WE ARE INEVITABLE by Gayle Forman

A heartbreaking story about finding yourself and your people, from the bestselling author of If I Stay, a major film starring Chloë Grace Moretz. For fans of The Perks of Being a Wallflower, John Green and Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist.

‘I got this whole-body feeling . . . it was like a message from future me to present me, telling me that in some way we weren’t just bound to happen, that we had, in some sense, already happened. It felt . . . inevitable.’

So far, the inevitable hasn’t worked out so well for Aaron Stein.

While his friends have gone to college and moved on with their lives, Aaron’s been left behind in the Cascade Mountains of Washington State, running a failing bookshop with his dad, Ira. What he needs is a lucky break, the good kind of inevitable.

And then he meets Hannah. Incredible Hannah – magical, musical, brave and clever. Could she be the answer? And could they – their relationship, their meeting – possibly be the inevitable Aaron’s been waiting for?


Title : We Are Inevitable
Author : Gayle Forman
Format : Paperback
Page Count :288
Genre : Contemporary YA
Publisher : Simon & Schuster UK
Release Date : June 1, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 3 star review

Headlines:
Melancholy bordering on sad
Injections of hope
Families grieving

I found We Are Inevitable to be an incredabily melancholy read. The main character Aaron was burdened with so many stresses and emotions that a 19 year old shouldn’t have that I got why he was the way he was. Still, I needed those bits of hope that were occasionally pieced into the story.

This was a story for booklovers, about a booklover who owned a bookstore. However, even the bookstore had tragedy in its shelves. Aaron’s father, Ira was difficult to fathom, his mother a puzzle and his brother created an unresolved bundle of emotion. There were key themes of grief in this book and you need to be ready for that.

There were a number of clever uses of other books, book quotes and how books can soothe and solve within the story and I really appreciated those nuggets. I didn’t buy into the romance and the story let me know why that was.

One of our largest shelves has split down the middle, like the chesnut tree in Jane Eyre. And anyone who’s read Jane Eyre knows what that portends.

I found this book a bit of a pacing roller coaster but it still kept my attention. I did feel the emotion of the culmination and that was satisfying. Overall this was a book I liked but didn’t love.

There are other triggers in this book that I haven’t mentioned, so please look for those on other reviews or DM me for details.

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

HANI AND ISHU’S GUIDE TO FAKE DATING by Adiba Jaigirdar

Everyone likes Humaira “Hani” Khan—she’s easy going and one of the most popular girls at school. But when she comes out to her friends as bisexual, they invalidate her identity, saying she can’t be bi if she’s only dated guys. Panicked, Hani blurts out that she’s in a relationship…with a girl her friends absolutely hate—Ishita “Ishu” Dey. Ishu is the complete opposite of Hani. She’s an academic overachiever who hopes that becoming head girl will set her on the right track for college. But Ishita agrees to help Hani, if Hani will help her become more popular so that she stands a chance of being elected head girl.

Despite their mutually beneficial pact, they start developing real feelings for each other. But relationships are complicated, and some people will do anything to stop two Bengali girls from achieving happily ever after.


Title : Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating
Author : Adiba Jaigirdar
Format : eARC
Page Count :352
Genre : Contemporary YA/LGBTQIA+
Publisher : Hot Key Books
Release Date : May 25, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
Bisexual fake dating trope
Parental pressures
Toxic friendships
Prejudice

This book, and Hani & Ishu as characters in particular, secured my interest in this story very quickly. Adiba Jaigirdar once again set this story in Ireland with the backdrop of a Bengali heritage, cultures and traditions.

Hani and Ishu brought some stark differences to one another as well as some similarities. I enjoyed the spikey-ness of Ishu alongside Hani’s open and generous nature. Ishu was from an Indian heritage with no faith in the background while Hani was from a Bengali muslim family. Seeing these two cultures intersect without clashing was really superb storytelling; differences don’t have to be polarised.

These two were high schoolers, 16 and 17 years old, one out to her family and the other not. They felt somewhat set apart from their peers at school but there were some really toxic friendships afoot that took time to be revealed. There were also some slices of family problems, parental pressures and drama. The fake dating trope was pretty sweet and solidified a friendship with chemistry.

