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!

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!

Flying Tips For Flightless Birds

Flying Tips for Flightless Birds

How did I get it?:
Received from Walker Books for review

Synopsis:

Twins Finch and Birdie Franconi are stars of the flying trapeze. But when Birdie suffers a terrifying accident, Finch must team up with the geeky new kid, Hector Hazzard, to form an all-boys double act and save the family circus school. Together they learn to walk the high-wire of teen life and juggle the demands of friends, family, first love and facing up to who they are – all served up with a dash of circus-showbiz magic.

Thoughts:

I was immediately intrigued by this book when I read about it in an email. The title interested me and I’m all for reading about circuses at the moment. A massive thank you to Walker for sending me a copy of this book. I’m always excited when I hear that a book is a debut. I’m always on the search for fabulous new writing talent. I am happy to say I’d easily read another book by Kelly McCaughrain, I was really impressed with her debut!

It centres around twins Finch and Birdie. They are the stars of the flying trapeze in their family circus. Finch and Birdie are treated horribly at school because they are outsiders, they dress outlandishly and express themselves through their outfits! Lots of people at school pick on them because they’re different. Birdie has a terrifying accident, leaving her out of action for the family circus school. Finch has to work with Hector, a new geeky kid at school. He’s a little bit hopeless at all things circus, but Finch perseveres with him. Finch and Hector grow closer as they learn to deal with friends, family and school pressures. They learn about who they really are.

I thought this was such a cute book! I have to admit that it took me a few chapters to get into it, but when I was, I was completely captivated. I found it incredibly easy to read. I loved how there were many positive messages that could be taken from the story. Finch, Birdie and Hector are such fantastic characters. I especially grew to love Finch and Hector. I loved how their friendship developed over the course of the story. I was championing Hector from the very beginning too. Such an adorable character.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. I couldn’t stop turning the pages. My heart grew to love these truly special characters.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

A fantastic debut with some amazing characters that became very dear to me!

How To Hang A Witch

How to Hang a Witch

How did I get it?:
Received from Walker Books, in exchange for an honest review!

Synopsis:

After Sam’s father is hospitalised, she has to move from New York to Salem with her stepmother, Vivian. Unfortunately, Sam is related to Cotton Mather, one of the men responsible for the Salem Witch Trials, and to say she feels unwelcome in Salem is an understatement… She is particularly unnerved by The Descendants, a mysterious and tight-knit group of girls related to those persecuted in the Trials. At the same time, she must deal with Elijah, the handsome but angry ghost who has appeared in her house, and her new neighbour Jaxon only complicates things further.

Thoughts:

I’m not going to lie, I do love a good witch-y read. Quite often though, they make me cringe. I had heard good things about How To Hang A Witch so when I had the opportunity to read it, I quickly snapped it up. I really enjoyed reading this book. It didn’t take me long to read it at all. I thought Adriana Mather had a very addictive writing style. Her writing is incredibly easy to read. I loved how it was a little bit paranormal but also had element of historical fiction.

How To Hang A Witch is set in Salem. We all know Salem as the place where the infamous witch trials took place. Our main character is Sam who is related to Cotton Mather, a man who practically encouraged witch-fearing. Salem is pretty proud of its history. The town is not happy about Sam’s arrival. Right from her first day she suffers bullying and harassment, especially from a group of girls called The Descendants who are descendants of the convicted witches. Sam also had to deal with a spirit who has appeared in her house and then there’s Jaxon, another complication.

I absolutely adore historical fiction, so the element of the story that involved the witch trials really captured my attention. I loved the descriptions of Salem. A place that fascinates me. It came across as so eerie which I adored! I also loved that the author was a Mather. It gave a personal feel to the story for me that I really enjoyed.

I liked Sam as a character. I didn’t enjoy the relationship with her stepmother though. I found their arguments a little tedious to read. I found Sam’s attitude quite frustrating at times but I liked her determination. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the romance element of this book. It felt to me like the author was trying to make a love triangle happen. I’m not a fan of love triangles at all. It actually turned me off the story a little.

I’m interested to read the next book in the series. Adriana Mather has me intrigued!

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

I’m intrigued to see where this series goes next!

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!

Love, Hate & Other Filters

Love, Hate & Other Filters

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

Synopsis:

A searing #OwnVoices coming-of-age debut in which an Indian-American Muslim teen confronts Islamophobia and a reality she can neither explain nor escape–perfect for fans of Angie Thomas, Jacqueline Woodson, and Adam Silvera.

American-born seventeen-year-old Maya Aziz is torn between worlds. There’s the proper one her parents expect for their good Indian daughter: attending a college close to their suburban Chicago home, and being paired off with an older Muslim boy her mom deems “suitable.” And then there is the world of her dreams: going to film school and living in New York City—and maybe (just maybe) pursuing a boy she’s known from afar since grade school, a boy who’s finally falling into her orbit at school.

There’s also the real world, beyond Maya’s control. In the aftermath of a horrific crime perpetrated hundreds of miles away, her life is turned upside down. The community she’s known since birth becomes unrecognizable; neighbors and classmates alike are consumed with fear, bigotry, and hatred. Ultimately, Maya must find the strength within to determine where she truly belongs.

Thoughts:

I have heard so much about this book over the past few months. I wanted to read it because I knew it was an important story for the author. One of my best friends is Muslim and Islamophobia is something that I feel very, very strongly about. This book wasn’t quite the amazing read that I wanted it to be. It was incredibly powerful at points and heart-breaking at times.

It centres around Maya who is torn between two paths. There’s the path in which her parents want her to be the good Indian daughter, get a respectable job and marry a suitable Muslim boy and the path where she wants to follow her dreams and go to NYU to study film and pursue a guy that she’s interested in. Alongside Maya’s confusion, there’s a horrific crime. Her peers, neighbours and community become consumed with fear and hatred. She experiences Islamophobia. Maya has to find her way in a world that seems to hate her and parents that are determined for her to be a certain way.

Maya came across as a teen very well. Apart from the mention of being Muslim, I don’t feel like she had much of a Muslim identity. I don’t know if that was intentional by the author- making her seem like all her peers. It was just something I observed.

I really enjoyed reading a story from a different voice. I do think I expected more about Islamophobia and I got more about the romance. Don’t get me wrong, it was good to read. I enjoyed Maya as a character and thought her romance was very sweet. I liked how this book had important messages about not judging those on their race and religion. Maya and her parents were often discriminated against, even though they’d been in the community for a while, they weren’t fully accepted due to their religion which is infuriating.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! 3.5 stars

A fabulous debut about love but also sadly, hate!