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.

Advertisements

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

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!

I Was Born For This

I Was Born For This

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:
Solitaire
Radio Silence

Synopsis:

For Angel Rahimi, life is only about one thing: The Ark – a pop-rock trio of teenage boys who are currently taking the world by storm. Being part of The Ark’s fandom has given her everything – her friendships, her dreams, her place in the world.

Jimmy Kaga-Ricci owes everything to The Ark too. He’s their frontman – and playing in a band is all he’s ever dreamed of doing. It’s just a shame that recently everything in his life seems to have turned into a bit of a nightmare.

Because that’s the problem with dreaming – eventually, inevitably, real life arrives with a wake-up call. And when Angel and Jimmy are unexpectedly thrust together, they will discover just how strange and surprising facing up to reality can be.

Thoughts:

I went into this book with very high expectations after particularly enjoying Radio Silence by Alice Oseman previously.

I Was Born For This centres around Angel Rahimi who is a massive fan of the band The Ark. The Ark are three teenage guys who are exploding around the world. Angel is a super fan. She goes to London to meet someone named Juliet who she met online. Angel and Juliet have tickets for a meet and greet and the show. Angel is completely obsessed with the band. They are her reason for living. The meet up/gig doesn’t go as expected and Angel’s perception of the band is completely thrown up into the air.

The story is told through two narratives, Angel’s and Jimmy, a member of The Ark. Jimmy suffers with severe anxiety, having been thrust into the spotlight. He had been outed for being transgender. Although his fans had been incredibly supportive, it still added to his anxieties.

I really enjoyed the story because I’ve been a part of a few fandoms in my time (I sound like a Grandma!) and I could recognise a lot of the behaviours including ‘shipping’ of band members together. That’s such a thing and makes the story utterly relatable. I also really enjoyed how Alice Oseman represented the idea that we think we know someone but until we meet them in person and get to know them, we never truly ‘know’ them.

There are some fantastic characters within these pages. I loved Angel, Juliet, Bliss and the band members. I thought the portrayal of Jimmy’s mental health was incredibly realistic. Alice Oseman writes well from the perspective of a teenager.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

If you’ve ever been part of a fandom, you need to check out this book!

The Liar’s Room

The Liar's Room: The addictive new psychological thriller from the bestselling author of THE HOUSE

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

Previously reviewed by the same author:
The House

Synopsis:

ONE ROOM. TWO LIARS. NO WAY OUT…

Susanna Fenton has a secret. Fourteen years ago she left her identity behind, reinventing herself as a counsellor and starting a new life. It was the only way to keep her daughter safe.

But everything changes when Adam Geraghty walks into her office. She’s never met this young man before – so why does she feel like she knows him?

Then Adam starts to tell her about a girl. A girl he wants to hurt.

And Susanna realises she was wrong. 
She doesn’t know him. 
BUT HE KNOWS HER. 
AND THE GIRL HE PLANS TO HURT IS HER DAUGHTER…

Thoughts:

I was excited to get my hands on a copy of The Liar’s Room after really enjoying Simon Lelic’s book The House. I actually think this book was a much stronger read than The House. It was clever, manipulative and so easy to read. I raced through the book eager to find out what was going on. This book has definitely made me quite the fan of Simon Lelic’s writing!

The Liar’s Room has so much going on within its pages. It centres around Susanna and her new client Adam. Susanna has a secret that goes back so many years. She has reinvented herself, not realising that her new client knows more about her than he initially lets on. Adam talks about wanting to hurt a girl. Susanna soon realises that the girl is her daughter, Emily. Susanna is determined to protect her daughter. Adam takes Susanna on a trip down memory lane and she finds out that she is closer to him than she had ever expected to be!

This is one of those books that is SO hard to review without spoiling it, so apologies for my vagueness. I will say that this book has some utterly fascinating characters. I was so eager to find out the truth between lies. I had moments of not really trusting many of the characters and I love that. I adore an unreliable narrator/characters. I thought this book had them in abundance.

With a seemingly simple plot, a counsellor and a client, Simon Lelic really wove a tangled web. The story was incredibly intense. I loved how the characters were trying to get the upper hand at points. It really was quite the battle. I also really appreciated how there were journal entries within the story from Emily. I thought this was a clever touch and really added to the story.

