LIFE IN A FISHBOWL – Len Vlahos

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RELEASED: 12/01/2017
PUBLISHER: Bloomsbury
GENRE: Young Adult, Teen, Contemporary

Jackie’s life wasn’t perfect, but at least it was normal. That is, until her dad received a terminal cancer diagnosis. Then he went and did what anyone faced with mountains of medical bills and a family to support would do: he sold his life to the highest bidder. Which turned out to be a TV station. Suddenly everyone from psychotic millionaires to cyber-savvy nuns wants a piece of Jackie’s family as they become a reality TV sensation. Jackie’s life spirals out of control just as her dad’s starts to run out, and meanwhile the whole world is tuning in to watch her family fall apart … Acidly funny and heartbreakingly sad, Life in a Fishbowl is an exploration of the value of life and what memories mean to us. Perfect for fans of Patrick Ness.

This book wasn’t at all what I was expecting when I picked it up; I had thought that I was about to read a typical YA book that would have me crying by the end. However, it had me crying from the start (with laughter) and I simply could not put it down! Len Vlahos’ writing style is so unique and engaging and gives this book such wonderful character, and he has the characters literally leaping off the page so you become totally absorbed in this real yet bizarre story.

At the beginning, you are introduced to the main characters of the story who Len will effortlessly switch between throughout the book, and this is where my love for the book began – literally with the first sentence! It gives you just the right amount of information about each character so that you know who’s who but aren’t drowned with a ridiculous cast of people, and it’s this cast that is central to the whole story. From the quirky nun Sister Benedict Joan (look out for her Ebay username!) to a bored psycho, these characters are so lively and have some bizarre yet believable stories that link them into Jackie’s heartbreaking tale.


Thank you to Bloomsbury for sending me a proof of this book!
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UNCONVENTIONAL – Maggie Harcourt

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RELEASED: 01/02/2017
PUBLISHER: Usborne
GENRE: Young Adult, Contemporary, Teen

Everyone’s a fan of someone…

Lexi Angelo has grown up helping her dad with his events business. She likes to stay behind the scenes, planning and organizing…until author Aidan Green – messy haired and annoyingly arrogant – arrives unannounced at the first event of the year.

Then Lexi’s life is thrown into disarray. In a flurry of late-night conversations, mixed messages and butterflies, Lexi discovers that some things can’t be planned. Things like falling in love.

Six conventions, a girl with a clipboard, a boy with two names – and one night that changes everything.

Unashamedly romantic, this is a clever and funny story of love in unlikely places form the author of Waterstones’ reader’s favourite, The Last Summer of Us.

You know that a book is something special when it opens up with the dilemma of having the wrong inflatable palm trees delivered! And from there it just got better.

Unconventional was such a unique novel in the way that it was literally all about books and loving books and authors, with bits that were funny, bits that made you cringe, romance, friendships, family and lots of meaningful quotes to take away (as my friend had to listen to on the phone as I read through all my favourites!). Honestly, I tabbed so many things in my copy!

It’s not an overly soppy love story, but it’s fluffy in the most perfect way which does make it stand out because it wasn’t overly heavy like many YA novels and I felt really contented whilst reading this. I was totally absorbed into the world of book conventions and Lexi’s life revolving around these conventions – I really want to go to one now! Despite being set over these six conventions, you really got to know Lexi and she was such a real and honest character that you can’t help but love her!

“Everyone’s a fan of somone…” – I’m definitely a fan of Unconventional.


Thank you to Stevie at Usborne for sending me a copy of this book!

FIREFLY HOME – Jane Clarke, Britta Teckentrup

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RELEASED: 11/01/2018
PUBLISHER: Nosy Crow
GENRE: Picture Book, Children’s

There’s no place like home, but poor Florence Firefly is lost, and there are so many bright lights shining in the night sky she doesn’t know which way to go. She’ll need some help to find her way back home. In this brilliant interactive picture book, children can help Florence on her journey by encouraging her to fly faster, suggesting which direction to take and making a wish.

