READ WITH PRIDE – Lucy Powrie

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RELEASED: 28/5/2020
PUBLISHER: Hachette
GENRE: Young Adult, Teen, Contemporary, LGBT

The much anticipated second book in The Paper & Hearts Society series by Booktuber Lucy Powrie. Will you be the next recruit for The Paper & Hearts Society book club? For fans of Holly Smale and Super Awkward.

Olivia Santos is excited for her last year at secondary school. But when a parent complains about LGBTQ+ content in one of the books, the library implements a new policy for withdrawing books. Olivia is distraught – she’s demisexual and knows how important it is for all readers to see themselves represented.

Luckily, she’s the mastermind behind The Paper & Hearts Society book club, and she knows exactly what to do: start a new club, find ways of evading the system, and change the policy for good!

With two book clubs to run, exams to prepare for, and a girlfriend, just how long will it be before Olivia burns out? After all, creating a book club and trying to get the #ReadWithPride hashtag to get noticed is going to take a lot of energy.

Sometimes, when you’re in too deep, it’s up to your friends to look out for you…

One of my favourite debuts of all time was Lucy Powrie’s The Paper & Hearts Society, so naturally I was VERY excited to read Read With Pride on that basis. I’d connected so much to the characters in book one and really had “found my people”. That possibly was the one hesitation I had going into Read With Pride; I wasn’t sure how much I’d connect to how the characters were feeling; I’m not from the LGBT community. I definitely need not have worried however; this book was so inclusive and covered such a variety of characters and the issues raised were ones that I wholeheartedly agreed with the indignation that Olivia felt!

The key theme that the book starts with is the completely absurd rules brought in at her school that requires parental permission to read books that have LGBT themes – that kind of control and oppression is wrong! I’m fortunate that I’ve never had my reading limited by themes or age appropriateness – I’ve always been free to make my own choices about what I read and to assess their suitability for myself. I can’t even begin to imagine how it must feel to be told you can’t read something because it contains things that someone else has deemed inappropriate without good reason. I fully understood where Olivia was coming from.

I also really connected to Olivia in how she takes on too much! It was really important how Lucy highlighted that sometimes you don’t have to do everything yourself and that you can rely on others to help! Despite not featuring as much in the story, The Paper & Hearts Society really rallied round Olivia at her time of need and they showed how strong their friendship is – they really are a good bunch!

Overall, I really did enjoy Read With Pride! I did miss Tabby a lot as she’s really my favourite member of the society, but it was really interesting to see things from Olivia’s perspective and to see how actually I did have a fair bit in common with her! Yet again, Lucy’s writing was brilliant and made you want to keep reading, and was approachable to readers from the teen market upwards which is something I really love to find!

MELT MY HEART – Bethany Rutter

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RELEASED: 23/7/2020
PUBLISHER: Macmillan
GENRE: YA Fiction, Contemporary, LGBT

Melt My Heart is a hilarious and inspiring coming-of-age YA novel from Bethany Rutter: influencer, editor and a fierce UK voice in the debate around body positivity.

Lily Rose is used to people paying attention to her gorgeous twin sister, Daisy. But even though Lily loves her own fat body, she can’t shake the idea that no one would ever choose her over Daisy – not when they could have the thin twin.

That is, until she meets Cal, the gorgeous, sweet guy from New Zealand who can’t seem to stay away. The gorgeous, sweet guy who also happens to be Daisy’s summer crush.

Lily can’t seem to figure out why she isn’t as into him as she should be. She should be head-over-heels in love, not missing time at the ice-cream shack with her life-long best friend, Cassie. Not wondering what Cassie is getting up to with Cal’s friend Jack, or what she’s thinking about when they’re alone . . .

With University threatening to tear Cassie and Lily apart at the end of summer and Lily desperately trying to keep Cal a secret from Daisy, summer is set to be far from relaxing.

Last year, one of my favourite releases was No Big Deal by Bethany Rutter. So, I was very excited to see that there is a new book coming out from Bethany this year! Again, I requested it as soon as I saw it and, again, I wasn’t disappointed!

The thing that I absolutely love about Bethany’s books is how the sensitive topic of body image is discussed so positively and in a way that’s accessible and non-judgemental. In Melt My Heart, our narrator Lily clearly has some insecurities over being a bigger girl, but it’s not the sole focus of the story and it’s doesn’t define her and we also see how body insecurities affect everyone.

