Derby GirlTitle: Derby Girl

Author: Shauna Cross

Pages: 244 Pages

Publisher: Henry Holt

The Blurb

Meet Bliss Cavendar, a blue haired, indie-rock loving misfit stuck in the tiny town of Bodeen, Texas.

Her pageant-addicted mother expects her to compete for the coveted Miss Blue Bonnet crown, but Bliss would rather feast on roaches than be subjected to such rhinestone tyranny.

Bliss’ escape? Take up Roller Derby.

When she discovers a league in nearby Austin, Bliss embarks on an epic journey full of hilarious tattooed girls, delicious boys in bands, and a few not-so-awesome realities even the most bad-assed derby chick has to learn.

The Review

Whenever I am asked what is my favourite book I never hesitate to give Derby Girl by Shauna Cross as my answer. I read this book several years ago and usually when I read a book I will pass it on to other people and let them keep the copy. Not Derby Girl though; that was put in the permanent collection.

So when a group of students with whom I work asked me to start a book club I knew exactly what book I wanted to read with them. Derby Girl is not just a book about sports (although I do long for the day that I grow a pair and join the Roller Derby) and it is not just about falling in love (romantic love or in this case a love of something that helps you find yourself). It is a book about just letting yourself be you; that you can bang to the beat of your own drummer, rest of the world be damned. There is no stronger message that I wanted to pass on to my students.

However, on reflection and after a reread of what is still my favourite book of all time ever I decided that I probably shouldn’t read it with my students. Not yet, anyway. See, whilst I love the book I really cannot recommend a book that has near on 60 cuss words and 13 references to sex to a group of 11 year olds. As much as I bang to the beat of my own drummer I am not foolish enough to face the wrath of angry parents.

Therefore, if you are old enough to choose the books you read without parental influence then go and read this book. It is wonderful. Simply wonderful.

Derby Girl by Shauna Cross is available now.

For more information regarding Shauna Cross (@ShaunaCross) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding Henry Holt (@HenryHolt) please visit www.us.macmillan.com/HenryHolt.aspx.

5 Stars

Bookish BoyfriendsTitle: Bookish Boyfriends

Author: Tiffany Schmidt

Pages: 272 Pages

Publisher: Abrams Kids

The Blurb

Boys are so much better in books. At least according to Merrilee Campbell, 15, who thinks real-life chivalry is dead and there’d be nothing more romantic than having a guy woo her like the heroes in classic stories. Then she, her best friend, Eliza, and her younger sister, Rory, transfer to Reginald R. Hero Prep–where all the boys look like they’ve stepped off the pages of a romance novel. Merri can hardly walk across the quad without running into someone who reminds her of Romeo.

When the brooding and complicated Monroe Stratford scales Merri’s trellis in an effort to make her his, she thinks she might be Juliet incarnate. But as she works her way through her literature curriculum under the guidance of an enigmatic teacher, Merri’s tale begins to unfold in ways she couldn’t have imagined. Merri soon realizes that only she is in charge of her story. And it is a truth universally acknowledged that first impressions can be deceiving…

The Review

Ahhhh Bookish Boyfriends. Where were you when I was fifteen?

Bookish Boyfriends by Tiffany Schmidt is a retelling of the classic Austen story Pride and Prejudice with a gentle nod to other great works of literature. Besides being a love story it is a story about great love throughout the history of novels.

Tiiffany Schmidt has captured the perfect tone for this entertaining YA novel. Her main character, Merrilee is a heroine for the feisty teen who happens to also get swept away quite easily. It is such an adventure being on her journey into the deep realms of private school as she tries (and at times, fails) to navigate the socially accepted behaviour with her clumsy and entertaining faux pas’ to keep the reader and indeed Merrilee on her toes.

Bookish Boyfriends is probably one of the better retellings of Pride and Prejudice that I have ever read. It is such a warm book that makes you less embarrassed about falling in love with fictional characters.

Bookish Boyfriends by Tiffany Schmidt is available now.

For more information regarding Tiffany Schmidt (@TiffanySchmidt) please visit www.TiffanySchmidr.com.

For more information regarding Abrams Kids (@abramskids) please visit www.abramsbooks,com/abramskids/.

4 Stars

Title: How the Marquis Got his Coat Back

Author: Neil Gaiman

Pages: 64 Pages

Publisher: Headline

The Blurb

Neverwhere short story from one of the brightest, most brilliant writers of our generation – the Sunday Times and New York Times bestselling author of the award-winning The Ocean At the End of the Lane.

The coat. It was elegant. It was beautiful. It was so close that he could have reached out and touched it.

And it was unquestionably his.

