Title: Flirty Dancing

Author: Jenny McLachlan

Pages: 257 Pages

Publisher: Bloomsbury

The Blurb

A warm, hilarious bestseller-to-be. Geek Girl meets Dirty Dancing meets Louise Rennison’s Tights, all rolled into an irresistible story of friendship, bullies and how to steal a heart on the dancefloor.

Bea Hogg is shy but fiery inside. When national dance competition Starwars comes to her school looking for talent, she wants to sign up. It’s just a shame her best friend agreed to enter with school super-cow Pearl Harris. Bea will fight back! But when school hottie, Ollie Matthews, who also happens to be Pearl’s boyfriend, decides to enter the competition with Bea, she will have more than a fight on her hands.

This warm, nuanced, hilarious story about friendship, fortitude . . . and dancing is impossible not to fall in love with. Jenny’s voice is fresh and convincing, and she handles both darker and lighter elements of the story with equal panache.

The Review

Strictly season is upon us and I wanted to read something dance related so it seemed a natural choice to read Flirty Dancing by Jenny McLachlan. Truth be told the last few books that I had read were kind of heavy reads and I needed something fun, light and that would leave me smiling. Boy did Flirty Dancing make it happen.

Flirty Dancing is the story of Bea ‘Jelly Bean’ Hogg, a young girl who doesn’t really fit in so instead she sticks to the shadows and just tries to survive high school. She spends her days trying to avoid confrontation with her one time best friend (and now school bully) Pearl Harris who seems to have made t her personal mission to make Bea’s life hell.

When a TV talent show starts looking for teenage dancers then Bea really comes into her own. She, by some twisted hand of fate, ends up dancing with the boy of he dreams…and also the object of her worst enemy’s affection.

Flirty Dancing is such a good book. You fly through it and you smile from the first page to the last. If you want a feel good read then you need to pick this one up.

For more information regarding Jenny McLachlan (@JennyMcLachlan1) please visit www.jennymclachlan.com.

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

Title: Three Women

Author: Lisa Taddeo

Pages: 320 Pages

Publisher: Bloomsbury

The Blurb

One of the most highly anticipated nonfiction debuts of the year

All Lina ever wanted was to be desired. How did she end up in a marriage with two children and a husband who wouldn’t touch her?

All Maggie wanted was to be understood. How did she end up in a relationship with her teacher and then in court, a hated pariah in her small town?

All Sloane wanted was to be admired. How did she end up a sexual object of men, including her husband, who liked to watch her have sex with other men and women?

Consequences are handed out to some but not to others. Three Women is a record of unmet needs, unspoken thoughts, disappointments, hopes and unrelenting obsessions that tests the boundaries of non-fiction.

The Review

Three Women by Lisa Taddeo is the fascinating set of stories chronicling three women and the sexual encounters that shaped them as women today. Lisa Taddeo has took the information from the three women and made a highly readable narrative non-fiction.

The stories centre around Lina, Maggie and Sloane – all of whom have been affected in some way by sex. I suppose it is one of those things that still seems a little taboo: women talking openly about sex. This just highlights the misogyny that the women faced in a patriarchal society.

I enjoyed reading Three Women but I do feel that it was a victim of its own hype. The way Taddeo writes is engaging and you do want to read more but Three Women was hyped up that much that I personally think I was expecting more.

That being said, Maggie’s story broke me a little. She was just a young vulnerable girl who was taken advantage of by someone in power who should have known better and when whole thing got out of control it was Maggie who was, once again, the victim.

Three Women by Lisa Taddeo is available now.

For more information regarding Lisa Taddeo (@LisaTaddeo) please visit her Twitter page.

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

Title: Toffee

Author: Sarah Crossan

Pages: 416 Pages

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing

The Blurb

I am not who I say I am,

and Marla isn’t who she thinks she is.

I am a girl trying to forget.

She is a woman trying to remember.

Allison has run away from home and with nowhere to live finds herself hiding out in the shed of what she thinks is an abandoned house. But the house isn’t empty. An elderly woman named Marla, with dementia, lives there – and she mistakes Allison for an old friend from her past called Toffee.

Allison is used to hiding who she really is, and trying to be what other people want her to be. And so, Toffee is who she becomes. After all, it means she has a place to stay. There are worse places she could be.

But as their bond grows, and Allison discovers how much Marla needs a real friend, she begins to ask herself – where is home? What is a family? And most importantly, who am I, really?

The Review

I absolutely adore Sarah Crossan’s novels. Whenever a new one comes out you can guarantee it is on my ‘want to read’ list. The same can be said about Toffee. It was one of those books that I didn’t want to know anything about I just wanted to dive in because I know that with a Sarah Crossan novel I will be presented with challenging topics in a moving way.

Toffee did not disappoint.

It is a book about relationships. Not the love kind, but more the familial or the platonic kind. The story follows Allison, a runaway who is desperate to seek solace in the one person who has ever shown her kindness, however, when she ends up alone and penniless in an unknown area Allison forms a friendship with Marla. The only problem is that Marla has dementia and doesn’t remember Allison from one day to the next.

Crossan deals with issues such as abuse, broken families, loneliness, and mental health in such a caring, non-judgemental way. She has a magical ability to make her characters likable even when we question what they are doing. She is meticulous in her characterisation and I absolutely adore her books, Toffee included.

Toffee by Sarah Crossan is available now.

For more information regarding Sarah Crossan (@SarahCrossan) please visit her Twitter page.

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

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.

All the Dirty PartsTitle: All the Dirty Parts

Author: Daniel Handler

Pages: 144 Pages

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing

The Blurb

From bestselling, award-winning author Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket), a gutsy, exciting novel that looks honestly at the erotic impulses of an all-too-typical young man.

Cole is a boy in high school. He runs cross country, he sketches, he jokes around with friends. But none of this quite matters next to the allure of sex. “Let me put it this way,” he says. “Draw a number line, with zero is you never think about sex and ten is, it’s all you think about, and while you are drawing the line, I am thinking about sex.”

Cole fantasizes about whomever he’s looking at. He consumes and shares pornography. And he sleeps with a lot of girls, which is beginning to earn him a not-quite-savory reputation around school. This leaves him adrift with only his best friend for company, and then something startling starts to happen between them that might be what he’s been after all this time-and then he meets Grisaille.

All The Dirty Parts is an unblinking take on teenage desire in a culture of unrelenting explicitness and shunted communication, where sex feels like love, but no one knows what love feels like. With short chapters in the style of Jenny Offill or Mary Robison, Daniel Handler gives us a tender, brutal, funny, intoxicating portrait of an age when the lens of sex tilts the world. “There are love stories galore,” Cole tells us, “This isn’t that. The story I’m typing is all the dirty parts.”

The Review

Daniel Handler’s new release, All the Dirty Parts, is an entertaining story and a stark insight into the inner workings of a teenage boys mind.

The story follows Cole, a bit of a player, likes the sex but doesn’t deal with the emotional consequences for his conquests. His main goal is to score. That is until he meets his match in Grisaille.

It is through Grisaille that Cole finally gets his emotional comeuppance. Finally he gets a taste of his own medicine.

So imagine The Inbetweeners with less humour and you have All the Dirty Parts. That sounds a bit harsh but there really wasn’t much humour in the story and maybe it took itself too seriously.

All the Dirty Parts by Daniel Handler is available now.

For more information regarding Daniel Handler (@DanielHandler) please visit www.danielhandler.com.

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

2 Stars