Thursday 30 April 2015

Book Blind Date (Giveaways!) CLOSED

Today I have something a little different, and a lot exciting, for you guys.

Book Blind Dates!

Inspired by some of the fantastic tables in bookshops, I’ve wrapped up some recent (last two-ish years) YA reads with a few clues and you get to have them! Here they are:










All you need to do is leave a comment with a way for me to contact you, preferably a Twitter handle or an email address, and which number book parcel you would like me to send you! You can have as many as you like – it is first come, first served!

As I’ll be mailing out all nine books myself I do have to limit it to the UK, I’m afraid.

Comment away and hopefully you’ll discover something you wouldn’t normally pick up and fall in love!


Wednesday 29 April 2015

All the Rage, Courtney Summers

Pages: 336
Publisher: St Martin’s Griffin
Release Date: 14th April 2015
Edition: US e-proof, NetGalley review copy

Other Titles by this Author: Cracked Up to Be, Some Girls Are, This is Not a Test

The sheriff’s son, Kellan Turner, is not the golden boy everyone thinks he is, and Romy Grey knows that for a fact. Because no one wants to believe a girl from the wrong side of town, the truth about him has cost her everything – friends, family, and her community. Branded a liar and bullied relentlessly by a group of kids she used to hang out with, Romy’s only refuge is the diner where she works outside of town. No one knows her name or her past there; she can finally be anonymous. But when a girl with ties to both Romy and Kellan goes missing after a party, and news of his assaulting another girl in a town close by gets out, Romy must decide whether she wants to fight or carry the burden of knowing more girls could get hurt if she doesn’t speak up. Nobody believed her the first time – and they certainly won’t now – but the cost of her silence might be more than she can bear.

With a shocking conclusion and writing that will absolutely knock you out, All the Rage examines the shame and silence inflicted upon young women after an act of sexual violence, forcing us to ask ourselves: In a culture that refuses to protect its young girls, how can they survive?

Nothing I write here will come close to describing the range of powerful emotions that Romy’s story elicits, but I’ll give it a go.

All the Rage is written in beautifully sparse and haunting prose, split between ‘Before’ and ‘Now’. Dividing the two periods of time is the legendary party, Wake Lake, and the person Romy is in each. I loved how Summers made clear the staggering effect Romy’s assault had on her – before she was ‘I’ and after ‘she’ – she no longer recognising herself. What an incredible way to get that feeling across.

Romy struggles to keep herself together in the aftermath of her rape. She’s been branded a liar, lost all of her friends and the whole school, and lots of other people in town, hate her. The only control she has left is the routine of building her armour out of flawless nail polish and lipstick in a violent, blood read. It’s a ritual that occurs throughout the novel, but most significantly, it’s the final scene of the novel, repeated word for word from when it was introduced in the beginning and followed by a short, powerful command from Romy that took my breath away. She takes strength from that armour and she’s going to use it, it’ll make her stronger.

And yet I think it’s the whole rape culture that All the Rage highlights that has the most impact. It makes the book and uncomfortable, scary read because everything Summers demonstrates is true. Romy wasn’t believed when she reported her rape, even her best friend abandoned her. The sheriff, the father of Romy’s rapist, refused to even consider the possibility and everyone is under his thumb. When a girl goes missing and the events of that night at Wake Lake come to light, there is talk of that girl being raped and it’s thrown down immediately. The radio discussions of the case blame it on the alcohol, the expected circumstances of a party like that, the clothes girls wear to this party – everything but the fact that it could happened and someone would have committed that act. It scares Romy so much that she wishes a newborn baby girl wasn’t born a girl because this is the world she’ll have to live in. The title of this novel perfectly sums up Romy’s feelings about how she was treated, but also the rage of every person in this situation, every reader of this novel, every girl and woman living in this world right now.

All the Rage is powerful, important and deeply affecting. I sincerely hope Courtney Summers will be picked up by a UK publisher soon – her books are too significant to be missing from UK shelves.

Thanks to NetGalley and St Martin’s Griffin for the review copy.


Tuesday 28 April 2015

Blast From the Past: Wuthering Heights

Originally published in 1847 by Thomas Cautley Newby

My edition: one of my gorgeous Penguin Clothbound Classics hardbacks. I will have them all!

