghost, and the spirits of four other dead girls, she’s determined to succeed. The trouble with Thera, though, is that she doesn’t always know when to stop – and sometimes there’s a fine line between doing the right thing and doing something very, very bad indeed.

Thoughts:

Golden Boy is a phenomenal albeit quite challenging read so when I heard about the premise of Dead Girls, I knew it would contain some heavy going content. Dead Girls definitely has some heavy content. As a warning for those that might be sensitive to some of the subject matter- there’s paedophilia, murder and sexual content within the story. It’s one that’s not particularly ‘easy’ to read, but it’s compelling.

Dead Girls centres around a young girl named Thera whose best friend Billie has been murdered. She is determined to find her friend’s killer, no matter what it takes. With the help of Billie’s ghost and four other dead girls, she goes on the search for Billie’s killer. However, Thera doesn’t always know how far is too far. Will she put herself in danger to find justice for her friend?

I loved it being set in 1999. I could totally relate to many of the things that Thera was talking about! It was so nostalgic, which I absolutely loved. Dead Girls is written from Thera’s point of view. Thera is 11 and I think Abigail Tarttelin got Thera’s voice spot on. It’s clear that Abigail is a fantastic writer because it’s no easy task to write from an 11 year old’s point of view and not make you want to tear your hair out with frustration! Reading Thera’s thoughts was tiring at times (but in a good way, it was totally realistic). I wanted to jump into the story and stop her from making silly mistakes. I wanted to protect her. I honestly cringed at some of the things she did, but I think it was believable.

The ending of this book is incredible. It’s one you don’t want to know much about because it would totally ruin the story. I certainly didn’t see it coming.

This book might not be an easy read, but I found it to be incredibly gripping, thought-provoking, emotional and intense. Just be aware of the tough subject matter before you go into reading it.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

Although I didn’t enjoy this book as much as Golden Boy, it was still a highly addictive, well written read!

Little Darlings

Little Darlings

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

Synopsis:

Everyone says Lauren Tranter is exhausted, that she needs rest. And they’re right; with newborn twins, Morgan and Riley, she’s never been more tired in her life. But she knows what she saw: that night, in her hospital room, a woman tried to take her babies and replace them with her own…creatures. Yet when the police arrived, they saw no one. Everyone, from her doctor to her husband, thinks she’s imagining things.

A month passes. And one bright summer morning, the babies disappear from Lauren’s side in a park. But when they’re found, something is different about them. The infants look like Morgan and Riley―to everyone else. But to Lauren, something is off. As everyone around her celebrates their return, Lauren begins to scream, These are not my babies.

Determined to bring her true infant sons home, Lauren will risk the unthinkable. But if she’s wrong about what she saw…she’ll be making the biggest mistake of her life.

Compulsive, creepy, and inspired by some our darkest fairy tales, Little Darlings will have you checking―and rechecking―your own little ones. Just to be sure. Just to be safe.

Thoughts:

I have to admit that I hadn’t heard much about Little Darlings. I do think it’s one that’s going to be everywhere soon though and deservedly so! Even though it took me longer to read than I wanted it to (super busy teacher here!) if I had the time, I could’ve devoured it easily in one sitting. It’s gripping, creepy and so, so easy to read.

It centres around Lauren Tranter who has recently had twins. She’s understandably exhausted but she’s not going mad. Everyone around her thinks that she is, because they believe she imagined a woman trying to exchange her twins for…creatures. Lauren is certain that the woman was there and won’t let it go. After a month or so, Lauren’s babies (Morgan and Riley) disappear from Lauren’s side as she falls asleep. After a while, the babies are returned to Lauren, but although they may look like Morgan and Riley… Lauren is insistent that they certainly aren’t. She is determined to get her real children back, no matter what it takes.

This book is so incredibly well written. It’s astounding to me that this is a debut. It’s so creepy. I was seriously freaked out every single time changelings were mentioned. Honestly, there are some moments in the story that sent a shiver down my spine. I would’ve loved to have filmed my reaction to reading this book as I’m pretty sure I made some very expressive faces. I imagine I looked like this at many points:

The characters in this story are phenomenal. Lauren was a wonderful unreliable narrator. Did she really see what she did? Was she mentally ill? Her husband seemed super shady. I just didn’t trust anyone. It was really interesting to read the police procedural element to this story. Harper was a fantastic addition to the story and I felt like she really pushed the story on.

Being a fan of the fairy tale, I adored the dark nature of this story. Changelings are terrifying. I was so impressed with this debut.

Would I recommend it?:
Without a doubt!

A cracking debut novel! I’m so impressed and look forward to more from Melanie Golding!

Two Can Keep A Secret

Two Can Keep a Secret

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:
One Of Us Is Lying

Synopsis:

Ellery’s never been to Echo Ridge, but she’s heard all about it. It’s where her aunt went missing at age sixteen, never to return. Where a Homecoming Queen’s murder five years ago made national news. And where Ellery now has to live with a grandmother she barely knows, after her failed-actress mother lands in rehab. No one knows what happened to either girl, and Ellery’s family is still haunted by their loss.

