Sam and Ilsas Last HurrahTitle: Sam and Ilsa’s Last Hurrah

Author: Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

Pages: 224 Pages

Publisher: Egmont Publishing

The Blurb

Sam and Ilsa Kehlmann have spent most of their high school years throwing dinner parties, and now they’ve prepared their final blowout, just before graduation. The rules for the twins are simple: they each get to invite three guests, and the other twin doesn’t know who’s coming until the guests show up at the door. With Sam and Ilsa, the sibling revelry is always tempered with a large dose of sibling rivalry, and tonight is no exception.

One night. One apartment. Eight people. What could possibly go wrong? Oh, we all know the answer is plenty. But plenty also goes right – in rather surprising ways.

The Review

As far as writing partnerships go, Cohn and Levithan has to be one of my favourites. There has yet to be a book that they have written (either individually or together) that I have not enjoyed. Therefore, even before turning the first page of Sam and Isla’s Last Hurrah I knew I would like it.

And like it, I did.

It is almost like that game were you select ideal dinner guests, except in this circumstance all the guests are alive and not celebrities. We see Sam and Isla through the dual narrative try to come to terms with the empty space ahead of life after high school. Besides not knowing if they are going to college, travelling or getting a job they also have to deal with the fact that they are losing their home; the location for the last hurrah – their grandmother’s New York apartment.

It really is a quirky piece of YA fiction that focuses on half truths and lies and also includes a sock puppet. I know you are intrigued.

Sam and Ilsa’s Last Hurrah by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan is available now.

For more information regarding Rachel Cohn (@rachelcohn) please visit www.rachelcohn.com.

For more information regarding David Levithan (@loversdiction) please visit www.davidlevithan.com.

For more information regarding Egmont Publishing (@EgmontUK) please sisit www.egmont.co.uk.

4 Stars

You Know Me WellTitle: You Know Me Well

Author: Nina LaCour and David Levithan

Pages: 256 Pages

Publisher: Pan Macmillan

The Blurb

Who knows you well? Your best friend? Your boyfriend or girlfriend? A stranger you meet on a crazy night? No one, really?

Mark and Kate have sat next to each other for an entire year, but have never spoken. For whatever reason, their paths outside of class have never crossed.

That is until Kate spots Mark miles away from home, out in the city for a wild, unexpected night. Kate is lost, having just run away from a chance to finally meet the girl she has been in love with from afar. Mark, meanwhile, is in love with his best friend Ryan, who may or may not feel the same way.

When Kate and Mark meet up, little do they know how important they will become to each other — and how, in a very short time, they will know each other better than any of the people who are supposed to know them more.

Told in alternating points of view by Nina LaCour and David Levithan, the best-selling author of Every Day and co-author of Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist (with Rachel Cohn) and Will Grayson, Will Grayson (with John Green), You Know Me Well is a deeply honest story about navigating the joys and heartaches of first love, one truth at a time.

The Review

Good golly I love YA fiction. I love that even as a 32 year old woman I can read it and become utterly absorbed in the stories o characters way younger than myself; I love that YA fiction always seems to be fresh and exciting but more than anything I love that YA fiction is tackling issues and helping to positively shape our youth’s opinion on some major topics by (for want of a better word) “normalising” them such as LGBTQIA. Take the new release from Nina LaCour and David Levithan. LaCour and Levithan have co-written You Know Me Well.

You Know Me Well is a coming of age story that focuses on Mark and Kate; two teenagers who are discovering life’s changes and the rapid fluidity that life takes when you are that age. They are discovering that the world after high school can be a very scary place; they are figuring out that friends come and go and they also figure out that first love can be wonderful and horrible in equal measure.

Oh, wait…do you think Mark and Kate are together? No, no, no, no, no. Mark and Kate are friends who are helping each other deal with the trials and tribulations of love (for other people) and learning to accept their flaws. It is a realistic story about love. You may wonder why I keep going on about love but the weekend that I read this book was the weekend of the Orlando shootings. You Know Me Well is classed as an LGBTQIA fiction because the film focuses on the gay scene in San Francisco. This is why this book is important. Hopefully, teenagers will read this book and the atrocities that happened in June 2016 will never happen again. #LoveisLove.

You Know Me Well by Nina LaCour and David Levithan

For more information about Nina LaCour (@nina_lacour) please visit her official website www.ninalacour.com.

For more information about David Levithan (@loversdiction) please visit his official website www.davidlevithan.com.

For more information about Pan Macmillan (@panmacmillan) and their future releases please visit the official website www.panmacmillan.com.

4 Stars

My True Loe Gave to MeThe Blurb

A collection of joyful festive stories that will keep you warm during the cold winter months.

