Title: Cuts Both Ways

Author: Candice Braithwaite

Pages: 320 Pages

Publisher: Hachette Children’s Group

The Blurb

Love is never just black and white…

A sharp and authentic love story about 16-year-old Cynthia, who finds herself caught between two brothers: one who is Black and the other who is white. Tackling the complexities of growing up Black and British, Cuts Both Ways is the first fiction title from the Sunday Times best-selling Candice Brathwaite, author of I Am Not Your Baby Mother.

London is everything to Cynthia, so when her parents move her to a place where there is only one bus an hour and the faint smell of horse manure continuously permeates the air, it’s a culture shock, to say the least. As is transitioning to a private school.

At her new school, Cynthia immediately finds herself caught between two brothers – head boy Thomas, who is white, and his adopted Black brother, Isaac. There is something about Isaac she cannot quite get enough of … but her father wants her to partner up with someone like Thomas, someone who will be ‘better for her future prospects’.

When it turns out the brothers have been keeping secrets from her, secrets that link back to the life Cynthia thought she had left behind in London, she realises that not everything is as it seems.

How can Cynthia follow her heart when it’s being torn in two?

An exploration of race, class, love and the complexities of growing up as a Black British teen, from bestselling author Candice Brathwaite.

The Review

Wow. Where do I even begin with this book. Cuts Both Ways is like an onion. There are layers. On the surface level it is about a boy and a girl who fall in love. On a deeper level it is a Romeo and Juliet tale with a basis in crime. On a deeper level it is about the socio-political and economic values and expectations that the BPOC community face on a daily basis.

It is the story about Cynthia. She is starting a new school and leaving her old life in London behind. The murder of her older brother has had her family moving away from the living memory of the crime but Cynthia struggles when it comes to her new way of life.

In her school she meets a plethora of new people some kind and some not so much. However, it is when she meets brothers Thomas and Isaac that things really start to unravel.

When Cynthia discovers a shocking secret about one of the brothers her whole new life begins to unfold once again. Cynthia is torn between feelings of love and feelings of loyalty.

Cuts Both Ways was a really powerful read and its ending – whilst not ambiguous – certainly allows for more of the story to be told and I really home that Candice Braithwaite turns it into a series.

Cuts Both Ways by Candice Braithwaite is available now.

For more information regarding Candice Braithwaite (@candicebraithwaite) please visit her Instagram account.

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

Title: When You Call My Name

Author: Tucker Shaw

Pages: 368 Pages

Publisher: Penguin Random House Children’s UK

The Blurb

A heartrending novel about two gay teens coming of age in New York – perfect for fans of It’s a Sin and Adam Silvera.

It’s 1990 in New York City.

Adam is falling in love for the first time. Ben is leaving home for the last.

Drawn by the city’s irresistible energy, the boys are swept up into the queer scene, where the potential for life and love seems limitless.

But as the shadows of prejudice gather, Ben and Adam discover how their newfound community is facing the looming threat of AIDS, which will touch their lives more closely than they ever could have imagined. 

Heartbreaking yet hopeful, When You Call My Name tells the story of the moments that break our hearts and the people who make us whole – and shows how together we burn brightest in times of darkness.

The Review

Oh my wow. I loved When You Call My Name by Tucker Shaw.

Tucker Shaw’s novel tells the story of two young men living during the turn of the decade from the 80s into the 90s in New York. The AIDS pandemic was on the rise and emotions were running high within the LGBT+ community and outside of it. Ben and Adam met through a chance encounter and form an unusual friendship that is tested by the world around them. Can Adam and Ben maintain their friendship in a world that is constantly changing?

I read a lot of LGBT+ fiction. It is something that I am passionate about. As an ally, I feel the best way that I can educate myself of the LGBT+ community is by learning the stories – whether they be fiction or non-fiction – and opening myself up to knowing the history. When You Call My Name is a fictional story but it is not too far from the truth. There will have been Bens and Adams all over the world going through what they went through which is why stories like When You Call My Name are vital.

For me, the absolute power in this book comes from very certain moments. It is not what Tucker Shaw has had his characters say. The power comes in what was not said – the Pinter pauses that say so much whilst saying absolutely nothing at all. That was writing at its most perfect.

When You Call My Name had me in absolute bits. It has shot to the top spot in my books of 2022.

When You Call My Name by Tucker Shaw is available now.

For more information regarding Tucker Shaw (@tucker_shaw) please visit www.tuckershawwrites.com.

For more information regarding Penguin Random House Children’s UK (@PenguinUKBooks) please visit www.penguin.co.uk.

Title: Family of Liars

Author: E Lockhart

Pages: 256 Pages

Publisher: Bonnier Books/Hot Key Books

The Blurb

The thrilling prequel to the TikTok phenomenon and #1 New York Times bestseller We Were Liars takes readers back to the story of another summer, another generation, and the secrets that will haunt them for decades to come.

