Title: Sh!t Bag

Author: Xena Knox

Pages: 362 Pages

Publisher: Hachette Children’s Group

The Blurb

‘Come along with me on this sh!tty ride or bail out now. It’s your choice . . .’

When Freya collapses and wakes up with a temporary ileostomy bag on her stomach, her dreams of the perfect summer go down the toilet. Instead of partying in the Algarve, she’s packed off to ‘Poo Camp’ – a place for kids with bowel disease to ‘bond’.

And things can only get worse. Someone has started calling her ‘Sh!t Bag’ . . . and it’s catching on.

Freya decides to live up to the nickname, raging at her friends, her ex and the world. Only her campmate Chris seems to see past her new attitude . . .

Can Freya get her sh!t together or will she end up with just her bag by her side?

A fresh, fierce and funny story about what happens when life literally goes to sh!t.

The Review

Representation matters.

Sh!t Bag is the story of a teenage girl who due to complications with ulcerative colitis had to get an ileostomy. Me. I’m that girl.

Okay, I’m not the protagonist of this story but like 1 in 300 people in the UK I have a stoma. However, in my lifetime I have only read 4 books where the character has a stoma and if I am honest 2 of them weren’t positive. Therefore, it is great to read a book that shows the positive impact having a stoma can have on a person’s quality of life.

Sh!t Bag focuses on Freya, a teenage girl who feels like her world has been turned upside down when she has to have emergency surgery to remove her diseased intestine. Every negative thought a person can have about having a stoma – she has x10. However, through the story Freya learns that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side and she begins to see how empowering having a stoma can be and the positive impact on her lifestyle.

Honestly, Sh!t Bag was the book that I didn’t know I needed. Even though I am absolutely happy and content with my stoma (which by the way is called Paloma) it was amazing to read such a positive story and one that was so accurate in detail (loperamide, anyone?).

I am grateful to Xena Knox for writing this story.

Sh!t Bag by Xena Knox is available now.

For more information regarding Xena Knox (@XenaKnox) please visit he Instagram page.

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

Title: If This Gets Out

Author: Sophie Gonzales and Cale Dietrich

Pages: 404 Pages

Publisher: Hachette Children’s Group

The Blurb

One of the world’s biggest boy bands. A secret love. What happens if the world finds out? A queer YA boy band romance from Sophie Gonzales and Cale Dietrich, perfect for fans of Only Mostly Devastated and What If It’s Us.

Eighteen-year-olds Ruben Montez and Zach Knight are two members of the boy-band Saturday, one of the biggest acts in America. Along with their bandmates, Angel Phan and Jon Braxton, the four are teen heartbreakers in front of the cameras and best friends backstage. But privately, cracks are starting to form: their once-easy rapport is straining under the pressures of fame, and Ruben confides in Zach that he’s feeling smothered by management’s pressure to stay in the closet.

On a whirlwind tour through Europe, with both an unrelenting schedule and minimal supervision, Ruben and Zach come to rely on each other more and more, and their already close friendship evolves into a romance. But when they decide they’re ready to tell their fans and live freely, Zach and Ruben start to truly realize that they will never have the support of their management. How can they hold tight to each other when the whole world seems to want to come between them?

The Review

It is a story that we know all to well. A band get extremely popular and before long an implosion happens. Usually due to management trying to control certain aspects of what can and cannot be revealed to the fan base. In If This Gets Out that aspect is sexuality. I’ve seen it several times in my lifetime – Boyzone, Westlife, Steps – it seems a bit insane that the world of entertainment – the fabulous and flagrant world of entertainment – should expect audiences to not understand that some people are gay.

I suppose the premise of If This Gets Out is this very theme. A person’s sexuality doesn’t dictate their worth, nor is it indicative of their talent. The story exposes the motive behind the mindset – money.

As for the love story between Ruban and Zach, yeah it was cute but if I am perfectly honest, it took me a while to care for the characters. Strangely, it was secondary character Jon who I felt was most intriguing and his story needed exploring more.

Overall, If This Gets Out was a pleasant enough read but I didn’t care for the characters in the way I wanted to which I felt was a disservice to the story.

If This Gets Out by Sophie Gonzales and Cale Dietrich is available now.

For more information regarding Sophie Gonzales (@sgonzalesauthor) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding Cale Dietrich (@caledietrich) please visit his Twitter page.

For more information regarding Hachette Children’s Group (@HachetteKids) please visitwww.hachettekids.co.uk.

Title: The Amazing Edie Eckhart – The Big Trip

Author: Rosie Jones

Pages: 272 Pages

Publisher: Hachette Children’s Group

The Blurb

Hello! My name is Edie Eckhart and I’m eleven years old. I’m a little bit different. I have a disability called cerebral palsy, so I talk slowly and fall over a lot. It’s never really bothered me because I’ve never known anything else.

Edie Eckhart is getting used to life at secondary school. It’s going well so far – she’s found a brand new friendship group and has the best form tutor EVER. 

But then the school organises a camping trip…. complete with muddy walks and team games. It is a DISASTER. The only fun bit is sitting by the fire and telling stories. 

On top of that Edie is trying to figure out where she fits in: do you have to define all friendships? And can you be a writer AND a performer, or do you have to choose between the two?