Hani declares she’s going to drop me home like we’re some antiquated heterosexual couple and not two queer teens who don’t even have access to a car.

These two stole my heart with a delightful but real story.

Please check out some own voices reviewers on bisexuality and Bengali perspectives. There are also a number of triggers in this story, so please look for those if you need to or DM me for more info.

LORE by Alexandra Bracken

Every seven years, the Agon begins. As punishment for a past rebellion, nine Greek gods are forced to walk the earth as mortals, hunted by the descendants of ancient bloodlines, all eager to kill a god and seize their divine power and immortality.
Long ago, Lore Perseous fled that brutal world in the wake of her family’s sadistic murder by a rival line, turning her back on the hunt’s promises of eternal glory. For years she’s pushed away any thought of revenge against the man–now a god–responsible for their deaths.

Yet as the next hunt dawns over New York City, two participants seek out her help: Castor, a childhood friend of Lore believed long dead, and a gravely wounded Athena, among the last of the original gods.

The goddess offers an alliance against their mutual enemy and, at last, a way for Lore to leave the Agon behind forever. But Lore’s decision to bind her fate to Athena’s and rejoin the hunt will come at a deadly cost–and still may not be enough to stop the rise of a new god with the power to bring humanity to its knees.


Title : Lore
Author : Alexandra Bracken
Format : Paperback
Page Count : 545
Genre : Contemporary YA Greek Mythology
Publisher : Quercus Books
Release Date : January 5, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 3.5-4 star review

Headlines:
Like a super hero film but YA/greek mythology contemporary
Complex, full attention required
Gritty with a few brutal moments

Lore was a clever concept, greek mythology brought into the modern day NYC with the kind of fast pace that reminded me of a Marvel or DC movie. Lore was a descendent of Medusa’s bloodline and every seven years, there was a fight amongst ancient greek gods (kinda). It is a really complex plot that is slowly unfurled for the reader. What helped me with the complexity was being willing to go along with the story even when I didn’t quite know what was happening or why.

I was interested from the early pages, I liked the characters of Lore, Miles, Castor and Van. There were a crop of nasty characters and I enjoyed Lore’s strong feelings about other families and gods. The story never once lost pace and because it was complex, I’d advocate a one book approach and keeping going with the read to keep the plot straight. There was lots of action, fighting, some strategy, quick thinking and a bit of gore.

Sometimes you just have to survive to fight another day. Even I knew those were bad odds.

I was pretty grateful we read this for bookclub because I learnt a few more things I hadn’t picked up on in our discussions and we helped one another with plot points we hadn’t quite grasped. So it’s definitely not a perfect read but it’s still worth your time and investment. I think it would make a great film.

LOVE IS FOR LOSERS by Wibke Brueggeman

A laugh out loud look at first love, loss and trying to avoid the girl of your dreams.

What a stupid expression that is in the first place: To fall in love.
Like you fall into a ditch or something.
Maybe people need to look where they’re going.

As far as Phoebe Davies is concerned, love is to be avoided at all costs. Why would you spend your life worrying about something that turns you into a complete moron? If her best friend Polly is anything to go by, the first sniff of a relationship makes you forget about your friends (like, hello?), get completely obsessed with sex (yawn) and bang on constantly about a person who definitely isn’t as great as you think they are.

So Phoebe isn’t going to fall in love, ever.
But then she meets Emma . . .

Love is for Losers by Wibke Brueggemann is a hilarious, life-affirming novel about all the big stuff: love, sex, death, family, heartbreak, kittens . . . and kisses that turn the whole world upside down.


Title : Love Is For Losers
Author : Wibke Brueggeman
Format : Paperback ARC
Page Count : 508
Genre : Contemporary YA
Publisher : Macmillan Children’s Books
Release Date : May 28, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 3 star review

Love Is For Losers has a strong and powerful British narrative voice, that is told in a diary format. I loved this format and it accounts for why there are so many pages in the book, it isn’t necessarily a long book but spacing for the diary accounts for some of this.

Phoebe, the protagonist is the kind of character with a big chip on her shoulder, shes spikey, hard to like and I only just got to like by the end. Despite her character, there are many reasons to still enjoy the book because not every protagonist regurgitates hearts and rainbows. Phoebe is on a journey in this book, reconciliation with the state of her maternal relationship, finding first love and losing friends. I found it to be a compelling read.

