Title: Here’s To Us

Author: Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera

Pages: 472 Pages

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

The Blurb

Ben has spent his first year of college working on his fantasy manuscript with his writing partner Mario, who is a great Spanish tutor, and an even better kisser. So why can’t he stop thinking about the fact that Arthur’s back in town two years after they called it quits?

Arthur is in New York for a dream internship on Broadway, with a boyfriend back at home that he couldn’t be happier with. But when he comes upon Ben cuddled up with a mystery boy, he starts to wonder if his feelings for Ben ever truly went away. 

Even as the boys try to focus on their futures, they can’t seem to help running into each other in the present. Is the universe forcing them to question if they’re actually meant to be?

Possibly not. After all, things didn’t work the first time around.

Possibly yes. After all, the sparks are still flying.

Sometimes you just have to take a leap of faith and raise a glass.

Here’s to celebrating old friends!

Here’s to embracing new beginnings!

Here’s to believing in second chances!

The Review

It has been a long while since I have rooted so fervently for a couple of characters. I felt myself getting to the point where I would either a) throw the book in frustration because Ben and Arthur are meant to be together or b) shouting out loud “Kiss him, you fool!”

Okay, so it is always tricky with a sequel. Will it live up to the predecessor? Will it ruin the story? I can genuinely say that Here’s To Us is on par with What If It’s Us or possibly even better.

Ben and Arthur have grown up and so have their problems and I feel they make it a bit more relatable. Ben and Arthur needed a challenge to their almost perfect love story start and boy do Albertalli and Silvera provide it. But oh, how they pull at those heartstrings.

Here’s To Us is phenomenal as is the whole series. My heart was stolen by this book and I don’t want it back.

Here’s To Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera is available now.

For more information regarding Becky Albertalli (@beckyalbertalli) please visit www.beckyalbertalli.com

For more information regarding Adam Silvera (@AdamSilvera) please visit his Instagram page.

For more information regarding Simon & Schuster (@SimonBooks) please visit www.simonandschuster.com.

Title: When You Call My Name

Author: Tucker Shaw

Pages: 368 Pages

Publisher: Penguin Random House Children’s UK

The Blurb

A heartrending novel about two gay teens coming of age in New York – perfect for fans of It’s a Sin and Adam Silvera.

It’s 1990 in New York City.

Adam is falling in love for the first time. Ben is leaving home for the last.

Drawn by the city’s irresistible energy, the boys are swept up into the queer scene, where the potential for life and love seems limitless.

But as the shadows of prejudice gather, Ben and Adam discover how their newfound community is facing the looming threat of AIDS, which will touch their lives more closely than they ever could have imagined. 

Heartbreaking yet hopeful, When You Call My Name tells the story of the moments that break our hearts and the people who make us whole – and shows how together we burn brightest in times of darkness.

The Review

Oh my wow. I loved When You Call My Name by Tucker Shaw.

Tucker Shaw’s novel tells the story of two young men living during the turn of the decade from the 80s into the 90s in New York. The AIDS pandemic was on the rise and emotions were running high within the LGBT+ community and outside of it. Ben and Adam met through a chance encounter and form an unusual friendship that is tested by the world around them. Can Adam and Ben maintain their friendship in a world that is constantly changing?

I read a lot of LGBT+ fiction. It is something that I am passionate about. As an ally, I feel the best way that I can educate myself of the LGBT+ community is by learning the stories – whether they be fiction or non-fiction – and opening myself up to knowing the history. When You Call My Name is a fictional story but it is not too far from the truth. There will have been Bens and Adams all over the world going through what they went through which is why stories like When You Call My Name are vital.

For me, the absolute power in this book comes from very certain moments. It is not what Tucker Shaw has had his characters say. The power comes in what was not said – the Pinter pauses that say so much whilst saying absolutely nothing at all. That was writing at its most perfect.

When You Call My Name had me in absolute bits. It has shot to the top spot in my books of 2022.

When You Call My Name by Tucker Shaw is available now.

For more information regarding Tucker Shaw (@tucker_shaw) please visit www.tuckershawwrites.com.

For more information regarding Penguin Random House Children’s UK (@PenguinUKBooks) please visit www.penguin.co.uk.

Title: What It Feels Like For A Girl

Author: Paris Lees

Pages: 254 Pages

Publisher: Penguin

The Blurb

Thirteen-year-old Byron needs to get away, and doesn’t care how. Sick of being beaten up by lads for “talkin’ like a poof” after school. Sick of dad – the weightlifting, womanising Gaz – and Mam, who pissed off to Turkey like Shirley Valentine. Sick of all the people in Hucknall who shuffle about like the living dead, going on about kitchens they’re too skint to do up and marriages they’re too scared to leave.

It’s a new millennium, Madonna’s ‘Music‘ is top of the charts and there’s a whole world to explore – and Byron’s happy to beg, steal and skank onto a rollercoaster ride of hedonism. Life explodes like a rush of ecstasy when Byron escapes into Nottingham’s kinetic underworld and discovers the East Midlands’ premier podium-dancer-cum-hellraiser, the mesmerising Lady Die. But when the comedown finally kicks in, Byron arrives at a shocking encounter that will change life forever.