I also love in Melt My Heart that it’s set during that strange period between sixth form and university, and that it also challenges whether university is the right option for everyone. Just because someone’s seen as “university material” doesn’t mean that it’s the path they have to take, and that’s something I wish I’d known back when I was 18!

Overall, I really enjoyed this book; there were some really interesting storylines taking place and I loved getting to know the characters! They’re definitely ones that I’d love to revisit a few months later to see how they’re getting on!


Thank you to MyKindaBook via NetGalley for the ebook of this title!

ASKING FOR A FRIEND – Kate Mallinder

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RELEASED: 04/06/2020
PUBLISHER: Firefly Press
GENRE: Teen Contemporary Fiction

A feel-good YA story from the author of Summer of No Regrets about valuing the friends that value you. Agnes, Hattie and Jake travel on the school bus together but don’t know each other well. They plan a week in Weston as a ‘study break’ before exams but none of them admit the real reasons they need to get away. Agnes must find her sister. Hattie can’t bear being home now all her friends have ghosted her. And Jake is afraid he’s ill and has absolutely no idea how to tell anyone. Thrown together, what will happen when the secrets start to spill out?

I always find that there’s a bit of a gap between children’s books and young adult, and that there is definitely a lack of just teen fiction. So, when I was given the opportunity to read Kate Mallinder’s latest book Asking For A Friend, I was very keen to read this one as it seems to be the perfect “tween” book and something light yet fulfilling.

I certainly wasn’t disappointed, and flew through this book! I just loved the writing, the story, the characters and everything about it; it was easy to get stuck into and had plenty to make me want to keep reading. I love how it wasn’t too heavy on the life stuff whilst still having very much real characters who did face their own individual challenges, and I love the message of friendship. The three main characters were all so different and yet they fit in with each other perfectly!

Going back to the friendship theme, I think that makes this such an important book to read. It really showed how you can find friendship in the most unlikely of people, and how those friendships can be the most rewarding. Like the synopsis says, it’s important to value the friends who value you, and this is such an important message to carry through life and I love how, with this book, it’s a very accessible message that such a variety of readers can access. Asking for a Friend is approachable to such a wide range of readers; it’s not a daunting book to pick up but it’s still thought provoking, it has different characters from different backgrounds and both male and female perspectives, and it covers thoughts that many of us deal with growing up.

Immediately after finishing Asking for a Friend, I purchased Kate’s first book, Summer of No Regrets and I very much look forward to reading that too! I’ve definitely found a new favourite author who I will go to whenever I want a book that I can escape into!

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Thank you to Firefly for sending me the eBook of this title, and to Kate for having me on the blog tour!

VENOM – Bex Hogan

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RELEASED: 16/04/2020
PUBLISHER: Hachette
GENRE: YA Fiction, Fantasy

Marianne is now the Viper, but her hopes for peace in the Eastern Isles are being frustrated. The corrupt King remains on the throne, bandits are proving hard to stop and Marianne is not sure who among her crew she can truly trust.

For the islands to prosper, the invisible bond that once existed uniting land and sea must be reinstated. There’s only one way that can happen – the return of magic. To do that Marianne must put aside all her fears: she must return to her roots, the Western Isles, and call on the power that runs in her blood.

She must become a Mage.

Only then, can she possibly command the army needed to finally take down the King.

Bex Hogan is one of the loveliest authors I’ve ever met, spoken to online, and in general. So WHY DID SHE THINK IT WAS A GOOD IDEA TO END VENOM LIKE THIS?!

I know that I am not alone in my desperation for book three in this series, Vulture, to come out next year; the cliffhanger that Venom finishes on…oh gosh! Obviously, with this review, I do not want to spoil anything. But as you start to near the end, you just know things aren’t going to tie up nicely ready for the wait for book three. It’s inevitable that you will be left hungry for more.

The Isles of Storm and Sorrow series started off with the incredible Viper, which was one of the best YA fantasy books I’ve ever read, and it continues with Venom, one of the best YA fantasy sequels I’ve ever read. Even if it did destroy me, and a lot of other readers.

The thing I loved about Venom was how the characters and story really developed, and how you can see the excellent world building is. I really began to get a feel for the twelve isles and understand more about the story and what’s going on. Like Viper, it’s one of those books that you can read 50 pages without even realising – it’s just so addictive and brilliant!

