Brief blogs for busy bees

Tag: five star review

Blog tour: The Lost Man by Jane Harper

Blog tour: The Lost Man by Jane Harper

Hello, and welcome to my stop on The Lost Man blog tour. I’ve taken part in the blog tours for both The Dry and Force of Nature, so I jumped at the chance to read and review another of Jane Harper’s novels. My excitement grew when I learnt that this […]

Review: At the Edge of the Universe by Shaun David Hutchinson

Review: At the Edge of the Universe by Shaun David Hutchinson

‘Even when there’d been a whole universe to explore, Cloud Lake and Tommy had been my everything. “So that’s it?” I said. “I’m just supposed to go on living my life no matter how much the universe takes from me or how small it gets?” Dr. Sayegh nodded. “It’s what the rest of us do, Ozzie.” Ozzie’s boyfriend, Tommy, has vanished. […]

Review: Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow

Review: Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow

‘I’m so unwhole. I don’t know where all the pieces of me are, how to fit them together, how to make them stick. Or if I even can.’

Self-harm is a sensitive subject, no matter what form it takes. Some people find reading about cutting triggering, while others find it makes them feel seen and understood for the first time in months or years. It’s difficult to write about, because it’s almost impossible to strike the balance right: no matter how hard you try to help, you may end up hurting someone.

That’s why I think it’s impressive that Girl in Pieces has such a straight-talking, no-holds-barred protagonist. Charlotte Davis openly and honestly discusses not only her own personal brand of self-destruction, but also divulges the methods used by the other patients in the Creeley Centre. I’ve read books about self-harm in the past that have been filled with allusions, which always seemed false to me: in my personal experience, people who self-harm are often the ones most able to talk about it frankly, refusing to shy away from the truth of what they’ve done or why. It’s a relief to finally see that represented on the page.

Even without reading the author’s note at the end, it’s obvious that Kathleen Glasgow is telling this story from the heart. The short, diary-esque chapters bring Charlie’s character to life, slowly revealing her history and the reasons for her self-harm. Although she’s irrational and obtuse at times, you can’t resist rooting for her throughout the story. I found myself mentally cheering her along as she left Creeley and began adjusting to life on her own, valiantly battling the constant temptation to relapse.

However, self-harm isn’t the only story here. Charlie moves to Arizona to live near her friend Mikey, believing that he wants her to move closer to him so that they can be together, but it isn’t until she arrives that she learns he’s in a long-term relationship. She finds a job at a local diner and throws herself into it, finding herself falling for disgraced rock star Riley West.

Riley has his own issues, and Charlie finds herself learning that love isn’t the great healer she expected it to be. It’s always annoyed me that there’s a tendency in YA to make a character’s problems disappear as soon as they are in a relationship, so I was glad that Riley and Charlie didn’t fix each other immediately (although I’m not going to share whether they fix each other by the end of the book – you’ll just have to read it to find out for yourself).

If you’re a fan of YA that doesn’t shy away from difficult subject matter, I’d highly recommend Girl in Pieces. If you find yourself easily triggered by discussion of self-harm, I’d suggest waiting to pick this up until you’re feeling a bit more stable: if I’d read this book when I was in a bad place, I’m not sure if it would have done more harm than good.

Look after yourself, first and foremost, and remember I’m always here if you need someone to talk to.

Alyce

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Review: Dry by Neal and Jarrod Shusterman

Review: Dry by Neal and Jarrod Shusterman

‘This is the true core of human nature. When we’ve lost the strength to save ourselves, we somehow find the strength to save each other.’ California has been experiencing a drought for a while. The Tap-Out has led to the introduction of the Frivolous Use […]

Review: Snowglobe by Amy Wilson

Review: Snowglobe by Amy Wilson

There’s something different about Clementine, and Jago is the only one who can see it. He ceaselessly bullies her at school and before long Clem snaps, shoving him across the room with an unnatural strength. Clementine is suspended, so her father takes the opportunity to […]

Blogtober Day 15: Review: City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab

Blogtober Day 15: Review: City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab

‘In the end, I guess Mom was right.
I have one foot in winter and one in spring.
One foot with the living, and one with the dead.’

Cassidy Blake has a pretty interesting life, but it’s not for the reasons you’d expect. Daughter of The Inspectres – a ghost-hunting team who combine storytelling with historical facts in an unsurprisingly popular blend – you might think that her famous parents (and their upcoming TV show) are the most fascinating things about Cass, but she has a secret.

Cassidy Blake can talk to ghosts.

Well, one ghost in particular: Jacob, the dead boy who saved her life by pulling her out of a river when she almost drowned. Ever since that day Cass has been able to talk to Jacob, and he’s been able to talk to her as well (although he hasn’t been able to touch her since). She’s also been able to step through the Veil, where she can see other ghosts reliving their deaths over, and over, and over again.

