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.
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.
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.)
It is book club pick time and I have been so excited to read this month’s choice from ‘The Tasting Notes Book Club’. ‘Asking for a Friend’ is from the pen of comedian Andi Osho and it did not disappoint – in fact, I would say it is a perfect tonic for lockdown (although it did really make me miss London with my besties).
We join three friends Simi, Jemima and Meagan as they face the challenges of relationships and careers in good old London town. Three best friends, but three very different ladies when it comes to relationships – and what they are willing to admit is a ‘perfect’ MAN. So, they start taking on the dating game and picking each other’s dates. And, well, let’s be honest: it takes them on quite some journeys of self-discovery – as well as reflecting on other areas of their lives.
This is a book written with so much warmth and humour that it is quite a page-turner. You feel as though you become part of the gang – and although none of the ladies are perfect, they clearly balance each other out in a wonderful support unit.
This is a celebration of female friendships, even their ups and downs. And a real reflection of what healthy relationships of all kinds should look like. A fun read, especially in the current situation. Really looking forward to discussing this book with other readers!
I love the Simonverse and was so glad that this book took me back there as my March choice for ‘The Unread Shelf Project 2021’. Becky Albertalli books are beautiful pieces of YA fiction that I honestly believe can and should be enjoyed by readers of all ages. And ‘The Upside of Unrequited’ is certainly a book I wish I could have read as a teenager.
Molly was the perfect star of the novel for me. She has all the insecurities that I remember having as a teenager – and all the worries. But, through Albertalli’s great storytelling, we see how Molly tackles world – and this is something that I think so many readers could relate to and find comfort in. Especially about the complex world of relationships of all kinds.
As always, there is also a brilliant collection of characters. Diversity is celebrated, as it should be, through these fantastic characters. However, flaws and issues within society are also tackled. These books educate as well as entertain, which, to me, is a perfect read. And, of course, there is the fact that you want to become best friends with Molly and her gang.
If you are looking for a comfort read, then this is a book I really recommend as Becky Albertalli gives us another story full of joy.
Today is my day to showcase ‘The Lottery’, which I was kindly gifted.
What would you do if you won the lottery? More importantly, what would you do if you won the lottery with a ticket you did not buy? These are the questions facing Maggie and Greg after they discover a lost lottery ticket.
The novel asks a lot questions through its narrative. Does money really make our characters happy? Can money bring good fortune? Or does it become something that is destructive?
The story is an insteresting study of how both Maggie and Greg react to the dramatic change in their lifestyle. The path each character takes begins to impact on them individually, their family and their friends – in fact they probably find out more about themselves than they think possible.
This is certainly a book that can cause you to reflect on your own life. After all, you do not really know how you would react to a situation until it happens. A life lesson for both Maggie and Greg with two very different endings.
I was lucky enough to be gifted a copy of ‘The End of Where We Begin’ as part of a Tandem Collective readalong. I had no idea what this book was about, however it turned out to be one of the most powerful and engaging books I have ever read.
This book introduces us to the stories of refugees in South Sudan – a country ravaged by civil war. This is the story of Daniel, Veronica and Lilian – three people linked by their experience of having their lives turned upside-down by war.
Now, I am not sure I can do this book justice, and it is one that I highly recommend you all read, because it teaches you so much. Not only about Daniel, Veronica, Lilian and their fellow refugees – but about yourself, too.
This book really makes you realise that we should all have more awareness of what is going on in the world to our fellow humans. And that the bravery of so many goes unoticed, and that in the darkest times some of the most fantastic kindness can bring light.
There are some difficult passages to read, as a war brings out the darkest sides of some. However, it is all handled sensitively and is there to be factual, not to simply create a shock factor.
This is a book you will have an emotional reaction to. You cannot help yourself. It is a book, however, that will cause reflection and may make you think it is time to make some changes and help others.
When I heard there was a prequel to ‘The Hate U Give‘, I knew I had to read it (bye, bye, book-buying ban).
This is the story of Starr’s father, Maverick: a character so many if us loved from the original story. We are with Maverick in his late teen years. He is navigating the challenges of growing up in a town where being a young black man more or less guarantees you will be a member of a gang, and all that entails. As well as finding out he has become a teenage dad – and that is something that is about to happen again.
In this book, young Maverick has a lot to deal with. Yet, he realises that this is not how his life has to be – in fact, he can break the mould. He realises that he can carve out his own destiny and become a better man.
This is a book ful of lessons for all of us about taking responsibility for our actions. And that we should not let anyone tell us what we should be, because that does not always lead to change.
You can read this book without having read ‘The Hate U Give’, but I highly recommend both. Especially as it is great to see contrasting perspectives over time – Starr and her father.
This was certainly a book that makes breaking the book buying ban worth it.
I am doing really well at picking up books that have been on my unread shelf. This is, of course, thanks to ‘The Unread Shelf Project, 2021’, which is really encouraging me to improve my reading habits and pick up the books I already own.
So, this encouraged me to finally pick up ‘Hamnet’ – a book I had seen so muhc hype about in 2020. Again, I was not sure how I would find this book, as historical literary fiction is a genre I often struggle with. However, this book is so beautifully written I was enthralled from the first page. I was not sure about the backwards and forwards nature of the narrative, but once I was used to it I actually enjoyed the voyage of discovery it took us on about the family ‘Shakespeare’. I also found it fascinating that it is never really stated that this is the family we are looking in on, as this is Agnes’ and Hamnet’s story – a fascinating focus and imagining of their tale.
I am not sure this has converted me to historical literary fiction. It is a stunning book which has made me more open to novels of the genre, rather than assume I won’t enjoy it.
This is a beautiful read and Maggie O’Farrell clearly has her own beautiful writing style. In fact, I am keen to read other books she has written, as I was so engaged in her unique style.
Wow! End of post!
Oh, maybe I can’t stop there, but I am not sure I am going to say anything that has not been said before about this absolutely stunning book.
I realise I am, again, late to the party with this book. I will be honest: I was not sure that it was a story I would enjoy – however, it well and truly proved me wrong.
This, in one instance, is a coming-of-age tale that evolves into a really fascinating and engaging crime story, all set within the marshes, and all its stunning and fascinating nature. However, it does not stop there as it tackles prejudices – of many different kinds – as well as social hierarchy and privilege.
It is such a beautifully written book that I genuinely could not put it down. In fact, it really had me reading past my bedtime, as I had to know how the book ended. And, like any good murder mystery novel, it had me guessing until the very end – or at least reflecting on the impressions I had formed as I read the book.
This is also a book full of fascinating characters, especially Kya (the Marsh Girl), who are brought to life with the wonderful words of Delia Owens.
I realise I have not given much away about the plot, but I feel this is a book that you really need to pick up yourself, rather than have the story spoiled by the words of another.