UNLOCKING FRENCH/UNLOCKING SPANISH – Paul Noble

5/5

An essential addition to your Collins languages collection.

As a languages student, I was so excited to find these books on NetGalley and absolutely had to read them! I have studied French for 17 years and Spanish for 10 years, and whilst I am at a fairly advanced level in both, I’m rubbish at studying and because of being a part-time student am unable to devote as much time as I would like to my languages, so these books sound perfect for me!

I started reading these books almost as soon as I got copies, and I found them so engaging and easy to get into the flow of. Each chapter is of a reasonable length and doesn’t try to cram in too much. I like how the books emphasise the importance of not having to learn everything you read off by heart and instead use repetition to help you remember words and phrases.

unlockingfrenchUnlocking Spanish and Unlocking French are yet more fantastic additions to the Collins language collection, and are ones that I will be thoroughly recommending to people wanting to improve on their language learning. It’s such a unique take on learning a language that really explains why you’re doing a certain exercise and focuses more on how we naturally learn a language rather than expecting you to remember everything you learn.


Thank you to Collins via NetGalley for the eBook of these titles!
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LOOKING FOR JJ – Anne Cassidy

5/5

One of my favourite books of all time from my personal Queen of Teen Crime.

Looking For JJ starts with the story of Alice Tully, a 17 year-old girl living and working in Croydon. She seems to have it all – a job she enjoys, a loving boyfriend, prospects for university, a caring home…but all is not as it seems and we soon learn that Alice is hiding a dark secret.

Flash back 7 years, and we are introduced to Jennifer Jones, a 10 year old girl living a very dysfunctional life with her mother, a model of sorts, and struggling to deal with growing up in an environment where she is left to fend for herself. Jennifer is quiet, reserved and seemingly innocent, but all that changes when she and two friends go out to play…but only two of them return.

This book crafts the story of JJ perfectly – it’s so hard to actively dislike the young girl who we know does a terrible thing. It’s a book that makes you question rapidly judging people and whether we should give people second chances. The writing is exquisite, grips you from the get-go and draws you into the lives of the characters in such a way that it really does feel as though you know them. I can’t recommend this book highly enough!

DANIEL DANIELS AND THE WORLD’S WORST ZOO – Robbie Yates

3.5/5

A fun first chapter book filled with animals and mischief.

I love a good early reader book; they’re just so easy to get into and, as an adult, they create a sense of achievement when you can read a whole book in under an hour! So, when the opportunity to be involved in the blog tour for Daniel Daniels and the World’s Worst Zoo came up, of course I had to read this one, and I wasn’t disappointed!

Daniel Daniels is a very likeable narrator who, despite having a hard time both at school and at home, is very optimistic and caring. We soon learn of his love of the local zoo, even though it is definitely the World’s Worst Zoo, and get to meet all the animals he encounters there. But, the story takes an unexpected twist…

Robbie Yates’ writing style is very fluid and makes the story very easy to get lost in, and I also liked how his love of poetry shines through making this an enjoyable read for readers of all ages!


Thank you to Shalini at Digital Reads Blog Tours for the eBook of this title and for involving me in the blog tour!

THE NIGHT DRAGON – Naomi Howarth

3.5/5

A beautiful look at how it’s okay to be different and on the importance of trying.

I know you shouldn’t judge a book on its cover, but, seriously, look at this one! It’s such a beautiful illustration that I just had to read the book!

The Night Dragon is a gorgeous story that’s perfect for people to read to young children, all about how we are all different and unique in our own ways, and how you don’t have to be the same as everyone else. It also highlights the importance of trying and not giving up, and believing in yourself and others.

I really enjoyed reading The Night Dragon, especially for the illustrations which were so beautiful and colourful! The end of the story was so heartwarming and the illustrations complimented that perfectly.


Thank you to Frances Lincoln via NetGalley for the eBook of this title!

JOSEPHINE BAKER – Isabel Sánchez Vegara

4.5/5

One of my favourite additions to the Little People, Big Dreams series!

I adore the Little People, Big Dreams series, and, since looking into the titles in this series, Josephine Baker is one that I really wanted to learn more about and read! So, I was very excited to see it go up on NetGalley and just had to read it straight away.

So far, this has been one of my favourite books in the series; the illustrations compliment the story beautifully and are simplistic without being boring. It was fascinating to learn about a brave and inspirational woman who I hadn’t heard of before.

This book is definitely aimed at older children; it covers some of the trickier periods of history to explain to young people, but, nevertheless, it is an important one for learning about race, the Second World War and following your dreams in the face of adversity.


