NevermoorTitle: Nevermoor – The Trials of Morrigan Crow

Author: Jessica Townsend

Pages: 374 Pages

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

The Blurb

Enter the Wundrous world of Morrigan Crow and Nevermoor – the most fantastical children’s release of the year.

Morrigan Crow is cursed. Having been born on Eventide, the unluckiest day for any child to be born, she’s blamed for all local misfortunes, from hailstorms to heart attacks – and, worst of all, the curse means that Morrigan is doomed to die at midnight on her eleventh birthday.

But as Morrigan awaits her fate, a strange and remarkable man named Jupiter North appears. Chased by black-smoke hounds and shadowy hunters on horseback, he whisks her away into the safety of a secret, magical city called Nevermoor.

It’s then that Morrigan discovers Jupiter has chosen her to contend for a place in the city’s most prestigious organisation: the Wundrous Society. In order to join, she must compete in four difficult and dangerous trials against hundreds of other children, each boasting an extraordinary talent that sets them apart – an extraordinary talent that Morrigan insists she does not have. To stay in the safety of Nevermoor for good, Morrigan will need to find a way to pass the tests – or she’ll have to leave the city and confront her deadly fate once and for all.

Perfect for fans of the Harry Potter series and His Dark Materials, this series takes readers into an extraordinary world, setting hope and imagination alive.

The Review

Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow has blown me away.

Wow. Just wow.

For the past 374 pages I have been completely lost in the world of Nevermoor. I had such a clear image in my head of this world. It became a perfect movie in my mind. There is no bigger compliment that I can give an author than expressing how their writing became almost tangible in my head and Jessica Townsend achieved this with spades.

Morrigan Crow is a heroine not to be messed with. She is vulnerable but fierce, feisty but likeable. She is a girl on a mission. She will join the Wundrous Society. Morrigan has been plucked from her old life where she has essentially died and has been brought to Nevermoor to compete in trials. However, because she is a cursed child she becomes embroiled in a mystery which could see her exiled from her new home.

I have not done Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow justice in this description. You need to just read it.

I usually donate my read books to the library in the school I work but I know I won’t be able to part with this book…so I bought the school a copy. That is how much I think this is a book that deserves to be read.

Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend is available now.

For more information regarding Jessica Townsend (@digressica) please visit www.instagram.com/digressica/

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

5 Stars

No Virgin

Title: No Virgin

Author: Anne Cassidy

Pages: 192 Pages

Publisher: Hot Key Books

The Blurb

From the author of the critically acclaimed, LOOKING FOR JJ, shortlisted for the Whitbread Prize in 2004 and the Carnegie Medal in 2005.

A raw, powerful, moving tale about a girl attempting to deal with the aftermath of a sexual attack.

My name is Stacey Woods and I was raped. 

Stacey is the victim of a terrible sexual attack. She does not feel able to go to the police, or talk about it to anybody other than her best friend, Patrice. Patrice, outraged, when she cannot persuade her to go to the police, encourages Stacey to write everything down. This is Stacey’s story.

A tautly told and important book, perfect for readers of Asking for It by Louise O’Neill.

The Review

Anne Cassidy’s latest book No Virgin was hard to read. Don’t get me wrong, it was so well written and I could not put it down. It was the subject matter of the story that was difficult.

Rape. For such a big, life altering and soul destroying thing four little letters hardly sees adequate. But this is what happens to Stacey Woods, the protagonist in No Virgin.

What Cassidy does so well is depict the state of mind of the victim: the shame, the guilt, the blame. In a way No Virgin is almost scaremongering its readers into not being naïve and to be wary and it is this that detail that has me in two minds. I agree with Cassidy, people need to be more wary, less trusting and also know how to defend themselves in those situations. However, I worry that someone who is young and impressionable will read it and believe everyone is a bad person. I personally felt that it needed more of that balance. It had some of this in the form of an ex-boyfriend of Stacey’s but I still felt it needed more.

What No Virgin does highlight is the power and privilege of the white middle class male. Something that sadly is relevant in too many rape cases – in particular cases that have hit to news in the past couple of months.

