Wednesday, March 22, 2017

REVIEW - PAPER BUTTERFLIES by Lisa Heathfield

Paper Butterflies
by Lisa Heathfield
Publisher - Electric Monkey
Release Date - January 12th 2017 (this edition)
Buy - Amazon | Book Depository

June's life at home with her stepmother and stepsister is a dark one – and a secret one. She is trapped like a butterfly in a net.

But then June meets Blister, a boy in the woods. In him she recognises the tiniest glimmer of hope that perhaps she can find a way to fly far, far away from her home and be free. Because every creature in this world deserves their freedom . . . But at what price?

Paper Butterflies is an unforgettable read, perfect for fans of Jennifer Niven, Jandy Nelson, Sarah Crossan and Louise O'Neill.


My Review

Wow, I finished this book last night and I didn't think I could make it what with the words starting to blur with tears. I actually started reading this book in a reading lesson as part of the scholastic book fair. The cover is striking and beautiful which exactly reflects the book inside as well as out. I read the first few pages of the book and I knew I had to continue it...

{From the first page - what I read at the book fair - no spoilers.}
June's being forced to drink warm milk and water, her bladder full, needing the loo. She's not allowed to go. Her step-mum Kathleen, says it's time for school, she ties a ribbon in her hair and off she goes with her step-sister, Megan. She gets to the bus stop, she see a elephant in the clouds so she focuses on that, anything that isn't...well wet. She gets on the bus and sits. It's so painful, she can't help it, she couldn't hold it in...

June lives with father, after her mum died, Kathleen and Megan came into their lives as step-mum and step-sister, but the worst possibly family you could imagine. When I first read this I thought it was going to be like a Cinderella sort of storyline - only so much darker. Kathleen despises June, so she torments her everyday, feeds her huge portions of food to make her go fat, make her ugly and basically brings out the worst in June. Megan just follows like the good little daughter she is. June wants to cry, shout, talk about what's happening even to a stranger but she can't find the words...she was too scared and I don't blame her.

Not until she meets Blister with his taped up glasses and his paper figures that she actually finds some solace and safety in their relationship. Their friendship, their bond, their love for one another you were totally transfixed.That beyond everything that was happening, Blister and his family were the only ones that really treated her for her. They made June a stronger girl for it whilst not letting Kathleen and Megan strip her down till there is nothing left of her own persona for anyone to care about... Blister is her escape, she is the butterfly that is able to fly free.

This book gives you so many feels, good and bad. Miss Heathfield's writing is moving and addictive at the same time. The structure of the book is split in two times Before and After. For each After we get a glimpse at what life is like for her presently but not really knowing what has happened and I loved that. I felt that the After chapter was a light relief of the heavy and the emotional that came with each passing week and year that June has to endure this suffering. What you felt for this book was the most out of body experience because you couldn't compute what it was that's happening or feeling. It was horrific at time, it was hard to read, it was raw to imagine a child going through this abuse. But that's why I couldn't stop myself from being dragged in, you totally at the mercy of the author and how uncontrollable your emotions are. The passion you find yourself feeling towards the characters and not always good, speak volumes as to how magnificent this book really is.

This book is a roller-coaster of emotions and it will rip you apart from each page of the book. Paper Butterflies is a darkly heartbreaking and raw novel with such a gentle touch. Miss Heathfield's book is like a fold of each of Blister's paper creations, constructed passionately and yet beautiful to see (and read). Nominated for the Waterstones Children's Book Award and the YA Book Prize 2017, Paper Butterflies is well deserved to have both of these nominations and you all need to read it.

Rating - 5

Thank you to Electric Monkey (Egmont) for a copy of this book provided on Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

Friday, March 03, 2017

REVIEW - ALL ABOUT MIA by Lisa Williamson

All About Mia 
by Lisa Williamson
Release Date -  February 2nd 2017
Publisher - David Fickling Books
Buy - Amazon | Book Depository

From no. 1 Bestselling YA author Lisa Williamson, comes another insightful and unputdownable teen drama - All About Mia. A brilliant look into the mind of a teenager stuck in the middle.
One family, three sisters.
GRACE, the oldest: straight-A student.
AUDREY, the youngest: future Olympic swimming champion.
And MIA, the mess in the middle.

