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!
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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!

BLOG TOUR: THE STAR-SPUN WEB

the star-spun webFINDING HOME

I’m very excited to be the hosting final stop on the blog tour for Sinéad O’Hart’s The Star-Spun Web! The Star-Spun Web is a gripping middle grade book, full of mystery, science and magic (my full review publishes tomorrow!). Today, I’m working with the prompt “Finding Home” for which Sinéad has answered two really important questions:

All the children in this book don’t have a conventional ‘mum-and-dad’ family set-up. There are girls like Millie who work in servitude away from their family, orphans in the care of Ackerbee’s two kind female senior staff, and our main characters in the charge of shadowy, distant guardians.

Is it important to show unconventional families? How important is it that all of these children find a place to call home?

Of course it’s important to show unconventional families; I love that none of the kids has a conventional setup, and I hope I portrayed them effectively. My character Millie, who works in service in Roedeer Lodge many miles from her mother, is based on my own grandmother’s reality: my grandmother was in service from the age of 12 or 13. She was sent to Dublin to work, leaving her family behind in County Laois (in the centre of Ireland). The other kids’ situations are imagined, and I hope the limitations of my own experience (I was raised in a two-parent home) doesn’t cloud my depiction of their reality. I wanted to depict Ackerbee’s as a working children’s home, but without any shade cast by unhappiness or bad management; from the start, Miss Ackerbee and Rebecca love the children they care for and treat them the way children should be treated. You often see ‘bad’ children’s homes in fiction so I wanted this to be different. I also wanted to show that family isn’t always defined as ‘the people you’re born to’; Tess’s found family loves her just as deeply as her birth mum and dad would have.

I come from a very dysfunctional family, and so I’ve always felt that it’s important to show families with all different sorts of set ups in children’s and young adult fiction. For me, a nuclear family is a very odd concept so for me books with two parents tend to form a bit more of an escapism feel. On the other hand, for someone who has grown up with a stable home environment, a character with none or one parent can be an eye opener and provide a different reading experience. That said, I love reading about all kinds of families be they nuclear or dysfunctional and it’s the bonds that are expressed in the book that are important. Found families and friendships are as vital to a character’s development and sense of belonging as blood relations, and I think that books like The Star-Spun Web really do highlight that.

The Star-Spun Web is available now from Stripes Books:

Amazon
Foyles
Waterstones

Check back tomorrow for my review of The Star-Spun Web, and, in the meantime, why not check out the other stops on the tour?

 


Thank you so much to Leilah for having me on the blog tour and for sending me a copy of The Star-Spun Web, and to Sinéad O’Hart for providing me with some really interesting content for this post!

OH NO, GEORGE! – Chris Haughton

oh no, george!5/5

RELEASED: 01/03/2012
PUBLISHER: Walker
GENRE: Picture Book

It’s hard work being good all the time. And it’s especially hard for a dog like George! Harris is off to do some shopping. “Will you be good, George?” he asks. George hopes he can. He really wants to … but chocolate cake is just so very delicious and he does love to chase cat… What will George do now? Chris Haughton’s distinctive artwork perfectly accompanies the innocent charm of affable George, a dog trying to be good – with hilarious results!

Oh No, George, like all of Chris Haughton’s books, is full of humour and bold illustrations, with an adorable dog as the our main character. It’s impossible not to love George with his good intentions. But sometimes eating that cake or chasing that cat can prove just too much, and no matter how hard George tries he just can’t help himself!

This book is such a brilliant story to help children learn the difference between right and wrong and about making good choices. Although George doesn’t always get it right, we see how he learns about how doing the wrong thing makes Harris sad or cross so he tries very hard to make amends for his behaviour when he meets all those temptations again! The book ends on a decision for George which leaves it open to either scenario and it’s quite fun to wonder which choice George makes.

I have had the pleasure of meeting George, and I must say that he was behaving very well in the Waterstones tent considering how many wonderful books and snacks hanging about. He did very well to resist the temptation!


Thank you to Jo at Walker for sending me a copy of this book.

YOUR MIND IS LIKE THE SKY – Bronwen Ballard, Laura Carlin

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RELEASED: 07/02/2019
PUBLISHER: Frances Lincoln
GENRE: Picture Book, Mental Health

Your mind is like the sky. Sometimes it’s clear and blue – but sometimes a raincloud thought comes along and makes everything seem dark. So what can we do about rainclouds? This beautiful picture book, written by child psychologist Bronwen Ballard and illustrated by award-winning artist Laura Carlin, shows children that worries and negative thoughts are normal and helps them develop healthy thinking habits. Tips on mindfulness and extra resources for parents are included at the back of the book.

As someone who struggles with controlling my thoughts, I was very intrigued when I heard about this book. Mindfulness is something that I haven’t found useful in the past, much as I’d love it to be! So, I was really hoping that a picture book aimed at children may help me a little bit more…

Luckily, I was not disappointed.

Your Mind Is Like The Sky is a beautiful book with a powerful message; whilst you can’t control your thoughts, you can accept them and learn to deal with the different types. I love how thoughts are personified into clouds; this makes them seem less scary, and shows that, despite how dark they can be sometimes, they are only thoughts and they will pass. Unlike many books that focus on mindfulness, there isn’t too much text which made this book stand out even more. It reads just like a normal story and is just the right length to make it useful but not overwhelming.

