3.5 stars. Felt like the student teacher relationship overshadowed the bullying in the second half and I really wanted to see more depth in the relati3.5 stars. Felt like the student teacher relationship overshadowed the bullying in the second half and I really wanted to see more depth in the relationship between Lara and her parents regarding how much they let her down. ...more
I've absolutely loved reading these Vestigial Takes and immersing myself again in the amazing world of Laura Lam's. The Card Sharp has definitely beenI've absolutely loved reading these Vestigial Takes and immersing myself again in the amazing world of Laura Lam's. The Card Sharp has definitely been a favourite as it features more back story for one if my favourite characters, Drystan Hornbeam. In this we see him living as a Lerium addict/Lerium dealer and how meeting another card player changed his life for the better. Absolutely beautiful writing as always and I lapped up every little detail. ...more
My thoughts in a nutshell: I read the first book in the series, Popping the Cherry, last year and mostly enjoyed it so when I saw this book, with thatMy thoughts in a nutshell: I read the first book in the series, Popping the Cherry, last year and mostly enjoyed it so when I saw this book, with that cover, on Netgalley, I thought I'd give it a try. But I didn't realise at the time that this book is about Lena's bully, Alice. If I'm honest, if I'd read the product description closer instead of requesting blindly, I might have skipped over it. I'm not the biggest fan of stories involving mean girls. But in the end, while I had some issues with this book I did also mostly enjoy it.
I'm going to start with the negatives. Throughout the book there's a real lack of subtlety. At times I felt like the author could have shown us certain things well enough without saying them allowed specifically. But that usually didn't happen. I felt like I was hit over the head with Alice's reasons for her behaviour and that I was being told how to feel about her and how I should see her rather than having everything laid out for me and for me to make up my own mind. Plus, this whole telling rather than showing never felt realistic. It was jarring at the beginning of the story for Alice to think along the lines of (not direct quote) 'bullying others made me feel better about myself because of my dysfunctional home life' It may have been the case but that wasn't the best way for me as the reader to care about the story or the character.
I also felt like things happened a little too easily. I didn't quote believe the quick transformation in certain relationships. Especially the one which switched from bully victim to best friend.
Finally, the last third felt like a different story. It felt more like the end of a cheesy romance novel with a bare chested hunk of a man on the front cover with flowing locks of hair. I didn't think it was necessary and would have liked the story to focus on other things the story brought up better.
Now that I've said all of that I will say that I started and finished this book within a very short period of time so there was obviously something about the way in which it was written that I really responded to.
I was also close to tears at one point. This story does resolve around two things that I usually connect to and the first is a dysfunctional parent and child relationship, especially one that involves the rejection of the child by the parent. I'm a sucker for that sort of heartbreak. The second is finding a place to belong amongst family you choose for yourself. I did love that aspect of Alice's journey.
There was really great characters and relationships. I particularly enjoyed Alice's relationships with both Charlie and Derek.
I know this has been a very mixed review. I did enjoy reading this book, I just wanted different things from this story than I got in certain areas of it....more
Stronger first half. I didn't quite feel the connection between the two love interests but I liked how much of the story felt like it was about askingStronger first half. I didn't quite feel the connection between the two love interests but I liked how much of the story felt like it was about asking difficult questions and about taking responsibility for your actions. Full review soon!...more
It was interesting and I read it in a very short period of time. Loved Megan and Jasmine and Megan's relationship with her mum ...3.5 stars, I think.
It was interesting and I read it in a very short period of time. Loved Megan and Jasmine and Megan's relationship with her mum ... but I'm just not sure how I feel about the ending. I didn't quite believe that that person would have said and done those things. Full review soon!...more
Really interesting read. I'm really loving these snippets of historical fiction in some of the Barrington Stoke books I'm reading lately. I love how tReally interesting read. I'm really loving these snippets of historical fiction in some of the Barrington Stoke books I'm reading lately. I love how that historical detail is present but doesn't weigh down or overtake the story. I didn't realise until the end of this book that Ring of Roses is a companion novella to two other books by Mary Hooper that centre around this same time period (1665 in London during the time of the Plague) and I'm now quite excited to pick those books up as well! ...more
What a sweet and funny book! I read this and at times I was laughing but also had tears in my eyes. Full of heart and humour, I definitely recommend tWhat a sweet and funny book! I read this and at times I was laughing but also had tears in my eyes. Full of heart and humour, I definitely recommend this book!...more
I found The Baking Life of Amelie Day by Vanessa Curtis to be an utterly charming middle grade book and I was in such a dilemma when reading it. On thI found The Baking Life of Amelie Day by Vanessa Curtis to be an utterly charming middle grade book and I was in such a dilemma when reading it. On the one hand, I wanted to devour this book whole and not stop reading for anything. And on the other hand, I was quite desperate to stop reading and rush immediately to my kitchen and whip up a storm baking something, anything (though preferably using Amelie's own recipes that are included within the book!) The reading won out and all the way through I found this book to be so sweet and just that little bit heart-breaking.
