Dear Charlie by N.D. Gomes

dear-charlieThere are plenty of fictional approaches to school shootings and massacres, and quite a few of them are really good.What makes Dear Charlie an interesting read is the fact it is written from a different perspective. Instead of the voice of the victims or the survivors, it’s the voice of the killer’s family.

In general they tend to be absolutely slated and portrayed in an overwhelmingly negative light by the media, the world and the people around them. In the majority of cases they are just as shocked by the actions of their children, siblings, grandchildren or family members, as every other person. Tragically they are also often the first victims in these kind of situations.

Sam has gone from being the younger brother of the artistic and supposedly happy Charlie, to the brother of a killer. His mother and father are now the parents of a killer. People look to them for answers and they also blame all three of them.

Pair those emotions, projected on them by others, with their own feelings of guilt, inadequacy and shame, and it’s no wonder they all begin to fall apart. To top it all off both Sam and his mother have to contend with the reactions of the people they interact with on a daily basis. Sam suffers terribly at the hands of his cruel peers.

In a way you can almost see how someone could be pushed to breaking point, although it does take a specific combination of events, triggers, characteristics and perhaps even mental health issues for a mass-killer to emerge and act upon their dark fantasies.

I enjoyed the way Gomes shows the disintegration and isolation of the family unit, the difficulty Sam experiences and his search for answers, all in equal measure. The reader experiences the confusion and the constant question of why, and of course the realisation that sometimes you don’t get the answers you need or want.

It was almost a perfect read except for a slight deviation into an en vogue YA narrative towards the end. Up to that point Gomes keeps it brutally realistic and void of any superfluous information, scenes and emotions. It is a really good read.

Buy Dear Charlie at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Today! Blog-Tour: Something in Between by Melissa de la Cruz

Today it is my pleasure to host the Blog-Tour for Something in Between by Melissa de la Cruz. Cruz brings a lot of understanding and awareness to the topic of illegal immigrants. Read all about it in my review below.

About the author

Melissa de la Cruz is the author of many best-selling novels, including the Blue Bloods series; the Au Pairs series; the Ashleys series; and Angels on Sunset Boulevard. She is also a frequent contributor to Glamour, Marie Claire, Teen Vogue, and Cosmopolitan. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and daughter, and is hard at work on her next book.

Connect with Melissa at, on Facebook or follow @MelissadelaCruz and @HQYoungAdult and look out for #SomethingInBetween on Twitter.

Buy Something in Between

About the book

Jasmine de los Santos has always done what’s expected of her. Pretty and popular, she’s studied hard, made her Filipino immigrant parents proud and is ready to reap the rewards in the form of a full college scholarship.

And then everything shatters. A national scholar award invitation compels her parents to reveal the truth: their visas expired years ago. Her entire family is illegal. That means no scholarships, maybe no college at all and the very real threat of deportation.

For the first time, Jasmine rebels, trying all those teen things she never had time for in the past. Even as she’s trying to make sense of her new world, it’s turned upside down by Royce Blakely, the charming son of a high-ranking congressman. Jasmine no longer has any idea where—or if—she fits into the American Dream. All she knows is that she’s not giving up. Because when the rules you lived by no longer apply, the only thing to do is make up your own.


Cruz draws heavily on her own experiences, family history and personal situation for this story. It gives it an element of legitimacy and the reader may feel more empathy towards the characters.

Jasmine is a hard-working law-abiding young woman, who is on the academic path towards success, It seems as if she has it all when she literally achieves the academic equivalent of a cherry on top of the cake.

She expects joy, pride and excitement, but instead her parents are concerned and apprehensive. Then they burst Jasmine’s bubble of perfection. In one fell swoop her life is destroyed and her clear path towards college and career have now suddenly become unobtainable.

As an illegal she belongs nowhere. Legally she technically doesn’t even exist in the country she grew up in. She has no rights and no real status. Adieu to her scholarship, her college plans and her happily ever after.

One thing that Cruz explains really well is the general attitude towards illegal immigrants. In fact just the general demeanour towards immigrants, refugees and illegals has become a hot topic in many countries in the last decade. Jasmine feels as if her peers will think she is a criminal, a filthy person and someone they don’t want to associate with.

Many people find themselves in similar situations to the de los Santos family. Victims of simple mistakes, bureaucracy, circumstance and often just the fear of the inevitable. Men and women with jobs, homes and children in school. The people next door or across the street.

The courts treat them with contempt and are completely disinterested in the personal tales of these people. No one is interested in the fact they are contributing members of society or could be beneficial to the country. They become numbers, statistics and afterthoughts.

Something in Between mixes important political and socio-economic issues, whilst keeping the general vibe of a young adult book. It is a story that can happen to anyone. People who want to better themselves and their children’s lives. They want to give them every opportunity to succeed in life, especially if it isn’t possible in their own country. Can anyone really fault them for trying?

Buy Something in Between at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

The Outliers by Kimberly McCreight

ouylierI’m not sure Cassie is what I would call a good friend or a friend at all for that matter. Do friends dump you to become part of the popular group in school? Do friends abandon you in your hour of need, and most importantly do they put you in a dangerous situation to make their own lives easier?

Cassie seems to be quite a selfish young lady, who likes to embrace trouble and the wild side of life. Trying to coerce your friends to join you in the middle of nowhere, not to tell anyone and put themselves in danger. All those choices lack common sense.

Jasper doesn’t appear to live up to all the bad reputation that trails behind him. In fact a lot of the stories seem to be flavoured by the input of others. More specifically by Cassie. Begs the question, why would she want Wylie to think the worst of her boyfriend?

As soon as they reach the camp everything becomes a little far-fetched. Who sent which messages to whom was especially confusing.

The plot goes from a friend in need and possibly mixed up with drugs to a whole different ball game.Wylie and her friends are suddenly a commodity.Then she is part of an elite group of gifted individuals. The goal posts keep changing during the story.

It wasn’t necessarily the change in the storyline that made this seem a bit chaotic. It was as if the author changed her mind about the plot and made the end of it fit in with the rest. With more clarity and direction this could be an interesting series.

Buy The Outliers at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.