The Places I’ve Cried in Public by Holly Bourne

I have had my eye on Holly Bourne’s books for a while and, in a lovely bookswap for spring, I was sent ‘The Places I’ve Cried in Public’. And, I do think this is YA at its finest – this is a book that I hope all young people will read. It is quite an eye-opening story about relationships and what makes a healthy one – something that many young people may think they understand but possibly don’t.

Ameliw and her family move from Sheffield to the South of England. For Amelie, this is a huge change as she starts her new college, and is anxious about fitting in and making friends. Then she meets Reese and falls in love – or so she thinks.

As she attempts to understand the relationship she believes she had, she revisits all the places she cried in public. We embark on this journry with Amelie and, with her, we discover that Reese was not the boy she believed he was. Amelie reframes her memories and begins to see the relationships for what it really was – and education for her and for readers. Especially as experiences do not have to define us.

This is a beautifully written story – and Amelie is a great representation of the feelings, emotions and fears of so many young women. But she also demonstrates the strength of so many.

This does tackle some of the worst traits of unhealthy relationships, so some may find it a challenging read. However, it is a powerful book that shows how important YA fiction can be for its readers. I will certainly be giving more of Holly Bourne’s books a read.

Little Disasters by Sarah Vaughan

This book was the March thriller of the month from Waterstones and may have been an accidental purchase when I was shopping for presents. I picked it up as my latest read because I was in a thriller mood. However, I have to admit that it was not my favourite thriller that I have ever read.

I think for some, the subject of the book may be difficult, as it deals with postnatal depression and a potential case of child abuse. However, it is handled with care as part of the narrative.

I like elements of this thriller. It made you aware of checking in on people that sometimes you do not know what people are carrying around with them. There was an interesting study of the characters and their relationships. Especially, the idea of friendship and how they are handled by different people. Also, how far will some people go for their friends? However, it was a little slow and this did not add to the story unfortunately. The slower pace led the book to lose some of the thrilling factors.

I think some people will enjoy this thriller, if they enjoy stories that are very character-driven, but for me it was slightly lacking.

The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex

I have kept my eye out for this novel since it was recommended by Kate Riordan at the second Tasting Notes Book Club meeting. I could just sense it was going to be a book that I would really enjoy – and I was not wrong.

‘The Lamplighters’ is a stunning debut novel from Emma Stonex. This is a wonderfully atmospheric mystery set in a lighthouse in Cornwall. Three lighthouse keepers go missing in the seventies and their families are not entirely sure that the official story of events is the real one. We switch between the events of the seventies and the families revisiting their memories of the events in the present day.

I really cannot give any of the story away, because I would really encourage everyone to read this book. However, I can say that this book brilliantly weaves together a study of himan nature, the atmosphere of ‘life at sea’ and a thrilling mystery. I found it so engaging and was so intrigued about how the story was going to conclude.

If you want to discover a new author, I highly recommend Emma Stonex. Especially as I think, even though the year is only a quarter of the way through, I may have found one of my books of 2021 in ‘The Lamplighters’. (Would also quite like to visit a lighthouse again.)