Title: Dear Evan Hansen

Author: Val Emmich

Pages: 368 Pages

Publisher: Little Brown for Young Readers

The Blurb

From the show’s creators comes the groundbreaking novel inspired by the hit Broadway show Dear Evan Hansen

Dear Evan Hansen, 

Today’s going to be an amazing day and here’s why…

When a letter that was never meant to be seen by anyone draws high school senior Evan Hansen into a family’s grief over the loss of their son, he is given the chance of a lifetime: to belong. He just has to stick to a lie he never meant to tell, that the notoriously troubled Connor Murphy was his secret best friend.

Suddenly, Evan isn’t invisible anymore–even to the girl of his dreams. And Connor Murphy’s parents, with their beautiful home on the other side of town, have taken him in like he was their own, desperate to know more about their enigmatic son from his closest friend. As Evan gets pulled deeper into their swirl of anger, regret, and confusion, he knows that what he’s doing can’t be right, but if he’s helping people, how wrong can it be?

No longer tangled in his once-incapacitating anxiety, this new Evan has a purpose. And a website. He’s confident. He’s a viral phenomenon. Every day is amazing. Until everything is in danger of unraveling and he comes face to face with his greatest obstacle: himself.

A simple lie leads to complicated truths in this big-hearted coming-of-age story of grief, authenticity and the struggle to belong in an age of instant connectivity and profound isolation.

The Review

Some books are difficult to read. Not because the words are too hard – I’m a prolific reader and a graduate of English Literature, don’t you know. They are difficult because – as with all books – you have no control over the characters and as much as you would like to subtly whisper in their ears the right choices and the right paths to take, you just can’t.

This was true of Dear Evan Hansen. Oh Evan, what are we going to do with you? Evan finds himself in a completely horrible situation. As the saying goes, he is stuck between a rock and a hard place. On the day that Evan’s classmate Connor Murphy dies he and Evan have had an altercation which leads Connor’s parents to believe that Connor and Evan were friends. More than that, they believe that Connor’s suicide note was left to Evan. Much to Evan’s dismay, the note is actually a letter he wrote to himself on the advice of his therapist. How can he explain himself without ruining the last remnants of hope from Connor’s family and without making himself look crazy in the meantime?

Dear Evan Hansen is cringeworthy in all the right places and you feel yourself spiral deeper into the abyss alongside Evan. You feel the oppressive air become closer and tighter the more and more lies that Evan has to tell. It is a book that you cannot read passively. And the frustrating thing is that you know the story can only end one way but like Evan you keep looking for escape routes. It is that sort of novel.

Dear Evan Hansen has to have been one of the most immersive YA novels that I have read in a long time…and I bloody loved it.

Dear Evan Hansen by Val Emmich is available now.

For more information regarding Val Emmich (@ValEmmich) please visit www.valemmich.com.

For more information regarding Little Brown for Young Readers (@LittleBrownYR) please visit www.LBYR.com.

Title: Lola Offline

Author: Nicola Doherty

Pages: 288 Pages

Publisher: Hachette Children’s Group/Orion Children’s Books

The Blurb

On the internet, there are no take-backs… LOLA OFFLINE is a teen romantic comedy set in Paris, perfect for fans of Holly Bourne, Sophie Kinsella and Stephanie Perkins.

Delilah Hoover has gone dark. She’s quit social media, moved to Paris and changed her name to Lola Maxwell. Because she made a mistake – one she can’t take back. It was all over Twitter, and it’s still the first thing that comes up when you Google her.

Paris is a fresh start, in a new school with new friends including smooth student politician Tariq. With awkward dates, tipsy afternoons and a perfect kiss, Lola’s life as a normal teenager could be back on track … But can she ever tell people who she really is? And what happens if they find out first?

The Review

I’ve long been a fan of Nicola Doherty’s books and I requested Lola Offline from NetGalley ages ago and for some reason I didn’t get round to reading it until just recently. Like Doherty’s other books, I really enjoyed Lola Offline.

Lola Offline tells the story of Delilah who has fled her normal life to live in Paris under the moniker of Lola. Delilah is fleeing from a mistake that she has made that ended up making her internet famous for all the wrong reasons.

