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Archive for November, 2020

  • Title: Wrecked
  • Author: Louisa Reid
  • Publisher: Guppy Books
  • Publication Date: September 2020

Copy received from publisher as part of blog tour.

Description:

Joe and Imogen seem like the perfect couple — they’ve been in a relationship for years and are the envy of their friends at school. But after accidentally becoming involved a tragic fatal accident, they become embroiled in a situation out of their control, and Joe and Imogen’s relationship becomes slowly unravelled until the truth is out there for all to see …

Structured around a dramatic and tense court case, the reader becomes both judge and jury in a stunning and page-turning novel of uncovering secrets and lies — who can be believed?


Normally here I would add my thoughts on a book; I would try to tell you what stood out most, or attempt to introduce you to the characters a little more, but first I want to share a wee author interview and introduce you to Louisa Reid.

Louisa Reid has spent most of her life reading. And when she’s not doing that she’s writing stories, or imagining writing them at least. An English teacher, her favourite part of the job is sharing her love of reading and writing with her pupils. Louisa lives with her family in the north-west of England and is proud to call a place near Manchester home. 

GLOVES OFF is her first novel in verse, and she’s fallen in love with the exhilarating and exciting challenges  and opportunities that writing in this form brings.  Reading and loving the work of writers such as Jason Reynolds, David Levithan and Sarah Crossan inspired her to rise to the challenge.

Louisa writes about things that she thinks are important to young people, and all people generally, really.  Drawn to write about themes of female empowerment and personal freedom, GLOVES OFF is about bullying and body image, with some boxing thrown in too. Louisa hopes the novel will strike a chord with anyone who’s ever had to fight for self-confidence and self-belief  – things which are, for many, very hard won.

Welcome to Children’s Books North’s Autumn Highlights – celebrating new books from CBN members with a tour of Northern and Scottish book blogs.

Children’s Books North aims to connect children’s book professionals living in the North West, North East, Yorkshire and Scotland. The network seeks to promote our members’ work, new books and events. Additionally, CBN is keen to bring focus on the importance of regional diversity in children’s books and the industry.

Autumn Highlights questions:

Tell us about your new book

Wrecked is my second novel in verse, and fourth novel overall. It’s a dark love story and also a tense courtroom drama. The novel opens with Joe Goodenough –  the protagonist – on trial for causing death by dangerous driving. Over the course of the trial, the story of how he came to be standing in court facing a sentence of up to fourteen years is revealed. And it isn’t pretty. Ultimately I think Wrecked is a story about first love, risk taking, and the ensuing tragedies when lives spin out of control.

Share your favourite spread/passage from the book

This verse is one of my favourites because it encapsulates so much of the devastation and distress that the characters have caused and felt. I love verse –  conveying much with just a little, and playing with layout and language…

What/who/where inspired this book?

I’m always inspired by real life events –  in this case the death of a teenager in a town close to where I live was on my mind;  Yusef Makki was allegedly stabbed to death by his “friend”, Josh Molnar, in a drug deal gone wrong, and the court case was very high profile at the time when I was researching and writing. In the end the accused was found not guilty –  a highly controversial verdict for many. So I wanted to write about truth, and guilt, and the factors at play when it comes to teenagers committing horrible crimes.

I was also inspired by reading Sally Rooney’s Normal People –  I just loved the first half of the novel, with the intense and powerful love story of the main characters when they were teenagers, and I wanted to write my own such love story! Wrecked is also inspired by The Great Gatsby – I only realised when I’d finished the novel that Joe’s initials are the same as Jay Gatsby’s…the subconscious clearly doing its work!  As well as love, I explore class and attitudes to money and power –  the carelessness and arrogance of the wealthy is something that really fires me up –  and that’s something that both Normal People and Gatsby look at too.

Nominate one children’s book by a northern or Scottish creative to read this winter.

I love Anna Mainwaring’s novels – I’ll disclose now that Anna is a friend, but I hope I can still nominate her brilliant work. I think as Lockdown Part 2 continues, lots of teenagers and adults would love Tulip Taylor –  Anna’s second book –  featuring a fabulously feisty heroine who stands up to all kinds of challenges. What Anna does so well is that she writes about serious and important topics but with wit and humour. I love her style. And I also love the fact that Tulip is a logophile, like me…

If you could be a character or meet a character from one of your books, who would it be and why?

