Anne Bonny #YA #BookReview I Stop Somewhere by T.E. Carter #NewRelease YA @simonschusterUK ‘Dark themes, haunting characters and beautiful writing’

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I Stop Somewhere by T.E. Carter
My own copy from TBR pile
Synopsis:

“Caleb led me into the party. He’d invited me because he could. He’d kissed me because he could. Just like his dad, Caleb lived in a world of could and we drifted from room to room on the privilege of it.”

Ellie Frias disappeared long before she vanished.

Tormented throughout middle school, she begins her freshman year with new clothes, new hair, and a plan: she doesn’t need to be popular, she just needs to blend in with the wallpaper.

It’s a lonely existence, but at least no one’s tripping her in the halls. In fact, no one notices her at all. Until Caleb Breward, tells her she’s beautiful and makes her believe it.

Ellie loves Caleb, but sometimes she doesn’t like him that much – his awkward smile, the possessive way he touches her, the tone he uses, how he ignores her one minute and can’t get enough the next. And on one black night, she discovers the monster her boyfriend really is. Ellie wasn’t the first victim, but now, trapped, she has to watch it happen again and again. She tries to hold onto her happier memories in order to get past the cold days, waiting for someone to find her.

But no one searches for a girl they never noticed in the first place.

My Review:

This is very much a Lovely Bones for the YA generation. There is some extremely beautiful writing, despite the dark subject matter. The protagonist Ellie Frias is unusual in that Ellie is a murdered teen, watching over the aftermath of her brutal rape and murder. She is from a small town named Hollow Oaks in New York, which she describes rather poetically.

‘I suppose this is a fitting place for a girl like me. I disappeared before I actually did. And now, I’m trapped here. Forgotten.’
‘This whole town is full of ghosts’ – Ellie

We Later learn that Hollow Oaks is a town facing economical destabilisation. With most of the factories closed. Families have lost everything including their homes. The downturn enables one wealthy family to buy up all the real estate and effectively own the town. Hollow Oaks sounds like a miserable place to live and an even worse place to die.

‘I hate the way these unseen things damage us in secret’ – Ellie

The novel opens with Ellie in ghost form witnessing an assault on a new victim. This is taking place at the same run-down house where Ellie’s assault took place. The current victim is pleading to be let go. Ellie remarks on how there has been seven victims, since she was brought to the abandoned house.

‘He looks for the young ones, the pretty ones.
The weak ones’ – Ellie

We learn Ellie’s background, raised by a single father, she is a social outcast as school. Having recently transferred schools, she wasn’t struggling to fit in, she simply didn’t exist. The novel also reflects quite deeply on the power of words and in particular the word ‘pretty’. As Beyonce says ‘Pretty Hurts’. The term pretty and to be defined as or as not pretty can have a huge impact on a young girls psychology. Their self-esteem can be exceptionally fragile in an Instagram society, where we are judged by out snaps alone. Ellie words this so much better than I ever could. But as the mother to a teenage daughter, it gave me much food for thought.

Eventually someone shows an interest in Ellie, a young boy by the name of Caleb. Only what Ellie doesn’t know, is the meeting of Caleb will be the very undoing of her. But still he persists to ask her out on Friday night. . .
“Why not? What’s the worst that can happen? I’m a nice guy – Caleb

“You can’t imagine the things I think about doing with you” – Caleb

Reading on, as Ellie reflects upon meeting Caleb and the clever way in which he groomed her and broken her down slowly by building her up with words, brought tears to my eyes.

‘It takes a lot of things to make a girl, but breaking her? it only takes a few pretty words and a crooked smile’ – Ellie

Ellie is forced to witness victim after victim, be brought to the abandoned property. To witness their assaults. Until one victim named Gretchen decides to fight back! It is Gretchen’s refusal to be a victim and determination to find Ellie that unravels the entire plot.

The chapters are reflective and cover previously to the attack, after the attack itself on Ellie and subsequent attacks on other young girls. Ellie is able to watch over not only her killer but the police dealing with her case and her grieving father. The novel has some powerful writing as mentioned and quoted above. It really is written from the soul.

There are various topics that would make for great debate among book groups and young people. The arrogance and sexual entitlement of some young males and their disregard for the women they abuse and manipulate.
But also when we think of grooming itself, we don’t necessarily think of teenage boys. I know I didn’t, yet when I thought back that is exactly what Caleb did. I guess this novel serves as a stark reminder that teenage boys can groom their victims too.

‘Nobody every wants to be inconvenienced by all the things that happen to girls’

The theme of victimhood amongst teenage girls is also explored, as more and more young women eventually come forward. It concerns me that now we seem to see cases where a rapist needs multiple victims for the victims to be believed.

