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 t...moreReally 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! (less)
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 t...moreWhat 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!(less)
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 th...moreI 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.(less)
When I first heard about this new series by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare, I was both really intrigued and excited. I was really curious to see what...moreWhen I first heard about this new series by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare, I was both really intrigued and excited. I was really curious to see what a combination of ideas from these two impressive authors would be like and also how different it would be to their previous stories and to the other well-known middle grade fantasy series it has been compared to (Harry Potter).
Despite my excitement and as with any book I have high expectations for, I was also a little bit nervous to start this book. And while I did find the beginning to be a little bit slow-going as the characters and this new world is being introduced, I also quickly came to enjoy it. I very much enjoyed the friendship between the three central characters, I loved the introduction of some magical creatures and also discovering some twists and surprises at the end.
The main character of this story is Callum Hunt who has just celebrated his 12th birthday. Because his is a magical family, he has been invited to take a test at the Magisterium that will determine if he has the magical ability to attend their magic school and apprentice with a powerful mage at the school. But Callum is not like other prospective students with the school. He has been raised by his single father who hates magic and is determined for Callum to fail his magic tests and to avoid magic at all costs.
But that is not to be for Callum Hunt who has been picked as one of three apprentices by the most powerful mage at the Magisterium. Together with new friends, Aaron and Tamara, they explore the school, manage deathly-dull tasks set by their mage and get into a fair bit of trouble. I love that Call is so reluctant at first to join in and has such misgivings about everyone around him but slowly he grows to love magic and makes some solid connections with the other students.
I think that a lot of people have already spotted that there are similarities here to the Harry Potter series: a trio of magical students who enter magic school who are training towards defeating an evil wizard. There's even a 'chosen one' and a Malfoy-esque arch-nemesis. But if you get past all of that, and not let that distract you, this story is one that is worth reading. It is fun and exciting and has a diverse set of characters and some twists that you probably won't see coming. I do recommend it!(less)
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 In...moreFull 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!(less)
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 beg...moreI 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!(less)
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 it...moreI 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. (less)
Oh man, was Harder an amazing sequel. I really didn't think that I could love another book more than I loved Deeper but Robin York really brought it w...moreOh man, was Harder an amazing sequel. I really didn't think that I could love another book more than I loved Deeper but Robin York really brought it with Harder. It was really emotional and complicated and I fell hard again for both Caroline and West in this book.
Harder tells us this story about this broken relationship between Caroline and West. It's four months or so after West left university to return home and Caroline and West have broken up. Even so, when West phones Caroline after tragedy has struck, Caroline is pure reaction: she jumps on the first plane out to Oregon in order to be with West to try to provide comfort and support in this difficult time.
What was heartbreaking was West's reaction to Caroline being around his mother and in this environment he'd fought so hard to leave behind. What Caroline learns during her time in Oregon is that the people you care about the most are definitely the people who are capable of hurting you the most. And West does his very best to lash out and get Caroline to leave. I wasn't expecting this. I thought from the product description that a lot of the book is set in Oregon around West's family, but it isn't.
Not only is this book about West and Caroline and how they both move forward from what happens in Oregon but it's also carries on what happens with Caroline's lawsuit against her ex-boyfriend and about taking responsibility and about making the right decisions for the right reasons. I loved the messages in this book about how people everywhere make things harder for no apparent reason and how both West and Caroline try to break out of this habit and work towards having what they both really want.
I absolutely adore Caroline and West. I love Caroline's determination and I loved seeing West take care of his sister and seeing West realise how much his upbringing and home life have meant that him and Frankie have missed out in so many ways. I loved seeing how much West changes over the course of this book. It isn't easy but it's worth it.
I really love both Deeper and Harder by Robin York. I loved seeing this amazing, chemistry-filled couple and to see the massive highs and lows of their relationship. I loved how in both stories both West and Caroline stepped up in order to support the other when it was most needed. What a fantastic story that I really recommend!(less)
I really loved Fall From India Place by Samantha Young. I haven't read all of the books yet by Samantha Young that circle around a similar cast of cha...moreI really loved Fall From India Place by Samantha Young. I haven't read all of the books yet by Samantha Young that circle around a similar cast of characters but I'm sure that it won't be very long before I pick up those last few books and satisfy my curiosity about them. Samantha Young writes really interesting, romantic and emotional stories and I find myself really falling into the story and becoming quickly wrapped up in these characters and their lives and friendships and romantic relationships.
