Interview with Eve Ainsworth

Eve Ainsworth 2019 credit Linda Woodard (1).jpg

photo credit: Linda Woodard 2019

Today I bring to you a very exciting post! I’ve been very lucky and had the opportunity to ask the wonderful Eve Ainsworth some questions about her writing and, in particular, her new release Because of You, which is out this month with Barrington Stoke. I raced through this one and, even though it’s a lot shorter than her other books, it was packed with such important themes and still felt like it explored those topics so well and I loved reading it!

For those who haven’t had a chance to read Because of You yet, how would you sum it up?

Because of You is about a young girl, Poppy, who is struggling with some huge changes in her life. Her mum is moving her new boyfriend into her house, her Dad is becoming more unreliable and school life is both challenging and unpredictable. Poppy is juggling lots of things all at once and suddenly they all seem to be crashing down around her.

img_5365Your books cover such important topics that can be quite hard-hitting, and Because of You is no exception. As a reader who’s been affected by a few of these issues but has felt that you’ve hit the nail on the head with how you’ve tackled them, I’m interested to know how do you go about “getting it right”?

That’s quite hard to answer as I don’t always know! I’m just glad to hear that I am getting it right, as that’s all that matters to me. I guess I didn’t have an easy time of it growing up, which is something I’ve never forgotten and is often reflected in my books. I also spent many years working closely with teenagers who were struggling with various issues, so I hope that this has helped me to keep my books authentic and fresh.

How do you choose the topics that you write about?

I usually come up with a character first and weirdly that character will often ‘tell’ me what it is that is troubling them. It’s a very strange process!

Because of You was slightly different because I knew I wanted to focus on blended families, as I know it’s something a lot of young people experience and can have difficulties with and I like my books to be reflective. It was only while writing the book that I realised Poppy was going to be bullied too. Often my writing is very instinctive and character-driven and takes me on quite an exciting journey while I’m writing!

img_5721I really understood how Poppy was feeling throughout Because of You and I think she handles everything in such a mature way and is really a character to look up to! Where do you get your inspiration from for your characters, and how do you manage to get them to reflect how real teens and young adults feel in such an accurate way?

Again I think that it helped that I worked with teenagers for quite a long time in a very direct job – so they would talk to me in an open and honest way. I also have a big family, so have a lot of young people around me. I find it hard to tell you where my characters come from, because they just evolve in my mind over time. I’m not even quite sure how it happens! I’m just glad that my brain manages to create them for me.

Barrington Stoke do an amazing job of bringing engaging stories to a wider audience by producing dyslexia friendly books – was the process of writing a novella specifically for Barrington Stoke a challenge compared to writing a novel?

Not at all. To be honest, it’s been an amazing experience. I had to make sure that I kept the story and plot tight, because the books are much shorter, but I found that to be an exciting challenge. Barrington Stoke focus on the editing to ensure that the book is dyslexic friendly, so I don’t have to worry about that part, they just want me to focus on the story. This mean the book is specifically edited, and goes through a few more ‘editing stages’ but it is a fascinating process and one I loved being part of.

img_5722There’s been a lot of discussion since I started blogging about the decline of sales of UKYA, but at the same time there’s been such a lot of support shown towards authors because it’s such a vital category. As a leading author of UKYA, what’s your take on this and what can we all (authors, publishers, readers etc) do to encourage UKYA?

I think we all just need to continue what we are doing already – but perhaps a little louder and prouder. We need to shout loud about those amazing YA books that have been read, promote authors who might not be as visible and keep being champions of this wonderful eclectic, diverse and exciting genre.

Wow – what wonderful answers! Thank you so much to Eve for taking the time to answer my questions, and to Kristin at Barrington Stoke for arranging this for me! Because of You is out today from Barrington Stoke, and I’d highly recommend getting a copy!

kayleigh

 

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BECAUSE OF YOU – Eve Ainsworth

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RELEASED: 15/07/2019
PUBLISHER: Barrington Stoke
GENRE: Young Adult, Contemporary, Dyslexia Friendly

Poppy’s having a nightmare at home. Her parents have split up and her mum’s new boyfriend is moving in. Dad is the one who’s always been there for Poppy, but now he’s drifting further and further away. It seems like things can’t get any worse until it all goes wrong at school as well and Poppy finds herself being targeted by spiteful bullies. As the vicious online comments keep coming, who can Poppy turn to for help? Particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant or dyslexic readers aged 12+

Eve Ainsworth is a staple author for fans of UKYA contemporary books, and so I was very excited to see that she’s releasing a novella with Barrington Stoke this year! The thing that I love about Eve’s books is how she doesn’t shy away from difficult topics but also creates stories and characters to love. Because of You is no exception.

