Genre: YA Fiction/LGBTQIA+

The Gist: A group of friends head off to university. Whilst they begin to lose each other, they also begin to find themselves.  

Short Review: Loveless is the story of friendship that falls apart when they all discover themselves at university. Love, new social groups and dealing with sexuality are all things that impact this story.

Long Review: Georgia and her friends Pip and Jason are off to Durham University. Whilst her friends are off meeting people and having new adventures Georgia realises that she doesn’t feel the same as they do when it comes to new relationships. 

Whilst everyone is pairing off Georgia struggles to find anyone. She starts to question her sexuality. She doesn’t think that she is a lesbian like her best friend Pip; she tries to go out with other best friend Jason but that relationship repulses her. Georgia doesn’t know why she is feeling this way and it is making her miserable. 

I absolutely loved Loveless. For me, Alice Oseman really is the leading voice in talking to teens about sexuality. I learned so much from this book and I know that when I was a teenager my friends and I would have appreciated a book like this that answers questions that we didn’t even know we had.

Loveless is a brilliant book, one that has friendship at the heart and one that is ironically full of love. It was fantastic.

Loveless by Alice Oseman is available now.

For more information regarding Alice Oseman (@AliceOseman) please visit www.aliceoseman.com.

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

Genre: Young Adult/Crime

The Gist: After a sexual attack a young girl becomes the victim of malicious gossip.

Short Review: Emma Kennedy thinks that she has it all but when the boy she and her best friend have been pining after starts paying her attention Emma is forced into a toxic situation with devastating results. 

Long Review: Emma Kennedy is a typical high school girl. She is a cheerleader, she is plodding along academically, she has a good circle of friends. Her whole future looks bright. However, when an encounter with the boy she likes turns violent she becomes ostracised by the people she trusts the most.

If I am honest, Girls Like Me is not an original story. There are plenty of others that tackle the same theme. One of the things that I always find I take away from these types of stories is how they are almost cautionary tales. That the girl shouldn’t have allowed herself to get into this situation. The blame often shifts to the female protagonist and the attacker – though at times held accountable – it is the moral tale that girls have allowed themselves to be in these situation that overrides the rest of the narrative. 

Fortunately Kristin Butcher does not dwell on this. Whilst we don’t necessarily see justice done we are left with the potential for hope.

Girls Like Me by Kristin Butcher is available now.

For more information regarding Orca Books Publishing (@orcabooks) please visit www.orcabooks.com.

Title: Noughts and Crosses

Author: Malorie Blackman

Pages: 479 Pages

Publisher: Penguin

The Blurb

Two young people are forced to make a stand in this thought-provoking look at racism and prejudice in an alternate society.

Sephy is a Cross — a member of the dark-skinned ruling class. Callum is a Nought — a “colourless” member of the underclass who were once slaves to the Crosses. The two have been friends since early childhood, but that’s as far as it can go. In their world, Noughts and Crosses simply don’t mix. Against a background of prejudice and distrust, intensely highlighted by violent terrorist activity, a romance builds between Sephy and Callum — a romance that is to lead both of them into terrible danger. Can they possibly find a way to be together? 

The Review

I work in a high school library. I have walked past the B shelf a hundred thousand times (probably more) and yet I never picked up Noughts and Crosses. I had read other books by Malorie Blackman and really enjoyed them – Pig-Heart Boy has stuck with me since reading it – yet I just never picked up the book that she is probably best known for. How stupid am I?

A year 9 class that I work with are reading Noughts and Crosses as their set text this year and I wanted to get a head start on it. Only, I couldn’t put it down. I soared through it, barely stopping to eat and drink. Blackman had me on the edge of my seat, my heart was constantly in my throat, I cried, I yelled, I lost the ability to breathe. That is how powerful a writer Blackman is. I have never known a writer to build tension the way she does and man alive she got my heart racing.

Noughts and Crosses is sensational. There are so many amazing ways I could describe it but I would come across as hyperbolic and insincere. The only thing I can say with absolute certainty is that you must read it. It is as relevant know (if not more so) than when it was originally released. 

It should be a crime that a book that has racism as a central theme can be so relevant 20 years after its initial release. Hopefully, stories like Callum’s and Sephy’s can have an impact on today’s youth and make positive changes for the future.

Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman is available now.

For more information regarding Malorie Blackman (@malorieblackman) please visit www.malorieblackman.co.uk.

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

Title: Things the Eye Can’t See

Author: Penny Joelson

Pages: 304 Pages

Publisher: Electric Monkey/Egmont

The Blurb

The thrilling new novel from the award-winning author of I Have No Secrets.

A chance meeting and a secret message drags Libby into a thrilling mystery, but no one believes she can spot the clues. Can she make them realise what she is really capable of, before it’s too late?

Libby is visually impaired but that doesn’t stop her being a keen photographer. She loves going out walking with her guide dog, Samson, and taking photos, but her family worry about her – and Libby wishes she could be more independent.

The day that the boy gives her a secret note to deliver changes everything. Because soon after, the boy goes missing, and no one – except Libby and her new friend Kyle – thinks there is anything to worry about.

Libby knows there’s no way her parents would let her get involved. But what if she’s the only person who can solve the mystery…?

A compulsive page-turner for readers aged 12 and up.

The Review

I love books that have what is seen as diverse characters. What I don’t like about books is that people are often seen as being diverse characters. Confused? Let me explain. Things The Eye Can’t See is the story of Libby and how she gets embroiled in a mystery which she then has to help solve to save her friends. So far so normal as plots go. The diverse factor is that Libby is partially sighted. 

This rant is not against Penny Joelson, if anything Penny Joelson is part of the solution and not part of the problem. Disability is seen as diversifying a character rather than seen as the norm. What Joelson does fantastically well in Things The Eye Can’t See is address some of the preconceptions about visual impairment which often lead to prejudices. It isn’t seen as “normal” for a visually impaired character be able to solve a crime mystery. It is due to this fact that Joelson should really get more credit for her writing. 

Besides the disability factor Things The Eye Can’t See is a great story of the difficulties of growing up. About how friendships can drift when boys come and go. How school life can be difficult. How people come from different socio-economic backgrounds. All of this is wrapped up in the terrifying bow of gang culture and crime. What more could you want from a story?

I really enjoyed reading Things The Eye Can’t See. Joelson accurately captures the voice of the teenager. The worries that they have and the inability to admit that they need help from a grown up. She really has managed to capture something special with this novel.

Things the Eye Can’t See by Penny Joelson is available now.

For more information regarding Penny Joelson (@pennyjoelson) please visit www.pennyjoelson.co.uk.

For more information regarding Electric Monkey (@EMTeenFiction) please visit the Twitter page.

Title: The Inheritance Games

Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Pages: 384 Pages

Publisher: Penguin/Random House

The Blurb

Let the games begin: an utterly addictive and twisty thriller, full of dark family secrets and deadly stakes. Perfect for fans of One of Us is Lying, Riverdale and Knives Out.

She came from nothing.

Avery has a plan: keep her head down, work hard for a better future. Then an eccentric billionaire dies, and leaves her almost his entire fortune. And no one, least of all Avery, knows why.

They had everything.

Now she must move into the mansion she’s inherited: Hawthorne House. It’s filled with secrets and codes, and the old man’s surviving relatives – a family hellbent on discovering how Avery got ‘their’ money.

Now there’s only one rule: winner takes all.

Soon Avery is caught in a deadly game that everyone in this strange family is playing. But just how far will they go to keep their fortune?

The Review

When I am choosing a book to read I will question whether or not I have time for it. By that I mean if it is part of a series do I have the capability to commit over the long term? And do I want to start a series when it could be another year (if not longer) before the sequel is released?

I decided to take a chance with The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes and man alive I am glad I did. It is a rags to riches story in which protagonist Avery goes from living in her car to being bequeathed a fortune from a mystery benefactor. The only problem is that the old adage proves to be true: where there is a will there is a family.

The fortune comes with some conditions that Avery has to follow if she wants to keep her inheritance but this will prove much more difficult with a scorned family to contend with.

The Inheritance Games is one of the best YA books I have read in a long while. IT is a total page turner and great for anyone who loves a good mystery. I cannot wait for the sequel to be released but as I said before I am going to have to. Sad times. 

The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes is available now

For more information regarding Jennifer Lynn Barnes (@jenlynnbarnes) please visit www.jenniferlynnbarnes.com.

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