My Side of the DiamondTitle: My Side of the Diamond

Author: Sally Gardner

Pages: 240 Pages

Publisher: Hot Key Books/Bonnier Zaffre Books

The Blurb

An extraordinary tale about the search for love from the acclaimed Costa and Carnegie winning novelist Sally Gardner.

Jazmin has been shunned ever since her best friend Becky disappeared.

But Becky didn’t just disappear – she jumped off a tall building and seemingly never reached the ground. It was as if she simply vanished into thin air.

Did Jazmin have something to do with her disappearance?

Or was it more to do with Icarus, so beguiling and strangely ever youthful, with whom Becky became suddenly besotted . . .

The Review

My Side of the Diamond by Sally Gardner is a very curious tale that had me reading way outside of my comfort zone. It is part YA which I love, part thriller and mystery which I am lukewarm to and part science fiction which is so not my genre.

However, Sally Gardner has created a really compelling story and full bodied cast that I found myself unable to put the damn book down! The story is told from multi-perspective which lends the book an air of displacement and discomfort. I did not feel comfortable or settled reading it. I constantly questioned my characters – on their morals and what they said.

I do feel more settled now that I have finished My Side of the Diamond but it has left me irked in the best possible way.

I would love to know if the Lazarus theme is a link to David Bowie? There are too many shout outs. If anyone knows if this was a choice by Sally Gardner – or if indeed Sally Gardner you would like to answer this question for me – then I would be really grateful.

My Side of the Diamond is a strange little book that begs to be read.

My Side of the Diamond by Sally Gardner is available now.

For more information regarding Sally Gardner (@TheSallyGardner) please visit www.sallygardner.net.

For more information regarding Hot Key Books (HotKeyBooks) please visit www.hotkeybooks.com.

For more information regarding Bonnier Zaffre Books (@BonnierZaffre) please visit their Twitter page.

3 Stars

The Hanging GirlTitle: The Hanging Girl

Author: Eileen Cook

Pages: 320 Pages

Publisher: Hot Key Books/Bonnier Zaffre/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s Book Group

The Blurb

Two girls, one fatal reading . . . because the truth always lies in the cards

Skye’s mother believes she has ‘the gift’ – the opportunity to see the future. Skye however can only see the opportunity to make money – and happily fleeces her gullible classmates into handing over their cash to hear their futures through Skye’s wellworn tarot cards.

But it’s all in a good cause, right? Skye needs to save her hardearned cash to go to New York with her best mate Drew. Then the local mayor’s daughter Paige disappears – and Skye has a tip off about her whereabouts.

Skye is uncomfortable about the source and masks the tipoff as a vision she has received. But then events get wildly out of control – Paige is found murdered and Skye is a prime suspect . . .

The Review

Oh I do love it when a book is good.

The Hanging Girl by Eileen Cook has been, for me, the surprise triumph of the year. I’ve never read anything by Eileen Cook before and I can admit that I was drawn to the book because of the cover which I found very intriguing. What I wasn’t expecting was to be sucked into this vortex of mystery and thrills which left me desperate to turn the page.

Skye is a con artist. She isn’t a petty criminal but she charges her fellow classmates for tarot readings all the while knowing that she has no psychic abilities. She swindles their money and she doesn’t feel bad about it.

However, Skye’s lying is about to catch up with her when a fellow student goes missing and the police begin to rely on her ‘visions’ to help solve the case. How far will Skye let the lie go?

The Hanging Girl is a thrill ride of a book. You are constantly questioning the things around you. I was constantly on the edge of my seat whilst reading it. It is definitely a book that you can immerse yourself in that has a central theme but also deals with other issues such as social poverty and privilege.

The Hanging Girl is a book worthy of the phrase ‘page turner.’

The Hanging Girl by Eileen Cook is available now.

For more information regarding Eileen Cook (@EileenWriter) please visit www.eileencook.com.

For more information regarding Hot Key Books (@HotKeyBooks) please visit www.hotkeybooks.com.

For more information regarding Bonnier Zaffre (@BonnierZaffre) please visit their Twitter page.

For more information regarding Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s Book Group (@HMHco) please visit www.hmhco.com.

4 Stars

A Semi Definitive List of Worst NightmaresTitle: A Semi Definitive List of Worst Nightmares

Author: Krystal Sutherland

Pages: 368 Pages

Publisher: Hot Key Books/Bonnier Zaffre

The Blurb

Esther Solar’s family is . . . unusual.

Her father hasn’t left the basement in six years.

Her brother is terrified of darkness.

Esther isn’t afraid of anything – because she avoids pretty much everything.

Elevators are off limits, as are open spaces, crowds, family pets, birds, needles, haircuts, dolls and mirrors.

But when Esther is pick-pocketed by her cocky old classmate Jonah Walker, Esther and Jonah become surprising friends.

Jonah sets a challenge: every week they must work their way through the world’s fifty most common phobias. Skydiving, horse riding, beekeeping, public speaking, reptile houses – they plan to do it all.

Soon their weekly foray into fear becomes the only thing that keeps them tethered to reality, and to each other.

But each is keeping a secret from the other, a secret that threatens to rip them apart.

The Review

Well, this book was strange.

A Semi Definitive List of Worst Nightmares by Krystal Sutherland happens to be the strangest book that I have read in a long time. To put this in to context the book that I am currently reading has a dog that has had human testacies implanted into its body and turned into a human and yet this book is still pipping it to the post.

