BOOK BLOG: Lisa Williamson

Paper Avalanche: an absolute punch in the feels

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“When it comes to flying under the radar, Ro Snow is an expert.
No friends. 
No boys.
No parties.
And strictly NO VISITORS.
It may be lonely, but at least this way the truth remains where it should – hidden. Then Tanvi Shah, the girl who almost died, comes tumbling back into her life, and Ro finds herself losing control of her carefully constructed lies. But if Ro’s walls come crumbling down, who’s going to take care of Bonnie…”

A massive thank you to my lovely friend Adele for buying this book for me to cheer me up recently. 

Paper Avalanche follows the story of Ro Snow, a young girl who is having to battle between the world of being a teenager, trying to disappear and her mum’s hoarding. She’s a girl who very much wants to just go under the radar. Everyone knows about the house, which Ro never admits that she lives in, and it is a constant battle in Ro’s life. She knows that if anything were to happen, her mum’s hoarding tendencies could spiral out of control. Ro feels like she’s barely keeping a lid on everything, when suddenly there’s a young man thrown into her life and a best friend who is in her very own way a total whirlwind – one that could potentially make Ro’s world topple down. 

I ABSOLUTELY loved Tanvi and Noah. They brought such an incredible thread into Ro’s life that she had never had before. There’s such a gorgeous flip from how lonely and colourless Ro’s life is before these two show up. Tanvi, the best friend who appears suddenly having been out of school for a few years, brings colour and joy and noise to Ro’s life, a life that she’s tried to live so quietly before. There’s an incredible scene set on Diwali that brought my heart such joy. It was one of those scenes in a story that I’ll remember for a long time. 

One of the things that I loved about this book was how relatable it is. We don’t all have mothers who are hoarders, but we all have something we want to hide from the world. It may be the smallest thing, or the biggest thing, but Ro’s struggles to hide her things from the world is something that we have ALL done. We’ve all been there. Ro struggles a lot with worrying about what people think about her (dear God, I relate) and battles to keep a lid on her emotions at times. She’s a very closed off young woman, who definitely has a lot of anger under the surface. There’s a scene toward the end where she lets this anger out and I was like YES RO. YOU GET THEM TOLD. She has an incredibly complicated relationship with her mum (who she calls Bonnie the majority of the time) and her dad. She feels like she’s the adult in the relationship with her mum, and feels like the forgotten child with her dad. (I’m not a fan of Dad’s new wife FYI). She’s constantly battling with wanting attention from her Dad, while wanting the rest of the world to not see her. 

I loved the exploration of doing things for yourself in this book. Ro discvovers something that she’s really good at and that she wants to pursue. It was lovely to see Ro trying to make her mark, all the while trying not to stand out. (Shout out to Tanvi and Mr Milburn for helping her out! I love reading a supportive teacher role… please can we have more of these in YA) She ends up doing something that makes her happy, but Bonnie turns it into a disaster. My heart BROKE for Ro when I was reading this. I hated Bonnie so much. 

Reading this book made me feel ALL OF THE EMOTIONS. There was joy, sadness, shock, worry, panic, love, laughter, disappointment. You’ll feel ALL of the things. It’s SO WORTH IT. 

Another shout out here to Tanvi’s family. They’re bloody brilliant. So welcoming.  

I’d REALLY love to see this story made into a film. I think it would be BLOODY brilliant. 

My goodreads review:

I am so full of love right now. I’ve gone through them all: anger, sadness, panic, anxiety, love, laughter. This book and its characters are just exceptional. I love the way in which Ro and Bonnie have to deal with this massive problem: their roles reversed, while Ro still has to deal with being a kid. Massive shout outs to Tanvi, Mr Milburn and Noah. Excellent excellent book.

HELLO ALSO. That cover. I ENJOY THAT PINK SO MUCH. Underneath the jacket, it’s just white with pink metallic lettering on the spine and it’s just such a beauty.

Have you read Paper Avalanche?
Do you also love Lisa Williamson?
Have you read anything else by Lisa Williamson?

Talk to me! I am so glad I read this book… in like 3 hours. It was a one sitting book, that’s how good it is! 

S x 

BOOK BLOG: Karen M. McManus

Two Can Keep A Secret: twists, turns and second guesses aplenty!

