Title: When We Were Young

Author: Dawn Goodwin

Pages: 352 Pages

Publisher: Head of Zeus

The Blurb

Four best friends. One of them is dead. Are their secrets safe? 

Uni friends Stacey, Paula, Bev and Valentina used to be inseparable until one weekend before graduation when nothing was ever the same again.

Thirty years later, reunited at Valentina’s funeral, Stacey receives a letter written by her late friend asking for one last wish… that the three friends go back to where things fell apart and finally bury the hatchet.

As they revisit their old haunts of their uni days and follow a series of clues left by Valentina, their friend’s death begins to look suspicious and it is up to them to find out what happened – but they all have secrets to hide.

They say good friends are hard to come by, but when there is so much at stake and someone is lurking in the shadows, how do you know who is a friend and who is a foe?

The Review

One of my favourite things to read about is friendship. I love a story which looks at the nuances of friendship so imagine my excitement when I picked up When We Were Young and along with friendship I get the added element of a murder mystery.

When news of Valentina’s death comes the panic of Stacey, Paula and Bev rises. See, the four girls have a secret, one which one of them has taken to the grave…or has she.

When We Were Young looks back at toxic friendship and how one persons obsession can land others into a whole world of trouble.

This is a great book to read and allows you to remember the friendships of your youth and begin to wonder whether they were are innocent as you thought.

When We Were Young by Dawn Goodwin is available now.

For more information regarding Dawn Goodwin (@DGoodwinAuthor) please visit www.dawngoodwin.com.

For more information regarding Head of Zeus (@HoZ_Books) please visit their Twitter page.

Title: Girl Friends

Author: Holly Bourne

Pages: 444 Pages

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

The Blurb

“Men see women in two separate categories. There are the women they sleep with, and the women they fall in love with. And they will treat you differently based on that.”

From the day they first meet as teenagers Fern and Jessica are best friends. Despite their differences, they are there for each other throughout everything, navigating the difficulties of growing up and fitting in. That is, until Jessica crosses a line that Fern can’t forgive.

But now, more than ten years later, Jessica has unexpectedly reappeared in Fern’s life.

A lot has changed for them both – but can their relationship be different now they are older? Is it possible for either of them to rewrite the role that they have been cast in? Or will their shared history ultimately be doomed to repeat itself?

Set between the present day and the past, GIRL FRIENDS is a blisteringly funny and devastating novel: both a joyful celebration of female friendship and a razor-sharp look at the damage we can all cause to those we claim to love the most.

The Review

There are some books that really resonate with you. You see yourself in a character or you empathise with a storyline. Girl Friends by Holly Bourne did that for me. Besides being set during my the same timeline as my teenage to new adult years, the things that happened or events experienced are similar to things that I went through. Mainly spending my summers at the Leeds festival (whoop whoop) and struggling with a friendship.

Friendship is the main theme of Girl Friends and Holly Bourne explores how the relationships between friends can be both a source of comfort but equally can be toxic. It looks at how they seem in real time but also how with hindsight we can see all the bad things. Sometimes at the detriment of the good memories.

The friendship between Fern and Jessica is both all consuming and fraught with difficulty. Fern’s insecurities put strain on their adult relationship but Bourne has countered this showing us all of the things that Jessica did in their friendship to make Fern feel the way she did.

When reading the story I got so invested in their relationship. I knew I disliked Jessica’s actions but there were obviously fueled by her insecurities. I felt for Fern but she showed her absolute worst side by her jealousy but I couldn’t help feel for her.

I really feel that Holly Bourne has tapped into what it is like to have a complex friendship with someone. How it can be all consuming and can make and break you on a daily basis. How that friendship can bring out the best in you and also bring out the absolute worst in you at the same time. And how if that friendship ends it can be the biggest heartbreak you ever feel. Reading Girl Friends felt cathartic for me. I’ve never had resolution with my broken friendship but it felt good reading something that validates my feelings.

Girl Friends by Holly Bourne is available now.

For more information regarding Holly Bourne (@holly_bourneYA) please visit www.hollybourne.co.uk.

For more information regarding Hodder & Stoughton (@HodderBooks) please visit www.hodder.co.uk.

Title: The Nicest Girl

Author: Sophie Jo

Pages: 196 Pages

Publisher: UCLan Publishing

The Blurb

Sixth-former Anna Campbell is the go-to girl when anyone needs anything. Teachers, friends, random strangers… It never occurred to her that she could say no. After all, Anna Campbell’s always been too ‘nice’ to say no. But Anna is sick of being that girl, the nice girl, and she’s going to do something about it. Only, is she prepared to risk losing everything she cares about – even herself – along the way…? A novel for anyone who’s ever struggled to put themselves first.

