‘Wing Jones’ by Katherine Webber

378p

2017

Walker Books

Bought

51mzduw26wl-_sx324_bo1204203200_Wing Jones has never really fit in anywhere. With her unusual Chinese-Ghanian looks she sticks out everywhere she goes. Wing doesn’t live in a traditional family environment either. She lives with her hard-working mother, her eccentric grandmothers from China and Ghana, and Marcus, her beloved older brother. Marcus is the only one who seems to fit in, a ‘golden boy’ despite his unique looks. He appears to have it all: he’s a star quarterback who has college scouts watching him, a long-term relationship with Monica, his best friend Aaron, and is popular everywhere he goes.

One Friday night, Marcus drink drives after a party and hits another car. The woman in the other car, mother to a young boy, is killed, and so is the boy who was travelling with Marcus. Marcus falls into a coma, and everything in Wing’s world shatters.

Things are hard at school and home for Wing. At school people blame her for her brothers’ actions, and at home money is tight, with hospital bills piling up. One day, soon after the accident, she discovers a hidden talent; her ability to run like the wind, faster than anyone in her school. Running makes her forget about all the bad things in her life.

On one of her secret midnight runs at the school track, she meets Aaron, her brother’s best friend who she has had a crush on forever. He’s amazed by her speed and wants to help her improve. They start going to the track most nights, building her strength. After a while, she goes public, joining the school track team and shocks everyone. She starts to make new friends, and is growing as a person, despite the difficulties with Marcus, who may never wake up again.

Running gives her an escape and also brings an opportunity to possibly help her family’s fortunes, in the form of a competition to be the face of a popular running shoe brand. But will pushing herself to win ultimately make her push away the person she has always wanted?

Wing Jones by debut author Katherine Webber is a breath-taking story about love- in all shapes and forms- becoming your own person, making new friends, and discovering hidden talents you never thought you had. There has been a lot of hype about this book, so I bought it, and I can completely agree with what other bloggers and authors have been saying about it.

This story felt so real to me, the characters and their struggles were wonderfully expressed. Wing’s two grannies, LaoLao and Granny Dee, added humour to the story with their little spats, and I loved Wing- watching her develop and grow in confidence; becoming her own person, really made me smile. The romance between Wing and Aaron was so special and sweet; blossoming throughout the story, and I was really routing for them.

Marcus was an interesting character- whilst being in a coma for the majority of the book, he affected the characters lives deeply and put them through so much grief and suffering, but the events of the story made everyone stronger.

Aside from the spectacular story, the cover and pages of this book have to be given a mention! The cover is relatively simple, but I love how the title is written using the shoe laces, and the sprayed pink-purple pages and back cover are very eye-catching!

Wing Jones is a special book that touches the heart and I’d recommend it to anyone looking for something new to read.

‘Lies We Tell Ourselves’ by Robin Talley

368p

2014

Harlequin

Recieved as a gift

51u5jvvsuol-_sx316_bo1204203200_In 1959 Virginia, Sarah and nine other of the best students from the local black high school, Johns, have waited years to attend the white school Jefferson High. Sarah is entering her last year of high school and is hopeful about her future. But when the black students walk in on their first day under a barrage of verbal and physical abuse, it is clear that she and the others are not welcome. The ten black teens will just have to get their heads down and tough it out.

Linda is the privileged white daughter of a well-respected segregationist. She doesn’t like all the disruption in her last year of school, and just wishes that the black people would stop pushing for something that it’s obvious none of the white townspeople want. When she is set a school project-with one of the black girls- she is disgusted that she even has to work with a black person, and the feeling is mutual.

When Sarah and Linda reluctantly spend time together working on the project, they start to get to know each other, and each begins to feel something that she doesn’t want to ever acknowledge. Amidst all the unrest, anger and hardship, the two girls try desperately to hide who they are.

How can they hide their true feelings and navigate a dangerous, racist world without something eventually slipping?

I’d heard about this book so many times, but never actually read it until my brother bought it as a gift for my birthday. And wow is it amazing!

This is a beautifully written story by Robin Talley about the civil rights movement, but also about sexuality, which was not a topic generally discussed in 1959 Virginia. The story was mainly narrated by Sarah, switching at times to Linda and then at the end Sarah’s younger sister Ruth. The plot was well-directed, constantly moving ahead in the story.

While this story is fiction and there is no town called Davisburg in Virginia, I really felt as if it was true, and I made such a connection with the characters. This book made me think for a long while after reading the last page about the struggles of the people who fought for integration, and I respect the courage and the work they did. It’s an inspiring, thought-provoking book, and one that I think everyone should read.

‘The Sun Is Also a Star’ by Nicola Yoon

348p

2016

Penguin Random House

Recieved as a gift

61vhe0u9ppl-_sx329_bo1204203200_When 17 year old Natasha and Daniel have a chance encounter on the streets of New York City, it was as if Fate brought them together.