I’d like to meet Imogen – Joe’s girlfriend – from Wrecked; I definitely wouldn’t want to be her, but I’d like to try to help her to realise what she has, and what she stands to lose. Difficult, selfish and demanding – but charismatic nevertheless – I think I’d approach her with trepidation and curiosity. In reality, I doubt we’d be friends and I also doubt she’d be interested in a word I had to say. Rather annoying, as I am her creator, after all!

Cover Credits: Guppy Books, designer Ness Wood

Publisher Credit: Guppy Books


My Thoughts:

I have to admit that Wrecked is not a book I would have ordinarily have picked up to read, but thanks to the blog tour being run by the amazing folks at Children’s Books North I have added so many new titles to my reading list! Also a few to my shopping list for Christmas … I can’t resist when the books sound so good. Check out the other reviews and posts via the Children’s Books North twitter page or pop over to their website to find out more.

Back to Wrecked … written in verse, it took a moment or two for my brain to adjust to a new style of writing and reading, but once I had become accustomed the words flowed so naturally and I loved the way it all clicked together. Have you ever read something and it just felt “right”? That’s how I felt about the style of this book, a bit like watching the details come alive from the pages, showing me the story, showing me what Joe faced and endured … not always comfortable reading.

There is a powerful but beautiful grittiness to Louisa Reid’s writing (now there’s an oxymoron!), she draws on language to evoke emotion both from her characters and readers. The scenes throughout Wrecked challenge the reader to think about so many things; to decide what is just and acceptable, guilt and what is wrong. But equally, you could just read it as a tale of Joe Goodenough and his journey to this point in his life, and take from it whatever message you felt the author was conveying.

As I read through the book, I felt compelled … I was invested in Joe and Imogen. I needed to find out about them, I needed to know what had happened to this point, and try to untangle the lies around them.

I’d highly recommend this book to YA readers, and others. There is so much woven into the story, and being written in verse means that each word is placed with precision and purpose, themes are explored with thought and give the reader something to ponder in return. I can’t quite put into words how much Louisa Reid’s writing impressed me, I just know that I might have missed out on one of the most moving reads I’ve ever had the privilege if it had not been for this blog tour, so thank you Guppy Books and Children’s Books North!

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  • Title: Holly’s Christmas Countdown
  • Author: Suzie Tullett
  • Publisher: Bloodhound Books
  • Publication Date: 23rd November 2020

Copy received from author for review purposes.

Description:

Holly has been planning Christmas in the Caribbean with her boyfriend Jeremy for the last few months and welcomes the chance to do something different for the festive season. But when Holly catches Jeremy in bed with another woman her hopes are shattered.

Faced with no other option, it appears Holly is going to have to spend Christmas with her eccentric parents. Something she was keen to avoid. 

After a night out, drowning her sorrows with her friend, she has a chance encounter with a handsome stranger, Fin, who provides her with an opportunity to have a Christmas staycation away from her parents. 

But when it turns out that there is more to Fin than meets the eye, and the attraction between him and Holly grows, it looks like she is on the cusp of happiness again.

Will Holly get the Christmas she craved and the man of her dreams?

Holly’s Christmas Countdown is a feel-good romantic comedy, perfect to curl up with on those cold winter nights.

My Thoughts:

I love Suzie Tullett’s books, there’s something so comforting and enjoyable about them, like chatting with a friend and sharing a great story full of laughter.

Christmas is a time to look forward to, that is unless you’re Holly. Her love life has taken a nosedive, she’s keen to avoid her eccentric parents and have a quiet Christmas. Her quiet plans are thrown somewhat when she agrees to something on a night out … alcohol induced amnesia leads to an unexpected visitor that changes everything.

Holly is a fantastic character, she’s bright and bubbly. Readers cannot help but love her, her happiness is infectious, and you almost wish that she were one of your friends.
And then we come to Fin … oh what do I say about Fin?! I wonder how many readers will fall for his charm? I know I certainly did!

If the brilliant characters aren’t enough to keep readers entertained, the plot certainly will. I laughed so much at Holly being shoved into the cupboard, the descriptions of a certain house festooned with Christmas decorations, and the images that Tullett conjured with her words. Especially the wonky sounding Christmas tree! I don’t think I’ve chuckled so much reading a book in ages. But be warned though, some of the food mentioned in the book will have you feeling a little peckish.


Make no mistake, this is the perfect read for the Christmas period, so grab a hot chocolate (or other cozy beverage), get comfy in your favourite reading position and enjoy!

Now, who do we ask about getting this made onto Netflix as a Christmas special?! It would be the perfect wee Christmas film, and I’d love to see who they’d cast as Fin!

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