The Disappearances

The Disappearances

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Every seven years something goes missing in the remote town of Sterling: people’s reflections, the stars in the sky, the ability to dream. Aila realises that her mother may be to blame for the curse. But some mysteries are buried very deep and some secrets want to stay hidden – and one young woman’s desire to uncover the truth may not be enough to save Sterling from the past.

A beautifully told story of love, loss and finding the truth – no matter how difficult that might be.

Thoughts:

I had a really weird experience when I read this book. I started off really loving it and was wondering why I had took so long to get around to it. However, when I got deeper into the book, I started to lose a bit of interest in it. I don’t know whether that’s because it took me so long to read because work was super busy or whether it just didn’t capture my attention as much as I wanted. Either way, The Disappearances is an interesting book full of magical realism. I’m not disappointed that I read it.

The Disappearances is set in the 1940s. It’s about a town where Disappearances occur every seven years. The people living in the town have lost strange things though like their reflections or their sense of smell. Aila is desperate to find out what is going on in the town. Is it a curse? The town has something called Variants which help to counteract the Disappearances but they can take some time to make. Aila wants to discover the truth and uncovers many mysteries along the way.

As I mentioned, at first I found this book really intriguing. It didn’t necessarily read like historical fiction. It was however, filled to the brim with magical realism. I think if you enjoy magical realism then you’ll really like the idea of the Disappearances and Variants. There were constant nods to Shakespeare, which didn’t really do much for me, but if you’re into Shakespeare then that might delight you!

I loved Aila as a character. She was feisty and I always enjoy a strong female character. I feel like Emily Bain Murphy really brought her character to life.

I don’t want to come across as negative about this book, because it was good. It was light-hearted and easy to read. It just wasn’t the read I thought it was going to be! It is however, unique and worth checking out.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! 3.5 stars

I had mixed feelings about this book. It is well written and unique though!

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A List Of Cages

A List of Cages

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

When Adam Blake lands the best elective ever in his senior year, serving as an aide to the school psychologist, he thinks he’s got it made. Sure, it means a lot of sitting around, which isn’t easy for a guy with ADHD, but he can’t complain, since he gets to spend the period texting all his friends. Then the doctor asks him to track down the troubled freshman who keeps dodging her, and Adam discovers that the boy is Julian—the foster brother he hasn’t seen in five years.

Adam is ecstatic to be reunited. At first, Julian seems like the boy he once knew. He’s still kindhearted. He still writes stories and loves picture books meant for little kids. But as they spend more time together, Adam realizes that Julian is keeping secrets, like where he hides during the middle of the day, and what’s really going on inside his house. Adam is determined to help him, but his involvement could cost both boys their lives…

Thoughts:

I had this book on my radar for 2017 but for some reason I never got around to it. I heard such amazing things about it, but you know what the life of a bookworm is like. Sometimes it’s hard to get around to every book. So I’m making it my mission this year to catch up on some debut releases from 2017.

I read A List Of Cages in early March and I thought it was a simply incredible book. I will warn you that it is intense. I wasn’t expecting that. I feel like I need to say that there is heavy abuse in this story, so if that is something that would be too much for you, then perhaps this book won’t be for you. If you can manage to read this book, even with a heavy heart, I do think this book is really worth a read.

It’s a book about Adam and Julian. Adam is a popular boy at his school. He has ADHD and finds sitting still a challenge. He becomes an aide for the school psychologist. He has to track down a peer that is completely avoiding the school psychologist. Adam realises that it’s Julian, a younger boy who used to be fostered by Adam’s family. Adam grows closer to Julian once again, but Julian is hiding massive secrets which will soon come to the forefront.

As expected, this book is not necessarily an easy read. It’s incredibly hard to read due to the abuse involved in the story. It absolutely tore at my heart. I was desperate for Julian to find happiness. I also loved how Adam, despite being four years older, was completely there for Julian. It was the sweetest and most genuine friendship.

Dual narratives don’t always work for me, but in this book they are perfect. I could get a sense of the characters from their points of view. They were so incredibly different. Adam was the life and soul. Mr Popular. Julian was deeply affected by his past and his current home situation. He was timid and withdrawn. I loved how Robin Roe portrayed Adam and Julian’s characters. Their friendship is one of the best I have ever read.

I also appreciated how the characters didn’t find school easy. Adam struggled with his ADHD and Julian struggled academically. I wasn’t overly impressed with how the educators in the story dealt with their struggles, but hey, you can’t win them all! Being a teacher myself it’s something that does grate on me.

This book doesn’t hold back any. It is raw, brutally honest and heart-breaking. Yet, there’s something hopeful about the future for these characters. Highly recommended!

Would I recommend it?:
Without a doubt!

Stunning writing. A wonderful albeit hard to read book!

