Title: The One and Only Ivan

Author: Katherine Applegate

Pages: 307 Pages

Publisher: Harper Collins

The Blurb

Ivan is an easygoing gorilla. Living at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade, he has grown accustomed to humans watching him through the glass walls of his domain. He rarely misses his life in the jungle. In fact, he hardly ever thinks about it at all.

Instead, Ivan thinks about TV shows he’s seen and about his friends Stella, an elderly elephant, and Bob, a stray dog. But mostly Ivan thinks about art and how to capture the taste of a mango or the sound of leaves with colour and a well-placed line.

Then he meets Ruby, a baby elephant taken from her family, and she makes Ivan see their home—and his own art—through new eyes. When Ruby arrives, change comes with her, and it’s up to Ivan to make it a change for the better.

Katherine Applegate blends humour and poignancy to create Ivan’s unforgettable first-person narration in a story of friendship, art, and hope. 

(GOODREADS BLURB)

The Review

I was not emotionally prepared for this story. 

I was asked by one of my students to get The One and Only Ivan for our school library and because I am a delightful person I bought a copy. Then I read it. We like to vet as many of the books that we can so that we don’t cause any upset to our students. I really wasn’t prepared for this story.

I am not a lover of animal stories. It isn’t that I actively won’t read them but they wouldn’t be my first choice. The One and Only Ivan is based on the true story of Ivan the gorilla who was kept in captivity in a mall in America. In this story, the animals are anthropomorphised and we see from their point of view what it is like to live in captivity. The other animals – mainly the elephants Ruby and Stella – make Ivan remember what life is like outside of captivity.

The One and Only Ivan had me in bits. If you do read it then please keep the box of tissues handy because you will need them.

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate is available now.

For more information regarding Katherine Applegate (@kaaauthor) please visit www.katherineapplegate.com.

For more information regarding Harper Collins (@HarperCollinsUK) please visit the Twitter page.

Title: The Inheritance Games

Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Pages: 384 Pages

Publisher: Penguin/Random House

The Blurb

Let the games begin: an utterly addictive and twisty thriller, full of dark family secrets and deadly stakes. Perfect for fans of One of Us is Lying, Riverdale and Knives Out.

She came from nothing.

Avery has a plan: keep her head down, work hard for a better future. Then an eccentric billionaire dies, and leaves her almost his entire fortune. And no one, least of all Avery, knows why.

They had everything.

Now she must move into the mansion she’s inherited: Hawthorne House. It’s filled with secrets and codes, and the old man’s surviving relatives – a family hellbent on discovering how Avery got ‘their’ money.

Now there’s only one rule: winner takes all.

Soon Avery is caught in a deadly game that everyone in this strange family is playing. But just how far will they go to keep their fortune?

The Review

When I am choosing a book to read I will question whether or not I have time for it. By that I mean if it is part of a series do I have the capability to commit over the long term? And do I want to start a series when it could be another year (if not longer) before the sequel is released?

I decided to take a chance with The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes and man alive I am glad I did. It is a rags to riches story in which protagonist Avery goes from living in her car to being bequeathed a fortune from a mystery benefactor. The only problem is that the old adage proves to be true: where there is a will there is a family.

The fortune comes with some conditions that Avery has to follow if she wants to keep her inheritance but this will prove much more difficult with a scorned family to contend with.

The Inheritance Games is one of the best YA books I have read in a long while. IT is a total page turner and great for anyone who loves a good mystery. I cannot wait for the sequel to be released but as I said before I am going to have to. Sad times. 

The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes is available now

For more information regarding Jennifer Lynn Barnes (@jenlynnbarnes) please visit www.jenniferlynnbarnes.com.

For more information regarding Penguin (@PenguinUKBooks) please visit www.penguin.co.uk.

Title: Three Things About Elsie

Author: Joanna Cannon

Pages: 464 Pages

Publisher: Harper Collins

The Blurb

84-year-old Florence has fallen in her flat at Cherry Tree Home for the Elderly. As she waits to be rescued, she considers the charming new resident who looks exactly like a man she once knew – a man who died sixty years ago. His arrival has stirred distant memories she and Elsie thought they’d laid to rest. Lying prone in the front room, Florence wonders if a terrible secret from her past is about to come to light …

The Review

Three Things About Elsie is a beautifully sad book about getting older and about how people treat the elderly differently or lose sight of them all together. 

This is the story of Florence. She has had a fall and is waiting to be found. While she waits, she reflects on her life and the people who have made an impact. 