What’s it about?
In a house haunted by memories, the past is everywhere…

As darkness falls, a man caught in a snowstorm is forced to shelter at the strange, grim house Wuthering Heights. It is a place he will never forget. There he will come to learn the story of Cathy: how she was forced to choose between her well-meaning husband and the dangerous man she had loved since she was young. How her choice led to betrayal and terrible revenge – and continues to torment those in the present. How love can transgress authority, convention, even death.

Why now?
It’s about bloody time pretty much sums it up! And I was umming and ahhing over my choice for Apri on Twitter and several lovely people loudly (and repeatedly) shouted Wuthering Heights. Ta da!

The verdict:
With most classic novels, particularly the 19th Century ones, you have a rough knowledge of the plot and the relationships between the characters – you go in with certain expectations and they’re usually met. Wuthering Heights threw me for a loop.

The legendary love story of Cathy and Heathcliff is what I was expecting from Emily Brontë’s masterpiece; a tale of love and hatred and cruelty, and I did get that, but their relationship was only the beginning. The story isn’t even told by either the hero or heroine, but by Nelly, the housekeeper who watched their story from the very beginning, who is telling the tale of the inhabitants of Wuthering Heights and the Grange to the visiting resident, Mr Lockwood. Moreover, it’s set twenty years after Cathy’s death. Now that was something I wasn’t expecting.

I have to admit that I didn’t really buy this as a love story until the last few chapters of the novel. I found it difficult to see the love between Cathy and Heathcliff when the interactions between them and the way they treated each other throughout their lives was so full of venom, jealousy and vindictiveness. Though they were childhood companions, there was still a divide between them and I didn’t get the sense that they even liked each other until Heathcliff’s return. And even then it still felt more Romantic than romantic.

As the story evolved I came to realise that Wuthering Heights isn’t the story of Cathy and Heathcliff’s love at all, it’s the story of Heathcliff and how his love for Cathy shaped his entire life and the people around him. The story soon jumps forward to the teenage years of the child of Heathcliff and Isabella, Linton, and Cathy and Edgar’s daughter, Cathy. There is such a horrible sense of history repeating itself with these two, enforced by Heathcliff’s actions against the pair. It’s a twisted and doomed fate and it was fascinating to see it unfold.

I had been told that there is only one redeemable character in this novel but I didn’t quite believe it until I was reading it. There’s a continuous discussion about whether characters have to be likable or not for you to connect with a novel or enjoy it and Wuthering Heights emphatically shouts ‘No!’ from deep in the Yorkshire moors. These characters are often monstrous, to themselves and those they love, and yet I still wanted relationships to form and interactions to occur. And I ended up being suckered by Heathcliff’s maddened declarations of passion and love for Cathy, the endurance of those feelings, the potency of them – often disturbing, but still rather swoonworthy. Against my better judgement…

Wuthering Heights is brimming with love, hatred, jealousy, revenge and betrayal and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was so much more than I imagined it could be and I now understand why it’s seen as one of the masterpieces of the 19th Century. I’m so glad I finally read it.

Still not convinced?
- Can it be a love story when the characters are so repeatedly vile to each other? You decide?
- The setting of the Yorkshire Moors is a character all in itself.
- Think Wuthering Heights is jut Cathy and Heathcliff falling in love? Wrong.


Monday 27 April 2015

Countdown to 7th May: An Interview with Joanna Nadin

Once again, the marvellous Jim from YA Yeah Yeah has set up a wonderful tour to celebrate the authors releasing novels on May 7th and I’ve been lucky enough to interview UKYA author Jo Nadin. Jo’s latest, Joe All Alone, will be published by Little, Brown.

1. Joe All Alone has a brilliantly diverse cast of characters. With the #WeNeedDiverseYA movement, changes are starting to be made, but do you think UKYA needs to work on?

When I started writing Joe All Alone it was a given that the cast would be diverse as the setting on inner-city London. But more recently I begun to wonder whether I had the “right” to write characters – like Asha and Otis – who didn’t look like me. It’s hard, as often writers can feel that unless they have a direct experience of a specific race or gender or sexuality they should avoid it. But all writing is “making it up”. Joe is white, es, but he’s a 13-year-old boy, which I’m not and never have been. So I think writers, including myself, need to be braver, and write beyond their experience.

2. Joe’s mum hadn’t always been the way she is now, why did you add that element to her character?

We change constantly as people, depending on who we’re close to and who we socialise/connect with. Sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. Joe’s mum has lost a strong sense of self, and allowed herself to be controlled by a succession of men. An all-too common story, and one I have direct experience of.

