Tuesday 8 May 2018

The Girl in the Broken Mirror Blog Tour: Savita Kalhan's Top Ten YA Books That Deal With Sensitive Topics

I am so absolutely thrilled to have the wonderful Savita Kalhan here with us today!  Her newest book, The Girl in the Broken Mirror, is a powerful and moving book about such a difficult but important topic.  I am so very excited to be helping get the word out there about this wonderful book and I really hope you all go and grab a copy!  But first, let me just say thank you so much to Savita for including me in the tour and for putting together this amazing list of books!

Hi Megan! Thank so you much for inviting me on your blog today. 
The Girl in the Broken Mirror came out on May 1st, and it’s SO exciting seeing it out there and seeing people reading it! Yes, it’s a tough subject matter, so keep a box of tissues handy, but it’s necessary that books about rape and sexual assault are there for teens and young adults, for them to know that they are not alone, and that there is help and light at the end of the darkness.
So here’s my list of books that deal with sensitive issues for teens and young adults.
All the books below have left an impression on me. Each of them tackles a difficult or sensitive subject in teen/YA literature, subjects that need to be written about and read, and discussed, voices that need to be heard. All these books deserve a place on a bookshelf in a school library and a bookshop.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas – Subject: racism/class. Angie Thomas was inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement to write this story of Starr who witnesses her friend Khalil being shot at point blank range by a police officer. Khalil had committed no crime. This is such an important book for the times we live in, well-written, hard-hitting. Brilliant.

Last Leaves Falling by Sarah Benwell – terminal illness/suicide. Set in Kyoto in Japan, the story follows seventeen year old Sora, confined to a wheelchair at home with a terminal illness ALS, Lou Gehrig’s Disease – he has months left to live. It is a devastatingly moving story about loneliness, friendship, and death. This book had me in tears!

No Virgin and No Shame by Anne Cassidy – Subject: rape/trial. Anne Cassidy gives voice to her teen victim, Stacey Woods, raped by a privileged middle class white man who thinks he did no wrong, much in the way that my own book explores this issue from the Asian perspective. It is a powerful uncompromising book.

(Un)arranged Marriage by Bali Rai – Subject: arranged marriage/culture clash. This was Bali Rai’s debut novel and it was based on a personal experience. It is set partly in the UK and partly in an area in Punjab, and explores what it is to be a British Asian who is expected to conform to his parent’s wishes – even when it comes to who he should marry.

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys – Subject: war. This subject of this book is a little known but devastating tragedy of the Second World War – the German ship, the Wilhelm Gustloff, was sunk in port in early 1945 and it had over 9000 civilian refugees, including children, on board. Nearly all were drowned. Told from the perspective of four different characters from four different backgrounds, it follows them as they make their way across Europe to where refugee ships await. It’s a heart-breaking story.

Orangeboy by Patrice Lawrence – Subject: drugs. This is more than a gripping urban thriller. It is about sixteen year old Marlon who finds himself embroiled in a murder. The book explores themes of family and loyalty and the lengths Marlon feels he has to go to in order to protect those he loves.

I Have No Secrets by Penny Joelsen – Subject: extreme disability. Fourteen year old Jemma is a clever, engaging teenager with extreme cerebral palsy – she cannot communicate at all and is reliant on others for everything. When her carer goes missing, Jemma knows who has taken her, but she cannot voice her suspicions, until a new trial technology is developed which might allow her to finally find her voice. This is such a unique book. You will love Jemma and be rooting for her all the way!

I am Thunder by Muhammad Khan – Subject: grooming/terrorism. Fifteen year old Muzna has what she calls #BrownGirlProblems – her parents want her to be a doctor and she wants to be writer. With super strict Pakistani and feeling stifled by them and the traditional community, she falls for a boy in her class and ends up embroiled in a terrorist cell. The book was inspired by the author’s shock at the news that three Muslim girls had left the UK to join the Islamic State.

