Love, Hate and Other FiltersTitle: Love, Hate & Other Filters

Author: Samira Ahmed

Pages: 288 Pages

Publisher: Hot Key Books

The Blurb

A romantic and relevant debut about Islamophobia and how it affects the normal life of a teenage girl. 

Maya Aziz dreams of being a film maker in New York. Her family have other ideas. They want her to be a dutiful daughter who wears gold jewellery and high heels and trains to be a doctor. But jewellery and heels are so uncomfortable . . .

She’s also caught between the guy she SHOULD like and the guy she DOES like. But she doesn’t want to let Kareem down and things with Phil would never work out anyway. Would they?

Then a suicide bomber who shares her last name strikes in a city hundreds of miles away and everything changes . . .

Perfect for fans of Annabel Pitcher, WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI and THE HATE U GIVE.

The Review

Being a teenager is hard. I’m 34 and work in a school and I do not envy my students youth one bit. If they are going through even half of what the protagonist of Love Hate & Other Filters is going through then they have things pretty tough; you wouldn’t get me going back to that age for a big clock!

Maya is a young, talented, pretty girl. She is ambitious. She wants to study film in New York and she wants to kiss a boy. Ok that last one doesn’t seem like the biggest ambition but to Maya who has lived a cosseted life due to her strict Indian upbringing it is something that she would like to try.

Alas, Maya seems to be struggling against most things such as liking a boy, snarky people in her school and general teenage life worries. Throw in the added extra of seriously overprotective and intrusive parents and – as you can imagine – Maya’s life is just that extra bit difficult. Many of the readers of Love, Hate & Other Filters will be able to relate.

I really enjoyed this young adult fiction novel and the reason I liked it is because I wasn’t reading in a passive manner. There were times when I was reading Love, Hate and Other Filters that I felt the same feeling of claustrophobia that Maya felt. Ahmed has so accurately and positively described that feeling that I found myself getting frustrated at her parents as if they were mine.

Besides normal teen angst, Love, Hate & Other Filters deals with hate crime and racism in a powerful way. It leaves a lasting impression on the reader.

Love, Hate & Other Filters is one of the best books that I have read in the Young Adult genre.

Love, Hate & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed is available now.

For more information regarding Samira Ahmed (@sam_aye_ahm) please visit www.samiraahmed.com.

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

5 Stars

My Side of the DiamondTitle: My Side of the Diamond

Author: Sally Gardner

Pages: 240 Pages

Publisher: Hot Key Books/Bonnier Zaffre Books

The Blurb

An extraordinary tale about the search for love from the acclaimed Costa and Carnegie winning novelist Sally Gardner.

Jazmin has been shunned ever since her best friend Becky disappeared.

But Becky didn’t just disappear – she jumped off a tall building and seemingly never reached the ground. It was as if she simply vanished into thin air.

Did Jazmin have something to do with her disappearance?

Or was it more to do with Icarus, so beguiling and strangely ever youthful, with whom Becky became suddenly besotted . . .

The Review

My Side of the Diamond by Sally Gardner is a very curious tale that had me reading way outside of my comfort zone. It is part YA which I love, part thriller and mystery which I am lukewarm to and part science fiction which is so not my genre.

However, Sally Gardner has created a really compelling story and full bodied cast that I found myself unable to put the damn book down! The story is told from multi-perspective which lends the book an air of displacement and discomfort. I did not feel comfortable or settled reading it. I constantly questioned my characters – on their morals and what they said.

I do feel more settled now that I have finished My Side of the Diamond but it has left me irked in the best possible way.

I would love to know if the Lazarus theme is a link to David Bowie? There are too many shout outs. If anyone knows if this was a choice by Sally Gardner – or if indeed Sally Gardner you would like to answer this question for me – then I would be really grateful.

My Side of the Diamond is a strange little book that begs to be read.

My Side of the Diamond by Sally Gardner is available now.

For more information regarding Sally Gardner (@TheSallyGardner) please visit www.sallygardner.net.

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

For more information regarding Bonnier Zaffre Books (@BonnierZaffre) please visit their Twitter page.

3 Stars

The Hanging GirlTitle: The Hanging Girl

Author: Eileen Cook

Pages: 320 Pages

Publisher: Hot Key Books/Bonnier Zaffre/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s Book Group

The Blurb

Two girls, one fatal reading . . . because the truth always lies in the cards

Skye’s mother believes she has ‘the gift’ – the opportunity to see the future. Skye however can only see the opportunity to make money – and happily fleeces her gullible classmates into handing over their cash to hear their futures through Skye’s wellworn tarot cards.

But it’s all in a good cause, right? Skye needs to save her hardearned cash to go to New York with her best mate Drew. Then the local mayor’s daughter Paige disappears – and Skye has a tip off about her whereabouts.

Skye is uncomfortable about the source and masks the tipoff as a vision she has received. But then events get wildly out of control – Paige is found murdered and Skye is a prime suspect . . .

The Review

Oh I do love it when a book is good.

The Hanging Girl by Eileen Cook has been, for me, the surprise triumph of the year. I’ve never read anything by Eileen Cook before and I can admit that I was drawn to the book because of the cover which I found very intriguing. What I wasn’t expecting was to be sucked into this vortex of mystery and thrills which left me desperate to turn the page.

