Title: Pluto: A Wonder Story

Author: R J Palacio

Pages: 82 pages

The Blurb

Wonder told the story of August Pullman: an ordinary kid with an extraordinary face, whose first year at school changed the lives and the perspectives of everyone around him.

Pluto looks at Auggie’s story through the eyes of his best and oldest friend, Christopher: who has been with Auggie right from the start, shares his love of space, Star Wars and the planets, and knows better than most that being part of Auggie’s life comes with its challenges.

Poignant, surprising and utterly heartwarming, this is a must-read for the thousands of readers who loved Wonder.

The Review

I absolutely loved Wonder. I thought that is was an important book and one that sends a brilliant message. It didn’t really fully resonate with me until last year when I had to wear medical dressing on a large part of my face due to a virus which affected my skin. It was then that I realised how much we ignore the “different”. I still have to wear some dressing now (a year later) but one of the biggest kicks that I get is when a young person asks me why. They are curious about differences and unfortunately we live in a society that is so quick to tell our children not to stare, not to ask questions, don’t make anyone feel uncomfortable. And whilst this is one way of handling things, Wonder – and indeed the subsequent sequels – make you realise that most people are willing to explain their differences and once that curiosity is gone you often find acceptance there.

That is the magic of RJ Palacio’s work.

With Pluto, we focus on Auggie’s friend Christopher. Christopher has grown up not knowing any difference with Auggie. Over and above everything else Auggie is his friend. He isn’t something weird to be scared of, he isn’t there for ridicule. He is just his friend. However, their friendship is put to the test when Christopher moves away from New York and they struggle to maintain the constant contact that they have previously had.

What Christopher learns in this book is that it doesn’t matter what others think of you or your friends, it is what you think about yourself that counts.

Another wonderful story from RJ Palacio

Pluto: A Wonder Story by R J Palacio is available now.

Pluto

The Blurb

A third spine-tingling visit to the secret borough of Darkside… Mrs Elwood has been kidnapped. And Jonathan will do anything to get her back, even if this means breaking in to the home of one of Darkside’s most sinister citizens. With the help of a criminal circus troupe, the plan’s in place for a dangerous heist – but is this mission impossible from the start?

The Review

The third instalment of the Darkside series by Tom Becker sees Jonathan Starling and a motley crew of cohorts embark on a new adventure; this time to save Jonathan’s long time carer, Mrs Elwood.

I originally started reading the Darkside books as it was the set text for a class that I work with in my day job (teaching assistant by day, bookblogger extraordinaire by night) and I quickly became immersed in the world of Darkside. The menacing people who live there, the olde world Victorian setting, the unruly society where the rules are that there are no rules is just fascinating and really entertaining.

In my opinion, the series keeps getting better and better. The crime capers become more elaborate with more and more secrets being revealed….equally more intrigue and mystery is built up with each story which is testament to Becker’s writing. Furthermore, I have to give kudos to Becker for his skill of writing a cliffhanger. Every chapter ends at a crucial and dramatic point which made me have to read on. Well played, Becker.

As much as the Darkside series is targeted to a younger audience it is the kind of book that will keep even the cleverest of adults guessing until the very end. This series is a must, go out and buy them all now.

Nighttrap (Darkside #3) by Tom Becker is available now.

The Blurb

An Appalachian summer walks the line between toxic and intoxicating in this debut novel about first loves, broken hearts, and moonshine.

Luisa “Lulu” Mendez has just finished her final year of high school in a small Virginia town, determined to move on and leave her job at the local junkyard behind. So when her father loses her college tuition money, Lulu needs a new ticket out.

Desperate for funds, she cooks up the (illegal) plan to make and sell moonshine with her friends. Quickly realizing they’re out of their depth, they turn to Mason, a local boy who’s always seemed like a dead end. As Mason guides Lulu through the secret world of moonshine, it looks like her plan might actually work. But can she leave town before she loses everything?

My Best Everything is Lulu’s letter to Mason – but is it a love letter, an apology, or a goodbye?