It isn’t until she gets to Edinburgh, where her parents are filming the first episode of The Inspectres, that she realises that there might be more to her gift than she first thought. Cass discovers that she might have a purpose: it might be her responsibility to make sure that ghosts are able to pass to the other side.

I didn’t realise that this was a middle-grade novel until I was about halfway through, because the language used feels mature. A young audience will understand every word – and the ones that might be confusing are subtly explained – but the magical way that Victoria Schwab puts words into sentences makes it feel like it’s aimed at an older audience.

A girl who can talk to ghosts isn’t the most unique concept, but because it’s been done before it’s all the more impressive that Schwab has a twist for her tale. Her descriptions of the Veil are haunting, and I had chills due to the intense descriptions of some of the scarier ghosts. If I’d been any younger when I’d read this it would have given me nightmares!

As an introduction to the series, City of Ghosts does everything you can ask it to. It introduces the characters well and poses questions about them that you can’t resist wanting the answers for. I’m excited for the next book in the Cassidy Blake series, and I’m looking forward to seeing where The Inspectres end up next. I hope it’s somewhere that matters as much to Schwab as Edinburgh does, because you can feel how much she cares about crafting honest descriptions of the location.

 

If you’re interested in learning more about City of Ghosts, check it out on Goodreads. If you decide to buy a copy, please consider using my Amazon affiliate link: I’ll earn a few pennies from your purchase. Thank you!

 

Alyce

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Blogtober Day 12: Review: Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett

Blogtober Day 12: Review: Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett

‘You can plot a course that will get you to your destination, but you can’t predict what you’ll find along the way.’  Zorie has a plan for the summer, and it involves staying as far away from the Mackenzie family as physically possible. But when […]

Blogtober Day 10: Blog tour: Jackson Saves an Owl by Darren Garwood and Carl Osborne

Blogtober Day 10: Blog tour: Jackson Saves an Owl by Darren Garwood and Carl Osborne

Hi there! Welcome to my stop on the Jackson Saves an Owl blog tour. I’d like to say a big thank you to Faye Rogers, for allowing me to get involved in the blog tour for this charming picture book. Zophia loves owls, so as soon as […]

Blogtober Day 7: Review: The Case of the Missing Treasure by Robin Stevens

Blogtober Day 7: Review: The Case of the Missing Treasure by Robin Stevens

Back at the start of summer Robin Stevens released a short story narrated by Daisy Wells, in which the Detective Society and the Junior Pinkertons team up to investigate a string of museum robberies. I bought it the day it was released, but I decided to wait to read it until after Death in the Spotlight was released – otherwise I knew I wouldn’t be able to resist rereading the series (and I just don’t have the time to reread them yet!).

I read this out loud to my boyfriend and our daughter, and we’re all in agreement that this is a superb short story. (Well, I think Zophia agrees… She seemed very intent on trying to eat my copy.) My favourite installment in the Murder Most Unladylike series so far is definitely Cream Buns and Crime, which is a short story collection, so I was expecting good things, but I didn’t think The Case of the Missing Treasure was going to be this much fun!

It’s Daisy’s birthday, so Uncle Felix organises a treasure hunt for her to do – along with Hazel, George and Alexander – but they end up stumbling upon clues to a real case by accident. I was already a fan of the short stories told from Daisy’s perspective, and with such an amusing premise this became an instant favourite.

The story itself is a little under 100 pages, while the book sits at around 150, because it includes a couple of chapters from the beginning of Death in the Spotlight. I was a little disappointed by this because I didn’t want the short story to end, but at least I’ve waited until the next installment in the series has been released, so it won’t be long until I’m rejoining Daisy and Hazel on their next adventure. At only a couple of pounds, this story is a steal: I’m so glad I decided to buy a copy, as it’s the first Murder Most Unladylike book that I’ve owned. It’s dinky but so cute!

 

If you’re interested in learning more about The Case of the Missing Treasure, check it out on Goodreads. If you decide to buy a copy, please consider using my Amazon affiliate link: I’ll earn a few pennies from your purchase. Thank you!

 

A brief review for a brief story – come back tomorrow for my next Blogtober post!

Alyce

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Blog tour: The Stig Plays a Dangerous Game by Jon Claydon and Tim Lawler

Blog tour: The Stig Plays a Dangerous Game by Jon Claydon and Tim Lawler

I’m ridiculously excited to welcome you to my stop on The Stig Plays a Dangerous Game blog tour. I’ve never been a huge Top Gear fan but the enigma of The Stig has always fascinated me, and this novelisation seemed like the perfect opportunity to learn a […]