THE PAPER & HEARTS SOCIETY – Lucy Powrie

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RELEASED: 13/06/2019
PUBLISHER: Hachette
GENRE: Young Adult Contemporary, Teen

A brand new series from Booktuber Lucy Powrie – about what happens when you give up on trying to fit in in and let your weird out! It’s time to join The Paper & Hearts Society …

Tabby Brown is tired of trying to fit in. She doesn’t want to go to parties – in fact, she would much rather snuggle up on the sofa with her favourite book.

It’s like she hasn’t found her people …

Then Tabby joins a club that promises to celebrate books. What could go wrong? EVERYTHING – especially when making new friends brings out an AWKWARD BUZZING feeling all over her body.

But Olivia, Cassie, Henry and Ed have something that makes Tabby come back. Maybe it’s the Austen-themed fancy-dress parties, or Ed’s fluffy cat Mrs Simpkins, or could it be Henry himself …

Can Tabby let her weird out AND live THE BEST BOOKISH LIFE POSSIBLE?

Ok, so I’m going to be honest; the main reason I wanted to read this book was because of it being written by the lovely Lucy Powrie (if you’ve lived under a rock in the book world, she’s a booktuber and creator of #ukyachat and is just generally a very good bookish person to be aware of!) and because I wanted to support her and to not be the only person not reading this book. The synopsis, whilst fairly good, just sounded too…happy for me. But,

OH. MY. GOD.

I hold my hands up; I was wrong. So completely and utterly wrong.

The Paper & Hearts Society is now one of my favourite books of all time, and if I can throw it at people and make them read it I will. Yes, it was fluffy and happy, but it also had all the feels that make a perfect teen/young adult book! This is exactly the book that I needed when I was a teenager. It makes you feel like you belong and captures exactly how it feels to be a teenager or, in my case, an adult who still feels like a teenager!

The Paper & Hearts Society members are like a little family of people who I instantly took to and they all bring something unique to the group. Please hear me out on the next bit; I’ve tried to word it right! The one thing I was worried about going into this book was having heard about the diversity and I wasn’t sure how that was going to be handled – I like diverse books, but I don’t like it to be the sole focus of the book or character. Personally, for me, it needs to just be a fact of life that doesn’t detract from the main story but adds depth and realism to the characters.

Lucy has mastered this perfectly.

I love how you get to know a character without any judgement and the diversity that’s included in the story is written sensitively and in a way that just makes it normal and accepting, which is how it should be.

So, what are the main things that I took away from this amazing read? Number one has to be the fact that it’s okay to be different and unique and to be passionate about something that you love! Secondly, you have no idea what people go through behind closed doors. Take the time to get to know people, and try not to judge too quickly. We all have our own battles and sometimes not everyone can see that. Finally, books! Above all, this is a book about books for bookworms and I saw books I love, and books I hate, feature throughout this book. It really reignited my love of books.

Now, if you don’t mind me, I’ll be impatiently waiting by my postbox for my preorder and my Paper & Hearts Society member pin to arrive…


Thank you to Hachette via NetGalley for approving my request to read this title!
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THE GOLDEN BUTTERFLY – Sharon Gosling

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RELEASED: 02/05/2019
PUBLISHER: Stripes
GENRE: Children’s, Mystery

The Golden Butterfly danced in the air, beautiful and impossible, yet there before their eyes. Then the Magnificent Marko flicked his wand again. There was a shower of sparks, a bang and … the Golden Butterfly vanished. 
It’s 1897 and since the Magnificent Marko dramatically departed the stage, no magician has come close to performing a trick as spectacular as the Golden Butterfly. With her grandfather gone, Luciana feels that the world has lost its wonder. Then the imposing leader of the Grand Society of Magicians appears, searching for something belonging to Marko, and Luciana is drawn into a world of danger and deception. As she battles to protect her grandfather’s greatest legacy, can she distinguish reality from illusion?
A dazzling tale of bravery and friendship in this fast-paced historical adventure for fans of Katherine Woodfine, COGHEART and THE NOWHERE EMPORIUM.