I think that Eve has really hit the nail on the head with all the emotions that go with being a teen in a non-nuclear family, as well as dealing with some difficult topics such as parents separating, rejection and bullying.  Change is something that can be so difficult to deal with, no matter what age you are, and so to see it handled so positively and constructively is brilliant. I also like how this is suitable for the younger teen market which is an area where there are few books.

This is a standout title from Barrington Stoke for me; it’s full of what makes UKYA so brilliant, but in a way that’s accessible to a wider range of readers, and so I’d highly recommend it!


Thank you to Kirstin at Barrington Stoke for sending me a copy of this book!

YOU GOT THIS – Bryony Gordon

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RELEASED: 02/05/2019
PUBLISHER: Hachette
GENRE: Young Adult, Teen, Non-Fiction

I wanted to be a unicorn. I wanted to be a lawyer. I wanted to be an astronaut.

But the thing I really wanted to be more than anything else, was a little less like me.

It was only recently that I realised not wanting to be me was at the heart of every dumb decision I ever made. And so now I am writing this book containing all the life lessons I wish someone had taught me.

A book for the teenage girl in me. And for every teenage girl out there. Because the most powerful thing you can be when you grow up is yourself.

Frank and fearless, You Got This openly explores topics like self-respect, body image, masturbation and mental health, making it the perfect companion for young women.

I’ve been keen to read a book by Bryony Gordon since I heard about how she tackles the stigma around mental health and OCD in a fresh way, and as someone who struggles with both of these it’s definitely something that interests me. However, I also feel like a teenager in my head and find grown up books difficult so I’ve not picked up her bestseller Mad Girl (crazy I know).

Then along comes You Got This. Aimed at teens and covering all the difficulties of growing up, which, let’s face it, even us “grown ups” haven’t mastered yet! The comment from Fearne Cotton on the back about this being “A book that every teenage girl needs to read…and every grown woman will wish she had read.” could not be more true. I could seriously have done with this book in my teen years to explain everything that was happening and how you don’t have to have everything mapped out and that it’s okay to just be you.

The main message that I took away from You Got This was exactly that; I have got this! Yes, things don’t always go according to plan and mental health conditions have made things pretty rocky but, ultimately, I’m doing a blimming good job of being myself and that’s the most important thing to be.


Thank you to Team BKMRK for sending me a copy of this book as part of a Twitter competition!

The Cheesy Goodness Book Tag

Hello! I love doing tag posts, and on my quest to find some new and fun ones to do I came across The Cheesy Goodness Book Tag. As a lover of a good cheese board and books, this tag stood out and was one I definitely wanted to have a go at! This tag was originally created by Fire and Rain Books, although I did discover it through YA Books Daily as part of their Book Tag Sunday series – definitely go and check out their posts!

1. Cheddar, The Classic Cheese: Pick Your Favorite Classic Novel

Image result for cheddar cheese

I’d have to say that my favourite classic novel is definitely The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. I’m not a massive fan of classics; I just have never really enjoyed them or got into them. However, I couldn’t put this one down and I love that it’s not too daunting!

2. Swiss, The Hole-y Cheese: Pick an Emotional Rollercoaster

Image result for swiss cheeseAll The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven sticks out for this one; this book is the definition of an emotional rollercoaster!

3. Blue Cheese, The Controversial Cheese: Name an Unpopular Opinion

Image result for blue cheeseI have absolutely no intention of reading The Hate You Give. It doesn’t sound like a book that’ll interest me in the slightest and I feel like it’s been a bit of a “let’s all jump on the bandwagon” kind of book. I do get that it’s an important topic though!

4. Brie, The Favorite Cheese: Name an Author You Always Want More From

Image result for brie cheeseHow do I decide this?! It depends on the genre and everything…I’m going to go with YA Contemporary and therefore Sara Barnard. I ADORE her books and always want to read on and on!

5. Gouda, The Dutch Cheese: A Book That Makes You Want to Travel

Image result for gouda cheeseHmm…so there are two ways that I’ve thought about this. The first is books that feature travel and so make me want to travel, and the book that springs to mind is The Paper & Hearts Society by Lucy Powrie (amazing bookish roadtrip!). Then, on the other hand, are books that make me want to travel because they remind me of being on holiday, and the one for this is Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. I read this whilst on a cruise ship sailing around the Mediterranean so of course it brings back good memories!

