Sarah Crossan

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One – Sarah Crossan

Published May 20, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Grace and Tippi are twins – conjoined twins.

And their lives are about to change.

No longer able to afford homeschooling, they must venture into the world – a world of stares, sneers and cruelty. Will they find more than that at school? Can they find real friends? And what about love?

But what neither Grace or Tippi realises is that a heart-wrenching decision lies ahead. A decision that could tear them apart. One that will change their lives even more than they ever imagined…

From Carnegie Medal shortlisted author Sarah Crossan, this moving and beautifully crafted novel about identity, sisterhood and love ultimately asks one question: what does it mean to want and have a soulmate?

What did I think?:

I’ve been a little bit worried about writing this review. I’ve written a couple of more critical reviews recently and to be honest, I find those a bit easier to write as I find you can really focus on the aspects you found more difficult in a novel and discuss them more extensively. Sometimes I feel there’s only so many times you can say the words: great, amazing, touching, beautiful etc, etc before they become meaningless and don’t adequately convey the depth of emotion that you felt about a book. One is a book just like this. Told entirely in free verse, this story made my heart swell, burst rather painfully and moved me beyond the point that I ever thought I could be moved. I wasn’t sure I was going to connect with it at all considering I haven’t had that much experience (if any!) with novels told in this style but boy, was I wrong!

Irish author, Sarah Crossan, author of One.

One is the story of conjoined twins, Grace and Tippi, both very much individuals mentally speaking, but physically, from birth they are forced to share vital organs in their body, keeping each other alive in the process. Life isn’t easy for Grace and Tippi. All they want is just to be like any other teenager, going to school, hanging out with friends and having relationships with boys. However, as their bodies are permanently entwined, there are obvious difficulties of them doing these things alone which makes life highly stressful. Coupled with this is the stares they get just from walking down the street and the hungry media at their door, particularly when the girls decide they’ve had enough and they want to be separated. This is the tale of their daily struggles with their rare condition, of two very different girls with such a special sisterly bond it will not fail to break your heart.

American conjoined twins Abby and Brittany Hensel.

Wow, this book. It made me feel so many emotions that I never ever thought I could experience from this particular style of writing. For it is the free verse that makes this book so incredibly unique. Sarah Crossan manages to say so many things with so little words and each word appears to have been chosen so methodically that it reads like a dream., smooth, unfaltering and utterly gut wrenching. I fell completely in love with the characters of Grace and Tippi, especially in the way they faced their struggles head-on independently and bravely. Obviously they don’t have any idea of what it’s like to be apart, they’ve been joined together their whole lives so have got pretty used to their situation. However, you can see their frustration and upset when they realise how their condition may prevent them from having a “normal” life like other girls of their age. I don’t want to say too much more for fear of giving something away but if you like YA fiction, you’re interested in trying something a bit different and you’re in the mood to be emotionally torn apart, you simply have to give One a try. I’d love to know what you think!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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December 2016 – Chrissi Cupboard Month #6

Published December 2, 2016 by bibliobeth

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It’s December. And that means (drumroll please)….. it’s Chrissi Cupboard Month!

Hi everyone! It’s nearly Christmas and what better way to finish off this year than a whole month of reading books loaned to me by my beloved sister, Chrissi Reads? This is what I’ll be reading for the month of December.

One – Sarah Crossan

Gathering Blue (The Giver Quartet #2) – Lois Lowry

Rebel Belle – Rachel Hawkins

Evertrue (Everneath #3) – Brodi Ashton

Into The Still Blue (Under The Never Sky #3) – Veronica Rossi

The Daughter Of Smoke And Bone – Laini Taylor

The Mysterious Howling (The Incorrigible Children Of Ashton Place #1) – Maryrose Wood

The Drowning – Rachel Ward

Follow Me Down – Tanya Byrne

The Art Of Being Normal – Lisa Williamson

As usual, I’m really looking forward to all of these books but in particular, continuing with The Giver series and finishing the Everneath and Under The Never Sky series. There are also a couple of books on this list, namely Rebel Belle and The Drowning that come highly recommended from Chrissi. Here’s to an excellent month of reading!

The First (but hopefully not the last) Young Adult Literary Convention (YALC) 2014

Published July 25, 2014 by bibliobeth

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YALC is the brain-child of current Children’s Laureate Malorie Blackman, who was awarded an OBE for her services to children’s literature in 2008 and from the moment appointed, has been incredibly passionate about getting young people to read. Alarming statistics show that only 3 out of 10 young people read daily out of school, and a fifth say they would be embarrassed if a friend saw them reading.

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Malorie Blackman (photo from http://www.theguardian.com)

Malorie says…

“We are incredibly lucky to have such a wealth of fantastic children’s authors and illustrators in this country who create incredible stories for young adults to enjoy.  It’s so important to encourage, sustain and where necessary instil a love of reading in our teenagers.  Reading opens doors and creates life opportunities. That’s why I want to do my utmost to promote YA books for all our young (and older!) readers.”

All hail Queen Malorie! YALC promised a fantastic line-up of events, including panel talks with authors, intimate workshops, a publishers stand with goodies galore and an opportunity to purchase a wide range of YA fiction from sponsor Waterstones. Having bought our Early Bird Tickets for both days (Saturday 12th and Sunday 13th July) my sister and fellow blogger Chrissi Reads were very excited to experience all the delights YALC had to offer. So, how did it go?

