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In a nutshell: contemporary drama gives us hope Hope Baldi has more problems than the average teenager: she’s mourning the sudden death of her father, and having failed to win a place at drama college has no idea what to do with her life. On top of that she suffers from a disorder that causes extreme mood swings and terrifying uncontrollable fits of rage. Various things help her through however, not least the love of family and friends, and a long distance text/email relationship with the charming, no-nonsense Riley. Rhian Ivory has a real ear for dialogue and understands her audience very well; readers will be gripped by Hope’s journey of healing and self-discovery. One to add to the ‘you’re not alone’ category alongside books by Holly Bourne, Lisa Williamson and Eve Ainsworth. ~ Andrea Reece
February 2021 Book of the Month | Renée Watson is one of my favourite contemporary YA writers and her latest novel, Love is a Revolution, embodies everything that makes her stories shine - it’s honest, relatable, driven by an inspiring Black girl, and sparkles with a self-empowerment vibe. Nala’s summer plans are sent reeling when she goes to an open mic night for her “cousin-sister-friend” Imani’s birthday, an event organised by the Harlem Inspire community project Imani is heavily involved with. Here Nala fall head-over-heels for committed activist Tye and finds herself telling little white lies to impress him - that she’s vegan, that she’s running a big project at her Jamaican Grandma’s Senior Living residence. Talking of Grandma, I especially loved the book’s beautiful portrayal of inter-generational relationships - the shared wisdom, the compassion and kindness, the sense of family and community, and Nala’s body positive exuberance is uplifting too. Her disorientation and self-doubt derive from elsewhere, like not knowing what she wants to do with her life, and feeling she’s not good enough, not quite worthy of Tye’s love. Though fireworks explode when Nala’s fibs are found out, after taking Grandma’s advice on-board to the empowering soundtrack of her favourite musician, she discovers that self-love and self-care are forms of revolution - they’re her route to transformative self-acceptance through embracing who she really is.
One of our Books of the Year 2014 - May 2014 Debut of the Month Bringing the past alive through a timeslip is an excellent way of getting under the skin of the very young soldiers serving at the front in the First World War. On a trip to Ypres with her grandfather, Rose is deeply moved by the grave of a fifteen year old soldier, Valentine Joe. That night, she finds herself suddenly back in the days of the war. When she meets the young soldiers she is determined to try to change their destiny. But can she? A thought-provoking, original and deeply moving story which brings the war vividly to life. A Piece of Passion from Barry Cunningham, Publisher, Chicken House Can we ever imagine life for ordinary ‘Joes’ in the chaos and confusion of the First World War trenches? Well, here in this moving, heartbreaking and warm story Rebecca Stevens does just that – she takes a modern young girl back to meet a boy soldier and his dog. They learn a lot together – but more importantly they help each other come to terms with what’s happening in both their worlds, when death becomes part of everyday life. Sorry, I couldn’t help crying. IT MUST NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN! Kids love to read and so in addition to our Lovereading4kids expert opinion some of our Kids Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title.