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…

This beautiful collection features twelve gorgeously romantic stories set during the festive period, by some of the most talented and exciting YA authors writing today. The stories are filled with the magic of first love and the magic of the holidays.

The Review

My True Love Gave to Me is a quirky and delightful book of short stories that are all set during Christmas. The set features some famous names such as David Levithan, Gayle Forman, Rainbow Rowell and Stephanie Perkins to name but a few.

The collection of shorts provides quick escapes that keep you entertained; however, the stand out short stories did leave you wanting more. In particular Rainbow Rowell’s Midnights, Angels in the Snow by Matt de la Pena, It’s a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown by Stephanie Perkins, What the Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth? by Gayle Forman and Star of Bethlehem by Ally Carter.

As much as some of the short stories were really engaging there were others by which I found myself bored.

Overall, I would recommend My True Love Gave to Me because this book will get you in the festive spirit.

My True Love Gave to Me by Stephanie Perkins is available now.

Hold Me CloserThe Blurb

Larger-than-life character Tiny Cooper, from the bestselling novel Will Grayson, Will Grayson, finally tells his own story the only way he knows how – as a stupendous musical.

This is the full script of Hold Me Closer, the musical written by and starring Tiny Cooper, from the New York Times bestselling novel Will Grayson, Will Grayson, written by David Levithan and John Green.

Filled with humour, pain, and ‘big, lively, belty’ musical numbers, readers will finally learn the full story of Tiny Cooper from his birth and childhood to his quest for love and his infamous eighteen ex-boyfriends. David Levithan is the New York Times bestselling author of many novels for young readers including Every DayWill Grayson, Will Grayson (with John Green), Invisibility (with Andrea Cremer) and Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist (with Rachel Cohn), which was turned into a feature film.

He’s the editorial director of Scholastic Press, and has edited hundreds of books including the mega-hits The Hunger Games and Shiver. David lives in Hoboken, New Jersey.

The Review

I was drawn to Hold Me Closer: The Tiny Cooper Story – A Musical Novel (from no own it will be referred to as Hold Me Closer) because I adore David Levithan’s writing style – my favourite book of his being Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist. What I have always liked about Levithan’s writing is that he isn’t scared to be different. Whether this comes in the form of multi-narrative perspective or dictionary definitions, Levithan is – for want of a better way to describe it – a brave writer.

Hold Me Closer is told entirely in script form. In fact, it is written like it is a musical script. Now, I broke my rule with this book and read Hold Me Closer first. Hold Me Closer is the companion novel for Will Grayson, Will Grayson and in my silliness I read them the wrong way round. It will be interesting for me to see the narrative format.

Tiny Cooper’s story is a sweet love story and what is interesting is that I have found with David Levithan is that he tends to write his LGBT characters in a way that is not stereotypical or clichéd way possible. Therefore, it is interesting to see that Levithan used the musical platform – one that tends to be associated with camp gay men – to tell a story of someone who doesn’t necessarily conform to that stereotype. Well done, David Levithan!

Overall, the story of Tiny Cooper is unashamedly lovely. It tells you to get your heart broken and enjoy it, grown from it and learn from it for the next time. Hold Me Closer is a story that will leave you with a big smile on your face.

Hold Me Closer: The Tiny Cooper Story – A Musical Novel by David Levithan is available now.

Follow David Levithan (@loversdiction) on Twitter.

Title: Two Boys Kissing

Author: David Levithan

Pages: 196 Pages

Publisher: Knopf Books

The Blurb

From the New York Times best-selling author of Every Day, another thoughtful and original perspective on the things we do for love.

The two boys kissing are Craig and Harry. Theyr’e hoping to set the world record for the longest kiss. They’re not a couple, but they used to be.

Peter and Neil are a couple. Their kisses are different. Avery and Ryan have only just met and are trying to figure out what happens next. Cooper is alone. He’s not sure how he feels.

As the marathon progresses, these boys, their friends and families evaluate the changing nature of feelings, behaviour and this crazy thing called love.

The Review

As far as LGBT YA fiction is going, it is undeniable that David Levithan is leading the charge. This is extremely evident in the novel Two Boys Kissing. The story shows the different aspects of daily life as someone who is gay. The good side of things such as burgeoning relationships, family acceptance and friendship; it is the bad aspects of life that are truly heartbreaking such as the bullying, the taunts, and the suicidal thoughts and the general ignorance that makes it difficult for people to live normal lives.

Although the separate stories in the novel are very telling it is the voice of omniscient narrator and the stories of the past that are truly heartbreaking. It is almost an oxymoron the way that the uplifting feeling you get from the progress of the LGBT community makes you angry that they needed to have progress. Why couldn’t things just be?

Two Boys Kissing is an important story. A story that shouldn’t have to be told but thankfully it is. Here is to an ignorance free future.

Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan is available now.

4 Stars