There are some picture books that you read that you just know will be perfect for storytime and reading aloud, and Firefly Home is definitely one of them! I was immediately drawn to this book by Britta’s beautiful illustrations, and by how adorable Florence Firefly looks. Coupled with the fun story that’s highly interactive and enjoyable to read, this makes for a really engaging reading experience.

My gut feeling is that I didn’t enjoy this one as much as I’d hoped. I found it a little bit too childlike at times (which is very rare for me to say!) and didn’t enjoy the interactivity when reading it on my own. However, I can imagine that this is a wonderful story to share with your children.

All that said, I did overall like the book and think that it makes a lovely addition to my picture book collection!

THE KING WHO BANNED THE DARK – Emily Haworth-Booth

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RELEASED: 04/10/2018
PUBLISHER: Pavilion
GENRE: Picture Book, Children’s

An illuminating tale of power, rebellion, darkness and light

There was once a little boy who was afraid of the dark. There’s nothing unusual about that. Most children are afraid of the dark at one time of another. But this little boy was a Prince, and he decided that when he became King, he would do something about the dark.

He would ban it.

When the King bans the dark completely, installing an artificial sun, and enforcing “anti-dark” laws, it seems like a good idea. The citizens don’t need to worry about any of the scary things that might live in the dark.

But what happens when nobody can sleep, and the citizens revolt? Will the King face his fears and turn the lights off?

The King Who Banned the Dark is a beautiful and thought-provoking story about how we need the dark in order to enjoy the light.

I love beautiful picture books that use a limited colour palette, like The King Who Banned The Dark. Immediately, I was drawn to read it, and I’m very glad that I did because I’ve found a new favourite! The illustrations, whilst simplistic, are lovely and make for a very enjoyable read.

The King Who Banned The Dark is a story that can have different interpretations; on a simpler note it can be about how we need the dark as well as the light, making it a wonderful book about the fear of the dark and appreciating the beauty of the light. On a deeper level, as I’ve read in a few places, this book can be interpreted as being a bit more political – people have got power and can revolt against decisions taken by the leaders which may not be for the benefit of the people, and how decisions can be manipulated.

I personally like to think of it as being the lighter option, making it a perfect bedtime story to be enjoyed time and time again!

HEARTSTOPPER: VOLUME 1 – Alice Oseman

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RELEASED: 07/02/2019
PUBLISHER: Hachette
GENRE: Graphic Novel, Young Adult, LGBT

Boy meets boy. Boys become friends. Boys fall in love. An LGBTQ+ graphic novel about life, love, and everything that happens in between – perfect for fans of The Art of Being Normal and Love, Simon.

Charlie and Nick are at the same school, but they’ve never met … until one day when they’re made to sit together. They quickly become friends, and soon Charlie is falling hard for Nick, even though he doesn’t think he has a chance.

But love works in surprising ways, and Nick is more interested in Charlie than either of them realised.

Heartstopper is about love, friendship, loyalty and mental illness. It encompasses all the small stories of Nick and Charlie’s lives that together make up something larger, which speaks to all of us.

Back in the day, I was a massive fan of All Time Low (think I Was Born For This level of fandom) and would spend hours and hours reading slash fiction relating to the band; there was nothing else out there like it! So, something like Heartstopper, which focuses on male friendships, relationships and everything in between, would’ve been as popular then as it is today within the slash fiction community and I would’ve adored it. That said, as a young adult who doesn’t read a lot of LGBT books, I still loved reading Heartstopper!

Rightly so, this comic has been getting a LOT of love on social media, and so I was intrigued to see what the hype was all about. I was desperate to get my hands on a copy, and so after FINALLY getting to read it, I don’t know how I’m going to wait so long for volume two! I think what I loved was the whole innocence and angst that comes across from the characters. Charlie and Nick are so adorable, and it’s really interesting to see how their personas can hide a whole host of feelings and emotions and seeing their friendship blossom. Alice’s illustrations, whilst simple, make for a really enjoyable read as you really get sucked into the story and they surprisingly do bring them to life!

