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Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo - Review

Monday, August 10, 2020

Where did I get it? I bought it from Waterstones a couple of months ago when I did a huge order, it was one of the books I actually meant to buy instead of just picked up by browsing! 

What's it about? It's told in free verse, like Elizabeth's book The Poet X. It is about sisters Yahaira and Camino. They don't know that the other exists, but they have the same dad. Usually, he lives in New York City with Yahaira and her mum, but every summer he goes back to the Dominican Republic, where he's from, to see Camino. He spends three months there, over Camino's birthday, and arrives back in NYC in time for Yahaira's birthday in September.

So at the beginning of the book, their Papi sets off on a plane from NYC, and Camino goes to the airport to meet him. However, there she finds that the plane crashed soon after take off, into the ocean, and there are no survivors. Camino is now an orphan, as her mother died when she was only six, and she is looked after by her Tia, her mother's sister. 

Camino lives in a barrio in the Dominican Republic, but thanks to her dad sending money to her, she and her aunt have had a better life than some of their neighbours. They live in a two bedroomed house that is fenced in against intruders, and they don't usually struggle for food. Camino goes to a private school and wants to go to America to study to be a doctor at Columbia University. She believes her dad has been trying to get her to America, but she doesn't know about his wife and other child. Not that her dad is dead, the protections he paid for are no longer valid, and there's a creepy guy called El Cero who keeps following Camino everywhere. 

Yahaira is at school when she is called to the office and her mother breaks the news that her father has died. Her mother absolutely goes to pieces in the wake of his death. She decides that Papi's body will be taken back to the Dominican Republic for burial, but that neither she nor Yahaira will attend the funeral. Yahaira is gay, and in a relationship with her neighbour, Dre. Dre is black, and a gardener - she grows herbs on the fire escape of their building in Morningside Heights. I would have liked to see more of Yahaira's life in general, as I feel like there was lots of Camino's but less of hers. But that's my only criticism. 

The two girls deal with their grief for their father and learn about each other and eventually meet. 

I read a thing maybe on Twitter a few weeks back from Elizabeth herself I think which talked about the fact that her books always have happy endings and how she deliberately writes them that way because marginalised kids deserve to see kids like themselves get the happy endings. That made a lot of sense to me and it's something I try to write myself. So I knew Clap When You Land had a happy ending and I loved knowing that going into it - it made it a really positive and special book. Elizabeth has such a lightness of touch with her words. I genuinely think she's one of the best YA authors around. 

What age range is it for? I think it's quite open at the lower end, so I'd say from twelve years old for some twelve year olds. 

Are any main characters LGBTQ+? Yes, Yahaira and Dre are. I would have liked to see a bit more of them, Dre was so lovely. 

Are any main characters people of colour? Obviously! I liked learning more about the Dominican Republic and people who live there, it's not something I'm very familiar with at all. 

Are any main characters disabled either mentally or physically? No. 

Is there any sex stuff? A tiny bit, there is some sexual violence too. 

Are drugs mentioned or used? I don't think so? 

Is there any talk of death? Yes. It is a little graphic, as obviously Papi has died in horrible circumstances. However, I am very sensitive to deaths like this and drowning especially, and I didn't think it was too horrific. 

Are there swear words? Yes, used very judiciously. 

What criticisms do I have? Only what I've mentioned above. 

Would I recommend the book? One hundred percent. 

Why did I choose to read it at this point in life? I knew I wanted to get to it soon. 

What do I think of the cover? It's gorgeous. It has both girls on it. There's quite a bit in the book about how similar looking they are and how they look like their dad, and I think the cover really reflects that. 

What other books is it like? It reminded me of One by Sarah Crossan

How many stars? Ten out of ten, it's a gorgeous, gorgeous book 

Where is the book going now? Oh I'll keep this!

No Fixed Address by Susin Nielsen - Review

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Where did I get it? I picked up this proof copy at Northern YA Lit Fest two years ago. I had read Word Nerd by Susin Nielsen previously and had enjoyed it, so I picked this up. Then recently I was in the "library" (aka my back bedroom, which is tiny and holds a bed and 800 books) and noticed it, so I thought I'd pull it out to read. 