6. American, The Fake Cheese: Your Least Favourite Book

Image result for american cheeseI’m between books for this. One title that immediately came to mind is Paper Butterflies by Lisa Heathfield. Years after reading it I’m still yet to find a book that left me feeling so uncomfortable throughout reading it and wasn’t enjoyable in the slightest. Its one redeeming factor is that the writing itself was brilliant. Another book in the running is Nothing Tastes As Good by Claire Hennessy. I recently DNFd this one on account of the writing being awful and highly triggering.

7. Colby Jack, The Mixed Cheese: Pick Your Favourite Ship

Image result for colby jack cheeseRHYS AND FEYRE! I adore these two together and Rhys…oh how I love him.

8. Mozzarella Cheese, The Simple Cheese: An Old Favourite You’ll Never Stop Loving

Image result for mozzarella cheeseI have so many of these; I love to hoard and reread my favourite books! I think for this one I’m going to go for the Malory Towers series by Enid Blyton as she’s the main reason that I adore reading so much!

9. Pepper Jack, The Spicy Cheese: A Book You Can’t Judge by the Cover

Image result for pepper jack cheeseI’m going to go for a cover change; The Diamond of Drury Lane was rereleased with HORRIBLE new covers which totally don’t do the book justice! I love this series so much and I’ve seen so many people turn up their nose at the newer covers. Luckily, they have released a new edition of the first book which is much prettier!

10. Muenster Cheese, The Monster Cheese: A Villain that Should Never Have the Chance to Eat Cheese Again

Image result for muenster cheeseThe King of Adarlan is hands down one of my least favourite villains; he’s pure evil!

Well this was a fun tag to do! I learnt some new cheeses (some of my favourites weren’t on here, but I’d never heard of others!). I tag anyone who loves cheese and books to have a go!

kayleigh

Top Ten Tuesday: 3rd June 2019

Hello! Welcome back to Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl. It feels like ages since I’ve done one of these! This week’s topic is:

Books from my Favourite Genre – YA Contemporary

  1. All The Bright Places – Jennifer Niven
  2. I Was Born For This – Alice Oseman
  3. Girl in Pieces – Kathleen Glasgow
  4. The Year After You – Nina de Pass
  5. Sunflowers in February – Phyllida Shrimpton
  6. Damage – Eve Ainsworth
  7. Red Tears – Joanna Kenrick
  8. Thirteen Reasons Why – Jay Asher
  9. A Quiet Kind of Thunder – Sara Barnard
  10. The Exact Opposite of Okay – Laura Steven

I could go on! I love YA Contemporary and feel as though I’ve missed so many amazing books off! Have you read any of these?

kayleigh

13 MINUTES – Sarah Pinborough

13 minutes4/5

RELEASED: 21/07/2016
PUBLISHER: Orion
GENRE: Young Adult, Mystery, Thriller

I was dead for 13 minutes.

I don’t remember how I ended up in the icy water but I do know this – it wasn’t an accident and I wasn’t suicidal.

They say you should keep your friends close and your enemies closer, but when you’re a teenage girl, it’s hard to tell them apart. My friends love me, I’m sure of it. But that doesn’t mean they didn’t try to kill me. Does it?

13 MINUTES by Sarah Pinborough is a gripping psychological thriller about people, fears, manuiplation and the power of the truth. A stunning read, it questions our relationships – and what we really know about the people closest to us . . .

“Mean Girls for the Instagram Age” is stated on the cover of this book and this description did not set me up for the twists and turns that happen all the way throughout! The Barbies make The Plastics’ antics seem like childsplay! 13 Minutes is more than just your average teen drama/thriller and it makes you question everything that you read throughout the book about the characters and the situations that they find themselves in.

I can see why Sarah Pinborough is such a popular author of adult thriller books, and this venture into the Young Adult market is still one that I think would have any thriller fan on the edge of their seat wanting to find out just what happened! Her writing style is brilliant and she effortlessly switches between narrators and perspectives throughout in a way that isn’t disjointed or difficult to follow for the reader. It’s also strange to have such a dislike for a victim from the beginning of the book, as that really isn’t something that you expect – I really really didn’t like Tasha at all. The characters do seem so realistic though because they are all flawed and we see the good and bad in them all in how they react to situations and each other.

I’d definitely recommend this book if you’re looking for a book that is full of suspense and mystery to keep you turning the page right up to the very end. I still can’t quite believe how the whole story played out!


I received a copy of this title for review when I was a bookseller.