And in Fall From India Place, we're told Hannah's story. Hannah who is all grown up and dealing with love and loss and relationships in a way that we've seen her from On Dublin Street and the rest. Hannah and Marco's story really tugged at my heart strings. I remembered from On Dublin Street that Hannah had had a crush on a boy and things hadn't exactly worked out but I always thought of Hannah as sort of a young teen.
Now, she's 22 and working as both a high school teacher and a volunteer teacher for adults who are struggling with reading and writing. Despite being happy in her career, her (extended) family and with her friendships, her love life is not something that Hannah has ever really focused on before. In fact, she's still stuck in a place from five years previously in which Hannah's heart was broken by her first love, Marco D'Alessandro. What I loved so much about this book is that Samantha Young gave us everything with Hannah and Marco's relationship. From the first awkwardness as teenagers, the build up towards them both having feelings for each other, the heart-breaking way that things ended between them five years previously and also the angsty ups and downs of them building on a relationship in the present as they try to maneuver around the anger, resentment and heart-break that remains.
I really loved discovering how much Hannah and Marco have changed from teenagers into adults and how their very meaningful relationship played such a large part in their lives. When Hannah and Marco meet again after these five years apart, they are both holding back important pieces of information about their lives and experiences and secrets from both sides really threaten to derail their burgeoning relationship.
What I love about this series of books so much is the heavy support from friends and family. I love Sunday brunch and how close everyone is and how more people are added to this group as extended family almost without question. I especially enjoyed the friendship between Hannah and Cole and being shown the basis of that strong friendship. Another highlight from Fall From India Place is the description of Hannah's jobs both as a mentor to a promising teen boy with an attitude and also a grumpy adult women who is taking literacy classes to help her find a better job. I found this aspect of the story really interesting!
I really, really loved this book. I did. If I had any criticisms of this book it would be two things. The first is that while this book can be read and enjoyed as a standalone novel away from the other On Dublin Street companion novels, I did find it a little bit confusing as each and every one of the previous couples from those books relationships are also explained in this book (ie Joss and Braden met this way, Jo and Cam met this way etc). I felt that was unnecessary and that it could either have been dropped entirely or that the author needed to find a better, more seamless way of adding that information (if needed) into the narrative rather than the way it was done in Fall From India Place. The other criticism is that the UK paperback book contains a 70-80 page short story, Castle Hill, at the end of this book and I was slightly disappointed when I realised that all those extra pages weren't more of Hannah and Marco's story.
Still, I loved how emotional and romantic this story is. My heart ached for Hannah and Marco and I was rooting for them throughout! (less)
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 I...moreI'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. (less)
I am a huge fan of Katie McGarry's stories. I love her characters and their relationships together and I've always fallen hard her main characters and...moreI am a huge fan of Katie McGarry's stories. I love her characters and their relationships together and I've always fallen hard her main characters and the love interests. I love how complicated and emotional everything feels and while I love some characters and relationships more than others, I've still also really enjoyed the character journeys and could feel strong things about where these stories were going. ...And then I read Take Me On, her latest companion novel, this time focusing on the lives and loves of West and Hayley. And for the first time, I've felt disappointed in the story and where it went. And for that, I feel very sad.
Take Me On is told from both Hayley and West's perspective. I believe the events of the story are told in tandem to other events in the same series. Hayley and West are both going through some difficult times. West has been kicked out of his house by his parents and Hayley is also experiencing really difficult issues with her family. She's living with a strict uncle who seems to bear some sort of grudge against her and her family and to be honest, none of Hayley's felt 'real' to me. I just didn't connect to this aspect of the story and this emotional distance made it very hard to relate to Hayley and her story.
Hayley and West first meet as Hayley is on her way home and gets jumped by some neighbourhood kids and West jumps in to help not knowing that Hayley is in fact a kickboxing champion ranked nationally. Soon after this, West feels slightly responsible for certain things and he ends up accepting a fight on Hayley's behalf. This fight is one West cannot win without help from Hayley and the two of them decide to join together, pretend to be boyfriend and girlfriend and train together for this upcoming fight.
