Title: All of This is True

Author: Lygia Day Penaflor

Pages: 432 Pages

Publisher: Bloomsbury

The Blurb

When four Long Island teens plot to meet Fatima Ro, the elusive author of their favourite novel, they’re stunned when she befriends them and invites them into her eccentric life. Suddenly their lives seem charmed, and as they grow closer to their idol, they find themselves revealing their darkest secrets to her.

But a year later, Miri, Soleil, Jonah and Penny are shocked to discover that Fatima’s newly released YA novel is based on those same secrets. The revelations are devastating, and they can’t escape the spotlight. The friends’ interview transcripts, emails and journal entries reveal how willing they were to sacrifice everything to win Fatima’s approval – and how those sacrifices led to a tragedy from which one of them will never recover.

The Review

One thing I really like in books is when I have a handful of narrators that all see the story a specific way. They are all unreliable because their truth is not the same as someone else’s. This is why I really enjoyed All of This is True by Lygia Day Penaflor.

It is a story set in high school so there is already a he-said-she-said element to the narrative. Add in a mystery, an author, and a character in hospital with life threatening injuries then you really do have the making of a good thriller.

What the author really manages to highlight is the fundamental need to be seen and acknowledged. She shows how this is a spectrum depending on the need of the character and how that can be manifested in both good and negative ways.

I really liked All of This is True. I loved the mixed media element of storytelling and how distinct the different character voices where. As far as YA Thrillers go then All of This is True is a brilliant poster book for the genre.

All of This is True by Lygia Day Penaflor is available now.

For more information regarding Lygia Day Penaflor (@lygiaday) please visit www.lygiadaypenflor.com.

For more information regarding Bloomsbury (@BloomsburyBooks) please visit www.bloomsbury.com.

Title: Long Way Down

Author: Jason Reynolds

Pages: 336 Pages

Publisher: Faber & Faber

The Blurb

AND THEN THERE WERE SHOTS
Everybody
ran,
ducked,
hid, tucked
themselves tight.

Pressed our lips to the
pavement and prayed
the boom, followed by
the buzz of a bullet,
didn’t meet us.

After Will’s brother is shot in a gang crime, he knows the next steps. Don’t cry. Don’t snitch. Get revenge. So he gets in the lift with Shawn’s gun, determined to follow The Rules. Only when the lift door opens, Buck walks in, Will’s friend who died years ago. And Dani, who was shot years before that. As more people from his past arrive, Will has to ask himself if he really knows what he’s doing.

This haunting, lyrical, powerful verse novel will blow you away.

(AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

I genuinely believe that YA fiction is opening up conversations about difficult topics to an age group who are on the cusp of forming their own opinions about society. When I was younger, the YA fiction was soft; it skirted around issues and acted like teenagers were too delicate or were unable to discuss difficult topics. Not anymore; the world of literature is a better place for it.

Jason Reynolds discusses knife crime in the book Long Way Down. It is the story of Will who has just seen his brother shot and killed due to gang crime. It is time for him to take his brother’s place on the street. He knows it. He also knows who has killed his brother and he is out for vengeance.

Told entirely in verse, we track Will as he goes to avenge his brother’s murder. We watch as people try to talk him out of his actions. We watch as those people – who are not who you would expect – reveal how gun and gang crime have impacted their own lives.

Long Way Down is hard hitting but it needs to be. It doesn’t paint a happy picture; it is gritty and it is realistic. Long Way Down is, for want of a better word, brilliant.

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds is available now.

For more information regarding Jason Reynolds (@JasonRenolds83) please visit www.jasonwritesbooks.com.

For more information regarding Faber & Faber (@FaberBooks) please visit www.faber.co.uk.

Title: Black Music Greats

Author: Olivier Cachin

Pages: 96 Pages

Publisher: Quarto Publishing Groups

The Blurb

The biggest names … the coolest sounds … the 40 most inspirational movers, shakers, and innovators in black music are here! In this fun, fact-packed book from the 40 Inspiring Icons series, learn how these black musicians changed music, from the creation of blues to the invention of rap.

Meet the Godfather of Funk, the High Priestess of Soul, and the King of Reggae. Learn how Marvin Gaye shaped the sound of Motown, how N.W.A. redefined rap, and what made the Supremes, supreme. From Robert Johnson, who recorded one of the first examples of the blues in 1936, to rap superstar Drake, whose 2012 album Views spent 13 weeks at number one on the US Billboard 200, these are the 40 black artists to be listened to and learned about by all:

Robert Johnson; Nina Simone; James Brown; Sly & the Family Stone; Miles Davis; Diana Ross & the Supremes; The Jackson 5; Marvin Gaye; Stevie Wonder; Aretha Franklin; Earth, Wind & Fire; Isaac Hayes; Tina Turner; Donna Summer; Bob Marley & the Wailers; Prince; Fela Kuti; The Last Poets; Chic; The Sugarhill Gang; Run-DMC; Eric B. & Rakim; Public Enemy; N.W.A.; Whitney Houston; 2Pac; The Fugees; Snoop Dogg; The Notorious B.I.G.; Erykah Badu; Jay-Z; Missy Elliott; Kanye West; Beyoncé; Pharrell Williams; Rihanna; Lil Wayne; Drake; Nicki Minaj; The Weeknd;

Each spread presents a single musician or band, highlighting key facts about their background, most popular songs, most iconic shows, genre-defining techniques, friends, rivals, and nicknames, along with a fun, illustrated depiction of them that calls out elements of their signature style.

