Title: Permanent Record

Author: Mary H K Choi

Pages: 400 Pages

Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group UK

The Blurb

On paper, college dropout Pablo Rind doesn’t have a whole lot going for him. His graveyard shift at a twenty-four-hour deli in Brooklyn is a struggle. Plus, he’s up to his eyeballs in credit card debt. Never mind the state of his student loans.

Pop juggernaut Leanna Smart has enough social media followers to populate whole continents. The brand is unstoppable. She graduated from child stardom to become an international icon and her adult life is a queasy blur of private planes, aspirational hotel rooms, and strangers screaming for her just to notice them.

When Leanna and Pablo meet at 5:00 a.m. at the bodega in the dead of winter it’s absurd to think they’d be A Thing. But as they discover who they are, who they want to be, and how to defy the deafening expectations of everyone else, Leanna and Pablo turn to each other. Which, of course, is when things get properly complicated.

The Review

Permanent Record is a sort of reverse Cinderella story between a young man, Pablo who is struggling to try and fit in to his position as adult and Leanna who is a celebrity who is confused by her desire for normality without losing the fame and fortune she has accrued.

Let’s start with Pablo: He is a college dropout, seriously in debt, can’t figure out what he wants to do but knows that he wants to make a fortune doing it. He wants to be successful but does not want to accept that success is hard work. He has a complicated relationship with his family and often screws up monumentally.

Leanna is a pop star/childhood sensation who cannot cut her hair without making global news. She longs for normality but actually doesn’t know how to be normal because her normal is so different from everyone else’s that she often acts selfishly without realising that she cannot solve her problems by throwing her wealth around.

They make an unlikely pair but as a reader you really root for them to be together. My one negative about the book isn’t really a negative about the book. That sounds a bit confusing but her me out. I am not a young adult. I enjoy YA fiction but I am a fully grown adult in my thirties and at time I didn’t quite understand the vernacular used by the characters. That is on me though. Mary H K Choi is writing for a very different age group who would know about the things that I found confusing.

Permanent Record is a really good story that has two highly flawed but likeable characters. Make sure you add it to your to be read list.

Permanent Record by Mary H K Choi is available now.

For more information regarding Mary H K Choi (@choitotheworld) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding Little, Brown Book Group (@LittleBrownUK) please visit their Twitter page.

Title: Last Christmas

Author: Emma Thompson and Greg Wise

Pages: 256 Pages

Publisher: Quercus Books

The Blurb

The perfect gift book, featuring the writing of Meryl Streep, Bill Bailey, Emilia Clarke, Olivia Colman, Caitlin Moran, Richard Ayoade, Emily Watson and others, to coincide with the upcoming movie Last Christmas, starring Emma Thompson, Emilia Clarke and Henry Golding.

When you think back to Christmases past, what (if anything) made it magical? Looking towards the future, what would your perfect Christmas be? What would you change? What should we all change?

This is a beautiful, funny and soulful collection of personal essays about the meaning of Christmas, written by a unique plethora of voices from the boulevards of Hollywood to the soup kitchens of Covent Garden.

Away from the John Lewis advert, the high street decorations and the candied orange in Heston Blumenthal’s Christmas pudding, this gem of a book introduced and curated by Emma Thompson and Greg Wise celebrates the importance of kindness and generosity, acceptance and tolerance – and shows us that these values are not just for Christmas.

The Review

I am sitting here on Christmas Eve writing the review for Last Christmas (I know that it is January the 10th as this goes live but I am trying to keep the festive period going). Admittedly, I don’t feel particularly Christmassy. Don’t worry, it will come. It will come later when I am in my new Christmas pyjamas and I have watched The Muppet’s Christmas Carol. This for me is what Christmas is about: being wrapped up warm and feeling safe and snug. Sadly, that isn’t the case for everyone.

Last Christmas which has been created by Emma Thompson and Greg Wise is a selection of tales from many different people, some celebrities others who are not famous but who are dealing with the very real issue of displacement and its creation has been to raise some much needed funds for Crisis.

The stories range from endearingly funny to absolutely heartbreaking and serve to remind us of how lucky we are and the true meaning of Christmas. If you are going to buy one book then please make it Last Christmas. The money raised from the book is going to help those in need.

Last Christmas by Emma Thompson and Greg Wise is available now.

For more information regarding Quercus Books (@QuercusBooks) please visit their Twitter page.

Title: The Princess of Baker Street

Author: Mia Kerick

Pages: 180 Pages

Publisher: Harmony Ink Press

The Blurb

When she was a child, Joey Kinkaid, assigned as a boy at birth—wearing Mom’s purple sundress and an imaginary crown—ruled the Baker Street neighbourhood with a flair and imagination that kept the other kids captivated. Day after day, she led them on fantastic after-school adventures, but those innocent childhood days are over, and the magic is gone. The princess is alone.

Even Eric Sinclair, the Prince Eric to Joey’s Princess Ariel, has turned his back on his former friend, watching in silence as Joey is tormented at school. Eric isn’t proud of it, but their enchanted youth is over, and they’ve been thrust into a dog-eat-dog world where those who conform survive and those who don’t… well, they don’t. Eric has enough to deal with at home, where his mother has abandoned him to live in isolation and poverty.

But Eric can’t stay on the sidelines forever. When Joey finally accepts her female gender and comes to school wearing lip gloss, leggings, and a silky pink scarf, the bullies readily take the opportunity she hands them, driving Joey to attempt suicide and leaving Eric at a crossroads—one that will influence both their lives in not just the present, but the future.

Is there a chance the two teens can be friends again, and maybe even more?

