Title: We Come Apart

Author: Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan

Pages: 320 Pages

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing

The Blurb

YA rising stars Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan join forces to break readers’ hearts in this contemporary story of star-cross’d lovers.

Jess would never have looked twice at Nicu if her friends hadn’t left her in the lurch. Nicu is all big eyes and ill-fitting clothes, eager as a puppy, even when they’re picking up litter in the park for community service. He’s so not her type. Appearances matter to Jess. She’s got a lot to hide.

Nicu thinks Jess is beautiful. His dad brought Nicu and his mum here for a better life, but now all they talk about is going back home to find Nicu a wife. The last thing Nicu wants is to get married. He wants to get educated, do better, stay here in England. But his dad’s fists are the most powerful force in Nicu’s life, and in the end, he’ll have to do what his dad wants.

As Nicu and Jess get closer, their secrets come to the surface like bruises. The only safe place they have is with each other. But they can’t be together, forever, and stay safe – can they?

An extraordinary, high-impact, high-emotion collaboration between two Carnegie honoured rising stars of YA. Perfect for fans of Patrick Ness, Malorie Blackman, Rainbow Rowell and John Green.

Sarah Crossan received the 2016 CILIP Carnegie Medal for her astonishing novel One, which also won the YA Book Prize,CBI Book of the Year Award and the CliPPA Poetry Award. Brian Conaghan’s powerful debut, When Mr Dog Bites, was shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal, Peters Book of the Year and CBI Book of the Year Award

The Review

Well blow me over with a feather; We Come Apart is bloody fantastic.

We Come Apart is by Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan and it is a story compromised of dual-perspective poetry. It focuses on the lives of Jess and Nicu. Both are young offenders and both have their own interesting backgrounds. Jess is from a broken family struggling to get along with those in her life – friends and family. Nicu and his family have emigrated from Romania and he is struggling to fit in with the ways of life in the UK.

The two of them form a friendship and together try and fight the forces that are against them.

We Come Apart is both heart-warming and heartbreaking. I consumed it in one sitting and at times was genuinely holding back the tears. It is a brilliant story that should be read by all.

We Come Apart by Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan is available now.

For more information regarding Sarah Crossan (@SarahCrossan) please visit youtu.be/0szY-FFsOIQ.

For more information regarding Brian Conaghan (@BrianConaghan) please visit his Twitter page.

For more information regarding Bloomsbury Publishing (@KidsBloomsbury) please visit www.bloomsbury.com/childrens.

Title: Diary of a Drag Queen

Author: Crystal Rasmussen

Pages: 365 Pages

Publisher: Penguin Random House/Ebury Publishing

The Blurb

Life’s a drag… Why not be a queen?

‘Stories like the one where you shagged a 79-year-old builder and knocked over his sister’s ashes while feeding him a Viagra. Or the time you crashed your car because you were giving a hand job in barely moving traffic and took your eye off the car in front. That’s the kind of dinner-party ice-breaker I’m talking about.’

Northern, working-class and shagging men three times her age, Crystal writes candidly about her search for ‘the one’; sleeping with a VIP in an attempt to become a world famous journalist; getting hired and fired by a well-known fashion magazine; being torn between losing weight and gorging on KFC; and her need for constant sexual satisfaction (and where that takes her).

Charting her day-to-day adventures over the course of a year, we encounter tucks, twists and sucks, heinous overspending and endless nights spent sprinting from problem to problem in a full face of make-up.

This is a place where the previously unspeakable becomes the commendable – a unique portrayal of the queer experience.

The Review

I have always wanted to be a drag queen. I know it sounds strange and inherently being a drag queen is mainly a male role but dammit drag queens get to have so much fun. They are so glamorous and it just seems like an amazing element of performance.

This is why I was drawn to the memoir Diary of a Drag Queen by Crystal Rasmussen. Rasmussen is so very candid when explaining the life of a drag queen, about his life as a gay man – whether this be the difficult relationship with love, random hook-ups and how gay men are still victims of hatred.

It is hard not to like Diary of a Drag Queen. It is dry, funny, warm and endearing. My favourite thing was the little asides littered within the text – they were often hilarious.

Diary of a Drag Queen is a wonderful read and I fully recommend it.

Diary of a Drag Queen by Crystal Rasmussen is available now.

For more information regarding Crystal Rasmussen (@TomGlitter) please visit clippings.me/tomrasmussen.

For more information regarding Penguin Random House (@PenguinRHUK) please visit www.penguinrandomhouse.co.uk.