What's it about? Felix is almost thirteen years old and lives in Vancouver with his mum, Astrid (who he calls Astrid). At the beginning of the novel, Felix is talking to a police officer, so it's obvious something terrible has happened. He goes back over the previous four months of his and Astrid's lives. 

Astrid lost her job and they were evicted from an apartment, and then she broke up with her boyfriend Abelard and he was going travelling in India, so Astrid takes his camper van and she and Felix end up living in it. She swears it's temporary until she gets a new job. They hear about a French immersion programme at a nearby school, so Astrid lies and puts an address in the catchment area so that Felix can get a place in the programme. His dad, Daniel, is half French and half Haitian, so Felix is keen to learn French. On his first day at school he meets up with Dylan, a friend of his from a previous school that he has lost touch with thanks to his and Astrid's many moves. The two quickly become friends again, and also end up reluctantly becoming friends with a girl called Winnie, who is bossy and opinionated and very good at French. 

Astrid swears the van is just temporary, but time ticks on, and the weather gets colder, and Felix is really sick of washing in park toilets and never having clean laundry. Then there comes an opportunity for him to go on a kids' game show and win $25,000 which would be enough for the two of them to find an apartment for good!

There's loads more in the book, I've really simplified it there. Astrid struggles to find work, struggles with her mental health. Felix avoids the van and spends loads of time at Dylan's house. He avoids telling anyone where he lives because then social services will get involved, and Astrid had a bad experience with them as a kid herself, thanks to her abusive father. She is resistant to asking for help and ends up shoplifting sometimes. Felix is a kid falling through the cracks and I loved him and wanted only the best for him. 

What age range is it for? 12 onwards I'm going to say 

Are any main characters LGBTQ+? Felix's dad Daniel, although not a main character really, is gay. There are some other queer characters around too. 

Are any main characters people of colour? Yep, Felix is mixed race! Astrid's background is Swedish and Daniel, as I said, is half French and half Haitian. Winnie has Asian background, but I can't remember where her parents are from without looking. 

Are any main characters disabled either mentally or physically? Astrid has mental health problems which I thought were really well portrayed, and also the fact that she couldn't afford to buy her medication at one point. 

Is there any sex stuff? No 

Are drugs mentioned or used? Only the prescription meds Astrid takes

Is there any talk of death? Yeah, it's a little graphic but appropriate for the age 

Are there swear words? Not really 

What criticisms do I have? Almost none! This is a very perfect middle grade book showing an all too realistic story about poverty 

Would I recommend the book? Yes definitely 

Why did I choose to read it at this point in life? I just remembered how much I wanted to read it when I saw it! 

What do I think of the cover? Well I have a proof copy with no cover, but my librarian friend says she's bought Susin's books because of their covers, so I guess they're good! 

What other books is it like? It's like her other books, I think 

How many stars? Ten out of ten

Where is the book going now? Oh I'm keeping it for sure!  

No Fixed Address was published in September 2018 by Andersen Press. I was given a free copy of the novel but was not compensated in any other way for this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

The Blackhouse by Peter May - Review

Monday, August 3, 2020

This book was our July choice for my book club, an unusual choice as we don't often read crime novels. Our leader Ceri chose it, and I hope she enjoyed it as she doesn't often enjoy the choices. I liked it, it's a pretty standard crime thriller, but I haven't read anything by Peter May before and would read something else by him. 

The book is set on the Isle of Lewis off the coast of Scotland. Detective Fin Macleod grew up there, but now lives in Edinburgh. Just prior to the start of the book, he has lost his 8 year old son, Robbie, and his marriage to Mona is falling apart. He is called back to Lewis because a man has been murdered there, and the murder bears a resemblance to one in Edinburgh Fin is working on. 

The man murdered was Angel Macritchie, someone Fin grew up with and who was a horrible bully at school. He has no shortage of enemies on the island, including a local religious minister, Donald, and Fin's childhood best friend, Artuir. Fin starts to investigate. He hasn't been back on the island in eighteen years, and memories and childhood traumas begin to rise up in Fin. 

