books, reviews

Book Review: The Sky is Mine – Amy Beashel

Izzy feels invisible. Trapped under the weight of expectation and censored by shame.

Her mum Steph and best friend Grace have always been there to save her. But with one under the control of her stepfather and the other caught in the throes of new love, Izzy is falling between the cracks.

As threats to her safety grow, Izzy wants to scream. But first she must find her voice.

And if the sky is the limit, then the sky is hers.

[This book contains material which some readers may find distressing, including discussions of rape, coercive behaviour, domestic violence and abuse.]

 

My thoughts:

One of the things a lot of people who don’t read YA think, is that it doesn’t tackle difficult topics and is too fantasy heavy. Well, not only is that not remotely true, but books like this, which tackles some very dark themes, help so many readers to deal with the situations they themselves are living with.

Just being told you’re not alone, that there are people out there who will support you, help you and care for you is a huge thing when you’re young and scared.

This is beautifully written and incredibly touching. It can be hard to read and if you are currently dealing with similar themes may be too much, but I think the subject matter is dealt with sensitively and the characters of Izzy and Steph are relatable and empathetic.

I was kindly sent a copy from the publishers as this book won’t be available till February 2020, which gives you plenty of time to read some reviews and decide whether you could comfortably read this.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Purple-Bellied Parrot – William Fagus*

Discover … The power of the ‘HhhuuuUUTTT!’Ever feel you are living the wrong life? Ever feel another life, your should-be life, is out there waiting for you, if only you had the courage to …Do you like tinned pineapple chunks? Have you answered yes to any of those questions?

Then follow the Purple-Bellied Parrot on a rip-roaring, globe-spanning adventure packed with unforgettable characters. His quest to live his should-be life.

It Begins: In the sterile apartment of a city executive with unruly nasal hair where the Purple-Bellied Parrot cannot even do the very thing he was born to do.

It Ends: On the shores of a distant land after an epic journey which tests his courage, his ingenuity and the bonds of friendship — to the limit.

The Purple-Bellied Parrot is a spell-binding, life-affirming tale, with the power to evoke laughter and tears from readers 11-100 years old. (Parental Note: contains occasional mild imprecations.)

Ever feel you are living the wrong life? Ever feel another life, your should-be life, is out there waiting for you, if only you had the courage to …Do you like tinned pineapple chunks? Have you answered yes to any of those questions?

Then follow the Purple-Bellied Parrot on a rip-roaring, globe-spanning adventure packed with unforgettable characters. His quest to live his should-be life.

It Begins: In the sterile apartment of a city executive with unruly nasal hair where the Purple-Bellied Parrot cannot even do the very thing he was born to do.

It Ends: On the shores of a distant land after an epic journey which tests his courage, his ingenuity and the bonds of friendship — to the limit.

The Purple-Bellied Parrot is a spell-binding, life-affirming tale, with the power to evoke laughter and tears from readers 11-100 years old. (Parental Note: contains occasional mild imprecations.)

Amazon

The publicity-shy William Fagus lives in a remote location in an upturned fishing smack with a parrot and sundry antique musical instruments and carpentry tools.

The redoubtable Mrs Lush, his cleaning lady and confidant, is his most frequent visitor.

William Fagus’s biography, of uncertain origin and dubious veracity, is available here.

My thoughts:

This is a very fun read, the titular bird finds himself far from home, not that he’s sure where that is, but none of the birds in the park are like him. Thus starts an epic journey to find out who he is and how to return to where he belongs.

There is a lot of feathery dialogue, from the chuggies who take him in to the marties who help him find part of his way home. Luckily the author has included copious footnotes to explain the bird world.

This is a light hearted, clever read that would make a great gift for the reader in your life, even if that’s you!

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in this blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

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Bookstagram Tour: War Girls – Tochi Onyebuchi*

Something a bit different today, I’m taking part in a Bookstagram tour so come join me on Instagram. Below is some info on the book but for my thoughts head over to see some photos I took and check out the rest of the tour too!

Two sisters are torn apart by war and must fight their way back to each other in a futuristic, Black Panther-inspired Nigeria.

The year is 2172. Climate change and nuclear disasters have rendered much of earth unlivable. Only the lucky ones have escaped to space colonies in the sky.

In a war-torn Nigeria, battles are fought using flying, deadly mechs and soldiers are outfitted with bionic limbs and artificial organs meant to protect them from the harsh, radiation-heavy climate. Across the nation, as the years-long civil war wages on, survival becomes the only way of life.

