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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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!

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!

Talking About ‘The Party’ with Bibliobeth!

The Party

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Martin Gilmour is an outsider. When he wins a scholarship to Burtonbury School, he doesn’t wear the right clothes or speak with the right kind of accent. But then he meets the dazzling, popular and wealthy Ben Fitzmaurice, and gains admission to an exclusive world. Soon Martin is enjoying tennis parties and Easter egg hunts at the Fitzmaurice family’s estate, as Ben becomes the brother he never had.

But Martin has a secret. He knows something about Ben, something he will never tell. It is a secret that will bind the two of them together for the best part of 25 years.

At Ben’s 40th birthday party, the great and the good of British society are gathering to celebrate in a haze of champagne, drugs and glamour. Amid the hundreds of guests–the politicians, the celebrities, the old-money and newly rich–Martin once again feels that disturbing pang of not-quite belonging. His wife, Lucy, has her reservations too. There is disquiet in the air. But Ben wouldn’t do anything to damage their friendship. Would he?

CHRISSI: I know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover but what were your initial impressions of this book from its cover?

BETH: I have a confession to make. I do that judgey thing and judge a book by its cover. I have been proved wrong in the past – for example, I really didn’t like the cover of Me Before You by Jojo Moyes and as you know Chrissi, I adore that book. What can I say? I think a cover really sells a book and if you can market it “prettily,” you’re onto a winner (with me at least!) I have to admit for this cover? I just found it a little bit dull and unfortunately, it didn’t inspire me to read the book at all. In fact, if I saw it in a bookshop I wouldn’t pick it up on the basis of this cover alone. Luckily what was inside proved to be much more fascinating in the outside so time and time again, I must not judge!!

BETH: What did you make of Martin’s relationship with his wife, Lucy?

CHRISSI: Oh good question! I felt a bit sorry for Lucy actually. I feel like she always came second for him. He was far more concerned with his friendship with Ben than his relationship with his wife. She must have seen his neediness for his friend and wondered why that wasn’t there in their relationship. I felt like she was so loyal to him despite him constantly pushing her boundaries.

CHRISSI: How can we tell Martin is an unreliable narrator?

BETH: From the very beginning. I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that when we first meet Martin, he is being questioned in a police station. That isn’t to say he’s done anything wrong, there was an “incident” at a party and he is being asked what he knows. We soon find out what’s gone on in due course. As a reader, it does make you think what could have happened though, especially with the evasive way he is answering some of the questions…..
Then we get more information about his childhood and his relationship with the host of the party and the way he talks to and reacts to certain people makes him all the more intriguing.

BETH: Can money buy you happiness? Does being part of a wealthy elite change the way the Fitzmaurices behave to others not in their circle?

CHRISSI: I don’t think money can buy you happiness. I think it can help your life and help to reach the goals you may have for yourself. I definitely felt like the Fitzmaurices behaved in an incredibly entitled manner. They were obsessed with the power money held over others. Martin certainly enjoyed the high life when he was with Ben. I don’t think they were very kind to others in a lower class than themselves.

CHRISSI: To what extent did the narrative structure (where the bulk of the plot takes place over the course of one evening with flashbacks to the past) heighten the tension?

BETH: I love narratives like this. We hear about the present time, where as I mention, Martin is being questioned about what happened on that night, then it flits back and forward from the present day, to episodes where Martin is at school and as a young adult. As a reader, I wanted to get back to the questioning parts to try and get a clue about what exactly had happened but at the same time I wanted to get back to Martin’s past too as there’s definite clues there about his relationships and the reasons why they end up the way that they do.

BETH: Did you anticipate where this story would lead? Were you surprised by the outcome?

CHRISSI: I wasn’t really sure where this book was going to go. I did love the element of mystery. I also loved how I thought I was steps ahead and knew what was going on, but I wasn’t always right. For me, the ending was a little abrupt and it left me wondering what was going on or going to happen.

CHRISSI: Does this book fit into a genre?

BETH: This is such a hard question! On Goodreads it’s defined into quite a few categories – mystery, thriller and contemporary to name a few but I think it falls quite nicely into literary fiction too. It certainly has aspects of all of these genres, the intrigue where we don’t know what’s going on, a modern setting and a thrilling plot where we’re never quite sure of our characters’ motives.

BETH: Would you read another book by this author?

CHRISSI: I would! I did enjoy reading it, even if it felt a little slow in places for me.

Would WE recommend it?:

BETH: Of course!

CHRISSI: Yes! 3.5 stars

Toxic

Toxic

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

Previously reviewed by the same author:
Follow Me Back

Synopsis:

Hope has never been happier. She’s on her way to Crete, after a group of her friends have made her an honorary ‘lad’ and let her tag along on their boys’ holiday. There’s a slight complication in that one of those boys, Logan, is Hope’s ex-boyfriend, but they’re still friends and Hope’s pretty confident it won’t be too awkward.

The next couple of days are exactly what Hope was hoping for – lazy days in the sun, and long, drunken conversations. She can’t help but notice that Logan’s flirting with her. Logan and Hope end up alone and Hope is horrified when, after she leans in to kiss him, Logan completely rejects her.

Embarrassed and annoyed, Hope is on a mission to get drunk, and with the alcohol flowing, and the sun going down, Hope’s starts having a great time.

The next thing Hope knows, she’s being woken up on the beach by two strangers. It’s 9 o’clock the next morning and she can’t remember anything about the previous night . . . what on earth happened?

Thoughts:

I thought that this sounded like an intriguing read, so I decided to request it. It was a story all about friendship and how it can go toxic over time…

It starts with a girl named Hope who is on holiday with a group of her guy friends. One night, things go terribly wrong for Hope and her friends. Relationships start to get broken. Each person is hiding something from another. The story is told through three narratives- Hope, Logan and Daisy. As expected (for me), I did prefer some narratives to others. I could have done without Daisy’s narrative.

I loved that Toxic had a male character with depression. It’s not nearly represented as much as it should be. So a big thumbs up for Nicci Cloke for that!

Something that I really enjoyed about this book were the characters. So many had flaws and I loved that. No one loves a perfect character, do they? I did get a little frustrated with some of their actions and behaviour but that didn’t stop me from reading the story. I think most of the actions and the relationships between the characters are very true to life.

Whilst this book didn’t blow me away, I thought it was a decent read!

Would I recommend it?:
Yes!

Easy to read book with true to life characters!