Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Books Read in March

The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli (Penguin, read via NetGalley) – I know that authors often say second books are really difficult, and sometimes I feel the same way reading them. There are some authors whose debuts I’ve loved, but whose second books have left me disappointed. Then again, there are others like Morgan Matson, Non Pratt, and Becky Albertalli (obviously a VERY incomplete list!) who have followed up an astonishingly fabulous debut with an equally brilliant sophomore book. There’s a loose link to Simon Vs here (main character Molly is cousin to Abby in that book, and both Abby and Simon appear in this one briefly) but it’s completely readable as a standalone if you’ve missed Becky’s first book. (Obviously you should then go back and read that because it’s superb though!) Narrator Molly is such an adorable character, while I also loved her twin sister. The romances running through this one are perfectly done and it’s such a gorgeously fun read.

Into The Fourth at Trebizon by Anne Digby, illustrated by Lucy Truman (Egmont, bought) – Reread of one of my favourite of the Trebizon series, with the new edition illustrated, like the rest of the series, by Lucy Truman with her gorgeous artwork. I’ve read this so many times but it’s a perfect comfort read, while Lucy’s pictures definitely add to the experience of reading it.

Girls Can’t Hit by Tom Easton (Hot Key, read via NetGalley) – With the same brilliant sense of humour he showed in Boys Don’t Knit, Tom Easton brings us the story of a girl who somehow ends up taking up boxing despite the disapproval of her family and slight bewilderment of her friends. This is a consistently funny read with a great set of characters, and I raced through it. I also loved seeing a group of friends involved in historical re-enactments, a hobby I’ve rarely seen portrayed in YA - which led to some especially hilarious scenes!

Allegedly by Tiffany D Jackson (Harper 360, bought) – This is such an intense thriller, with so many twists and turns, that I don’t want to say much for fear of spoilers. I WILL say, though, that you should absolutely read it ASAP – Tiffany Jackson gives us an incredible story and a truly memorable central character in the shape of Mary, a black girl convicted of killing a white baby when she was just 9 and now fighting to convince people that she didn’t commit the crime in order to keep her own unborn child.  A brilliantly written story which will stay in my memory a LONG time; I’m excited for whatever Tiffany writes next.

In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse by Joseph Marshall III (Harry N Abrams, bought) – Really  interesting coming of age story following a fair-haired, blue-eyed young Lakota boy on a road trip with his grandfather following in the footsteps of the famed Crazy Horse – who was once another Lakota boy with similar features to Jimmy’s, and who grew up to become one of the bravest and most renowned of the Lakota nation. The grandfather’s tales of the exploits of the famous warrior are excellent and I enjoyed finding out more about him as well as getting an insight into the modern-day life of a Lakota boy. It’s also a completely gorgeous hardback; I love the cover and Jim Yellowhawk’s wonderful illustrations really work perfectly with Marshall’s story.

All Our Wrong Todays by Elon Mastai ( Read via NetGalley) – I don’t generally do time travel, but this sounded too intriguing to pass up and requesting it via NetGalley was SUCH a brilliant decision! Starting in the 2016 we were meant to have – a wonderful utopia with unlimited energy, this follows a slacker who is the son of the man who’s invented time-travel. Despite the perfection of this world, main character Tom is left alone by a series of heartbreaks, and after a time-travel accident ends up wiping out the world and catapulting him into ‘our’ 2016 – which may seem like a nightmare world in comparison, but which has people who love him in it. He’s left to try and decide whether to ‘fix’ the universe, or to hold on to the people he cares for. Stunning voice here, genuinely unexpected twists and turns in the plot, and really lovely characters.

Truth or Dare by Non Pratt (Walker, received from publisher) – How can ANYONE be as consistently incredible as Non is? Four books, all of which are very different, all of which would be in my top 20 YA contemporaries of the last 5 years. This story of Claire and Sef, who team up to start a YouTube channel and raise money so that Sef’s brother can stay in his care home, is both moving and at times hilarious. I think Non captures modern teens better than perhaps anyone else in UKYA (and, obviously, with the amount of incredible authors writing UKYA at the moment there’s MASSIVE competition.) The dual narrative format – starting with Claire’s story, switching to Sef’s POV halfway through so we can see his version of events, and finishing off with both of them – works brilliantly. I also really appreciated the ace representation in the form of Claire’s friend Seren, who I thought was a fabulous character.