I’m so glad that I got sent this book for review; I’d not heard of it before and it’s now one of my go-to middle grade mystery books. I adored every second of The Golden Butterfly! This is one of the best middle grade books I’ve read in recent years.

In The Golden Butterfly, Sharon draws together all the things that make recent middle grade mysteries so special; a strong female lead, an intricate mystery full of twists and turns and a brilliant setting, in this case Victorian England. I was hooked from page one and instantly liked Luciana as a main character. I liked how determined and forward-thinking she is.

I’d love to revisit Luciana and her friends and family and find out what happens next for them. Towards the end of the book, the points about women and their role in society towards the end of the Victorian era make for an interesting discussion and I’d love to see this explored further with these characters, so I’m definitely hoping for a sequel! That said, this is a brilliant standalone that’s fast-paced and gripping and I can’t recommend it highly enough.


Thank you to Charlie at Stripes for sending me a copy of this book!

Top Ten Tuesday: 23rd April 2019

Hello! Welcome back to Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s topic is:

First Books I Reviewed

  1. THE GOLDFISH BOY – Lisa Thompson
  2. WITCH FOR A WEEK – Kaye Umansky, Ashley King
  3. SUNFLOWERS IN FEBRUARY – Phyllida Shrimpton
  4. THE SMOKING HOURGLASS – Jennifer Bell, Karl J Mountford
  5. THE LIGHT JAR – Lisa Thompson
  6. THE ONE MEMORY OF FLORA BANKS – Emily Barr
  7. THE TRUTH AND LIES OF ELLA BLACK – Emily Barr
  8. THE HAZEL WOOD – Melissa Albert
  9. ALMOST ANYTHING – Sophy Henn
  10. THE SACRIFICE BOX – Martin Stewart

Some of the reviews that I’m most proud of are included here! I didn’t realise quite how many books I’ve reviewed in the past year or so!

kayleigh

Books I’ve Unhauled

I own a lot of books.

However, that number has decreased a fair amount over the past month or so as I’ve had several book unhauls! I started off small, just removing titles that were duplicates or proofs I’d never read, then I started to go through books with a bit more thought – would I ever actually read it? Did I dislike it when I read it? I’m so proud of how many I’ve got rid of so far; if you’ve read my previous post on unhauling, you’ll know how difficult and at one point inconcevable this was for me! Whilst I can’t remember every book that I’ve unhauled (which probably says something…), there are some that stand out. Linking in to some thoughts I’ve enjoyed reading about on other blogs (Jenn‘s springs to mind!) on negative reviews, the two seem to go hand in hand for me.

First up, one of my least favourite books in the world:

Image result for paper butterflies lisaPaper Butterflies by Lisa Heathfield. I received this book back in 2016 when I was a longlist reader for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize. Whilst Lisa’s writing style is lovely, and probably is the only reason I made it through this book, the story is horrendous. It’s the first and only book where my mum has even noticed how much I was hating reading it and told me to stop. It was traumatic. I know the topic is supposed to be hard hitting, but it was uncomfortable and I just didn’t get it. When it was shortlisted, I was gutted; there was no way I could recommend this book to anyone! So yeah, unhauled.

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Next, Optimists Die First by Susin Nielsen. This book, I did give three stars; it made me laugh and it was entertaining. However, the anxiety representation in it let it down so so badly; it was awful! Who knew that anxiety could be totally cured by romance?

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I also got rid of a fair few picture books which I either disliked the illustrations or the story of. These included The Journey by Francesca Sanna (just wasn’t for me; whilst it’s beautiful, I found the story tedious and not really the kind of thing I’d read at storytime), Little Red by Bethan Woollvin (simple but bright illustrations with a weird retelling of Little Red Riding Hood going alongside it…not good) and Nara and the Island by Dan Ungureanu (dull illustrations, dull story).

Have you read any of these? Would you agree with me unhauling them?

kayleigh

 

A GIRL CALLED JUSTICE – Elly Griffiths

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RELEASED: 02/05/2019
PUBLISHER: Hachette
GENRE: Middle Grade, Mystery

Missing maids, suspicious teachers and a snow storm to die for… For a fearless girl called Justice Jones, super-smart super-sleuth, it’s just the start of a spine-tingling first term at Highbury House Boarding School for the Daughters of Gentlefolk. For fans of Robin Stevens, Katherine Woodfine and Enid Blyton.

