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    First Line Fridays” is by Hoarding Books and is all about the first line of a current/upcoming read. Friday 56 is a meme hosted by Freda’s Voice, where you turn to page 56 (or 56%) in what you’re reading a find a snippet that jumps out at you. The idea to combine the two came from Kat @ Here There Be Dragons

    I found this meme on The Writerly Way. And I’m doing this on a Thursday just to be difficult.

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    Nobody’s Butterfly – Claire Davis & Al Stewart

    Cobweb ghosts are so inconvenient—especially grumpy ones with bad breath. Don’t they know silence is golden?

    Johnny Strong is the expert; he hasn’t spoken in two years. Not one word to anyone except the ghost. The main purpose of life is to avoid people and not get noticed. Friends? He doesn’t need them; and certainly nobody wants him despite what the ghost says.

    Until a new boy appears at Windybank—Finn Lyons, teenage wizard. He eats frogs, concocts potions, and is always hungry. Not only does Finn stand up for Johnny; he actively seeks his company and soon becomes part of life.
    First love; family and words; a heady mix to go in the potion but how will it all turn out?

    Hubble bubble; Johnny Strong’s in trouble! Silence is not always golden in this sweet, zany story of the purest magic at Christmas

    Quintessential Claire Davis & Al Stewart: an oh so fluffy mix of sweet, cute and mental disorder! 

    Like most CD & AS stories, Nobody’s Butterfly starts a bit cryptically, letting you wonder about the setting, why the characters are the way the are and then you have to figure out the special names, metaphors and whatever mental issues the MCs have. This could either be confusing and exasperating like in Dear Mona Lisa or poetic and magical as done brilliantly in this story.

    Everything’s endearingly pure and adorably quirky despite all the bad experiences Johnny and Finn experienced. Johnny Strong has not spoken for two years for reasons not explicitly explained but he talks to the ghost in the cobweb at his window. Enter Finn Lyons, who claims to be his wizard and seems to understand what Johnny was saying silently. Finn can cast magic spells that makes Johnny’s worries disappear.

    You’re the seeker,” Finn burped. “And I am your finder. But, of course, you already know that.”

    Finn drags the reluctant but not really Johnny on quests and adventures. The two boys just connected so beautifully and comfortably, it was warm and fuzzy all over. But Johnny was afraid that Finn would go away soon. That explosive scene where Johnny finally let it all out because he was thought they were sending Finn away was just the definition of heart wrenching.  

    “NO! And if you send him back there, you might as well kill me too. No.” The rant ended as more of a cry of pain than a shout. “I’ve thrown the suitcases away and flushed the door key down the toilet. I’ll sit in front of the door and you’ll have to get a crane to move me because you’re not taking my boyfriend. NO—no—no—no—no. I’ll call the police and the BBC and tell them.”
    “Johnny Strong,” Finn whispered into Johnny’s hair. He pulled back to wipe his face but more tears burst out. Johnny forgot about Greg and Anna. He nudged Finn’s nose with his own, and that led into a long, teary kiss, one he would remember for the rest of his life.

    This has a lot of similarities to Shut Your Face, Anthony Pace! which in my opinion is the duo’s best story (and an all-time favorite of mine). It’s also magical and reads like a fairy tale of sorts, the kind where poor orphans are abandoned in the care of big bad caretakers.  But here, the villains are not really bad, just human. It’s a  very moving and poignant tale of friendship, coming of age, finding connections and overcoming darkness. It tells us to believe, hope and love. It leaves us a message that 

    People don’t have to be perfect to be lovely.

    I definitely recommend this!

    4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits 

    Soundtrack: Amongst Butterflies
    Artist: Paul Weller
    Album: Paul Weller

    (source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36631025-nobody-s-butterfly)

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    Tork & Adam: If I Should Stumble – Claire Davis & Al Stewart

    Love is sure and timeless and forever. It whispers over the morning coffee and the last thought before sleep. Love is beyond hope, and cruel as life.

