Title: Outside

Author: Sarah Ann Juckes

Pages: 288 Pages

Publisher: Penguin

The Blurb

Here’s the thing about being Inside. Ain’t no one believes that they are.

Ele has never been Outside, but she knows it exists – she just has to prove it.

Her whole world is Inside. Trapped with her books and the Others and Him.
She has never seen a tree or felt the rain but that’s about to change. Ele’s getting out. For good.

(AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

Outside by Sarah Ann Juckes was a really engaging but shocking book. It is a book that borders the line of young adult and adult fiction. It has been described as being similar to Room by Emma Donoghue and whilst I have never read that book from what I have heard about it then Outside could be its sister novel.

The story focuses on Ele. She has lived inside for as long as she can remember but she knows that there is an outside and she is determined to get to it. Except how can someone who has grown up knowing only the four walls around her able to survive in the big bad world?

Outside is a book that makes you hungry to read. You have to read on and you have to know how it ends. It isn’t a book that you sit and savour and plod through because you want to be part of that world. Juckes makes you feel uncomfortable. She makes you want to not be there but she does it in such a brilliantly written way.

This is a book that will make you feel at once: sad, uncomfortable, happy and uplifted. Read it.

Outside by Sarah Ann Juckes is available now.

For more information regarding Sarah Ann Juckes (@sarahannjuckes) please visit www.sarahannjuckes.com.

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

Title: The Dollmaker of Krakow

Author: RM Romero

Pages: 288 Pages

Publisher: Walker Books

The Blurb

A timeless fantasy set in the Second World War that weaves together magic, folklore and history, perfect for fans of The Book ThiefThe Boy in the Striped Pyjamas and Goodnight Mister Tom.

One night a little doll named Karolina comes to life in a toyshop in Krakow, Poland, in 1939 and changes the life of the gruff, broken-hearted Dollmaker. And when the darkness of the Nazi occupation sweeps over the city, Karolina and the Dollmaker must bravely use their magic to save their Jewish friends from a terrible danger, no matter what the risks. This powerful story is about finding friendship in the darkest of places and the importance of love in times of great pain.

(AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

This is not my normal kind of book but once again it is one of the Carnegie nominees and I want to read as many as I can.

The Dollmaker fo Krakow is set in Poland at the onset of World War Two and it sees us through the occupation of Poland by the Nazis. It is the story of Karolina – a doll that comes alive for the dollmaker – think mannequin but without romance or a great 80s soundtrack.

It is through their friendship that they try to help the Jewish people who are sent to the ghettos in Poland before being sent to concentration camps.

This story has a magical realism aspect which if I am completely honest, as a reader I am not entirely comfortable with but the charm that exudes from each page makes it a worthwhile read.

The Dollmaker of Krakow is available now.

For more information regarding RM Romero (@rmromeroauthor) please visit www.rmromero.com.

For more information regarding Walker Books (@WalkerBooksUK) please visit www.walker.co.uk.

Title: We Are Okay

Author: Nina LaCour

Pages: 240 Pages

Publisher: Dutton Books

The Blurb

You go through life thinking there’s so much you need. . . . Until you leave with only your phone, your wallet, and a picture of your mother. Marin hasn’t spoken to anyone from her old life since the day she left everything behind. No one knows the truth about those final weeks. Not even her best friend Mabel. But even thousands of miles away from the California coast, at college in New York, Marin still feels the pull of the life and tragedy she’s tried to outrun. Now, months later, alone in an emptied dorm for winter break, Marin waits. Mabel is coming to visit and Marin will be forced to face everything that’s been left unsaid and finally confront the loneliness that has made a home in her heart.

The Review

We Are Okay by Nina LaCour is a story that has many facets. It looks at grief, loss of identity, loss of family and what it means to fully accept yourself for who you are.

It is about Marin, a young girl who has led from her home in California for New York. She has ran away from a past that she barely knows the truth of, ran away from the only home she has ever known and ran away from the people who love her.

For Marin, it is safer to be alone.

This belief is not shared by her best friend Mabel who comes to New York to find her friend.