Natasha is a smart, practical person, with a clear future, and is going to achieve what she sets out to do. Apart from one kink in her plans, the fact that her family may be deported back to Jamaica the next day. Her family are illegal immigrants, and by a mistake of her father’s, their whole life is now up in the air. She’s desperately trying to get the deportation cancelled, while the rest of her family have already accepted it.

Daniel is at heart a romantic dreamer, and with an uncertain future ahead of him, he’s struggling to follow what he truly wants to do in life. His strict Korean parents want him to study medicine, but all Daniel loves to do is write poetry.

When these two meet, one is convinced it’s by chance, another convinced that it is Fate. For a whole day, they get to know one another, each gradually revealing their secrets.

In a whirlwind of mixed emotions, attraction and dealing with the difficulties in each of their lives, this is a love story that couldn’t possibly have a fairytale ending. Does Fate have something else in store?

After loving Nicola Yoon’s debut novel, Everything, Everything, I was desperate to get my hands on The Sun Is Also A Star ever since I heard it was coming out. And trust me, it didn’t disappoint! Natasha and Daniel have such a stunning whirlwind romance, you truly get swept away in the beauty that is this book.

The characters are so interesting, they and their struggles are wonderfully portrayed, and you feel a connection with them and their stories. Nicola Yoon has such an effortless quality about her writing, the world around you completely melts away as you get sucked into the story. The plot was intriguing, and I liked how both Natasha and Daniel dealt with their familial difficulties throughout the day. The continuing discussion of Fate, that Daniel so very much wanted to believe in, was also interesting and a great sub-storyline running throughout.

The book is narrated alternately by Natasha and Daniel, but also with the points of view from some of the other characters that are in the story, Natasha’s father being one, and with little ‘History’s’ of things that crop up in the story.

I thought this was such an amazing story, it left me with a smile on my face and a warm feeling in my heart.

‘What’s a Girl Gotta Do?’ by Holly Bourne

419p

2016

Usbourne Publishing

Bought

512ntzuuull-_sx326_bo1204203200_When 17 year old Lottie is sexually harassed in public, something inside just snaps. She’s had enough of being discriminated against just because she’s a girl. With the help of her two best friends, Amber and Evie, and the Feminist Society the girls founded at their school, Lottie starts a campaign, to call attention to everyday sexism.

The campaign ‘#Vagilante’ has a few ground principles, as described in the blurb:

1. Call out anything that is unfair on one gender

2. Don’t call out the same thing twice (so you can sleep and breathe)

3. Always try to keep it funny

4. Don’t let anything slide. Even when you start to break…

To get media attention the girls decide to get one of the A-Level film students from their school to video their campaign. The camera man is the annoying, arrogant, talented and handsome Will. The three best friends, along with Will and their new-found friend Megan, work hard at building up the campaign and pointing out to the public everyday sexism- to both genders.

When the campaign starts to gather momentum and media interest, it also unfortunately draws the attention of internet trolls. With so much hate being directed at her, will Lottie be able to juggle finishing the campaign, her relationship with her family and friends, and her long-awaited interview at Cambridge University?

 

This book is amazing. The plot, the characters, the way it’s written… it’s just brilliant. In the previous two books in the trilogy, Lottie has come across as warm-hearted, extremely intelligent, and a bit crazy, but she wasn’t really the stand-out character for me. Throughout this book I really began to like and admire her. I also liked how the introduction of the new characters, Will and Megan, brought an extra layer to the plot.

Holly Bourne raised some points that interested me, such as cognitive dissonance. The scene where Lottie discusses cognitive dissonance with the Feminist Society in her school canteen was probably my favourite moment of the book.

What’s a Girl Gotta Do? was one of the best books I read in 2016. I’m in love. Holly Bourne’s book makes you open your eyes and understand. She’s combined all these incredible truths and thoughts into a book that is not just important, but heart-warming, funny and a story that people can relate to. I can’t recommend it enough.

‘Eliza Rose’ by Lucy Worsley

354p

2016

Bloomsbury

Bought

51qrdxiaeul-_sx325_bo1204203200_Growing up in the bleak and crumbling Stoneton Castle, Eliza Camperdowne has always known that as her family’s only heir, it was her duty to marry the son of a wealthy family in order to restore her family’s fortunes.

When Eliza is twelve, she is betrothed to the son of the Earl of Westmorland, even though she has not met him. Months later, there is news that King Henry VIII and Queen Jane will be visiting at her betrothed’s house. Eliza’s delighted to know that she will meet the monarch, when she will also first meet her husband-to-be. During this first visit, Eliza goes against her strict aunt’s orders and is shamed in front of the court. Much to her disappointment and anger she is taken home in disgrace, her betrothal broken.

Once at home, Eliza’s widowed father decides to send her away to her relative, the Duchess of Northumberland. There, for a few years, Eliza is taught with other girls her age how to be a satisfactory Maid of Honour, and all the courtly ways, as well as how to perform the duties of a wife.