Cream Buns and Crime by Robin Stevens (Corgi, bought) – I got slightly confused here, thinking the sixth in the popular Murder Most Unladylike series was ‘just’ the short stories that have been published online before plus a couple of new ones. That was already enough for me to buy it; I’ve loved all the shorts I’ve read and Nina Tara’s gorgeous covers ensure that this is a series that’s too stunning to NOT collect in full. However there’s so much more to it than the shorts (as brilliant as they are!) with Robin talking about her inspirations, and in-character pieces by Daisy and Hazel on codebreaking, famous detectives, and other gems. I think this is one of the best ‘companion’ type books I’ve read for a series – you can clearly feel Robin’s love for her characters in everything she writes. In addition, the shorts are superb and it’s fabulous to see George and Beanie both take centre stage as narrators for separate stories without Daisy and Hazel.

Book of the month: Wow, this is tough! Non and Becky’s books were both fabulous, while Tiffany blew me away with one of the strongest YA debuts I’ve read in a long time. However Elon Mastai’s All Our Wrong Todays takes this for me; it really is unlike anything I’ve read in ages and I LOVED it.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Things That Will Make Me Immediately Pick Up A Book

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.

Boarding schools - I grew up reading Jennings, the Chalet School, and the Trebizon series. I'm not sure I'd ever have wanted to go to a boarding school myself, but they're fascinating to read about.

A favourite: So many to choose from, but Lucy Truman's gorgeous illustrations for the recent Egmont editions of Anne Digby's Trebizon books work perfectly with the delightful stories.

Books told in letters, emails, etc – I’m a huge fan of books that aren’t told just as straight narratives, and love letters, e-mails, notes, transcripts, and so on being added in.

A favourite: I really love Jaclyn Moriarty’s quartet of contemporary novels about penpals in two Australian schools, particularly Finding Cassie Crazy and Dreaming of Amelia.

Childhood sweethearts/crushes reuniting – I am not hugely romantic, to be honest, but I have a soft spot for stories about people who were in love as children finally getting together.

A favourite: Molli Moran’s One Song Away is a gorgeous story of a girl moving back home and persuading her old best friend to pose as her fake boyfriend. The pair fall for each other, of course…

Small town settings – Coming from a fairly small village where I knew most of my immediate neighbours really well, it’s kind of strange being in London and barely knowing anyone who lives near me. I love reading about small towns where everyone knows each other’s business and looks after each other.

A favourite: Sweet Pizza by GR Gemin – Gemin’s first two novels, Cowgirl and Sweet Pizza, are both gorgeously evocative MG stories set in the same small Welsh town. I think this one captures the feel of the place perfectly, as main character Joe tries to spice up his family’s run-down cafĂ© with a little Italian flavour in tribute to his heritage.

Big families – I find family dynamics really interesting to read about, especially when there’s either a large number of siblings or several generations living in close proximity.

A favourite: When We Collided by Emery Lord – Jonah and Vivi are a stunning couple in this contemporary novel, but I really adored Jonah’s relationship with his siblings and mother, and the way Vivi got to know them all.

Wales – I’m from Wales, and rarely get to read books set there, so on the occasions I do it REALLY sticks in my mind.

A favourite: Jenny Nimmo’s The Snow Spider trilogy (especially the first book) was a childhood favourite which is still a fabulous read (and works both as a fantasy for children, and a study of grief.)

Asexual representation – Okay, compared to books set in Wales, books with ace characters are FAR rarer. However they’re becoming more common, at least, and I’m super-excited by this.

A favourite: This Song Is (Not) For You, by Laura Nowlin, is a stunning love triangle between a straight girl, straight guy and an ace guy. Super-romantic and awesome!

‘End of an era’ feeling – I love reading about or watching something coming to an end, whether that’s a time period, a relationship, or something else. (A couple of favourite films of mine include The Last Days of Disco, where the characters catch the end of the disco craze, and Cat Ballou, set in the dying days of the Old West.)

A favourite: Paper Towns by John Green captures the strange, slightly surreal feeling of a year group’s final weeks in school better than any other book I’ve read.

Personal recommendations – I don’t really bother looking at average ratings, or reviews from people I don’t know, but there are a few bloggers and friends who can always interest me in a book – especially my best friend Debbie, who blogs at Snuggling on the Sofa.