I can’t recommend this series enough, and Venom was a fantastic sequel that’s left me hungry for even more!

CLEVER CAKES – Michael Rosen, Ashley King

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RELEASED: 15/03/2020
PUBLISHER: Barrington Stoke
GENRE: Young Reader, Fairy Tale, Dyslexia Friendly

It pays to be able to think on your feet, especially if you’re about to be eaten alive or cheated out of a valuable prize! And in these hilarious comical adventures by storytelling legend Michael Rosen, two clever kids are more than a match for a hungry grizzly bear and a bored and arrogant king! Read along as two super-smart kids triumph in these perfectly packaged fairy tales with a twist …

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of Ashley King’s illustrations, so of course when I was offered a copy of this book I immediately said yes please! His style of illustrating goes hand in hand with fairy tales and adventures, and coupled with Michael Rosen’s storytelling it makes for a very enjoyable little book!

Clever Cakes has two stories that are engaging and full of fun whilst having that style of a fairy tale that keeps you reading. I think it’s one of the best Little Gems books that I’ve read; it’s bold and makes you want to read. I’d highly recommend it for fans of Michael and Ashley, and it’s a brilliant choice for a Barrington Stoke book to keep younger readers entertained at storytime!


Thank you to Kirstin at Barrington Stoke for my copy of this book!

 

VIPER – Bex Hogan

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RELEASED: 18/04/2019
PUBLISHER: Hachette
GENRE: Young Adult, Fantasy

Marianne has been training to be the Viper for her entire life – to serve and protect the King and the citizens of The Twelve Isles – but to become the Viper and protect the islands she loves she must find the strength to defeat her father.

An immersive and swashbuckling new fantasy trilogy perfect for fans of Sarah J Maas and Leigh Bardugo.

He will make me a killer.
Or he will have me killed.
That is my destiny.

Seventeen-year-old Marianne is fated to one day become the Viper, defender of the Twelve Isles.

But the reigning Viper stands in her way. Corrupt and merciless, he prowls the seas in his warship, killing with impunity, leaving only pain and suffering in his wake.

He’s the most dangerous man on the ocean . . . and he is Marianne’s father.

She was born to protect the islands. But can she fight for them if it means losing her family, her home, the boy she loves – and perhaps even her life?

A brave heroine. An impossible dilemma. An epic new fantasy trilogy set on the high seas.

I am writing this review as I sit here with a massive book hangover thanks to Viper! I can’t believe that, despite owning this book for a year, I hadn’t read it up until now, but seeing as book two has recently come out and other bloggers have been raving about this series I thought I really ought to make the time to read it. And my god am I glad that I did!

I’ve discovered a new favourite YA fantasy series and I am hungry for more!

I’ll start by saying the two words that persuaded me to push this to the top of my reading list – Pirates and Assassins. The two types of characters in a good YA fantasy that tend to make for good reading. And Viper didn’t disappoint. Full of a vast array of characters from all walks of life, the good, the bad and everything in between, there’s so much to make you want to keep reading, and you want to know how the characters are going to turn out because this book is full of intrigue and twists and you just don’t know how things are going to end up!

The plot is gripping and makes you want to turn every page, right up until the end. Bex’s writing is just so easy to get lost in and the world really comes to life without it being overly descriptive. I was very impressed with how the world and story was built up despite it not being a massively long book and this is what makes it so much more engaging! I just loved everything about it!

I can’t recommend this book highly enough, and am so so glad that I finally picked it up! Perfect for fans of To Kill a Kingdom and Throne of Glass, Viper is the start of a fantastic trilogy and I can’t wait to voyage on!

 

THE VANISHING TRICK – Jenni Spangler

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RELEASED: 30/04/2020
PUBLISHER: Simon & Schuster
GENRE: Middle Grade, Magical Realism, Mystery

Step into a world of secrets, folklore and illusions, where nothing is as it seems and magic is at play…

Madame Augustina Pinchbeck, travels the country conjuring the spirits of dearly departed loved ones… for a price. Whilst her ability to contact ghosts is a game of smoke and mirrors, there is real magic behind her tricks too – if you know where to look.

Through a magical trade, she persuades children to part with precious objects, promising to use her powers to help them. But Pinchbeck is a deceiver, instead turning their items into enchanted Cabinets that bind the children to her and into which she can vanish and summon them at will.