If I had to find one flaw with Heartstopper: Volume 1, it’s that it’s too short; I flew through this volume and have been left wanting more!

WWW Wednesday: 20th February 2019

‘Evening all! This has been a fairly busy week; I’ve been away in Chester so my boyfriend and I could go to the zoo to celebrate our birthdays this week…mine’s today! I’m 25 D:

What are you currently reading? 

I’ve just started Heartstopper by Alice Oseman which is a comic/graphic novel – I’ve read manga lots before, but never anything like this so I’m really excited to carry on reading it!

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What did you recently finish reading?

I’ve read A Girl Called Justice by Elly Griffiths this week, which comes out in May. I can’t wait for more people to start reading it so I can rave about it with them because it was wonderful!

What do you think you’ll read next?

I received a copy of VE Schwab’s The Near Witch today, so I think I’ll work my way around to that one next!

kayleigh

THE YEAR AFTER YOU – Nina de Pass

the year after you5/5

PUBLICATION DATE: 14/2/2019
PUBLISHER: Ink Road Books
GENRE: Young Adult

“If guilt could kill, I’d already be dead, like I’m supposed to be …” New Year’s Eve, San Francisco. The most promising party of the year ends in tragedy. Cara survives. Her best friend Georgina doesn’t. Nine months later, Cara is consumed by guilt and grief. Her mum decides a Swiss boarding school will be the fresh start Cara needs. But Cara knows that swapping sunshine for snow won’t make a blind bit of difference. Georgina is gone, and nothing will bring her back. Up in the Alps, Cara’s old life feels a million miles away. At Hope Hall, nobody knows her past and she intends to keep it that way. But classmates Ren and Hector have other ideas. Cara keeps her distance, but she’s drawn to the offbeat, straight-talking Hector, who understands her grief better than anyone. Her new friends are breaking down the walls she has so carefully built up. And, despite it all, Cara wants them to. The closer Cara grows to Hector, the more Georgina slips away. Embracing life at Hope Hall means letting go of the past; of her memories of that fatal New Year’s Eve. But Cara is quite sure she doesn’t deserve a second chance.

My two favourite types of book are boarding school stories and young adult contemporary (especially mental health) and I’d come to accept that the likelihood of reading a book that ticks both of these boxes is very slim. Then along comes an offer to be part of a blog tour for a book from Ink Road…THAT TICKS BOTH OF THESE BOXES. Of course I had to say yes yes yes!

The Year After You is a book that as soon as I picked it up I couldn’t put it down; every time life got in the way I’d be anxiously waiting to get back to reading! In it, the characters are all so varied – they come from a variety of backgrounds and all have stories to share. I like how diverse the story was without it being thrown in your face; it was like life, just part and parcel of having a group of teens at school together.

Nina’s writing style was brilliant and she crafted a story that, although it covers some pretty difficult topics, ultimately was enjoyable and easy to engage with. Cara was a brilliant main character who was flawed but also vulnerable. It was refreshing to see a character who you’d think had it all but actually shows that situations can have an impact on anyone. I think the way that grief and guilt are tackled throughout the book makes this essential reading for young people too.

I’d highly recommend The Year After You, especially for fans of authors such as Sara Barnard, Gayle Forman and Phyllida Shrimpton, as well as people who may have grown up loving school stories and are looking for something a little more modern to love.


Thank you to Sarah at Ink Road for sending me a copy of The Year After You and for involving me in the blog tour!

THE VALENTINES: HAPPY GIRL LUCKY – Holly Smale

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RELEASED: 07/02/2019
PUBLISHER: HarperCollins
GENRE: Teen, Young Adult, Contemporary

Introducing The Valentines. Fame – It Runs in the Family!

Sisters Hope, Faith and Mercy have everything: fame, success, money and beauty. But what Hope wants most of all is love, and it doesn’t matter how far she has to go to find it.

Except real-life isn’t like the movies. Even if you’re a Valentine . . .

