Title: As I Descended

Author: Robin Talley

Pages: 370 Pages

Publisher: Harlequin

The Blurb

Amnesty Honour winner Robin Talley is back with a Shakespeare-inspired story of revenge and redemption, where fair is foul, and foul is fair.

Maria Lyon and Lily Boiten are their school’s ultimate power couple—but one thing stands between them and their perfect future: campus superstar Delilah Dufrey. Golden child Delilah is a legend at exclusive Acheron Academy, and the presumptive winner of the distinguished Cawdor Kingsley Prize. But Delilah doesn’t know that Lily and Maria are willing to do anything—absolutely anything—to unseat Delilah for the scholarship. After all, it would lock in Maria’s attendance at Stanford—and assure her and Lily four more years in a shared dorm room.

Together, Maria and Lily harness the dark power long rumored to be present on the former plantation that houses their school. But when feuds turn to fatalities, and madness begins to blur the distinction between what’s real and what’s imagined, the girls must attempt to put a stop to the chilling series of events they’ve accidentally set in motion.

The Review

As far as campus horror novels go, As I Descended is quite good. Students Maria and Lily have dappled in dark forces and have invoked the forces of the dead which begin to have massive consequences of their academic ecosystem.

What was interesting about As I Descended is the depths that people will go for power. However, the overarching belief of goodness makes As I Descended added depth.

As much as I enjoyed the story I didn’t feel that I fully connected with the characters and I felt that more could have been made of the campus setting.

As I Descended by Robin Talley is available now.

For more information regarding Robin Talley (@robin_talley) please visit www.robintalley.com.

For more information regarding Harlequin (@HarlequinBooks) please visit www.harlequin.com.

Title: Music From Another World

Author: Robin Talley

Pages: 384 Pages

Publisher: HQ

The Blurb

‘I’m just so sick of blending in…’

It’s 1977, and the USA is tearing itself apart. And so is Tammy Larson.

Seventeen and scared, Tammy has a secret that her strict community and conservative family must never find out; one that she’s only ever shared in unposted letters to her hero, Harvey Milk. She’s gay.

Hundreds of miles away, Tammy’s new pen pal is dealing with a few secrets of her own. Sharon Hawkins lives in foggy San Francisco, an exciting city full of protests and punk music. But as the letters pile up in her desk drawer, Sharon begins to realise that her world might not be that different to Tammy’s after all…

Set to a soundtrack of Bowie, Blondie and a whole lot of Patti Smith, the girls’ worlds converge in ways they could never have imagined. With a fierce sense of rebellion and a feminist attitude to boot, Tammy and Sharon soon discover what it means to be their true selves, and one thing’s for sure: they’re both sick of blending in.

The perfect empowering and life-affirming read for fans of Caitlin Moran, Becky Albertalli and Meredith Russo.

The Review

Wow. If I don’t read another book in 2022 then Music From Another World by Robin Talley will definitely have been the best book of the year and I will be happy for it to stay that way. I know it is a little early to tell this but I can already see this being in my Top Ten Books of 2022. It is glorious.

Set in 1977, Music From Another World looks at the change in culture and the rise of the LGBT community and the fight for equal rights. The story focuses on the burgeoning pen pal friendship of Sharon and Tammy. Both are dealing with secrets and both only have the other to confide in. But just how much can they say to each other without their worlds falling apart?

I really loved this story. It has so many elements – a love story, social history, familial bonds, religion. It just ticked so many boxes for me. I bought into the story so much and was desperate to see how things turned out with Sharon and Tammy. I think that the story had such an iconic historical backdrop along with the struggles of our main characters really compounded a historical social issue and made it accessible for a new generation.

I cannot speak more highly of this novel.

Music From Another World by Robin Talley is available now.

For more information regarding Robin Talley (@robin_talley) please visit www.robintalley.com.

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

Genre: YA Fiction/LGBTQIA+

The Gist: A bunch of superstitious theatre students put on a performance of Les Miserables.

Short Review: A delightful young adult fiction that celebrates the love of theatre, falling in love and the growing up.

Long Review: Aspiring stage manager Melody McIntyre promises her crew that she won’t fall in love during their upcoming performance of Les Miserables because they are worried that it is bringing on a theatre curse. However, when popular student Odile Rose starts showing interest in Melody McIntyre her resolve begins to crumble. However, when strange and unusual things begin to happen during the performance rehearsals Melody starts to believe that the curse is real.

The Love Curse of Melody McIntyre is a great read. It doesn’t try to be anything other than it is. A fun theatre romp that looks at the love lives of teenagers. One aspect of the novel that I really appreciated is that LGBTQIA+ relationships are central to the plot however Robin Talley does not emphasise this as an issue. I think more YA novels need to have non-heteronormative relationships at the heart of their stories without it being the main point. It shows that LGBTQIA+ relationships are the norm. By taking away what she my see as an issue Robin Talley has moved the goalposts to where they should be for other authors writing fiction with LGBTQIA+ relationships at the heart of it.  

A fantastic read. Be warned though, you will be singing the soundtrack to Les Miserables for days afterwards – I don’t see how that is a bad thing. 

The Love Curse of Melody McIntyre by Robin Talley is available now.

For more information regarding Robin Talley (@robin_talley) please visit www.robintalley.com.

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

What We Left BehindThe Blurb

A sweeping, powerful and incredibly modern young adult love story. What We Left Behind follows teen couple – Gretchen, and Toni, who is starting to come to terms with being transgender. Despite the growing rift caused by distance and Toni’s shifting gender identity, they struggle to stay together during their first year in college.

The Review

Since reading Golden Boy by Abigail Tartellin a few years back, I have been intrigued by fiction that features central characters who are transgender. It is a subject that I am fascinated by; equally I am encouraged that more and more fiction discusses this topic.

The LGBTQIA community has been hidden away for so long that it truly makes me smile that young adults can read about characters’ struggles and maybe even identify with their stories. This is a great way to change opinions and remove ignorance along with giving the young adult reading the book (who is confused by their feelings in the convention societal arena) hope.

In What We Left Behind, we meet Gretchen and Toni(y) – our two protagonists; a lesbian couple who are trying to make their long distance relationship work as they head off to two different colleges. Alongside this struggle, Toni is discovering that s/he (for ease of description) wants to go through with transgender realignment. However, Gretchen is confsed as to what role she will play in Tony’s life now. Will she be his girlfriend? Does this make her straight? Both of them are struggling with these big life changes and are falling apart rather than anchoring each other.

What We Left Behind is a book that is essentially about relationships; our relationship with others and our relationship with ourselves. Robin Talley handles the topic with sensitivity whilst also managing to make the reader question our own levels of acceptance and how we perceive those around us.

What We Left Behind is an excellent novel.

What We Left Behind by Robin Talley is available now.

Follow Robin Talley (@Robin_Talley) via Twitter.