Mia is wild and daring, great with hair and selfies, and the undisputed leader of her friends – not attributes appreciated by her parents or teachers.
When Grace makes a shock announcement, Mia hopes that her now-not-so-perfect sister will get into the trouble she deserves.

But instead, it is Mia whose life spirals out of control – boozing, boys and bad behaviour – and she starts to realise that her attempts to make it All About Mia might put at risk the very things she loves the most.

My Review

This is my first novel from Miss Williamson, and although my students keep telling me to read The Art of Being Normal I never really got round to it if I'm honest. When I saw this coming out, I knew it was a book that I had to get, I don't know what it was about it but it was calling to me. All About Mia is just such a real, raw and a genuine joy to read. I look forward to meeting Lisa in the next couple of weeks.

Being a Campbell-Richardson is nothing short of being exhausting especially for Mia. Grace, the eldest is the first born, A-student to go to university. Audrey, the youngest, is set for Gold, training to swim for Olympics and champion of the pool at such a young age. And Mia, well she's the middle sister, she doesn't have a thing, she's the disappointment, she getting through college with a sticker on her saying 'Failing Campbell-Richardson'. That's the brutality of it really. That's Mia's life. It's not until, the star of the family comes home early with her boyfriend with a bun in the oven... at 19 years old.....at the point of her career, you would really think this would ruin her name wouldn't you? That's what Mia would think, but to her disgust, everyone is just completely over the moon and that just makes it a whole lot worse for her.

I adored Mia's character, she's completely off the rails, ha. You couldn't help but not smile, laugh, occasionally cringe or at times think, 'Oh Mia, whhhhhhyyyyyy'. But truth be told you can totally relate to it in some way, shape or form. I feel for Mia, I can understand her rebellious nature and her jelousy that it borders pure hatred at some point towards to her sister Grace. That's not surprising really. She adores her little sister, she's trying to be the bigger sister to Audrey but she doesn't want to be like her big sister, Grace either. I think she tries to act up as the middle sister, but it always backfires on her. Her parents are no better, my god did I feel very antagonistic toward them. Seriously, they didn't help Mia, they are all about Audrey and Grace. They were belittling her at every point, they didn't consider her opinion or just her side for once. It was frustrating and this is where I found I related with this novel.

Miss Williamson took a very realistic approach to society nowadays. There's a lot of pressure on teenagers. From a librarian's point of view, I see the stress they go through, 5 years of studying for realistically 1 hour exam for each of their subjects. But I digress, what I mean is that the weight of their future on girls is unimaginable but we've all been through it, or going through it. Does it get easier? No and society isn't helping with that. Relationships and friendships will always be effected by it for better or for worse. We have to work harder, be a role model, we have an expectation, and Audrey and Grace are the epitome of this. Well Audrey more so, she has to go to training at half 5 every morning, her passion is in the pool but when she's out of it, she just like any other teenager, struggling to get through the rest of her life.

For Mia however, it's even harder because her sisters have a 'thing', Mia doesn't know what that is, she 16 years old, life isn't given to you on a platter straight away, she will find her thing in her own time. But everyone is different. Mia needs to be given a chance, she needs some time with her parents, to actually think 'you have me too, I need you guidance as well.' I think that what lead to her very colourful nature. Life is like a jigsaw puzzle, just like the cover. Pieces will fit together in it's own time. But don't give up, continue your passions even if it doesn't lead you down the path you thought you would. I think that's the message of the book but also from me too.

All About Mia, is a perfectly imperfect novel on self discovery and the reality of being a teenage girl. Mia embodies an imperfect nature to and perfectly normal part of society. Sometimes we all need a bit of our time, we should have a All About...[insert name] to figure life out. It's where our most valued perception of us as individuals come from.

Rating - 5