Title: The Gatekeepers

Author: Jen Lancaster

Pages: 448 Pages

Publisher: Harlequin Teen

The Blurb

“How could we know that forever could end at seventeen?”

Anyone passing through North Shore, Illinois, would think it was the most picture-perfect place ever, with all the lakefront mansions and manicured hedges and iron gates. No one talks about the fact that the brilliant, talented kids in town have a terrible history of throwing themselves in front of commuter trains.

Meet Simone, the bohemian transfer student from London, who is thrust into the strange new reality of an American high school; Mallory, the hypercompetitive queen bee; and Stephen, the first-generation genius who struggles with crippling self-doubt. Each one is shocked when a popular classmate takes his own life…except not too shocked. It’s happened before. With so many students facing their own demons, can they find a way to save each other—as well as themselves?

The Review

I have read a lot of YA novels – a lot so it always takes me by surprise when a book comes along and completely blows me away. This – The Gatekeepers – is my first 5 Star read of 2019.

It is the story of an idyllic town in middle America. The houses are perfect, the neighbours keep their lawns trimmed to a certain height, and the local high school has the best academic record around. Equally – and less talked about – is how it also has an unusually high suicide rate amongst its teenage population.

Told from multi-perspective, The Gatekeepers shows you just how much pressure teenagers are under to try and attain a level of perfection that doesn’t exist. It comes from either the school pressure, parental pressure or even just the pressure they put on themselves.

I work in a high school and the one thing that is not taught on the curriculum is how to fail and how failing isn’t the end of the world. But it is all ok because they teach you the hypotenuse of an angle. That’s…useful?

I genuinely loved this story. It was heartbreaking and it had me in tears and I will admit I had a severe headache at the end – too much emotion plus the inability to put the book down led to said headache – but it was worth it.

I don’t know anyone else who has read this book which is a shame because this is a book that needs to be shouted about. It should be in every school library and it deserves a higher place on the curriculum than the hypotenuse of an angle.

The Gatekeepers by Jen Lancaster is available now.

For more information regarding Jen Lancaster (@altgeldshrugged) please visit her Twitter page.

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

Title: Help

Author: Simon Amstell

Pages: 224 Pages

Publisher: Vintage

The Blurb

COMEDY. TRAGEDY. THERAPY.

Simon Amstell did his first stand-up gig at the age of thirteen. His parents had just divorced and puberty was confusing. Trying to be funny solved everything.

HELP is the hilarious and heartbreaking account of Simon’s ongoing compulsion to reveal his entire self on stage. To tell the truth so it can’t hurt him any more. Loneliness, anxiety, depression – this book has it all. And more.

From a complicated childhood in Essex to an Ayahuasca-led epiphany in the Amazon rainforest, this story will make you laugh, cry and then feel happier than you’ve ever been.

(AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

I like Simon Amstell. I liked him on T4 and on Never Mind the Buzzcocks and I won’t lie I miss his acerbic wit on television.

I downloaded his audiobook Help because I thought it would be funny and entertaining and it was but it was also honest and revealed more about the star than I knew before.

It was raw and it showed a vulnerable side to Simon Amstell. It is only about 3 hours long but I recommend it to anyone who misses this curly haired fellow on our screens.

Help by Simon Amstell is available now.

For more information regarding Simon Amstell (@SimonAmstell) please visit www.simmonamstell.com.

For more information regarding Vintage (@vintagebooks) please visit po.st/VintageHomepage.

 

Title: In Paris with You

Author: Clementine Beauvais (Translated by Sam Taylor)

Pages: 272 Pages

Publisher: Faber & Faber

The Blurb

Eugene and Tatiana could have fallen in love. If things had gone differently. If they had tried to really know each other. If it had just been them, and not the others. But that was years ago and time has found them far apart, leading separate lives.

Until they meet once more in Paris.

What really happened back then? And now? Could they ever be together after everything?

 (AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

In Paris with You is one of the nominees for the Carnegie medal in 2019. I have been trying to make my way through the books and since I liked Piglettes by Clementine Beauvais I decided to give it a go.

In Paris with You is told completely in verse form – this is not unusual. At least three others on the long list are told in this format. What is unusual about this is that not only is it in verse form but it has been translated from French.

It is a quirky little love story that slips backwards and forwards from the modern day to the past and tells the story of Eugene and Tatiana. It shows how timing is everything and that we shouldn’t just expect love to happen when we want it to.

I really enjoyed In Paris with You but it is one of those books that due to the verse I wished I had heard read as slam poetry. You read with the beats but I think it would have been better if I had listened to it rather than reading it.

In Paris with You by Clementine Beauvais is available now.

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