3. What does your writing day look like? Do you write to a word count, a detailed plan, or do you just run with your ideas?

I am horribly organised – a hangover from working in newsrooms and politics. On work days I start writing at 8am and write at least 1,000 words a day and for at least five hours, with a lunch break if I remember. Sometimes this can mean I get 4-5000 words done. I write a lot of books a year (averaging six) and I’m also a speechwriter, doctoral student and lecturer so I have to be disciplined. This isn’t a hobby, it’s a job and one I love, so I’m committed to it!

A few quick ones!

4. Favourite word?

Licketyspit. Which doesn’t get used often enough.

5. Obsession of the moment?

Pretty Little Liars on Netflix. (Sophie: Mine too! A serious addiction…)

6. Current read?

I’m about to start reading Blue by Lisa Glass, set in my beloved family home of Cornwall, and then it will be Liz Kessler’s Read Me Like a Book, which I’m hugely excited about.

Thank you so much, Jo! I’m in awe of your work ethic! Make sure you pick up a copy of Joe All Alone on May 7th and check out the rest of the stops on the Countdown to 7th May blog tour!


Sunday 26 April 2015

Letterbox Love #86

Letterbox Love is a way to show you all of the lovely, lovely books I’ve gotten in the post, bought and everything else over the last week. Summaries are taken from the cover, or Amazon/NetGalley/Goodreads in the case of e-books, unless otherwise stated. Hosted by Narratively Speaking.

For review:

One, Sarah Crossan (proof)

Grace and Tippi are twins – conjoined twins.

And their lives are about to change.

No longer able to afford homeschooling, they must venture into the world – a world of stares, sneers and cruelty. Will they find more than that at school? Can they find real friends? And what about love?

But what neither Grace or Tippi realises is that a heart-wrenching decision lies ahead. A decision that could tear them apart. One that will change their lives even more than they ever imagined.

This moving and beautifully crafted story about identity, sisterhood and love ultimately asks one question: what does it mean to want and have a soulmate?

Goodness me, this sounds excellent! And it’s written in verse as well – can’t wait. Thanks Bloomsbury!

House of Windows, Alexia Casale (proof)

Nick says he’s not a genius. He’s just going to Cambridge University aged fifteen because he works hard. And, secretly, he only works hard to get some kind of attention from his workaholic father.

Not that his strategy is working.

When he arrives at Cambridge, he finds the work hard and socialising even harder. Until, that is, he starts to cox for the college rowing crew and all hell breaks loose…

I love Lexi so I can’t wait to finally read one of her books! Thanks Faber!

Made For You, Melissa Marr (paperback)

Eva Tilling wakes up in hospital to discover she has been the victim of a hit-and-run.

As she struggles to understand who in the sleepy town of Jessup would want to hurt her, she is plagued by visions of her friends dying – and then a slew of murders takes place, with eerie messages to Eva left beside the bodies.

An old friend offers his help and protection, but the killer is obsessed and wil stop at nothing to get to Eva…

I’m a huge Melissa Marr fan and it feels like I haven’t read anything from her for ages so thanks HarperCollins!

I also received the new movie-cover paperback of Paper Towns from Bloomsbury – thank you!

A History of Glitter and Blood, Hannah Moscowitz (e-proof)

Sixteen-year-old Beckan and her friends are the only fairies brave enough to stay in Ferran when war breaks out. Now there is tension between the immortal fairies, the subterranean gnomes, and the mysterious tightropers who arrived to liberate the fairies.

But when Beckan’s clan is forced to venture into the gnome underworld to survive, they find themselves tentatively forming unlikely friendships and making sacrifices they couldn’t have imagined.

As danger mounts, Beckan finds herself caught between her loyalty to her friends, her desire for peace, and a love she never expected. This stunning, lyrical fantasy is a powerful exploration of what makes a family, what justified a war, and what it means to truly love.

This sounds utterly bonkers, and potentially amazing. Thanks NetGalley and Chronicle Books!


The Last Summer of Us, Maggie Harcourt (paperback)

A story of love, lies, grief, friendship and growing up.

A story of three best friends crammed into a clapped-out car full of regrets and secrets, on a journey that will change their lives for ever.

A story you’ll never forget.

A UKYA roadtrip? I’m in! And so many bloggers have already raved about this so when I spotted it in Foyles I snapped it up!