Amelie Day is no ordinary teen girl. She is a baking wiz and spends her entire waking life thinking up new recipes and combinations of flavours to make her baking creations the absolute best that she can make them. Her passion and enthusiasm for baking made me really smile and I love how generous she is with her baking. Giving someone homemade treats is the best and Amelie seems to know it. She really brightens up everyone around her with her baking. And she's good at it.
She's made it into the finals of the Teen Baker of the Year award and is hard at work coming up with her three dishes to put forward. Unfortunately, her mother isn't keen to let Amelie travel to London for the award. Because the other thing about Amelie is that she has cystic fibrosis that means quite a few medical complications. I can't say that I knew very much about cystic fibrosis before I started reading this book but I liked that Vanessa Curtis wrote quite a bit about what it would be like for a teenage girl to have CF in a very honest but compassionate way. We see Amelie at her best and at her worst but at no point do we pity or feel sorry for Amelie because of it. Nor is having CF her most redeeming feature.
This book is quite short but I feel like that it really packed in an emotional punch. I found myself really sympathising with Amelie's situation and could understand how she felt about wanting to take part in something so important to her as the Teen Baker award. But at the same time, I felt really bad for Amelie's mother for being protective of her daughter's health and taking a stand for what she believes will be really harmful. Also, total bonus points for including blogging into Amelie's narrative.
I loved The Baking Life of Amelie Day. I thought it was sweet and fun and made my mouth water at the same time as shining a bit of light on cystic fibrosis in a way that I might not have otherwise come across....more
Full review soon but it has been a long time since I read a book in an afternoon and enjoyed it as much as I did this book!
I absolutely loved Flora InFull review soon but it has been a long time since I read a book in an afternoon and enjoyed it as much as I did this book!
I absolutely loved Flora In Love by Natasha Farrant! I adored the first book in the series, After Iris, and I thought while not containing as many emotional highs as the first book that Flora In Love is a wonderfully chaotic and fun sequel. I desperately want to be in a large family like the Gadsby family and be part of all their weird and wonderful antics.
I will always eagerly pick up a book about this family and their fabulous madness that only comes from being in a large family. I think Natasha Farrant does an incredible job with the family dynamics and especially in the dialogue that readers will be able to mentally picture incredibly well given that it is presented both in written diary entries as well as transcripts of video diary entries. I really love this combination and it really made me feel like I was there alongside Blue and Flora and Twig and Jas and everyone.
Flora In Love takes place a year after the events of After Iris and Blue explains at the beginning of the book that she stops writing and filming diary entries when things are good in the Gadsby family ... and so right from the start we see that there are cracks that are now appearing in Blue's, her parents', and her brother's and sisters' lives. Blue's parents are behaving strangely, Zoran has given up being their nanny and Jas in particular is feeling a bit left out now that everyone but her is having relationship problems.
I think it was really interesting to see the new relationships that everyone is forming. The title of the book is that Flora is in love but Blue also has her first real relationship with her best friend with interesting consequences and we see Twig having a crush on a girl at school that makes his behaviour change. I think all three of the older Gadsby children have things to learn about relationships and it was really fun to witness these experiences over the course of this book.
I think the thing I love the most about this book and series besides a great mixture of humour together with sadness and a whole heap of large family chaos is that all the characters presented are so wonderfully developed. I got a really great sense of everybody from the youngest Gadsby, Jas, to their parents and Zoran and his new charge, Zach. Everybody felt very real and everything that these characters go through in this book felt real and believable too. I really want to read more books about the Gadsby family!...more
When I first head about Laura Lam's decision to self-publish a collection of Vestigial Tales, I was incredibly excited. I love the world she created iWhen I first head about Laura Lam's decision to self-publish a collection of Vestigial Tales, I was incredibly excited. I love the world she created in Pantomime and Shadowplay. I loved the characters and Vestige and I couldn't wait to read more and find out every bit of new information about this world that I could...
And The Snake Charm did not disappoint. This story focuses on Drystan, the White Clown, before Micah Grey shows up at RH Ragona's Circus of Magic. It tells this story of unrest amongst the clowns and how Drystan finds himself in the middle of this fight between one of the other clowns and Bil, the ringmaster involving an incredibly powerful piece of Vestige.