We Are Okay has a very subdued and quiet kind of story telling which lends to the subject matter of the book. You at once feel calm but overwhelmed by Marin’s story. Her grief is so hidden but equally it drips off the pages. LaCour has done a stunning job of making you feel for Marin.

This isn’t a massive, outrageous novel. It is a stoic read but one that packs a punch.

We Are Okay by Nina LaCour is available now.

For more information regarding Nina LaCour (@nina_lacour) please visit www.ninalacour.com.

For more information regarding Dutton Books (@DuttonBooks) please visit www.duttonbooks.tumblr.com.

Title: All of This is True

Author: Lygia Day Penaflor

Pages: 432 Pages

Publisher: Bloomsbury

The Blurb

When four Long Island teens plot to meet Fatima Ro, the elusive author of their favourite novel, they’re stunned when she befriends them and invites them into her eccentric life. Suddenly their lives seem charmed, and as they grow closer to their idol, they find themselves revealing their darkest secrets to her.

But a year later, Miri, Soleil, Jonah and Penny are shocked to discover that Fatima’s newly released YA novel is based on those same secrets. The revelations are devastating, and they can’t escape the spotlight. The friends’ interview transcripts, emails and journal entries reveal how willing they were to sacrifice everything to win Fatima’s approval – and how those sacrifices led to a tragedy from which one of them will never recover.

The Review

One thing I really like in books is when I have a handful of narrators that all see the story a specific way. They are all unreliable because their truth is not the same as someone else’s. This is why I really enjoyed All of This is True by Lygia Day Penaflor.

It is a story set in high school so there is already a he-said-she-said element to the narrative. Add in a mystery, an author, and a character in hospital with life threatening injuries then you really do have the making of a good thriller.

What the author really manages to highlight is the fundamental need to be seen and acknowledged. She shows how this is a spectrum depending on the need of the character and how that can be manifested in both good and negative ways.

I really liked All of This is True. I loved the mixed media element of storytelling and how distinct the different character voices where. As far as YA Thrillers go then All of This is True is a brilliant poster book for the genre.

All of This is True by Lygia Day Penaflor is available now.

For more information regarding Lygia Day Penaflor (@lygiaday) please visit www.lygiadaypenflor.com.

For more information regarding Bloomsbury (@BloomsburyBooks) please visit www.bloomsbury.com.

Title: Long Way Down

Author: Jason Reynolds

Pages: 336 Pages

Publisher: Faber & Faber

The Blurb

AND THEN THERE WERE SHOTS
Everybody
ran,
ducked,
hid, tucked
themselves tight.

Pressed our lips to the
pavement and prayed
the boom, followed by
the buzz of a bullet,
didn’t meet us.

After Will’s brother is shot in a gang crime, he knows the next steps. Don’t cry. Don’t snitch. Get revenge. So he gets in the lift with Shawn’s gun, determined to follow The Rules. Only when the lift door opens, Buck walks in, Will’s friend who died years ago. And Dani, who was shot years before that. As more people from his past arrive, Will has to ask himself if he really knows what he’s doing.

This haunting, lyrical, powerful verse novel will blow you away.

(AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

I genuinely believe that YA fiction is opening up conversations about difficult topics to an age group who are on the cusp of forming their own opinions about society. When I was younger, the YA fiction was soft; it skirted around issues and acted like teenagers were too delicate or were unable to discuss difficult topics. Not anymore; the world of literature is a better place for it.

Jason Reynolds discusses knife crime in the book Long Way Down. It is the story of Will who has just seen his brother shot and killed due to gang crime. It is time for him to take his brother’s place on the street. He knows it. He also knows who has killed his brother and he is out for vengeance.

Told entirely in verse, we track Will as he goes to avenge his brother’s murder. We watch as people try to talk him out of his actions. We watch as those people – who are not who you would expect – reveal how gun and gang crime have impacted their own lives.

Long Way Down is hard hitting but it needs to be. It doesn’t paint a happy picture; it is gritty and it is realistic. Long Way Down is, for want of a better word, brilliant.

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds is available now.

For more information regarding Jason Reynolds (@JasonRenolds83) please visit www.jasonwritesbooks.com.

For more information regarding Faber & Faber (@FaberBooks) please visit www.faber.co.uk.