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Lily is a sixteen-year-old living in Manchester. It is nearly five years since her father’s death, and she is soon to return to her birthplace in Nigeria to reunite with her mother and siblings for the anniversary. As cold rain thunders on the streets of Moss Side she looks back over her young life and wonders . . . how did she get here?

As a young girl in Lagos, Lily is the baby of her large family. The daughter of a Nigerian father and Irish mother, she lives in a dual reality: one where moments of bright colour and tenderness exist alongside a sense of danger just beneath the surface of her apparently idyllic life. This is a tension that nobody dares speak out loud and it teaches Lily an early lesson: always blend in, always play the right part.

But the truth cannot stay hidden forever. Things in Lagos itself, and within her family, soon reach breaking point. As her city and her family implode into chaos around her, and at school her skin colour marks her out from the crowd, Lily struggles to know how to blend in. And when her mother sends her away to school in England, Lily’s sense of identity is challenged in even more painful ways.

My Life as a Chameleon is a powerful story of resilience and belonging, about family secrets and how they can destroy even the deepest bonds. It is a story about finding your place in the world and realising you deserve to be there.

Title : My Life As A Chameleon
Author : Diana Anyakwo
Format : Physical
Page Count : 304
Genre : YA Fiction
Publisher : Atom Books
Release Date : May 4, 2023

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★

Micky’s 4 star review

Overlooked and unseen
Finding a place
Coming of age

My Life As A Chameleon was a refreshing read, engaging and insightful. Written in elegant and accessible prose, this story brought you into the world of Lily, a 15 year old narrator who had lived between Nigeria and Manchester. Lily was removed from her peers by skin colour but also from her siblings by age difference. She grew up amongst difficult parental relationships and illness.

While I think of this as a contemporary YA story, it was told between the 1980s and 1990s. However you want to align this genre-wise, it was a coming-of-age story, a finding of roots. This story took a back and forth viewpoint, life in Nigeria in earlier years, then reflecting back on a current era in Manchester, UK.

Lily seemed lonely and isolated in so many ways, it made me think of Trevor Noah’s memoir and his similar experience of being unlike others. Lily’s narrative was compelling as she navigated her family relationships and peer friendships with difficulty.

This was something of a melancholy tale, it didn’t glamorise life nor Lily’s struggles and I appreciated the rawness of her experiences.

Thank you to Atom Books for the review copy.


Daisy and Noah have the same plan: use the holiday concert to land a Julliard audition. But when they’re chosen to play a duet for the concert, they worry that their differences will sink their chances.

Noah, a cello prodigy from a long line of musicians, wants to stick to tradition. Daisy, a fiercely independent disabled violinist, is used to fighting for what she wants and likes to take risks. But the two surprise each other when they play. They fall perfectly in tune.

After their performance goes viral, the rest of the country falls for them just as surely as they’re falling for each other. But viral fame isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. No one seems to care about their talent or their music at all. People have rewritten their love story into one where Daisy is an inspiration for overcoming her cerebral palsy and Noah is a saint for seeing past it.

Daisy is tired of her disability being the only thing people see about her, and all of the attention sends Noah’s anxiety disorder into high speed. They can see their dream coming closer than it’s ever been before. But is the cost suddenly too high?

Title : You, Me, And Our Heartstrings
Author : Melissa See
Format : Physical
Page Count : 320
Genre : YA Contemporary
Publisher : Scholastic
Release Date : May 5, 2022

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★

Micky’s 4 star review

Cute with substance
Disability is all they see

I’ve been meaning to read this book for an age because of the cerebral palsy representation. What I found was authentic representation of mild CP and a true picture of the prejudice and microagressions people with disabilities face. But honestly while this factor was a pivot for the story, the plot was so much more than that.

These main characters were just a rush to read about. They were cute but belieavable, talented and from different sides of the tracks. Their differences were a problem in some ways but not in others. The music focus made for great reading and plot.

I liked the contrast of supportive and less supportive parents. I understood Daisy’s hurt but I also recognised the challenges her parents had too. Noah’s family was a huddle of love and I enjoyed seeing how they handled his issues, especially how the brothers rallied round.

The plot had some predictability, in that a contemporary YA romance is going to go a certain way, but that didn’t decrease the enjoyment I had in reading. I looked forward to picking it back up and read it in 24 hours.

I definitely look forward to more from this author.