The Lottery and Other Stories, Shirley Jackson (paperback)

An excellent host finds himself turned out of his home by his own guests; a woman spends her wedding day frantically searching for her husband-to-be; and in Shirley Jackson’s best-known story, a small farming village comes together for a terrible lottery…

The creeping unease of lives squandered and the bloody glee of lives lost is chillingly captured in these tales of wasted potential and casual cruelty by a master of the short story.

My endeavour to widen my reading continues, and The Lottery is a story that influenced The Hunger Games!

A Room of One’s Own, Virginia Woolf (paperback)

‘But, you may say, we asked you to speak about women and fiction – what has that got to do with a room of one’s own?’

A Room of One’s Own grew out of a lecture that Virginia Woolf had been invited to give at Girton College, Cambridge in 1928. Ranging over Jane Austen and Charlotte Brontë and why neither of them could have written War and Peace, over the silent fate of Shakespeare’s gifted (and imaginiary) muse, over the effects of poverty and chastity on female creativity, she gives us one of the greatest feminist polemics of the century.

I have already read this – I did a university module where we read all of her novels! – but I hate my Oxford World Classics edition; this one is much prettier! I’d really like to re-read Woolf’s work.


Friday 24 April 2015

Completely Cassidy: Accidental Genius, Tamsyn Murray

Pages: 224
Publisher: Usborne
Release Date: 1st March 2015
Edition: UK e-book, purchased

Other Titles by this Author: My So-Called Afterlife, My So-Called Haunting, My So-Called Phantom Lovelife, Snug as a Bug, Stunt Bunny: Showbiz Sensation, Tour Troubles, Rabbit Racer, Medal Mayhem

Meet Cassidy. With her embarrassing dad, pregnant mum, loser brother and knicker-chewing dog, she’s almost invisible in her family. So she’s hoping Year 7 is her time to shine, especially, since a test proved she’s Gifted & Talented. The only problem is she picked her answers at random. Btu surely the school wouldn’t make a mistake about her genius?

I was in the middle of reading All the Rage by Courtney Summers and I had to put it down and switch to something a little lighter, a little sweeter and a whole lot more fun – Accidental Genius hit the spot!

I devoured this in one sitting. I zoomed through it in just over an hour and yet I still came out the other side feeling like I had really got to know Cassie and her friends and family. They’re all a little mad but each character is distinct and lovable and I loved the interactions between them and Cassie, particularly her family. Those with siblings know exactly how Cassie feels about her older brother, Liam – contempt mostly. The bicker and tease each other relentlessly, but when it counts, they’ve got your back. Briefly. It was the same with her BFFs, Molly and Shenice. Their friendship was genuine and warm and full of the natural ups and downs that occur when one of them goes a little crazy over your aforementioned big brother…

With pain in the butt brothers, falling out with friends and the imminent arrival of twin siblings, you wouldn’t think Cassie had any more room to worry about anything else, but she’s also just about to start secondary school. In a surprising turn of events, Cassidy becomes a Gifted & Talented girl and joins the school quiz team and, bonus, the coolest, cutest guy in Year Seven is on the team too! I’m super jealous of how cool Cassie’s secondary school is. We never had anything like a quiz team or a talent contest, the only thing we had was a choir – there weren’t even proper sports teams!

Accidental Genius is sweet, fun and completely adorable and I can’t wait to read more of the Completely Cassidy series!


Thursday 23 April 2015

Strawberry Sisters: Perfectly Ella, Candy Harper

Pages: 272
Publisher: S&S
Release Date: 23rd April 2015
Edition: e-proof, NetGalley review copy

Other Titles by this Author: Have a Little Faith, Keep the Faith and as CJ Harper: The Disappeared, The Wilderness

Oldest sister Amelia wants to be Left Alone to have deep thoughts, so she’s grown a fringe to hide under. Second up is Chloe who’s sport-crazy and in training to be a wrestling star (this week anyway). Little sister Lucy is the cute one who’s training an army of earwigs. Then there’s Ella. The middle one who’s still trying to figure out what makes her ‘perfectly Ella’ and how to stand out in a house full of big personalities. And now there’s a new Strawberry Sister. Baby Kirsti who lives with Dad and his Finnish girlfriend.