The story is told though various narrative threads. These include different time periods and different voices alongside modern times. It is also a mystery/crime story that Florence is trying to solve. Cleverly, author Joanna Cannon relies on societies disregard for the elderly to make out narrator seem unreliable. She has given the character of Florence certain qualities that we tend to attribute to Dementia or Alzheimers so we are never quite sure whether we should believe her or not.

Three Things About Elsie really is a heartbreaking novel about being old. Cannon shows a lot of empathy for her characters and allows us to recognise our own prejudices without preaching. 

Three Things About Elsie really is a wonderful book. 

Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon is available now.

For more information regarding Joanna Cannon (@JoannaCannon) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding Harper Collins (@HarperCollinsUK) please visit the Twitter page.

Title: The Little Big Things – A Young Man’s Belief that Every Day Can Be a Good Day 

Author: Henry Fraser

Pages: 192 Pages

Publisher: Seven Dials

The Blurb

The memoir of the year by Henry Fraser, motivational speaker and mouth artist with a foreword by J.K. Rowling.

Being challenged in life is inevitable, but being defeated is optional…

Henry Fraser was 17 years old when a tragic accident severed his spinal cord. Paralysed from the shoulders down, he has conquered unimaginable difficulty to embrace life and a new way of living. Through challenging adversity, he has found the opportunity to grow and inspire others.

This book combines his wisdom and insight into finding the gifts in life’s challenges, and will resonate with anyone facing an obstacle, no matter how big or small. It includes Henry’s thoughts on how to look at the right things and avoid the wrong, finding progress in whatever you do, and acknowledging and accepting the darkness when it comes. Right at the heart of Henry’s inspiring philosophy is his belief that every day is a good day.

(Goodreads Blurb)

The Review

At the age of 17, Henry Fraser went on his first ‘lads holiday’. On this holiday his life was changed forever the he accidentally severed his spinal cord and was left paralysed.

The Little Big Things is the story of his journey of recovery from his accident. I can honestly say that this is one of the most inspirational books that I have ever read. It is an open and honest account of Fraser’s feelings during and after this life changing event.

The Little Big Things is a story full of hope. It is a book that should be given to anyone who is having a moan at the small and inconsequential things that happen to them. It will uplift you and at once remind you just how lucky you actually are.

The Little Big Things – A Young Man’s Belief that Every Day Can Be a Good Day by Henry Fraser is available now.

For more information regarding Henry Fraser (@henryfraser0) please visit www.henryfraserart.com/art/.

For more information regarding Seven Dials (@SevenDialsBooks) please visit www.orionbooks.co.uk.

Title: The Nest

Author: Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

Pages: 368 Pages

Publisher: Harper Collins

The Blurb

A sharp and funny debut about a wonderfully dysfunctional New York family and the three grown-up siblings fighting to save the family money pot – the ‘nest’ – as their oldest brother threatens to lose it all.

When Leo Plumb drives off drunk from a party in a sports car with a nineteen-year-old waitress in tow, to the moral and legal fallout must be added the horrible inconvenience to his brother and sisters. Leo’s rehab costs have severely depleted ‘the nest’ – the family’s joint trust fund that would have cut them loose from their myriad financial issues.

For Melody, a suburban wife and mother, it was to cover both an unwieldy mortgage and her daughters’ college tuition. Antiques dealer Jack has secretly borrowed against the beach cottage he shares with his husband. And Beatrice, a once-promising short story writer, can’t seem to finish her overdue novel.

Brought together as never before, the Plumb siblings must grapple with old resentments, present-day truths, and the significant emotional and financial toll of the accident, as well as finally acknowledging the choices they have made in their own lives.

Ferociously astute, warm and funny, The Nest is a brilliant debut chronicling the hilarity and savagery of family life.

The Review

The Plumb family have always relied on the Nest – a fund set up by their wealthy father that means that when the youngest child turns 40 they can all have their inheritance. However, when one of the Plumb children gets caught in a compromising situation their mother pulls rank and uses the Nest to fund his recovery…much to the chagrin of the other siblings.

The Nest is a brilliant story of how the other half live and how the sense of privilege transcends down the family line. It is an interesting look at sibling relationships and the dynamics of family life. It also makes you asses what you hold dear or see as important. The Nest is a very good read.

The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney is available now.

For more information regarding Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney (@CynthiaDSweeney) please visit www.cynthia-sweeney.com.

For more information regarding Harper Collins (@HarperCollinsUK) please visit the Twitter page.