Happy Girl Lucky is the first hilarious, heart-warming book in The Valentines series. From the internationally bestselling author of Geek Girl, Holly Smale.

Growing up, my favourite books as a teenager were your typical teen books such as those from Cathy Hopkins and Jacqueline Wilson, so when Holly Smale burst onto the scene with the Geek Girl series I was delighted! Her writing was something new, combining the things that I love about young adult contemporary fiction with the best part of teen fiction thus making books that were perfect for both markets. The Valentines is no different; whilst it tackles genuine issues that affect teens, it’s not romanticised or overly fluffy yet it gives you all the feels and enjoyment that you’d get from a nice light teen read.

I was very quickly drawn into Hope’s world in Happy Girl Lucky and found her to be an adorable main character. She’s not perfect; she’s ditzy and has her head in the clouds, but that’s what makes her such an interesting narrator! The story moved at a good pace which is what kept me reading on and on, and it touches upon some heavier topics that many teenagers deal with relating to dysfunctional families and first love. That said, Hope’s love interest was…interesting!

Going into this book, I did expect to like it, but I didn’t expect it to necessarily be a five star read, but I was so pleasantly surprised and couldn’t put it down! It’s the perfect read for younger teens right the way through to adults, so I’d definitely recommend it.


Thank you to HarperCollins via NetGalley for the eBook of this title.

WWW Wednesday: 13th February 2019

Good evening! This has been a very varied week full of emotions and hormones, yet I’ve got lots of reading done compared to lately and I’ve had a some really good posts on here what with the The Star-Spun Web Blog Tour and the The Year After You Blog Tour!

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What are you currently reading? 

My current read is still I Owe You One by Sophie Kinsella; I finally bought a pretty proper copy and so I’m very excited to get stuck in properly!

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What did you recently finish reading?

I read Happy Girl Lucky yesterday and I LOVED IT! It’s such a fluffy yet important teen book and it gave me all the feels. Please excuse the darkness of my picture of the eBook – I live in the UK where I get like a matter of hours a day in decent light, but I also work full time so rarely see those hours! This weekend, I shall show off my shiny finished copy that I bought yesterday!

I also read Tad by Benji Davies today; it’s so cute and I can’t wait to see it all finished and in proper book form!

What do you think you’ll read next?

I’m not too sure yet; I have a few proofs headed my way and some eBooks to make my way through, so I shall see what I fancy!

kayleigh

BLOG TOUR: THE YEAR AFTER YOU

the year after youI’m very excited about today’s post! Just before Christmas, I was lucky enough to receive a present in the post – a copy of a book that sounded wonderful! I was immediately captivated by the description of this YA contemporary set in the Alps and in a boarding school (perfect combination!), and so am delighted to be here on the blog tour for this book – The Year After You by Nina de Pass.

So, today is my stop on the blog tour, and I have something a little different to share with you! I really wanted to do a Q&A post, and something I was really keen to do was interview someone who works for the publisher, Ink Road. Luckily, the lovely lady who I’ve been in contact with was up for answering a few questions on Ink Road and The Year After You! So, without further ado, I’d like to introduce you to Sarah Barnard!

Hello Sarah! So first of all, I’d like to find out a little bit about you! What is your role at Ink Road and what sort of things do you do on a day to day basis?

I’m the sales account manager at Black & White Publishing (the publisher that Ink Road is an imprint of). I look after Scottish sales, and liaise with our sales teams in the rest of the UK, Ireland, America, Australia/New Zealand and South Africa. A lot of my day to day life is processing orders, and making sure everyone has up to date info on our titles. One of my favourite parts of my job is getting to visit bookshops and tell lovely booksellers all about our books. But I also do lots of other Ink Road things because I absolutely love YA: I’m responsible for the Ink Road Reads newsletter (pls subscribe), as well as helping with our social media, I attend events, and I have the excellent job of being in charge of Ink Road’s YALC adventure this year!

