Thursday 10 January 2019

My Name Is Anna - Lizzy Barber

Two women – desperate to unlock the truth.
How far will they go to lay the past to rest?

ANNA has been taught that virtue is the path to God. But on her eighteenth birthday, she defies her Mamma’s rules and visits Florida’s biggest theme park.

She has never been allowed to go – so why, when she arrives, does everything seem so familiar? And is there a connection to the mysterious letter she receives on the same day?

ROSIE has grown up in the shadow of the missing sister she barely remembers, her family fractured by years of searching without leads. Now, on the fifteenth anniversary of her sister’s disappearance, the media circus resumes in full flow, and Rosie vows to uncover the truth.

But will she find the answer before it tears her family apart?

I first saw this book mentioned sometime during mid-2018 and thought it sounded like something I would love so, of course, I put my hand up when it came to a call for reviewers. Needless to say, I'm very glad I did...

My Name Is Anna is an interesting take on the child abduction story. Seen from 2 different viewpoints, the missing child herself, Emily who is now known as Anna, and Anna's sister, Rosie. Rosie was a baby at the time Emily was taken so has never really known anything else except that she should have an older sister. Her parents have stayed together, unusual in most cases, and had another child, Rob. 

Anna's life could not be more different from Rosie's. Instead of London, she's being brought up in the heat and humidity of Florida by a woman who is deeply religious, clean to a point of obsession, and extreme in her response to Anna's questions that involve her childhood.

The whole story starts when Anna is taken to Astroland, a theme park, by her boyfriend William, the local pastor's son. Forbidden from going there by her mother, Anna wants to go to the place where all her classmates have spent their free time but doesn't realize this is about to change her life forever.

It's not a spoiler to point out that Anna is Emily as this is revealed very early on in the book and the main theme is that of the two sisters both searching for 'Emily' but from different approaches. Rosie is very aware that time is running out to find her sister so takes a leap into the online forums about Emily to investigate herself. Anna is being pushed in the direction of 'Emily' thanks to gifts left in the mail by strangers, and by discovering that her mother may not have been exactly honest with her.

My Name Is Anna is full of twists, some of which are heartbreaking, and the ending itself? Is it an ending? Or something slightly more ambiguous. I loved My Name Is Anna and Lizzy Barber is definitely a talent to be watched. The devastating story of a parent looking away for seconds is written wonderfully and the effects on a family throughout the years following were absolutely gripping. If you're looking for a thriller seen from the family point of view rather than the investigative side, then do check out My Name Is Anna!

Huge thanks to Century/Penguin Random House and Rachel for a copy of the book and the chance to take part in the blog tour. Do check out the stops as there are plenty of reviews, guest posts, and interviews with Lizzy.

My Name Is Anna - Lizzy Barber

ISBN - 9781780899251
Publisher - Century
Release date - January 10th, 2019

Monday 7 January 2019

Guest Post: Top Books & TV For Young People With Neurodiverse Heroes

Before the wonderful Emily at Scholastic contacted me about taking part in the blog tour for Lightning Chase Me Home, I had already added the book to my wishlist. Having nearly all my nephews and a niece with dyslexia and various ADD diagnoses it had attracted my attention as there aren't that many books out there featuring children like them, or indeed television programmes. It's becoming more common now to see neurodiverse characters but in case you need some amazing recommendations I hope you enjoy this post by the author of Lightning Chase Me Home, the lovely Amber Lee Dodd!

Top Books & Television For Young People With Neurodiverse Heroes

Neurodiversity is quite simply anyone whose brain functions differently to the norm. It’s a term unlike disability, or learning difficulties, that can be used to celebrate people’s differences. The idea of celebrating and spotlighting characters, whose unique way of seeing the world, thankfully has been growing in literature and media. Lightning Chase Me Home can join other great books to have main characters with dyslexia such as Maggot Moon by Sally Gardener, Percy Jackson by Rick Riordan and Pages and Co by Anna James.
As for books portraying autism, we have amateur detectives and puzzle hunters like Christopher Boone from The Curious Incident of The Dog in the Night Time by Mark Haddon,  Kieran Woods from Smart by Kim Slater and Oskar Schell from Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer. We also have usual thinkers in the protagonists Rose from How to Look for a Lost Dog by Anne M. Martin and Willow Chance the misunderstood genius in Counting by Sevens by Holly Goldberg Sloan.
In television we have detectives like Sherlock, who although are not explicitly identified as being in the autistic spectrum, have many identifiably autistic-like traits, like hyperfocus and unique puzzle solving abilities. Its Sherlock’s unique mind that makes this show such a compelling watch. There’s also another teen series of Atypical, which follows the life of autistic teen Sam Gardener due out on Netflix. And not only do we have the first female Dr. Who, but we have her lovable dyspraxic side kick Ryan. The first time we meet Ryan he’s struggling to ride a bike,  he’s clumsy, uncoordinated and hugely flustered at himself. It’s something entirely relatable to so many children and adults with dyspraxia. And for me, the kid who was banned from skipping, it’s a triumph.

These are just some of the highlights of recent children and teens books and programming. And I hope it’s just the start of us seeing a different kind of hero.

About The Author

I was born and grew up in Portsmouth. The only Island city in the UK!

I hated reading when I was younger as I really struggled with it. I even ended up being the very last of my class to come off the reading books. But now I couldn't imagine going to bed without a book.
My favorite book changes all the time! There are just so many new and wonderful books being written. But I will forever have a soft spot for The Illustrated Mum by Jacqueline Wilson. It's the one book I got signed when I was younger and I still have it by my bedside.  

My favorite explorer changes all the time too. I just keep learning about more and more amazing ones. At the moment I'm reading about the adventures of the journalist Nellie Bly, who traveled the world in 72 days.

If I had a daemon or a patronus, it would probably be a platypus which is one of nature's most unlikely animals. It's part duck, beaver and otter. But whilst they look very silly on land, they are fierce underwater hunters.

Find Amber on Twitter, and Instagram!

Please do check out the rest of the blog tour for interviews, guest posts, and reviews!

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