When Pinchbeck captures orphan Leander, events are set into motion that see him and his new friends Charlotte and Felix, in a race against time to break Pinchbeck’s spell, before one of them vanishes forever…

Without a doubt, this is one of the most spine-tingling, gripping middle-grade books that I have ever read, and it’s one that I’d urge all fans of a good mysterious and eerie tale to read!

I knew that I’d enjoy The Vanishing Trick; it sounded right up my street. However, what I didn’t expect was for it to be a no-hesitation 5* read that would stay with me for weeks afterwards. I really struggled to want to read anything else straight after reading this because it was THAT GOOD. It very much reminded me of the books I’d read when I was younger, set in Victorian-esque eras, full of magic and intrigue, and for this it really felt like home to be reading it!

The writing is exquisite; it’s atmospheric and realistic. The characters jump off the page and were really fun to get to know. A special mention has to be made to Madame Pinchbeck, who is such a dark character and wonderfully crafted. As a fellow book blogger suggested on Twitter, she’s very much like Tangled’s Mother Gothel and I couldn’t agree more!

I can’t wait to get a finished copy so I can see the illustrations too; from what I’m seeing being released in the run up to publication, Chris Mould has done a stellar job bringing this cast of characters to life!


Thank you to Simon & Schuster via NetGalley for the eBook of this title!

GARGANTIS – Thomas Taylor

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RELEASED: 07/05/2020
PUBLISHER: Walker
GENRE: Children’s Fiction, Magical Realism, Middle Grade

There’s a storm raging in Eerie-on-Sea. Has the mighty Gargantis come back from the deep…?

When an ancient bottle is found washed up on the beach after a ferocious electrical storm, all the residents of Eerie-on-Sea seem to want it … but should they in fact fear it? Legend has it that the bottle contains an extraordinary secret that spells doom for the whole of Eerie-on-Sea. Could it be true that the vast sea creature Gargantis has awoken from her slumbers, and is causing the large cracks that are appearing all across the town? Finding themselves entrusted with the bottle, Herbie and Violet discover they will need to ride the terrible storm and pacify the creature if they want to save Eerie-on-Sea from sliding into the ocean and being lost for ever.

Malamander was one of my favourite books of last year, and arguably one of my favourite middle grade books of all time! So, Walker announcing that they’ve joined NetGalley and seeing this was one of their first titles on there had me pressing that request button so very quickly!

Gargantis sees us return to Eerie-on-Sea with Herbert Lemon and Violet Parma and you’d think that there are only so many mysteries and adventures to be had in such a small seaside town, but nope! There is another legendary monster to be discovered and with a whole host of characters and twists and turns, Gargantis will have you on the edge of your seat!

Thomas Taylor’s writing is just wonderful and it really draws you in; Herbie as a narrator is loveable and there’s so much character to him. I love how it just flows along and you get totally swept up in the story, just like with Malamander! I am so excited to hear that there is a book three coming…the only downside is having to wait!

I’d highly recommend Gargantis (if you haven’t read Malamander yet, go and read that too!). It’s just one of those books that’s guaranteed to make you want to read; it’s a definite page-turner! Last of all, I apologise for this review being short and sweet; no words can do justice to this series! It’s just one of those that I implore you to read if you love a good children’s adventure/mystery, and I have no doubt that you’ll love it too!


Thank you to Walker via NetGalley for the proof of this title!

LOVE FRANKIE – Jacqueline Wilson

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RELEASED: 30/04/2020
PUBLISHER: Penguin
GENRE: Teen Fiction, Contemporary

Frankie is nearly fourteen and teenage life certainly comes with its ups and downs. Her mum is seriously ill with MS and Frankie can feel herself growing up quickly, no thanks to Sally and her gang of bullies at school.

When Sally turns out to be not-so-mean after all, they strike up a friendship and are suddenly spending all of their time together.

But Frankie starts to wonder whether these feelings she has for Sally are stronger than her other friendships. Might she really be in love?

Frankie doesn’t want Sally to just be her friend. She wants her to be her girlfriend. But does Sally feel the same?

A few days ago I received a very exciting email saying that Penguin had approved my request to read Love Frankie by Jacqueline Wilson! I’ve been a massive fan for YEARS since I first read Glubbslyme and I’ve always been keen to read every one of her books. Admittedly, I’m a bit more old school and haven’t read some of her newer books, but Love Frankie immediately stood out as a fine return to her more teen content (my faves!). So, it didn’t take me long to pick this one up from the time that I received it.

