Title: Take It Back

Author: Kia Abdullah

Pages: 384 Pages

Publisher: HQ

The Blurb

IT’S TIME TO TAKE YOUR PLACE ON THE JURY.

The victim: A sixteen-year-old girl with facial deformities, neglected by an alcoholic mother. Who accuses the boys of something unthinkable.

The defendants: Four handsome teenage boys from hardworking immigrant families. All with corroborating stories.

WHOSE SIDE WOULD YOU TAKE?

The Review

I love a good thriller. Mainly because I am the perfect audience. I never see the twists coming. Take It Back by Kia Abdullah is a great example of a courtroom thriller that takes you on a journey. Abdullah presents you with a contentious issue and then throws in unreliable characters which make you question your beliefs. I love it when a writer can tie their reader up in knots like that.

There are so many levels to Take It Back. Our perspectives on rape culture, our prejudices on religious communities, the roles of women. It has layers and attacks each one with care and consideration.

It is a great thriller to read as the long nights start to draw in.

Take it Back by Kia Abdullah is available now.

For more information regarding Kia Abdullah (@KiaAbdullah) please visit www.kiaabdullah.com.

For more information regarding HQ (@HQstories) please visit www.hqstories.co.uk.

Title: Brave Enough

Author: Kati Gardner

Pages: 280 Pages

Publisher: North Star Editions

The Blurb

Teenager Cason Martin is the youngest ballerina in the Atlanta Ballet Conservatory. She never really had a choice of whether she learned to dance or not. Her mother, the conservatory’s artistic director, has made all the decisions in Cason’s life. But that’s about to change. Cason has been hiding an injury, and it’s much worse than anyone imagines. Davis Channing understands all too well what it’s like to give up control of your life. He’s survived cancer, but his drug addiction nearly killed him. Now he’s been sober for seven months and enjoying his community service at the hospital. But just when he thinks he’s got it together, Davis’s ex-girlfriend, who is still battling her addiction, barrels back into his life. Cason and Davis are not friends. But, as their worlds collide, they will start to depend on one another. Can they both be brave enough to beat the odds?

The Review

Representation in books matter.

I know that sounds trite but it does. Brave Enough is the story of Cason Martin, a talented dancer destined to be a prima ballerina until tragedy strikes and she is diagnosed with cancer.

We follow Cason as she comes to terms with her life-changing diagnosis and how she adapts to the people and things around her.

There was a time when “illness” became a trope in novels and for dramatic effect it usually ended up in tragedy or love cut short. What Gardner has done is go against the grain with Brave Enough and celebrated living as a person with or who previously has had cancer. She celebrates life. It was absolutely joyous.

Brave Enough was such an easy read even with such a difficult topic at the heart of the story.

Brave Enough by Kati Gardner is available now.

For more information regarding North Star Editions (@NSEditions) please visit www.northstareditions.com.

Title: Joni Mitchell – In Her Own Words

Author: Malka Maron

Pages: 292 Pages

Publisher: ECW Press

The Blurb

When singer, musician, and broadcast journalist Malka Marom had the opportunity to interview Joni Mitchell in 1973, she was eager to reconnect with the performer she’d first met late one night in 1966 at a Yorkville coffeehouse. More conversations followed over the next four decades of friendship, and it was only after Joni and Malka completed their last recorded interview, in 2012, that Malka discovered the heart of their discussions: the creative process.

In Joni Mitchell: In Her Own Words, Joni and Malka follow this thread through seven decades of life and art, discussing the influence of Joni’s childhood, love and loss, playing dives and huge festivals, acclaim and criticism, poverty and affluence, glamorous triumphs and tragic mistakes . . .

This riveting narrative, told in interviews, lyrics, paintings, and photographs, is shared in the hope of illuminating a timeless body of work and inspiring others.

The Review

Joni Mitchell is a fascinating character and one of those women in music history who hasn’t been celebrated enough in my opinion. An artist, a poet, a musician. She is an absolute legend.

In Malka Moran’s book Joni Mitchell – In Her Own Words we see Joni Mitchell in her most honest. This comes with Joni Mitchell’s relationship with Malka Maron. It is probably the most candid that she has ever been in interview. It makes this memoir an absolutely fascinating read.