I did have struggles however with Phoebe, some early attitude towards disability was annoying, even though it was corrected. She was pretty judgey with all of those around her and she didn’t really endear herself to the reader. She came across as immature, judgmental and in need of some familial love. I felt annoyed at her mum and found her to be selfish, so I got where some of that element came from.

Overall, this was a solid read with many enjoyable facets. The diary writing style made it very engaging and kept me invested. There was great open dialogue about sex and sexuality for this mid-teen age group. I would definitely read this author again.

Thank you to Macmillan Kids UK for the early review copy.

KATE IN WAITING by Becky Albertalli

Contrary to popular belief, best friends Kate Garfield and Anderson Walker are not codependent. Carpooling to and from theater rehearsals? Environmentally sound and efficient. Consulting each other on every single life decision? Basic good judgment. Pining for the same guys from afar? Shared crushes are more fun anyway.

But when Kate and Andy’s latest long-distance crush shows up at their school, everything goes off script. Matt Olsson is talented and sweet, and Kate likes him. She really likes him. The only problem? So does Anderson.

Turns out, communal crushes aren’t so fun when real feelings are involved. This one might even bring the curtains down on Kate and Anderson’s friendship. 


Title : Kate In Waiting
Author : Becky Albertalli
Format : Paperback
Page Count : 400
Genre : Contemporary YA
Publisher : Penguin
Release Date : April 22, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 3 star review

Headlines:
Sweet, fun and musical
Friendships colliding and together
School crushes

This was an easy, fun and light read from Becky Albertalli. Kate In Waiting was uplifting with strong themes of friendship; I mean we’re not surprised about that, are we? Musical theatre fans will gush towards this book because it’s framed around a high school drama/musical theatre group. While I’m not a groupie of that kind of entertainment, I still enjoyed the backdrop and got on board with the ride.

This read was all about the bonds within the group, but friendships were tested as crushes grew. It was funny throughout with mild tension at times and it brought a welcome light-vibe to my week. Becky Albertalli has a skill of getting you involved in friendships groups and she can make you connect with more than the MC; I did in this.

While this wasn’t my Albertalli favourite it was fun and easy to sink into.

Side note: I don’t ever want to see the phrase f**kboy or f-boy 63 times again.

Thank you Penguin for the early review copy.

SOME OTHER NOW by Sarah Everett

This Is Us for teens, this luminous and heartbreaking contemporary novel follows a girl caught between two brothers as the three of them navigate family, loss, and love over the course of two summers. For fans of Far From the TreeEmergency Contact, and Nina LaCour.

Before she kissed one of the Cohen boys, seventeen-year-old Jessi Rumfield knew what it was like to have a family—even if, technically, that family didn’t belong to her. She’d spent her childhood in the house next door, challenging Rowan Cohen to tennis matches while his older brother, Luke, studied in the background and Mel watched over the three like the mother Jessi always wished she had.

But then everything changed. It’s been almost a year since Jessi last visited the Cohen house. Rowan is gone. Mel is in remission and Luke hates Jessi for the role she played in breaking his family apart. Now Jessi spends her days at a dead-end summer job avoiding her real mother, who suddenly wants to play a role in Jessi’s life after being absent for so long. But when Luke comes home from college, it’s hard to ignore the past. And when he asks Jessi to pretend to be his girlfriend for the final months of Mel’s life, Jessi finds herself drawn back into the world of the Cohens. Everything’s changed, but Jessi can’t help wanting to be a Cohen, even if it means playing pretend for one final summer.


Title : Some Other Now
Author : Sarah Everett
Format : Paperback ARC
Page Count : 368
Genre : Contemporary YA
Publisher : HMH Books
Release Date : February 23, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ ★ .5


Micky’s 4-4.5 star review

Headlines:
Family, found-family, brothers
Feelings brimming over the page
Beautiful

Some Other Now pulled you, emotion-long into the book and I just knew it was going to be tough; tough and stunning. This was a read that reminded of some of my favourite family-friend orientated books like Far From The Tree.