Rather than embracing her mistake and dealing with the fall out she opts to hide. But in a world saturated by social media you begin to wonder can a person really ever truly hide from their past?

Nicola Doherty’s story really hit a nerve with me for two reasons. The first being because I wrote a blog post once that ended up getting a ridiculous number of views within the space of 24 hours. Now don’t get me wrong, for someone who blogs that is generally a good thing, however, the post was not about books it was about a health condition I had and I was very unsettled by the amount of people that read it. I got over it but for a good week I felt really unnerved. The second reason is that I work in a high school and the amount of problems that we encounter on a daily basis because of Instagram or Facebook is ridiculous. The insidiousness of social media is becoming more and more prevalent and Doherty addresses this very matter. Personally, I think she is brave to do so. If just one member of her target audience of young adults reads this book and thinks about something before they post it on social media then Doherty has made a massive impact.

Lola Offline by Nicola Doherty is available now.

For more information regarding Nicola Doherty (@nicoladoherty_) please visit www.nicoladohertybooks.com.

For more information regarding Hachette Children’s Group (@HachetteKids) or Orion Children’s Books (@the_orionstar) please visit www.hachettechildrens.co.uk.

Title: Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts)

Author: LC Rosen

Pages: 368 Pages

Publisher: Penguin

The Blurb

‘My first time getting it in the butt was kind of weird. I think it’s going to be weird for everyone’s first time, though.’

Meet Jack Rothman. He’s seventeen and loves partying, makeup and boys – sometimes all at the same time.

His sex life makes him the hot topic for the high school gossip machine. But who cares? Like Jack always says, ‘it could be worse’.

He doesn’t actually expect that to come true.

But after Jack starts writing an online sex advice column, the mysterious love letters he’s been getting take a turn for the creepy.

Jack’s secret admirer knows everything: where he’s hanging out, who he’s sleeping with, who his mum is dating.

They claim they love Jack, but not his unashamedly queer lifestyle. They need him to curb his sexuality, or they’ll force him.

As the pressure mounts, Jack must unmask his stalker before their obsession becomes genuinely dangerous…

 (AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

Firstly, I would like to thank Simon Armstrong at Penguin Books for sending me a copy of Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts) by LC Rosen.

Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts) is the LGBT story for the modern teen. The story follows Jack, an out an proud teenager who is unashamedly himself. He loves his friends, his mother and he loves…well likes…well tolerates high school. It would be remiss for us not to accept that high school can be a cruel place especially if you are perceived as different or not following the social “norm”.

Jack is asked by his best friend to start a help column for her blog about relationships. She gives him autonomy to talk about anything and everything, the more bodacious the better. Jack agrees (somewhat reluctantly) but starts to enjoy the act of helping others even if it is causing controversy in school.

While all this is happening Jack starts to receive love notes posted anonymously in his locker. At first he writes it off as a joke but when the notes start getting insidious and threatening, Jack begins to get scared. It is now a race to find out who is sending the notes before the anonymous person starts acting on their threats.

I absolutely loved Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts) by LC Rosen. It is an exciting and bold novel that I feel is set to lead the way for future LGBT YA stories. Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts) takes braver steps than any LGBT YA fiction than I have ever read before and whilst it is arguable that this genre has taken a massive step up over the past few years it is hard to argue that Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts) is on the same level. It leaves them all trailing behind due mostly to its honesty and how it deals with the issue of sex.

For anyone who is struggling with their sexuality and how they are perceived in a society that is not necessarily accepting of difference then this book, for them, will be a game changer. I can honestly say that I have never read a book so bold, brave and bolshie. I loved it.

Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts) by LC Rosen is available now.

For more information regarding LC Rosen (@LevACRosen) please visit www.LevACRosen.com.

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

Title: I Was Born for This

Author: Alice Oseman

Pages: 395 Pages

Publisher: Harper Collins Children’s Books

The Blurb

The third novel from the phenomenally talented Alice Oseman – one of the most talked about YA writers in recent years.

For Angel Rahimi life is about one thing: The Ark – a pop-rock trio of teenage boys who are taking the world by storm. Being part of The Ark’s fandom has given her everything she loves – her friend Juliet, her dreams, her place in the world.

Jimmy Kaga-Ricci owes everything to The Ark. He’s their frontman – and playing in a band with his mates is all he ever dreamed of doing.