I immediately was hooked; Frankie is such a likeable character and I found that I couldn’t wait to keep reading. I found that the story was a fantastic way to explore all the complex emotions that come with being a teenager, and even as an adult I could really relate to the different characters in the book. There were so many different themes that were touched upon sensitively, there were bright moments and there were tough moments. The main theme of sexuality was handled very well and I particularly liked how the characters were so different in their approach to it – it made it feel very real and showed how people’s reactions can be so different, whether they are the person with those feelings or whether they’re on the outside.

I think it’s so important that books like Love Frankie exist, especially from authors such as Jacqueline Wilson. It’s such an approachable look at growing up, discovering new feelings and diversity. I felt that it really normalised feelings towards the same sex in a way that was approachable and I could imagine quite realistic. I felt that I could relate to the feelings Frankie was facing; first love is first love regardless of gender, and that Jacqueline, as usual, really captured what it’s like to be a teenager and have all these different feelings and emotions and challenges.

I’d highly, highly recommend Love Frankie, particularly to fans of Jacqueline’s teen books such as Kiss and Love Lessons. It made me feel very nostalgic to my early teen years reading those books and I think it’ll introduce a new generation of youngsters to her wonderful books!


Thank you to Penguin via NetGalley for the e-book of this title.

 

ALL THE THINGS WE NEVER SAID – Yasmin Rahman

all the things we never said4.5/5

RELEASED: 11/07/2019
PUBLISHER: Hot Key
GENRE: Young Adult, Contemporary

16-year-old Mehreen Miah’s anxiety and depression, or ‘Chaos’, as she calls it, has taken over her life, to the point where she can’t bear it any more. So she joins MementoMori, a website that matches people with partners and allocates them a date and method of death, ‘the pact’.

Mehreen is paired with Cara Saunders and Olivia Castleton, two strangers dealing with their own serious issues. As they secretly meet over the coming days, Mehreen develops a strong bond with Cara and Olivia, the only people who seem to understand what she’s going through. But ironically, the thing that brought them together to commit suicide has also created a mutually supportive friendship that makes them realise that, with the right help, life is worth living.

It’s not long before all three want out of the pact. But in a terrifying twist of fate, the website won’t let them stop, and an increasingly sinister game begins, with MementoMori playing the girls off against each other.

A pact is a pact, after all. In this powerful debut written in three points of view, Yasmin Rahman has created a moving, poignant novel celebrating life. All the Things We Never Said is about friendship, strength and survival.

As soon as I saw a table of this book in a bookshop, I was drawn to it. With a bold cover, I couldn’t resist picking it up, and, when I saw the subject matter, I decided immediately that it was something that I’d be interested in reading. My favourite YA contemporaries are UKYA, based on mental health and very much character driven. All The Things We Never Said screamed all of those.

I was not disappointed at all when I started reading as I found myself drawn in to the stories of the three girls. I loved the author’s note at the beginning which really set the tone for the book, and then as I learnt more about why Mehreen, Olivia and Cara had joined MementoMori I really began to connect and empathise with the characters.

One thing that I did love was how the characters were diverse but it wasn’t the sole focus of the story and it didn’t define the character entirely. Yes, Mehreen’s religion was an important factor, but she was so much more than just that and was such a real character that, despite me being from a totally different background, I could really relate to her. I found it to be the same with all the characters and that was something that I think Yasmin really hit the nail on the head with. (I do hope I’ve phrased all of that correctly!)

The only thing that I personally wasn’t too keen on was the typeface for Olivia’s chapters. I found myself skipping ahead and I didn’t really understand why it was written in such a way! That was the only thing that really hindered my total enjoyment of the book. Nevertheless, I would still highly recommend this book, and I’ve also got the audiobook to love and enjoy as much!

Before I sign off this review, I would just like to highlight that there are a lot of triggers in this book which people who are a bit more vulnerable to those kinds of books may struggle with. Topics touched upon, besides suicide, include self-harm, rape and severe anxiety and depression. I personally was okay with all of these and found that they were handled very sensitively and not in a way that made for uncomfortable reading – I have found books on these topics triggering before but All The Things We Never Said was so well written that I still found enjoyment in the reading experience of this one.

Overall, I would definitely say that it’s worth getting a copy of this book, and of the audiobook, and I can’t wait to see what Yasmin writes next!