Title: Sunburn

Author: Chloe Michelle Howarth

Pages: 288 Pages

Publisher: Verve Books

The Blurb

Sunburn is an astute and tender portrayal of first love, adolescent anxiety and the realities of growing up in a small town where tradition holds people tightly in its grasp. An atmospheric LGBTQIA+ love story and coming-of-age novel with the intensity of Megan Nolan’s Acts of Desperation, the long hot summer of André Aciman’s Call Me By Your Name and the female friendships of Anna Hope’s Expectation.

It’s the early 1990s, and in the Irish village of Crossmore, Lucy feels out of place. Despite her fierce friendships, she’s always felt this way, and the conventional path of marriage and motherhood doesn’t appeal to her at all. Not even with handsome and doting Martin, her closest childhood friend.

Lucy begins to make sense of herself during a long hot summer, when a spark with her school friend Susannah escalates to an all-consuming infatuation, and, very quickly, to a desperate and devastating love.

Fearful of rejection from her small and conservative community, Lucy begins living a double life, hiding the most honest parts of herself in stolen moments with Susannah.

But with the end of school and the opportunity to leave Crossmore looming, Lucy must choose between two places, two people and two futures, each as terrifying as the other. Neither will be easy, but only one will offer her happiness.

The Review

One of my favourite tropes in books is the trappings of friendship. This probably stems from constantly struggling with friendship groups throughout my life but enough about me. Sunburn by Chloe Michelle Howarth is the story of Lucy, a young girl on the verge of womanhood who is struggling to find her place among her friends. The things that she knows she should be interested in don’t seem to hold her attention and the things that she knows should be forbidden are all she can think about. Especially her best friend Susannah.

Essentially Sunburn is a coming of age story about two friends exploring their sexuality, first love, small town mentality versus the modern world. It is a sumptuous tale that reads like a warm summer day. Hazy and introspective in all the right parts and I really enjoyed the story.

Sunburn by Chloe Michelle Howarth is available now.

For more information regarding Chloe Michelle Howarth (@ChloeMHowarth) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding Verve Books (@VERVE_Books) please visit their Twitter page.

Title: Stargazer

Author: Laurie Petrou

Pages: 272 Pages

Publisher: Verve Books

The Blurb

It’s a fine line between admiration and envy.

Diana Martin has lived her life in the shadow of her sadistic older brother. She quietly watches the family next door, enthralled by celebrity fashion designer Marianne Taylor and her feted daughter, Aurelle.

She wishes she were a ‘Taylor girl’.

By the summer of 1995, the two girls are at university together, bonded by a mutual desire to escape their wealthy families and personal tragedies and forge new identities.

They are closer than lovers, intoxicated by their own bond, falling into the hedonistic seduction of the woods and the water at a remote university that is more summer camp than campus.

But when burgeoning artist Diana has a chance at fame, cracks start to appear in their friendship. To what lengths is Diana willing to go to secure her own stardom?

The lines between love, envy and obsession blur in Laurie Petrou’s utterly enthralling, unceasingly tense novel. A darkly compelling coming-of-age story, perfect for fans of Donna Tartt’s The Secret History, and Emma Cline’s The Girls.

The Review

Oooh two of the tropes I love are Toxic Friendships and Campus Novels. I love them. Love, love, love them and so I was thrilled when I read Stargazer because it combined the two. A little bit Single White Female, Stargazer focuses on the friendship between Diana and Aurelle. Whilst they have been friends for a relatively short time the relationship takes place during that period of discovery, when friendships mean the absolute world to you. However, Diane becomes very envious of everything Aurelle has and wants a bit of that for herself. The more time the spend together, the more Diane infringes on Aurelle’s life.

This is when the novel takes its creepy turn.

Stargazer is a book that creeps up and down your body making you have a visceral reaction to what is happening. When a novel can have you looking over your shoulder in fear then you know you have written something good.

Stargazer by Laurie Petrou is available now.

For more information regarding Laurie Petrou (@lauriepetrou) please visit www.lauriepetrou.com.

For more information regarding Verve Books (@VERVE_Books) please visit their Twitter account.