Skye is a con artist. She isn’t a petty criminal but she charges her fellow classmates for tarot readings all the while knowing that she has no psychic abilities. She swindles their money and she doesn’t feel bad about it.

However, Skye’s lying is about to catch up with her when a fellow student goes missing and the police begin to rely on her ‘visions’ to help solve the case. How far will Skye let the lie go?

The Hanging Girl is a thrill ride of a book. You are constantly questioning the things around you. I was constantly on the edge of my seat whilst reading it. It is definitely a book that you can immerse yourself in that has a central theme but also deals with other issues such as social poverty and privilege.

The Hanging Girl is a book worthy of the phrase ‘page turner.’

The Hanging Girl by Eileen Cook is available now.

For more information regarding Eileen Cook (@EileenWriter) please visit www.eileencook.com.

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

For more information regarding Bonnier Zaffre (@BonnierZaffre) please visit their Twitter page.

For more information regarding Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s Book Group (@HMHco) please visit www.hmhco.com.

4 Stars

A Semi Definitive List of Worst NightmaresTitle: A Semi Definitive List of Worst Nightmares

Author: Krystal Sutherland

Pages: 368 Pages

Publisher: Hot Key Books/Bonnier Zaffre

The Blurb

Esther Solar’s family is . . . unusual.

Her father hasn’t left the basement in six years.

Her brother is terrified of darkness.

Esther isn’t afraid of anything – because she avoids pretty much everything.

Elevators are off limits, as are open spaces, crowds, family pets, birds, needles, haircuts, dolls and mirrors.

But when Esther is pick-pocketed by her cocky old classmate Jonah Walker, Esther and Jonah become surprising friends.

Jonah sets a challenge: every week they must work their way through the world’s fifty most common phobias. Skydiving, horse riding, beekeeping, public speaking, reptile houses – they plan to do it all.

Soon their weekly foray into fear becomes the only thing that keeps them tethered to reality, and to each other.

But each is keeping a secret from the other, a secret that threatens to rip them apart.

The Review

Well, this book was strange.

A Semi Definitive List of Worst Nightmares by Krystal Sutherland happens to be the strangest book that I have read in a long time. To put this in to context the book that I am currently reading has a dog that has had human testacies implanted into its body and turned into a human and yet this book is still pipping it to the post.

The story focuses on a family who are convinced that they are being followed by death and that it is their worst fear which will ultimately lead to their personal demise. Esther has created a list of potential things that will be her undoing. With the help of her family and friends she starts facing her fears one by one. As she completes each task she becomes more confident but life is always there to remind you that you actually don’t have that much power at all.

Even though I described this book as strange I did really enjoy it. I loved the quirkiness and the eccentric delivery. I have genuinely not seen anxiety tackled in such a fresh way before. Sutherland highlights the irrationality of fear without a “buck up” attitude. She is sensitive.

A Semi Definitive List of Worst Nightmares by Krystal Sutherland is definitely a book to add to your to be read pile especially if you are a sufferer of any form of anxiety.

A Semi Definitive List of Worst Nightmares by Krystal Sutherland is available now.

For more information regarding Krystal Sutherland (@km_sutherland) please visit www.krystalsutherland.com.

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

For more information regarding Bonnier Zaffre Books (@BonnierZaffre) please visit their Twitter page.

3 Stars

No ShameTitle: No Shame

Author: Anne Cassidy

Pages: 192 Pages

Publisher: Hot Key Books/Bonnier Zaffre

The Blurb

The powerful companion to NO VIRGIN.

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

Stacey Woods has been raped and now she has to go through a different ordeal – the court trial. But nothing in life it seems is black and white and life is not always fair or just.

Suddenly it seems that she may not be believed and that the man who attacked her may be found not guilty . . . if so Stacey will need to find a way to rebuild her life again . . .

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

The Review

For years, my good friend Shirley has encouraged me to read books by Anne Cassidy. Now due to an ever growing TBR pile Cassidy’s books were always put on the backburner. That was until last year when I read a review copy of No Virgin. In No Virgin we follow the story of Stacey Woods during a difficult period in her life which leads to her being raped.

No Shame, No Virgin’s sequel follows the story and introduces the harrowing element of dealing with the eventual court case. In many ways, No Shame is a much more powerful novel because we see the udder degradation that rape victims have to go through even though the ordeal of rape is over they have to relive it and have it twisted and torn apart. Victim shaming seems to be the way of these cases. I have said it before on reviews that deal with this challenging subject, in most cases you are innocent until proven guilty. With rape victims they are liars until proven otherwise.

Cassidy has handled this subject with compassion and confidence. With Stacey, Cassidy tries to show the cocktail of emotions that she is feeling and deal with it in a sensitive way and it is with her years of experience writing for the YA audience that Cassidy absolutely nails this.

No Shame is definitely my sequel of the year. You can read both books now.

No Shame by Anne Cassidy is available now.

For more information regarding Anne Cassidy (@annecassidy6) please visit her Twitter page.

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

For more information regarding Bonnier Zaffre Books (@BonniereZaffre) please visit their Twitter page.

4 Stars