I Hold Your Heart by Karen Gregory

Published: 11th July 2019
Publisher: Bloomsbury Press
Pages: 320
About:
The tense, tender must-read book of the summer – perfect for fans of Louise O’Neill and Sara Barnard
‘You make me feel like there’s something good in the world I can hold on to,’ Aaron says. He kisses me again, draws me so close it’s almost hard to breathe. ‘I love you, Gem. And I promise I’ll hold your heart forever.’
When Gemma meets Aaron, she feels truly seen for the first time. Their love story is the intense kind. The written-in-the-stars, excluding-all-others kind. The kind you write songs about.
But little by little their relationship takes over Gemma’s life. What happens when being seen becomes being watched, and care becomes control?
Told in both Gemma’s and Aaron’s words, this is a raw, moving exploration of gaslighting in teenage relationships that skewers our ideas of what love looks like.

First Thoughts

Karen Gregory’s third book has cemented her as the most current and much needed author out there. Her work isn’t about escapism, but about emphathy, relatability and recognision. Countless was such a popular book within my personal lending library in school that I had to purchase three additional copies to keep up with demand. It was also the book that developed a number of students into ‘reader’; begging for other books ‘like this’

Characters

Gemma and Aaron are such important characters that represent so many different people in the real world.
Gemma’s voice is strong and emotive. I see not only much of myself in her, but I know many other peopoole who would relate to her and her friendship group. She’s someone you’ll take to your heart as things go wrong; long before Gemma realises it herself.
Aaron is someone who breaks my heart. He’s the guy I fell for only two years ago. I fell for all the lines, all the promises and accepted all the abuse. While he wasn’t a carbon copy, there was enough there for me to regonside. It’s quite clever how Aaron’s been created as he is able to present as a number of types of ‘toxic’ partners while being a well rounded character in himself. For me he represents a narcasist who went from ‘as you wish’ and ‘I’m looking for a flat to rent near you.’ to ‘your crush on me is sad. I stopped loving you, you should do the same about your crush’ and ‘I never said that’ within a blink of an eye. However, to others Aaron will be the constrictive and obsessive boyfriend who cuts a girl off from everyone else in her life.

Plot

The scariest part about the plot, is the short space of time it takes up. It’s the key of a toxic relationship and it’s surprising how easy it is to get caught up in one. By presenting it as part of a fictional story, it allows the reader to consider their views from a safe environment. I hope that it allows readers to recognise warning behaviours and, hopefully, it will ensure they don’t allow themselves to be suckered in.
The sub-plot is wonderful and allows the reader to root for Gemma. By giving her the Country singing and songwriting competion, you can truly see how much she is being controlled.

Writing

As always, Gregory has a wonderful way with words that gives her characters authentic and truly relatable voices. Having this story told from the perspective of both Gemma and Aaron makes for a rather interesting read. I was overwhelmed at my own wish to be educated on the inner voice of a person who is able to do what Aaron does to someone else.
However, what I did find comforting was the message found within the pages; that I didn’t actually need to look for those answers. That actually, the most important thing was that I didn’t need the answer to tell myself that it wasn’t something I’d done to change my Aaron. It was always going to end that way and what I needed to have done was recognise the behaviours before I compromised my dream like Gemma did.

Final Thoughts

I’m so incredibly gratful for this read. It was painful, at times, but so bloody inforrmative. There’s a moment that chilled me to the bone, there were moments I wanted to pull Gemma out of the story and away from Aaron but the cathartic relief I gained from knowing I’m not the only one to go through something similar, is so valuable.

Love Han x

Book review: I Hold Your Heart by Karen Gregory

Karen Gregory’s third book has cemented her as the most current and much needed author out there. Her work isn’t about escapism, but about emphathy, relatability and recognision. Countless was such a popular book within my plending library in school that I had to purchase three additional copies to keep up with demand. It was also the book that developed a number of students into ‘reader’; begging for other books ‘like this’

Characters

Gemma and Aaron are such important characters that represent so many different people in the real world.

Gemma’s voice is strong and emotive. I see not only much of myself in her, but I know many other peopoole who would relate to her and her friendship group. She’s someone you’ll take to your heart as things go wrong; long before Gemma realises it herself.