When Justice’s mother dies, her father packs her off to Highbury House Boarding School for the Daughters of Gentlefolk. He’s a barrister – specialising in murder trials – and he’s just too busy to look after her alone.

Having previously been home-schooled, the transition is a shock. Can it really be the case that blondes rule the corridors? Are all uniforms such a charming shade of brown? And do schools normally hide dangerous secrets about the murder of a chamber maid?

Justice takes it upon herself to uncover the truth. (Mainly about the murder, but perhaps she can figure out her new nemesis – the angelic Rose – at the same time.) But when a storm cuts the school off from the real world, the body count starts to rise and Justice realises she’ll need help from her new friends if she’s going to find the killer before it’s too late …

I knew, as soon as I read the synopsis for this book, that it would be right up my street and a book that I’d love. I’ve always been a massive fan of Enid Blyton, and in recent years it’s been all about Robin Stevens and Katherine Woodfine, so as soon as you mention a middle grade mystery set in a boarding school I’m in!

Luckily, A Girl Called Justice did not disappoint!

From the very first page I was hooked and wanting to know more. Highbury House makes for a very atmospheric setting; it’s clear from the beginning that something is amiss and you’re really sucked into Justice’s world. I was very much reminded of the Murder Most Unladylike series in the way that the story was set out and how you never quite knew who to trust and where the next page would take you.

I’m very excited for more people to get their hands on this book so I have people that I can rave about it with; whilst it was a fairly quick read, it was packed with mystery and intrigue and a host of fascinating characters! I’ve heard wonderful things about Elly’s adult fiction books, and she’s proven with this one that she’s also a dab hand at children’s fiction!


Thank you very much to Hachette for sending me a copy of this title!

THE NEAR WITCH – V.E. Schwab

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RELEASED: 12/03/2019
PUBLISHER: Titan
GENRE: Fantasy, Fairy Tale

All-new deluxe edition of an out-of-print gem, containing in-universe short story “The Ash-Born Boy” and a never-before-seen introduction from V.E. Schwab. The Near Witch is only an old story told to frighten children. If the wind calls at night, you must not listen. The wind is lonely, and always looking for company. There are no strangers in the town of Near. These are the truths that Lexi has heard all her life. But when an actual stranger, a boy who seems to fade like smoke, appears outside her home on the moor at night, she knows that at least one of these sayings is no longer true. The next night, the children of Near start disappearing from their beds, and the mysterious boy falls under suspicion. As the hunt for the children intensifies, so does Lexi’s need to know about the witch that just might be more than a bedtime story, about the wind that seems to speak through the walls at night, and about the history of this nameless boy. Part fairy tale, part love story, Victoria Schwab’s debut novel is entirely original yet achingly familiar: a song you heard long ago, a whisper carried by the wind, and a dream you won’t soon forget.

Shamefully, I’ve never read a book by V.E. Schwab, despite being desperate to do so! So, upon seeing that I could rectify that situation, I was delighted to be sent a copy of a rerelease of her debut The Near Witch; it looked a lot less daunting than her other series’ and I’m sold on fairy tales involving witches!

The Near Witch reminded me of a lot of children’s classics from Diana Wynne Jones, Cliff McNish and Paul Stewart that I loved growing up, and so I found this to be an easy one to get hooked on. Despite being a fairly short book, the world has been crafted so it really comes to life in your mind and the characters are really interesting. The feeling of fear really came off the pages and kept me guessing throughout.

One thing that I loved about this book is that it was a perfect bridge between YA and adult fiction; it was so easy to get immersed in the world of Near and I found that as soon as the story got going it was impossible to put down! It’s been a while since I’ve found a book that I’ve just had to keep reading in one sitting, and, considering that it’s a debut novel, the writing style is flawless.

I can’t wait to finally get around to reading more of V.E. Schwab’s work after reading this wonderful book!


Thank you to Lydia at Titan Books for sending me a copy of this title.

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!

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!