With so many icons to choose from, which will you add to your playlist?

The Review

Black Music Greats is a book that looks over the history of music and focuses on black artists who have made a cultural impact. It looks at motown, rap, jazz, soul and many other subgenres. There are so many artists who are mentioned that you know and love that it makes you want to go and listen to their albums

My problem with the book Black Music Greats is that there is very little information given. There just doesn’t seem like enough about each artist. I felt that the above blurb has more narrative than the individual artists.

If I am honest, I was very disappointed.

Black Music Greats by Olivier Cachin is available now.

Title: The Day We Met

Author: Roxie Cooper

Pages: 464 Pages

Publisher: Ebury Publishing

The Blurb

Stephanie doesn’t believe in fate, true love or living happily ever after. She’s content enough being engaged to Matt. But then she meets Jamie, who understands her more than anyone else ever has.

Jamie is happily married to his childhood sweetheart Helen and believes in everything Stephanie doesn’t. So why does he have such a strong connection with Stephanie?

When Stephanie and Jamie meet one fateful weekend in 2006 it will change everything…

Ten years. Two people. One epic love story.

The Review

The Day We Met is a modern day love story in the same ilk as One Day. It tells the love story of Stephanie and Matt – an almost couple. They are two people drawn together but know they cannot be together. Why can’t they be together? Well, they both have partners. Instead, they choose to meet at the same venue every year and get to know each other better.

Ok. This is a difficult one because I really liked The Day We Met. The writing was easy to read; I liked the characterisation; I liked that the multi-perspective narrative really did feel like two separate characters. I also liked the fact that the book came with a playlist to match the moods of the chapters. That is always a big win for me. However, I dislike that I liked the book because of the whole element of extra-marital relations. Roxie Cooper is really clever in that she managed to get me to fall in love with the characters and the story whilst it goes against something I find morally reprehensible.

I really think you should read this book if you enjoy romantic stories. It is a wonderfully written book and one that will leave you questioning your own beliefs while rooting for the protagonists.

The Day We Met by Roxie Cooper is available now.

For more information regarding Roxie Cooper (@toodletinkbaby) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding Ebury (@EburyPublishing) please visit their Twitter page.

Title: I Am Thunder

Author: Muhammad Khan

Pages: 310 Pages

Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books

The Blurb

A shy girl trying to find her place in the world is forced to stand up and be heard when she uncovers a dangerous secret.

Fifteen-year-old Muzna Saleem is passionate about writing and dreams of becoming a novelist. There’s just one problem – her super-controlling parents have already planned her life out for her:

Step 1) Get educated
Step 2) Qualify as a doctor
Step 3) Marry a cousin from Pakistan. Oh, and boyfriends are totally haram.

No one is more surprised than humble Muzna when high school hottie, Arif Malik, takes an interest in her. But Arif and his brother are angry at the West for demonizing Islam and hiding a terrible secret. As Arif begins to lead Muzna down a dark path, she faces a terrible choice: keep quiet and betray her beliefs, or speak up and betray her heart?

A stunning new YA voice which questions how far you’ll go to stand up for what you believe.

The Review

I Am Thunder by Muhammad Khan is one of the most powerful YA books that I have ever read.

In a political climate that seems to encourage hate I Am Thunder holds a mirror up to society and shows just how complicit it is in perpetuating the negativity. It shows how people will not blame one person, they will homogenise a group of people with the same attributes. It also shows how easy it is for young people to become embroiled in events so far out of their control and how we should show understanding.

I Am Thunder is the story of Muzna, a young Muslim girl who is struggling with the different strands of her identity: she is British, she is Muslim, she is Pakistani, she is a girl and she is a daughter among many other things. She struggles to be all of those things; worries that if she does something wrong then she will be a disappointment.

It is Muzna’s vulnerabilities that get her caught up in a world of aggression, one she really has no knowledge of and one that ultimately leads her to make some bad decisions.

You cannot help but feel sorry for Muzna. She is just a young girl trying to find her way. What Muhammad Khan has successfully done is shine a light on a forgotten aspect of radicalisation, how young people are groomed.

I Am Thunder is an extremely powerful read and should be added to the high school curriculum.

I Am Thunder by Muhammad Khan is available now.

For more information regarding Muhammad Khan (@mkhanauthor) please visit his Twitter page.

For more information regarding Macmillan Children’s Books (@MacmillanKidsUK) please visit www.panmacmillan.com.