Dark themes, haunting characters and beautiful writing 4*

T.E. Carter
Website

Anne Bonny #YA #BlogTour #BookReview Nowhere Else But Here by @_rachelcotton YA #Romance #NewRelease @inkroadbooks ‘The novel has strong themes of trust, falling in love and finding a place to belong’

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Nowhere Else But Here by Rachel Cotton
Review copy
Synopsis:

Rose Valentine has found out the hard way that life’s easier when you stick to the rules and stay out of other people’s business. But her classmate Theo Lockhart is too intriguing to ignore. He’s handsome, sure – and he makes her laugh. He’s also aloof, moody and impossible to connect with. He’s a mystery; one that Rose secretly dreams of solving.

Then, when Theo disappears from town, Rose is certain he’s done a runner. Certain, until he pitches up on her doorstep, desperate to hide out at her house. He’s on the run – but why, and who from? And why on earth did he choose her?

If she lets him in, Rose will be going against everything she holds true. It’s reckless, risky – and definitely not in the rulebook.

But something about Theo makes Rose long to break the rules. His troubled presence, beset by unspoken fears, turns her world upside down. Yet neither of them can escape the real world beyond the safety of Rose’s bedroom. After a week like none other, how can life ever go back to normal?

My Review:

This novel is of the of the YA romance genre. It is possibly best suited to the pre-teen and younger teen age category. The novel focuses on the on/off romantic relationship between Rose and Theo. With added a mystery thrown in, as Theo has recently disappeared. Whilst the search is orchestrated, and the flyers displayed.
Rose wonders, where is Theo?

‘Theo Lockhart. The boy no one at our school really knew – and the boy everyone now believed something awful had happened to’ – Rose

We know that Theo is the local enigma, the boy that intrigues the legion of teen girls. But what about Rose? Her parents work long hours at the same law firm and she is left to her own devices. She is organised, self-sufficient and strong minded. Rose doesn’t follow others into danger. She likes a tidy, ordered existence. That is until Theo appears late one night. . .

“I need your help” – Theo

With the arrival of Theo comes a million internal questions for Rose. Why her house? She only knows him from being partnered in chemistry class. Why has he chosen her to seek help from? And how much trouble is Theo Lockhart in?

Theo makes Rose promise to not call the police – no matter what. He begs her for a place to stay just for a few days. For the first time, Rose relents and invites in Theo and all of his personal baggage.

‘Theo liked being a loner; it suited him’

The two begin to form a strong bond. We learn more about Rose’s upbringing and how much she misses her brother, who is away at Uni. Rose’s carefully structured existence is finally disrupted and she begins her own form of soul searching.

‘Theo actually cared, and that mattered to me more than I though it ever would’ – Rose

Teen love is so much different to the adult world. I don’t say this just as someone who has experienced a teenage boyfriend. I say this as the grown woman, that married mine 17 years ago. Youth has an emotional intimacy that you just don’t have as a guarded adult. I remember long conversations into the night, planning our whole lives out. Much like Theo and rose within the novel. Everything seems so easy when you are young and full of hopes and dreams. So, I really enjoyed reading on, as their relationship blossoms, with Theo as Rose’s secret stowaway.

‘I wanted to know everything about Theo. He was a puzzle I was intent on solving’ – Rose

When there is a public press conference for Theo, with his parents present. The pair begin to feel the burden of their secret. But Rose is growing more and more addicted to his presence in her home and life.

‘For all these years, you’ve been so nice to me and you always thought I didn’t notice’ – Theo

Eventually the secret is discovered. Theo and Rose are left to find their own path, in the aftermath of their secret being exposed. Whilst Theo must confront some home-truths about why he ran away in the first place. . .

The novel has strong themes of trust, falling in love and finding a place to belong. 4*

‘Theo Lockhart would always be a mystery to me, but I wouldn’t have it any other way’ – Rose

RC
Rachel Cotton
Twitter

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Anne Bonny #YA #BookReview Children Of Blood And Bone by @tomi_adeyemi 5* Genius #LegacyOfOrisha @MacmillanKidsUK #Zelie #Magic #Diviner

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Children Of Blood And Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
Synopsis:

Tomi Adeyemi conjures a stunning world of dark magic and danger in her West African-inspired fantasy debut Children of Blood and Bone.

They killed my mother.
They took our magic.
They tried to bury us.
Now we rise.

Zélie remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. When different clans ruled – Burners igniting flames, Tiders beckoning waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoning forth souls.

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, anyone with powers was targeted and killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope. Only a few people remain with the power to use magic, and they must remain hidden.

Zélie is one such person. Now she has a chance to bring back magic to her people and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must learn to harness her powers and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.