SERENDIPITY by Various, edited by Marissa Meyer

Love is in the air in this is a collection of stories inspired by romantic tropes and edited by #1 New York Times-bestselling author of Gilded, Marissa Meyer.

The secret admirer.

The fake relationship.
The matchmaker.

From stories of first love, unrequited love, love that surprises, love that’s been there all along, ten of the brightest and award-winning authors writing YA have taken on some of your favourite romantic tropes, embracing them and turning them on their heads. Readers will swoon for this collection of stories that celebrate love at its most humorous, inclusive, heart-expanding and serendipitous.

Contributors include Elise Bryant, Elizabeth Eulberg, Leah Johnson, Anna-Marie McLemore, Marissa Meyer, Sandhya Menon, Julie Murphy, Caleb Roehrig, Sarah Winifred Searle and Abigail Hing Wen.

Title : Serendipity
Author : Various
Format : Paperback
Page Count : 320
Genre : Contemporary YA
Publisher : Faber & Faber
Release Date : January 4, 2023

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★

Micky’s 3 star review

Serendipity was overall likeable but like any anthology some stories grabbed on tight and others a bit less. It started strong for me but ended a bit weak. As is often the way, some stories really didn’t work for me. This anthology had a trope underlying each story and sometimes my favourite tropes weren’t my favourite reads and other surprised me in the best way. For example, I don’t usually like secret admirer stories but I did here. My favourites were:

Bye bye Piper Berry by Julie Murphy (fake relationship)
Auld Acquaintance by Caleb Roehrig (best friend)
Keagan’s Heaven On Earth by Sarah Winfred Searle (secret admirer)

The really is something here for any romance lover and the takes on the tropes were generally fun. I do think it’s a great collection for dipping into for short stories when you don’t want a novel length book but need that quick romance feeling.

Thank you to pridebooktours & faberchildrens for the #gifted review copy.


People like me are devils before we are angels.

Hanan has always been good and quiet. She accepts her role as her school’s perfect Muslim poster girl. She ignores the racist bullies.

A closed mouth is gold – it helps you get home in one piece.

Then her friend is murdered and every Muslim is to blame.

The world is angry at us again.

How can she stay silent while her family is ripped apart? It’s time for Hanan to stop being the quiet, good girl. It’s time for her to stand up and shout.

A stunning debut about finding the strength to speak up against hate and fear, for fans of The Hate U Give and I Am Thunder.

Title : You Think You Know Me
Author : Ayaan Mohamud
Format : Physical ARC
Page Count : 368
Genre : Contemporary YA
Publisher : Usbourne Pubishing
Release Date : February 2, 2023

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★

Micky’s 4 star review

Insider young person’s view
Racism in the UK
Pervading hope for better

I read this blurb and knew the book would hurt, and so it should. Reading this was tense because I came to care for Hanan. Her life had it’s tough elements, then the things that happened around her and to her increased that difficulty ten fold. Hanan had a strong family but it was fraying in many ways.

As a character Hanan was determined and strong but she could be bruised, battered and crushed by events and people. The events in this book felt authentic, relatable to things I’ve read in the media but haven’t experienced myself. That said, I feel like I lived and learnt through this book, carried away by the characters and stories.

Don’t expect a comfortable read here, expect discomfort, some bubbling rage and frustration with processes and people. Expect heartache too, a longing and some hope on the horizon. I’ve been purposely vague in my thoughts because this is a read to experience for yourself.

Ayaan Mohamud has a compelling narrative voice that seeks to advocate and empower. Please check out some Muslin reviewers on this title.

Thank you to Usbourne Publishing for the review copy.


In this heart-wrenching coming-of-age story about family, grief, and second chances, seventeen-year-old Emmy returns home for the summer to uncover the truth behind her sister Rose’s disappearance—only to learn that Rose had many secrets, ones that have Emmy questioning herself and the sister Emmy thought she knew.

When her sister Rose disappeared, seventeen-year-old Emmy lost a part of herself. Everyone else seems convinced she ran away and will reappear when she’s ready, but Emmy isn’t so sure. That doesn’t make sense for the Rose she knew: effervescent, caring, and strong-willed. So Emmy returns to their Ohio hometown for a summer, determined to uncover clues that can lead her back to Rose once and for all.

But what Emmy finds is a string of secrets and lies that she never thought possible, casting the person she thought she knew best in a whole new light. Reeling with confusion, Emmy decides to step into Rose’s life. She reconnects with their childhood best friend and follows in Rose’s last known footsteps with heart-wrenching consequences.