Talking About ‘Close To Home’ with Bibliobeth!

Close to Home (DI Adam Fawley, #1)

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Someone took Daisy Mason. Someone YOU KNOW.

Last night, 8-year-old Daisy Mason disappeared from her parents’ summer party. No one in the quiet suburban street saw anything – or at least that’s what they’re saying. DI Adam Fawley is trying to keep an open mind. But he knows that nine times out of ten, it’s someone the victim knew. That means someone is lying. And that Daisy’s time is running out…

Introducing DI Fawley and his team of Oxford detectives, CLOSE TO HOME is a pulse-pounding race against time and a penetrating examination of what happens to a community when a shocking crime is committed by one of its own.

CHRISSI: Did you have any preconceptions about this book before you started it?

BETH: I really try not to have preconceptions about any book before I read it but I think it’s human nature, you do make a snap judgement depending on how the book looks and what you’ve heard about it. Luckily, I had heard only good things and if anything, the preconceptions were basically high expectations based on the number of positive reviews I’ve read and the fact it was picked for the Richard and Judy Spring Book Club list this year. Always a good sign! However, we do know there have been books that have been chosen that we haven’t particularly loved – would this be one of them? No chance. I adored this book and believe it’s the start of a hugely promising crime series that I’m now desperate to follow.

BETH: Our lead detective, DI Adam Fawley is reported in this novel as also experiencing tragedy in his life. Were you as eager as me to know his back story?

CHRISSI: So very desperate. I loved how it was teased throughout. That sounds like I mean that I was happy he experienced tragedy, not at all, I just loved the way the details were drip fed to us. Anticipation. I really wanted to know what had happened to DI Adam Fawley. I was intrigued throughout and wanted to know what had happened to him. I grew to love him as a character and felt like I could feel his pain through the pages of the book. He’s not real, Chrissi, he’s not real!

CHRISSI: What does this novel say about children and the world they’re growing up in now?

BETH: Interesting and very tough question! And I’m going to try and do this without spoilers….One of the things that I enjoyed most about this book was the use of different media to tell the story. For example, we have Twitter feeds, news articles, interview transcripts etc. and not only did this give an alternative look at the story from a number of points of view, it broke up the narrative in a really fun-to-read way. However, I think it illustrated perfectly how powerful and dangerous social media can be in distorting views, inciting hatred, giving false information and potentially endangering lives. We already know from the very start of the novel that Daisy has disappeared with someone “close to home,” and it makes you wonder if you can really trust anyone – a terrifying thought.

BETH: Who do you think is a better parent to Daisy, Barry or Sharon?

CHRISSI: Well this is an evil question, Beth! They both have their flaws. Definitely. I have to say that I doubted them all the way through at different points in the story. Cara Hunter is awesome at keeping you guessing, I have to say. If I had to choose it would be Barry. I think. Argh! I don’t know. I don’t like this question, Beth. I don’t know if I’m picking Barry because I intensely disliked Sharon!

CHRISSI: Cara Hunter sets her novel in Oxford, a place that’s been portrayed many times in crime fiction. What do you think of her version of the city?

BETH: I’ve visited Oxford a couple of times now (once with you fairly recently!) and I loved Cara’s version of this beloved and well-known city. I enjoyed that we got to hear about a few staples of the city, like the spires but it generally felt much more focused on an ordinary street with very ordinary people living there but where an extraordinary and very traumatic thing has occurred. I liked how the author focused on the community around the Mason family, what they saw, how they connected with the Masons and how they reacted to the event.

BETH: Without spoilers, did you see this ending coming and what did you think of it?

CHRISSI: That ending! Oh my goodness. I don’t want to spoil it at all, so I’m going to be very careful around discussing it. It deserves to be read without knowing what’s going to happen. If you manage to get it without spoilers (like I did!) then your mouth might drop open…a bit like mine did. I definitely didn’t see it coming. As I mentioned before, Cara Hunter totally kept me guessing. The ending that happened never, ever crossed my mind. Mind blown.

CHRISSI: How does this book compare to others in the (heavily) populated genre?

BETH: It’s up there with the best in my opinion. As I mentioned, I loved the way in which Cara Hunter styled this novel and used a vast array of other media to tell this tale. It felt unique, different and was a clever little break from a cliffhanger in the narrative that just made you want to read as fast as you could to get back to the main crux of the novel and find out what happened next! These parts were ever so important however as they brought vital information into the case of Daisy Mason that you wouldn’t want to miss by glossing over these sections. There was not only a stellar plot (and THAT ending) but I absolutely adored all the characters, even those you love to hate. They were frank, authentic, fully formed and I felt just as interested in them as I did in what happened to Daisy. Can’t say enough good things, it was brilliant.

BETH: Would you read another book by this author?

