chicken house

Book Review: Under Rose-Tainted Skies

Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall – Paperback, 272 pages – Published July 7th 2016 by Chicken House

I picked this book up at my local library because I liked the cover. Then I read the quote on the front and knew I’d love it.

Agoraphobia is a horrific disorder. I’ve not found a single book about it before this one. While I myself don’t suffer from it, I do have anxiety and can relate to the main character, Norah, in so many ways.

The first thing I’m going to say about this is that it doesn’t overly romanticise the illness, which is so important. Yes, there are maybe a few aspects that aren’t incredibly accurate, but that’s always going to happen with works of fiction. Overall, I think this is a fantastic representation of Norah’s illnesses and how her life has been flipped upside down since her becoming ill.

I would have liked this to be less romantically-focused, though. Don’t get me wrong, the romance was lovely and I felt so happy for Norah. But I am a bit fed up of stories that portray romantic relationships as the ‘cure’ for mental illnesses.

As I mentioned above, I believe this depicts Norah’s behaviours and thoughts fantastically. I really related to her in a lot of ways, such as regarding her anxiety and panic attacks. Plus, her beliefs and emotions regarding her illness were very relatable; the guilt and shame of being a burden on others.

It was incredibly heart-warming to see Norah finally begin to make progress towards the end of the book. It was slow – which is how it is in real life. There is no magic, instant cure. It takes time and effort and a lot of pain.

I thoroughly enjoyed this. If it was less romantic, I may have given it a full 5 stars. As it is, I’m giving it 4.5 stars, and would definitely recommend it to others.

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Book Review: The Divide

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The Divide by Elizabeth Kay (The Divide #1) – Paperback, 320 pages – Published April 1st 2006 by Chicken House

I started reading this when I was about eleven, and I had really enjoyed it. It’s a bit of a kids’ book really, but I just wanted to see how it ended!

So Felix, who’s thirteen, has a debilitating heart condition. He and his parents visit Costa Rica, home of the Continental Divide. Nothing could prepare him for what happens after passing out across the Divide.

Suddenly, Felix is in a strange new world where myths are real and real life is fake. Humans aren’t supposed to be real – so when Felix arrives, people start going crazy. They want to find a way into his world, where they can see science in real life, and where they can have a fresh market for their magic.

Betony becomes Felix’s good friend, and along with her siblings and some other mythical creatures, they discover a japegrin who is selling untested magical remedies, causing side-affects in those who take them. They manage to spread the word about this, but he won’t go down without a fight.

Like I said, this is more a children’s book than a YA. I only really wanted to read it again because I was curious, and I seemed to enjoy it so much when I was younger. It’s not a bad book, but obviously it’s not one that teens are going to be raving about.

It’s cute, but has such a childish feel to it. I mean, wise-hoofs and ear-rot? Snakeweed the villain?! The general plot is pretty good, unlike any other book I’ve read. But I can’t say I’m going to be hunting down the rest of the series. 2.5 stars.

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Book Review: The Baby

The Baby by Lisa Drakeford - Paperback, 222 pages - Published July 2015 by Chicken House

The Baby by Lisa Drakeford – Paperback, 222 pages – Published July 2015 by Chicken House

I seriously had no idea what this book was even about. I saw it displayed in my library and just thought “Heck, why not?”

As the cover suggests, five friends have their lives change on the night of Olivia’s 17th birthday party. Yep, you guessed it; There in Olivia’s very own bathroom is her friend Nicola, and out pops a new addition to the gang.

I read this book quickly (which I know is not unusual for me) and didn’t struggle doing so. It was an easy read, with a section following each character individually. The writing style and language is adapted slightly to suit each character, to allow full submersion of the reader into the book.

There are surprising elements in the story which, after being read, will seem strangely obvious. I love this sense of foreshadowing in a book. And despite the title, this book isn’t really focused on “the baby” alone. Instead it tells each character’s solo story, including all their troubles – baby- or not-baby-related.

As I said before, The Baby is a nice, easy read, with a somewhat carefree sense about it. I can’t say I relate to it in the sense of having a new baby around, but there are aspects that I can say I have experienced. So I’m going to give it 4 stars, more than I originally suspected it would earn.

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Book Review: Candy

Candy by Kevin Brooks - Paperback Cover

Candy by Kevin Brooks – Paperback, 357 pages – Published 2006 by Chicken House

… a story as sharp as the title is sweet …

When I found this book in the library, I had never heard of it before. I had no idea what to expect, or how good the author – Kevin Brooks – is. At first I wasn’t certain how I was feeling about Candy, but a few pages in and I must admit I was hooked.

This is not a typical book about boys and girls, love and loss. This is a book about real-life problems that nobody wants to admit are drifting around this world. This is a book about facing the facts and doing what’s right, no matter how hard it may be. This is a book about a boy, and it is a book about a girl, but it’s also a book about the devastating world hidden within the city of London, the darker face behind all the wonderful things many of us associate with the capital of England.

Joe Beck is normal. He’s plain – and so is his life. That is, until he meets Candy – Candy with the eyes and the skin and the legs… Candy turns Joe’s life completely upside down. He’s faced with dilemmas that he’d never even considered before, dilemmas that people are facing every day while we’re watching TV or going out with friends. This novel really drives home the reality of drug addiction, prostitution and abuse, leaving you shocked and scared with every chapter.

I actually loved this book more than I expected. I was happy, excited, scared, sad… There were so many twists that I was always anticipating what was on the next page. Candy deserves 4 stars in my opinion. I’ll be sure to check out some of Kevin Brooks’ other works!

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