Title: Queens of Geek

Author: Jen Wilde

Pages: 289 Pages

Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Group/Swoon Reads

The Blurb

Three friends, two love stories, one convention: this fun, feminist love letter to geek culture is all about fandom, friendship, and finding the courage to be yourself.

Charlie likes to stand out. She’s a vlogger and actress promoting her first movie at SupaCon, and this is her chance to show fans she’s over her public breakup with co-star Reese Ryan. When internet-famous cool-girl actress Alyssa Huntington arrives as a surprise guest, it seems Charlie’s long-time crush on her isn’t as one-sided as she thought.

Taylor likes to blend in. Her brain is wired differently, making her fear change. And there’s one thing in her life she knows will never change: her friendship with her best guy friend Jamie—no matter how much she may secretly want it to. But when she hears about a fan contest for her favorite fandom, she starts to rethink her rules on playing it safe.

Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde, chosen by readers like you for Macmillan’s young adult imprint Swoon Reads, is an empowering novel for anyone who has ever felt that fandom is family.

The Review

Queens of Geek is the perfect book for that person who never quite fits in. Sounds a bit dramatic but it is genuinely the vibe that you get from Jen Wilde’s book.

It is the story of three friends who have travelled across the globe to attend a comic book convention. There is romance, hi-jinx and costume competitions. Wilde has kept her cast of characters diverse and helps dispel the myth of what is “normal” in society – and what better setting than a comic book convention? Wilde’s characters are dealing with failed romance and blossoming new romance, celebrity fandom, autism, LGBT, and social anxiety. It really is a lot to read about in a relatively small novel. Throw in a dollop of movie quotes and you have something pretty special.

It is a wonderful story though, one of personal triumph, self discovery and essentially growing up. If it doesn’t help your inner geek rise to the surface then it is questionable if you even have one. It is a story that I will be recommending to many of the young adults that I work with.

Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde is available now.

For more information regarding Jen Wilde (@jenmariewilde) please visit www.jenmariewilde.com.

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

For more information regarding Swoon Reads (@SwoonReads) please visit www.swoonreads.com.

Title: Maybe in Paris

Author: Rebecca Christiansen

Pages: 240 Pages

Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing

The Blurb

Keira Braidwood lands in Paris with her autistic brother, Levi, and high hopes. Levi has just survived a suicide attempt and months in the psych ward—he’s ready for a dose of the wider world. Unlike their helicopter mom and the doctors who hover over Levi, Keira doesn’t think Levi’s certifiable. He’s just . . . quirky. Always has been.

Those quirks quickly begin to spoil the trip. Keira wants to traipse all over Europe; Levi barely wants to leave their grubby hotel room. She wants to dine on the world’s cuisine; he only wants fast food. Levi is one giant temper tantrum, and Keira’s ready to pull out her own hair.

She finally finds the adventure she craves in Gable, a hot Scottish bass player, but while Keira flirts in the Paris Catacombs, Levi’s mental health breaks. He disappears from their hotel room and Keira realizes, too late, that her brother is sicker than she was willing to believe. To bring him home safe, Keira must tear down the wall that Levi’s sickness and her own guilt have built between them.

The Review

Oh where do I begin with Maybe in Paris?

Ok, so my love of Paris and being a self confessed Francophile made me select this book. The thought of travelling to Paris and seeing the sights and falling in love with the city sounds like absolute heaven to me so understandably I liked the idea of this novel. And whilst I cannot say that Rebecca Christiansen writes in a bad way (because she doesn’t) I cannot say I enjoyed this book.

Pourquoi? I hear you scream.

Well it had such unlikable characters. Let’s start with Keira and Levi’s mum. Within the first few chapters she has basically called her daughter a slut. Makes out that she is some wanton harlot. Now if that was the case then why hasn’t the mother taken some parental responsibility and tried to speak to her daughter before basically writing her off and feeling that it was ok to speak to Keira like she was muck on her shoe.

Then we have Keira who, yes, is a little bit flighty which can be forgiven but she is also incredibly selfish and naive and really takes no responsibility in her actions. She thinks she is right all of the time and acts on instinct which nine times out of ten is wrong.

Then we have the younger brother, Levi. Levi quite clearly has mental issues alongside a potential diagnosis of autism. It feels that, at times, Christiansen uses his autism to justify some of his actions which are just plain arsey which is unfair to those who have autism.

Overall, I feel that the story would have been better if Christiansen had made her characters much more likeable.

Maybe in Paris by Rebecca Christiansen is available now.

For more information regarding Rebecca Christiansen (@rchristiansenYA) please visit www.rebeccachristiansen.com.

For more information regarding Skyhorse Publishing (@skyhorsepub) please visit www.skyhorsepublishing.com.

Title: Puddle Jumping

Author: Amber L Johnson

Pages: 259 Pages

Publisher: Self Published

The Blurb

When it comes to love there’s no such thing as conventional.

Everyone thinks Colton Neely is special.

Lilly Evans just thinks he’s fascinating.

Once friends when they were younger, their bond is cut short due to her accident prone nature and they go their separate ways. Years later, they meet again and Lilly learns that there is something special about the boy she once knew, but she has no idea what it all means. And she’s not sure if she’s ready to find out.

When he walks through the corridor of her school the first day of her senior year, she knows that it’s time to get to know the real Colton Neely. The more she learns, the deeper she falls.