DAY 1 – Saturday 12th July

Our introduction to YALC

London Comic Con – the craziness!

Photo from nintendo-insider.com

I have never experienced the pure craziness that is the London Comic Con, and couldn’t believe the immense crowds both outside Earls Court and inside where moving around became a bit of a mammoth task. After finally locating the YALC section at the back of the huge hall, Chrissi Reads and I let out a huge sigh, gritted our teeth and began to move through the crowds. (What things we do for our love of books!). We also weren’t prepared for the amount of people in strange and wonderful costumes – we recognised Spider-Man, Batman, The Power Rangers, Darth Vader and some Stormtroopers and…er… Half-Naked Lady? It was quite an experience! What was funny though was how quickly we got used to seeing costumed superheroes wandering around, checking texts and posing for photos and it became entirely natural to see Iron Man for instance, desperately seeking the toilets.

After locating the YALC Book Zone, our first task was to get some tickets for the first panel talk – The End of The World As We Know It with James Smythe as chair and also featuring Sarah Crossan, Patrick Ness and Malorie Blackman to talk about the dystopian genre, why they think it’s so “hot” right now, and what they see as the future of the genre. Malorie Blackman officially opened the proceedings in a fabulous costume and speaking in Klingon, and Patrick and Sarah provided some witty and interesting insights into the world of dystopia. Does it represent the fears teenagers have for their future? And is there also some hope and positivity in these worlds that young people can cling on to for comfort?

Day One YALC

James Smythe, Sarah Crossan, Patrick Ness and Malorie (Klingon) Blackman

Photo from http://www.theguardian.com

The talk was very entertaining and I was especially excited to see Patrick Ness (my new favourite author) who did not let me down and had me in fits of giggles. Next, it was time to see what else YALC had to offer. We visited publishers stands where I managed to bag some bookmarks, a cute YALC badge and even some advance copies of books I’m quite excited about. This included There Will Be Lies by Nick Lake and Solitaire by Alice Oseman. And where Waterstones are selling books, it’s compulsory to buy some! I picked up Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman and the illustrated edition of A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. Then we visited a couple of stands where other YA authors were promoting their work and I picked up The Narrows by James Brogden and Dystopia by Anthony Ergo, both authors were absolutely lovely and took time to talk to us. At the Hot Keys Book stand, they had a fabulous idea going where you could bring in a book and swap it with another which is where I acquired a copy of Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd.

After all that book buying and walking around it was time to go home, shoulders feeling the extra strain but incredibly happy bloggers! Bring on Day 2.

DAY 2 – Sunday 13th July

Talks, talks, oh and a Book Wall!

The next morning, Chrissi Reads and I were up bright and early but we were still not prepared for the enormous queue that awaited us when we arrived at Earls Court. Looping right round the building it ended up in the underground parking space and then looped a bit more. We needn’t have worried however, as soon as the doors opened at 09:00, the queue moved very fast and it was a little easier to navigate our way to the Book Zone to make sure we had all the tickets for the talks we wanted to see. The first talk didn’t start for a while, so it was the perfect opportunity to curl up on a bean bag and read under a Wall of Books.

YALC

The Book Wall at YALC

Photo from http://www.theguardian.com

Sooner than we knew it, it was time for the first talk which was set to be interesting with the title: I’m Too Sexy For This Book, featuring the newly-crowned Queen of Teen, James Dawson at the helm and also featuring Cat Clarke, Non Pratt and Beth Reekles. The talk was absolutely hilarious and dragged down into the gutter at times but always in a fun way, with innuendos galore and lots of “sexy fun time.” Where do you draw the line with sex in young adult novels? Shock announcement – yes, some teenagers do actually have sex! All panellists agreed that if the sex is portrayed in a positive and educational way, it cannot be a bad thing. Personally, I remember Judy Blume’s Forever feeling quite graphic to me as a teenager, but I think I also learned a few things that I may have got the wrong information about otherwise.

The next talk was Crossover: Not Just For Kids, the panel consisting of David Maybury as chair and authors Nick Lake, Anthony McGowan, Meg Rosoff and Matt Haig. They explored how novels such as The Hunger Games and The Fault In Our Stars are being read by adults as well as teenagers and the possible reasons for this. They certainly made me feel more comfortable about being an adult YA fan, and Nick Lake made the very good point that a lot of books we consider classics now would actually fit into the YA genre quite well, for example The Catcher In The Rye and Oliver Twist.

Our final talk was Sisters Doing It For Themselves with chair Sarra Manning and female authors Tanya Byrne, Julie Mayhew, Isobel Harrop and Holly Smale. This again was a great bunch of authors with fantastic insights into the role of our modern day heroine in YA fiction and heroines that inspired them personally in literature. We had a range of answers here from Tanya Byrne who took inspiration from people around her, Sarra Manning who had a soft spot for “mad girls” such as Sylvia Plath and one of my own personal favourites, Anne of Green Gables who was Holly Smale’s heroine.

YALC – THE END?

So it was time to drag our weary bodies back home, we had an absolutely fantastic weekend and it was worth every minute queueing and being bumped by crowds. Thank you to Malorie Blackman for putting on a great programme, all the authors who came and gave talks and thoroughly entertained us, and all the publishers and people behind the scenes that made the event possible.

YALC – this time next year? (please?!)