Title: Toffee

Author: Sarah Crossan

Pages: 416 Pages

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing

The Blurb

I am not who I say I am,

and Marla isn’t who she thinks she is.

I am a girl trying to forget.

She is a woman trying to remember.

Allison has run away from home and with nowhere to live finds herself hiding out in the shed of what she thinks is an abandoned house. But the house isn’t empty. An elderly woman named Marla, with dementia, lives there – and she mistakes Allison for an old friend from her past called Toffee.

Allison is used to hiding who she really is, and trying to be what other people want her to be. And so, Toffee is who she becomes. After all, it means she has a place to stay. There are worse places she could be.

But as their bond grows, and Allison discovers how much Marla needs a real friend, she begins to ask herself – where is home? What is a family? And most importantly, who am I, really?

The Review

I absolutely adore Sarah Crossan’s novels. Whenever a new one comes out you can guarantee it is on my ‘want to read’ list. The same can be said about Toffee. It was one of those books that I didn’t want to know anything about I just wanted to dive in because I know that with a Sarah Crossan novel I will be presented with challenging topics in a moving way.

Toffee did not disappoint.

It is a book about relationships. Not the love kind, but more the familial or the platonic kind. The story follows Allison, a runaway who is desperate to seek solace in the one person who has ever shown her kindness, however, when she ends up alone and penniless in an unknown area Allison forms a friendship with Marla. The only problem is that Marla has dementia and doesn’t remember Allison from one day to the next.

Crossan deals with issues such as abuse, broken families, loneliness, and mental health in such a caring, non-judgemental way. She has a magical ability to make her characters likable even when we question what they are doing. She is meticulous in her characterisation and I absolutely adore her books, Toffee included.

Toffee by Sarah Crossan is available now.

For more information regarding Sarah Crossan (@SarahCrossan) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding Bloomsbury Publishing (@BloomsburyBooks) please visit www.bloomsbury.com.

Title: All of This is True

Author: Lygia Day Penaflor

Pages: 432 Pages

Publisher: Bloomsbury

The Blurb

When four Long Island teens plot to meet Fatima Ro, the elusive author of their favourite novel, they’re stunned when she befriends them and invites them into her eccentric life. Suddenly their lives seem charmed, and as they grow closer to their idol, they find themselves revealing their darkest secrets to her.

But a year later, Miri, Soleil, Jonah and Penny are shocked to discover that Fatima’s newly released YA novel is based on those same secrets. The revelations are devastating, and they can’t escape the spotlight. The friends’ interview transcripts, emails and journal entries reveal how willing they were to sacrifice everything to win Fatima’s approval – and how those sacrifices led to a tragedy from which one of them will never recover.

The Review

One thing I really like in books is when I have a handful of narrators that all see the story a specific way. They are all unreliable because their truth is not the same as someone else’s. This is why I really enjoyed All of This is True by Lygia Day Penaflor.

It is a story set in high school so there is already a he-said-she-said element to the narrative. Add in a mystery, an author, and a character in hospital with life threatening injuries then you really do have the making of a good thriller.

What the author really manages to highlight is the fundamental need to be seen and acknowledged. She shows how this is a spectrum depending on the need of the character and how that can be manifested in both good and negative ways.

I really liked All of This is True. I loved the mixed media element of storytelling and how distinct the different character voices where. As far as YA Thrillers go then All of This is True is a brilliant poster book for the genre.

All of This is True by Lygia Day Penaflor is available now.

For more information regarding Lygia Day Penaflor (@lygiaday) please visit www.lygiadaypenflor.com.

For more information regarding Bloomsbury (@BloomsburyBooks) please visit www.bloomsbury.com.

All the Dirty PartsTitle: All the Dirty Parts

Author: Daniel Handler

Pages: 144 Pages

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing

The Blurb

From bestselling, award-winning author Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket), a gutsy, exciting novel that looks honestly at the erotic impulses of an all-too-typical young man.

Cole is a boy in high school. He runs cross country, he sketches, he jokes around with friends. But none of this quite matters next to the allure of sex. “Let me put it this way,” he says. “Draw a number line, with zero is you never think about sex and ten is, it’s all you think about, and while you are drawing the line, I am thinking about sex.”

Cole fantasizes about whomever he’s looking at. He consumes and shares pornography. And he sleeps with a lot of girls, which is beginning to earn him a not-quite-savory reputation around school. This leaves him adrift with only his best friend for company, and then something startling starts to happen between them that might be what he’s been after all this time-and then he meets Grisaille.

All The Dirty Parts is an unblinking take on teenage desire in a culture of unrelenting explicitness and shunted communication, where sex feels like love, but no one knows what love feels like. With short chapters in the style of Jenny Offill or Mary Robison, Daniel Handler gives us a tender, brutal, funny, intoxicating portrait of an age when the lens of sex tilts the world. “There are love stories galore,” Cole tells us, “This isn’t that. The story I’m typing is all the dirty parts.”

The Review

Daniel Handler’s new release, All the Dirty Parts, is an entertaining story and a stark insight into the inner workings of a teenage boys mind.

The story follows Cole, a bit of a player, likes the sex but doesn’t deal with the emotional consequences for his conquests. His main goal is to score. That is until he meets his match in Grisaille.

It is through Grisaille that Cole finally gets his emotional comeuppance. Finally he gets a taste of his own medicine.