I think part of my issue with this book is that there was too much macho posturing for my liking and a lot of attitude and some mysterious code of conduct involving honour felt slightly outdated for me. And West and Hayley both get wrapped up in this and also sort of wrapped up in what other people think they should be. West feels the need to fight in order to prove how manly he is and Hayley seems intent on keeping everything hurting her to herself ... and I didn't especially enjoy reading about either scenario. I think a lot of the drama could have been avoided by both Hayley and West opening up to those closest to them and having an honest conversation in which questions are asked and confessions are made. And for whatever reason, I just didn't have quite the patience or compassion for how difficult that is to do for these two characters. During the middle and the ending of this book I just wanted to shout 'get there quicker!' and be done with it.
I don't think that this is a bad story at all, it's just a story that didn't appeal to me specifically. I do still adore Katie McGarry and will always eagerly look out for any new books by her, but unfortunately this time I just didn't fall in love like I was expecting. (less)
Ooh, Tease by Amanda Maciel was a really challenging, thought-provoking book about bullying. It takes a concept that's been done before and looked at...moreOoh, Tease by Amanda Maciel was a really challenging, thought-provoking book about bullying. It takes a concept that's been done before and looked at it differently and I thought it was a really interesting approach.
This is the story of Sara, a teenage girl who is facing criminal charges for her part in the bullying that leads another classmate, Emma Putnam, to commit suicide. Tease is told in two parts: The months leading up to Emma's suicide in which we see Sara and her best friend Brielle harass and bully Emma relentlessly both in person and online and we also see several months of Sara's experiences as she's dealing with lawyers and her therapist leading up to the trial following Emma's death.
I found reading Tease to be very difficult at first. The first 100 pages or so really made me angry as the main character has absolutely no remorse at all for her actions, she's adamant she didn't do anything wrong ... and once I got over my rage at how self-centred Sara is, I realised that Sara's attitude about her part in things might have been one of the author's points and I began to look at the novel in a much different way. And while Tease felt really uncomfortable reading and while I didn't agree that Sara was blameless, I could sometimes see where she was coming from and how there were more sides to this story than just two mean girls picking on the new girl.
The thing that stuck out for me the most is that both Sara and Brielle lack any form of empathy. Sara sees the world at the start of this novel only able to view how things affect HER and she doesn't seem to see that the things she says and does have an impact on other people, and in this case specifically how her comments and behaviours have had an big impact on Emma's life and her well-being. I think that's pretty key to Sara's behaviour and attitude.
Another point that Sara raises throughout Tease is that she believes she's not at fault any more than everyone else who has ever said mean things about Emma or people who call each other out on the sexual identities in a negative way. I found this really interesting. Because we can see in Sara's interactions with her friends, and in particular, Brielle, that words like 'slut' and 'whore' and other derogatory terms are thrown around with abandon and Sara sees this as acceptable behaviour because it's all just joking around and not serious and everyone says these things and everyone has to put up with this sort of language and name-calling anyway. So taking this one step further, she doesn't quite get the distinction between 'friendly' banter and the extreme bullying that takes place regarding Emma.
And the fact that Sara doesn't know this shows a real lack of education from parents and teachers and the whole education system, surely. I found it really upsetting that the (fictional) high school this all takes place in supposedly has an anti-bullying policy in place but it is so ineffective that is laughable ...and also heart-breaking. Because as Sara returns to school after Emma's suicide Sara faces some of the same isolation and name-calling that Emma went through and it's all so realistic but also very sad because what does bullying someone who has bullied others actually achieve? I think that Emma and Sara are both let down by the system. And that also furthers Sara's point that her behaviours reflect a socially constructed environment in which bullying and name-calling are the norm and nobody quite gets where the boundaries or limits are?
While I never actually liked Sara as a character, I did like the way that Amanda Maciel paints her. Sara isn't a bad person: she deserves second chances and happiness just like the rest of us and I think that was also an important message. Sara did terrible things but that doesn't mean that she's a terrible person or that she needs to carrying around the 'bully' label forever.