A favourite: A recent rec from Debbie was I Have No Secrets by Penny Joelson, a really exciting read about Jemma, a girl with severe cerebral palsy who can’t communicate with anyone. Her carer’s boyfriend taunts her by telling her he’s responsible for a murder that has recently taken place. When the possibility of a way to communicate becomes available, her life faces change.

Mismatched teams – I love the relationships possible when a team has to work together to solve a problem, especially when they wouldn’t normally get on.

A favourite: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, and sequel Crooked Kingdom, are fabulous fantasy heist novels about a sextet of daring adventurers trying to pull off a huge job.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Twenty Things I've Read 14

My links recap continues, after a break of a few weeks for various reasons. 

As mentioned in week 1, there are some sites which could quite conceivably fill this list between them EVERY WEEK as they constantly produce amazing posts - and I find it way too hard to single them out! So instead, I will just list them at the start of each post. If you're not reading the following, you are REALLY missing out.

Safe Space

Media Diversified
The Pool
Teen Vogue 

Addition: Given the current political climate, I would strongly suggest also reading EVERYTHING Celeste Pewter tweets; she is incredibly insightful and her tweets on US politics have helped me figure out which things going on are reasonably worrying and which are absolutely terrifying.

The Twenty

I've been reading lots of graphic novels recently but am still looking for more recommendations - brilliant post on Meet The World with 30 diverse graphic novels!

Jameela Khan, Haleema Mirza and Fawzia Mahmood wrote for Gal-Dem about their upcoming game Aaliyah, which sounds superb.

Gal-Dem are in the running for the Dazed 100 by the way - vote for them (or whoever else you're a huge fan of) here!

I saw Power Rangers recently and really enjoyed it - it's great to see a positive portrayal of an autistic character! A review of the film goes into more detail on that portrayal over on Neurodivergent Representation in Media.

As a fellow singleton, I really loved Samantha Shannon's piece in the Daily Mail on why she loves being single.

I loved Sarah Shaffi's April preview of books coming out this month!

Michelle Dean has awesome podcast recs in The Guardian.

Swapna Krishna had superb advice for Marvel on how to bring in new female readers.

Grace Petrie wrote on feminism and transphobia.

Melinda Salisbury wrote a stunning piece about her grandmother for The Guardian.

I've been trying to decide whether to try 13 Reasons Why on Netflix (I had major issues with the book) and was extremely grateful to Courtney from the Internet for this post about it.

Really great thread here by Bobu Babalola about upcoming TV series Guerrila.

Danielle Dash wrote an outstanding post about Rachel Dolezal,

I loved Simon Smith's piece for the TES on why getting rid of staff ISN'T the answer to challenges faced by headteachers.

Stripes announced the 4 authors who'll be featured in their upcoming anthology!

I really liked this VODzilla list of Netflix underrated gems.

Autostraddle's 25 New Queer YA Books To Read This Spring And Summer has some amazing recs too, as does Huffington Post's 9 Great YA Novels For Politically Engaged Readers.

I also adored this interview with Whitney Gardner, author of You're Welcome, Universe. And finally, another great interview, as Teen Vogue talked to Hanna Nowinski, who wrote the fabulous Meg and Linus!

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Blog Tour: Katy Cannon's Road Trip Essentials

As a huge fan of Katy Cannon's I'm really excited for her new novel And Then We Ran, which I've just started reading and am loving! To celebrate, Katy is here talking about her Road Trip Essentials as part of the blog tour.

Over to you, Katy...

It’s a long standing ambition of mine to go on a proper road trip. The sort that involves driving through the night, living on snack food, and stopping at fascinating, out of the way spots along the journey. 

The closest I’ve come was when my husband and I toured Texas, shortly after our wedding. We were visiting relatives over there, but also took a week or so to explore the Lone Star State on our own. And there was a lot of it to explore. We’d put the sat nav on and the helpful woman would say “in 400 miles, turn left.” 

But it was great fun. We put the radio on loud (country music, of course), we stayed at roadside motels, we ate a lot of pancakes… And it definitely gave me a feel for what I think are the essential components of a great road trip. 

Your mileage, of course, may vary…

Katy Cannon’s Top 5 Road Trip Essentials

1.      A cool car. You’re going to be spending a lot of time in it, so you either want something phenomenally comfy with all mod cons, or something so damn cool that you don’t care how uncomfortable you are.

2.      A soundtrack. Whether it’s as background music while you survey the landscape around you, pumping out loud to keep you awake when you drive through the night, or just something you can belt out at the top of your voice as you drive, music is essential. (If you want to check out the road trip soundtrack for And Then We Ran, check it out on my blog.)

