N.D. Gomes – Dear Charlie

ndgomes-dearcharlieEngland, 1996.
Death should never meet the young. But it did. Thanks to my brother, death made fourteen new friends that day. Maybe even fifteen, if you count Charlie.

At sixteen, Sam Macmillan is supposed to be thinking about girls, homework and his upcoming application to music college, not picking up the pieces after the school shooting that his brother Charlie committed. Yet as Sam desperately tries to hang on to the memories he has of his brother, the media storm surrounding their family threatens to destroy everything. And Sam has to question all he thought he knew about life, death, right and wrong.

School shootings are a sad phenomenon of our time and have been the subject of numerous YA novels in the past years. I’ve read two of those, Matthew Quick’s Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock and Marieke Nijkamp’s This is Where It Ends. Both are gripping, emotional novels, each dealing with different points of view on the matter. Quick’s book is written from the point of view of the shooter, while Nijkamp’s novel shows us differing perspectives of teens involved in a school shooting. Dear Charlie takes a very different tack, though its story is equally compelling and emotional. N.D. Gomes focuses her novel on the aftermath of a school shooting and what happens to the family of the culprit.  Read More …

Louise Gornall – Under Rose-Tainted Skies

Under Rose-Tainted SkiesI’m Norah, and my life happens within the walls of my house, where I live with my mom, and this evil overlord called Agoraphobia.

Everything is under control. It’s not rosy — I’m not going to win any prizes for Most Exciting Life or anything, but at least I’m safe from the outside world, right?

Wrong. This new boy, Luke, just moved in next door, and suddenly staying safe isn’t enough. If I don’t take risks, how will I ever get out — or let anyone in?

This is going to be a hard review to write. Not because Under Rose-Tainted Skies isn’t a good book, because is brilliant. And not because I didn’t love it, because I loved it to pieces. But because reviewing this book and explaining why I find it so absolutely wonderful means I’ll have to get personal and that is always somewhat scary.  Read More …

Author Query – Louise Gornall

Under Rose-Tainted SkiesWhen I read the synopsis for Under Rose-Tainted Skies I knew I had to read this book. Mental health representation is important to me; if I hadn’t felt so embarrassed and like a failure, I would perhaps have sought help for my depression far earlier than I did and it might not have gotten so bad. In addition, one of the biggest effects of my depression was the fact that I became a shut-in, who’s main contact with the outside world was my then-boyfriend (now husband). So Norah’s struggles spoke to me strongly. I’m in the middle of the book now and it is brilliant—it hits close to home quite often, but Norah is really funny too. Look for a review tomorrow! In the mean time, I got to speak to the book’s author Louise Gornall, who I think is a YA author to watch!  Read More …

Anticipated Books (Summer-Autumn) 2015: YA October-December

2015Welcome to the next post in my Anticipated Books series for the second half of 2015. YA books have become a steady part of my reading diet. Some of my favourite authors are writing for this age group and there are just so many great titles out there. Consequently, I’ve had to spread my YA picks over three posts. This is the last one. For some of these I already have an (e)ARC or review copy, so they’ll definitely be read and reviewed. And for the rest, I’ll have to see whether I get the chance to get my hands on them!  Read More …

Anticipated Books (Summer-Autumn) 2015: YA September

2015Welcome to the next post in my Anticipated Books series for the second half of 2015. YA books have become a steady part of my reading diet. Some of my favourite authors are writing for this age group and there are just so many great titles out there. Consequently, I’ve had to spread my YA picks over three posts. September is such a huge month, it got an entire post to itself! For some of these I already have an (e)ARC or review copy, so they’ll definitely be read and reviewed. And for the rest, I’ll have to see whether I get the chance to get my hands on them!  Read More …

Anticipated Books (Summer-Autumn) 2015: YA July-August

2015Welcome to the next post in my Anticipated Books series for the second half of 2015. YA books have become a permanent part of my reading diet. Some of my favourite authors are writing for this age group and there are just so many great titles out there. Consequently, I’ve had to spread my YA picks over three posts. This is the first one. For some of these I already have an (e)ARC or review copy, so they’ll definitely be read and reviewed. And for the rest, I’ll have to see whether I get the chance to get my hands on them!  Read More …

Anticipated Books (Summer-Autumn) 2015: Middle Grade

2015Welcome to the next post in my Anticipated Books series for the second half of 2015. Today it’s time to look at books for a younger set of readers: middle grade books. I’ve mixed the different genres together for this one, so there should be something for everyone. For some of these I already have an (e)ARC or review copy, so they’ll definitely be read and reviewed. And for the rest, I’ll have to see whether I get the chance to get my hands on them!  Read More …

Dawn McNiff – Worry Magic

dawnmcniff-worrymagicCourtney is a worrier – she’s worried about EVERYTHING, from her parents arguing to her gran being in hospital.

Then, when her mum and dad start arguing AGAIN, Courtney begins to feel a bit funny… a bit woozy … a bit like a dream is coming on … and then afterwards, everything has been magicked better!

But what is causing the magic?

And is it really magic at all?

The title for Dawn McNiff’s latest offering immediately caught my attention as I’m very much a worrier by nature and I’ve had to learn to curb the tendency to be able to function. So the idea that worrying might have a magical application was intriguing. But while Courtney’s worry magic is never discounted outright, at least not all elements of it are explained, Worry Magic is very much a contemporary middle grade novel, not a fantasy.  Read More …

Natalie Whipple – Fish Out of Water

nataliewhipple-fishoutofwater‘People like to think fish don’t have feelings – it’s easier that way – but as I watch the last guppy squirm in his bag, his eyes seem to plead with me. I get the sense that it knows just as well as I do that bad things are on the horizon.’

Mika Arlington has her perfect summer all planned out, but the arrival of both her estranged grandmother and too-cool Dylan are going to make some very big waves in her life.

Told with Natalie Whipple’s signature whip-smart wit and warmth, this is a story about prejudice, growing up and the true meaning of sticking by your family.

Natalie Whipple’s Fish Out of Water rather caught me by surprise. I’d been interested in the book based on the publisher’s marketing copy, so I requested a review copy and I’d expected to be at least entertained by the book. What I hadn’t expected, was that the book drew me in to the extent that I actually stayed up until half three to finish it. (Thank you Wiebe for pulling morning duty and let me catch up on sleep the next day—well, later that day.) Mika’s summer was completely engrossing and I just had to know how it would end.  Read More …

Jennifer E. Smith – The Geography of You and Me

jenniferesmith-thegeographyofyouandmeOwen lives in the basement. Lucy lives on the 24th floor. But when the power goes out in the midst of a New York heatwave, they find themselves together for the first time: stuck in a lift between the 10th and 11th floors. As they await help, they start talking…

The brief time they spend together leaves a mark. And as their lives take them to Edinburgh and San Francisco, to Prague and to Portland they can’t shake the memory of the time they shared. Postcards cross the globe when they themselves can’t, as Owen and Lucy experience the joy – and pain – of first love.

And as they make their separate journeys in search of home, they discover that sometimes it is a person rather than a place that anchors you most in the world.

Having enjoyed Jennifer E. Smith’s previous books The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight and This is What Happy Looks Like tremendously, when I got the chance to request The Geography of You and Me for review I jumped on it. And Smith’s third YA offering doesn’t disappoint. With an easy writing style and some quirky playing with chapter lengths, The Geography of You and Me offers a charming exploration of love at (almost) first sight, but also of two young people trying to find their feet in the world independent of their families.  Read More …