NOTHING TASTES AS GOOD – Claire Hennessy

1/5

RELEASED: 14/07/2016
PUBLISHER: Hot Key
GENRE: Young Adult, Contemporary

What happens when you give in to the voices in your head? Annabel is dead. And she’s not happy about it. Despite having strived to be ‘lighter than air’ back when she was alive, the consequences of that yearning haven’t quite sunk in yet. Julia Jacobs is fat. Which Annabel immediately notices when she’s assigned as Julia’s ghostly helper (don’t even think about calling her a guardian angel). And as her helper, Julia’s problem seems pretty obvious to Annabel. Fat = problem = unhappy. Sorted. The only trouble is that whatever is causing Julia to overeat is hidden deep within her. Annabel will have to get to know Julia to uncover this secret and ‘fix’ her. Annabel can become the voice of reason, Julia’s source of strength. Except. . . all this time spent in someone’s head has got Annabel thinking. Not just about food, but about her family too. And that maybe happiness can mean more than eradicating all the flesh from your bones.

I’ll be honest, I did not finish this book. In fact, I only made it a few chapters in. However, I feel as though I can review this book because I didn’t DNF it because I wasn’t in the mood for a contemporary or a book about eating disorders. Quite the opposite! I really fancied reading this book and wanted to give it a go. It tied in perfectly with Mental Health Awareness Week 2019 being on the theme of body image and so I honestly wanted to connect to this book and, for want of a better word, enjoy it.

Nothing Tastes As Good should come with MASSIVE trigger warnings; I don’t even have an eating disorder (I’ve had a lot of issues with food and body image, but never to the extent that many people suffer) and I found it so uncomfortable and triggering to read. I get that eating disorders take over your life and distort your perception of yourself and others, but to have to read a book where the narration is like that little voice that’s in your head telling you you’re not good enough is not a book that I want to read, and it’s not one that I can recommend at all.

In the wrong hands, this book has the potential to be dangerous.

I’ve read triggering books for all kinds of mental illnesses before or situations that I personally find triggering, and I’m not one to shy away from hard-hitting books, but this book takes it a step too far and, from what I read, it makes the reader not feel good enough. It’s very rare that I don’t give a book a good shot, but for the protection of my own mental health I had to put this one down.

MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS WEEK 2019 – Body Image and Books

I didn’t realise that the theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is Body Image, and this is such a good theme to get everyone thinking and talking about! Personally, I’ve really struggled with body image for well over 15 years, and it’s led to disordered eating and depression on many occasions, and I’ve also seen the destruction it can cause to people’s lives first hand. Most people will at some point not feel good enough, or feel insecure about their body, and I think that raising awareness of how it is normal to feel these things but how to cope with those feelings in a safe way is really important.

One way that awareness can be raised is, of course, through books. Young Adult fiction in particular is fantastic for showing struggles with body image at a time when our bodies are changing and many issues arise. I’m going to share below some of the titles that have really helped me to understand that I’m not alone in feeling so insecure over the years. I will say, however, that if you’re triggered by anything to do with eating disorders then please do use your judgement on whether reading these books is right for you. Also, there is definitely a lack of books about male body image out there! All of the books I’ve read have been about girls and that’s not to say that boys don’t have difficulties too, because they do. If anyone has suggestions of ones that I’ve not come across, please do mention them in the comments!

Wintergirls (Paperback)Wintergirls – Laurie Halse Anderson

A beautifully written and riveting look at anorexia from acclaimed author Laurie Halse Anderson. Cassie and Lia are best friends, and united in their quest to be thin. But when Cassie is found dead in a motel room, Lia must question whether she continues to lose weight, or choose life instead.

Mates, Dates and Chocolate Cheats – Cathy Hopkins

When Izzie returns from the school trip to Italy, she tries to put on her jeans, but they won’t do up! It looks as though she has put on eight pounds since Christmas and all her clothes have become very tight. Izzie then goes into the horrible spiral of becoming obsessive about her weight.

Girls Under Pressure - Girls (Paperback)Girls Under Pressure – Jacqueline Wilson

Magda is tall and glamorous, Nadine is willowy and ‘gothic’. And Ellie . . . well, Ellie is just plain normal. The three girls have been best friends forever, but now Ellie is convinced she’s fat, Nadine wants to be a model, and Magda worries that her appearance is giving guys the wrong idea. The pressure is on for them to change the way they look – but can they learn to love themselves, just the way they are? 