In a Nutshell: High Fantasy | Hidden Heritage | Political plotting | This exuberantly ambitious fantasy debut set in an alternate 16th century sees seventeen-year-old Brienna embroiled in treasonous plots and passionate encounters galore. With her mother dead and a father whose identity is unknown to her, Brienna’s grandfather’s sends her to an esteemed boarding house at which students study the passions (art, music, dramatics, wit and knowledge). Brienna is aware that this is not the kind of place a girl like her usually attends – “it wasn’t designed for girls who were lacking, for girls who were illegitimate, and certainly not for girls who defied kings” - but here she finds herself desperate to discover and perfect her passion in order to be selected by a wealthy patron. She struggles to see her true passion emerge, and so winds up choosing knowledge. She also winds up without a patron, and left with little choice but to accept a belated offer from a disgraced mysterious lord. It’s not long before Brienna discovers that the lord sought her out for a very specific reason and she’s faced with high-stakes dilemmas that threaten the very stability of two lands. Brienna’s first-person voice is lively and engaging, as is the highly visual writing, fascinating magic system, compelling court intrigues and dashes of romance. Fans of Sarah J. Maas and Cassandra Clare will surely welcome this tantalising trilogy opener. ~ Joanne Owen
Zoella Book Club title Summer 16 An utterly captivating love story about opening your heart by major US bestselling author, Rainbow Rowell, whose debut novel in the UK, Eleanor & Park was a huge hit and her ever-growing legion of fans here in the UK will love this latest tale of fan fiction, family and first love. Identical twin girls Cath and Wren have always been close but now as they head to university the outgoing one of the two, Wren, wants to branch out on her own and not forever be considered one half of a pair. Perhaps this is Cath's chance to step out from behind her sister and out of her comfort zone. Sounds easy but in practice when it comes to love, things rarely run smooth. Read a Q&A with Rainbow Rowell on Fangirl. Here's a taster first: You don't usually base characters on real people - does that include yourself? Do you see yourself in one of the characters? There's a lot of me in Cath.......we both crave collaboration.... Read more here
This perfect little package (a cute clothbound hardback sprinkled with glittery goodness) comprises two festive-themed stories that are packed with heart, wrapped in hope and perfectly embellished with Simini Blocker’s warm and witty illustrations. Set over several New Year Eves, the opener Midnights tells the tense “Will they? Won’t they?” story of best buddies Mags and Noel, whose lives are on the giddy brink of change. Kindred Spirits, originally published as a World Book Day book, is a funny tale of a friendship struck up between Star Wars fanatics sleeping outside a cinema before a new movie opens. Certainly a must-read for Rowell fans, this short and satisfying treat is also perfect for introducing newbies to her unique talent for creating believable characters and writing romance with real-life authenticity.
February 2013 Debut of the Month Hattie Moore’s diary will delight all those who already revel in the life of Louise Rennison’s Georgia Nicholson. Hattie’s life is a hilarious catalogue of typical teenage earth-shattering catastrophes most of which relate to Hattie’s inability to transform herself into a TOTAL HOTNESS GODDESS. Rae Earl captures the outrageous but nonetheless surprisingly loveable characteristics of this convincing teenage drama queen. Lovereading4kids staff comment: This is Hattie Moore’s diary of her inner-most private thoughts, so we are immediately plunged into her rollercoaster teenage world of flaky friendships, cringe-making family (her loathsome brother and ‘total mental’ Gran), schoolgirl crushes and her desire to be a TOTAL HOTNESS GODDESS. This book is a hilarious chronicle of her day-to-day disasters and anxieties. Hattie’s up close and personal diary is both funny and painful, and an ‘unputdownable’ read.
In a nutshell: vlogging comedy with irresistible central character | The new book from the author of My Mad Fat Diary is aimed at slightly younger readers and tells the story of Millie, accidentally catapulted into stardom when her vlog about the things that matter most to girls like her (family, boys, make-up, cats) takes off. According to her mum, Millie has a good ear and a soft shoulder; she’s normally the sensible one amongst friends and family alike, but when her mum’s boyfriend’s obsessive cleaning gets too much for her she lets her heart rule and moves out to live with her dad and grandad. Yet despite her outward calm, Millie suffers from terrible anxiety. Written in a wonderfully engaging first person narrative, Millie’s story will speak directly to its audience and is funny, truthful, reassuring and very, very cheering. This is one to recommend to fans of Geek Girl or Girl Online. ~ Andrea Reece
16-year-old Holly feels like an outsider, except when she’s swimming at her local pool: “Under the surface, deep in the blue-lit water, nobody can see me. There’s nobody to judge the clothes I wear, or the way my hair frizzles”. It’s at the pool she meets Ed, who’s “not like the boys at school who are either geeky or cocky and smart-arsed and think they’re all that. He’s different”. While romantic feelings, evoked in all their dizzying wonder, swell poolside, at home the seas are stormier. Struggling with depression, Holly’s mum has “become so inward-looking that she hasn’t a clue what I do with my time”. But as Holly’s home-life begins to brighten, Ed reveals that he’s grappling with a serious domestic situation of his own. Warm-hearted, highly readable and romantic, with the bleaker elements of both teenagers’ lives handled with a sensitive lightness of touch, readers will undoubtedly root for Holly and Ed to find their happy ever after.