Jessi the protagonist had long existed in her surrogate family with Ro, Luke and their mother Mel. Their home was her home but this book tracked a couple of years where life changed beyond recognition and there were difficult themes from the off. Jessi had an unusually difficult real-family home life and the changes there over time were interesting.

These brothers were both endearing characters. Ro and Luke were so different and great guys. The friendships in this book were gorgeous and complicated, they were heart-warming and heart-breaking. I couldn’t put the book down, I existed in it, witnessing, revelling and sometimes chewing my lip with tension.

I did want a little more from the pages as it wrapped up but even so, it satisfied me. The story was fabulous and the characters suited the tale. Some Other Now was not a depressing read, it was an arresting read, gritty and real with beauty.

Hearts will break and heal over this book.

Thank you to Melia Publishing for the early review copy.

FIRST DAY OF MY LIFE by Lisa Williamson

There are three sides to every story… It’s GCSE results day. Frankie’s best friend, Jojo, is missing. A baby has been stolen. And more than one person has been lying. Frankie’s determined to find out the truth and her ex-boyfriend Ram is the only person who can help her. But they’re both in for a shock… EVERYTHING is about to change.


Title : First Day of My Life
Author : Lisa Williamson
Format : Paperback
Page Count : 355
Genre : Contemporary YA
Publisher : David Fickling Books
Release Date : January 7, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
Coming of age
Figurative shaking of fist
Testing friendships

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Lisa Williamson’s books. Why, you ask? Because she carves a quintessential British feel to the coming-of-age tales she crafts. Not only that, every book I’ve read of hers has been so unusual but credible and First Day of My Life was no exception.

The story was told from the perspective of three friends, Frankie, Jo-jo and Ram, whose lives were linked and woven with complexity. I did not expect much of what initally happened in the first third of the book but it was so heart-breakingly real, so that I felt right there in the situation. I was so damn worried for one of the friends, I got ridiculously invested.

This whole investment of mine led me to me rage-reading some sections as the adults in one of the situations (I’m being so careful of spoilers here) were so selfish and willfully blind. I wanted to rush in and advocate for one of the threesome.

If this were a TV drama, I’d be yelling at the screen right now, begging the heroine to wake up and smell the coffee, to stop being so bloody naive.

Yeah, that quote captured my feelings!

This read brought moments of angst, stress, brimming eyes, sweetness but it managed to wrap me up in a warm hug at the end. I am so happy to add this to my YA collection. Read this if you like coming-of-age, a story you’ve not read before and if you like to read about great characters with a good slice of reality.

Thank you to David Fickling Books for the early review copy.

DEAR JUSTYCE by Nic Stone

In the stunning and hard-hitting sequel to the New York Times bestseller Dear Martin, incarcerated teen Quan writes letters to Justyce about his experiences in the American prison system.

Shortly after teenager Quan enters a not guilty plea for the shooting death of a police officer, he is placed in a holding cell to await trial. Through a series of flashbacks and letters to Justyce, the protagonist of Dear Martin, Quan’s story unravels.

From a troubled childhood and bad timing to a coerced confession and prejudiced police work, Nic Stone’s newest novel takes an unflinching look at the flawed practices and ideologies that discriminate against African American boys and minorities in the American justice system.


Title : Dear Justyce
Author : Nic Stone
Series : Dear Martin #2
Format : E-ARC
Page Count : 368
Genre : Contemporary YA
Publisher : Simon & Schuster Children’s UK
Release Date : October 6, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 5 star review

I wouldn’t have believed it, but this read even surpassed Dear Martin for me and I think that was somewhat to do with the continuation and connection to these characters spinning on from book one. Jus was his epic self but he was a side character in Quan’s story.

Nic Stone wrote realistically, painfully so, transmitting all the feelings and hurt. Quan who I didn’t like all that much in Dear Martin, carved a special place in my heart. Being able to see the world through his perspective, his narrative and reflections, truly was something; something profound.

The journey, the bad decisions that often seemed like the only decisions, the injustices, were all falling off the page. If you like a read with impact, this is it. There were so many lines that touched me, kicked me in the gut and spat me out.

But he was telling me how growing up, he was this real good kid until some stuff happened in his family. So he went looking for a new family. Like a lot of us do.