Thank you to Frances Lincoln Children’s via NetGalley for the eBook of this title!

NO SAD SONGS – Frank Morelli

4/5

A heartfelt story of family, friends and life.

Following a family tragedy, 18-year-old Gabe LoScuda suddenly finds himself thrust into the role of caregiver for his ailing grandfather. Between the shopping trips and the doctor visits with Grandpa, Gabe and his friend John try to salvage their senior year, meet girls, and make the varsity baseball team. It doesn’t take long for Gabe to realize that going to school and looking after a grandfather with Alzheimer’s is more work than he ever imagined.

And when long-lost Uncle Nick appears on the scene, Gabe soon finds that living with Nick and Grandpa is like babysitting two grown men. Aside from John, the only person who truly understands Gabe is Sofia, a punk-rocking rebel he meets at the veteran’s hospital. When these three unlikely friends are faced with a serious dilemma, will they do what it takes to save Grandpa? If there’s a chance of preserving the final shreds of Grandpa’s dignity, Gabe may have to make the most gut-wrenching decision of his life—and there’s no way out.

As soon as I heard the details for this book, I just knew I had to be involved in the blog tour and read this title! Perfect for fans of Jennifer Niven, Jandy Nelson and Sarah Moore Fitzgerald, No Sad Songs touches upon so many aspects of Young Adult fiction that I, and many other readers, love, such as friendship, crushes and an emotional rollercoaster!

I have very rarely come across a book that focuses on the very common illness of Alzheimer’s, so this was a very interesting yet heartbreaking subject to read about. That said, the warmth that comes off the page doesn’t make this a depressing book to read, and rather it serves as an important book in YA to highlight what so many young people go through when relatives have this illness. No Sad Songs focuses a lot on how important it is to live in the present and to not focus on the past, and how life can throw all sorts of curve balls at us.

Finally, I must stress how beautiful Frank Morelli’s writing style is – this book was such a good read because of it! I found it so easy to get into and the characters really came to life; Gabe especially is a very interesting and complex character who has had to go through so much and yet continues to soldier on. His life is turned completely upside down and you can’t fault his resilience.

If you’d like to read No Sad Songs, and I highly recommend that you do, then you can get your own copy here: Amazon UKAmazon US.

 


Thank you to Neverland Blog Tours and Fish Out Of Water for the eBook of this title, and for the opportunity to be involved!

FLOORED – Various

4/5

Floored brings together some of the queens of UKYA (Sara Barnard, Holly Bourne, Non Pratt, Melinda Salisbury, Lisa Williamson, Tanya Byrne and Eleanor Wood)

I am a sucker for a good UKYA contemporary, especially when you throw in names such as Sara Barnard, Holly Bourne and Lisa Williamson; I just know it’s a book I will love! So, imagine my delight when I discovered that Floored is a thing and so it was the first book that I sent a begging email for since starting blogging! Despite not getting a copy, I was super lucky to get one straight away through NetGalley (thank you Macmillan!) and bumped this straight to the top of my TBR!

Floored is told from the perspective of six characters, and a narrator. What adds to its charm is how you don’t know which author wrote which parts – this makes for a fun game of “guess the author”! I loved how seamlessly the story seemed to flow between narrators and how all of the different writing styles complimented each other perfectly.

A key thing that makes Floored such a success is how relatable it is; the book spans several years and we “check-in” with our characters once a year, and so we see how in the space of a year so much can change when you’re in your teens and going into early adulthood. It’s during this time that our characters really develop and our friendships are evolving and you are beginning to realise what’s truly important. Floored is all about the ups and downs that these years can bring and it captures this perfectly.

I think that the only thing I really didn’t like was the bringing in of political parties to the story. I think that an unfair light was cast upon one party over another, especially when you consider the character narrating at the time, and this is something that put me off giving this book a higher rating.

Nevertheless, overall this book is a solid 4 stars – it tackles such a range of topics with some very likeable characters. Everyone will find some way to relate to what these narrators go through, you’ll see your positives and your flaws. I’d definitely love to see more collaborations from this group in the future!


Thank you to Macmillan via NetGalley for the eBook of this title!

DIFFERENTLY NORMAL – Tammy Robinson

4/5

A heartwarming and heartbreaking story of first love, family and autism.

So, today is my stop on the Differently Normal Blog Tour which I’ve been very excited for, especially since finishing this book as I really did love it so want to shout out about it!