I found Tease ultimately to be incredibly thought-provoking and interesting. I think it's a book that is challenging to read and will provoke strong reactions amongst its readers. I think that's really good and I hope it opens up different conversations about bullying and prevention and where to go from here. (less)
What even is it about surfing books? I read one and I absolutely crave more. Such was the case with Blue by Lisa Glass. What thrilled me about this bo...moreWhat even is it about surfing books? I read one and I absolutely crave more. Such was the case with Blue by Lisa Glass. What thrilled me about this book in particular, aside from the awesome surfing is that it is set around an actual English seaside town and not Hawaii or the US or Australia, but somewhere closer to home. Let's have more of that, okay?
And I really quickly fell for this story and these characters. At parts I found it a little surprising that we hear so much about secondary characters and their side stories, especially when it came to Zeke's family and the things they get up to but it all made sense in the end. I had no idea until I turned that last page that is the first book in a series! I'm really quite excited to read more about Iris and her surfing experiences.
So, Blue tells us this story spanning one momentous summer with our main character, Iris. She's really down in the dumps at the beginning of Blue, having just broken up with her ex-boyfriend, Daniel, and she's finding it hard to move on. Her best friend, Kelly, drags her off to a yoga class and there Iris meets Zeke, this hot surfer dude and they really hit it off.
These first few chapters of Blue were so wonderful to read, especially as it's really awkward and there are some embarrassing moments as Iris and Zeke first interact. It was obvious how much Iris fancies the pants off Zeke. And to be honest, so did I right from the start. He's gorgeous and talented and it seemed pretty clear to me (not so much to Iris) how smitten with her he is too.
But there are so many things standing in the way of their relationship. First off, Iris is totally unsure what Zeke feels or what he wants from her. Then she finds out that actually he's this big-time surfer who travels the world surfing the hottest spots and being sponsored. And there's also Iris's conflicted feelings about her ex-boyfriend and the fact that she might not yet be over him...
I found this book to be pretty surprising. I loved meeting Zeke's family. His brothers, his parents, his nana, they were all lovely and I just wanted to be part of that family unit. There was an incredibly touching scene involving the three Francis brothers and Nanna that had me nearly about to cry. And at the same time, I really felt for Daniel. He really cares about Iris in his own way but makes so many mistakes trying to win her back. It was a very emotional ride.
But, of course, the thing I really did love the most about this book was the surfing. Blue takes us through all sorts of different aspects of surfing. From learning to surf, surfing as a fun hobby, the competitive nature of trying to get into more pro circles and also that of someone at the top of their game in surfing. I found it all fascinating. I loved hearing about the different lingo and different things to consider and be aware of, the different boards and places to surf. Honestly, I lapped up every single detail of surfing in this book. It was all so very satisfying.
Blue was such a fun and romantic, summery beach read. I really recommend that you pick this one up and fall in love with surfing all over again! (less)
I really loved Tilly's Promise by Linda Newbery. I thought it was a really sweet and emotional book and I was very surprised by how much I felt for th...moreI really loved Tilly's Promise by Linda Newbery. I thought it was a really sweet and emotional book and I was very surprised by how much I felt for the characters despite this book being quite short. I even had tears in my eyes at several different points of the story!
Tilly's Promise is one of the first books by Barrington Stoke that I have read but I will certainly be picking up more especially after the strength of this book. I loved both the characters and the story. Linda Newbery did a great job of pulling me into the WWI setting with some nice (but brief!) historical detail. I think the cover for this book is absolutely beautiful and very in keeping with the story line, especially as Tilly, Harry, and Georgie send each other postcards throughout the book.
It's the story of Tilly, a young volunteer nurse that is trained and sent off to France to help out in the war effort. She has a sweetheart, Harry, who is a soldier. When Tilly's younger brother, Georgie - a gentle, good-natured boy with learning difficulties, is being sent off to war as well, Tilly asks Harry to keep Georgie safe. That promise proves difficult to keep as Tilly and Harry both witness death and injury as soldier and nurse.
I had no idea there were no restrictions in place to protect young people with learning difficulties like Georgie who was more than capable physically but not necessarily mentally or emotionally. I also really liked that Tilly, as a nurse, comes to empathise with the German soldiers during her shifts as well and another emotional scene comes when Tilly makes her own well-intentioned promise to a soldier that she finds herself not able to honour.
Barrington Stoke books are aimed at struggling, reluctant or dyslexic readers. Tilly's Promise is a really engaging story of World War I. I really enjoyed the shorter chapters, the interesting story line and how emotionally invested I became in the characters and of Tilly and Harry's relationship. Really recommended!(less)