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Posts tagged ‘YA fiction’

ACCENT PRESS – THE DEEPEST CUT BY NATALIE FLYNN

Time for book review number 6 for my 52 Books by 52 Publishers reading challenge. Today’s publisher is…

 

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Accent Press!

Accent Press is a feisty, independent publishing company.

 Founded by Hazel Cushion in 2003, Accent Press is an award-winning independent publisher which has become a major name for dynamic trade publishing. The company publishes a range of fiction and non-fiction titles across four imprints.  Accent Press was named Specialist Publisher of the Year and was shortlisted for Independent Publisher of the Year at the IPG Awards.  

The company is divided into four imprints:

  • Accent Press – The mainstream publishing imprint provides a wide range of fiction and non-fiction titles.
  • Xcite Books – This erotic imprint was started in 2007, becoming the UK’s largest erotic publisher and winning multiple ETO Awards.
  • Cariad – mainstream romance publishing sexy, contemporary women’s fiction.
  • Accent YA – There’s a new YA publisher in town. This exciting new list aimed at young adults launches in Spring 2016.

Find out more about accent press here.

 

And the book I’m reviewing is…

 

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‘You haven’t said a single word since you’ve been here. Is it on purpose?’ I tried to answer David but I couldn’t … my brain wanted to speak but my throat wouldn’t cooperate…

Adam blames himself for his best friend’s death. After attempting suicide, he is put in the care of a local mental health facility. There, too traumatized to speak, he begins to write notebooks detailing the events leading up to Jake’s murder, trying to understand who is really responsible and cope with how needless it was as a petty argument spiralled out of control and peer pressure took hold.

Sad but unsentimental, this is a moving story of friendship and the aftermath of its destruction.

I’ve been so lucky so far in that I’ve really loved every book I’ve read so far this year for my reading challenge. All but two of them have been independent publishers. What does that tell you? Yep, that indies pack a punch and are producing some of the best literature we have out there today.

The Deepest Cut is a young adult novel. No matter how old you are, I really think it’s enriching to read young adult novels. They really are something special, and with the huge popularity it has enjoyed over the last few years, it’s only getting better.

This book is sad, yes, and it made me bawl my eyes out on more than one occasion. It’s about a boy who lost his best friend to knife crime, after all. But it’s not just about the sadness. It’s about deep, undying male platonic love. It’s about the strength of friendship and about how no human being is infallible. It’s about grief and support and mental illness, specifically Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It’s about peer pressure and the fragility of teenager friendships. It’s about confusion and not really knowing who you are as a kid. It’s about craving acceptance and yearning for what once was. It’s about the difficulties of dealing with change.

What I especially love is that Natalie Flynn has managed to capture the voice of a teenage boy, a troubled teenage boy, so accurately and convincingly. I was a teenager only ten years ago, and I remember having some of the same worries and thoughts and feelings that the kids do in this book, and so it felt really authentic. Equally, his mental anguish felt very authentic too. It was particularly effective because for much of the narrative the focus is on simple teenager issues, and is then contrasted with very unusual ones, which deals an emotional blow.

The sheer contrast between the Adam before Jake’s murder and the Adam after his murder makes for quite heartbreaking reading. He just suddenly cares about nothing, except Jake. Life doesn’t matter to him anymore. He’s angry and resentful at his father for not caring about him and betraying him. He’s upset and terrified of people finding out how and why he’s complicit in Jake’s murder. He’s angry at people for not understanding him. And he’s angry at everyone who won’t just let him end his own life.

The story of Jake’s murder is told over a series of diary entries which Adam is writing for his psychotherapist to read in the mental hospital. These are interspersed with current-day narratives about Adam’s life in the present, post-murder and post- Adam’s mental breakdown. This kept me absolutely hooked as a reader, desperate to know who murdered Jake and why.

The most effective aspect of Flynn’s writing, for me, was how she brought Adam and Jake’s friendship to life. Their love for each other just radiates off the page. It makes the whole tragedy even more powerful to read about. It’s very good writing.

I think it would be especially important for teenagers to read this book as it highlights, very dramatically and colourfully, how important seemingly unimportant things are, at that age. It demonstrates the danger that can befall absolutely anyone. And it emphasises the seriousness of fighting and knife crime, which is often underestimated by young teens who sometimes feel invincible.

This book is a fantastic read for people of any age. Definitely one for your shelf. Well done Natalie Flynn and Accent press. I’ll be returning for more!

 

five stars

 

 

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More of Me by Kathryn Evans

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Ohh, I enjoyed this book SO MUCH.

“The world must not know about our freakery”. 

Teva’s life seems normal: school, friends, boyfriend. But at home she hides an impossible secret. Eleven other Tevas.

Because once a year, Teva separates into two, leaving a younger version of herself stuck at the same age, in the same house…watching the new Teva live the life that she’d been living. But as her seventeeth birthday rolls around, Teva is determined not to let it happen again. She’s going to fight for her future. Even if that means fighting herself.

If you want to read a book that is utterly unique (and I mean UNIQUE) and really fascinating, pick up a copy of this. More of Me is unlike any other book I’ve read and I absolutely sailed through it.

Teva has to battle with the every-day problems of your typical teenager: struggling with school work, getting into a good college, making friends, and keeping her relationship on track. She even has to deal with arguments and tensions that come with a large family – pretty normal for someone whose family is not mostly duplications of herself.

The book keeps you gripped throughout as Teva searches not only for answers as to why she is afflicted with this appalling condition, but for ways to stop it happening again so that she doesn’t end up like her former selves: imprisoned in a house while the newest Teva gets to go out and life a normal life, for just one year. Sixteen-year-old Teva is determined to not let it happen again to her. She wants to keep hold of her life and keep going.

The brilliant thing about this book is that the author, Kathryn Evans, has managed to take such a unique concept – one that obviously took some amazing literary imagination to begin with – and make it completely believable. She’s also managed to imagine how this condition would affect a young girl and put it in such clear and poetic language so that by the end of it Teva has your heart in the palm of her hands. Even the language that describes Teva’s love for her boyfriend Ollie is beautifully unique in its style:

“Walking up to Ollie was like being pulled into his orbit of normal. He looked up and saw me, his face cracking into the widest smile…I couldn’t help but be lifted by it….

when he gently touched the tip of his nose to my nose; when he twined his fingers into mine, our hands palm to palm, and held me in his gaze…sometimes I thought he half powered my life.”

Teva’s mother has a difficult life: she has to look after, hide and protect all of the reincarnations of her daughter, at each different age of her life, and I can’t begin to imagine what it would be like inside her head. To begin with, it sometimes feels like she is distant or only thinking of herself; but it couldn’t be further from the truth and as the truth unfolds the reader realises just how strong the woman is and how much heartache and trauma she has had to suffer through. She is an inspiration of a female character.

Teva herself is a great character and what makes this book so brilliant is that, because each of her former selves has their own personality, we get to know her in every way that she has always been: the terrified little six-year-old, the nonchalant 14-year-old, the cheeky and overconfident 12 and 13-year-old and the fiery, dominant 15-year-old. No other book can quite show you the many personalities of one person all at once. It really is great writing.

The narrative flows easily, it outlines both the true dangers of today’s digital world and the dangers of a completely imagined and wacky scenario. For this reason, you HAVE to put it on your priority reading list for this year. I absolutely loved it.

Thank you very much to Kathryn and the publisher Usborne for providing me with a copy of this book. This book was released yesterday and you can buy a copy here. Follow Kathryn Evans on Twitter @mrsbung

 

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