Title: We Used to Be Friends

Author: Amy Spalding

Pages: 384 Pages

Publisher: ABRAMS Kids

The Blurb

Two best friends grow up—and grow apart—in this innovative contemporary YA novel

Told in dual timelines—half of the chapters moving forward in time and half moving backward—We Used to Be Friends explores the most traumatic breakup of all: that of childhood besties. At the start of their senior year in high school, James (a girl with a boy’s name) and Kat are inseparable, but by graduation, they’re no longer friends. James prepares to head off to college as she reflects on the dissolution of her friendship with Kat while, in alternating chapters, Kat thinks about being newly in love with her first girlfriend and having a future that feels wide open. Over the course of senior year, Kat wants nothing more than James to continue to be her steady rock, as James worries that everything she believes about love and her future is a lie when her high-school sweetheart parents announce they’re getting a divorce. Funny, honest, and full of heart, We Used to Be Friends tells of the pains of growing up and growing apart.

The Review

I am a relatively lucky person. I have never broken a bone; the people in my life who have passed away have been old and have lived very full lives. However, there is one thing that I have been through and the pain of it is something that nearly a decade later I still feel the pain pangs of now. Not as much, they have softened over time but the pain of falling out with your best friend is something that I fail to be able to describe.

It is for that reason alone I am thankful for books like We Used to Be Friends. Amy Spalding shows just how painful a friendship break up can be. In some ways, it is worse than breaking up with a boyfriend because you just expect that your best friend will be there for you. In the story of James and Kat we see the story from two different perspectives and also two different timelines – one going forwards, the other going backwards – and we watch the actions of both of the characters and see how both are in pain but both are at fault. We see these two young women on the cusp of adulthood going into the unknown without their confidant. A scary time already made even more terrifying without the person you rely on most.

I really enjoyed We Used to Be Friends. I did feel that Spalding favoured James as a character and gave Kat some very annoying qualities (like, duh!) but overall, I felt that Spalding portrayed the hurt and confusion in a very realistic way. We can see what both did wrong and maybe it will encourage those who read it to act differently in their friendship groups.

We Used To Be Friends by Amy Spalding is available now.

For more information regarding Amy Spalding (@theames) please visit www.theamyspalding.com.

For more information regarding ABRAMS Kids (@abramskids) please visit www.abramsbooks.com.

Author: Rachael Lippincott

Pages: 276 Pages

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

The Blurb

Now a major motion picture starring Cole Sprouse and Haley Lu Richardson!

In this #1 New York Times bestselling novel that’s perfect for fans of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, two teens fall in love with just one minor complication—they can’t get within a few feet of each other without risking their lives.

Can you love someone you can never touch?

Stella Grant likes to be in control—even though her totally out of control lungs have sent her in and out of the hospital most of her life. At this point, what Stella needs to control most is keeping herself away from anyone or anything that might pass along an infection and jeopardize the possibility of a lung transplant. Six feet apart. No exceptions.

The only thing Will Newman wants to be in control of is getting out of this hospital. He couldn’t care less about his treatments, or a fancy new clinical drug trial. Soon, he’ll turn eighteen and then he’ll be able to unplug all these machines and actually go see the world, not just its hospitals.

Will’s exactly what Stella needs to stay away from. If he so much as breathes on Stella she could lose her spot on the transplant list. Either one of them could die. The only way to stay alive is to stay apart. But suddenly six feet doesn’t feel like safety. It feels like punishment.

What if they could steal back just a little bit of the space their broken lungs have stolen from them? Would five feet apart really be so dangerous if it stops their hearts from breaking too?

The Review

There has been a strange trend in YA literature over the past few years that focus on terminal illnesses. This often leaves me feeling confused. Partly because I feel that books and literature should be escapism from life but the greater part of me thinks that without literature people, especially young adults, are not exposed to bigger, more important subjects.

Exposure is exactly what the reader will get with Five Feet Apart. It is the story of Stella and Will and their battle with Cystic Fibrosis. It chronicles the daily battle with the life limiting disease and also the isolation that comes with having it. Imagine having something in common with a small set of people but not being able to be close to those people because it could kill you. It must be so lonely.

I was quite moved by this story. It was uplifting and heartbreaking and funny all in one go. I was consumed by this story and was bereft when it ended.

Five Feet Apart by Rachel Lippincott is available now.

For more information regarding Rachel Lippincott (@rchllip) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding Simon & Schuster (@simonschusterUK) please visit www.simonandschuster.co.uk.

Title: Imaginary Friend

Author: Stephen Chbosky

Pages: 720 Pages

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

The Blurb

A young boy is haunted by a voice in his head in this acclaimed epic of literary horror from the author of The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

Christopher is seven years old.Christopher is the new kid in town.Christopher has an imaginary friend.

We can swallow our fear or let our fear swallow us.

Single mother Kate Reese is on the run. Determined to improve life for her and her son, Christopher, she flees an abusive relationship in the middle of the night with her child. Together, they find themselves drawn to the tight-knit community of Mill Grove, Pennsylvania. It’s as far off the beaten track as they can get. Just one highway in, one highway out.