Aaron is someone who breaks my heart. He’s the guy I fell for only two years ago. I fell for all the lines, all the promises and accepted all the abuse. While he wasn’t a carbon copy, there was enough there for me to regonside. It’s quite clever how Aaron’s been created as he is able to present as a number of types of ‘toxic’ partners while being a well rounded character in himself. For me he represents a narcasist who went from ‘as you wish’ and ‘I’m looking for a flat to rent near you.’ to ‘your crush on me is sad. I stopped loving you, you should do the same about your crush’ and ‘I never said that’ within a blink of an eye. However, to others Aaron will be the constrictive and obsessive boyfriend who cuts a girl off from everyone else in her life.

Plot

The scariest part about the plot, is the short space of time it takes up. It’s the key of a toxic relationship and it’s surprising how easy it is to get caught up in one. By presenting it as part of a fictional story, it allows the reader to consider their views from a safe environment. I hope that it allows readers to recognise warning behaviours and, hopefully, it will ensure they don’t allow themselves to be suckered in.

The sub-plot is wonderful and allows the reader to root for Gemma. By giving her the Country singing and songwriting competion, you can truly see how much she is being controlled.

The writing

As always, Gregory has a wonderful way with words that gives her characters authentic and truly relatable voices. Having this story told from the perspective of both Gemma and Aaron makes for a rather interesting read. I was overwhelmed at my own wish to be educated on the inner voice of a person who is able to do what Aaron does to someone else.

However, what I did find comforting was the message found within the pages; that I didn’t actually need to look for those answers. That actually, the most important thing was that I didn’t need the answer to tell myself that it wasn’t something I’d done to change my Aaron. It was always going to end that way and what I needed to have done was recognise the behaviours before I compromised my dream like Gemma did.

Final Thoughts

I’m so incredibly gratful for this read. It was painful, at times, but so bloody inforrmative. There’s a moment that chilled me to the bone, there were moments I wanted to pull Gemma out of the story and away from Aaron but the cathartic relief I gained from knowing I’m not the only one to go through something similar, is so valuable.

Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer #bookreview #Han #Zoellabookclub

Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer #bookreview #Han #Zoellabookclub

From Amazon: Juliet Young always writes letters to her mother, a world-traveling photojournalist. Even after her mother’s death, she leaves letters at her grave. It’s the only way Juliet can cope.

Declan Murphy isn’t the sort of guy you want to cross. In the midst of his court-ordered community service at the local cemetery, he’s trying to escape the demons of his past.

When Declan reads a haunting letter left beside a grave, he can’t resist writing back. Soon, he’s opening up to a perfect stranger, and their connection is immediate. But neither Declan nor Juliet knows that they’re not actually strangers. When life at school interferes with their secret life of letters, sparks will fly as Juliet and Declan discover truths that might tear them apart.

Goodreads

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First Thoughts
It was going to be a tough read for me. I always knew that. In fact, until Zoe announced it was this week’s focus for the Zoella book club chat I had no intention of reading this book. I thought it was too close to home and I buried it, much like my feelings about death and grief.
I’m really glad I did. Yes, it was a painful read. It was tough going, but there was something a little cathartic about the process.

 

Characters

I was able to engage and empathise with most of the characters. Brigid Kemmerer was able to create almost mirror-like characters that reflect the reader’s experiences that add depth to the characters. From the frustration and anger of Juliet, the warmth of the English teacher to the angst-ridden guilt of Declan.
The characters do grow throughout the narrative, but what I like most is that their growth does not end when the book does. You know that they have further to go, but they’ll get there.
I have more of an attachment to Declan. Perhaps it’s how long he’s had to grief by the opening of the narrative or his specific form of guilt. It could even be my love of his friend, Rev but what I love most of all is how genuine his character is; I’ve seen kids like him in my classes and it’s fascinating to see potential inner workings.

Plot

In what could have been a predictable You’ve Got Mail, grief by numbers I am delighted to say I had the rug pulled from under me a few times; and I was looking at it analytically trying to see the red herrings. I can’t really say more without spoiling the twist/s, but I can say that it helps develop a refreshing look at family, coping with death and living up to your own expectations.