3.      Snacks. And plenty of them. There’s not a lot to do in a car, and you need to keep your energy up, so yeah, snacks. And stops at diners and service stations along the way. Basically, think sugar and burgers. This is not the time for dieting. Road trips are unhealthy. Embrace it. 

4.      A notebook and pen. You never know what you’re going to see on a road trip. You’re travelling through new surroundings, meeting new people - and you don’t want to forget a moment of it. If nothing else, it’s great inspiration for your next book! So keep a notebook and pen handy, and keep taking notes. 

5.      Great company. This is the most important point on the list. After all, without someone to banter with, sing along with, share the driving, bicker about directions, and talk about anything and everything, what’s the point of taking the road trip at all? 

And Then We Ran is published today by Stripes Publishing! Check it out at all good bookshops, and don't miss the rest of the blog tour. 

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Sophia Bennett on Artists' Models and Role Models

Thrilled to have Sophia Bennett, author of Following Ophelia (published by Stripes) on the blog today to talk about some inspirational women to celebrate International Women's Day!

Artists’ models and role models
Hi Jim

Thanks for having me! I’m so happy to be writing for you on International Women’s Day.

I regularly talk to schools about Winning Like a Girl, because, even in the twenty-first century, it’s hard. One of the things that shines through is that we need role models. Lots of them. Thank God for films like Hidden Figures, showing so brilliantly that bold women have been there throughout history, changing the world and pushing boundaries. We need to tell their stories.

Researching art and history for my new book, I found Victorian England littered with women I wanted to write about. It wasn’t all Florence Nightingale and Ada Lovelace – brilliant though they were. Following Ophelia is set in the thriving, scandalous London art world of the 1850s. Here are snapshots of four of my favourite, art-related nineteenth century girls.

Julia Cameron

I first came across Julia Margaret Cameron through her sister, Sarah Prinsep, a society hostess who entertained the Pre-Raphaelites. They were two of the amazing seven Pattle sisters, born in India, whom I’ve talked about in my blog post for the History Girls this month.

Of the seven, Virginia was known as Beauty, Sarah was Dash, and Julia was Talent. In 1863, when she was 48, Julia’s daughter gave her a camera. You can imagine it: a huge, wooden box-like affair with brass fittings. She instantly fell in love with photography and became a pioneer. Soon she could be found wandering around in skirts stained with chemicals, setting up shoots in the garden of her home. But she wasn’t a rich dilettante photographer.  This is what Marta Weiss, curator of the recent V&A exhibition has to say about her in ‘When mistakesmake the art’, by Amanda Ruggieri: 

“She was immediately controversial. Her photographic contemporaries criticised her work for being out of focus – which she says she did deliberately – for being ‘slovenly’, as they put it. For leaving flaws, like splotches and swirls you get from the uneven application of chemicals, or smearing things when the plate was still wet. Those kinds of flaws are things that the other photographers would have discarded as mistakes. She seemed to either accept, at the very least, or embrace them.”

The Rosebud Garden of Girls 
Even in the 1860s, Julia was pushing photography in a fascinating new direction, treating it as an art form. Of all the photographers around at the time, she’s the one I would have picked to do my portrait: the Annie Liebowitz of her time. Except, where Annie Liebowitz is all about control and detail, Julia was about surprise. I love that.

Another exhibit marking the 200th anniversary of her birth, Julia Margaret Cameron: Influence and Intimacy, runs until 31 March at London’s Science Museum. Go see it if you can. (The Science Museum shop is awesome, by the way. It’s worth a visit for that alone.)

Berthe Morisot

How many Impressionist painters can you name? Monet, Manet, Renoir, Cezanne …? Berthe Morisot first exhibited at the Salon de Paris in 1864, the year after Julia Cameron got her camera. She was twenty-three. She exhibited with the Impressionists from their first exhibition in 1874, and was described by Le Temps as “the one real Impressionist in this group”. Her paintings, often of women in quiet moments at home, have a natural intimacy to them, and she painted a lot, fitting it in around her family life.

When I think of the Impressionists, I tend to imagine a large, well-fed Frenchman in a blue smock, sitting in his garden or by a river. But Berthe was just as good, as her fellow artists and critics of the day recognised. She was truly one of them, and there from the start.