    Kaz has been in the UK for almost a year, but the days pass by in an endless round of alcohol and nothingness. He has a story but no words good or bad enough to tell it, until one day, he is assigned a new peer mentor who asks him to help train a sponsored running team. Something that was stretched as old parchment breaks inside, and memories begin to re-surface.

    Zack is overjoyed when his friend Adam asks him to be part of the sponsored run team trying to make money for the local homeless shelter. All day he makes cakes to lighten people’s load, but something is missing from his life. Then he meets the boy with eyes like the desert, and with every step he runs, Zack’s light burns away the darkness in Kaz’s heart.

    As the race heats gets nearer, Tork, Adam, Zack and Jo realise that under Kaz’s careful programme, they have a chance to qualify and set right some of the wrongs of this world.

    This book features the characters Tork and Adam from The Invasion of Tork and The Invasion of Adam.

    Reading about Kaz feeling guilty about liking boys, I wanted to shake him and tell him, it’s totally OK. Somehow I have taken it for granted because there are gays and lesbians everywhere here in my country, that in other places and other people still find it hard to come to terms with their sexuality. I’m so used to the fact that there is usually no big to-dos about coming out here. What usually happens is that a boy starts to get swishy at an early age, wears shorts that are too short, would more or less join gay beauty pageants and/or date another boy. People might make some insulting comments at first, then get used to the fact and would just treat them normally. I think it really helps that most gay guys have a great sense of humor so people tend to like them. 

    So I’m sorry Kaz, I wasn’t feeling your pain. But go! GIve Zack a hug, a kiss, whatever…be happy!!! Like Tork and Adam. You all deserve it.


    3 Stars – not exactly setting my world on fire but I liked it

    Soundtrack: Everytime I Thought About It I’d Burst Into Tears 
    Artist: Hello, Psychaleppo
    Album: Gool ‘lah

    (source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32742275-if-i-should-stumble)

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    Dear Mona Lisa… – Claire Davis & Al Stewart

    Tom, shy office clerk by day and drawer of foxes by night wakes up one Monday knowing the most extraordinary week of his life is about to begin. In five days time a lifelong ‘secret’ will be made gloriously public—but will it mean losing the person he loves most?

    Getting married…

    It seems like only yesterday Tom changed nappies and sang nursery rhymes to a laughing baby. He relishes the demands of being a daddy; especially teaching his little girl to draw and paint as she grows up.
    But the years tick by and times change. Long-buried secrets must come to the surface which may test even the strongest ties.

    Tom and Lawrence…

    He writes a list of all the things he has to do before the weekend and sticks it in the middle of his wall. The names and goals hang like threads of a spider’s web, inevitably leading to the centre, and all to the same place.

    Dear Mona Lisa…

    How to explain?
    Each morning he notes the colours of dawn, listens to the birds and waits for the perfect moment. In one hand rests the balance of life and a terrible responsibility, in the other a wedding ring. Difficult days and the past loom, but his friends rally round and one by one the words come to life.
    Everyone waits as Tom finds the strength to open up and set free the secrets of his heart in a celebration of family, friendship and love.
    A quirky story of modern life, set within the breathtaking landscape of Bradford.

    Claire Davis and Al Stewart create stories that are sweet and emotional. Dear Mona Lisa have all those feels in abundance. Why it merited two stars from me was because I struggled with the writing style. Right from the start I felt like I was dropped in the middle of a story so I was very much confused and quite frankly, bored with what Tom was talking about. From what he says, I think he has some special condition where his senses work differently (smells colours, sees animals everywhere, etc) which in itself was interesting but It took a while to figure out what was what which affected my experience with the story. However that’s just me. It clicked with most readers so ahead and give it a try.

    2 Stars – it’s a struggle to finish the damn book 

    Soundtrack: The Fox in the Snow
    Artist: Belle & Sebastian
    Album: If You’re Feeling Sinister

    (source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35848708-dear-mona-lisa)