So imagine The Inbetweeners with less humour and you have All the Dirty Parts. That sounds a bit harsh but there really wasn’t much humour in the story and maybe it took itself too seriously.

All the Dirty Parts by Daniel Handler is available now.

For more information regarding Daniel Handler (@DanielHandler) please visit www.danielhandler.com.

For more information regarding Bloomsbury Publishing (@BloomsnuryBooks) please visit www.bloomsbury.com.

2 Stars

Title: Paradise City

Author: Elizabeth Day

Pages: 354 Pages

Publisher: Bloomsbury

The Blurb

Beatrice Kizza, a woman fleeing a homeland that condemned her for daring to love, has come to London. There, she shields her sorrow from the indifference of her adopted city, and navigate a night-time world of shift-work and bedsits.

Howard Pink, is a self-made millionaire who has risen from Petticoat Lane to the mansions of Kensington on a tide of determination and bluster. Yet self-doubt still snaps at his heels and his life is shadowed by the terrible loss that has shaken him to his foundations.

Carol Hetherington, recently widowed, is living the quiet life in Wandsworth with her cat and The Jeremy Kyle Show for company. As she frets over her daughter’s prospects and tries to come to terms with the absence her husband has left on the other side of the bed, she wonders if she’ll ever be happy again.

Emse Reade, is a young journalist learning to muck-rake and doorstep in pursuit of the elusive scoop, even as she longs to find some greater meaning and leave her imprint on the world.

Four strangers, each inhabitants of the same city, where the gulf between those who have too much and those who will never have enough is impossibly vast. But when the glass that separates Howard’s and Beatrice’s worlds is shattered by an inexcusable act, they discover that the capital has connected them in ways they could never have imagined.

The Review

I am a sucker for a beautiful cover and when I saw the cover for Paradise City I wanted to buy it and much like most of my book purchases I put it on the bookshelf (where admittedly it did look pretty) where it festered for a year and a half. I recently picked it up and was thoroughly transported into modern day London and surrounded by scandal.

If I am totally honest it did take me a few chapters to really get into Paradise City. I wasn’t instantly enamoured but the more I read on the more intrigued I became about the lives of these four characters and what I really enjoyed was watching and waiting to see how their lives interwove and interlocked.

When all that became a bit clearer I did genuinely find it hard to put down.

Paradise City is a really good mystery set amongst modern day people dealing with contentious issues in the nation’s capital. It definitely justifies my book buying investment.

Paradise City by Elizabeth Day is available now.

For more information regarding Elizabeth Day (@elizabday) please visit www.elizabethdayonline.co.uk.

For more information regarding Bloomsbury (@) please visit www.bloomsbury.com.

35 Stars

OneTitle: One

Author: Sarah Crossan

Pages: 430 Pages

Publisher: Bloomsbury

The Blurb

Grace and Tippi are twins ? conjoined twins.

And their lives are about to change.

No longer able to afford homeschooling, they must venture into the world? A world of stares, sneers and cruelty. Will they find more than that at school? Can they find real friends? And what about love?

But what neither Grace or Tippi realises is that a heart-wrenching decision lies ahead. A decision that could tear them apart. One that will change their lives even more than they ever imagined?

From Carnegie Medal shortlisted author Sarah Crossan, this moving and beautifully crafted novel about identity, sisterhood and love ultimately asks one question: what does it mean to want and have a soulmate? Shortlisted for The CILIP Carnegie Medal in 2016

The Review

I bought One by Sarah Crossan a while ago. I had every intention of reading it and then I didn’t. I heard mixed reviews and it lay stagnant on my kindle since October 2015. Then I saw a physical copy in the library in the school in which I work. Again, I pushed it to the side. Then I spoke to a friend whose judgement on books I trust implicitly (Clare over at A Book and Tea) and she, like myself was initially put off the poetry format as it sounded like it might e a challenging read. However, my intrigue had been piqued so I picked it up.

I devoured it.

One is a challenging story both in context and form – the story is told entirely in open verse poetry; however, it is a really easy read. It is a book that I found very difficult to put down.

One is a story of conjoined twins Tippi and Grace and their journey from being homeschooled to having to face the horrors of a normal high school and the cruelty from others that they are greeted with by the outside world.

Historically, conjoined twins have caused media sensation; they have been leered at and made to feel like entertainment for the masses. Sarah Crossan has not approached this subject in a negative way what so ever. She has handled it with sensitivity, maturity and pure emotion.

I always think that it must be ever so hard for writers to put themselves in a position that they have never been in. Essentially though, that is there job and when it is done well it can bring a whole new world to someone who hasn’t been farther than their own front gate. I think that Crossan has managed to do this with One. The fact that One is YA/Children’s literature makes this an important book. It is a book that can help change opinions and halt continuing prejudices. One is a book that highlights differences in a truly positive way.

It is a heartbreaking tale of desperately wanting to be “normal” in a society where every difference makes you a target.

One had be gasping for breath with tears and has blown my mind by presenting me with a world that I knew little to nothing about. Sarah Crossan thoroughly deserves every accolade and award given to this book.

One by Sarah Crossan is available now.

For more information on Sarah Crossan (@SarahCrossan) please visit her official website www.sarahcrossan.com.

For more titles from Bloomsbury (@BloomsburyBooks) please visit www.bloomsbury.com.

5 Stars