The Review

Ok, let’s start with a positive. My Best Everything is a compelling story about a girl’s desperation to leave her humdrum life behind. Lulu Mendez knows that there is nothing for her in her hometown of Dale. She dreams of being free of the lack of opportunity. She knows that if she stays in Dale she will die there too and her dreams are bigger than that. So when the likelihood of achieving her dreams is compromised by a lack of money Lulu makes the dangerous decision to take fate into her own hands.

Sarah Tomp excellently portrays Lulu’s desperation. You cannot help but wish things to be different for Lulu and you empathise with her when her father loses her college tuition. However, at times Lulu can come across as bull-headed and whiney. Yes, we get that she feels stuck but just defer for a year, and do what half the population do and earn enough money to send yourself to college.

Another rather cloying thing about My Best Everything is the way the story is told. I understand that the story is supposed to be a letter to Mason, the boy who tries to help her escape but the perspective of the story – first person narrative told in the past perspective – just became frustrating. I think the story would have been more engaging if it was told in the present and from multi perspective.

My Best Everything is a good story but I personally feel it would have been more enjoyable had it been written slightly differently.

My Best Everything by Sarah Tomp is available now.

My Best Everything

The Blurb

1912 and London is in turmoil…

The suffragette movement is reaching fever pitch but for broke Fleet Street tomboy Frankie George, just getting by in the cut-throat world of newspapers is hard enough. Sent to interview trapeze artist Ebony Diamond, Frankie finds herself fascinated by the tightly laced acrobat and follows her across London to a Mayfair corset shop that hides more than one dark secret.

Then Ebony Diamond mysteriously disappears in the middle of a performance, and Frankie is drawn into a world of tricks, society columnists, corset fetishists, suffragettes and circus freaks. How did Ebony Diamond vanish, who was she afraid of, and what goes on behind the doors of the mysterious Hourglass Factory?

From the newsrooms of Fleet Street to the drawing rooms of high society, the missing Ebony Diamond leads Frankie to the trail of a murderous villain with a plot more deadly than anyone could have imagined…

The Review

I am a huge fan of historical fiction and I think that is what drew me to The Hourglass Factory to begin with. What I didn’t expect was to be fully immersed into a post-Victorian London and wanting to fight alongside the suffragettes; to become an investigative journalist and even an acrobat.

Ribchester’s story is engaging, powerful and intriguing. She leaves you with the “just one more chapter” feeling and this story will have you hooked long after you know you should have put the book down and got on with real life.

Ribchester’s protagonist, Frankie George, is both compelling and sassy along with being frustrating at times as she is determined to be independent. Her secondary characters are well thought out and plotted succinctly. Ribchester leaves you with no gaps or questions. Equally the mystery that she has her characters solving is meticulous and does leave you feeling shocked. What more could you want from a story?

One thing is for certain, this is historical fiction at its very best.

The Hourglass Factory by Lucy Ribchester is available now.

You can follow Lucy Ribchester (@lucyribchester) on Twitter.

The Hourglass Factory

Title: Language Lessons

Author: Jay Bell

Pages: 47 Pages

The Blurb

Love doesn’t come easy. For Joey, he didn’t care if it ever came at all. He was much too busy adding notches to his bedpost and preparing for life as an adult. But when a causal fling waxes nostalgic about the one that got away, Joey starts to wonder if he isn’t missing something after all–if there really is something to be learned from the language of love.

Language Lessons is a new short story by Jay Bell, author of Something Like Summer.

The Review

Language Lessons is a lovely coming of age story which focuses on young lothario Joey who spends his days screwing around and as many hot guys as he can. However, when he sees the burgeoning relationship between two of his friends he comes to question his own actions. Then he meets Phillip and all bets are off.

I’m a fan of LGBT fiction and I am supportive of it as a growing genre. For young adults, revealing your sexuality can be a heartbreaking experience yet fiction like Language Lessons allows readers to become more comfortable with their sexuality or if you are heterosexual to become more comfortable with those around you who are LGBT.

It is for that reason that I think stories such as Language Lessons are important. Besides this fact the story is well written. It is sharp, on point and manages to make the reader swoon with the romantic elements.

Well done, Jay Bell.

Language Lessons by Jay Bell is available now.

You can follow Jay Bell (@JayBellBooks) on Twitter.