The Review

What do you do when everyone sees you as a bit of a doormat? This is the question that protagonist Anna Campbell is asking herself. She is there for everybody because she has a pathological inability to say no or to let people down. Not only is she carrying the burden of being a teenager doing her A-Levels but she has to buddy up with the new kid, is pressurised into taking a job that she really doesn’t have time for and deal with a needy best friend and quite frankly it has all got a bit much for her.

We all know an Anna – some of us might even be an Anna – which is why The Nicest Girl is so relatable. We desperately want Anna to grow a backbone and stand up for herself but know that it could come at a cost.

I really enjoyed this short YA story. It was sensitive and handled difficult issues such as toxic friendship in a really approachable way. Sophie Jo got to the crux of the issues whilst still maintaining the dignity of her characters. I did hope for more resolution from other secondary characters like Ryan and her tertiary characters (Sophie’s friends) were interesting enough to have their own plot lines explored – maybe in a multiverse or short story?

The Nicest Girl is a good, solid YA that deserves a place in all libraries.

The Nicest Girl by Sophie Jo is available now.

For more information regarding Sophie Jo (@sophiejowrites) please visit her Twitter account.

For more information regarding UCLan Publishing (@publishinguclan) please visit their Twitter account.

Title: Three Girls

Author: Katie Clapham

Pages: 240 Pages

Publisher: UCLan Publishing

The Blurb

“We just want to show that friendships forged here are the real deal. Genuine. Built to last. That sort of thing. For the brochure. Do you mind?” Their school may be making them pose together for photos -but Minnie, Lena and Alice are not friends. And they have other things to worry about. 

Minnie -The Athlete: her whole life has been sport –but what if that’s not all she wants her life to be? How do you even start to change your future all by yourself? 

Lena -The Princess: she has always resented being in Minnie’s shadow –so when a freak accident changes all of her arch-rival’s plans, Lena has a chance to become Queen Bee at last. But is ruling the school all she dreamed it would be? 

And then there’s Alice -The Really Tall One. Alice has friends already, she’s even got her eye on a potential crush -but she’s also got a secret. And that secret is about to bound into all three girls’ lives and change them forever. 

A deliciously funny, heart-warming novel about unlikely friendships and first loves, THREE GIRLS is exactly the joyous burst of energy we all need right now! Perfect for young teen readers of Tamsin Winter, Holly Smale and Louise Rennison.

The Review

I flippin’ loved this story.

Three Girls is a story about friendship and the unique power a group of friends can create.

The story is told in a multi-perspective chapter. We hear Minnie, Lena and Alice and about the trials that they face separately but we also hear the triumphs when they are together. They are brought together through the coincidence of geography but they connected through sport –  the strength of which has made them friends.

Besides Three Girls being a totally heartwarming story about friendship it also has a real feminist bite to it and is rather inspirational. In a similar ilk to Derby Girl by Shauna Cross it is the love story between a girl (or in this case, girls) and a sport. This is an undervalued trope in YA and I think that is what makes Three Girls so enjoyable.

Three Girls by Katie Clapham is available now.

For more information regarding Katie Clapham (@storytellersinc) please visit www.storytellersinc.co.uk

For more information regarding UCLan Publishing (@publishinguclan) please visit their Twitter page.

Title: The Library

Author: Bella Osborne

Pages: 384 Pages

Publisher: Aria Books

The Blurb

Two different generations. Two unusual people. Thrown together to save their local library. 

Tom is a teenager and blends into the background of life. After a row with his dad, and facing an unhappy future at the dog food factory, he escapes to the library. Tom unwittingly ends up with a bagful of romance novels and comes under the suspicion of Maggie.

Maggie is a pensioner and has been happily alone for ten years, at least that’s what she tells herself. When Tom comes to her rescue a friendship develops that could change her life. As Maggie helps Tom to stand up for himself, Tom helps Maggie realise the mistakes of her past don’t have to define her future.

They each set out to prove that the library isn’t just about books – it’s the heart of their community.

Together they discover some things are worth fighting for.

The Review

I am loving that there are so many books out there at the moment that are singing the praises of libraries. The Library by Bella Osborne is one such book.

The library is a communal space. A space that isn’t just a place to find the best books but a place for young mums to have playdates, a place for people to use the internet, apply for jobs, a place for the elderly to meet – a place that squashes loneliness. For Tom and Maggie it is a sanctuary. Tom needs sanctuary from his dad – a man that is grieving and who is struggling to parent Tom. Tom needs the library too. It makes him feel closer to his mum.

For Maggie, the library offers a place where she can feel at one with the community. It gives her purpose and something to do each week.

When Tom and Maggie’s lives intertwine they both give each other a little bit of what they need.

The Library is a lovely celebration of friendship and the magic of libraries. It is a novel that shows that friendship has no barrier and the massive impact that people can make when fighting for a mutual cause and I loved it.

The Library by Bella Osbourne is available now.

For more information regarding Aria Books (@Aria_Fiction) please visit www.headofzeus.com.