Luckily Edie decides to take back control of the school trip… and in so doing, she discovers that you never have to define yourself. You are AMAZING just the way you are!

The Review

I loved the first book in the Edie Eckhart series: The Amazing Edie Eckhart. To be fair I was always going to read it. I love Rosie Jones. She cracks me up, she has done so much for disability visibility whilst managing to be her silly – sometimes naughty – self, and dammit I want to be friends with her. Yet, even if I didn’t love Rosie Jones and I was reading this book with no other information about the author I would absolutely be singing its praises for its celebration of diversity – whether that be race, sexuality or disability.

In the second outing The Amazing Edie Eckhart – The Big Trip we see Edie confront a few new challenges. She struggles with acceptance (mainly from ignorant adults) and have to fight for her space as people underestimate just what she can do. These stories are such a lovely way of opening up the conversation about disability and highlight some of the daily struggle that someone with Cerebral Palsy might face. Things that most of us take for granted. Rosie Jones is pioneering the way for stories that celebrate difference and champion disabled characters which is something we need in middle grade fiction rather than the sometimes dreary and upsetting stories of adversity – those books do have their place and I am not hating on them but it is just so joyful and refreshing to see a book about a character who has a disability where the disability – whilst important – isn’t the only thing about the character that we talk about.

I cannot wait for the next book in the series.

The Amazing Edie Eckhart – The Big Trip by Rosie Jones is available now.

For more information regarding Rosie jones (@josierones) please visit www.rosiejonescomedy.com.

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

Title: Stay Another Day

Author: Juno Dawson

Pages: 352 Pages

Publisher: Hachette Children’s Group

The Blurb

When three very different siblings, Fern, Rowan and Willow, go home for a Christmas reunion at their family home in Edinburgh, it’s not long before some VERY BIG SECRETS threaten their cosy holiday …

The McAllister house on Arboretum Road has seen 120 Christmases since its completion. 

This year, FERN is bringing her gorgeous boyfriend home and she wants everything to be perfect.

But her twin brother ROWAN would rather go on the pull than pull crackers with the family.

And their younger sister WILLOW is terrified of Christmas Day.

With FOUR sleeps till Christmas,

THREE secretive siblings,

TWO hot houseguests,

And ONE juicy secret …

This Christmas, there will be some BIG surprises under the tree.

Sometimes at Christmas, you don’t get what you want, you get what you need…

Family secrets, chance encounters and festive traditions collide in this juicy Christmas treat from Juno Dawson.

The Review

Drama, scandal and a Christmas turkey. Stay Another Day is the novel that has it all.

The McAllister family love Christmas. It is the one day of the year they all come together and forget the drama of the rest of the year. Having had to miss Christmas the previous year due to the youngest McAllister’s battle with anorexia, older sister Fern is determined to make this Christmas one to remember. And boy does she get her wish.

Juno Dawson has crafted an absolute corker of a novel about family dynamics, relationships and mental health. All packaged with a Christmas setting – a time of year bound to get your hackles up – you really feel like you are a member of the family watching the drama explode around you. There are moments that are so very awkward that you genuinely feel uncomfortable and forget for a moment that you are reading fiction.

Another absolute corker from the mighty Juno Dawson.

Stay Another Day by Juno Dawson is available now.

For more information regarding Juno Dawson (@junodawson) please visit www.junodawson.com.

For more information regarding Hachette Children’s Group (@HachetteUK) please visit www.hachette.co.uk.

Title: The Memory Book

Author: Lara Avery

Pages: 368 Pages

Publisher: Hachette Children’s Group

The Blurb

“They tell me that my memory will never be the same, that I’ll start forgetting things. At first just a little, and then a lot. So I’m writing to remember.”

Samantha McCoy has it all mapped out. First she’s going to win the national debating championship, then she’s going to move to New York and become a human rights lawyer. But when Sammie discovers that a rare disease is going to take away her memory, the future she’d planned so perfectly is derailed before it’s started. What she needs is a new plan.

So the Memory Book is born: Sammie’s notes to her future self, a document of moments great and small. Realising that her life won’t wait to be lived, she sets out on a summer of firsts: The first party; The first rebellion; The first friendship; The last love.

Through a mix of heartfelt journal entries, mementos, and guest posts from friends and family, readers will fall in love with Sammie, a brave and remarkable girl who learns to live and love life fully, even though it’s not the life she planned. 

A life-affirming, heart-breaking and dazzling novel for fans of All the Bright Places and The Fault in Our Stars.

The Review

There has been a trend over the past few years that has seen YA fiction focus on life-limiting illnesses. We have had The Fault in Our Stars and Five Feet Apart among many others. Whilst these books were great I think I was a little bit unsettled by the thought that teens were being exposed to such sadness but then I had a word with myself and remembered that this is how people learn and how people are exposed in a healthy way to things that they may know nothing about and how empathy is created.

The Memory Book is about early dementia – a disease often associated with the elderly but in rare cases it can affect teenagers. Samantha McCoy has this rare condition and she is doing everything she can to fight it. The feeling you get from Samantha is that she feels that it is just so unfair. Your heart breaks for her as you see her disintegrate in the novel. It is the kind of novel that will remind you how lucky you are.

The Memory Book by Lara Avery is available now.

For more information regarding Hachette Children’s Group (@HachetteKids) please visit www.hachetechildrens.co.uk.