Kate in Waiting by Becky Albertalli

I absolutely love the books of Becky Albertalli. She writes the books I wish had existed when I was a teenager, And ‘Kate in Waiting’ did not disappoint.

I chose this to join in with ‘Pages of Pride’ over on Instagram, and it was a lovely way to start.

Kate and her best friend Andy always seem to have crushes on the same boy. And it has never been a problem, until Matt arrives in town.

This book does what Becky Albertalli does best and explores relationships of all kinds in a relatable way. You can often imagine knowing the characters or having a very similar experience to them.

Although Kate doesn’t replace Simon in my affections, she is a fantastic character and her story is a great read.

Thursday Thoughts: Graphic Novels

‘Heartstopper: Volume 4’ was recently published and, of course, I had to purchase it immediately. And then of course, I read past my bedtime because I can never leave Nick and Charlie part-way through a story. I absolutely loved the book, as I knew I would.

So, this has made me think about graphic novels. They were something that I had not really considered until the Heartstopper universe because I always thought they were only fantasy and sci-fi books. However, I have slowly started to realise that this is not entirely true. In fact, there is a whole world of wonderful graphic novels out there that cover all sorts of fabulous genres.

Now, I do have to admit that I have only really read the Heartstopper volumes (and my other love, Shakespeare manga, which I know is another genre again), but I have seen so many brilliant books being shared on bookstagram. That means the wishlist has grown.

I guess what I am trying to say is that books and genres should not be judged by their covers and that books full of illustrations are just as wonderful as books full of words, even when you are an adult.

Moonrise by Sarah Crossan

I am not sure I can do ‘Moonrise’ the justice that it deserves. Sarah Crossan’s novel in verse is one heck of a powerful story, the sort that will stay with you for eternity.

Joe has not see his brother for a long time. His brother is away. His brother is on death row. Joe visits his brother reguarly in the days and weeks leading up to his execution date, trying to get to know him again, reflecting on the events that got them there and the memories he has of his older brother as his greatest protector from childhood. It all creates a completely heartbreaking story as the family looks for hope in the darkest times, right up until the very last moment.

It also really makes you reflect on the system that is supposed to offer fair justice. I found it particularly poignant with current events in the media from America. But, also hopeful that it will encourage readers of all ages to reflect on what justice means.

This is a beautifully written book that demonstrates again the power of verse to crate a narrative full of emotion.

The Places I’ve Cried in Public by Holly Bourne

I have had my eye on Holly Bourne’s books for a while and, in a lovely bookswap for spring, I was sent ‘The Places I’ve Cried in Public’. And, I do think this is YA at its finest – this is a book that I hope all young people will read. It is quite an eye-opening story about relationships and what makes a healthy one – something that many young people may think they understand but possibly don’t.

Ameliw and her family move from Sheffield to the South of England. For Amelie, this is a huge change as she starts her new college, and is anxious about fitting in and making friends. Then she meets Reese and falls in love – or so she thinks.

As she attempts to understand the relationship she believes she had, she revisits all the places she cried in public. We embark on this journry with Amelie and, with her, we discover that Reese was not the boy she believed he was. Amelie reframes her memories and begins to see the relationships for what it really was – and education for her and for readers. Especially as experiences do not have to define us.

This is a beautifully written story – and Amelie is a great representation of the feelings, emotions and fears of so many young women. But she also demonstrates the strength of so many.

This does tackle some of the worst traits of unhealthy relationships, so some may find it a challenging read. However, it is a powerful book that shows how important YA fiction can be for its readers. I will certainly be giving more of Holly Bourne’s books a read.

The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

I love the Simonverse and was so glad that this book took me back there as my March choice for ‘The Unread Shelf Project 2021’. Becky Albertalli books are beautiful pieces of YA fiction that I honestly believe can and should be enjoyed by readers of all ages. And ‘The Upside of Unrequited’ is certainly a book I wish I could have read as a teenager.

Molly was the perfect star of the novel for me. She has all the insecurities that I remember having as a teenager – and all the worries. But, through Albertalli’s great storytelling, we see how Molly tackles world – and this is something that I think so many readers could relate to and find comfort in. Especially about the complex world of relationships of all kinds.

As always, there is also a brilliant collection of characters. Diversity is celebrated, as it should be, through these fantastic characters. However, flaws and issues within society are also tackled. These books educate as well as entertain, which, to me, is a perfect read. And, of course, there is the fact that you want to become best friends with Molly and her gang.

If you are looking for a comfort read, then this is a book I really recommend as Becky Albertalli gives us another story full of joy.

Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas

When I heard there was a prequel to ‘The Hate U Give‘, I knew I had to read it (bye, bye, book-buying ban).