At the back, something that’ll make this book more useful for parents and teachers is the breakdown of how mindfulness works and what you can do to help children. That said, I think that this book is useful for people of all ages who struggle with raincloud thoughts making this an essential addition to your collection of books about mental health.


Thank you to Ellen at Quarto for sending me a copy of this book.

THE BOOKSHOP GIRL – Sylvia Bishop, Ashley King

the bookshop girl5/5

RELEASED: 06/04/2017
PUBLISHER: Scholastic
GENRE: Young Reader, Middle Grade, Mystery

This story is about a little girl named Property Jones, so-called because she was left in the lost property cupboard of a bookshop when she was five years old. Property loves living in the bookshop, but she has a whopper of a secret … she can’t actually read! So Property doesn’t see the newspaper article announcing the chance to win the Montgomery Book Emporium, the biggest and most magnificent bookshop in the world! When her family win the competition, Property finds herself moving to the Emporium, a magical place filled with floor upon floor of books and a very bad-tempered cat. But all is not at it seems at the Emporium and soon Property Jones finds herself in a whole heap of trouble.

I would happily be abandoned in a cupboard if it meant that I could live in a bookshop, just like Property Jones.

From the fantastic duo Sylvia Bishop and Ashley King (Erica’s Elephant…one of the best books of 2016) comes a brilliant new story full of mystery, fun and, most importantly, books! We meet Property and her family as they leave their little bookshop after winning Montgomery’s Book Emporium, an incredible bookshop full of wonder, but all is not as it seems and soon they encounter a dastardly villain with a cunning plan! It’s up to Property and Gunther the Cat to save the day…but will they be in time?!

Again, Sylvia has created a heroine who you immediately love with a story that captures the imagination from the word go. Her writing style really is engaging and helps the plot to move along at the perfect pace. Coupled with Ashley’s illustrations which capture the characters, story and magic of the Montgomery Book Emporium perfectly (check out page 73…BEST. ANGRY. FISH. EVER.), this really is a story for all ages to love!

 

OPTIMISTS DIE FIRST – Susin Nielsen

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RELEASED: 02/03/2017
PUBLISHER: Andersen Press
GENRE: Young Adult, Contemporary

Petula has avoided friendship and happiness ever since tragedy struck her family and took her beloved younger sister Maxine. Worse, Petula blames herself. If only she’d kept an eye on her sister, if only she’d sewn the button Maxine choked on better, if only… Now her anxiety is getting out of control, she is forced to attend the world’s most hopeless art therapy class. But one day, in walks the Bionic Man: a charming, amazingly tall newcomer called Jacob, who is also an amputee. Petula’s ready to freeze him out, just like she did with her former best friend, but when she’s paired with Jacob for a class project, there’s no denying they have brilliant ideas together – ideas like remaking Wuthering Heights with cats. But Petula and Jacob each have desperately painful secrets in their pasts – and when the truth comes out, there’s no way Petula is ready for it.

As someone who is relatively pessimistic, I was really looking forward to this one. They say that you should never judge a book on its cover…or in this case its title…but it definitely persuaded me to give this one a go!

Optimists Die First is a contemporary YA book that is at its core a romance and touches upon several different issues that can affect teenagers – we meet several troubled teens who are kind of thrust together at a “therapy” setting at high school. One aspect of this that I did like was that on the surface some of them came across as self-centered or off the rails, but underneath there were some insecure young people who had reasons behind why they felt and acted the way that they did. That said, I did find it odd how quickly the trigger behind Petula’s anxiety and obsessions was explained; this is a storyline that I expected to develop further into the novel and not a few chapters in! I’m glad that I did persevere with this title though as it was an enjoyable read and there were some twists and turns that I didn’t see coming, and some interesting developments with some of the characters that I could not have predicted.

Many of Petula’s anxieties are highly relatable, especially when the relationship between her and Jacob starts to develop. Whether you’re a teenager or a young adult, those worries are still there and the aspect of letting down your guard is terrifying! It was nice to have a character who did have those reservations about a new relationship and didn’t rush in to it as such.

Finally, whilst I’m certainly not a cat person, it’s hard not to love the idea of a film of Wuthering Heights shown with cats as the cast!


Thank you to Anderson Press for sending me the proof of this title.

WWW Wednesday: 6th February 2019

This week I’ve not really got around to reading much; it’s been rather hectic and I’ve just felt too tired to read! That said, I’ve started two books that, from what little I’ve read, are really good, and I’ve spent a lot of time reading tweets…that counts right?!

i owe you one
What are you currently reading? 

I’m currently reading I Owe You One by Sophie Kinsella, which, no surprises, is off to a good start! I love Sophie’s writing style so it’s nice to be back reading one of her books. I’ve also started The Valentines: Happy Girl Lucky by Holly Smale, which, again, is very good so far!

the star-spun web
What did you recently finish reading?

I finished The Star-Spun Web last week, and I REALLY enjoyed it! It’s such a good middle grade mystery and adventure, and I’m very excited for my blog tour post and review to go live next week!


What do you think you’ll read next?

I think I shall continue working my way through my NetGalley list, and get on with reading The Colour of Shadows by Phyllida Shrimpton!

kayleigh