Interspersed with this narrative are parts told from Fin's point of view, telling the reader about his childhood on the island. These parts skip backwards and forwards in time which I found sometimes confusing and sometimes just irritating, but it does kind of make sense why because of how it reveals things to us. I found these parts quite moving, especially the parts where Fin is bullied, and the bits about the old Gaelic language and ways of life, which I found interesting too. 

At school for the first time Fin meets Marshaili, a girl who he ends up infatuated with for the rest of his childhood and time on the island. I really liked her and would have liked more interaction with her in the modern narrative with Fin back on the island. Artuir's father, Mr Macinnes, tutored Fin in order to get Fin good exam results and off to Glasgow to go to university. In Fin's last summer on the island, he is invited to go along with eleven other men to An Sgeir, where the inhabitants of the village of Ness go to cull baby gannets which are eaten as delicacies on the island. This bit was so well done - I could picture the rock perfectly and it was extremely creepy and used the setting brilliantly.

I thought the ending was a bit of a let down. I would have liked more hints about the twist throughout the book, and I felt like the denoument wasn't long enough. I also didn't really like Fin very much. I thought that the stuff about him having lost his son just a month before didn't ring true - it felt like it was longer ago and like Fin had dealt with it, rather than him being still mired in grief. 

I'm giving this three and a half out of five. I didn't hate it, and it'll be an interesting discussion later in July with my book club, but I didn't love it either.

One of Us Is Next by Karen M McManus - Review

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Where did I get it? I bought it a few weeks ago as I didn't have it and wanted to read the sequel to Karen's first book. 

What's it about? It's a sequel to One of Us Is Lying, but not starring the same characters. They have moved on - Bronwyn is at Yale, Cooper is playing baseball at college, Nate is working for a construction company in Bayview, and Addy is preparing for her sister's wedding to lawyer Eli. Instead, we're concentrating on Maeve, Phoebe, and Knox, eighteen months after Simon's death in the first book. 

Maeve is Bronwyn's younger sister, and she has previously had leukaemia which she has survived twice. She misses Bronwyn and although she and Knox went out for a while, they're better off as friends. She has a crush on Luis, who works in the cafe she goes to a lot. (Luis is from the first book, he is Cooper's BFF). 

Knox lives with his parents - his lawyer mom and his dad, who owns the construction company Nate works for. He feels like a disappointment to his dad. He has four older sisters, all of whom's names start with K - he jokes they're like the Kardashians. He feels like a bit of a nerdy loser, and I really liked him. Bless him.

Then Phoebe, she was mentioned in the first book as the family lost their dad and had to move to a smaller apartment. She and her sister Emma are barely speaking, even though they have to share a room. She's worried about her mum, too. She works at the cafe that Maeve frequents and while they're not excactly friends, they're not enemies.

Anyway, then it seems like the spectre of Simon is raised again. Every student in school gets a message from an Unknown number, saying there'll be a new game, a game of Truth and Dare. Phoebe gets the first message, telling her to choose, but she ignores it. Then Unknown tells everyone that Phoebe slept with her sister's ex boyfriend, Derek, right after he split up with Emma.

Phoebe is of course devastated. Her relationship with Emma seems broken beyond repair. She gets bullied a bit at school. When the next message comes, chief jock Sean takes the dare, which is obviously the sensible option. Next to be targeted is Maeve, but she's got other things on her mind.

The book, like the first one, has a lot of high stakes, a lot of intrigue and mystery, and a lot of kids sorting stuff out for themselves. I, as an adult, desperately wanted them to get adults involved, but their reasons for not doing so were REALLY good, and totally in character and in keeping with the book, which I appreciated. I was totally captivated by the story and the three main characters, all of whom I really liked. 

This feels to me like a middle book of a trilogy, and I really hope I'm right, because I would love to be back in Bayview with some of the same characters. I loved it, I read the last third in a couple of hours one afternoon on my sofa because I was so desperate to see how it ended. 

What age range is it for? 14+ 

Are any main characters LGBTQ+? No. There is a little bit of mention of Cooper being an out gay baseball player, which I liked. 

