Title: Liccle Bit

Author: Alex Wheatle

Pages: 217 Pages

Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group

The Blurb

What’s worse than hiding a secret? Liccle Bit’s about to find out…

Venetia King is the hottest girl at school. Too bad Lemar is the second shortest guy in his year. Everyone calls him Liccle Bit, and his two best friends, McKay and Jonah, never tire of telling him he has no chance with girls. Things aren’t much better at home. His mum is permanently hassled, his sister a frustrated single mum and his dad moved out years ago. Liccle Bit wishes he could do something – anything! – to make life better. A new phone would be a start… 

When Venetia starts paying Liccle Bit attention, he secretly hopes he’s on a fast track to a first date. Unfortunately, as a new gang war breaks out, he finds himself on a fast track to something much more sinister. South Crongton’s notorious gang leader has taken an interest in Liccle Bit. Before he knows what’s happening, he finds himself running errands. But when he hears about a killing on the estate, Liccle Bit is forced to question his choices. How can he possibly put things right?

The Review

If you want a realistic hard hitting drama for kids you really should look no further than Alex Wheatle. He manages to deal with real issues that happen in socially deprived areas and make them seem realistic – not overly dramatic but with enough clout to know that the consequences will be dire.

Liccle Bit focuses on Lemar and how he unwittingly ends up on the cusp of criminal activity. Torn between loyalty and a want to better his circumstances Lemar ends up getting involved in things that should not concern a young teenage lad.

Alex Wheatle uses his stories as moral tales to show that there are much better things that a person can be doing with their time than be getting themselves caught up in a life of crime. I didn’t mean for that to rhyme.

Liccle Bit by Alex Wheatle is available now.

For more information regarding Little, Brown Book Group (@LittleBrownUK) please visit www.littlebrown.co.uk.

Title: As I Descended

Author: Robin Talley

Pages: 370 Pages

Publisher: Harlequin

The Blurb

Amnesty Honour winner Robin Talley is back with a Shakespeare-inspired story of revenge and redemption, where fair is foul, and foul is fair.

Maria Lyon and Lily Boiten are their school’s ultimate power couple—but one thing stands between them and their perfect future: campus superstar Delilah Dufrey. Golden child Delilah is a legend at exclusive Acheron Academy, and the presumptive winner of the distinguished Cawdor Kingsley Prize. But Delilah doesn’t know that Lily and Maria are willing to do anything—absolutely anything—to unseat Delilah for the scholarship. After all, it would lock in Maria’s attendance at Stanford—and assure her and Lily four more years in a shared dorm room.

Together, Maria and Lily harness the dark power long rumored to be present on the former plantation that houses their school. But when feuds turn to fatalities, and madness begins to blur the distinction between what’s real and what’s imagined, the girls must attempt to put a stop to the chilling series of events they’ve accidentally set in motion.

The Review

As far as campus horror novels go, As I Descended is quite good. Students Maria and Lily have dappled in dark forces and have invoked the forces of the dead which begin to have massive consequences of their academic ecosystem.

What was interesting about As I Descended is the depths that people will go for power. However, the overarching belief of goodness makes As I Descended added depth.

As much as I enjoyed the story I didn’t feel that I fully connected with the characters and I felt that more could have been made of the campus setting.

As I Descended by Robin Talley is available now.

For more information regarding Robin Talley (@robin_talley) please visit www.robintalley.com.

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

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: 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: 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.