Nic Stone has that ability to touch me and teach me without preaching to me. This duo of books is on my required reading list now and I have a feeling I will revisit myself and definitely continue to rec the socks off these books.

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

MY HEART UNDERWATER by Laurel Flores Fantauzzo

After Corazon’s mother catches her kissing her older female teacher, Corazon is sent to the Philippines to live with a half brother she barely knows. There she learns more about loss and love than she could have ever imagined.

Corazon Tagubio is an outcast at her Catholic school. She’s attending on scholarship, she keeps to herself, and her crush on her teacher Ms. Holden doesn’t help anything. At home, Cory’s less-than-perfect grades disappoint her mom and dad, who are already working overtime to support her distant half brother in the Philippines.

When an accident leaves her dad comatose, Cory feels like Ms. Holden is the only person who really sees her. But when a crush turns into something more and the secret gets out, Cory is sent to her half brother. She’s not prepared to face a stranger in an unfamiliar place, but she begins to discover how the country that shaped her past might also change her future.

This #ownvoices story takes readers on a journey across the world as Cory comes to understand her family, her relationships, and, ultimately, herself.


Title : My Heart Underwater
Author : Laurel Flores Fantauzzo
Format : eARC
Page Count : 288
Genre : YA contemporary/LGBTQIA
Publisher : Quill Tree Books
Release Date : October 20, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ .5


Micky’s 3.5 star review

This was a gritty LGBTQIA coming-of-age story that moved from the US to the Phillipines. If you like messy family drama, this one will fulfill that remit. It had an inappropriate teacher-student relationship which I struggled with somewhat but there was a satisfying developing in the main character’s understanding over that element which helped how I felt.

It was a story of two halves for me, a more gripping first half, full of drama but a slower-paced second half that was wonderfully rich with Filipino culture. The main character Cory was bounced around out of her control, forced to travel back to the Phillipines but it proved an positive experience in the end. I have no personal experience of the Phillipines however, but it was brought to life with description for me.

Family drama was the core context to this story and I can’t say I liked any of her family but Bea slowly did grow on me. I felt like almost no-one was fighting Cory’s corner or trying to understand her evolving sexuality or personality. The catholicism was strong in this story and not often viewed in a favourable light.

My Heart Underwater was an interesting read and a solid debut. I welcomed this story’s Manila context and enjoyed a fresh voice from this author.

Please also check out own voices reviewers on this title.

Thank you to Harper 360 YA for the early review copy.

ALL THIS TIME by Mikki Daughtry & Rachel Lippincott

Kyle and Kimberly have been the perfect couple all through high school, but when Kimberly breaks up with him on the night of their graduation party, Kyle’s entire world upends—literally. Their car crashes and when he awakes, he has a brain injury. Kimberly is dead. And no one in his life could possibly understand.

Until Marley. Marley is suffering from her own loss, a loss she thinks was her fault. And when their paths cross, Kyle sees in her all the unspoken things he’s feeling.

As Kyle and Marley work to heal each other’s wounds, their feelings for each other grow stronger. But Kyle can’t shake the sense that he’s headed for another crashing moment that will blow up his life as soon as he’s started to put it back together.

And he’s right.


Title : All This Time
Author : Mikki Daughtry & Rachel Lippincott
Format : eARC
Page Count : 336
Genre : Contemporary YA
Publisher : Simon & Schuster UK
Release Date : September 29, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★


Micky’s 2 star review

I’m sorry to say this story didn’t work for me on any level, so I’m going to keep my review short. I really enjoyed this author duo’s FIVE FEET APART, so I was eager to see another story from them. The cover is pretty and it felt like a style that fitted with their previous book.

This story takes the reader through death, loss, grief, healing, recovery and yet, does it really? From the first few pages, this story forced a seemingly emotional story on the reader. It felt too much, too soon. The protagonist Kyle was going through so much and yet I had a sneaking suspicion.

Honestly, the story didn’t relent, lurching from one emotional event to another, with Kyle, Sam and Kim then Kyle and Marley. I found the plot utterly ridiculous when at 65% what I suspected was coming, was realised. How I limped to the end, I’m unsure. This felt like an immature plot and read for me and I’m gutted to be saying that so plainly. I suspect this will work on a surface level for teen readers and for that I’m glad.

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

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