Are any main characters people of colour? Maeve's dad is Colombian, and Luis family is Argentinian - there's not much around race but there's some nice bits in the cafe around food, which I liked. 

Are any main characters disabled either mentally or physically? No. 

Is there any sex stuff? A little, it's a bit graphic but not too bad. 

Are drugs mentioned or used? No I don't think so. 

Is there any talk of death? Yes and it's a bit graphic. I thought it was really well done, actually, I got nervous alongside it. There's some description of injury too, which is a bit graphic. 

Are there swear words? Only a couple, and well used. (Once by Nate! Who I love!) 

What criticisms do I have? Almost none. The only thing I found weird was the time slides sometimes. At the beginning of the book we learn that a student has died, and then we go back in time to learn who that was, and then part two goes from the death. It was fine but it confused me a couple of times. 

Would I recommend the book? Yes, a hundred percent. I find the author such a good author, I would read anything by her. 

Why did I choose to read it at this point in life? I've just been meaning to, and as I didn't gel with the book I read previously I wanted something to really get my teeth into, and this was perfect. 

What do I think of the cover? It's like the others, so it fits the branding! 

What other books is it like? I think a comparison to A Good Girl's Guide to Murder is an apt one. I really feel like in both books there are real high stakes. 

How many stars? Five out of five. 

Where is the book going now? Oh I'm keeping it!

Closure - A Short Story Anthology by Black Authors

Sunday, July 26, 2020

I bought this book off one of the authors featured, Leone Ross, a couple of years ago when she presented at a conference I was at. She signed it for me, too. I pulled it off the shelves in late June and then it took me ages to get through. Some of the stories I LOVED and could have read a whole novel of, but others I struggled with and it made me put the book down too much. I usually read a bit during the day and then for an hour before bed, but I just couldn't get through all of this. I'm sad about it, but it is what it is. I'm giving it three out of five. I did really like Leone's story though!

My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite - Review

Thursday, July 23, 2020

I bought this book a few weeks ago too after hearing loads of good things about it. I often buy books on recommendations from others, and expecially if they're only a few pounds it's cheap enough for me to take a risk on something. I didn't really know what this was about as I went into it, but I don't mind that often when I start a book, do you? 

Okay so this book is set in Nigeria and is from the point of view of Korede, who works as a nurse at a hospital in Lagos. She lives with her mum, her sister Ayoola, and their house girl, who remains unnamed in the book, in a big house built with the dodgy riches of Korede's dad, who is now dead. 

Ayoola is a serial killer. She has killed three men, the latest of whom, Femi, is killed right at the beginning of the book. Ayoola calls Korede to come and help her again, and she does - she cleans up meticulously, and helps Ayoola to fling Femi's body off a nearby bridge. Ayoola says that each of the men attacked her and that she was acting in self-defence, but Korede isn't convinced. She knows her sister well, and knows that because she is very beautiful she often gets her own way. 

Korede has a crush on a doctor at the hospital, Tade. And honestly, at the beginning of the book he seems quite interested in her, too. There's a patient, Muhtar, who is in a coma, and Korede confides in him, telling him everything her sister has done, knowing that he, of course, can't do anything about it.

The book is told in little vignettes of action, and sometimes flipping back to the past, which shows the reader what happened to Korede's dad and the years of abuse he subjected his wife and daughters to. Ayoola and Tade meet and Korede is jealous and warns him off... But is she too late? 

The booked is billed as a thriller and I think it fits well among others there. I liked Korede and really wanted her to be okay. I loved the setting of their fancy house and yet how oppressive it was. I'm giving this four out of five. 

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams - Review

Monday, July 20, 2020

I bought this book a few weeks ago when I had a bit of a book splurge. I had heard it was really good and wanted to get to it pretty soon. My sister in law had picked it up around the same time I did, and then when I posted the photo on Instagram three other people said they were reading it too!

