lisa heathfield

YALC Reading List Part SIX!

It’s already time for Part SIX(!) of the YALC Reading List and it’s another cracker.

Catch up or re-read the first five parts here – one, two, three, four, and five!

The YALC Reading List is updated every Sunday evening.

44. Emerald Fennell

Book to read: Monsters

You might recognise Emerald from her roles in Call the Midwife or Anna Karenina, but when she’s not acting, she’s also an author. Her first and second novels, Shiverton Hall and The Creeper, were both shortlisted for the Waterstones Childrens Book Prixe, and her latest novel, Monsters, is an adult novel that was released last September. Monsters has been billed as darkly comic murder thriller, focusing on two twelve year olds who decide to investigate and re-enact some recent murders in Cornwall. This one sounds interesting and has some amazing reviews.

45. Natalie Flynn

Book to read: The Deepest Cut

The Deepest Cut is Natalie Flynn’s debut novel, and centres around Adam, a boy who blames himself for his best friend’s murder and subsequently attempts suicide. Put in the care of a local mental health facility and too traumatised to speak, he starts to write notebooks in an attempt to move on. This book came out recently (May 24th) so expect to see it in bookshops now.

46. Sally Green

Book to read: The Half Bad series

I feel like a lot of people have read this series and loved it so I’m sure it needs no introduction to many of you. Based in a world where humans and witches live together, Nathan, the son of the world’s most powerful and violent witch, Marcus, must escape his cage and track down his father to receive his powers. The third and final book, Half Lost, was released earlier this year.

47. Julia Gray

Book to read: The Otherlife

Another multi-talented author on this list, Julia Gray is an author and singer-songwriter, having released five albums. Her first novel, The Otherlife, is the story of Ben, who has visions of The Otherlife, where gods and monsters roam. Hobie, the school bully, fascinated by Ben’s visions, befriends him. But when, years later, Ben’s best friend and tutor Jason dies, Ben can’t help but feel Hobie has something to do with it… This book sounds like a really cool concept, and it is released on July 7th.

48. Lisa Heathfield

Book to read: Seed/Paper Butterflies

You can find my reviews of Seed and Paper Butterflies here and here. Both of Lisa’s novels tackle difficult issues – Seed is about a girl raised in a cult and struggling with her identity, and Paper Butterflies is about a girl who suffers child abuse. Both these books are hard-hitting and, at times, difficult to read. Seed is out now and Paper Butterflies will be released 30 June.

49. Claire Hennessy

Book to read: Nothing Tastes As Good

This one is one I’m really excited about. Claire’s debut YA novel follows Annabel, a recently deceased anorexic teen, assigned as a helper to Julia, who also has a difficult relationship with food. This one comes out July 14, so I might pick this one up at YALC.

50. Rhian Ivory

Book to read: The Boy who drew the Future

This is Rhian’s fifth novel, and focuses on two boys who live in the same village 100 years apart, but who have the same gift – they can draw the future. Set in the 1860s and the 1960s, this sounds like a cool historical novel, and it has some amazing reviews on Goodreads.

51. Lauren James

Lauren’s first novel The Next Together (review here) is the story of a couple, Katherine and Matthew, who exists in several timestreams but appear to be always doomed. This is such an interesting concept and take on historical romance, and I loved that it featured so much science. Lauren’s next book, the sequel to The Next Together, The Last Beginning, is due out in October.

That’s it for this week’s installment – which books should I be reading immediately? Comment below or tweet me at @annalisebooks!

Annalise x

Review: Paper Butterflies by Lisa Heathfield

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Paper Butterflies by Lisa Heathfield

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Release Date: June 30th 2016

My review for Lisa’s debut novel, Seed, can be found here.

Disclaimer: Review copy received in exchange for an honest review.

Paper Butterflies is the story of June, over a period of about 12 years. The story is split between ‘Before’ and ‘After’, with these two time streams intertwining as the story progresses. (I genuinely loved this format – it’s engrossing and clever.)

June’s mother died when she was six, and quickly her stepmother and stepsister moved in. Kathleen, her new stepmother, is the epitome of evil. She force-feeds June, making her overweight, she forces her to vomit and pee herself at school, and she’s an all-round horrible woman. To make matters worse, she plays June’s dad like a fiddle, and June has no-one to turn to – she’s also being horribly bullied at school.

Then June meets Blister (real name: Jacob), and his family. Mr and Mrs Wicks have two biological children (Jacob and Maggie) and five adoptive children, all of whom they teach at home. June has a special bond with Blister’s younger brother, Tom, who has cystic fibrosis.

Paper Butterflies, I think, deals with the difficult topic of child abuse in a good way, although some of the things that happen during the course of the novel are a little unbelievable or illogical (not particularly the abuse June suffers at the hands of Kathleen, but the way June and the other characters act or what happens to her later on in the book).

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As the book covers such a long time frame, it doesn’t actually go into too much depth. Themes that start at the beginning of the story (e.g. bullying at school) seem to disappear later on, despite the fact June should still be attending school. Whilst we do have parental figures in this book , they’re pretty relaxed about where June is most of the time (‘cause it’d make a pretty boring book if she was locked up the whole time!). YA has its flaws – and I think one of them has to be that YA novels don’t tend to be long enough to really delve right into the heart of an issue. This means great superficial romances (they’re not long enough for fighting and break-ups), but with some, more serious books, such as this one, I wish they were a little longer, a little more in depth.

I didn’t see the twists and turns coming (in fact, I was completely thrown off course), and I did like the ending, except it suffers massively from what i’m going to call from now on THE GHOST ENDING. Ambiguous endings sometimes (very rarely) work well – they leave you thinking about the issue at hand whilst feeling like the story has come to an end. And then we have the Ghost Ending. This is where the writing just kind of fades away, and you realise there’s not really been a huge conclusion. And you’re not quite sure what’s going to happen next. And you’re never going to find out. I like big, clear endings. With an epilogue, if possible. I like my endings spelt out in big letters – usually HAPPILY EVER AFTER, if we’re talking about YA romance. I don’t like things being left to the imagination, especially when an ending could go any which way and where.

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Another thing I dislike in YA novels is the compulsory romance – but I don’t think the romance in this novel felt forced, and the relationship had its flaws. It wasn’t your typical YA insta-love, which is always a bonus.
One thing you should probably think about before diving into this novel is whether you want to read a novel about child abuse. This isn’t your typical YA romance that ends happily ever after (not a bad thing!), it’s a serious novel with a serious message. There’s no sexual abuse of any kind featured in the novel, but there are some pretty haunting scenes, so I’d read this book with that in mind.

Overall, I think this book features an important topic, but it falls into the pitfalls of YA – namely the Ghost Ending and a lack of depth. Other than that, the characters are interesting (they’re diverse, and I loved the inclusion of Tom’s disability), and the story is one of surprises and intrigue. I’m going to have to give this book 3 stars (one star knocked off for the ambiguous ending, and another for the overall lack of depth and realism), but it’s definitely well-worth a read if you’ve enjoyed Seed.

View all my reviews

Annalise x