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“Echo Ridge is small-town America. Ellery’s never been there, but she’s heard all about it. Her aunt went missing there at age seventeen. And only five years ago, a homecoming queen put the town on the map when she was killed. Now Ellery has to move there to live with a grandmother she barely knows.

The town is picture-perfect, but it’s hiding secrets. And before school even begins for Ellery, someone’s declared open season on homecoming, promising to make it as dangerous as it was five years ago. Then, almost as if to prove it, another girl goes missing.”

Two Can Keep A Secret is the second book by the brilliant Karen M. McManus (author of the incredible One Of Us Is Lying) and my word… if you loved OOUIL, you will most definitely enjoy Two

Two Can Keep A Secret (let’s call it Two for short, cause that’s lots of words to type!) is centred around Echo Ridge, a town where there’s just been so many bad times with young women who are homecoming queens. Tragically, homecoming queens have shown up murdered in the past. There’s a deep dark secret about this town. Ellery and her twin brother Ezra have to move to Echo Ridge, their mother’s home town, after their mother is otherwise occupied. The twins aren’t happy about it, but there is no other choice. When they get to the town, they realise that there is in fact something very mysterious and dark about it and they make it their mission (well, Ellery makes it her mission) to get to the bottom of it!

So in this here book, we have murder, mystery, a main character who loves a good old crime to solve and some brilliant supporting characters. What’s not to love? A town with a history which has been brought back to life…

Two is told from a dual perspective: Ellery and Malcolm. Ellery is one of the twins summoned to live with grandma in Echo Ridge with her brother; Malcolm is the younger brother of the prime suspect of the murder many years ago. These two perspectives were interesting to read from (I was particularly a fan of Malcolm’s perspective) as it kept the story moving without being too much (I struggle with some multi perspective stories!). I loved the dynamic of one of the main characters being a twin. It was a really interesting thing to read. They both just got each other. There’s times when they don’t need to say anything, but they both know what the other is thinking.

There’s one character I was ALWAYS suspicious of. I just didn’t like her. She’s one of the “one the edge” characters. No thanks. If you’ve read this book, I’d love to talk about her. OR who you think I mean! 

Just like One of Us Is Lying, I was CONSTANTLY guessing as to who the guilty parties are, and when it’s revealed, I’ll be honest I NEVER saw it coming. I kind of felt bad for all of the people I had suspected beforehand because it made SUCH sense. I would say at one point that EVERYONE had been on my suspect list. Call me suspicious ha! 

I have to say… THAT LAST LINE THOUGH. Guys… I can’t. I’m STILL not over that last line. I definitely swore at the book when I read it. 

Also, while you’re here, appreciating the book… THOSE SPRAYED EDGES THO! I LOVE a sprayed edge. 

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My goodreads review:

This kept me guessing the whole way through and there were definite moments of “omg I know who it is” and then I was wrong every time. A great story and some great characters too.

So yes. Good book, would recommend for those who like twisty turny books, or anyone who enjoyed OOUIL.

Have you read Two Can Keep A Secret?
Can you keep a secret?
Would you survive in this murderous town?

Talk to me! Let me know your thoughts. I love a book like this! I’ll take your suggestions for what else to read (I would recommend This Lie WIll Kill You by Chelsea Pitcher. That book still gives me slight nightmares!)

S x 

BLOG TOUR: Slay On Tour

Today’s post is coming to you from the boyband tour bus in Japan as part of the Slay blog tour. If you don’t know the world of Slay yet, then you are 100% missing out. Check out my review of the first book in this series here!

Slay on Tour: slaying in all the VERY BEST ways!

“SLAY are BACK…and this time they’re headed to Tokyo to track down another hell-raising demon. When they’re invited on tour with a super-cool band of holographic girls, SLAY find themselves whisked off around Japan – until strange things start happening on their tour train. Suddenly it seems it’s not just SLAY’s fans following their every move…”

Slay on Tour sees the boys of Slay (a demon fighting boy band, obviously) fighting demons in Japan! Having read the first book and LOVING IT, I needed this second book in my life so much. This series is SUCH fun and it’s so incredible to read a book with such personality. The characters, the settings, the friendship and the family explored in these books makes me so happy. 29 year old me loves these books and I know that 15 year old me would have too: boybands and demon fighting… what more do we need?