So it's about Queenie, a twenty-five year old black woman living in London. She's from Brixton, where her grandparents still live. At the beginning of the book she's at the gynaecology unit with her aunt Maggie and is told that she's had a miscarriage. She has been with Tom for three years, and has moved in with him, but then just before her miscarriage, he has asked for a break of three months. Queenie moves into a house share with two other people and, encouraged by her friends, starts dating people she's met on OKCupid. They are all basically terrible men, and she relies heavily on her friends Darcy, Cassandra, and Kyazike to unload what's happened with them.

She works at a newspaper and is desperate to be taken seriously there, but she's distracted by talking to Darcy who also works there, and by flirting with Ted, who works upstairs. She keeps having sex with a Welsh fella and it's always quite rough sex, leaving her bruised.

Queenie is estranged from her mum and has had a traumatic past. She has had to put up with Tom's racist family (and Tom NEVER stood up for her, which was awful). There are little flashbacks in the book which show what she went through previously. She visits her grandparents and is quite close to her younger cousin Diana.

It's obvious for the reader that Queenie is falling apart and will come undone at some point. I really liked her and wanted her to succeed and get better. I loved her family set up and her grandparents in particular. There are a million books about sad white girls so it's really refreshing to read one about a sad black girl. I didn't feel like I was the intended audience for this book - I felt it skewed younger than I am, which made me just not LOVE it. But I did really like it, and I'm glad I read it. I'm giving it four out of five.

Crongton Knights by Alex Wheatle - Review

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Where did I get it? I got it through the Willoughby Book Club when I was a subscriber, way back in 2016. It's been waiting on my shelves since then and since I'm trying to read more books by black authors, I've been looking on my shelves to see what I already have. 

What's it about? It's the second book set in a neighbourhood in South Crongton (which I think is in London), but it is a standalone with some of the same characters. McKay is nearly fifteen and lives with his brother Nesta and their dad. His mum died a few years ago and he misses her. The family is poor and Dad is working lots of overtime to try to keep the bailiffs from the door. 

McKay's best friends are Liccle Bit, who is the main character in the first book, and Jonah. Bit has a huge crush on Venetia, and she needs his help. Her phone has been stolen by her ex boyfriend Sergio, and he also has some topless photos of her that he is threatening to post online (which is a crime! Especially when the person in the photos is under sixteen! Just so we're clear). Venetia asks Bit to go with her to Notre Dame, a neighbourhood the other side of North Crongton, to get her phone back. 

Bit asks McKay and Jonah to go with them. It's earlier in the week, and they decide they'll go on Friday after school. That evening, though, McKay's brother says he has to go underground for a little while. It turns out that a guy called Festus stole Nesta's bike, and Nesta hit him and he had to go to hospital. On Thursday night there's some unrest in the neighbourgood when a kid steals something from a local shop, meaning that there's police all over that night and the next one. At school, a kid they call Boy from the Hills overhears what they're doing. 

Venetia, Bit, McKay and Jonah set off on Friday night after school. They go to get Saira, Venetia's friend, and Boy from the Hills turns up too. They get the bus, and go to Sergio's house, and then all hell breaks loose, and most the rest of the book is about this one evening. I loved it for that, it is an epic adventure in its purest sense.

I liked McKay and wanted the best for him. I liked the stuff about his mum dying and his family situation. I loved the adventure and the six kids who went, and their friendships and their banter and how they all get to know each other more. I loved the plethora of characters they ran into and the night they had. I loved the neighbourhood. The book is written in vernacular and I really liked that too. 

What age range is it for? It skews as a younger YA for me, so I'm going to say from thirteen. 

Are any main characters LGBTQ+? No 

Are any main characters people of colour? Yes, most characters are black I think. Saira is from Syria and there's a really good bit where she explains how she ended up in England. 

Are any main characters disabled either mentally or physically? No 

Is there any sex stuff? No 

Are drugs mentioned or used? They might be mentioned in passing but that's all 

Is there any talk of death? Yes, there's a bit of description of how McKay's mum died, but it's not graphic. There's a bit of violence too, which is a little big graphic but suitable for the book. 

Are there swear words? No - there's a lot of words that stand in for swear words, like "frick", but no actual swear words, which is why it skewed a bit younger to me. 

What criticisms do I have? Not many, to be honest. 