Two sisters, Onyii and Ify, dream of more. Their lives have been marked by violence and political unrest. Still, they dream of peace, of hope, of a future together.

And they’re willing to fight an entire war to get there.

Goodreads

Amazon

Tochi Onyebuchi is a writer based in Connecticut. He holds a BA from Yale, an MFA in screenwriting from Tisch, and a JD from Columbia Law School. Tochi is the author of Beasts Made of Night and Crown of Thunder.

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*I was kindly gifted a copy of the book in exchange for taking part in this blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Sapphire Smyth & The Shadow Five Part One – R.J. Furness*

SHADOWS: Sapphire Smyth & The Shadow Five (Part One) by [Furness, R.J.]

Have you ever seen something you can’t explain? Did it vanish as fast as it appeared?
Perhaps that thing you saw was lurking in the shadows, and you caught a glimpse of it before it went back into hiding.
There’s a good chance, of course, that the thing you saw simply emerged from your imagination.
Or maybe, just maybe, it didn’t…

Sapphire Smyth is no stranger to rejection. When she was only a baby, her father abandoned her after her mother died. Since then, Sapphire has never felt like she belonged anywhere, or with anyone. To make things worse, her foster carers have now turned their back on her – on her eighteenth birthday. After living with them throughout her childhood, Sapphire has to find a new home. Is it any wonder she finds it hard to trust people?

Abandoned by the people she called family, Sapphire is alone and searching for some meaning in her life. Except that meaning has already come looking for her. When she discovers mysterious creatures lurking in the shadows, Sapphire soon realises that her fate is unlike anything she had ever imagined.

My thoughts:

The serial novel isn’t something new, Charles Dickens serialised his stories in magazines, as did Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, back in the Victorian and Edwardian eras. We don’t really do the same thing nowadays, but the rise of e-books could potentially be a new way to serialise stories for a modern readership.

However, I don’t think this particular story needed that treatment, in fact I think it could have done without it. This first tranche is weak, needing to pack a lot of information into its pages, and with multiple chapters, perhaps gives too much. Tighter editing would have been a real blessing as the concept and ideas within the story are pretty sound.

Sapphire Smyth turns 18, inherits an unusual heirloom, and discovers the world beneath the humdrum existence that she never knew was there. That’s a pretty decent concept, and one that could have been really interesting to play with.

But, the plot is all over the place, as is the characterisation. Sapphire isn’t very empathetic or relatable, she’s just a spoilt brat really. And the other characters are so weak as to be non-existent, where they needed to be stronger, in order to balance Sapphire out.

I have the next two instalments to read, and hopefully it improves and becomes a much more interesting and enjoyable read, and this uneven and overly exposition heavy first section is just a glitch as I really did want to enjoy this.

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*I was kindly gifted a copy of this e-book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Grateful Boys – Francoise DuMaurier*

When seventeen-year-old Hailey’s multi-racial, single parent family migrate to the tiny rural town of Corpus, Georgia (population 700), she would rather have moved anywhere but there.

That is, until she spots him. Mysterious definitely, perhaps even supernatural. Where Hailey is awe-struck by the young man of her dreams, her little brother, Mason, sees a soulless creature of the night, a half-man who may be responsible for a series of grisly murders across the southern gothic town.

Antwan Zeddman, the town’s first African-American Sheriff, must enforce a curfew in Corpus to ensure the safety of the townsfolk. He must contend with sightings of hellish winged beasts and investigate the slaying of an innocent young couple traveling through town. There is a growing sense of racial unrest. Hailey will find herself caught between her family, the residents of Corpus, and the vampire she’s falling in love with.

The Grateful Boys is an otherworldly Young Adult novel which explores the challenges of growing up mixed raced in the southern states of America, and the troubles of a young woman coming of age in a town full of danger and temptation.

Goodreads

Amazon


Françoise DuMaurier is a Special Education Case Worker who works out of a small town in rural Georgia which inspired the Southern Gothic setting of The Grateful Boys. To get to work, DuMaurier passes through miles and miles of farms, as far as the eye can see. Before entering education, DuMaurier attended the Ernest G. Welch School of Art and Design where he studied visual art and creative writing. Having worked with an array of students along with his own experiences, DuMaurier is uniquely suited to provide a wry voice that encapsulates #ownvoices fiction.