No Virgin is brilliant. No one could ever accuse Anne Cassidy of shying away from hard, difficult but important issues and No Virgin is a prime example of this.

No Virgin by Anne Cassidy is available from 3rd November 2016.

For more information regarding Anne Cassidy please visit www.annecassidy.com.

For more information regarding Hot Key Books (@HotKeyBooks) please visit www.hotkeybooks.com.

5 Stars

You Know Me WellTitle: You Know Me Well

Author: Nina LaCour and David Levithan

Pages: 256 Pages

Publisher: Pan Macmillan

The Blurb

Who knows you well? Your best friend? Your boyfriend or girlfriend? A stranger you meet on a crazy night? No one, really?

Mark and Kate have sat next to each other for an entire year, but have never spoken. For whatever reason, their paths outside of class have never crossed.

That is until Kate spots Mark miles away from home, out in the city for a wild, unexpected night. Kate is lost, having just run away from a chance to finally meet the girl she has been in love with from afar. Mark, meanwhile, is in love with his best friend Ryan, who may or may not feel the same way.

When Kate and Mark meet up, little do they know how important they will become to each other — and how, in a very short time, they will know each other better than any of the people who are supposed to know them more.

Told in alternating points of view by Nina LaCour and David Levithan, the best-selling author of Every Day and co-author of Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist (with Rachel Cohn) and Will Grayson, Will Grayson (with John Green), You Know Me Well is a deeply honest story about navigating the joys and heartaches of first love, one truth at a time.

The Review

Good golly I love YA fiction. I love that even as a 32 year old woman I can read it and become utterly absorbed in the stories o characters way younger than myself; I love that YA fiction always seems to be fresh and exciting but more than anything I love that YA fiction is tackling issues and helping to positively shape our youth’s opinion on some major topics by (for want of a better word) “normalising” them such as LGBTQIA. Take the new release from Nina LaCour and David Levithan. LaCour and Levithan have co-written You Know Me Well.

You Know Me Well is a coming of age story that focuses on Mark and Kate; two teenagers who are discovering life’s changes and the rapid fluidity that life takes when you are that age. They are discovering that the world after high school can be a very scary place; they are figuring out that friends come and go and they also figure out that first love can be wonderful and horrible in equal measure.

Oh, wait…do you think Mark and Kate are together? No, no, no, no, no. Mark and Kate are friends who are helping each other deal with the trials and tribulations of love (for other people) and learning to accept their flaws. It is a realistic story about love. You may wonder why I keep going on about love but the weekend that I read this book was the weekend of the Orlando shootings. You Know Me Well is classed as an LGBTQIA fiction because the film focuses on the gay scene in San Francisco. This is why this book is important. Hopefully, teenagers will read this book and the atrocities that happened in June 2016 will never happen again. #LoveisLove.

You Know Me Well by Nina LaCour and David Levithan

For more information about Nina LaCour (@nina_lacour) please visit her official website www.ninalacour.com.

For more information about David Levithan (@loversdiction) please visit his official website www.davidlevithan.com.

For more information about Pan Macmillan (@panmacmillan) and their future releases please visit the official website www.panmacmillan.com.

4 Stars

Every Exquisite ThingThe Blurb

From Matthew Quick, bestselling author of The Silver Linings Playbook, comes a heartfelt, unconventional and moving novel for readers who love John Green and Annabel Pitcher.

Nanette O’Hare is an unassuming teen who has played the role of dutiful daughter, hard-working student, and star athlete for as long as she can remember. But when a beloved teacher gives her his worn copy of The Bubblegum Reaper – the mysterious, out-of-print cult-classic – the rebel within Nanette awakens.

As she befriends the reclusive author, falls in love with a young but troubled poet, and attempts to insert her true self into the world with wild abandon, Nanette learns the hard way that sometimes rebellion comes at a high price.

A celebration of the self and the formidable power of story, Every Exquisite Thing is Matthew Quick at his finest.