Would I recommend the book? Yep. 

Why did I choose to read it at this point in life? I have been meaning to get to it forever! 

What do I think of the cover? It's cute, it looks like the others in the series and I think it's eye-catching 

How many stars? Four out five! 

Where is the book going now? I'll keep it I think!

Left for Dead Blog Tour

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Hello! I am really pleased today to welcome you to my blog for my stop on the blog tour for Left for Dead by Caroline Mitchell. If you've never been to my blog before please do click around and read some of my other posts. I like crime fiction and read it fairly often.

I liked this book, I liked Amy as a detective and the premise of the window display had me really intrigued. The book is pretty gruesome which I liked and even though I haven't read others in the series this is a good standalone and works well. I would read something else with Amy though, I liked her a lot.

A victim on display. A detective on the rails.
Shopping with her sister, DI Amy Winter is admiring a Valentine’s Day window display of a perfect bride encrusted in diamonds and resplendent in lace—until she notices blood oozing from the mannequin’s mouth.
This is no stunt. A post-mortem reveals the victim was left to die on her macabre throne for all to see. When a second victim is found, it emerges that both women were ‘Sugar Babes’ arranging dates with older men online—and Amy finds herself hunting an accomplished psychopath.
As she tracks down the killer, Amy’s instincts go into overdrive when the charismatic head of the agency behind the display makes no attempt to hide his fascination with her serial-killer parents. What exactly does he want from Amy? With her own world in freefall as her biological mother, Lillian Grimes, appeals her conviction, Amy pushes the boundaries of police procedure when a third ‘Sugar Babe’ disappears…Is she as much at risk as the killer’s victims?

Author Bio:

An international #1 and New York Times, USA Today and Washington Post bestselling author, Caroline originates from Ireland and now lives with her family on the coast of Essex. A former police detective, Caroline has worked in CID and specialised in roles dealing with vulnerable victims, high-risk victims of domestic abuse, and serious sexual offences. She now writes full time, with over a million books sold.
As well as her crime series, Caroline also writes stand-alone psychological thrillers. The most recent, Silent Victim reached the Amazon number 1 spot in the UK, US and Australia and won first place as best psychological thriller in the US Reader’s Favourite Awards. Her previous thriller, Witness, was shortlisted for the International Thriller Awards in New York. She has also been shortlisted for ‘Best Procedural’ in the Killer Nashville awards. Her crime thriller, Truth And Lies recently became a No.1 New York Times best seller and has been optioned for TV. Her works have been translated worldwide and her book, The Silent Twin, has been converted as an interactive app in the Chapters Interactive game. 

The Day She Came Back Blog Tour

Wednesday, July 8, 2020


Hello and welcome to my blog for today's stop on the blog tour for The Day She Came Back by Amanda Prowse. If you've never been here before please do click round and have a look at my other reviews!

I have enjoyed previous books by Amanda so I wanted to read this one as I had really enjoyed what I'd read before. I liked this book, I loved the relationship between Victoria and Primrose and how Victoria had to rethink her whole life throughout the book. She really grew as a character which I liked. I loved the setting, too, I could picture the house and settings perfectly. Amanda is really good at weaving stories together, and also at tugging at the heartstrings. 

From the bestselling author of The Girl in the Corner comes a story that asks: how do you forgive the family that lied to you, and love the mum you never had?
When her loving, free-spirited grandmother Primrose passes away, Victoria is bereft, yet resilient—she has survived tragedy before. But even her strength is tested when a mysterious woman attends Prim’s funeral and claims to be the mother Victoria thought was dead.
As the two women get to know each other and Victoria begins to learn more about her past, it becomes clear that her beloved grandmother had been keeping life-changing secrets from her. Desperate for answers, she still struggles to trust anyone to tell her the truth.
To live a full and happy life, Victoria knows she must not only uncover the truth, but find a way to forgive her family. But after so many years, is trusting them even possible?