Slay on Tour sees the boys in Japan, having been given the opportunity to tour alongside a new and incredibly revolutionary Japanese band. I always knew there was something up with the band and their people – a band of holographic girls who are “perfect”. Yeah, cause that’s normal… but I loved it. There was a bit of the feminist in me going “WE DON’T NEED TO BE PERFECT TO DESERVE TO BE IN A BAND”. 

Obviously, in the midst of all of this touring, the boys are still fighting demons. The demon slayers (I bloody love how descriptive the word slayers is!) have to fight some pretty dark and deceptive demons in this second installment. A demon who steals souls? Yeah. No thanks actually! There’s even the reappearance of an old “friend”. 

A massive shout out to the folklore in this book too. I loved the little nuggets of Japanese folklore information thrown in. (You all know I’m a PROPER sucker for a bit of a mythological story, so this made my heart sing!) Learning about other cultures and the stories from them is just mint – so to see this thrown into the book was another massive tick!

You get the fun of the demon fighting as well as those brilliant characters who we met and loved in book 1. The boys are just lush. I like each of them for very different reasons. I’d love them to be a real band, so I could join them (I don’t know that I’d be a great demon fighter like!) Not only that, but there is a lovely exploration of something which happens in book 1. This something (I don’t wanna share too much cause spoilers!) happens to have a massive impact on the dynamic of the band, with ever trusty Milly having to come to the rescue. I really love Milly. She’s sassy, brave and bold: she has to be. She’s thrust into this life of being in one of the biggest boybands in the world. And because she’s a badass, she takes it ALL in her stride. 

I loved this book. I may have even loved it more than book 1! I know, I know. I have my fingers crossed that there MAY be a third book. PLEASE. 

I even have an incredible exclusive quote from the brilliant Kim herself on why boy bands, fandoms and blurred lines! It sums up the Slay books so brilliantly!

“When I was growing up in the 90s, I had properly drunk the patriarchal kool aid. Without knowing why exactly, I put all things ‘girlie’ into a mental box labelled shameful. It’s internalised the misogyny that placed things that boys love above stuff that girls love. And, to my great sadness, that included boy bands. I was into Star Wars and The Teenage Ninja Turtles, X-Men comic books and Grunge rock music – all the geeky-cool stuff that defined a lot of ‘boy culture’. But, as I got older and began to examine my choices, I discovered there was a world of amazing ‘girl culture’ I’d been missing out on. As an adult, I loved it all. Twilight, Sailor Moon, High School Musical. And yes, One Direction! Now, I’m on a mission to see that all the things that teen girls love are given the same respect and the same value as the stuff boys love. And that when it comes to entertainment, gender should play no part in it. When writing Slay and Slay on Tour I consciously blurred all the lines between ‘girl’ stuff and ‘boy’ stuff to create something that’s just fun – which transcended gender.”

So please! Go out and buy these books if you’re looking for something EXCELLENT, FUN and PROPER GREAT. 

Have you read Slay?
Would you make it as a demon fighter?
Do you think I’d make it as a demon slayer?

Check out the rest of the stops on the blog tour… it was a proper honour to kick it off! Thanks so much to the brilliant humans of Usborne for asking me to kick off the tour! 

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Let’s get talking about #SlayonTour on twitter! These books deserve so much love! 

S x 

 

BOOK BLOG:Sarah Ann Juckes

Outside: harrowing, surprising and emotional

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“Outside follows the story of Ele, who is held captive in a small room by a man known as ‘Him’. Ele is determined to prove there is a world Outside. And when she finds a hole in the wall, the proof starts leaking in. In this dark and compelling debut novel, Ele’s strong and heartbreakingly optimistic voice shines through, revealing an important lesson about the power of stories to save lives”

I was lucky enough to win a proof of this at YALC and I hadn’t heard of it, nor did I read the letter from the author in the book before I started to read. Part of me is glad I didn’t read, part of me thinks I would’ve been more emotionally prepared for the onslaught of terror and tears that followed!