Malcolm grew up in the shadow of the Homecoming Queen’s death. His older brother was the prime suspect and left Echo Ridge in disgrace. His mother’s remarriage vaulted her and Malcolm into Echo Ridge’s upper crust, but their new status grows shaky when mysterious threats around town hint that a killer plans to strike again. No one has forgotten Malcolm’s brother-and nobody trusts him when he suddenly returns to town.

Ellery and Malcolm both know it’s hard to let go when you don’t have closure. Then another girl disappears, and Ellery and Malcolm were the last people to see her alive. As they race to unravel what happened, they realize every secret has layers in Echo Ridge. The truth might be closer to home than either of them want to believe.

And somebody would kill to keep it hidden.

Thoughts:

I wasn’t blown away by the author’s debut novel, but I knew I wanted to read this book. It sounded really gripping. I’m certainly glad I didn’t give up on this author as I really enjoyed Two Can Keep A Secret. 

The story follows twins Ellery and Ezra (totally got Pretty Little Liars vibes with this name and the title…) as they go to love with their grandmother in Echo Ridge as their mother is in rehabs, Echo Ridge is completely new to them. It’s a town full of secrets. Homecoming Queens go missing including Ellery and Ezra’s aunt Sarah. Years later, it happens again and the threats are rife. Ellery and Ezra are determined to find out what’s going on, with the help of some new friends.

It’s told from two main perspectives, Ellery and Malcolm. I don’t always love a dual narrative, but I feel like this one worked and it made you have a deeper insight into the story. Malcolm is the brother of one of the Homecoming Queen’s boyfriend. They suspected Malcolm’s brother of murder and Malcolm is immediately regarded with suspicion when the threats begin once more. I really liked Malcolm’s character. I felt like the author made you want to reach into the story and help him. He certainly has a rough ride throughout.

I was so intrigued by this story, eager to find out what was going to happen. It’s not the most complex mystery, but it’s decent all the same and kept me turning the pages and that’s what it’s all about!

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! 3.5 stars

A creepy mystery well worth exploring!

The Kiss Quotient (The Kiss Quotient #1)

The Kiss Quotient (The Kiss Quotient #1)

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

It’s high time for Stella Lane to settle down and find a husband – or so her mother tells her. This is no easy task for a wealthy, successful woman like Stella, who also happens to have Asperger’s. Analyzing data is easy; handling the awkwardness of one-on-one dates is hard. To overcome her lack of dating experience, Stella decides to hire a male escort to teach her how to be a good girlfriend.

Faced with mounting bills, Michael decides to use his good looks and charm to make extra cash on the side. He has a very firm no repeat customer policy, but he’s tempted to bend that rule when Stella approaches him with an unconventional proposal.

The more time they spend together, the harder Michael falls for this disarming woman with a beautiful mind, and Stella discovers that love defies logic.

Thoughts:

I had heard really mixed things about The Kiss Quotient. I’d heard some rave reviews and some rather negative reviews as well. I was really intrigued to read this book to see where I would lie with it. Admittedly, the biggest draw to this book for me was the autistic main character. I have a wealth of experience with autistic children and have read books where children have autism, I haven’t read many with a female adult that has autism.

The best way to describe The Kiss Quotient (as many other bloggers have) is a gender flipped Pretty Women. Stella, our main character, hires a male escort to help her learn how to seduce men and be in a relationship. Stella has pressure from her parents to settle down, but she feels as if she’s bad at relationships and everything that comes with them. Stella doesn’t expect to connect with Michael, the escort, as much as she does. Michael has his own problems and is an escort for a reason. Both Stella and Michael learn a lot from one another, but their journey is certainly not an easy one.

I have to say, even though there was an escort involved in this book, I didn’t expect there to be quite so much focus on sex. If you don’t like reading steamy romance then this might not be the book for you. There’s certainly quite a lot of explicit moments. It’s not usually my sort of thing, but Stella was such a loveable character that I couldn’t stop turning the pages to find out what was going to happen to her. I felt like the writing was addictive and easy to read. I believe that Stella’s autism was well represented in this book. Not every autistic person is the same, but Stella’s experiences seemed very realistic.

Stella and Michael’s relationship is mainly physical but there are some more tender moments between them. I felt like Michael came across as little too perfect with his perfect body and it made me roll my eyes a little. I liked how everything between them centred around consent. That was so important. I liked the moments when Stella got to know Michael’s family. It wasn’t clear cut for her and she made mistakes. Utterly believable!

So why didn’t I rate this book any higher? Well, I wanted a bit more depth from the story. I felt like it had some glimpses of some deeper moments but there wasn’t enough substance for me. Perhaps I’m just super picky? I am definitely interested enough to read The Bride Test which I read is about different characters but still has the autistic voice that I loved from this book.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! 3.5 stars

Usually explicit content isn’t for me, but this story pulled me in! A very accomplished debut!