The Review

The Princess of Baker Street by Mia Kerick is a book that surprised me in so many ways. If I am completely honest, I chose to read the book based on the cover. I had not read the blurb nor did I have any knowledge of Mia Kerick’s previous writing. I did not know it was an LGBTQIA+ story. Not that that would have mattered. In fact, it probably would have made me want to read it more.

What I loved about the story is that it was sensitive. Not only to Joey who is going through the agonising process of becoming the correct gender, but to Eric who is dealing with abandonment. Also to the school bully who is dealing with learned behaviour from his misogynistic father.

It is just a lovely yet heart-breaking story told with the utmost sensitivity and beauty that could have been lacking in somebody else’s hands. Mia Kerick has really worked magic in writing this story.

The Princess of Baker Street by Mia Kerick is available now.

For more information regarding Mia Kerick (@MiaKerick) please visit www.MiaKerickYA.com.

For more information regarding Harmony Ink Press (@HarmonyInkPress) please visit www.harmonyinkpress.com.

 

Title: We Used to Be Friends

Author: Amy Spalding

Pages: 384 Pages

Publisher: ABRAMS Kids

The Blurb

Two best friends grow up—and grow apart—in this innovative contemporary YA novel

Told in dual timelines—half of the chapters moving forward in time and half moving backward—We Used to Be Friends explores the most traumatic breakup of all: that of childhood besties. At the start of their senior year in high school, James (a girl with a boy’s name) and Kat are inseparable, but by graduation, they’re no longer friends. James prepares to head off to college as she reflects on the dissolution of her friendship with Kat while, in alternating chapters, Kat thinks about being newly in love with her first girlfriend and having a future that feels wide open. Over the course of senior year, Kat wants nothing more than James to continue to be her steady rock, as James worries that everything she believes about love and her future is a lie when her high-school sweetheart parents announce they’re getting a divorce. Funny, honest, and full of heart, We Used to Be Friends tells of the pains of growing up and growing apart.

The Review

I am a relatively lucky person. I have never broken a bone; the people in my life who have passed away have been old and have lived very full lives. However, there is one thing that I have been through and the pain of it is something that nearly a decade later I still feel the pain pangs of now. Not as much, they have softened over time but the pain of falling out with your best friend is something that I fail to be able to describe.

It is for that reason alone I am thankful for books like We Used to Be Friends. Amy Spalding shows just how painful a friendship break up can be. In some ways, it is worse than breaking up with a boyfriend because you just expect that your best friend will be there for you. In the story of James and Kat we see the story from two different perspectives and also two different timelines – one going forwards, the other going backwards – and we watch the actions of both of the characters and see how both are in pain but both are at fault. We see these two young women on the cusp of adulthood going into the unknown without their confidant. A scary time already made even more terrifying without the person you rely on most.

I really enjoyed We Used to Be Friends. I did feel that Spalding favoured James as a character and gave Kat some very annoying qualities (like, duh!) but overall, I felt that Spalding portrayed the hurt and confusion in a very realistic way. We can see what both did wrong and maybe it will encourage those who read it to act differently in their friendship groups.

We Used To Be Friends by Amy Spalding is available now.

For more information regarding Amy Spalding (@theames) please visit www.theamyspalding.com.

For more information regarding ABRAMS Kids (@abramskids) please visit www.abramsbooks.com.

Title: The Lost Ones

Author: Anita Frank

Pages: 464 Pages

Publisher: HQ

The Blurb

Some houses are never at peace.

England, 1917

Reeling from the death of her fiancé, Stella Marcham welcomes the opportunity to stay with her pregnant sister, Madeleine, at her imposing country mansion, Greyswick – but she arrives to discover a house of unease and her sister gripped by fear and suspicion.

Before long, strange incidents begin to trouble Stella – sobbing in the night, little footsteps on the stairs – and as events escalate, she finds herself drawn to the tragic history of the house.

Aided by a wounded war veteran, Stella sets about uncovering Greyswick’s dark and terrible secrets – secrets the dead whisper from the other side…

In the classic tradition of The Woman in Black, Anita Frank weaves a spell-binding debut of family tragedy, loss and redemption.

The Review

I love a good creepy story. Preferably one set in a spooky house and there has to be a mystery.

Voila. The Lost Ones by Anita Frank.

The Lost Ones is set during World War One. Stella Marcham has experienced sadness that no one should ever have gone through. She is sent to convalesce and grieve at her sister’s home but things seem to be getting worse rather than better. When no one believes Stella and her sister about the ghostly happenings at Greyswick, she leaves herself in danger of being sent to an asylum.

I have such a visceral response to the terrible history of women being made to appear as if they were crazy or mentally unhinged. It makes me feel physically sick. I have a genuine fear of gas lighting and especially during a period of time when women weren’t taken seriously and were treated like delicate flowers. Anita Frank’s fantastic writing made me feel so helpless and hopeless for Stella. My stomach was churning and my anxiety was peaked. If a book can make you have that much of a reaction then you know that it is written well.

Furthermore, the characterisation was deeply unsettling. Mrs Henge, the housekeeper had such a sinister Mrs Danvers quality to her that it was hard not to see suspicion lying around every corner. Besides the ghost story you have a house full of intrigue and mystery with twists and turns aplenty to keep you on your toes.

As far as ghost stories go, The Lost Ones is one of the best ghost stories that I have read all year. Add in the multiple layers – war time, feminism, mental health – Anita Frank really has created a fantastic story; one that is still playing on my mind days after turning the final page.

The Lost Ones by Anita Frank is available now.

For more information regarding Anita Frank (@Ajes74) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding HQ (@HQstories) please visit www.hqstories.co.uk.