Looking at the Stars by Jo Cotterill and Hidden by Miriam Halahmy – Subject: refugees. Looking at the Stars is set mainly in a refugee camp where Amina has ended up sheltering in after her family were forced to leave their home. Their life is grim, the conditions harsh, yet Amina finds a way to give some comfort to the kids of the camp with her story-telling. It’s a story of keeping hope alive. In Hidden, a refugee is washed ashore on Hayling Island and rescued by fourteen year old Alix and Samir. The book explores the issues of illegal immigration, refugees, bullying and xenophobia. It is due to be republished soon – and is being produced as a play, too.

The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B by Teresa Toten – psychiatric disorders/OCD. Adam has extreme OCD, a condition which makes every day things like opening a door difficult. He joins a counselling group, who meet in Room 13b, and finds that other kids struggle with similar problems and other conditions. He also falls in love for the first time. I loved this book – it’s sad, it’s funny, and very poignant.

Thanks so much for inviting me here today, Megan. I hope your readers look up all the books I’ve mentioned – they are all really great reads.

Previous Stop on The Girl in the Broken Mirror Blog Tour: Tales of Yesterday
Next Stop on The Girl in the Broken Mirror Blog Tour: The Teen Librarian

Wow, thank you so much for this list, Savita!  I have a few new books to add to my TBR now!
And, everyone, do check out Savita’s website, follow her on Twitter and Instagram and Facebook, and add The Girl in the Broken Mirror to your Goodreads TBR list ASAP!


About Savita Kalhan:
I was born in my grandparent’s home in a small village in the north of India. The family home has been transformed into an amazing charity hospital, which is pretty cool. I moved with my parents from that small village in India to a small town in Buckinghamshire when I was 11 months old. No, I’ve never got used to the cold or the damp or the rain
I went to uni in Aberystwyth, where the winters were colder and the seas stormy, and got happily stuck there for a few years before heading to London and life as an impoverished batik artist, before taking the plunge and getting married in Manila. Then I headed off to the desert heat of the Middle East where I lived and taught English for several years, read like a demon, and started writing.
I’ve never stopped writing. I hope I never do.

Now, I’m in North London, with a view of the woods, a stone’s throw from my allotment where I fight a daily battle against the onslaught of an army of slugs and wrestle with plotlines, and the tennis club where I slug a few balls, and my writing shed at the bottom of the garden where I write.


The Rest of the Blog Tour:

Friday 4 May 2018

The Company of Eight by Harriet Whitehorn: Blog Tour Review

Hello, book addicts! I'm so very excited to be taking part in The Company of Eight's blog tour! I adored this book and I can't wait for children everywhere to experience the Longest World and go on adventures with Cass and her friends! If you like circuses, pirates and adventure, this book is definitely for you! So give my review a little read and then go out and buy yourself a copy!


The Company of Eight by Harriet Whitehorn
Publisher: Stripes Publishing
Format: ARC**
Published: 3rd May 2018
Number of Pages: 208
Book: For Review* 
Genre:  Fantasy, Adventure, Coming-Of-Age, Middle-Grade
Recommended Age: 9+
Contains: Violence, Alcohol References
Author's Site: Harriet Whitehorn

Blurb From Goodreads:
When Ravellous's Circus Ship comes to Minaris, Cass is determined to audition despite her guardian Mrs Potts's disapproval. But when her chance is snatched away from her, Cass refuses to give up. She sets out to follow the Circus Ship and the journey leads her into dangers that challenge even her adventurous spirit. Will she succeed in following her dream, or is her destiny something altogether different? 
A beautifully written adventure story for fans of The Girl of Ink and Stars from Harriet Whitehorn, award-winning author of the Violet series.