Along with her sisters and one very tired Mum who’s struggling to keep it all together, Ella’s small home is crammed with almost-finished homework, nearly-clean jumpers and a vampire bunny called Buttercup. With so much going on, life can sometimes feel totally crazy but the Strawberry Sisters have a weapon against the craziness of the world they live in, each other.

I’m a huge fan of Candy Harper’s fun, heartwarming and incredibly sweet teen novels and Perfectly Ella was exception – I devoured it in one sitting.

Ella’s sisters are delightfully bonkers and I love them all. I have two sisters myself so I always enjoy it when that relationship is at the heart of a novel and the complex relationships between Ella, Amelia, Chloe and Lucy so multi-faceted. Like all siblings they bicker and argue and forget to consider how each other feel, but they ultimately have each other’s backs.

The girls’ mum and dad divorced a year and a half ago and everything has changed really fast – now Mum is super stressed with looking after them on her own while being a Year Two teacher and Dad has just had a baby with his girlfriend, Suvi. Baby Kirsti becomes the fifth Strawberry Sister and brings up some mixed feelings. All of the girls are struggling with the changes in their lives and that was portrayed realistically and sensitively. I remember going through the exact same emotions that the girls are: anger at Dad; jealousy of the new baby; feeling abandoned, ignored and not enough – Candy Harper hit the nail on the head.

I really liked that each Strawberry sister reacted in a different way, or at least focused on a different aspect of the fall out of the divorce. The result was the bittersweet, touching and brilliantly funny adventure of Perfectly Ella, but it really was Ella that sung for me. I empathised with her a lot. Ella’s voice is often drowned out by her loud, dominating sisters – all she has to define her is that she’s ‘nice’, and we know how English teachers view the use of that word… She puts everybody’s needs above her own in hope that everything will go smoothly and people will get on, often to her own detriment. I loved that she eventually found her voice and realised its significance.

I want more from the Strawberry sisters, please!

Thanks to S&S and NetGalley for the review copy.


Wednesday 22 April 2015

Guest Post: Lance Rubin's Writing Routine

Today I have the pleasure of welcoming Lance Rubin, the author of Denton Little’s Deathdate, to the blog to talk about his writing routine!

Soon after I started writing Denton Little’s Deathdate, I realized that allotting a set number of hours a day to write wasn’t very effective for me. As a perfectionist and a procrastinator, those hours would inevitably be filled with way too much self-doubt (i.e., fiddling around with one sentence for half an hour because it didn’t sound right) and way too little productivity (i.e., an hour of Googling to find the perfect name for a tiny supporting character). So I was glad to read in Stephen King’s On Writing that he worked not in terms of hours but by word count.

King aims for two thousand words a day but suggests that people establishing a writing routine for the first time should aim for one thousand. So that’s what I did, and I immediately found it to be a much better approach. If I hit my word count within a couple hours, then I would have a shorter workday. If I didn’t, then I kept going until I did. It was helpful to have a concrete daily goal that, once met, gave me a feeling of accomplishment, like I’d done what I needed to do and could stop worrying about my writing for the rest of the day.

Thinking in terms of word count also made me less concerned with whether my work was good or bad. It’s not a writer’s job to worry about that, especially in the early drafting stages; the only job is to get the work done. This is a creative philosophy from Steven Pressfield’s War of Art, and I can’t express how helpful it’s been. If you’re trying to start and finish a creative project, you can’t wait for inspiration to strike; you need to sit down and write every day, even if it’s a struggle, even if it feels like you’re making something terrible. 

Another piece of wisdom I took from Stephen King was to close the door of your office when you’re ready to start working for the day, which then signifies to anyone you live with (and also to yourself) that the Writing Has Begun. The only problem with this was that the Brooklyn apartment I shared with my then-girlfriend-now-wife didn’t have an office, and the only rooms with doors were the bedroom and the bathroom (neither of which scream office).

I’ve adapted this advice by making my headphones the proverbial “door of my office.” When the ear buds go in, it’s time to work. This is effective at my apartment, where I occasionally write, but also at coffee shops and libraries, where I mainly write. (Bizarrely enough, one of the main places where I wrote Denton Little’s Deathdate was the back room of a sandwich shop called Lenny’s. It has one of the main components I look for in a writing spot, which is that you can stay there as long as you like and no one who works there gives you dirty looks or makes you feel bad.)

