So you may have noticed that I’ve not been blogging a lot in August because I am working on an exciting new project. I was delighted to be invited to join this year’s Blue Peter Book Awards 2019 Longlisting panel to help choose the 12 books in the ‘Best Story,’ and ‘Best Books with Facts,’ category. This has meant having to read a large selection of books in a very short period of time and I’m currently working my way through some marvellous books which sadly I can’t share with you on the blog, it’s top secret. After I finished this project I have managed to read some books in August that I thoroughly enjoyed, which I’m going to share with you today.
Jane Elson is back with another stunning book that will make you laugh, cry and fill your heart with so much joy that you won’t be able to put it down. ‘Will You Catch Me,’ is a beautiful, empathetic read about a girl called Nell who is craving a normal and predictable life. She lives with a menagerie of animals who provide comfort from her increasingly difficult life. A life where every day she has no idea if it will be a good day or a terrible day depending on whether her Mum has kept her promise to Nell. Nell thinks her only hope is to track down her Dad so that he can look after them all, so her life can be ordinary instead of chaotic. With her best friend Michael she hatches a plan so that her Dad will have to come and claim her, but will she succeed? Heart-breaking and incredibly poignant, Jane’s storytelling brings a really honest insight into the most difficult of topics dealing with them sensitively and thoughtfully. Her stories feel so genuine and truthful. She gets to the heart of her characters allowing the readers to really feel their raw emotions and internal struggles, taking you along on this emotional journey with them. Yet again another moving and sublime read from Jane Elson, I can’t recommend it enough.
It was with great sadness for me, that ‘The Sinclair’s Mysteries’ came to a close in the final explosive and dramatic instalment, ‘The Midnight Peacock.’ But luckily our fearless, intrepid heroines Sophie and Lil are back with a bang in the glorious ‘Peril in Paris,’ the first instalment in the Taylor and Rose Secret Agents series. Recruited by the mysterious Secret Service Bureau our daring duo are sent away on dangerous and deadly missions, where they must learn to trust no one and expect peril at every turn. Furious and fast paced the reader is kept on the edge of their seat as the twists and turns come thick and fast. Intriguing and surprising there are plenty of revelations and unexpected happenings to confuse and confound even the most quick minded reader. This new series captures everything I loved about the ‘Sinclair Mysteries,’ but this story feels more thrilling and exciting, leaving the reader desperate for more with the most glorious ending. Sophie and Lil continue to defy society’s expectations of what a young lady can and should be doing and for that I will always love them. I can’t leave without mentioning Karl J Mountford’s stunning cover and artwork which captures the elegance and spirit of these marvellous adventures perfectly.
I loved Katherine Webber’s extraordinary debut, ‘Wing Jones,’ so I was desperate to read ‘Only Love Can Break Your Heart,’ and I can confirm that it is equally sublime. Reiko has a heart-breaking secret that she can’t share with her family or friends. In a bid to escape from the claustrophobia of her life in the spotlight she seeks refuge in the Californian desert. There she inadvertently bumps into Seth, a misfit who doesn’t fit in at school, especially with her crowd who are at the top of the pecking order. They both recognise in each other something that they both need and become bound together in an increasingly complicated relationship, where neither of them can give what the other needs. Katherine captures this struggle beautifully, dealing with this complex and unexpected situation in an honest and refreshing way. She stands out from the crowd with her rich, diverse characterisation creating fully developed characters who the reader finds themselves totally captivated by. Exploring complicated family dynamics in times of stress and grief, she enables the reader to understand life from everyone’s perspective not just the main character thus creating a truly thoughtful story. Katherine is one of my favourite emerging writers for young teens, for me her writing is beautiful, subtle and truly outstanding.
As a lover of books I find myself drawn to any book that features books or bookshops and therefore when I spotted ‘Bookshop Girl,’ with its vibrant, appealing cover I knew I had to read it. Paige Turner (pun most definitely intended) is a part-time bookseller whose life is turned upside down when her boss informs them that their bookshop – the only highlight in her dreary town will be closing down. Paige can’t afford to be penniless and her best friend Holly has to get her hands on the final book in her favourite trilogy, so something MUST be done to save their bookshop. So throw in a passionate campaign, a dreamy anarchist heart throb, oh and some hilarious life drawing and you have a fabulously funny book which is hugely appealing. For me not only is this book entertaining, it’s incredibly accessible for less confident teen readers coming in at just over 200 pages. Chloe has an eye for detail that makes this story feel very real and true to life, capturing all the idiosyncrasies of small town life and the highs and lows of being a teenager. With characters you’ll love and love to hate, this is a lively and engaging read.
Thanks to Hachette for sending me a copy of ‘Will You Catch Me.’ All of these books are now available to buy online (click on the title to find out more) or from any good bookshop.