When Eliza is fifteen, she and Katherine Howard, her cousin and rival, are sent to court to become Maids of Honour for the King’s new wife, Anne of Cleves. Eliza struggles at first to catch on to how the court works and all it’s drama and intrigue that lies bubbling beneath the shiny surface. But when the King divorces Queen Anne, Eliza sees a chance that may solve her family’s financial problems. With everything to play for, will she be able to win the dangerous courtly games and become the next queen?

Eliza Rose is Lucy Worsley’s first fictional book for young teens, and I absolutely loved it. The plot was exciting and well written, and I really appreciated the amount of detail that Lucy included. I’m a major fan of the Tudor period as it was such an interesting time in English history, and I enjoyed reading this new take on the role of a Maid of Honour.

When I first started reading Eliza Rose, I assumed that it would be for readers a bit younger than myself, but I was quite surprised to discover that it was perfectly suited to my tastes as a fourteen year old. I whole-heartedly recommend Eliza Rose for anyone who likes historical fiction, with adventure, intrigue, and a splash of romance mixed in!

‘A Library of Lemons’ by Jo Cotterill

250p

2016

Piccadilly Press

Bought

513blykf6clEver since 10 year old Calypso’s mom died years ago, she has always relied on her inner strength to get her through hard times, just like her dad told her to, and she’s become a loner. When Calypso meets Mae at school, she doesn’t quite know what to think of the friendly girl. She’s never had a proper friend, but when she and Mae bond over a love of books, Calypso wonders whether there is something to be said for having friends.

Calypso and Mae’s friendship blossoms, and Calypso enjoys spending time at Mae’s house, where her family are fun and loving, although slightly noisy at times. It makes a change from her home, where for years Calypso’s dad has been writing his “magnum opus”, a book called The History of Lemons. Calypso is proud of her absent-minded father, hoping for him to become a famous author after all his hard work, but after seeing what life is like at Mae’s house, she finds it hard being the responsible one at home, who takes care of everything.

But when she discovers the shocking secret in her dad’s extensive library, Calypso realises that something has been wrong for a very long time, and she can’t fix this on her own. With the help of Mae’s family, Calypso and her dad try to repair their relationship, and her dad’s mental health. But will things ever be better again?

I was drawn in by A Library of Lemons gorgeous cover and intriguing title, and found the story inside to be a lovely, heart-warming read that made me smile. (The fact that it was written by Jo Cotterill also had a draw!)

Calypso’s story was so captivating, and the blossoming friendship between her and Mae was something that I think everyone hopes to find. I also liked all the references to books throughout the story, books being the main thing that Calypso and Mae bonded over.

The relationship between Calypso and her dad was also really interesting to read about. With his mental illness and pent-up grief over her mother’s death, Calypso’s dad was absent-minded, nearly always leaving Calypso to be the person that got things done around the house: the ‘de facto adult’. This was a source of anger for her as he’s the grown-up and meant to be the one to take care of them both.

But towards the end, Calypso realises you don’t always need to rely only on your inner strength to get through tough times, that it’s okay for other people to help you.

This was such a sweet story, with lots of life lessons that rang true. I’d definitely recommend A Library of Lemons to anyone looking for something new to read.

‘The Songbird Cafe Girls: Aurora and the Popcorn Dolphin’ by Sarah Webb

176p

2016

Walker Books

Bought

51l2uvmzicl-_sx323_bo1204203200_When Aurora and her marine-biologist father visit her mom’s family on Little Bird Island for their summer vacation, Rory has no idea what to expect. Her mom, who was also a marine biologist, died recently and Aurora is still struggling to cope. Going to visit their family in Ireland was her mom’s idea, and Aurora isn’t too thrilled to be staying for the whole summer with people she’s never met.

While staying on the island, Aurora is encouraged to hang out with her cousin and his friends, but she has difficulties fitting in with them, and feels sad. When Alanna, the friendly owner of The Songbird Cafe introduces her to the island’s resident dolphin, Click, Rory begins to feel that her summer is looking up.

As the summer goes on, Rory slowly gets used to life on the island, and although rocky, her relationship with the local kids gets better. She and her dad have disagreements however; Rory wants more freedom and feels that her dad is babying her needlessly. She also wants to try and do more work for the project that her parents had worked on before her mother died, a project on dolphin communication. Rory hopes that spending more time with her dad, doing what they both love, will help them get along better, but he’s reluctant to try.

When there’s a terrible accident, Rory and her dad have to work together to try and save the day. Will they be able to do it, and work out their differences?

I’d looked forward to this third book in The Songbird Cafe Girls series after really enjoying the previous two books in the series (see reviews here and here), and I can happily say that Aurora and the Popcorn Dolphin lived up to my expectations.

Rory was such a great character; you really empathised with her, and her grief about her mother’s death was dealt with with such care and compassion. Sarah Webb’s love of all things marine also really shone through in this book, with lots of interesting facts about dolphins, marine biology, and the environmental threats that our seas and sea-life are currently facing.

This book, with it’s gorgeous, eye-drawing cover, will definitely entice readers to pick it up- and I would recommend that you do! A lovely, heart-warming read.