Lizzie Siddal

Lizzie was the inspiration for my book, Following Ophelia. As well as being Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s lover, muse and, eventually, wife, she posed for Millais’s famous painting of Hamlet’s Ophelia, floating in a stream, close to death.

Lizzie was a striking beauty with deep-set eyes and the classic red hair we think of as Pre-Raphaelite today. She posed by lying in bath of water for the Ophelia painting and nearly died of the cold she caught. But she wasn’t just a dedicated muse: she was an artist herself, supported by John Ruskin, and her self-portraits show how objective she was about herself and her looks.

She died of laudanum poisoning soon after she was married. A sad, romantic life, with a sad, Romantic ending. My character, Mary, who is inspired by her career, will not be following in her footsteps all the way.

Christina Rossetti

Christina wasn’t an official member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, but as Rossetti’s sister, she contributed to their early magazine, The Germ. Here is a poem she wrote about an artist’s muse in 1860. It’s my favourite: a woman, watched by a man, as seen by another woman. I love its quiet feminism, bubbling under the surface. It’s in the book, and says it all, really.

In An Artist’s Studio

One face looks out from all his canvases,
One selfsame figure sits or walks or leans:
We found her hidden just behind those screens,
That mirror gave back all her loveliness.
A queen in opal or in ruby dress,
A nameless girl in freshest summer-greens,
A saint, an angel -- every canvas means
The same one meaning, neither more nor less.
He feeds upon her face by day and night,
And she with true kind eyes looks back on him,
Fair as the moon and joyful as the light:
Not wan with waiting, not with sorrow dim;
Not as she is, but was when hope shone bright;
Not as she is, but as she fills his dream.

Monday, 6 March 2017

100 Recommendations For Secondary School Librarians: Part 4 of 10

Reposting my intro to this feature. Parts 1-3 can be found HERE.

Inspired by a tweet last week, I thought I'd have a go at providing a list of some fairly recent books I thought librarians should definitely be aware of!

Help needed! I've been asked to support a secondary school library to buy new books. All recommendations appreciated. Please RT Thank you
— Jo Clarke (@bookloverJo) January 4, 2017

A few things - firstly this is only covering 2012 onwards (except for two exceptions which are SO good and SO underrated that I can't leave them out!) Secondly I have tried to go for a wide range of genres and I've tried to be inclusive in choices of authors. I've limited myself to one book/series per author but even so there are some AMAZING books that haven't made it in. In some cases that's because I had lots from a particular genre and had to make tough decisions, in some cases it's because talking to librarians has left me feeling that lots of people already have certain books in stock and it would be more useful spreading the word about slightly lesser-known ones. (There ARE a few really big ones in here anyway, for various reasons.) I've also tried to go for mostly UK authors - and obviously all books here are published in the UK, as far as I'm aware.

Basically what I'm trying to say is this is IN NO WAY a definitive list and shouldn't be taken to be THE 100 BOOKS YOU MUST HAVE or anything. However it is a list of 100 books which I have (mostly) read and loved or (in a few cases) haven't read but have had recommended to me incredibly highly, and which I think would be great ones to have in your secondary school library.

I'm aiming to split this up over ten parts, probably fortnightly. Each week will have six books or completed series from 2012 - 2016, two ongoing series, and two coming out this year to watch out for. 

So, here's part 4!


The Curious Tale of the Lady Caraboo by Catherine Johnson (Corgi)

Based on the true story of Mary Willcox, a girl who was discovered wandering the streets and managed to convince the wealthy family who found her that she was a princess from the South Seas, this is a fascinating historical novel looking at truth, lies, relationships and how easy it is to get people to believe something they wish to be true. Brilliant characterisation and a fabulous story. (There's an early scene of sexual assault, by the way, which is well-handled and completely necessary, but something to be aware of if you're recommending to the younger end of YA.)

A Beautiful Lie by Irfan Master (Bloomsbury) 

Bedridden with cancer, Bilal's bapuji doesn't realise how far the plan for the Partition of India has progressed. Bilal has kept the news from him as he was worried that it would kill him – but when he accepts that death is imminent, Bilal swears to at least save him the pain of having his heart broken before he passes away. Along with his friends Chota, Manjeet and Saleem, Bilal swears to stop him from ever finding out. 1947 India, though, is a dangerous place for everyone, and there are people in their town who don't think that Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus should be doing anything together.