 (AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

Every time I pick up a book by Neil Gaiman I get cross with myself that I haven’t read more. That being said, one of my upcoming books to be read is Neil Gaimain’s Neverwhere. Therefore I decided to read How the Marquis Got his Coat Back – an accompanying story – just to get myself in the Neil Gaiman groove.

I’m so glad I did.

How the Marquis Got his Coat Back is chock full of interesting characters who are whimsical in nature and even though they are reaching into the realms of fantasy come across as quite normal and commonplace.

The story centres on how, indeed, the marquis got his coat back – his coat sounds wonderful, lots of pockets – and even though it is only 64 pages in length I feel that I was submerged into the world of Neverwhere. Now I cannot wait to read the full length novel.

How the Marquis Got his Coat Back by Neil Gaiman is available now.

For more information regarding Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself) please visit www.neilgaiman.com.

For more information regarding Headline (@headlinepg) please visit www.headline.co.uk.

3 Stars

Title: Brief Encounters

Author: Kate Harrison

Pages: 80 Pages

Publisher: Orion

The Blurb

Hope is overworked – and so over relationships – when she embarks on a mystery tour arranged by her sister Faith, who has promised her a mini break guaranteed free of romantic four-posters, red roses or dinners for two.

Hope’s trying to travel light – yet as she leaves London Euston, her emotional baggage begins to catch up with her. Will the journey finish her off . . . or will it be the start of something new

The Review

Well Brief Encounters was a cute story. I think what made it so cute was that it was very relatable. Not to make me sound a little crazy but I travel on down to London from Liverpool quite regularly and I spend the 2 hours and 9 minutes having imaginary conversations in my head. I really should put those two hours to good use and write a story; next journey to London that is exactly what I am going to do.

Brief Encounters is a great little short about revisiting the past loves of your life and seeing how they have shaped you in to the person you are today. Hope’s past love life made a light and enjoyable read.

Brief Encounters by Kate Harrison is available now.

For more information regarding Kate Harrison (@KateWritesBooks) please visit www.kate-harrison.com.

For more information regarding Orion (@orionbooks) please visit www.orionbooks.co.uk.

3 Stars

The BellesTitle: The Belles

Author: Dhonielle Clayton

Pages: 448 Pages

Publisher: Gollancz

The Blurb

Camellia Beauregard is a Belle. In the opulent world of Orleans, Belles are revered, for they control Beauty, and Beauty is a commodity coveted above all else. In Orleans, the people are born gray, they are born damned, and only with the help of a Belle and her talents can they transform and be made beautiful.

But it’s not enough for Camellia to be just a Belle. She wants to be the favorite, the Belle chosen by the Queen of Orleans to live in the royal palace, to tend to the royal family and their court, to be recognized as the most talented Belle in the land.
But once Camellia and her Belle sisters arrive at court, it becomes clear that being the favorite is not everything she always dreamed it would be. Behind the gilded palace walls live dark secrets, and Camellia soon learns that the very essence of her existence is a lie, that her powers are far greater, and could be more dangerous, than she ever imagined. And when the queen asks Camellia to risk her own life and help the ailing princess by using Belle powers in unintended ways, Camellia now faces an impossible decision.

With the future of Orleans and its people at stake, Camellia must decide: save herself and her sisters and the way of the Belles, or resuscitate the princess, risk her own life, and change the ways of her world forever.

The Review

I’m not sure what I was expecting when I bought The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton but I can assure you that in my wildest imagination I would never have come up with colourful, dramatic fantasy drama with a focus on maquillage as a possible sound bite.

The world in which Dhonielle Clayton has created has a great emphasis on beauty; so much so that certain girls – The Belles – have been raised to perform beauty treatments on paying patrons across the land. One lucky Belle gets the privilege of being the favourite and working for the royal family, but this responsibility comes with its own set of challenges. It turns out that the world is not exactly how the Belles have been raised to understand it to be.

Whilst I enjoyed The Belles, I did find myself losing focus at times. I think for me the pacing was a little catawampus. It was slow, slow, slow fast, too fast, to holy-moly we have four chapters left how is Clayton possibly going to get it all together.

Fantasy isn’t really my genre but with this novel Clayton has held up a mirror to those who are obsessed with unachievable and downright depressing beliefs in what beauty is. The Belles is definitely a book that can be compared to current societal attitudes to the changeability of what physical beauty is.

The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton is available now.

For more information regarding Dhonielle Clayton (@brownbookworm) please visit www.dhonielleclayton.com.

For more information regarding Gollancz (@Gollancz) please visit www.gollancz.co.uk.

3 Stars