June 2020 Debut of the Month | At seventeen, Brooklyn hipster Cal is a successful social media journalist accustomed to living in the public eye, with a whopping 435,000 followers on the FlashFame app. But even Cal isn’t ready for the unforgiving media storm he’s thrust into when his pilot dad is shortlisted for NASA’s Orpheus mission to Mars. Initially dead against leaving Brooklyn, Cal begins to wonder whether “maybe Clear Lake, Texas, has a story out there just waiting for me to uncover.” And then there’s handsome Leon, one of the other “Astrokids”, who’s set his heart pounding before they’ve even met. On arrival, and immediately thrust into the spotlight by StarWatch reality TV show, Cal finds himself “admitting I like our new home, even this town”, which in turn “feels like I’m abandoning my old life.” Maybe this is down to his contradictory nature - Cal is anything but a straightforward teenager. He doesn’t think like one. He doesn’t speak like one. Indeed, his thought processes and dialogue can seem out of kilter with his age. He needs everything just-so, but at the same acts impulsively. For example, he can’t stop himself from broadcasting news about his dad to his followers, which - as predicted - results in him facing the wrath of StarWatch. Cal’s settling-in has a lot to do with his rollercoaster romance with Leon. It’s starts out with the thrust of a rocket launch (“This crush is strong. This crush is too powerful. This crush will be the end of me”), and then comes a crash to earth alongside tragedy striking the mission. In the aftermath of this, Cal finds himself working to expose Starwatch’s agenda, both to clear his name and save the mission, and the truths revealed sure ain’t pretty. Covering mental health issues (via Leon’s depression and Cal’s mom’s anxiety) alongside a whirlwind coming-of-age gay love story, The Gravity of Us is an entertaining YA debut that gives many underrepresented folk a chance to see themselves on the page, with the added kick of space exploration and media ruthlessness.
Interest Age Teen Reading Age 7 - In a Nutshell: love and laughs This witty comedy of modern manners will have young people snorting with laughter and quite possibly squirming with embarrassed recognition too. Poor Joe just can’t seem to get a girlfriend; they don’t like his cheesy chat-up lines – memorised from a website – and even his female best friend wants to stay just friends. A new online school dating site offers hope however and his sister and her super-cool boyfriend have all sorts of advice for Joe on ways to make himself more eligible. In the end though, it’s the old-fashioned approach that works. 21st century problems examined in an easy to read and revealing short novel! ~ Andrea Reece Particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant and dyslexic readers aged 12+ Barrington Stoke is the foremost publisher of dyslexia friendly books and those for reluctant readers. Here on Lovereading4kids we are constantly selecting new titles and refreshing our special dyslexia friendly category. Click here to view our current selection which is broken down by age range.
June 2017 Debut of the Month | In a nutshell: sensitive depiction of loss and survival Three young people, each marked by terrible loss are at the heart of this powerful YA novel. Otis lost his three year old brother in a tragic accident three years ago. He also lost the girl he loved; Meg was there when Mason died and holds herself to blame. She and her family left town after the accident and Otis has had no contact until suddenly he learns Meg is coming back. A talented swimmer, Otis is coached by a girl just a bit older, who has her own pain to deal with: Dara lost her arm in an accident which ended her hopes of a career as an athlete. Dara is tormented by phantom pains in her missing arm, the agony a vivid reminder for readers of Otis’s loss. Dara’s sharp tongue adds moments of relief to what could otherwise be almost too harrowing a story, and Garner allows all three young people a hopeful ending. ~ Andrea Reece