Bookshelf Older Reads

A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars

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Saved as a baby from a terrible shipwreck, Sante lives with her adoptive family of Mama Rose and her circus performers and a golden eagle named Priss. They live ‘off the grid’, roaming from country to country, performing as they travel and, although hard, life is good. With Cat- wild and feisty knife thrower- and Cobra- snake charmer and her possible future husband- Sante is the star of the show.

A ‘mind whisperer’, Sante can tune into the thoughts of others and has a mystical connection with those who died in the wreck she survived, the unquiet dead in search of peace. When the children rescue a young girl called Scarlett, tension mounts as they become mixed up with evil and past and present collide.

No synopsis of this book can even begin to do it justice. It is the most original, amazing read, painful in places, but beautifully written. Haunting brutality and exploitation contrast starkly with the magical and supernatural.

Quite simply- this is one you must read.

A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars Yaba Badoe

Zephyr ISBN: 978-1786695482

Behind Closed Doors

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Fifteen year olds Josie and Tasha live near to each other, but have little in common. However, each is having a difficult time at home. Josie’s mother is a hoarder; convinced she is saving the planet by collecting things others throw away, she has made their home impossible and dangerous to live in for her daughter. Tasha is becoming increasingly uncomfortable in her own home as her mother’s boyfriend starts paying her unwelcome attention. The girls come together in an unlikely friendship as both face homelessness.

We never know what happens ‘behind closed doors’. Home should be a place of sanctuary, somewhere to feel safe and shut out the outside world. Sadly, for many this is not the case and Miriam Halahmy delivers a hard hitting, gripping story, exploring this theme.

Weaving together real issues which face many young people, ‘Behind Closed Doors’ shows how easily vulnerable youngsters can slip through the net and find themselves alone and at the mercy of the manipulative and unscrupulous. The complexities of a loving parent who is not protecting and supporting their child for whatever reason is sensitively explored and the girls show great resilience and courage in the face of serious challenges.

Moving and powerful, ‘Behind Closed Doors’ is a story of love, friendship and what home really means.

Behind Closed Doors Miriam Halahmy

Firefly Press ISBN: 978-1910080788

Bookshop Girl

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Books are an escape route. A refuge. They can be a connection to a stranger, someone you’ve never met, who writes something that you hadn’t considered anyone in the world to have felt but you. When you grow up feeling too big for a place, and you make that kind of a connection with a book, it’s like a link; it’s a tunnel to the outside world.

Paige Turner loves her part-time job at Bennett’s Bookshop, the only bookshop ‘this side of Milton Keynes’. When she learns that it is under threat of closure, Paige, her best friend, Holly, are determined to rally the people of Greysworth into action and save their bookshop.

With the campaign, school, life drawing classes at uni and the attention of Blaine Henderson, local heart-throb and bad boy, things are certainly busy for Paige. But can Bennett’s be saved? And is Blaine really the boy of Paige’s dreams?

Fun from the first page, ‘Bookshop Girl’ is a light-hearted read with a warm-hearted message. The key role played by small, independent shops on our high streets in the communities they serve and their sad demise is brought into sharp focus through the life of Paige, who is frustrated by the smallness of her home town and relies on Bennett’s as her escape route through the wages she earns working there and through the world offered by the books it contains.

Relationships are also key to the story. Paige’s friendship with Holly is beautifully portrayed and her fascination with Blaine well developed. Her battle to save the bookshop also opens new friendships for her with those of other generations and the Posers are a brilliant group of characters, adding even more humour to the story.

Paige has a very strong, natural voice and Chole Coles uses this to challenge the casual sexism experienced by many on a daily basis. A very clear, empowering message comes from Paige and Holy which is a natural thread of the story and all the more effective for this.

‘Bookshop Girl’ is an excellent read and I’m delighted to see that there will be more from Paige and Holly soon.

Bookshop Girl Chloe Coles

Hot Key Books ISBN: 978-1471407116

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