This MG is a beautiful story of family and friendship, with some incredibly exciting scenes. It's extremely thought provoking, raising the question of whether Bilal is right to lie to his bapuji to protect him, or whether the dying man deserves to be told the truth even if it will hurt him. The book also does a brilliant job of evoking 1940's India and really increased my interest in this time period.

Black Sheep by Na’ima B Robert (Frances Lincoln Children’s Books)

Sixteen-year-old Dwayne is a badman – a wannabe rapper who hangs around with other gang members and doesn't see any future in education. Misha, high-flying university-bound daughter of a local councillor, should have nothing in common with him, but when they meet there's an undeniable attraction, and they start to date in secret. Misha makes Dwayne want to be a better person – but with his old life tempting him back at every turn, can he make a break from it, or will he be drawn back in?
Outstanding dual narrative with two incredible lead characters; Dwayne's words, in particular, dance and jive and shimmy, while Misha has a wonderfully strong and clear voice. They're a pair of stunning characters with really strong chemistry between them, and I couldn't wait to see how their relationship would develop. There's also a really great portrayal of Islam as Dwayne sees how the faith is helping a friend of his. (It's #ownvoices, by the way.)

The Last Leaves Falling by Fox Benwell, formerly known as Sarah Benwell (Definitions)

Gorgeous and heartbreaking story of a Japanese teen diagnosed with ALS facing his impending death, with the help of friends he makes over the internet and then meets offline. I really loved main character Sora and the new friends he makes, as well as the relationship he has with his mother and grandparents. Despite the hard-hitting topic of death, there's a core of optimism and hope which stops the book from being too bleak, and it's surprisingly uplifting.

Brock by Anthony McGowan (Barrington Stoke) 

Finding a gang of bullies digging up a badger set, Nicky is unable to do much to stop them. But when he realises one cub has escaped, he sets out to save it. Barrington Stoke constantly publish stunning books which are perfect for reluctant/struggling readers, but so brilliant they can be enjoyed by everyone. This is one of my absolute favourites of theirs, along with Non Pratt's Unboxed from 2016 - both Tony and Non have a real gift for producing incredibly memorable characters with brilliant development, and wonderful stories, even over the course of a short book. 

Run by Kody Keplinger (Hodder Children's Books)

This book about the friendship between a wild girl and a much quieter girl, who's legally blind, sounds incredible. I haven't read it yet, but have heard lots of amazing things. The strong bond between the two - who ride across Kentucky trying to find Bo's dad, keeping out of the reach of the police - is getting wonderful reviews and I think this will be the first #ownvoices book I've read by a legally blind author.

Ongoing series

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir (Harper Voyager)

In a world where defiance is met with death, elite - but unwilling - soldier Elias meets Laia, a slave who has infiltrated the military academy he attends to try and help rebels rescue her brother. The world-building here is outstanding - it's a fantasy land, but inspired by ancient Rome - and I love the main characters and the development, while the plot is brutal (another for older teens) but thrilling.

Songs About A Girl by Chris Russell (Hachette Children's Books)

So many wonderful #boybandlit books came out last year; I'm a huge fan of Harmony Jones's Girl vs Boyband and Sophia Bennett's Love Song, but I think this is just about my favourite. Charlie is a teen photographer caught in the orbit of hot new boy band Fire and Lights, and I love her character and those of the boys in the band, and the rivalry between them. It's an incredibly fun read, although it ends in a massive cliffhanger - I can't wait for the sequel!

2017 Books (Both of these are already published, yay!)

Allegedly by Tiffany D Jackson (Harper 360)

I got this at the weekend and am so excited after hearing amazing things about it! Mary is a pregnant black teenager who, when she was 9, is alleged to have killed a white baby she and her mother were looking after. Mary has to fight her past in order to try and keep her own baby. Dahlia Adler and other people I respect have said that this is an incredible read, mixing a stunning mystery with compelling writing and amazing characters. Definitely one for older teens - it sounds like tough going, but superb.

Unconventional by Maggie Harcourt (Usborne)

One of the few UKYA novels I've read which I'd describe as an out-and-out romance (rather than another type of story with romantic elements), this is perfect for fans of Stephanie Perkins and similar authors. Lead character Lexi Angelo is a convention kid, who's always helped her dad run big events. Love interest Aidan Green is a superstar young author who she meets and is initially annoyed by, but when she reads his book she falls in love with his writing. The couple are seriously swoonworthy and the setting of various conventions is brilliant!