The story focuses on a family who are convinced that they are being followed by death and that it is their worst fear which will ultimately lead to their personal demise. Esther has created a list of potential things that will be her undoing. With the help of her family and friends she starts facing her fears one by one. As she completes each task she becomes more confident but life is always there to remind you that you actually don’t have that much power at all.

Even though I described this book as strange I did really enjoy it. I loved the quirkiness and the eccentric delivery. I have genuinely not seen anxiety tackled in such a fresh way before. Sutherland highlights the irrationality of fear without a “buck up” attitude. She is sensitive.

A Semi Definitive List of Worst Nightmares by Krystal Sutherland is definitely a book to add to your to be read pile especially if you are a sufferer of any form of anxiety.

A Semi Definitive List of Worst Nightmares by Krystal Sutherland is available now.

For more information regarding Krystal Sutherland (@km_sutherland) please visit www.krystalsutherland.com.

For more information regarding Hot Key Books (@HotKeyBooks) please visit www.hotkeybooks.com.

For more information regarding Bonnier Zaffre Books (@BonnierZaffre) please visit their Twitter page.

3 Stars

No ShameTitle: No Shame

Author: Anne Cassidy

Pages: 192 Pages

Publisher: Hot Key Books/Bonnier Zaffre

The Blurb

The powerful companion to NO VIRGIN.

From the author of the critically acclaimed, LOOKING FOR JJ, shortlisted for the Whitbread Prize in 2004 and the Carnegie Medal in 2005.

Stacey Woods has been raped and now she has to go through a different ordeal – the court trial. But nothing in life it seems is black and white and life is not always fair or just.

Suddenly it seems that she may not be believed and that the man who attacked her may be found not guilty . . . if so Stacey will need to find a way to rebuild her life again . . .

A tautly told and important book, perfect for readers of Asking for It by Louise O’Neill.

The Review

For years, my good friend Shirley has encouraged me to read books by Anne Cassidy. Now due to an ever growing TBR pile Cassidy’s books were always put on the backburner. That was until last year when I read a review copy of No Virgin. In No Virgin we follow the story of Stacey Woods during a difficult period in her life which leads to her being raped.

No Shame, No Virgin’s sequel follows the story and introduces the harrowing element of dealing with the eventual court case. In many ways, No Shame is a much more powerful novel because we see the udder degradation that rape victims have to go through even though the ordeal of rape is over they have to relive it and have it twisted and torn apart. Victim shaming seems to be the way of these cases. I have said it before on reviews that deal with this challenging subject, in most cases you are innocent until proven guilty. With rape victims they are liars until proven otherwise.

Cassidy has handled this subject with compassion and confidence. With Stacey, Cassidy tries to show the cocktail of emotions that she is feeling and deal with it in a sensitive way and it is with her years of experience writing for the YA audience that Cassidy absolutely nails this.

No Shame is definitely my sequel of the year. You can read both books now.

No Shame by Anne Cassidy is available now.

For more information regarding Anne Cassidy (@annecassidy6) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding Hot Key Books (@HotKeyBooks) please visit www.hotkeybooks.com.

For more information regarding Bonnier Zaffre Books (@BonniereZaffre) please visit their Twitter page.

4 Stars

Close Your EyesTitle: Close Your Eyes

Author: Nicci Cloke

Pages: 304 Pages

Publisher: Bonnier Zaffre/Hot Key Books

The Blurb

Southfield High School is oh so normal, with its good teachers, its bad, and its cliques. But despite the cliques, there’s a particular group of friends who have known each other forever and know that they can rely on each other for anything.

There’s the twins: Aisha, rebellious, kind, and just a tiny bit worried about what the hell she’s going to do once this year is over, and Vis, smart, quiet and observant. Then there’s Remy, the loudmouth, and Gemma, who’s more interested in college boys and getting into the crap club in town. And then there’s Elise: the pretty one.

But at the start of Year 11, when the group befriend the new boy, Elijah, things start to change. The group find themselves not as close as they used to be. Until one Tuesday, when the students are trapped inside the school building. And one of the them has a gun.

Close Your Eyes is the story of a school shooting which, through interviews, messages and questionable actions, asks: Who is truly responsible?

The Review

I have read a few books that have tackled the topic of a school shooting, notably Jodi Picoult’s 19 Minutes. However, these books never seem to be aimed at a younger audience who arguably should be exposed to books about this topic to make them aware of what to do and more importantly the consequences of actions.

Close Your Eyes focuses on the dynamics of friendship and how we may think we know people but can we ever truly know someone? Told in a quirky way (blog posts, police interviews, group messages and narrative) it is a really easy book to read which considering its main topic is pretty impressive. My one bug bear about Close Your Eyes is during the beginning section when Of Mice and Men is said to have 20+ chapters. As a high school teaching assistant who has worked with students studying this book I know it doesn’t have that many chapters. It is a forgivable error…but only just.

Close Your Eyes is a really good story that deals with a complicated topic but it is essential reading for young adults.

Close Your Eyes by Nicci Cloke is available now.

For more information regarding Nicci Cloke (@niccicloke) please visit www.niccicloke.com.

For more information regarding Bonnier Zaffre Books (@BonnierZaffre) please visit their Twitter page.

For more information regarding Hot Key Books (@HotKeyBooks) please visit www.hotkeybooks.com.

35 Stars