I am excited to read more from Simon Lelic in the future. He has a compelling writing style and his books keep me guessing.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

A wonderful thriller! It definitely didn’t go where I expected!

No Place Like Home

No Place Like Home

How did I get it?:
NetGalley- thanks to Bloodhound Books

Synopsis:

What would you do if you came home to find someone in your house? 

This is the predicament Polly Cooke faces when she returns to her new home.The first weeks in the house had been idyllic, but soon Jacob, a local man, is watching her. 

What does he want and why is he so obsessed with Polly? 

In a situation where nothing is what it seems, you might end up regretting letting some people in.

Thoughts:

The first thing that drew me to this book was the synopsis. I am a huge fan of psychological thrillers and this one sounded right up my street. I wasn’t prepared for how dark it was going to be. A word of warning, if you are triggered at all by any sort of violence/graphic content, then this book may not be for you. I found it to be quite disturbing in places but it just added to the intensity of the story for me.

No Place Like Home centres around Polly Cooke who has just got her new home. Finally she has a home that she can call her own. One night when she’s on her way back from work, Polly notices a shadow in the window upstairs. Someone is in her house! She’s not sure whether to go in and confront them or tell the police. I can’t say too much more without giving away spoilers and I really think this book is made for reading without knowing too much about it.

I can’t even discuss the characters without giving too much away. Just know that they are all very interesting. I kept thinking I had picked a side to be on, but my mind changed constantly. No Place Like Home has lots of twists and turns along the way. The story can seem a little disjointed but as you read it begins to unravel and you begin to understand what on earth is going on.

I think this book is well worth reading, especially if you’re into intense page-turners!

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

This is an incredibly dark thriller with some intense, disturbing content within its pages.

Show Stopper (Show Stopper #1)

Show Stopper

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Set in a near-future England where the poorest people in the land must watch their children be taken by a travelling circus – to perform at the mercy of hungry lions, sabotaged high wires and a demonic ringmaster. The ruling class visit the circus as an escape from their structured, high-achieving lives – pure entertainment with a bloodthirsty edge. Ben, the teenage son of a draconian government minister, visits the circus for the first time and falls instantly in love with Hoshiko, a young performer. They come from harshly different worlds – but must join together to escape the circus and put an end to its brutal sport.

Thoughts:

I was invited to read the second book in this series, I agreed before I realised it was a series! I knew then that I had to read the first one. I was hoping to really like it so my commitment to review the second book wasn’t such a chore. Luckily for me, I really did enjoy Show Stopper. It’s an incredibly dark YA novel. I think it may cause contention with some because it’s very much about those ‘pure of blood’ being separated from those that are more diverse. They are treated awfully because they’re not ‘pure.’ I can see this grating on a few readers, but sadly I don’t think it’s a far fetched notion. It doesn’t make it right, but it’s definitely something to think about.

Show Stopper is set in future England. The poorest people have to give up their children to the circus to perform in front of hungry animals, high wires and an absolutely awful ringmaster. Those that are pure of blood often visit the circus as an escape from their busy lives. They are entertained and blood-thirsty, eager to see if the poor get hurt or even killed. Ben, the son of a government minister responsible for weeding out the poorer class, visits the circus one evening and becomes captivated by Hoshiko. They both come from completely different worlds, but must work together in order to escape the circus.

It is narrated by both Ben and Hoshiko. I never had a problem following the narrative. It was clear to me which one of the characters were narrating. I thought Show Stopper was such a fast paced read. I think the short chapters definitely helped this. I quickly raced through the book, eager to find out what was going to happen. There are some brilliant characters within these pages. The Ringmaster is awful, yet I thought he was great to hate.

I can understand why this book sits uncomfortably with many readers as some of the issues discussed are relevant to the issues we face in our society. However, there’s something about this book that totally engrossed me and kept me reading until the end and eager to pick up the next book!

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

I thought this was an amazing book. I’m really into the circus vibe at the moment and this story was utterly engrossing!

Look out for my review of Show Stealer later in the month!