Danger lurks in Orïsha, where strange creatures prowl, and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to come to terms with the strength of her magic – and her growing feelings for an enemy.

My Review:

I have never been so concerned with the future of magic, in my entire life! I am a huge YA fan, but will admit I don’t read many novels with the theme of magic. I decided to change that and bought my copy of Children Of Blood And Bone.
I am so glad that I did.

There is powerful writing before you even get to the first page. The writing is absolutely beautiful, and I instantly developed a huge respect for the author.

‘The incantations that spewed from her mouth like lava. The magic of dead that led her astray’

The writing is emotionally charged and if you read between the lines, you can see reflections to American black history.

‘I think about the way her corpse hung from that tree. I think about the king who took her away’

The novel is fiction/fantasy. Yet the historical and modern-day references are there. The theme of those whom wield all the power and their abuses over those who do not. Diverse literature is important in EVERY genre of fiction. But I would say most definitely in the YA genre. The younger generation want to read literature that represents the world they live in. Culture and race play a huge part of that world.

The story opens with our heroine and protagonist Zelie, she is a diviner. She is taking part in a sparing session with Mama Agba. When the guards arrive to collect ‘diviner tax’. A tax that is hugely inflated and used to oppress and enslave the diviner members of society. This is enforced by King Saran, who led the genocide against the diviners.

‘It’s not bad enough for the king to keep the diviners down. He has to break anyone who tries to help us’

Zelie notices the guard’s sword, which is a black blade made of majacite, created to weaken magic and burn the flesh. Zelie is also exposed to sexual threats and unwanted advances. Which she must tolerate against her will. . .

‘Keep my mouth shut, swallow my rage – Live to see another day’

Zelie despises the way she is treated, and she riles against this oppressive regime. But those around her, warn her such rage risks her own life and that of those she loves.

‘They don’t hate you my child. They hate what you were meant to become’ – Mama Agba

As the novel unfolds we learn the history of the diviners. The differing ten clans and their unique abilities. How the chosen children have the mark of white hair. The history of the diviners is incredibly moving, with Zelie having experienced the loss of her own mother at such a young age.

Love – Fear – Hate – Violence

11yrs previously the Maji People used their powers in defence and their magic disappeared. The power of the magic is in direct relation to their gods and the Maji people have no idea why they have been forsaken.

‘The gods died with our magic’

Zelie is surrounded by people that have no magic (kosidan). This includes her father Baba and brother Tzain. Which also means they do not experience the same level of hate/violence that she is herself at risk from. Zelie is surrounded by people yet feels alone in the world.

‘One look at my white hair, and people avoid me like I’m an infectious plaque’

Nailah is a lionaire that Zelie has raised from a cub,
at times she feels Nailah is her only friend.

With taxes being raised to levels of extortion. Zelie and Tzain must leave and head to Lagos to raise some money. Money that will ensure Zelie stays free from the ‘stocks’. The stocks being the Maji forced labour camp, where death is highly likely. On the journey, she reflects upon her memories, from when she was just a little girl of 6yrs old.

‘That was the night things got bad. The night King Saran hung my people for the world to see, declaring war against the Maji or today and tomorrow. The night magic died’

The novel jumps between various points of view, with the most prominent being Zelie. But the other two narratives, give you an insight into life on the other side of this divided society. Amari and Inan are King Saran’s children.

Amari is a royal princess, who tires of her role and constant attention and appeasing in a male dominated society. Her only friend is Binta, her diviner chambermaid and confidante. When Binta is summoned by the king, Amari is consumed by fear. Why would her father summon Binta? What use for a diviner, can her father have?

‘Our female nobility paste on smiles, though I know they whisper about us behind our backs’

Amari sneaks into her father’s offices and becomes aware of a secret not meant for her ears. . .

‘Your highness. The diviners became Maji’ – Commander Kaea

Inan is the youngest captain in history. He is loyal to his father and aware that he is next in line to the throne. He has the same devout beliefs about the Maji people and diviners and like his father would like to see their eradication.
But fate has a surprise for Inan.

‘Gods are nothing without fools to believe in them’ – King saran

After witnessing the spoken secret and death of Binta. Amari becomes enraged. She flees the palace taking with her the scroll.
A scroll that can bring back the magic!

In the city of Lagos the lives of Zelie, Amari and Inan will collide and their futures will change forever. Their core beliefs are challenged in ways they’ve never known before.
Zelie must find her inner strength and on this journey, she becomes an instant hero of mine.