“I am afraid I cannot name them all, but overall they were known as Mele’s Sword Fighters or the Company of Eight.
“The Company still survives today, helping those in need and vanquishing evil, as they did in Mele’s time, but these days, it has become an underground organisation and the identity of its eight members is a closely guarded secret.”
All Cass wants to do is get out of the Magical District and join the Circus Boat.  She wants to be an acrobat aboard their ship – where her utterly un-magical nature isn’t seen as being weird.
But when she misses her audition, she is forced to re-evaluate, and decides she wishes to spend the next year on the Island of Women until she can try out again.
And when she manages to impress Lord Bastien, the Protector of the Longest World, she decides to travel with him aboard his Palace Ship.
But she soon realises Bastien and his son have ulterior motives – ones Cass is entirely uncomfortable with!  Before long, she has become entangled with thieves and slavers... and the Company of Eight, a legendary set of female sword-fighters who could be her only hope...
When I saw Company of Eight on Stripe’s Instagram page, I commented instantly because it sounded and looked brilliant.  And when they offered me an ARC to read?  Of course I said yes please!  I won’t lie, I’ve been so stuck in my YA fantasies lately that getting into this took a little time, but I was soon totally wrapped up in the story!  This is the kind of book I would’ve been absolutely obsessed with ten years ago – and one I thoroughly enjoyed today, aged twenty-one.  It was magical and exciting and full of adventure and kick-butt women. 
Cass was such an awesome character – brave and clever and loyal.  While she made a few decisions I didn’t really agree with, I still loved her character.  She was great fun and a real role-model (running away aside!) who was never afraid to stand up for herself and went out of her way to help her friends.
I really loved all the supporting characters too!  Especially Rip – he was so sweet and just such a good friend!  And Elsba was amazing – such a wonderfully strong female!  She was just so very strong and so kind.  
However, I was not a fan of the pirates or a certain lord.  At all.  The pirates were just cruel and that lord was just an absolute jerk!   I also want to say that even though a lot of the characters weren’t around long, as Cass is often moving around the Longest World, I felt all of them were well developed and different and just good fun!  My favourite minor character just had to be Lion – he was adorable.
Ah, this story!  It was the perfect amount of thrills, excitement, humour, magic and suspense and I thoroughly enjoyed it!  It’s honestly the perfect bedtime story read – only be prepared for a lot of ‘just one more chapter’.  I literally finished this book in two sittings (it would have been one, but my friends insisting on badgering me with messages in the middle of my binge read).  I was constantly excited and engaged in the plot – I loved the twists, turns, pirates and sword fighters!  It was just such a fun read.
And, as I pointed out earlier, I’ve been reading too many adult and YA fantasies lately so the writing did take a little getting used to, since it’s far simpler compared to what I was used to.  But it’s engaging and exciting and soon had me within its grip!  It’s the perfect level for its intended audiences, although the fairly short chapters are a danger – I literally just kept thinking ‘one more chapter... one more chapter’.  And then it was 2a.m and I wanted book two, please.  Please tell me there’s going to be a book two!  I’m not done with Cass and the Eight yet!
Oh and I really enjoyed this world – I’m so happy the finished book comes with a map!   I’m a big map fan.  Plus this map is gorgeous – and shows me where all my favourite places in the Longest World are!
This is the perfect book for young readers to read alone or as a bedtime story – it’s fun, exciting and magical.  Plus it has acrobats, pirates, Lords and a team of awesome female sword fighters!  What isn’t to love?

Star Rating:
4 Out of 5

Read this book if you liked:
The Huntress Series by Sarah Driver
The Girl of Ink and Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargrave
A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

Happy Reading
* This book was received from Stripes in exchange for an honest review
** Quotes used are from a proof copy and may have been changed in the finished book


Previous Stop on The Company of Eight Blog Tour: Chrikaru Reads
Next Stop on the The Company of Eight Blog Tour: Tanya's Allsorts


Ah, I really hope there is a book two! Everyone, go and read The Company of Eight! 
Also definitely check out Harriet's website, follow her on Twitter and Instagram and Facebook, and add The Company of Eight to your Goodreads TBR ASAP list!