Differently Normal is a dual narrative YA book from the perspectives of Maddy and Albert (Al-bear), and it tells of their different home lives and how their worlds collide in a beautiful love story. However, as the suggestion that it’s for fans of John Green and Jennifer Niven suggests, this book will break your heart and throughout you’re just waiting for something to fall apart, but you don’t quite know how! I did not expect the ending at all, even when I was nearly finished with the book!

One key aspect, and one that makes me wonder whether Tammy is writing from experience, is that of Maddy’s sister Bee’s autism, epilepsy and learning difficulties. Bee is such a loveable little girl, although her condition makes her demanding to look after – she’s got such complex needs, and, if it wasn’t for the fact that I know people with these conditions, I wouldn’t have realised just how connected the conditions are. In addition, Maddy is such a selfless character that she’s highly admirable and one who you want to aspire to be like; her love for her sister shines through and that sisterly bond she shares with Bee is an important part of the story.

I loved the story of how Maddy and Albert meet and become closer – it’s really cute, not without its difficulties, and it isn’t a case of instalove which was very refreshing! The two of them are so different yet so similar which made their relationship very believable and the timeline of the story seemed to fly by.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book for people who love a good contemporary YA book that’ll drag you into the world of the characters and who really jump off the page. I found that I was wanting to get back to reading as often as possible just to be with Maddy and Albert and find out what happened next!


Thank you to Little Brown UK via NetGalley for the eBook of this title, and to Sophia Walker for the opportunity to be a part of this blog tour!

If you didn’t like that book, you might like this book…

There have been a few videos floating around Booktube lately focusing on recommending books based on books you don’t like, which is a really interesting concept! I believe that this idea originates with Emmmabooks and it’s one that really intrigued me, so I thought I’d have a go at it on here!

If you didn’t like the Twilight Saga, or Fifty Shades of Grey for that matter, you might like the A Court of Thorns and Roses series.

Disclaimer: I used to love Twilight; I was fifteen. It was the in thing.

It’s a well known fact that Twilight, and its fan-fiction Fifty Shades of Grey, are both poorly written disasterous love stories that have very weird relationships at their heart. So, if you’re looking for a good series that’ll keep you hooked, has supernatural creatures and a bit of smut then look no further than the ACOTAR series from Sarah J Maas. I ADORE this series so much. Give it a chance, because by the time you’re a few chapters in you’ll be eagerly turning every page. Book two A Court of Mist and Fury…phwoar that book makes you get a little flustered. Sarah J Maas does write some good fae smut!

If you didn’t like Paper Butterflies, you might like Differently Normal.

Paper Butterflies, despite all the rave reviews, is one of my least favourite books of all time. It was a traumatic read all about race and child abuse and made for very uncomfortable reading, and not in a good way. Differently Normal, however, is a beautiful book that has some truly heartwarming moments in it whilst having characters put in difficult situations. It’s more than just a beautiful love story.

If you didn’t like books by Enid Blyton, you might like Murder Most Unladylike.

Enid Blyton is one of my favourite authors of all time, and it’s because of her books that I truly got into reading. However, I do appreciate that for some people these books are dated and not something that they enjoy to read. So, if you’re one of those people, you might like the Murder Most Unladylike series as, whilst it’s set in the same time period as Enid Blyton’s books, there’s a breath of fresh air to them that makes them feel very modern. Plus, they’re just fantastic mysteries!

 

Have you read any of these and would you agree with any of my suggestions? If you liked this post and would like to see more like it, please let me know in the comments!

 

MY BOX-SHAPED HEART – Rachael Lucas

4/5

A fab contemporary with a refreshing focus on dysfunctional families

I’d seen a lot of excitement for this book brewing over on Twitter so when I saw it go up on NetGalley I just knew I had to try My Box-Shaped Heart. I love YA contemporary books, especially UKYA, so this is right up my street. Luckily, it didn’t disappoint and was a book that I looked forward to picking up every time I had a spare 5 minutes.

One thing that I really liked about this book is how the main characters all come from dysfunctional families that aren’t the “norm”. Coming from a single-parent family, I could really relate to Holly and what she was going through at home with her mum, which I so rarely find in YA. I also liked how one situation that comes up in the book is handled very sensitively, and for me I didn’t find it triggering, which, again, is different to a lot of YA books.

I really enjoyed reading My Box-Shaped Heart and felt that the only thing that let it down was that it felt a bit lacking somehow towards the end; it just needed that little something to make it stand out more. That said, I would still thoroughly recommend this book – it was a nice light read, perfect for the summer or if you’re looking for a quick read that’s easy to get into!


Thank you to Macmillan via NetGalley for the eBook of this title!