I honestly don’t think I was ready for this series to end. It was one of my most anticipated releases for this half of the year! The Young Elites was one of the first books that I read this year, and I was immediately drawn in by the delicious cast of characters. I’m pretty sure everyone knows by now that one of this series’ USPs is that Adelina is a bit of a villainous protagonist, but not in a fantastical super villain way, more in a ‘this girl’s had a hard life that has forced her to make tricky decisions in sticky situations’. Some people will probably say that’s mellow, but I’ve always loved Adelina, and the bond she has with her sister. And, for me, book two was even better, so I was going in with HIGH expectations, let me tell you.
I was so pumped when I saw David Arnold had a new book out this year! I read Mosquitoland around the same time I read Becky Albertali’s debut and Maddie read Jeff Zentner’s debut. So this time was pretty great for discovering new authors. I fell in love with David Arnold’s writing style IMMEDIATELY, even if I didn’t enjoy the story as much. Kids of Appetite had the perfect mix of witty narrative and FULL-ON plot. I was all about these kids from chapter one and am delighted to say that this author’s books are just getting better and better!
The Last Beginning by Lauren James
Genre: Sci-fi, Romance
Published by: Walker Books
The highly anticipated sequel to The Next Together is finally in my grasp! I’ve been looking forward to these time travelling lesbians since I heard the prologue of the book at Lauren and Alice Oseman’s joint signing event in April, and I can say, definitely, that the rest was well worth waiting for! What specifically, you ask? Well…
The Form of Things Unknown by Robin Bridges
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, (Re-telling)
Published by: Kensington Books
Note: I received this book from the publishers in exchange for an honest review!
Natalie is suffering from some strange hallucinations while on the set for her school’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. With questions of ‘who’s dating who’ and ‘we’re all crazy here’ the characters’ lives somewhat mimic those in the story they’re retelling. It’s an interesting concept, similar to Robin Bridges’ other novel Dreaming of Antigone where the protagonists are both aware of the text they’re retelling whilst retelling it. I’m not sure if it’s a style that completely works for me, but I’ve never been a fan of really meta fiction. But I think The Form of Things Unknown does a good job of blurring the lines between the original text and the new characters’ lives.
The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee
Published by: HarperCollins
Format: ARC e-book
Note: We received this book from the publishers in exchange for an honest review.
Seeing as this book is blurbed by Cecily von Ziegesar and the model on the front looks like she belongs in Gossip Girl, I went in thinking I already knew the characters The Thousandth Floor was going to use. While there were a few surprises, this book definitely fit the initial stereotypes I had. A few months ago I managed to read four of the Gossip Girl novels before realising that was as much as I could take of spoilt rich girls. But, the intriguing opening, promising a thrilling ending, was enough to keep me turning the pages. Continue reading
The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
Genre: Romance, Contemporary
Published by: Penguin Random House
Format: ARC e-book
It seems that all my favourite authors of last year are coming out with their next books around this time of year and I couldn’t be happier, because it means the last reading quarter is guaranteed to be a good one! Nicola Yoon’s The Sun is Also a Star is no exception. After giving her debut, Everything, Everything 5 stars, I had high hopes for this book and it didn’t let me down. In fact, let’s talk about why this cosmic romance was so wonderful… Continue reading
The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles
Genre: Supernatural, Contemporary, Romance
Published by: Bloomsbury Children’s
Format: ARC e-book
Note: I received a copy of this book from the publishers in exchange for an honest review.
Okay, so this book has a lot of hype. And by a lot, I mean A LOT. Seriously, scroll down the Goodreads page and all you’ll see is five star reviews! People are getting excited about this, so why didn’t I feel the magic? Maybe partly because I was switching from reading an e-book copy and listening to it on the text-to-speech function, but that doesn’t sound quite right. The Edge of Everything covers a great deal of things. If you didn’t think that a supernatural boyfriend was enough, then you have a girl’s quest to recover her father’s body, a boy’s struggle to get out of a binding service, and a family dealing with a shady past. And the best bit is they all link together!
A Step Towards Falling by Cammie McGovern
Published by: Macmillan Children’s
Format: ARC e-book
I really like the fact that Cammie McGovern’s next book after Amy and Matthew contains another differently abled character. I hope that in her next books, I can always go to them knowing that they give a voice to a branch of diversity that isn’t often heard.
