Title: Things the Eye Can’t See

Author: Penny Joelson

Pages: 304 Pages

Publisher: Electric Monkey/Egmont

The Blurb

The thrilling new novel from the award-winning author of I Have No Secrets.

A chance meeting and a secret message drags Libby into a thrilling mystery, but no one believes she can spot the clues. Can she make them realise what she is really capable of, before it’s too late?

Libby is visually impaired but that doesn’t stop her being a keen photographer. She loves going out walking with her guide dog, Samson, and taking photos, but her family worry about her – and Libby wishes she could be more independent.

The day that the boy gives her a secret note to deliver changes everything. Because soon after, the boy goes missing, and no one – except Libby and her new friend Kyle – thinks there is anything to worry about.

Libby knows there’s no way her parents would let her get involved. But what if she’s the only person who can solve the mystery…?

A compulsive page-turner for readers aged 12 and up.

The Review

I love books that have what is seen as diverse characters. What I don’t like about books is that people are often seen as being diverse characters. Confused? Let me explain. Things The Eye Can’t See is the story of Libby and how she gets embroiled in a mystery which she then has to help solve to save her friends. So far so normal as plots go. The diverse factor is that Libby is partially sighted. 

This rant is not against Penny Joelson, if anything Penny Joelson is part of the solution and not part of the problem. Disability is seen as diversifying a character rather than seen as the norm. What Joelson does fantastically well in Things The Eye Can’t See is address some of the preconceptions about visual impairment which often lead to prejudices. It isn’t seen as “normal” for a visually impaired character be able to solve a crime mystery. It is due to this fact that Joelson should really get more credit for her writing. 

Besides the disability factor Things The Eye Can’t See is a great story of the difficulties of growing up. About how friendships can drift when boys come and go. How school life can be difficult. How people come from different socio-economic backgrounds. All of this is wrapped up in the terrifying bow of gang culture and crime. What more could you want from a story?

I really enjoyed reading Things The Eye Can’t See. Joelson accurately captures the voice of the teenager. The worries that they have and the inability to admit that they need help from a grown up. She really has managed to capture something special with this novel.

Things the Eye Can’t See by Penny Joelson is available now.

For more information regarding Penny Joelson (@pennyjoelson) please visit www.pennyjoelson.co.uk.

For more information regarding Electric Monkey (@EMTeenFiction) please visit the Twitter page.

Title: Tangles – A Story About Alzheimer’s, My Mother, and Me

Author: Sarah Leavitt

Pages: 127 Pages

Publisher: Jonathan Cape

The Blurb

What do you do when your outspoken, passionate, and quick-witted mother starts fading into a forgetful, fearful woman? In this powerful graphic memoir, Sarah Leavitt reveals how Alzheimer’s disease transformed her mother Midge–and her family–forever.

(GOODREADS BLURB)

The Review

Tangles is truly heartbreaking. In a lot of books Alzheimer’s is relegated to a subplot, on that has an impact on the protagonist but doesn’t really determine the rest of the story but Leavitt puts the story front and centre. 

What makes it all the more of a gut punch is that it is a true story. Leavitt bleeds her pain on the page. She does not hide any of the hard parts of living with a parent with Alzheimer’s disease. If you are a family going through the early stages of this with a loved on then I would advice staying away from this book. It is so very good but the reality of Alzheimer’s may be a bit too tough to handle.

Leavitt really did lay it all out on the page. She doesn’t sugar coat her own reactions, she doesn’t paint herself the hero. She shows the ugly side of dealing with it and she should be completely proud of bearing it all on the page. 

Tangles – A Story about Alzheimers, My Mother, and Me by Sarah Leavitt is available now.

For more information regarding Sarah Leavitt (@sarahleavittcbc) please visit abc.ca/montreal.

For more information regarding Jonathan Cape (@JonathanCape) please visit www.vintage-books.co.uk.

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.