Author Bio:

Amanda Prowse is one of the UK’s most prolific and loved storytellers with global sales of 8 million copies and legions of loyal readers.  Based in the West Country, Amanda is the author of 25 novels and 7 novellas with books sold in 22 countries and translated into 12 languages– no mean feat when you consider her first novel was only published in 2012! 
A passionate reader since her first visit to the local library aged 6, Amanda would read everything and anything and – armed with her precious library ticket – would spend hours reading loved Enid Blyton, Anna Sewell, Judi Blume, Nina Bawden while scribbling short stories of her own. As time passed, she moved onto the more risqué delights of Lace, The Thorn Birds and A Woman of Substance; gritty, emotional stories that would inform her writing. 
A powerful storyteller and a master of the addictive plot, Amanda’s rich imagination and prolific writing talent has seen her write over 20 bestsellers with millions of copies sold across the world. She often writes for 15 hours a day and sees her plots like movies in her mind that she’s compelled to get down on paper. These heartfelt human stories have made her one of the most successful female writers of contemporary fiction today and she has become a regular interviewee on TV and radio as well as a successful journalistic writer. 
Amanda’s ambition has always been to create stories that keep people from turning the bedside lamp off at night; great characters that stay with you and stories that inhabit your mind so you can’t possibly read another book until the memory fades. She is also a passionate supporter of military charities and those that support women’s causes and holds regular ‘Evenings with Amanda’ events as fundraisers for her chosen charities.
Twitter – @MrsAmandaProwse

The Place We Call Home by Faith Hogan - Blog Tour

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Hello and welcome to my blog for today's stop on the blog tour for The Place We Call Home by Faith Hogan. If you've never been here, please do have a click around to see the rest of my blog!

I really liked this book, I liked Miranda and her family and how they came to be. I loved the Irish backdrop and could imagine it really well. I wanted Ada to do well as I felt like she had lived in the shadow of her mother and sister for so long. I would read something else by Faith for sure!

Here's the blurb:

Welcome to Ballycove, the home of Corrigan Mills...

Set against the backdrop of the beautiful Irish countryside the famed mills have created the finest wool in all of Ireland. Run by the seemingly perfect Corrigan family, but every family has its secrets, and how the mills came to be the Corrigan's is one of them...
Miranda and her husband were never meant to own the mills, until one fateful day catapults them into a life they never thought they'd lead.
Ada has forever lived her life in her sister's shadow. Wanting only to please her mother and take her place as the new leader of the mill, Ada might just have to take a look at what her heart really wants.
Callie has a flourishing international career as a top designer and a man who loves her dearly, she appears to have it all. When a secret is revealed and she's unceremoniously turfed out of the design world, Callie might just get what's she's been yearning for. The chance to go home.
Simon has always wanted more. More money, more fame, more notoriety. The problem child. Simon has made more enemies than friends over the years, and when one of his latest schemes falls foul he'll have to return to the people who always believe in him.
Ballycove isn't just a town in the Irish countryside. It isn't just the base of the famous mills. It's a place to call home.
Best-selling author, Faith Hogan returns with a family tale of love, loss, secrets and finding yourself.

Author Bio:

Faith Hogan is an Irish award-winning and bestselling author of five contemporary fiction novels. Her books have featured as Book Club Favorites, Net Galley Hot Reads and Summer Must Reads. She writes grown up women's fiction which is unashamedly uplifting, feel good and inspiring.

Faith's latest book, The Place We Call Home is published in January 2020.

She writes crime fiction as Geraldine Hogan - Her Sisters Bones is available now!

Faith gained an Honours Degree in English Literature and Psychology from Dublin City University and a Postgraduate Degree from University College, Galway.

She is currently working on her next novel. She lives in the west of Ireland with her husband, four children and a very busy Labrador named Penny. She's a writer, reader, enthusiastic dog walker and reluctant jogger - except of course when it is raining!

You can find out more about Faith on her website

The Black Kids by Christina Hammonds Reed - Review

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Where did I get it? Netgalley, after I had seen it recommended on Twitter and had requested it. Many thanks to Simon & Schuster Children's for letting me read and review this book. I was given an electronic copy of this book for review purposes, but was not otherwise compensated for this post, and all thoughts and opinions are my own. 