Your job does sound so varied and exciting! I’m looking forward to finding out more about what you’ll be getting up to at YALC; I’m desperate to go this year, for the first time!

Outside of work, what do you enjoy doing?

I spend lots of time immersing myself in Edinburgh’s publishing scene – I’m membership secretary for the Society of Young Publishers’ Scotland branch. We’re currently planning our 2019 conference, which will take place in Edinburgh on 15 February. I would really highly recommend coming along if you’re interested in getting into publishing. If you can’t make it to the conference, do think about joining your local SYP branch. It’s the best place to get insight into the industry and make great pals along the way.

I also try to convince myself my life isn’t 100% publishing, by singing in a choir, taking French classes, and cultivating a strong recreational interest in cake.

Très bien! French and cake really jump out at me there. That’s also some really useful advice for anyone who wants to go into publishing!

What’s your current read?

I just finished my namesake Sara Barnard’s completely gorgeous Fierce Fragile Hearts – UKYA at its heart-wrenching finest, and a beautiful, tender story about the many different kinds of love and how they help you to not only survive, but to live.

YES! I LOVE THIS BOOK TOO! Shamelessly going to plug my review here. That’s a beautiful summary.

Next up, I’ve got a few questions that are about Ink Road and The Year After You.

the year after youWhat made this book stand out as one that you [Ink Road] had to publish? What sets it apart from other YA books?

Cara’s voice is arresting from the very beginning of the novel: she’s so guarded and so vulnerable, flawed but engaging and deeply sympathetic. The writing is beautiful, and the setting is fantastic. I love the aesthetic of all the snow-capped mountains and the boarding school with its golden domes!

What makes an Ink Road book? How do you choose your books and authors to represent your imprint?

Ink Road has only just turned 2 years old, so we’re still a young imprint, but we’ve published some really brilliant books in those two years, starting with Pooja Puri’s The Jungle. We’ve developed a strong reputation with our fresh, contemporary YA novels (all of which have fabulous covers, too). We love finding new writers and helping them develop their voices; we’re very proud to be publishing Estelle Maskame’s extraordinary sixth novel in August!

What’s been your favourite part of being involved in the publication of The Year After You?

It’s the first Ink Road book I’ve followed all the way from manuscript to publication, which is super exciting! That’s what publishing is all about! My favourite part so far has been the wonderful responses we’ve had from everybody – from my fave YA authors like Sophie Cameron and Lauren James, to all the other brilliant bloggers – who has read it. I feel very proud to be sending it out into the world, and very grateful for how well it has been received. It’s lovely that Nina shares our excitement too! There’s nothing like getting a phone call from a debut author who’s just received the first copies of her actual book to make the day to day feel worthwhile!

the year after youHow has the increased use and influence of social media and bloggers changed how you market a book?

Social media means publishers can speak directly to readers in a way we couldn’t, really, even a few years ago. Everything is more immediate – both good feedback and bad! But with shrinking coverage of books in print media, especially children’s books coverage, it’s so important to have this huge network and proliferation of spaces online where people shout about books they love. It also means even more emphasis on making books look beautiful: I’m always astounded by the creativity of bookstagrammers, who make everything look so shiny! And, so, when you see the book in its natural habitat (the bookshop) you recognise it and pick it up…

Beautiful covers is something that Ink Road definitely has a grasp of; I’ve yet to see one that hasn’t drawn me in immediately!

And finally…

Finish the sentence: if you loved….. you will love The Year After You.

If you loved We Are Okay by Nina LaCour, you will love The Year After You. Two beautiful books about isolated, grief-stricken girls in frozen landscapes, learning to let their hearts thaw again.

Thank you so so much Sarah for featuring today! To all of you readers, I hope you found that as interesting as I did – Sarah’s mentioned some really good points! Make sure to check back on the 16th for my review!

The Year After You by Nina de Pass is out tomorrow from Ink Road books. Get your copy here:

Amazon
Foyles
Waterstones

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Thank you so much to Sarah at Ink Road for sending me a copy of The Year After You and for having me on the blog tour!