An honest and intimate look at sisterhood and the dark side of growing up, Sarah Everett’s latest novel is a stunning portrayal of how you can never truly know the ones you love.

Title : How To Live Without You
Author : Sarah Everett
Format : eARC
Page Count : 392
Genre : Contemporary YA
Publisher : Clarion Books
Release Date : May 17, 2022

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★

Micky’s 4 star review

Coming of age with a punch
Emotive, challenging and rich
Mental illness

I know from reading and loving Sarah Everett’s previous release to expect my heart in my mouth, difficult subject matter and beautiful writing; I got all those things. This contemporary YA was a tough read for sure but it dealt with issues in depth and with authenticity and respect. I do advise checking out the content warnings for this book which I’ve put at the end of this review, but please be aware they have some spoiler elements. Also do make sure you go all the way to the author’s note at the end.

This book was about sisters, broken families, mental illness and lies. It dealt with trust issues, friendships, first experiences and betrayal. There was much to this read but not too much. Get ready to hand over your heart to Emmie and Rose, Levi and their dad. Those were my favourite characters. I was left rather conflicted by Chris in all the ways but especially after the later reveals.

How To Live Without You is the kind of read that builds and builds, so that when at about 3/4 of the way through, some reveals started coming, I was half expecting some of it but other parts shocked the heck out of me. I literally didn’t put this book down much over the 24 hours it consumed me.

I am becoming a staunch fan of the authentic writing that Sarah Everett delivers on and the themes she frames around her characters.

Thank you Clarion Books for the eARC.

**Content Warnings** depression, suicidal ideation.


Something Certain, Maybe is a powerful novel about first love, friendships and embracing the uncertainty of an unknowable future, from Sara Barnard, winner of the YA Book Prize.

Rosie is ready for her life to begin, because nothing says new life like going to university. After years of waiting and working hard, she’s finally on the road that will secure her future.

Except university turns out to be not what she hoped or imagined, and although she’s not exactly unhappy – really – she might be a little bit worried that she doesn’t really like her course much. Or her flatmates. Or, really . . . anything? But it’s normal to be homesick (right?) and everything will have settled in a month or two, and it’s totally fine that her friends seem so much happier than she is, and that the doctors don’t seem to know what’s wrong with her mother.

And then she meets Jade, and everything starts to look a little brighter. At least, it does if she’s only looking at Jade. But is first love enough when everything else is falling apart?

Title : Something Certain Maybe
Author : Sara Barnard
Format : Physical
Page Count : 336
Genre : YA Contemporary
Publisher : Macmillan Children’s Books
Release Date : July 7, 2022

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★

Micky’s 4 star review

The first year of uni life
Trying to fit in
First LGBTQ+ relationship experiences

As a fan of Sara Barnard’s previous books and in particular the two books related to Something Certain, Maybe (Beautiful Broken Things and Fierce Fragile Hearts), picking this book up was a no-brainer. But you don’t have to have previous knowledge of Rosie, Caddy and Suzie, it can be read as a standalone. Content warnings at the bottom of this review.

This book focused on Rosie but with her two buddies there in the background. Leaving Brighton, her mum and friends behind was a bittersweet experience for Rosie but she had a plan. This story was all about that first year of her plan and it didn’t play out how she expected.

Rosie spread her bisexual wings in this book and she dealt with some microagressions in relation to her bi-ness but any issues were dealt with really well on the page. Rosie’s blossoming relationship with Jade was lovely reading and the positive focus of the plot. Rosie navigated some mental health challenges which felt authentic as well as deep family worries. Talking of authenticity this university lecturer (me) thought this first year at uni was written so darn well. Kudos to the real feels that were conveyed and the whole reason why I read and enjoy YA…it helps me connect with my students’ experiences.

I loved seeing these three characters in an adult (young adult) light. Yes, there were dramatic moments and if you know these three, that felt just right. It felt like a sweet reward getting another book with these characters.

Thank you to Pride Book Tours and Macmillan Children’s Books for the review copy.

Content warnings: anxiety, panic attacks, discussion of previous suicide attempts, bi-erasure

THE SILVER CHAIN by Jion Sheibani

Uplifting and unputdownable, a coming-of-age verse novel about family, mental health and the healing power of music.

Azadeh is a budding violinist on a music scholarship at an expensive private school, dealing with all the usual trials of being sixteen: trying her best to fit in, keep up and have fun. Then as her mum’s mental health spirals out of control, Azadeh’s world starts to unravel. Her friendships fall away, and as much as she and her dad try to keep a lid on everything, their problems insist on taking over. Feeling alone, it’s her violin that finally helps Azadeh to find her way back to her friends, herself and even her mum.