A Step Towards Falling is, and if you’ll excuse my Victorian Lit student voice coming through, a book about moral responsibility for other people. The subtitle pretty much explains that. If you see something bad happening to someone else, like Emily and Lucas witness Belinda being sexually harassed, and do nothing, it’s the worst possible thing. What’s so great about this book is how the characters defy stereotypes and go on a real journey to discover things about themselves they didn’t initially realise. Continue reading
We were lucky enough to win two tickets to the Birmingham Literature Festival’s Teen Takeover event with Juno Dawson and Nicola Morgan! It was the only event that we really wanted to go to, because *dramatic pause* duh, it’s Juno Dawson(!) but we couldn’t afford the tickets so Maddie entered a giveaway (without my knowledge) and we won! (Thank you so much to Michelle Toy for hosting the giveaway!) I couldn’t believe that we’d get to see this amazing talk, and oh my goodness it was incredible.
Both authors stressed the importance of talking about mental health issues and thinking about how they affect teenagers. Juno explained how the first experience of panic or stress is turned into a catastrophe because the sufferer can’t recognise what they’re experiencing. This is why she is so passionate about PSHE (Personal, Social, Health Education) being taught in schools, because if you can teach young people about the effects of mental health issues then they will be better prepared to deal with them, or, at least, be able to recognise the symptoms.
Later in the talk, Juno read from her most recent non-fiction release Mind Your Head, which is aimed at a slightly younger audience, but appeals to everyone. 1 in 10 teens have diagnosable mental illnesses. But Juno stresses: what about about the other 9? Mind Your Head is aimed at more than just the 1 person who was brave enough to seek help and be officially ‘diagnosed’. It’s aimed at the 1, plus the 9 who are probably being told to ‘just get on with it.’
The authors talked about limiting yourself by using labels. Once you’ve been professionally diagnosed or you diagnose yourself with a mental illness it’s important to remember that you are more than your mental illness. Nicola and Juno agreed that when a mental health issue becomes a part of your identity, it becomes destructive.
When asked about whether they made an active decision to include mental health in their books, Juno responded ‘it never occurred to me not to put them in, [because they affect so many young people.]’ Nicola talked about wanting to write about OCD because her niece suffers greatly from it, but because the mental issue came first in her planning the rest of the story hasn’t come together. To write something convincing, and not preachy or laboured, the characters and the plot have to come FIRST. Juno gave a perfect example of this: Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne, which we have both read and really loved how although Evie’s OCD is prevalent and really affects her life, it’s mostly about female friendship and understanding feminism.
Juno also talked a little about her new book Margot & Me which is set in the 90s, and follows a girl called Fliss, who goes to live with her grandmother in south Wales and discovers her gran’s war-time diary in the attic, and it unleashes some family secrets that have the power to destroy. It sounds ridiculously exciting, and once again, different to everything she’s written so far, and is expected to be released in late January 2017. Nicola also talked a bit about her upcoming releases – she’s mostly been focussing on non-fiction, but would like to eventually return to fiction – which is a mental health book aimed for schools!
We are mostly there to hear from Juno Dawson, and we learned some pretty Fun Facts:
- Juno agreed to write This Book Is Gay because she came up with the really cool title.
- After writing This Book Is Gay, Juno needed to take a break, (even though she was contracted for more non-fiction), so wrote Under My Skin and All of the Above, which proved to her that mental health as still at the forefront of her mind, hence Mind Your Head!
- Juno credits Youtube books for making teen non-fiction ‘a thing’. Well, their existence means there needs to be a new category in bookshops…
- Hollow Pike, Juno’s first novel, was set to be a four book series, but the book’s initial sales meant the publishers cancelled the other three books – even though Juno had written Hollow Pike 2!
- This turned out to be a really GOOD thing, because it meant that she wasn’t stuck to a ‘brand’, which is why all of Juno’s books are different, because genre can’t define her writing!
- Juno considers All of the Above a sort of re-telling of Hollow Pike without the human sacrifice.
- Hollow Pike had more explicit references to self-harm, but the publishers asked for them to be toned down. Juno joked ‘Can’t it just be a nice book about human sacrifice?!’
- Under My Skin was about possession first and then became about dealing with internal struggles/anxiety/Feminism.
- Juno’s written a book about Grindr called Strings but after the release of Spot The Difference for World Book Day, where the audience was 10+, the publishers decided to delay its release.
If you want to find out more about these authors…
If You Liked This, You’ll Like…
So far my experience of Kiersten White’s writing has been the Mind Games duology, which I enjoyed but didn’t think it did a very good job of explaining itself, but she’s a pretty prolific writer and there had been a bit of hype going around about this Vlad the Impaler-as-a-girl retelling and I admit, I got swept along with it too. And I Darken, if you didn’t already know, is the story of Lada (who I guess will grow up to become Lada the Impaler?) and her brother Radu moving from their home town to become part of the Ottoman empire. It’s a fantasy story with a strong emphasis or politics, religion and sexuality, all of which are seamlessly weaved into this bad-ass girl’s life story.