I think what The Snake Charm does so well is that not only does it show us the dangers and consequences that come with owning this particular piece of Vestige but it also gives a bit fuller of a back story to a really well-loved character. Drystan has always been one of my favourite characters from Pantomime and Shadowplay and I loved that he gets the full spotlight in this novella. It was fun to see his role in the circus a little better and to see his perspective on some of the other key players in the circus before Micah Grey shows up.
I thought The Snake Charm was a wonderful addition to this world. It was a fun adventure and I can't wait to read the other Vestigial Tales, The Fisherman's Net, The Tarot Reader and The Card Sharp....more
I first heard about Memoirs of A Neurotic Zombie by Jeff Norton at a blogger event earlier this year and Jeff Norton was there to read some of the begI first heard about Memoirs of A Neurotic Zombie by Jeff Norton at a blogger event earlier this year and Jeff Norton was there to read some of the beginning of this book aloud ... and it was hilarious. I found myself laughing a lot listening to this funny, awkward, neurotic pre-teen turned zombie and his adventures and I knew that I was going to love it. And I did.
Adam Meltzer has the shock of his life when a few months after he dies from a bee sting at his 12th birthday, he wakes up as a zombie. This is his story of how he both adjusts to zombie-hood but also how he solves the mystery of his own death/why he turned into a zombie. It was a whole lot of fun and is populated with some great supporting characters. I especially loved the idea that everyone is different and that those differences should be celebrated.
The thing with Adam Meltzer is that he's many things. He's obviously a pre-teen and now a zombie, but he's also a germaphobe and an absolute worrier and those things can offer their own sorts of humour. But I think the thing that I love most about Adam Meltzer is how literal he is. I know an almost 9 year old who is just as literal as Adam and I could really understand and relate to some things Adam seems to question throughout this book.
Together with Adam in this detective mission for answers are two friends Ernesto and Corina who are in the unique position to understand Adam's predicament in that they are a chupacabra and a vampire respectively. What I really loved about this trio is the level of support and friendship they give to each other.
Altogether, Memoirs of a Neurotic Zombie was a really fun, funny book about a group of outsiders who find a place to belong and who go on this dangerous adventure seeking truth in this really entertaining way and I was gripped throughout by what they get up to. I loved reading a book that was so humorous as well as being full of heart. Highly recommended!...more
I absolutely adored The Girl Who Walked On Air by Emma Carroll. This is Emma Carroll's second historical story aimed at a middle grade audience but itI absolutely adored The Girl Who Walked On Air by Emma Carroll. This is Emma Carroll's second historical story aimed at a middle grade audience but it is the first book of hers I've read. I'm sure I'll go back and read Frost Hollow Hall based on the strength of feeling I had for this book though.
I absolutely loved the main character, Louie, and witnessing her journey throughout this book. She goes on such an adventure! And I definitely think my favourite aspect of this book is Louie's determination to succeed and follow her dreams despite everyone around her telling her that she can't because she's young and a girl.
But things aren't all smooth sailing for Louie. As a baby, Louie was abandoned by her mother and taken in by Jasper, a trapeze artist at Mr. Chipchase's circus. Louie has grown up to become a ticket-seller and mender-of-costumes but she dreams of being a show-stopper, she dreams of being a tightrope-walker. Together with her lovely little dog, Pip, she's been training for years to hone her craft in order to impress Mr. Chipchase. But he doesn't seem to take her any notice at all. And instead the first of two strangers enters her life and changes things all around.
I loved all the details that Emma Carroll wrote into the story about Victorian circuses and how every act needed the WHIFF OF DEATH in order to be widely entertaining and how every act needed to be daring and pushing the limits and taking things one step further to be truly death-defying and amazing. And Louie definitely gets pulled into this mind-set and idolises other risk-taking tightrope-walkers like Charles Blondin even after a horrible accident leaves the person closest to Louie in a terrible state. It felt exciting to read about all the risks and daring that these performers get up to, but also really scary that a balance hadn't been set.
Other than Louie herself, I really loved all of the secondary characters in this book. Jasper, Mr. Chipchase, Pip, Louie's best friend, Ned ... even Kitty, Louie's arch-nemesis was a really entertaining addition to the story. But for me, it was Louie and Gabriel, a performer from another circus who comes to audition for the role of showstopper that really took the limelight for me. I loved how we are able to see Louie's courage next to Gabriel's nervousness and stage fright and how we slowly discover how Gabriel came to feeling this way.