A beautifully packaged, highly important and irresistible novel about mental health struggles and the solace we find in music and rhythm, friendship, family and honesty.

Title : The Silver Chain
Author : Jion Sheibani
Format : Physical
Page Count : 352
Genre : Contemporary YA
Publisher : Hot Key Books
Release Date : June 23, 2022

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5

Micky’s 3.5 star review

Told in verse
Parental mental illness
Poles apart friendships

There was a lot to unpack in this story told in verse. I really enjoyed the format where some sections were more lyrical than others, and some more straight narrative. Azadeh was something of a prodigious violinist, having a scholarship at a private school. In fact, Azadeh’s family were from humble means setting her apart financially from her peers but also in term of her heritage. Azadeh had a Persian father and I think an English mother although I wasn’t certain. Azadeh had some longings towards her origins that seemed unfulfilled.

Azadeh sought solice in her music, her violin, the notes, the message of the music. When things went wrong at home however, she lost her connection to music for some time. That seemed to untether her own mental wellbeing.

There were some slightly toxic friendships in this book, some lack of cultural understanding from friends and racist microagressions. Azadeh found this hard to navigate and it was uncomfortable to witness.

There was a strong storyline of mental illness and while that was good representation, I didn’t always feel that it was fully unpacked. It felt a little unfinished in the end from that perspective.

The most enjoyable aspect of this book was in it’s narrative style of verse. I found it very easy to read and listen to.

Thank you to Hot Key Books for the early review copy.


Monique lives a perfect life – a preacher’s daughter and the girlfriend of the town’s golden boy. But it’s not that simple. She’s torn between her parents who want the pure virginal daughter, and her boyfriend, Dom, who wants to explore the more intimate side of their relationship.

Tired of waiting, her boyfriend breaks up with her, spurring Monique to discover she has a medical condition that makes her far from perfect and she concocts a plan to fix her body and win him back.

With the help of her frenemy, Sasha, the overly zealous church girl Monique’s mum pushes her to hang out with, and Reggie, the town’s bad boy, Monique must go on trips to unknown and uncomfortable places to find the treatment that will help her. But in doing so, she must face some home truths: maybe she shouldn’t be fixing her body to please a boy, maybe Sasha is the friend she needed all along and maybe Reggie isn’t so bad at all.

This is a powerful journey towards loving yourself, about body and sex positivity, with heart, humour, family intrigue and a dynamic and delicious love triangle.

Contains explicit references to sex and sexual health.

Title : Confessions of an Alleged Good Girl
Author : Joya G0ffney
Format : eARC
Page Count : 314
Genre : Contemporary YA
Publisher : Hot Key Books
Release Date : May 3, 2022

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★

Micky’s 4 star review

Sex positive
Growing up in church
Confidences and friendships

This is one of the best examples of a sex-positive story I’ve ever read and this is hugely important in contemporary YA. Goffney crafting an impactful story that was also threaded with lightness so that it didn’t feel heavy. I blasted through this book in a day and I loved it.

Monique found herself under significant pressure to have sex, while also wanting to, but not being able to. There’s a physical condition afoot that was really good to see amongst these pages and while there were characters that were shady (hello Dom, I did not like you) there were a bunch of great characters in Reggie, Sasha and Aunt Dee. There was a whole layer of complication to this story about being brought up in a straight-laced church household where the parents were hugely unrealistic about life, sex education and natural adolescent development. I couldn’t decide if I really hated these parents but I guess it just diluted to dislike.

Reggie, the man of young men, I loved this guy on the page. His understanding, his humour, his respect were everything. I loved how these two brought great character growth in one another.

Confessions of an Alleged Good Girl was a YA read of the year for me and I highly recommend.

Thank you to Hot Key Books for the early review copy.

MY EYES ARE UP HERE by Laura Zimmermann

Insightful, frank, and funny, My Eyes Are Up Here is a razor-sharp debut about a teenage girl struggling to rediscover her sense of self in the year after her body decided to change all the rules.

A “monomial” is a simple algebraic expression consisting of a single term. 30H, for example. Fifteen-year-old Greer Walsh hasn’t been fazed by basic algebra since fifth grade, but for the last year, 30H has felt like an unsolvable equation – one that’s made her world a very small, very lonely place. 30H is her bra size – or it was the last time anyone checked. She stopped letting people get that close to her with a tape measure a while ago.

