THE BLACK KIDS by Christina Hammonds Reed

Perfect for fans of The Hate U Give, this unforgettable coming-of-age debut novel explores issues of race, class, and violence through the eyes of a wealthy black teenager whose family gets caught in the vortex of the 1992 Rodney King Riots.

Los Angeles, 1992

Ashley Bennett and her friends are living the charmed life. It’s the end of senior year and they’re spending more time at the beach than in the classroom. They can already feel the sunny days and endless possibilities of summer.

Everything changes one afternoon in April, when four LAPD officers are acquitted after beating a black man named Rodney King half to death. Suddenly, Ashley’s not just one of the girls. She’s one of the black kids.

As violent protests engulf LA and the city burns, Ashley tries to continue on as if life were normal. Even as her self-destructive sister gets dangerously involved in the riots. Even as the model black family façade her wealthy and prominent parents have built starts to crumble. Even as her best friends help spread a rumor that could completely derail the future of her classmate and fellow black kid, LaShawn Johnson.

With her world splintering around her, Ashley, along with the rest of LA, is left to question who is the us? And who is the them?


Title : The Black Kids
Author : Christina Hammond Reeds
Format : e-ARC
Page Count : 368
Genre : Contemporary YA
Publisher : Simon & Schuster UK
Release Date : August 4, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

THE BLACK KIDS is a compelling look back at a black teen’s life in the Rodney King riots era. This couldn’t resonate more with recent events if it tried, but this was more so focused on Ashley’s realisation about her personal identity. I loved the era and the music but it was hard to like Ashley’s crew of friends.

Ashley was living a less usual life for a black teen, living in a white neighbourhood, going to a mainly white school and choosing to have only white friends. Both at school and at home, she lived a life of privledge and had lost some of her black identity along the way, as her parents aimed to keep her safe, well educated and give her a ‘better’ life.

My parents and grandparents have made it so that Jo and I know nothing. We know nothing of crack or gangs or poverty….We are, according to my father, spoiled rotten little brats.

This story was the unfurling of contemporary events at the time, prompting Ashley to pause, think about who she was, who her friends were and what direction she wanted to go. She had a pretty eclectic family mix and I really liked her sister and that side story. The school friends however, were all superficial friendship with a bit of vile mean girl under the surface. I welcomed seeing Ashley spread her friendship wings.

“Since when do you listen to so much black shit?”
“I’m black,” I say.
“Yeah, but you’re not, like, blackity black,” she says.

This was a full and deep story despite it coming from a seemingly flighty teen. There was great character development and weaving in of the riots of that time. I was absorbed throughout and I really enjoyed the writing. Highly recommended.

Thank you to Simon & Schuster UK for the early review copy.

FIVE LITTLE LIARS by Amanda K. Morgan

I Know What You Did Last Summer meets One of Us is Lying in this fast-paced suspense thriller following five teens who must cover up the suspicious death of their teacher.

Nothing ruins summer vacation like a secret . . . especially when that secret is a dead teacher.

Ivy used to be on top of the social ladder, until her ex made that all go away. She has the chance to be Queen Bee again, but only if the rest of the group can keep quiet.

Tyler has always been a bad boy, but lately he’s been running low on second chances. There’s no way he’s going to lose everything because someone couldn’t keep their mouth shut.

Kinley wouldn’t describe herself as perfect, though everyone else would. But perfection comes at a price, and there is nothing she wouldn’t do to keep her perfect record – one that doesn’t include murder charges.

Mattie is only in town for the summer. He wasn’t looking to make friends, and he definitely wasn’t looking to be involved in a murder. He’s also not looking to be riddled with guilt for the rest of his life . . . but to prevent that he’ll have to turn them all in.

Cade couldn’t care less about the body, or about the pact to keep the secret. The only way to be innocent is for someone else to be found guilty. Now he just has to decide who that someone will be.

With the police hot on the case, they don’t have much time to figure out how to trust each other. But in order to take the lead, you have to be first in line . . . and that’s the quickest way to get stabbed in the back.