‘We don’t need to fear magic we only need each other’

There are so many powerful themes within this novel. But to include all the details is to simply spoil the magic for others. It is one of the most powerful books, I have read this year and I urge you to buy it. Buy it for the young people, children and teens that you love. Or simply buy it for yourself, for some pure escapism.
5* Genius

‘You crushed us to build your monarchy on the backs of our blood and bone. Your mistake wasn’t keeping us alive. It was thinking we’d never fight back’ – Zelie

TA
Tomi Adeyemi
Website
Twitter

#YA #Review #TheMidnightQueen @sylwritesthings @AllisonandBusby #WhatDaisySays

Today I hand over the blog to my 14 year old daughter Daisy. It would appear I have two budding bloggers on my hands. So here it is #WhatDaisySays!

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The Midnight Queen by Sylvia Hunter
Synopsis:

In the hallowed halls of Oxford’s Merlin College, the most talented – and highest born – sons of the kingdom are taught the intricacies of magickal theory. But what dazzles can also destroy, as Gray Marshall is about to discover . . .

Gray’s Britain is a fragmented kingdom of many tongues, many gods and many magicks. But all that concerns Gray right now is returning as soon as possible to his studies and setting right the nightmare that has seen him disgraced and banished to his tutor’s home – without a trace of his powers. And it is there, toiling away on a summer afternoon, that he meets the professor’s daughter.

Although she has no talent of her own and has been forbidden by her father to pursue it, Sophie Callender longs for a magickal education. But she started a bookish rebellion in her father’s library long ago, and her sheltered upbringing conceals a mysterious past and what may prove a catastrophic future. Her meeting with Gray sets off a series of events that will lead them to uncover a conspiracy at the heart of the kingdom and into the legend of the Midnight Queen, who vanished without a trace years before.

#WhatDaisySays:

The Midnight Queen by Sylvia Hunter is an intriguingly written fantasy book based around a world of magick. This is due to be a trilogy and I am honestly excited to see where the writer takes the plot. Our two main characters are introduced within the first chapter. Gray (Graham Marshall), has been forced to stay at his professor’s house for the summer for reasons unbeknown to the reader for a while into the book. Gray’s character is a very intelligent, caring, young man. The visible hatred between Gray and the professor is brought to the reader’s attention by our other main character, Sophie. Sophie was by far my favourite character. I think the themes in this book were really relatable and current. For instance, in the setting of the book Sophie is discouraged by her father from reading and learning about magick like the men in story do. I feel this was an exceptionally relevant theme, considering the modern feminist movements. Sophie’s character was also very bubbly and talkative which combats Grays initial moodiness.

Within the first chapter I noticed that the writing style was very unusual. Whilst reading, the informal, friendly tone made it feel as if it was written in first person by Sophie, when in fact it’s written in the third person. Sylvia Hunter has a very unique writing style that makes the book very easy to read. However, the book was very slow to get to the plot. This was the only downfall I found the book had. On one hand, I can see that because it took a while to get to the plot we got to get to know Gray and Sophie really well but on the other hand it does make the first 100 pages or so hard to power through.

Throughout the book the plot takes lots of unexpected twists and turns that I personally thought were quite clever. I enjoyed learning all about magick which was obviously one of the main themes in the book. Despite knowing magick obviously isn’t real I still find it incredibly interesting to read different authors inventions of magickal worlds. I think Sylvia Hunter’s magickal world went in depth enough to catch your interest but at the same time it doesn’t feel like your reading one of Gray’s study books from Oxford’s Merlin College.

Three other characters that I thought were written very interestingly were: Amelia, Joanna and the professor. Firstly, Amelia was the character I loved to hate. You could tell that she was designed to be written in a very mean girl fashion. She’s one of those girls whose pretty and she knows she can get anything with her looks- very manipulative. Joanna, who is one of the three sisters (Joanna, Amelia and Sophie) born to the professor is very outspoken and sassy. I enjoyed reading her character’s dialogue and I thought it bought a funny, light hearted tone to the book. Joanna was very passionately against her father’s views. Her father, the professor is written in a very old fashioned manner with very controversial and prejudice views against women. You find out early on that the girl’s mother (whom died when they were fairly young) was very upset to find that Joanna (the youngest) was a girl because the professor had wanted at least one boy. You also find out that Amelia believes it’s her father’s job to ‘pick’ her a ‘suitable’ man. This dynamic makes very thought provoking, interesting reading.

What would a book be without romance? Sophie and Gray’s romance develops very slowly from a place of trust, care and friendship. This like the plot develops very slowly but makes for very chilled out reading. There personalities are written to be very compatible and you see throughout the book how much they help each other.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book once the plot got going. The plot is full of very exciting twists and turns that I think almost any reader would enjoy and I personally thoroughly enjoyed the way the characters are written. I did also really enjoy the theme of female empowerment.

SH
Sylvia Hunter
Authors links:
Web: http://sylviaizzohunter.ca/
Twitter: @sylwritesthings