The Review

Every Exquisite Thing by Matthew Quick has kind of left me speechless – and using the passive voice, apparently.

I guess I should give writing about it a try.

It is a wonderfully quirky story of a young girl, Nanette O’Hare whose life is changed when she reads a cult classic. She goes from socially accepted school girl on the football team to social pariah within days. She starts to make decisions about her life that are beyond the cookie-cutter print of expectation.

In breaking the mould Nanette has to pick up the pieces but will it be at a cost to who she is meant to be?

I thought Every Exquisite Thing was brilliant. It perfectly summed up the confusion of teenage life. It reminds us, as adult readers, how scary and how much pressure being a teenager can be. We too often look back at it through rose tinted glasses – the lack of bills and responsibilities – but remember that this is a time when we are expected to know what we want for the future, be planning for it and be so sure of ourselves whilst being a walking, talking hormone. I’m thirty-two and I still don’t know the answer to all of these things but like hell could you pay me to go back to being a teenager.

I think that is what this book does. It allows the older reader be reminded that teenage life isn’t that easy and the young adult reader to feel comforted in knowing that self same thing: life isn’t easy.

Every Exquisite Thing is a must read for fans of Matthew Quick. I would go so far as to say that this is his best work to date.

Every Exquisite Thing by Matthew Quick is available from 31st May 2016.

Follow Matthew Quick (@MatthewQuick21) on Twitter.

4 Stars

In Real LifeThe Blurb

Hannah Cho and Nick Cooper have been best friends since 8th grade. They talk for hours on the phone, regularly shower each other with presents, and know everything there is to know about one another.

There’s just one problem: Hannah and Nick have never actually met.

Hannah has spent her entire life doing what she’s supposed to, but when her senior year spring break plans get ruined by a rule-breaker, she decides to break a rule or two herself. She impulsively decides to road trip to Vegas, her older sister and BFF in tow, to surprise Nick and finally declare her more-than-friend feelings for him.

Hannah’s romantic gesture backfires when she gets to Vegas and meets Nick’s girlfriend, whom he failed to mention. And it turns out his relationship status isn’t the only thing he’s been lying to her about. Hannah knows the real Nick can’t be that different from the online Nick she knows and loves, but now she only has one night in Sin City to figure out what her feelings for Nick really are, all while discovering how life can change when you break the rules every now and then.

The Review

Ok, so there are two things that I have to say about In Real Life before I get into the nitty-gritty of the review. Firstly, I have said it before and I will say it again – nay, I will keep saying it until people believe me (warning – gratuitous use of capital letters approaching) YOUNG ADULT FICTION IS THE BEST FICTION BEING RELEASED AT THE MOMENT. Good now that is out of my system I can go on to my second point. Having read other reviews of Jessica Love’s In Real Life I can see that is has been described as whiney and chock full of angst – I agree it is…but why is that a bad thing?

I was (what you could consider to be) a relatively “normal” teenager but looking back I can see I had moments of pure petulance; moments when I stomped all the way up the stairs believing that was the way to get my own way. Yes, I even had those romances that felt like the world was going to end if the boy I loved didn’t love me back….and if I am being really, really honest (indeed, if we are all honest with ourselves) then even up until I entered my current relationship (which had freakishly similar roots to that of Hannah and Nick), I still felt like that.

It is for this very reason that In Real Life is utterly wonderful. The story gripped me from the moment I opened it until the very last page. I was fully immersed in Nick and Hannah’s love frennaisance (I am aware that this isn’t really a word but this is my review so what are you gonna do?

Love perfectly encapsulates the feeling of: young bourgeoning love, fear of rejection along with the grassroots of love in the age of the internet. She does this without judgement and without patronising her characters – she allows you to feel what they feel rather than thinking “oh silly little girl/boy, they don’t know what love is.” As someone who works with teenagers on a daily basis I understand that this is what they are looking for, a verisimilitude of what love can be like, what it is. For that, readers must be thankful.

In Real Life was a treat to read and one that I will be recommending to the teenagers I teach.

In Real Life by Jessica Love is available now.

5 Stars