Outside follows the story of a little girl, Ele, who is determined to get outside into freedom. She’s never been outside of her room. She’s locked in a tower and she’s determined to get out, but isn’t really sure how. She’s frightened. There’s a mysterious man (Him) who she is defintely afraid of. Reading through this book, it took me a good chunk of the book until I was sure the main character is a young girl – you’re never explicitly told, it’s just something that is assumed, but my brain was not sold entirely. This made the book even more of an enigma for me because I wanted to know, so I kept reading and my word, it is so excellent

I spent a lot of this book scared and worried for the little girl. I was terrified of Him. There’s some harrowing scenes in this book. There’s some pretty dark themes explored in this which made me more gripped, but horrified at times too. These themes are dealt with excellent care: you never feel exposed or stamped on. 

There’s a lot of juxtaposition in this book: light vs dark, love vs hate, fear vs safety, trusting vs fearing, knowing vs not knowing. The main character goes through a lot of confusing emotions between wanting to be outside vs the fear of being outside. But this is to be expected! Imagine going outside for the first time and the things you come across… I love this kind of thing because as a reader you never REALLY know where you stand in life. 

Yes, this book is dark and deals with some pretty bleak themes, but it also has some gorgeously light moments. When you meet him, you’ll love Ezra. He’s the ultimate hero. He needs needs a million medals. This book shows the kindness and strength of the human spirit brilliantly. 

Did I cry? OH MY WORD YES. It broke my soul quite a lot

Unfortunately, you’ve got quite a while to wait as it’s not out until January 2019. But trust me, it is worth the wait.

Can you imagine never being outside?
What do you think would baffle you most about being outside?
Are you excited for the release of Outside?

Let me know your thouhgts in the comments! I’d love to know your answers to my questions!

S x

Q&A: David Owen

Hello my friends! 

Today I have an absolute treat for you – a Q&A with one of my favourite twitter author people, David Owen. His new book All The Lonely People is coming out next year and I managed to corner him (figuratively, obviously) to ask him a few questions about his new book! I have a sampler ready to read and I’m looking forward to it immensely. Check out the end of this post for more details about the book!

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Can you tell us a little about the main characters?
All the Lonely People has two main characters – Kat Waldgrave and Wesley Graham.

Kat has always struggled to make friends and feel accepted, and she believes the only place she can really be herself is online. She’s a big geek, loves developing her own video games, bingeing TV shows, and so on. So she’s got really involved in the online communities that inevitably spring up around things like that. She has made what she considers friends, people like her, who like her, and she values that so much.

In many ways, Wesley is very similar. He also struggles to make friends and doesn’t feel like he belongs anywhere. To try and assuage his detachment and loneliness he too has turned to the internet, but has ended up falling in with a less desirable crowd – the kind of that takes advantage of disillusioned young men to serve their own agenda. This ultimately means Kat becomes a target for him, which brings their lives together.

If you had to describe this book in 5 words, what would they be?
All. The. Lonely. People. Book?
I. Really. Hope. It’s Good?

No, um, I don’t know! Maybe ‘Kindness and Empathy Defeat Hatred‘? It is far too full of pretentious nonsense for me to describe succinctly!

‘All The Lonely People’ is an interesting title for the book, where did it come from? Was it alway titled that?
The title is shamelessly nicked from the chorus of the Beatles song ‘Eleanor Rigby’. It’s a great song, and one that I have always found particularly melancholy, evocative of loneliness. Lines like ‘Eleanor Rigy died in a church/And was buried along with her name/Nobody came.’ It’s just really sad, and fit the book really well.

For a long time the book was called ‘The Lonely People (Are Getting Lonelier)’, which is also nicked from a song of the same name by an ambient band called Stars of the Lid. But that wasn’t quite as snappy!

If Wesley and Kat had to have fictional best friends from other books, who would they be?
It says a lot about the characters that I can think of loads for Kat and none for Wesley! I think Kat would get on really well with anybody who is fairly unabashed about being their nerdy selves. So maybe Frances and Aled from Alice Oseman’s ‘Radio Silence’, Cath from Rainbow Rowell’s ‘Fangirl’, or Claire from Non Pratt’s ‘Truth or Dare’. I think she’d get on with a lot of people!