Joni Mitchell – in Her Own Words by Malka Maron is available now.

For more information regarding Joni Mitchell (@jonimitchell) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding ECW Press (@ecwpress) please visit www.ecwpress.com.

Title: Scars Like Wings

Author: Erin Stewart

Pages: 384 Pages

Publisher: Simon & Schuster’s UK Children’s

The Blurb

Everyone has scars. Some are just easier to see …

16-year-old Ava Lee is heading back to school one year after a house fire left her severely disfigured. She’s used to the names, the stares, the discomfort, but there’s one name she hates most of all: Survivor. What do you call someone who didn’t mean to survive? Who sometimes wishes she hadn’t?

When she meets a fellow survivor named Piper at therapy, Ava begins to feel like she’s not facing the nightmare alone. Piper helps Ava reclaim the pieces of Ava Before the Fire, a normal girl who kissed boys and sang on stage. But Piper is fighting her own battle, and when Ava almost loses her best friend, she must decide if the new normal she’s chasing has more to do with the girl in the mirror — or the people by her side.

The beautiful, life-affirming debut from Erin Stewart that’s being called the YA answer to Wonder. Perfect for fans of Jandy Nelson, Nicola Yoon and John Green.

The Review

Some books just have the power to hit home and hit home hard. Scars Like Wings was like a sucker-punch for me. The story revolves around the physical and emotional recovery of Ava Lee. Ava is a young girl who has been disfigured. She survived a house fire but the girl that she physically knew has long gone and she is struggling to come to terms with the Ava Lee she is post accident. What makes it all the more difficult is that she is a high school students and kids, well they can be cruel.

I hoovered Scars Like Wings. Partly because the writing was so damn good but mostly because I empathised with Aval Lee – I have a facial scar from a reaction to medication and whilst it is nowhere as severe as I imagine Ava Lee’s scarring to be but still the coming to terms with it was a long, hard road.

Steart dealt with this topic so beautifully. She showed the complicated web of people having to deal with a tragedy like this be that school friends, family, classmates, people on the street and the doctors. I really feel that Stewart gave a rounded perspective on this and one she should be very proud of.

Scars Like Wings will be shoved into the hands of all my students. It is a beautiful story that shows that beauty has many forms.

Scars Like Wings by Erin Stewart is available now.

For more information regarding Erin Stewart (@Erin_N_Stewart) please visit www.eringstewartbooks.com.

For more information regarding Simon & Schuster’s UK Children’s (@simonkids_UK) please visit www.simonand schuster.co.uk.

Title: Strange Sally Diamond

Author: Liz Nugent

Pages: 320 Pages

Publisher: Penguin

The Blurb

Sally Diamond cannot understand why what she did was so strange. She was only doing what her father told her to do, to put him out with the rubbish when he died.

Now Sally is the centre of attention, not only from the hungry media and worried police, but also a sinister voice from a past she has no memory of. As she begins to discover the horrors of her childhood, recluse Sally steps into the world for the first time, making new friends, finding independence, and learning that people don’t always mean what they say.

But when messages start arriving from a stranger who knows far more about her past than she knows herself, Sally’s life will be thrown into chaos once again . . .

The Review

Strange Sally Diamond is the quirkiest book that I have read this year. That is a big statement being that I am 154 books in but I really believe that no other story has disarmed me as much as this one has.

It focuses on our eponymous character – Sally Diamond – and how she is rather an odd duck. A square peg in a round hole. Sally has been sheltered from the “normal” world but due to unforeseen events now has to confront a society that is very confusing and one that Sally doesn’t know all the rules for.

Strange Sally Diamond is a brilliant story which when you scratch the surface isn’t just about fitting in or conforming but is a story about nature versus nurture. Are we made to be a certain way by our experiences or are these things completely beyond our control?

Strange Sally Diamond is a fascinating read and one that I will be gifting to a lot of people.

Strange Sally Diamond by Liz Nugent is available now.

For more information regarding Liz Nugent (@lizzienugent) please visit www.liznugent.com.

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