The last part of my writing routine is that, right before I get started, I move my phone from my pants pocket into my bag. Since phones are one of productivity’s biggest enemies, I like making mine slightly harder to get to. It’s effective most--but not all—of the time. 

And there you have it: my super-glamorous, ridiculously exciting writing routines and rituals. If you’re a writer, you should try some of these, and if you’re not a writer, I hope this was at least slightly illuminating information about one person’s process.

Thanks for having me on the blog, Sophie! Hope everyone reading this is having a mind-blowing Wednesday.

I’m always fascinated to hear how an author’s workday goes – each is so different! Thank you so much, Lance! Denton Little’s Deathdate is out now from Simon and Schuster in paperback and e-book.


Tuesday 21 April 2015

Event Report: Hot Key Books Blogger Brunch

On Saturday I was lucky enough to be invited to a blogger brunch with the lovely ladies at Hot Key Books. When I eventually found the office – it’s rather hidden away! – I got to catch up with some lovely bookish friends and have a spot of brunch.

The lovely James Dawson was ready and waiting to have a chat with us and sign some books before he rushed off to the Cambridge Book Festival. First of all, he took the time to thank us for everything that we do and the influence we have as a community – it was very nice to hear so thank you James! We then got to hear a little about his next book, All of the Above, coming in September. It’s a different direction for James – a contemporary LGBT romance that I can’t wait for.

Next up came the presentation! Rosi, Livs, Monique, Jen and Sanne all presented their favourite books from what Hot Key have coming up for the rest of the year. The ladies delivered a whole lot of enthusiasm, humour and general loveliness.

We also had the pleasure of listening to some of Hot Key’s authors present their own books to us!

First up was Lydia Syson who’s third novel, Liberty’s Fire, is out next month. She told us all about the civil movements and brewing revolutionary feelings in Paris in the 1870s. It sounds like a crazy amount of research needed to write a book like this!

Next up was Jess Valance’s debut, Birdy, coming up in July. It tells the tale of two unlikely BFFs, the bubbly, new girl rescuing lonely, quiet Birdy from friendlessness. And then everything starts to be a little…off.

Hayley Long is hilarious, and she has two books coming out with Hot Key this year. Being a Girl (June), the non-fiction companion to James Dawson’s Being a Boy, teaching teen girls everything they need to know about themselves. And then Sophie Someone (September), poor Sophie uncovers a secret that tears her whole world apart, and she tells her story in her own new language.

Julie Mayhew, author of Red Ink, is back with The Big Lie (August) this year. After one of her children asked her what would have happened if the Nazis had won WWII, she quickly discovered that there is very little from the voices of women and young people during that period of history. So Julie write it instead.

Lastly, the inimitable Laura Dockrill took to the stage and chatted to us about her first YA novel, Lorali, coming in July. With the mixture of Laura’s pitch-perfect reading and the absolutely brilliant instructions on how to turn yourself into a mermaid, this shot straight to the top of my wishlist.

So here are my most anticipated books for the rest of the year from Hot Key Books!

All of the Above, James Dawson
3rd September

When sixteen-year-old Toria Bland arrives at her new school she needs to work out who her friends are in a crazy whirl of worry, exam pressure and anxiety over fitting in. things start looking u when Toria meets the funny and foul-mouthed Polly, who’s the collest girl that Toria has ever seen. Polly and the rest of the ‘alternative’ kids take Toria under their wing. And that’s when she meets the irresistible Nico Mancini, lead singer of a local band – and it’s instalove at first sight! Toria likes Nico, Nico likes Toria, but then there’s Polly…love and friendship have a funny way of going round in circles.

Lorali, Laura Dockrill
2nd July

Colourful, raw, brave, rich and fantastical  - this mermaid tale is not for the faint-hearted.

Looking after a naked girl he found washed up under Hastings pier isn’t exactly how Rory imagined spending his sixteenth birthday. But more surprising than finding her in the first place is discovering where she has come from.

Lorali is running not just from the sea, not just from her position as princess, but her entire destiny. Lorali has rejected life as a mermaid, and become a human.

But along with Lorali’s arrival, and the freak weather suddenly battering the coast, more strange visitors begin appearing in Rory’s bemused Sussex town. With beautifully coiffed hair, sharp-collared shirts and a pirate ship shaped like a Tudor house, the Abelgare boys are a mystery all of their own. What are they really up to? Can Rory protect Lorali? And who from? And where does she really belong, anyway?

