Title: Fierce Fragile Hearts

Author: Sara Barnard

Pages: 354 Pages

Publisher: Pan Macmillan

The Blurb

A powerful new novel from the YA author of Beautiful Broken Things, A Quiet Kind of Thunder, and Goodbye, Perfect.

The stunning companion novel to Sara Barnard’s bestseller Beautiful Broken Things – which was shortlisted for the YA Book Prize and a Zoella’s Book Club Selection – Fierce Fragile Hearts is about leaving the past behind, and learning to find love, in all its forms.

Two years after a downward spiral took her as low as you can possibly go, Suzanne is starting again. (Again.) She’s back in Brighton, the only place she felt she belonged, back with her best friends Caddy and Rosie. But they’re about to leave for university.

When your friends have been your light in the darkness, what happens when you’re the one left behind?

The Review

Sara Barnard is one of those authors whose books I anticipate. I think she is one of the best YA fiction writers and I get swallowed whole by her stories. Fierce Fragile Hearts is no exception to this praise.

In Fierce Fragile Hearts we return to Brighton and to the life that Suzanne once knew. Fresh and optimistic she is trying to become an adult and even though things haven’t been easy for Suzanne so far it turns out that adulthood is no easy picnic. It is especially hard when her support system – her friends Caddy and Rosie – are off to pastures new for university.

Feeling alone and a little bit lost Suzanne starts to fall back on old, dangerous habits.

Fierce Fragile Hearts was a brilliant sequel to an already amazing book. Barnard manages to capture the loneliness and isolation of Suzanne, the struggles with being a child of ‘the system’ and also the difficult journey of trying to grow up. It encapsulates all the things I love, a book with friendship at its core, a coming-of-age tale and an awesome soundtrack to accompany it. If there was an extended road trip added then I would have been in book nirvana.

Fierce Fragile Hearts by Sara Barnard is available now.

For more information regarding Sara Barnard (@saramegan) please visit www.sarabarnardofficial.com.

For more information regarding Pan Macmillan (@panmacmillan) please visit www.panmacmillan.com.

Beautiful Broken ThingsTitle: Beautiful Broken Things

Author: Sara Barnard

Pages: 337 Pages

Publisher: Pan Macmillan

The Blurb

Here’s my theory on Significant Life Events: everyone has them, but some have more than others, and how many you have affects how interesting you are, how many stories you have to tell, that kind of thing.

I was still waiting for my first one.

After yet another typical summer where nothing of any significance happens, Caddy vows that now she’s sixteen this year will be different; she’ll get a boyfriend (a real one), lose her virginity and experience a Significant Life Event. If only Caddy knew what was just around the corner – a whirlwind of wild spirit and fury with a dazzling smile and sad eyes by the name of Suzanne – and a significant life event that no one could have predicted.

Caddy and Rosie have been BFF’s since they were little girls, but when enigmatic and beautiful new girl Suzanne starts at Rosie’s school, Caddy allows her insecurities to threaten her friendship with Rosie. Caddy wishes she were more like Rosie and Suzanne – confident, funny and interesting – but beneath the make-up and bravado lies a secret side to Suzanne that intrigues Caddy. Despite their differences very soon the three girls are inseparable, and things get a whole lot more complicated.

Under Suzanne’s influence, Caddy begins to see how much fun a little trouble can be. But climbing out of bedroom windows for forbidden midnight walks on the beach begins to lose its shimmer as Suzanne’s troubled past is revealed and her present begins to unravel. The course of friendship and recovery is rougher than any of the girls could have imagined, and Caddy is about to learn that downward spirals have a momentum of their own.

Beautiful Broken Things is a heart-stoppingly beautiful debut novel from emerging UKYA talent Sara Barnard. It’s a love story without romance, about what it means to be a friend when your whole life is falling apart. For all the arguments, misunderstandings, fallouts and tears, there’s no love quite like that shared between teenage girls. A beautiful tribute to the friendships that bind when you’re a teenage girl and still learning about life, and about yourself.

The Review

Ooh, three way friendships are tricky little things, aren’t they? It is the friendship between Caddy, Rosie and new girl Suzanne, this is the basis of Sara Barnard’s Beautiful Broken Things. When Rosie and Suzanne become friends, Caddy – Rosie’s best friend – becomes unbearably jealous. However, as the girls all get to know one another the dynamics of the group shift and the girls all form roles within their cohort.

We have all been there, haven’t we? All had that tricky friendship group and have fallen out with your best friend. It feels like the end of the world (when, it happens at the age of 29 it is much worse, trust me) so you really feel that Barnard is portraying a universal story. The emotions that come along with friendship are harsh, they are real and they go deeper than anyone would ever imagine.

You can’t help but feel for our young protagonist, Caddy; equally you find yourself screaming at the book when you know she is making bad decisions. Rather cleverly, Barnard has managed to portray ‘bad influence’ Suzanne in a heart warming way. Your heart breaks for her the same way that Caddy’s does. Yes, she keeps doing messed up things but she is so self destructive that you can’t help but want to fix her.

Beautiful Broken Things is one of the best books that I have read about the dynamics of friendship and the real life dramas that take place among teenagers that should never be taken lightly.

Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard is available now.

For more information regarding Sara Barnard (@saramegan) please visit www.sarabarnardofficial.com.

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

35 Stars

Synopsis

When Rosie spends the summer of 1965 renting a room at Castaway house she begins to discover that the house – and its occupants – are not all that they seem. It is with the arrival of the mysterious Dockie, a man who appears to have a connection to the property but no living memory of what that is, that the mystery begins to unravel.

Review

The Mysterious Affair at Castaway House has a little bit of everything; mystery, romance, drama, social and political change. There is something that hooks your interest on each page. The balance of the two time periods is fluid but doesn’t leave you breathless or confused. Mostly, it is the characters that draw you in. In particular, Robert and Rosie, both of whom are the underdogs of the narrative.

Rosie, struggling with her sexuality and a secret that she would rather keep in the past almost echoes the character of Robert Carver. Robert’s secret is his undying love for his cousin’s wife; a love that has landed him in hot water. Both of their stories are tragic and desperate, lost in a time when their wants are not considered socially acceptable.

What Lam has done with this book is create a well thought out, thorough mystery that does have you wanting to turn the next page. Her florid style has crafted an image of two time periods that are both so very vivid and colourful. Her skill lies in the description. The Mysterious Affair at Castaway House played out like a movie in my mind. For a first time novelist, this is an excellent achievement.

Personally, for me, the one thing I didn’t fully appreciate is the neatness of the story. The lack of loose ends seemed to clean for me but then that is the purpose of mystery writing – to not leave the reader asking questions. Lam accomplishes this and I cannot fault her for that. It is just a personal preference in the stories that I read that things are not too neat and tidy. However, people who are frequent readers of mystery dramas (of which I am not) will appreciate Lam’s attention to detail.

The Mysterious Affair at Castaway House by Stephanie Lam is available now.

the mysterioous affair at castaway house