What's it about? The book is set in 1992. Ashley is seventeen, in her final few weeks of high school, and lives in LA with her parents. Her older sister Jo has recently left the family home and got married. Ashley and her family are black. Ashley does however live a privileged life. She goes to a fancy school, lives in a nice neighbourhood, and her parents are both white collar professionals. She is friends with white girls who say things like she is not "blackity-black" to her. To be honest, they are all kind of bitches. Ashley is kind of a bitch too, but I liked her and wanted her to succeed. 

There are black kids at Ashley's school and she kind of thinks of them as different to herself. In her mind, she calls them "the black kids". Then the LA riots start. The police officers who attacked Rodney King are not convicted and people took to the streets in protest. This is a real thing that happened and the LA riots did indeed last for nearly a week. It was very similar to what is happening now after the death of George Floyd and many others at the hands of police officers. 

Ashley is unaffected by much of the rioting, given the predominantly white neighbourhood she lives in. However, her sister is determined to go out and make her voice heard. Ashley and her mother visit Jo, but tensions are running high within the family. Ashley also has a live in nanny, Lucia, who is from Guatemala, and who is thinking of going back now that Ashley is nearly off to college. Ashley wants to go to Stanford, but has been waitlisted. Her friends are totally bitchy about that too, though. 

Then at school the week of prom, Ashley starts a thoughtless rumour about LaShawn and his new Air Jordans. This results in his suspension. LaShawn is the school's star basketball player and is also on a scholarship. Ashley's dad's family store is in an area where there is rioting, so her dad is trying to deal with his brother and Ashley's cousin, Morgan. A girl called Lana starts to talk to Ashley and Ash decides to go back to hers instead of with her friends. 

Then it turns out that Ashley did something really bad to Kimberley. Everyone goes to prom - which was one of my favourite parts - and Ashley ends up learning a lot of things about herself and her family and her community. The book has a really fast, punchy pace to it which I thought was great given the backdrop of the riots. 

Even though it's set nearly thirty years ago, it really doesn't feel like that. The only thing I found jarring in that respect was the fact that Ashley didn't have a mobile phone, and had to talk to her friends on a corded phone! Sadly we haven't come far enough in that time as the issues within the book about racism and police brutatility are still all too common. I thought that the way this was shown was done really well. 

What age range is it for? 14+ 

Are any main characters LGBTQ+? Not really. 

Are any main characters people of colour? Obviously. I liked how Ashley got across that she was black but more privileged than some other black people, and how her life was impacted by that in both ways. There's a lot of good discussion around race in LA at the time. 

Are any main characters disabled either mentally or physically? There's some discussion of mental illness and suicide, so trigger warning. Jo seems to have some kind of mental illness which is undiagnosed. I really liked her, I was on her side! 

Is there any sex stuff? Yes, it's not graphic. 

Are drugs mentioned or used? I think weed. There's an good bit with a cop where Ashley mentions it would be worse for her to get caught with weed than for her white friends. 

Is there any talk of death? Yes, and some violence. It is a little graphic, in line with what you would expect with the subject matter. 

Are there swear words? Not many, if any. 

What criticisms do I have? Almost none. There were a couple of issues with the proof copy, where a couple of paragraphs ended abruptly or got cut off, but that was only due to the proof I'm sure. It's a really good book. I liked Ashley and I can't wait to read something else by the same author. 

Would I recommend the book? Absolutely

Why did I choose to read it at this point in life? I have seen buzz about it on Twitter and also thought it was appropriate given the current Black Lives Matter protests. 

What do I think of the cover? Oh it's GORGEOUS! It is so engaging and pretty. I would definitely pick up this book in a bookshop, wouldn't you? 

What other books is it like? It will be compared to The Hate U Give, I am sure, and sure, I get that, there are similar aspects and it deserves the comparison as they're both so good. I am also sure that I've read a book where four girls are friends and spend a lot of time hanging around each other's houses and pools, and Ashley's friendships at the beginning reminded me of that, but now I can't remember what that book was. Let me know if you have any idea what I'm talking about! 

How many stars? Nine out of ten. It's really good. 

The Black Kids will by published on the 4th of August 2020


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