Their friendship grows into love, even as Colton does not express it in words. But one decision threatens to break down the world that Lilly has tried so hard to integrate into and she must figure out if the relationship can survive if they are apart.

(AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

Amber L Johnson’s short story Puddle Jumping packs an almighty punch.

Johnson defies expectations with her book about autism. It is understandable that people with little understanding about the condition of autism would naturally assume that it is a debilitating condition that impacts the social life of the autistic person. To some extent this is true. And for some people it is hard to imagine an autistic person able to have a close personal romantic relationship like you would expect from a neurotypical person. Johnson goes against the grain and portrays romance between two teenagers – one autistic and one not.

Johnson doesn’t hold back either. She shows just how challenging it can be and how everything must be taken into consideration. It is both heartbreaking and heart-warming and at 259 pages who can complain.

Puddle Jumping by Amber L Johnson is available now.

Kids Like UsTitle: Kids Like Us

Author: Hilary Reyl

Pages: 282 Pages

Publisher: Text Publishing

The Blurb

‘In her wonderfully touching YA debut, Hilary Reyl tells the story of one boy’s effort to connect his imaginary world to the real one. There is love, humor and compassion on every page. You’ll be blown away by this boy and by this book.’—Holly Goldberg Sloan, author of Counting by 7s.

The delightful story of Martin, a teenager on the autism spectrum, who falls for Gilberte-Alice, a ‘normal’ French girl. While spending summer in the French countryside with his mother, Martin mistakes Gilberte for a character in a novel he is obsessed with—Marcel Proust’s masterpiece In Search of Lost Time. He gradually realises she is not Gilberte, the fantasy girl, but a real person named Alice. Falling in love, in all its unpredictability, teaches Martin that he can in fact connect, can get out of his bubble.

Offering a window into the mind of a high-functioning autistic kid, Kids Like Us is the ultimate book about acceptance. Perhaps we are all in our own bubble; perhaps the line between reality and imagination does not have to be fixed.

We meet Martin’s adorable older sister, Elisabeth, his friend Layla and her very useful ‘moth’ theory. And there’s lots of great cooking. The prose is sharp, original and brimming with empathy and humour.

The Review

Autism is a condition that I find fascinating. I work with several children who have the condition and seeing how they deal with everyday situations really amazing. There has, in the past, been a lot of negativity towards the functionality of people with autism but I see how similar people with the condition are to – for want of a more accurate term – “fully functional people”.

In her book, Kids Like Us, Hilary Reyl explores this notion by placing her main character Martin in an unusual environment. He has moved to France with his mother (a moviemaker) and his sister, Elisabeth and he is embarking on a massive challenge of attending a mainstream school.

What is heartening about this novel is that you see Martin succeed. It isn’t easy for him to be in such an alien environment but he does the best he can and manages to blossom.

The novel also explores the idea that we never really can know how a person is thinking or feeling. Martin sees this most when he makes new friends. He cannot tell if they are trying to ride is coat tails into the glamorous world of showbiz or if they genuinely like him.

Reyl does an excellent job of portraying the mind of someone with autism. The rigidity and the early triggers are sensitively handled and Kids Like Us was genuinely an eye opener and a joy to read.

Kids Like Us by Hilary Reyl is available now.

For more information regarding Hilary Reyl (@HilaryReyl) please visit www.hilaryrey.com.

For more information regarding Text Publishing (@text_publishing) please visit www.textpublishing.com.au.

3 Stars

Mason Street has turned up back home after a whirlwind five years touring with his eponymous band. The band have crashed and burned, as often such bands do, so Mason Street has returned to lick his wounds.

Having nabbed himself a place to stay with his old mentor Ray, Mason has to face how much things have changed since he has been gone; starting with Ray’s daughter, Avery. Having never really paid much attention to her whilst they were growing up Mason is shocked and quite frankly a little turned on by the woman she has become.

As Mason sets about trying to win Avery’s affections he is quickly awakened to how difficult her life actually is.

Avery is a hero – she tends bar, she looks after her dad, she goes to college and she looks after her 5 year old autistic son, Max.

Avery and Max come as a package. The question is, is Mason man enough to take them both on?

Oh Ginger Scott, what have you done to me?

I recently finished Ginger Scott’s novel How We Deal With Gravity and oh man, I have a book hangover along with a new fictional crush.

Firstly, let’s talk about Mason Street. It is hard not to fall for him; he has charm, charisma and the picture that has been painted in my head means that he is pretty damn attractive too. You cannot help but root for him and hope that he gets the girl because essentially How We Deal With Gravity is a love story. The love spreads further than just between a man and a woman. The love Avery has for her son, Max, bounces off the page. It is about love that happens quickly and suddenly alongside a deep rooted love that has lasted almost a lifetime. So, yeah, it is pretty difficult not to feel the warm and fuzzies when you read it.

The broader issue in the book is that of Autism. Scott tackles the issue head on revealing the low points and the highlights of living with a child with Autism. She isn’t patronising nor is she excessive in her points but she does make you aware of some of the key features of the condition; the routine, the intelligence, the hardships. She really advocates the people who are living with the condition along with those who are living with a person diagnosed with the condition.

How We Deal With Gravity is a great book. I would implore those who like romantic fiction to read it. However, it is an even greater book if you want to get an insight into Autism and those who struggle on a daily basis with the condition.

How We Deal With Gravity by Ginger Scott is available now.

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