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My thoughts:

This was an interesting take on vampire mythology, the vampires have a range of magical powers and select a chosen blood donor, who in return receives the vampire’s affection and blood, which has its own beneficial powers. The supernatural creatures appear as teenage boys and live by strict rules which protect their kind.

The humans are confused by some of the goings on, and the sheriff most of all. Trying to investigate strange and violent crimes that have erupted in the previously quiet neighbourhood.

This is a clever, fresh take on well trodden ground, DuMaurier is an interesting new voice in YA.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in this blog tour.

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Blog Tour: I Hold Your Heart – Karen Gregory*

‘You make me feel like there’s something good in the world I can hold on to,’ Aaron says. He kisses me again, draws me so close it’s almost hard to breathe. ‘I love you, Gem. And I promise I’ll hold your heart forever.’

When Gemma meets Aaron, she feels truly seen for the first time. Their love story is the intense kind. The written-in-the-stars, excluding-all-others kind. The kind you write songs about.

But little by little their relationship takes over Gemma’s life. What happens when being seen becomes being watched, and care becomes control?

Told in both Gemma’s and Aaron’s words, this is a raw, moving exploration of gaslighting in teenage relationships that skewers our ideas of what love looks like.

Goodreads

Amazon


Karen Gregory has been a confirmed bookworm since early childhood. She wrote her first story about Bantra the mouse aged twelve, then put away the word processor until her first child was born, when she was overtaken by the urge to write. Her first novel, Countless, published in 2017, was shortlisted for the Leeds Book Award and longlisted for the Branford Boase. Her second novel, Skylarks, was published in 2018. Karen lives in Wiltshire with her family.

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My thoughts:

With coercive control becoming more widely recognised as a function of domestic abusers, this is a timely and thoughtful account of how such manipulation works told through the relationship of teenagers Gemma and Aaron.

At times shocking and painful to read, the well written novel illustrates how easy it is to fall for an abuser and how hard it can be to see the reality of that abuse.

Gregory writes with passion and care, sympathetic to her readers, some of whom may recognise themselves in her characters, and perhaps be encouraged to seek help. This is a difficult subject handled with immense care and not given over to easy caricatures as a less skilled writer might. I hope many teenagers pick up a copy.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in order to take part in the blog tour.

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Blog Tour: The Stranger’s Guide to Talliston – John Tarrow*

Abandoned and alone, thirteen-year-old Joe’s world is shattered when he enters a deserted council house and becomes trapped within a labyrinth protecting the last magical places on earth. There, Joe discovers a book charting this immense no-man’sland, without time or place, its thirteen doors each leading to a different realm.

Hunted by sinister foes, the boy is forced ever deeper into both the maze and the mystery of his missing parents. What will he find at the labyrinth’s centre, and can it reunite him with the family he so desperately needs?

Crossing through diverse landscapes from Victorian Britain to fifties New Orleans, The Stranger’s Guide to Talliston is inspired by the internationally famous house and gardens dubbed ‘Britain’s Most Extraordinary Home’ by the Sunday Times. It is a classic YA tale of adventure that introduces readers to another world hiding in plain sight, cloaked in magic and steeped in imagined history. Yet beyond its fearsome huntsmen and battling magicians dwells the secret that lies within all of us – the power to live extraordinary lives.

John Tarrow is a novelist, poet, storyteller and award-winning writer. His fascination with folk and faerie tales has taken him around the world, gathering threads of story and legend to weave into his own mythologies: his extensive studies in Lakota Sioux and Druidic traditions offer readers stories resonant with magic, folklore and the wonders of the natural world. He spent twenty-five years transforming a three-bedroom, semi-detached, ex council house in Essex into the world-famous Talliston House and Gardens.

My thoughts:

Ok, so this book is inspired by a real place, that you can actually visit, in Great Dunmow, Essex. So I’ve added that to my list of places to go to asap.

A really accessible, clever, funny fantasy novel, full of little references to other fantasy books (and at one point Disney’s Pocahontas – at least to me!)

Joe is the relatable, every kid hero, who encounters magical birds, strange and powerful mystics, travelling through time and space via a mysterious house and its labyrinth.

I really enjoyed reading this, it’s a romp and so well written that it pulls you into the story swiftly, with its use of different myths and legends, locations, time periods and cast of unique characters.


*I was kindly gifted this book in return for taking part in the blog tour.