Writing

It did take me a few more chapters than normal to get into the flow of which voice belonged to whom. I think this was perhaps owing to many chapters having the voices of Juliet and Declan both present; one as narrator other letter writer.
However, by the time the characters moved to other forms of communicating, I was well and truly hooked.
zbc&f-summer2017-reviews-letters

If you’ve read the book, please join the wonderful @zcollins1994 (along with myself and Gem) on Saturday 2nd September 6pm as Zoe hosts her weekly #zoellabookclub chat on Twitter (http://www.nosaferplace.co.uk/2017/07/zoella-book-club-chat.html – Zoe explains it much better in her own words here). If you haven’t read the book, head over to Zoe’s YouTube channel at 5pm https://www.youtube.com/nosaferplace and you also still have time.

Look forward to seeing you there.

The Bone Season: Samantha Shannon #review

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Release date: 24.4.2014

From Amazon:

EVEN A DREAMER CAN START A REVOLUTION

Nineteen-year-old Paige Mahoney works in the criminal underworld of Scion London. Her job: to scout for information by breaking into people’s minds. For Paige is a dreamwalker, a clairvoyant and, in the world of Scion, she commits treason simply by breathing.

Summary

I love this book. I don’t know how I’m so late in reading it. I believe my best friend had told me about it many, many times. However, it went in one ear, out the other. I’m frustrated that it took me three days to read, however circumstances what they are, I kept getting ripped out of this world and into my own.

Characters

Paige
What I love about the development of Paige is the fact that nothing is made of her gender. There are comments of strength and weakness, but they are never in relation to her being female.
She is flawed, as the best heroes always are. Paige is our eyes into the world in which Clairvoyance has been declared illegal. She’s strong willed, moral (to a point) and selfless.

I love her and I can’t wait to delve into the sequels. At no point did I wish I could see the efforts of Jax, Nick et al once Paige had been taken. I felt like I was supporting her, just by being there. She had me hooked from the start and I will never leave Paige’s side so long as Shannon keeps writing.

Warden
Warden started life in my mind as a younger love child of Alan Rickman and David Warner. If I’m honest, he still remained that way, he just got younger as the book progressed. With an air of mystery, I wasn’t quite sure of him even as I closed the book.
However, his motives did seem clear as I came to the final act. Without spoiling them all I can say is Shannon excels in drip feeding believable hints that make the ending believable.
He’s someone I craved to see more and more throughout the book. I wanted him to be someone a little more than he seemed; Shannon does not disappoint.

Story

The story is artfully woven, throwing the reading readily into the world of seclusion, mythology and resentment. While there are action sequences, Shannon takes her time in building up relationships between characters.
Using whole chapters to delve into Paige’s past could, in other writer’s hands, seem clunky. However, Shannon develops these scenes and doesn’t allow the narrative to lose its flow while reading. Once you have finished the book, you will see how clever and creative these additions are to the story. Not only in terms of character, but to the plot and world building as well.
The story hints at a literary universe that will be with us for many years. Paige is for those of us who have needed something a little bit more substantial than the dystopian trilogies on offer. This story has given us enough questions to run for a series of books and perhaps be compared to that of Harry Potter and Cassandra Clare in terms of scope.
The most important aspect of this story is that it gives you a satisfying ending while leaving you with questions.

Writing

Part way through I text a friend and recommended this book to her. She loves The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothuss. I will have to relent and say this writing is better for me. The styles are similar, but Shannon is much more concise and flowing. As much as I love Rothuss myself, I have to read his work in chunks. The Bone Season would have been read in one sitting had I not been attacked by unrelenting conversations of my father.
For a story set in the future, I’m so happy that the writing still brought in an element of an old world. It drew itself back into nature. At least it did for me.
I would put this alongside Lani Taylor’s Daughter of… series too. The writing, like Lani’s, is griping, gritty and pure. It takes you to another world; something many writers would love to achieve and here is Shannon, doing so with an organic ease.

I’m very much looking forward to getting back to London so I can purchase the next two books available. I’m even ignoring my distress at having to buy the third in hardback.

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