CHRISSI: Yes, yes I would. I have automatically downloaded the next book in the series on NetGalley, which I’m super excited about. I tend to find crime fiction a bit overpopulated and a little bit samey, but I’m happy to say that I found Cara Hunter’s book to be incredibly unique and well worth reading. It kept me captivated throughout. I’m excited to see where this series goes.

Would WE recommend it?:

BETH: Without a doubt!
CHRISSI: Without a doubt!

Wing Jones

Wing Jones

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

With a grandmother from China and another from Ghana, fifteen-year-old Wing Jones is often caught between worlds. But when tragedy strikes, Wing discovers a talent for running she never knew she had. Wing’s speed could bring her family everything it needs. It could also stop Wing getting the one thing she wants.

Thoughts:

I had heard a lot of good things about Wing Jones from around the blogosphere, so I thought it was about time that I finally got around to it. I mean, I’ve had it for over a year, it was surely time to give it a go? I thought the story was incredibly sweet and found there was a lot to like about Wing Jones. 

The story centres around Wing Jones who isn’t the most popular girl. She has an interesting family with a grandmother from China and another from Ghana. (A tick for the representation in this book! 🙂 ) After something awful happens in her family, Wing discovers a talent for running that she didn’t know she had. Wing’s new found talent could help out her family but it also could prevent other things happening…

I enjoyed the story overall and think it’s such an easy to read book. I like how it addresses the racism that Wing experiences, it never shies away from it. It’s awesome that Wing isn’t a perfect looking athlete. This totally should be represented more. I loved Wing’s family and kind of wished we had heard more about their plot lines. I appreciated the slow burn romance and found it to be believable. I loved that the story was bittersweet and had some touching family moments amongst tragedy. It’s real to life and I appreciate that.

Another aspect of the book that I really enjoyed was the magical realism. I adore magical realism, it’s that inner child in me that makes me enjoy working with children! I feel like it added to the plot line and made it different to other YA contemporary reads.

I really enjoyed reading about Wing but I have to admit she frustrated me as a character sometimes. I totally understood that she felt alienated from her peers after being picked on by a girl at school. However, even though she’s close to her brother and his friends she never reaches out to them at school. That confused me. I was also a little disappointed that the reader doesn’t tend to find out much about the aftermath of the tragedy.

All in all, I enjoyed Wing Jones. It’s not perfect by any means, but it’s a fabulous book with fabulous representation. Worth reading!

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! 3.5 stars

A fabulous YA debut with very ‘real’ characters!

The Girlfriend

The Girlfriend

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Laura has it all. A successful career, a long marriage to a rich husband, and a twenty-three year-old son, Daniel, who is kind, handsome, and talented. Then Daniel meets Cherry. Cherry is young, beautiful and smart but she hasn’t had the same opportunities as Daniel. And she wants Laura’s life.

Cherry comes to the family wide-eyed and wants to be welcomed with open arms, but Laura suspects she’s not all that she seems.

When tragedy strikes, an unforgiveable lie is told. It is an act of desperation, but the fall-out will change their lives forever.

Thoughts:

I had heard a lot of good things about The Girlfriend and goodness knows I love a psychological thriller. I was completely gripped by The Girlfriend right from the start. I knew something messed up was going to go down and I wasn’t disappointed. I am quite shocked that this book is a debut novel because it felt like a book from an incredibly established author. All too often, thrillers are like each other and I didn’t get that vibe with The Girlfriend. 

It centres around Laura, Daniel and Cherry. Laura has a wonderful career, a marriage to a rich husband and a brilliant, intelligent, kind relationship with her son Daniel. Daniel meets Cherry, who is beautiful and smart, but her life has been much tougher than Daniel’s. She certainly hasn’t had the same opportunities that Daniel has had. Cherry wants a life like Laura’s. Cherry is introduced to the family and Laura is immediately unsure of Cherry. She’s protective over her son and thinks there’s something not right about her. After a terrible accident, a lie is told which changes their lives. Who do you trust? Who is in the wrong?

Basically, those last two questions were my thoughts the whole way through reading this gripping thriller. I wanted to know what on earth was going to happen. Talk about unlikeable female characters! This book had them in abundance. This really is a dark, twisted tale. One I kept on turning the pages, eager to find out how far Cherry and Laura would go. Ooh.

Cherry has been brought up in a poor family with not many opportunities. Daniel is completely the opposite. They fall in love quickly, but Laura is not happy. I thought Laura’s relationship with Daniel was quite creepy. I didn’t trust her from the start with her obsessing over her son. Then I wasn’t sure if Cherry’s intentions were true. Daniel really was obsessed over by both ladies in his life.

This is a brilliant debut novel and I’m super excited to see what Michelle Frances writes next. The only reason why I didn’t give it 5 stars is because I felt the ending was a little rushed.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

This book is a little gem! I devoured it!

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!