There were several really emotional scenes during The Girl Who Walked On Air and I felt slightly surprised by how quickly I came to love Louie and how much I wanted the best for her. I actually cried from pride at one point in the book because she had achieved something wonderful and my heart just felt fit to burst. This book was just so lovely and entertaining! I really do recommend it especially for slightly younger than YA readers who are looking for a story about adventure and empowerment and friendship and bravery. ...more
I'm really quickly beginning to love and look forward to anything by Sarah Crossan. This is the second really beautiful book by the same author that II'm really quickly beginning to love and look forward to anything by Sarah Crossan. This is the second really beautiful book by the same author that I've read this year and I'm really quite impressed. Apple and Rain is a contemporary story about dysfunctional families, making wrong choices and the consequences of those actions and also the power and truth that can come from poetry. This was a really wonderful and emotional read and I finished it with a lump in my throat and a desperate attempt not to cry while in a public place.
The two titular characters, Apple and Rain, are very different characters. Apple, who is the sole narrator of the story, is a 13 year old girl who has been raised by her strict grandmother after her mother left her 11 years ago. In those 11 years despite having this wonderful and strong relationship with her Nan, Apple has pined away for her mother. She's daydreamed about what it would be like to have her mother in her life, she'd love to have her questions answered about why her mum left and what she's been doing. And it becomes a real shock when Apple's mother does return and wants to be more involved in Apple's life and have Apple come to live with her. And while Apple initially loves the freedom that being around her mother brings her, this excitement soon fizzles when Apple comes to meet Rain, her half-sister, and starts to see that freedom and chaos is not all that it's cracked up to be.
I thought Apple's story was really believable right from the start. I could sense her heart-break over her mother's abandonment years ago and I can see and understand why Apple would want to live with her mother and give her this chance to prove that things can be different. I also found Rain to be a wonderful character as well. Clearly projecting some of her own issues with her relationship with her mother onto a fictional baby that she fusses over and uses in order to gain much-needed attention.
And while this story explores the complicated relationships between mothers and daughters and the ways in which decisions that have been made have affected each other, it also touches on some other really interesting things as well, such as Apple's crumbling friendship with her former-best friend, Pilar, and also her unrequited feelings for an older boy. There's also a really cute friendship with the quirky boy next door and my favourite aspect of the book: Apple's growing interest in poetry and how she uses reading and writing her own poetry in order to organise her thoughts and feelings about her mother and about love and friendship and fear.
I thought Apple and Rain was a really beautiful and heart-warming book. It felt truthful and emotional and I really recommend that you read this book! It is published the 14th August by Bloomsbury. ...more
Lies Like Love by Louisa Reid is one of those books that will stay with me for a very long time. It's an uncomfortable, unsettling and it made me feelLies Like Love by Louisa Reid is one of those books that will stay with me for a very long time. It's an uncomfortable, unsettling and it made me feel a whole range of feelings from rage and disappointment and frustration, hope, and ultimately a sorrowful sadness. I love how emotional the experience of reading this book was for me and I was quite surprised by how much of an impact this book had on me.
It probably shouldn't have been a surprise for me though, as I knew going into this book that it would be a story about mental illness and about a complicated relationship between a mother and daughter. And I thought both major aspects of the book were done really well. And aside from this I also really enjoyed the secondary characters and the way in which the reader is slowly let into more of the story.
Lies Like Love is told from a dual-perspective. We get into the heads of both Audrey, a teenage girl who has just moved into this old building with her mother and little brother, and also Leo, a neighbour who has experience and an understanding of the effects of mental illness. Both Audrey and Leo share their own stories and while Audrey's story feels more prominent and features more throughout the book, I also really loved hearing more about Leo and his relationship with his mother whose expectations of perfection and over-achievement led Leo to a nervous breakdown and to move in with his more relaxed aunt.
I found Audrey to be quite the unreliable narrator as we learn some things about the reasons behind her family's move and about some of her depression and self-harm and the ways in which these things manifest themselves in her life and the effect it has on her and her family. There are numerous trips to the hospital and doctor visits for Audrey's depression and her self-harm. I found it really difficult to read how Audrey's mother is in full control over Audrey's treatment and also what is being explained on Audrey's behalf to medical professionals but I think that this idea that Audrey finds it difficult to put into words how much she battles with her demons is an important aspect of this book. As the story goes on however, it is shown slowly that there is more to Audrey's issues than the reader first realises.
And while Lies Like Love is certainly heavy in parts and it covers really serious and also a difficult range of topics, there is also tenderness and hope and beauty in this story. Some love can be cause for destruction and pain but there is also some types of love like Audrey's love for her little brother and there is also the budding feelings between Audrey and Leo that really balance out some of the other darker elements of this story which was much needed.
Lies Like Love was not an easy read. At times it felt haunting, unsettling and deeply uncomfortable. I couldn't read anything after I finished this book because I felt so strongly about the events that happened and all of my thoughts about it were still swirling around in my head long after the book ended. It really has been awhile since I read a book that so powerfully affected me and I'm so glad that I picked up this book to read. I do really recommend it!...more