A windswept private island off the coast of Massachusetts.A hungry ocean, churning with secrets and sorrow.A fiery, addicted heiress. An irresistible, unpredictable boy.A summer of unforgivable betrayal and terrible mistakes.

Welcome back to the Sinclair family.They were always liars.

The Review

The long-awaited new book in the Sinclair saga. Family of Liars is the prequel to the smash hit We Were Liars by E Lockhart and in it we see how keeping secrets seems to be a family trait and with a very regal “never complain, never explain” ethos we can see how the Sinclair family have managed to survive all these years. Deception is part of their DNA make-up.

You don’t have to have read We Were Liars to enjoy this book. It does in fact reveal a few spoilers when read the wrong way round. You cannot help but feel completely engaged with this dynastic (if not completely messed up) family.

I really hope that there are more secrets to be uncovered.

Family of Liars by E Lockhart is available now.

For more information regarding E Lockhart (@elockhart) please visit www.emilylockhart.com

For more information regarding Hot Key Books (@HotKeyBooksYA) please visit their Twitter page.

For more information regarding Bonnier Books (@bonnierbooks_uk) please visit www.bonnierbooks.co.uk.

Title: Kicking Off!

Author: Eve Ainsworth

Pages: 279 Pages

Publisher: UCLan Publishing

The Blurb

It’s 1917, and Britain is at war. Shy teenager Hettie wants to help the war effort, and signs up to work in the local Dick, Kerr & Co. munitions factory. She’s nervous, but she has no idea quite how much her life is about to change … For, inside this factory are young women who are about to make sporting history. Can Hettie find the courage to join them, and in doing so, find her own place in the world?

Based on the thrilling true story of the Dick, Kerr Ladies team – football’s forgotten legends.

The Review

One of my favourite things in books is when the author takes a real life event or a real life person and writes a fictional account of their world. This is why I absolutely loved Kicking Off by Eve Ainsworth.

It is the story of a munitions factory in Preston during the First World War. It is about the girls who stood up and took on the jobs that were usually done by the men. It is about the bravery and courage to make social change when the world was feeling so precarious. And it was about football.

You may think that the beautiful game is hardly world changing but when you think about the fight that women had to be able to take part in football – and about how it is only in the past few years that women’s football has become as popular as it has – then you can see the relevance of a book set over 100 years ago. Girls need more books celebrating them in sport.

Kicking Off! was a joy to read.

Kicking Off! by Eve Ainsworth is available now.

For more information regarding Eve Ainsworth (@EveAinsworth) please visit www.eveainsworth.com.

For more information regarding UCLan Publishing (@publishinguclan) please visit their Twitter page.

Title: The Agathas

Author: Kathleen Glasgow and Liz Lawson

Pages: 416 Pages

Publisher: Oneworld Publications

The Blurb

The most popular girl in school is dead – and everyone’s blaming the wrong guy.

When Alice Ogilvie ran away last summer, her disappearance was Castle Cove’s biggest mystery. But then her ex-best friend Brooke Donovan vanishes. Initially dismissed as a copycat case, Alice suspects there is something darker at play.

Joined by outsider and unlikely investigative partner Iris Adams, Agatha Christie-obsessed Alice sets out to get to the bottom of what is really happening in Castle Cove. There are clues the police are ignoring and a list of suspects a mile long. But Alice and Iris have no idea just how many secrets their little town is hiding…

The Review

I’m just going to say this, I flippin’ loved The Agathas.

The Agathas is a slick YA murder mystery fiction which has elements of classic murder mystery with a delicious dollop of Scooby Doo.

The story focuses on unlikely duo Alice Ogilve – one of Castle Cove’s beautiful people – who has a mystery of her own that she is keeping buried and the quirky Iris Adams – underdog, beautiful wierdo and someone who is desperate to leave Castle Cove as quickly as she can. They are thrown together and form an unlikely alliance to help solve the mystery of who killed Brooke Donovan.

Corruption, greed and love are all at the heart of this story and Glasgow and Lawson’s perfect tone drags you up and down the garden path throwing in red herrings galore. At once you both believe that you can and will solve the mystery whilst equally slapping your head in absolute shock horror when you get it wrong.

I will shove The Agathas into everyone’s hands.

The Agathas by Kathleen Glasgow and Liz Lawson is available now.

For more information regarding Kathleen Glasgow (@kathglasgow) please visit www.kathleenglasgowbooks.com.

For more information regarding Liz Lawson (@LzLwsn) please visit her Twitter and Instagram account.

For more information regarding Oneworld Publications (@OneworldNews) please visit www.oneworld-publications.com.