This is the story of Starr’s father, Maverick: a character so many if us loved from the original story. We are with Maverick in his late teen years. He is navigating the challenges of growing up in a town where being a young black man more or less guarantees you will be a member of a gang, and all that entails. As well as finding out he has become a teenage dad – and that is something that is about to happen again.

In this book, young Maverick has a lot to deal with. Yet, he realises that this is not how his life has to be – in fact, he can break the mould. He realises that he can carve out his own destiny and become a better man.

This is a book ful of lessons for all of us about taking responsibility for our actions. And that we should not let anyone tell us what we should be, because that does not always lead to change.

You can read this book without having read ‘The Hate U Give’, but I highly recommend both. Especially as it is great to see contrasting perspectives over time – Starr and her father.

This was certainly a book that makes breaking the book buying ban worth it.

The Cousins by Karen M McManus

Around this time last year, I was going to go to an author event with Karen M McManus and Holly Jackson – and then a global pandemic struck. However, that does not stop us enjoying the books these fabulous authors write, so I was excited when ‘The Cousins’ hit the bookshops.

‘The Cousins’ is another great piece of YA fiction. In fact, I feel I have enjoyed this one the most, and I have loved them all. This has all the ingredients you expect from a great thriller – secrets, lies, unknown dark figures and a family mystery. And all this creates a brilliant page-turner (in fact, like all dedicated bookworms, I read past my bedtime because I had to know what happened).

As I always say, I don’t want to give away too much about the book, as it is a thriller. What I will say is that if you have enjoyed the other books from Karen M McManus then you will enjoy this one. I could say so much more but I don’t trust myself not to spoil it. But, please, if you love a YA thriller, go on the adventure with the cousins Aubrey, Milly and Jonah Story.

This Winter by Alice Oseman

This little book is simply a gem.

A Solitaire novella from Alice Oseman, it takes you to Christmas with Charlie and Nick. However, the focus is mainly on the Spring family, as Oseman again does not shy away from difficult but incredibly important subjects.

Christmas seems even more challenging this year, as Tori is worried about her brother Charlie. He has suffered from an eating disorder and Tori worries that this will make Christmas hard for her brother.

This sensitively written book focuses on mental health, family and romantic relationships, and will make readers really evaluate what is important at Christmas time.

This may not be your traditional festive read, but it will definitely be enjoyed by fans of the work of Alice Oseman – her brilliant natural storytelling and great illustrations.

A great piece of YA fiction that will really make you think this festive season.

Crooked by Bronwen John

It is my stop for this thrilling read on its blog tour, and I can’t wait to share my thoughts (so I hope you keep reading).

I was gifted a copy of ‘Crooked’ and I know you should not judge a book by its cover, but I was immediately intrigued by this YA thriller. And this continued as soon as I started reading.

You are immediately thrown into the action; in central London, you meet Ash and her friends as they are involved in a bit of a con. It seems to be quite a money maker for the gang, until they select the wrong mark. And, a turn for the worse, as Ash is dragged into conflict with a dangerous London gangster – or two.

Now, this is another brilliant read that I do not want to spoil for you all. However, I can say that something that I thought was excellent about this book is that there are strong, independent female leads. And they are not scared to take on the men.

There are so many twists and turns in this book that you are not sure who you trust – and who the characters trust. I just had to keep reading, keen to know what revelation would come next and who was really conning who.

So, if you love a thrilling read (and an adventure), whatever your age, then this is the book for you. So, why not pick up a copy and give it go?

Eight Pieces of Silva by Patrice Lawrence

I am always excited to read new books by Patrice Lawrence and, when ‘Eight Pieces of Silva’ hit the shelves this summer, I knew I needed to find a copy.

This book did not disappoint, and I found it a page-turner from the moment I started it. This is a mystery novel, but not in the totally usual sense.

Silva doesn’t return home after taking her parents to the airport and her sister, Becks, is worried. As time passes Becks realises her sister may need her help and finds eight clues in Silva’s room, which reveal a whole secret life Becks and her family had no idea about.

What is so brilliant about this novel is that it tackles a whole number of key issues in its well-crafted and engaging narrative. Becks deals with her complex relationship with family, friends and her own romantic relationship. As well as ideas about healthy and unhealthy ‘romantic’ relationships of others in the tale – and the importance about talking about emotions and mental health.

However, what is again wonderful about a book from the pen of Patrice Lawrence is that there is a brilliant collection of characters. And at the centre is the brilliant Becks – a strong female lead character who knows exactly who she is and exactly what she likes.

This is a fantastic YA novel which I hope many readers will enjoy. There are so many important lessons amongst the pages and, hopefully, it will encourage conversations about many of them too.