Ever since everything changed the summer before ninth grade, Greer has felt out of control. She can’t control her first impressions, the whispers that follow, or the stares that linger after. The best she can do is put on her faithful XXL sweatshirt and let her posture – and her expectations for other people – slump.

But people – strangers and friends – seem strangely determined to remind her that life is not supposed to be this way. Despite carefully avoiding physical contact and anything tighter than a puffy coat, Greer finds an unexpected community on the volleyball squad, the team that hugs between every point and wears a uniform “so tight it can squeeze out tears.” And then there’s Jackson Oates, newly arrived at her school and maybe actually more interested in her banter than her breasts.

Laura Zimmermann’s debut is both laugh-out-loud funny and beautifully blunt, vulnerable and witty, heartbreaking and hopeful. And it will invite listeners to look carefully at a girl who just wants to be seen for all she is.

Title : My Eyes Are Up Here
Author : Laura Zimmermann
Format : Paperback ARC
Page Count : 352
Genre : Contemporary YA
Publisher : Dutton Books
Release Date : June 23, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★

Micky’s 3 star review

Made me sad
Body negativity

This book is about boobs, growing up with them, living with them, accepting them (or not). I am of the big-boobed population, so in some ways I could relate to the protagonist in this story but equally, I really did not relate to her. I did feel really sorry for her, not for her big boobs but for her self-perception and poor body image. The book made me incredibly sad, to be honest.

What I did like about the story was Greer finding a sport she loved and how she navigated the boob problem through playing, made her address her day to day boob-dom. Honestly, sometimes this story was just painful to watch play out and read.

The side story of Jackson and Greer was the nicest thing about the plot if only Greer could look away from her ‘girls’ a moment or two. I did love Jackson’s final declaration at the end, that was worth the wait.

Maybe this book will help young people with big boobs feel seen while trying not to be seen (if you get my drift) but I would have loved to have seen a more positive stance on this issue.


A powerful coming-of-age story about chance encounters, injustice and how the choices that we make can completely change our future. The second YA novel from the critically acclaimed Danielle Jawando, perfect for fans of Angie Thomas, Gayle Foreman, Jennifer Niven and Nikesh Shukla.

‘Jawando’s writing is incredibly raw and real; I felt completely immersed’ – Alice Oseman

When fourteen-year-old Shaq is stabbed outside of a busy shopping centre in Manchester, three teenagers from very different walks of life are unexpectedly brought together. What follows flips their worlds upside down and makes Chantelle, Jackson, and Marc question the deep-rooted prejudice and racism that exists within the police, the media, and the rest of society.

Title : When Our Worlds Collided
Author : Danielle Jawando
Format : Physical
Page Count : 368
Genre : Contemporary YA
Publisher : Simon & Schuster UK
Release Date : March 31, 2022

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Micky’s 5 star review

Hits hard in the heart and gut
Manunian grit
Real, emotional and beautiful

When Our Worlds Collided was a read that revealed it’s title meaning after the first chapter…and what a chapter that was. This trio of black teens, found themselves together after a tragedy and naviagated it both together and alone. Chantelle, Jackson and Marc all had their own difficulties to live with but Shaq brought them together.

This threesome of new friendship in Manchester all faced different inequalities whether that was walking down the street, just being in class or trying to live in the care system. Some of the things that happened in this book made me rage. The organisational prejudice, the police and the media, were hideous. Ms Edwards was a complete tool and as an educator myself, I hated her with a passion but I know people like her exist which is, I guess, why I hated her so much. But then we had Gran, Mrs Cohen and Dry Eileen who frankly was a hug in human form; I adored her.

This story gripped me from the first few pages and while there is nothing easy about the themes in this book, the writing made it easy. Danielle Jawando has a way of not just bringing these characters to life, but also of revealing their hearts and minds. The mancunian narrative, the places and the locations, brought the city and culture to life. The grief journeys these teens and adults walked were relatable even if the exact experiences were theirs only.

I cannot say how emotional (across the range) this book got me at times. The injustices, the sadness, the love, the beauty, the connections and more than anything, the potential and possibilities were everything. This book was another triumph from Danielle Jawando who has securely placed herself as superb writer of black UK contemporary YA.

Pack your tissues, folks.

There are lots of content warnings for this book, feel free to DM me for details.

Thank you to Simon YA for the early review copy.