Counting Stars, Keris Stainton
3rd September

Six ‘friends’, one flat, big dreams…what could go wrong? When sixteen-year-old Anna drops out of school and moves to Liverpool, she feels like her life has finally begun. She’s working for an exciting theatre company, she’s living with some students that she hopes will become good friends in time, and their house is cute (if not slightly run down) and on a buzzing street lined with shops, bars, and buskers.

But although her new life is fun, it’s also a little overwhelming. And although Anna’s housemates seem to be a gang of firm friends (a gang that doesn’t seem to include her) they’re also a little mixed-up, and soon Anna can’t resist the idea of blogging and tweeting about her experiences, from the hilarious to the ridiculous to the little-bit scary. Online gossiping doesn’t count, right? But when Anna spills a bigger secret than she can handle, suddenly the consequences are all too real. She’ll have to prove she has the mettle to make it in the big city, or risk losing everything she thinks she wants.

Being a Girl, Hayley Long
4th June

From friendships to relationships, periods to body matters, this warm and wise book tells it like it is. Being a Girl is not all sugar and spice and everything nice. How can you possible survive school and even think about talking to your crush when you have spots in places you didn’t even know you had, your boobs are too big (or too small) and the friend drama is off the charts.

Luckily, bestselling YA author and sixth-form teacher Hayley long provides a straight-talking guide to puberty – from cattiness to kisses, being a girlfriend and everything in between.

With witty and black-and-white illustrations by Gemma Correll throughout, Being a Girl gives girls everything they need to know about surviving puberty, in an honest and humorous way.

Black Cairn Point, Claire McFall
6th August

Two survivors, one terrible truth.

Heather agrees to a group camping holiday with Dougie and his friends because she’s desperate to get close to him. But when the two of them disturb a pagan burial site above the beach, she becomes certain that they have woken a malevolent spirit. Something is alive out there in the pitch-black dark, and it is planning to wreak deadly revenge. One year later Heather knows that she was very lucky to escape Black Cairn Point but she is still waiting for Dougie to wake from his coma. If he doesn’t, how will she prove her sanity, and her innocence?

This is a chilling and atmospheric thriller from unflinching and award-winning writer Claire McFall.


Monday 20 April 2015

An Island of Our Own, Sally Nicholls

Pages: 223
Publisher: Scholastic
Release Date: 2nd April 2015
Edition: UK proof, review copy

Other Titles by this Author: Ways to Live Forever, Season of Secrets, Al Fall Down, A Lily A Rose, Close Your Pretty Eyes, Shadow Girl

Siblings Jonathon, Holly and Davy have been struggling to survive since the death of their mother, and are determined to avoid being taken into care. When the family’s wealthy but eccentric Great-Aunt Irene has a stroke, they go to visit her. Unable to speak or white, she gives Holly some photographs that might lead to an inheritance that could solve all their problems. But they’re not the only ones after the treasure…

I’m a big fan of Sally Nicholls’ heart-warming, emotional stories of growing up for younger teens and An Island of Our Own was no exception. I thoroughly enjoyed it!

When Molly was eleven, Davy was six and Jonathon was eighteen, their mum died, leaving them to look after themselves. Jonathon turned down his place at university and took his job as a waiter in a café to care for his younger siblings. This struck a chord with me. Luckily I was a little older than Jonathon having just graduated from uni I ended up doing the same as him, though he had it harder, and I understood everything he was going through. It’s not an easy thing to do at any age, but at 18, wow.

And they’re not doing so well. I really loved how Sally Nicholls handled this. She showed the often neglected positive things that our social services and government do to help kids in this situation and it was heart-warming to see. Those services allowed these kids to stay together and stay afloat in the hardest years of their lives and I think that does get forgotten in all the bad press sometimes.

Holly is a sweet, engaging narrator and I loved following along on her adventures. Her voice felt spot on for her age (13-14) and her reactions and thought processes too; I often find this age a murky with lots of voices feeling either a lot younger or a lot younger but Nicholls hit the nail on the head. Holly’ enthusiasm and determination to find her Aunt Irene’s hidden treasure to save her family is something I admired. She won’t be beaten, even against crazy odds and I loved that; she fully believed that everything was possible.

I loved An Island of Our Own. It’s a novel about family, friends, adventure and grabbing every opportunity that gets offered to you – I hope this novel is discovered by as many teens as possible.

Thanks to Scholastic for the review copy!