At first, it seems like the perfect place to finally settle down. Then Christopher vanishes. for six long days, no one can find him. Until Christopher emerges from the woods at the edge of town, unharmed but not unchanged. He returns with a voice in his head only he can hear, with a mission only he can complete: Build a treehouse in the woods by Christmas, or his mother and everyone in the town will never be the same again.

Twenty years ago, Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower made readers everywhere feel infinite. Now, Chbosky has returned with an epic work of literary horror, years in the making, whose grand scale and rich emotion redefine the genre. Read it with the lights on.

The Review

I bloody loved The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Yes.

Did I love Imaginary Friend? Mmmm not really. If I am completely honest, I didn’t really understand it.

Let me try and break it down. A boy and his mother moves to a small town and he gets possessed by a spirit who tries to convince him to open a portal to get the evil spirit out…I think.

See that is the thing, after 720 pages I can honestly say I do not know what this book was about. This is a shame because it was one of my most anticipated books of the year.

Sadly, Imaginary Friend did not live up to the expectations that I had for it.

Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky is available now.

For more information regarding Stephen Chbosky (@StephenChbosky) please visit his Twitter page.

For more information regarding Grand Central Publishing (@GrandCentralPub) please visit www.grandcentralpublishing.com.

Title: Only Dead on the Inside – A Parent’s Guide to Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse

Author: James Breakwell

Pages: 200 Pages

Publisher: BenBella Books

The Blurb

It’s not easy being a parent these days. There are bills to pay. Kids to feed. And hordes of undead monsters to keep at bay.

There are plenty of guides out there about how to survive the zombie apocalypse. All of them assume readers are young, fit, and unencumbered by children. In that scenario, the only living humans left will be smug, outdoorsy Millennials. That’s hell on earth, even without the zombies.

Only Dead on the Inside is the answer for the rest of us.

Written by professional comedy writer and amateur father-of-four James Breakwell (@XplodingUnicorn), Only Dead on the Inside blends traditional parenting advice with zombie survival tips, bringing together two totally unrelated genres in a book no one asked for but everyone needs.

This step-by-step manual teaches you how to raise happy, healthy children in a world overrun by the undead. Motivated moms and dads want it all, and that won’t change at the end of the world. There’s no reason you can’t be a zombie killing machine AND parent of the year, but you have to work for it.

If you want to make sure your family is apocalypse-ready, Only Dead on the Inside is your best–and only–chance at survival. No pressure, but if you don’t read this book, your children will die.

The Review

I really love James Breakwell’s tweets. He and his family are hilarious. I chuckle so much reading about their daily exploits and the hilarious thoughts of his children. Therefore, I was excited to read Only Dead on the Inside – A Parent’s Guide to Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse.

It was a very fun book which poses the scenario of how to survive an apocalypse. Now, I know without a shadow of a doubt that I would not survive but now I feel slightly better equipped. Alas, I do not have kids so I won’t be able to use some of the tricks that may one day save my life.

If you are genuinely looking for a survival guide then it is a great start. Let’s face it, there aren’t many out there. If you are looking for a book that will make you giggle then pick it up. It is funny.

Only Dead on the Inside – A Parent’s Guide to Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse by James Breakwell is available now.

For more information regarding James Breakwell (@XplodingUnicorn) please visit www.ExplodingUnicorn.com.

For more information regarding BenBella Books (@BenBellaBooks) please visit the Twitter page.

Title: At Briarwood School for Girls

Author: Michael Knight

Pages: 304 Pages

Publisher: Grove Atlantic

The Blurb

It’s 1994 and Lenore Littlefield is a junior at Briarwood School for Girls. She plays basketball. She hates her roommate. History is her favorite subject. She has told no one that she’s pregnant. Everything, in other words, is under control.

Meanwhile, Disney has announced plans to build a new theme park just up the road, a “Technicolor simulacrum of American History” right in the middle of one of the most history-rich regions of the country. If successful, the development will forever alter the character of Prince William County, VA, and have unforeseeable consequences for the school.

When the threat of the theme park begins to intrude on the lives of the faculty and students at Briarwood, secrets will be revealed and unexpected alliances will form. Lenore must decide whom she can trust—will it be a middle-aged history teacher struggling to find purpose in his humdrum life? A lonely basketball coach tasked with directing the school play? A reclusive playwright still grappling with her own Briarwood legacy? Or a teenage ghost equally adept at communicating with the living via telephone or Ouija board?

Following a cast of memorable characters as they reckon with questions about fate, history, and the possibility of happiness,At Briarwood School for Girls is a stunning and inventive new work from a master storyteller.

The Review

Hmmm. What to say about At Briarwood School for Girls. I think for me it is a bit of a nothing novel. Nothing really happens in the novel. It is more character driven than plot driven but then the characters felt very unapproachable so I don’t feel that I connected with them.

There were elements of the novel that could have been the driving narrative such as a ghost story or as a teen moral novel but personally I felt that the story didn’t know what it wanted to be.

I was also confused by the constant reference to Disney. It didn’t add anything to the story.

Sadly, At Briarwood School for Girls, whilst it had potential for great things, was not a story for me.

At Briarwood School for Girls by Michael Knight is available now.

For more information regarding Grove Atlantic (@groveatlantic) please visit www.groveatlantic.com.