Second Star to the Right – Deborah Hautzig

This is an honest and moving account of a girl in the grip of anorexia nervosa. On the face of it, Leslie is a normal, healthy, well-adjusted fourteen-year-old girl. She goes to a good school, has a great friend in Cavett, and a mother who loves her to the moon and back. She should be happy, yet she’s not. She would be, she thinks, if only she were thinner. But ‘thinking thin’ becomes a dangerous obsession and Leslie’s weight drops to five stone, threatening to destroy her and the whole fabric of her family life. Only by realizing that this condition is an illness – and one that has its roots in a deep problem – can Leslie hope to survive.

Holding Up the Universe (Paperback)Holding Up The Universe – Jennifer Niven

Everyone thinks they know Libby Strout, the girl once dubbed ‘America’s Fattest Teen’. But no one’s taken the time to look past her weight to get to see who she really is. Since her mum’s death, she’s been picking up the pieces in the privacy of her home, dealing with her heartbroken father and her own grief. Now, Libby’s ready: for high school, for new friends, for love, and for EVERY POSSIBILITY LIFE HAS TO OFFER. I know the part I want to play here at MVB High. I want to be the girl who can do anything. 
Everyone thinks they know Jack Masselin too. Yes, he’s got swagger, but he’s also mastered the art of fitting in. What no one knows is that Jack has a secret: he can’t recognize faces. Even his own brothers are strangers to him. He’s the guy who can re-engineer and rebuild anything, but he can’t understand what’s going on with the inner workings of his own brain. So he tells himself to play it cool: Be charming. Be hilarious. Don’t get too close to anyone. Until he meets Libby. When the two get tangled up in a cruel high school game which lands them in group counseling, Libby and Jack are both angry, and then surprised. Because the more time they spend together, the less alone they feel. Because sometimes when you meet someone, it changes the world – theirs and yours. 
Jennifer Niven delivers another poignant, exhilarating love story about finding that person who sees you for who you are – and seeing them right back. 

Just Listen – Sarah Dessen

I’m Annabel. I’m the girl who has it all. Model looks, confidence. A great social life. I’m one of the lucky ones. Aren’t I?
My ‘best friend’ is spreading rumours about me. My family is slowly falling apart. It’s turning into a long, lonely summer, full of secrets and silence.
But I’ve met this guy who won’t let me hide away. He’s one of those intense types, obsessed with music. He’s determined to make me listen. And he’s determined to make me smile. But can he help me forget what happened the night everything changed?

Eleanor & Park (Paperback)Eleanor & Park – Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor is the new girl in town, and she’s never felt more alone. All mismatched clothes, mad red hair and chaotic home life, she couldn’t stick out more if she tried.
Then she takes the seat on the bus next to Park. Quiet, careful and – in Eleanor’s eyes – impossibly cool, Park’s worked out that flying under the radar is the best way to get by.
Slowly, steadily, through late-night conversations and an ever-growing stack of mix tapes, Eleanor and Park fall in love. They fall in love the way you do the first time, when you’re 16, and you have nothing and everything to lose.
Set over the course of one school year in 1986, Eleanor & Park is funny, sad, shocking and true – an exquisite nostalgia trip for anyone who has never forgotten their first love.

kayleigh

 

 

Six for Sunday: 12th May 2019

Hello and happy Sunday! It’s so weird; I haven’t had to wear a coat today and it’s been so warm. I’ve had a nice day with my bestie celebrating her birthday! Six for Sunday is a weekly meme hosted by A Little But A Lot! Today’s theme is:

The Ever Growing TBR: 2018 books I want to re-read

  1. img_3179Legendary – Stephanie Garber
  2. I Was Born For This – Alice Oseman
  3. i stop somewhereSunflowers in February – Phyllida Shrimpton
  4. Death in the Spotlight – Robin Stevens
  5. To Kill a Kingdom – Alexandra Christo
  6. The Exact Opposite of Okay – Laura Steven

Some of my all-time favourite books came out in 2018, all listed above! I really hope to get around to rereading all of these at some point!

kayleigh

 

WWW Wednesday: 8th May 2019

Good evening! I’ve had a really good reading week this week; I’ve had a few days off work and have found a few titles that have really caught my imagination and have been ones that I just haven’t been able to put down!


What are you currently reading? 

FINALE! It’s finally in my hands and it’s beautiful! I’ve only had a chance to read about 20 pages so far, and already I’m loving it.

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What did you recently finish reading?

So far this month I’ve read Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly, and I’m so glad that I finally made the time to read this wonderful retelling! I also read Owen and the Soldier by Lisa Thompson which was beautiful, and Malamander by Thomas Taylor. Fun fact – he illustrated the original Harry Potter books!

What do you think you’ll read next?

I’d like to read some more of my new books next – I have a fair few to choose from!

kayleigh