Perfect for fans of Chelsea Pitcher, Karen M. McManus and Holly Jackson!


Title : Five Little Liars
Author : Amanda K. Morgan
Format : Paperback
Page Count : 368
Genre : YA Thriller
Publisher : Simon & Schuster UK
Release Date : June 11, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 3 star review

This was a fast-paced teen thriller, a little out of the realms of reality but a page-turner nonetheless. I found some elements predictable and the cast of characters were broadly unlikeable but it kept the plot spinning.

The story was told in multiple POV, all students taking a college-level summer psychology class in high school. Oh the irony of the psychology of this bunch of teens. Out of the this cast of five characters, there were only a couple I took to, the rest were conceited, trouble-makers or plain old mean. All that said, the teacher was plain evil.

The story took a spiral of events, panic and then lies in a familiar pattern but one that works. I did call the final twist very early on though. There were other twists that I didn’t predict however and it did keep me reading.

FIVE LITTLE LIARS was somewhat high drama teen-feeling. I read a lot of YA, but this felt particularly teeny to me with a lack of balance in the characteristics. I reminded myself that someone was dead and high drama was perhaps an appropriate response but there was just something about how it was written that sometimes made my eyes roll (like a teen).

I read this book in an afternoon, it kept me entertained and it was a switch up from genres I’ve been reading. I definitely think it has something to lend to the YA thriller scene and would appeal particularly to young adult readers.

Thank you to Simon & Schuster UK for the finshed review copy.

YES NO MAYBE SO by Becky Albertalli & Aisha Saaed

Jamie Goldberg is cool with volunteering for his local state candidate – as long as he’s behind the scenes. There’s no way he’d ever knock on doors to ask people for their votes…until he meets Maya.

Maya Rehman’s having the worst Ramadan ever. Her best friend is too busy to hang out, her summer trip is cancelled, her parents are separating and now her mother thinks the solution to her problems is political canvassing – with some awkward guy she hardly knows …

Going door to door isn’t exactly glamorous, but maybe it’s not the worst thing in the world. After all, the polls are getting closer – and so are Maya and Jamie. Mastering local activism is one thing. Navigating the cross-cultural crush of the century is another thing entirely.


Title : Yes No Maybe So
Author : Becky Albertalli & Aisha Saaed
Format : Paperback ARC
Page Count : 368
Genre : Contemporary YA
Publisher : Simon & Schuster UK
Release Date : February 4, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5


Micky’s 3.5 star review

This is a gift of a contemporary book that bravely tackles the political climate we live in. On top of this, YES NO MAYBE SO is loaded with cuteness. In this way, it balances the serious themes with some lightness very well.

YES NO MAYBE SO had two quirky and endearing characters in Jamie a Jewish teen and Maya a Muslim teen. They were childhood friends but they hadn’t seen one another for a long time. Suddenly, they were coerced into canvasing for a political leader’s election together. Along the way were a bunch of humps in the road, the personal humps were sad but more impactful were the polarising political issues affecting their cultures and faith. The writing was approached in just the right way, it was compelling, it wasn’t preachy and it immersed you in the personal stories of racism, prejudice and ignorance. I can’t speak to the representation of faith or culture in this book but both authors are own voices, that said, please also search out own voices reviews.

There was the sweetest of slow-building connections with these two, it was cutely awkward, especially with Jamie’s knack for saying the wrong thing. There was a lot of cringey, fun moments that made me laugh. I liked that these two were not immediately drawn to one another, at least Maya wasn’t but friendship and camaraderie was a persuasive allure. I did like Maya and Jamie but I didn’t always connect to their wider stories and the side characters. The wider stories were relevant and I think I just wanted something more from the storytelling.

This was a cute, joyful read that didn’t evade real life and politics. There aren’t that many books embracing this kind of context and so I say bravo to Albertali and Saaed for this.

Thank you to Simon and Schuster UK for the review copy.