Wesley is a lot more difficult. In many ways, he is thoroughly unlikeable, and tremendously adept at falling in with the wrong crowd. As he is at the beginning of the book, he’s more likely to be friends with any of the dickhead male bully characters you see in YA – I can’t think of any specific people! By the end of the book, he might have a better chance of making real friends…

What emotions is this going to make the reader feel?
I hope a lot of different ones! I feel like this is my most emotionally honest book in many ways – I have a natural cynicism about me which in the past I think has made it difficult to be completely honest and open with emotional stuff for fear of it being a bit cheesy. I really tried to put that aside with this book. So I hope people will feel sad, excited, and angry at that various points of the book. I also hope they’ll find it funny and a bit weird. More than anything, I really hope it resonates with people who are prone to feeling loneliness – which I think is more people than will ever admit it.

What inspired you to write a book that focuses so heavily on a person‘s online presence?
Partly because it’s just such a huge part of our lives now, particularly for young people. Almost every day there are fascinating/uplifting/unusual/horrifying stories about how the internet has affected people’s lives. A lot of people – usually slightly older people who didn’t grow up with the internet – still think of it as separate to the ‘real world’. But it is now a fundamental part of everyday life. Whether that’s young people competing for Instagram likes with their classmates, or the right-wing propaganda movements that have influenced elections. That influence needs to feature more prominently in YA stories, and needs to be examined.

So this books aims to look at the positives and negatives of young people being so involved online. How it can prevent young people from being lonely by connecting them with like-minded friends, but also make them feel more lonely because it seems like everybody in your social media feeds is leading a better life than you are. How you can find a place to belong, but also how that vulnerability can be used against you. This wasn’t something I had really seen in YA before.

If you had the chance to escape, quit, disappear, could you do it?
Probably not for very long! I spend an inordinate amount of my time on Twitter, Instagram, and Reddit. In many ways it’s made a hugely positive impact on my life – I’ve made some really close friends ‘in real life’ through Twitter, and becoming a part of the book/UKYA community has been brilliant, because it’s full of brilliant people. But I also end up feeling like people on there are doing so much better than me – going out more and doing amazing things, having more successful careers, and so on. Refreshing Twitter has become a bit of compulsion when I’m watching TV or something fairly inactive. But I would definitely miss it if it were to disappear. Last year I went to Australia and was in the Outback for five days with no signal or internet. It was kind of glorious not feeling like I had to show off what I was doing, keep up with everybody, and also being away from the constant newsfeed of dread and despair. But when I got back it was lovely to check in with everybody. At the moment I think the positives outweigh the negatives for me. 

What should people expect to find on your social media?
Mostly nonsense, moaning, and pictures of my cats. I can never put enough pictures of my cats online. (As a fond follower of David’s twitter, I can confirm there is an exceptional thread of pictures of his cats).

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All The Lonely People – David Owen
Released: 10.1.19
Published by: Atom Books

“Everyone tells Kat that her online personality – confident, funny, opinionated – isn’t her true self. Kat knows otherwise. The internet is her only way to cope with a bad day, chat with friends who get all her references, make someone laugh. But when she becomes the target of an alt-right trolling campaign, she feels she has no option but to Escape, Delete, Disappear.
With her social media shut down, her website erased, her entire online identity void, Kat feels she has cut away her very core: without her virtual self, who is she?
She brought it on herself. Or so Wesley keeps telling himself as he dismantles Kat’s world. It’s different, seeing one of his victims in real life and not inside a computer screen – but he’s in too far to back out now.
As soon as Kat disappears from the online world, her physical body begins to fade and while everybody else forgets that she exists, Wesley realises he is the only one left who remembers her. Overcome by remorse for what he has done, Wesley resolves to stop her disappearing completely. It might just be the only way to save himself.
All the Lonely People is a timely story about online culture – both good and bad – that explores the experience of loneliness in a connected world, and the power of kindness and empathy over hatred.”

Preorder links – Waterstones / Amazon / Book Depository 

A massive thanks to David for taking time to answer my questions! Please go preorder this book! I’m very excited for it! 

Let me know in the comments if you have any questions you have for David or tweet him @davidowenauthor and I’m sure he’ll be happy to answer them!

S x