Bold, poignant and riotously funny, What It Feels Like For a Girl is the unique, hotly-anticipated and addictively-readable debut from one of Britain’s most exciting young writers.

The Review

I first came across Paris Lees on Question Time a few years ago. She spoke so passionately about being trans and the lack of visibility for the trans community. She highlighted how she was the first trans person ever to appear on question time and how about trans people are talked at and about but never included in the conversation which crucially had such a negative impact on how the trans community are perceived by society. She was, quite frankly, amazing.

Her autobiography, What It Feels Like For a Girl is pretty damn good too. Paris Lees has led a pretty interesting life. In her no holds barred account of what it is like to grow up in Nottingham whilst dealing with her sexuality and becoming the person she was born to be you really are taken on a massive emotional journey.

Through all the terrible things that Paris Lees has to go through you have no doubt that she will survive. She is a survivor. A fighter. And to be perfectly honest, after I finished the book I just wanted to be her friend. I feel that there is much more of this story to tell and I really hope that Lees does a follow up because besides leading such a fascinating life she also writes incredibly well.

What It Feels Like for a Girl is one that I would happily reread several times over.

What It Feels Like For a Girl by Paris Lees is available now.

For more information regarding Paris Lees (@parislees) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding Penguin (@PenguinUKBooks) please visit www.penguin.co.uk.

Title: Stay Another Day

Author: Juno Dawson

Pages: 352 Pages

Publisher: Hachette Children’s Group

The Blurb

When three very different siblings, Fern, Rowan and Willow, go home for a Christmas reunion at their family home in Edinburgh, it’s not long before some VERY BIG SECRETS threaten their cosy holiday …

The McAllister house on Arboretum Road has seen 120 Christmases since its completion. 

This year, FERN is bringing her gorgeous boyfriend home and she wants everything to be perfect.

But her twin brother ROWAN would rather go on the pull than pull crackers with the family.

And their younger sister WILLOW is terrified of Christmas Day.

With FOUR sleeps till Christmas,

THREE secretive siblings,

TWO hot houseguests,

And ONE juicy secret …

This Christmas, there will be some BIG surprises under the tree.

Sometimes at Christmas, you don’t get what you want, you get what you need…

Family secrets, chance encounters and festive traditions collide in this juicy Christmas treat from Juno Dawson.

The Review

Drama, scandal and a Christmas turkey. Stay Another Day is the novel that has it all.

The McAllister family love Christmas. It is the one day of the year they all come together and forget the drama of the rest of the year. Having had to miss Christmas the previous year due to the youngest McAllister’s battle with anorexia, older sister Fern is determined to make this Christmas one to remember. And boy does she get her wish.

Juno Dawson has crafted an absolute corker of a novel about family dynamics, relationships and mental health. All packaged with a Christmas setting – a time of year bound to get your hackles up – you really feel like you are a member of the family watching the drama explode around you. There are moments that are so very awkward that you genuinely feel uncomfortable and forget for a moment that you are reading fiction.

Another absolute corker from the mighty Juno Dawson.

Stay Another Day by Juno Dawson is available now.

For more information regarding Juno Dawson (@junodawson) please visit www.junodawson.com.

For more information regarding Hachette Children’s Group (@HachetteUK) please visit www.hachette.co.uk.

Title: Plain Bad Heroines

Author: Emily M Danforth

Pages: 640 Pages

Publisher: Harper Collins

The Blurb

⚠️ WARNING: keep this book away from impressionable female readers⚠️

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1902, Brookhants School for Girls: students Flo and Clara are madly in love with each other, as well as completely obsessed with The Story of Mary MacLane, the scandalous debut memoir by 19 year old MacLane. A few months later they are found dead in the woods, after a horrific wasp, the book lying next to their intertwined bodies. Within five years The Brookhants School for Girls is closed. But not before three more people died on the property, each in a troubling way.

Over a hundred years later, Brookhants opens its doors once more, when a crew of young actresses arrive to film a high-profile movie about the rumoured Brookhants curse. And as past and present become grimly entangled, it’s soon impossible to tell quite where the curse leaves off and Hollywood begins…

🐝🐝🐝

For fans of Sarah Waters, Curtis Sittenfeld and Shirley Jackson, Plain Bad Heroines is by turns sharply witty and deeply unsettling: a modern gothic novel that is utterly immersive and hugely compelling.

The Review

A sapphic campus mystery chunkster of a novel. Plain Bad Heroines is exactly the kind of novel that I needed in my life.

The dual timeline story focuses on the deaths of two young girls at Brookhants School for Girls and the impact of that event throughout the proceeding years. We focus on the lives of the teachers in the school at that time along with the actors playing those parts in a movie interpretation during modern day. However, curious things start happening on set which suggests that the Brookhants curse is still ongoing.

Plain Bad Heroines was a beast of a novel and I flipping loved it. I loved the story within a story and the voices where so distinct and I felt completely immersed in the novel. It highlights the historical attitude to lesbian relationships and the institutions that tried to keep girls separate. It was just so multilayered and even though it was 640 pages long I kind of felt like I wanted more. For a novel to leave your feeling that way you know it is something good.

Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M Danforth is available now.

For more information regarding Emily M Danforth (@emdanforth) please visit www.emdanforth.com.

For more information regarding Harper Collins (@HarperCollinsUK) please visit their Twitter page.