But dreams don’t always turn out the way you think and when Jimmy and Angel are unexpectedly thrust together, they find out how strange and surprising facing up to reality can be.

A funny, wise, and heartbreakingly true coming of age novel. I Was Born for This is a stunning reflection of modern teenage life, and the power of believing in something – especially yourself.

(AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

Having never read an Alice Oseman novel before and basing my first choice of book in a really trivial manner (I wanted to read a book with an orange cover) I was more than pleasantly surprised with just how amazing I Was Born for This is.

The dual-perspective novel is told from the points of view of Angel – a diehard fan of music group The Ark and The Arks frontman Jimmy. We see the daily workings of life in a famous band and just how the lack of ordinariness can impact on your mental health. Furthermore, we see it from the more common perspective of just what it is like to be a fan.

It is at this point that I really need to extend my gratitude to Alice Oseman. You see, I was that fan. There is a line in a movie called Almost Famous and a girl who happens to be known as a “band aid” someone who is in the music set but not a musician say something along the lines of “to love a silly little piece of music so much” – I have been there. My band weren’t seen as particularly cool and were often mocked for what others perceived as fake rock but by god – nearly 15 years on since that band broke up I can still remember those feelings. What Oseman didn’t do – even though she could easily have taken this route – is that she didn’t patronise the fan. Yes, it must be overwhelming and at times frightening for the famous person who cannot see what it is that makes them so special but for a fan it is the feeling of belonging. Belonging to a culture, a group of fans or just even belonging to the band. I thank Alice Oseman for not belittling feelings that I once had – and to some extent still have.

Besides all of this, there are layers of plot that are explored sensitively but have a verisimilitude such as LGBT issues, transgenderism, religion, parental relations.

Overall, I Was Born for This is a book about growing up. It is a coming of age story and those are my favourite kind. Couple this with the music element and I was one happy bunny.

I Was Born for This by Alice Oseman is available now.

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

For more information regarding Harper Collins Children’s Books (@HarperCollinsCh) please visit www.books.harpercollins.co.uk/children/

Title: Queens of Geek

Author: Jen Wilde

Pages: 289 Pages

Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Group/Swoon Reads

The Blurb

Three friends, two love stories, one convention: this fun, feminist love letter to geek culture is all about fandom, friendship, and finding the courage to be yourself.

Charlie likes to stand out. She’s a vlogger and actress promoting her first movie at SupaCon, and this is her chance to show fans she’s over her public breakup with co-star Reese Ryan. When internet-famous cool-girl actress Alyssa Huntington arrives as a surprise guest, it seems Charlie’s long-time crush on her isn’t as one-sided as she thought.

Taylor likes to blend in. Her brain is wired differently, making her fear change. And there’s one thing in her life she knows will never change: her friendship with her best guy friend Jamie—no matter how much she may secretly want it to. But when she hears about a fan contest for her favorite fandom, she starts to rethink her rules on playing it safe.

Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde, chosen by readers like you for Macmillan’s young adult imprint Swoon Reads, is an empowering novel for anyone who has ever felt that fandom is family.

The Review

Queens of Geek is the perfect book for that person who never quite fits in. Sounds a bit dramatic but it is genuinely the vibe that you get from Jen Wilde’s book.

It is the story of three friends who have travelled across the globe to attend a comic book convention. There is romance, hi-jinx and costume competitions. Wilde has kept her cast of characters diverse and helps dispel the myth of what is “normal” in society – and what better setting than a comic book convention? Wilde’s characters are dealing with failed romance and blossoming new romance, celebrity fandom, autism, LGBT, and social anxiety. It really is a lot to read about in a relatively small novel. Throw in a dollop of movie quotes and you have something pretty special.

It is a wonderful story though, one of personal triumph, self discovery and essentially growing up. If it doesn’t help your inner geek rise to the surface then it is questionable if you even have one. It is a story that I will be recommending to many of the young adults that I work with.

Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde is available now.

For more information regarding Jen Wilde (@jenmariewilde) please visit www.jenmariewilde.com.

For more information regarding Macmillan Children’s Group (@MacmillanKidsUK) please visit www.panmacmillan.com.

For more information regarding Swoon Reads (@SwoonReads) please visit www.swoonreads.com.