You’ll Be the Death of Me by Karen M. McManus

Whenever I see that there is a new book from Karen M. McManus, I always have to ensure I have a copy – and it was exactly the same with ‘You’ll Be the Death of Me’.

I am a huge fan of crime fiction and really enjoy when it collides with YA fiction. And Karen M. McManus does this well.

However, I was not instantly gripped with the start of this book. I think I found the characters a little difficult to engage with and was not sure how it was going to lead to a thrilling read.

Yet, once the pace picks uo and we are drawn into the mystery, I enjoyed the book, and the characters became more engaging. I even thought I had solved it – or at least caught on to one of the clues; only to be thrown into confusion when things continued not to be quite as they seem.

This was not my favourite of the novels from the pen of McManus, but it was still a satisfying piece of YA crime fiction, and I continue to be a fan.

They Both Die in the End by Adam Silvera

I feel a little late to the party with this YA masterpiece, although, as it is on the shortlist for the ‘Waterstones Book of the Year‘ I don’t feel quite as bad.

I was inspired to read this book after an online book event a few months ago. The concept of the book sounded absolutely fascinating and I was surprised, as a huge fan of YA, that I had missed out on reading it.

Mateo and Rufus become ‘Last Day Friends’ when they both receive the call that it is their last day of living. Together they embrace making the most of their last day and reflect on what has come before. It is quite a journey for both of them, but it certainly feels more dramatic for Mateo. And your heart breaks as the pair find love together, and you know that it will not be the complete happy ending you would wish for them both.

I did find this book powerful and it really is one that does not leave you for a long time. In fact, it made me think of the path my life has taken and if there are things I should seize the chance to do. A wonderful piece of YA fiction.

Blood Moon by Lucy Cuthrew

YA fiction is probably one of my favourite genres and ‘Blood Moon’ is an excellent example of this. And this is a book that is full of incredible messages and lessons for young people (and adults alike).

This book is written in blank verse and has a beautiful rythmn to it as you read it. But, this also makes the message clear and accessible.

‘Blood Moon’ is about period shame, the impact of social media on young people and sometimes not knowing how to handle a situation for the best. This is a book that should be read by all young people to support their understanding of growing up and some of its challenges. And many may think that this is a book only targeted at girls, but boys would find an education amongst these pages too.

Having been lucky enough to meet Lucy Cuthew at ‘The Tasting Notes Live’ event, I have more respect for this book an the positive motivation behind it. (And, Sara Pascoe loves it, which is pretty cool).

Wranglestone by Darren Charlton

The rookie error of a bookworm – needing an emergency book because you have finished the one you have with you. However, often that leads to some wonderful book discoveries, and that is how I found ‘Wranglestone’. I was aware of the book but did not know a great deal about it.

‘Wranglestone’ is a book about acceptance, but wrapped up in a zombie story. Wranglestone is a settlement of those that are ‘alive’, trying to stay safe from the ‘dead’. Peter lives with is dad and is in love with Cooper (although he is pretty sure he does not see him). However, Cooper has seen him and together they find out that the life they have accepted may not all be as it seems.

I really enjoyed this book – and the message that it delivers to its readers. This would not always be my first choice of book, but I am so glad that I took a chance on it, because it is a brilliant YA read.

As Good As Dead by Holly Jackson

We have been reunited with Pip for one final time as we reach the end of her trilogy. Like so many, this was a most anticipated read of 2021 for me. I was so excited to see how Holly Jackson would conclude this for us all.

You can feel the tension from the first page of this YA thriller. Pip is clearly suffering from the events of her last case, but there is still a mystery to solve. Who is taunting her and stalking her? And why? And is it linked to the case of the Duct Tape Killer and another miscarriage of justice?

This book has everything we love: Pip, Ravi, Pip’s family and friends, and her usual determination. However, as much as I enjoyed reading this book, I am not sure if all of the action was ‘realistic’ or true to the Pip we know. I realise that this is about Pip dealing with trauma and her own ideas about a miscarriage of justice, but I was just not completely convinced I could see some of the behaviour as true to her previous actions.

But, don’t get me wrong, I loved the book and, like so many, I am sad that we have come to the end of Pip’s story. And I am definitely imagining the best future for her…and Ravi.

Holly Jackson has given us a wonderfully engaging YA trilogy, and I hope that we will hear more from her soon.

Boy Queen by George Lester

I absolutely loved this YA book and feel that I could stop there. This is honestly one of the most fabulous books I have ever read.

Robin is gay, has a great group of friends and absolutely loves to perform; in fact, in his eyes, his whole future happiness rests on getting into drama school. However, when life appears to be taking a different turn, he begins to enter the world of drag and starts on a real journey of self-discovery.

What makes this book so wonderful is not just Robin’s journey into becoming a drag artist, but also all the key issues it tackles. It takes a look at healthy and unhealthy relationships – between all sorts of people that enter into our lives, As well as what makes a positive relationship with yourself. And, the prejudice that sadly the LGBT+ community faces every day.

This book will make you laugh and cry but, most importantly, this book will teach you something. It really is a 5 star read.

Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender

This book has been all over bookstagram and I have had my eye on it for ages – so, this pride month I was so pleased to get a copy.

I can totally unerstand why there is so much love for Felix and his story. Felix is transgender, living in Brooklyn with his father and studying Art with a hope of getting into Browns. However, there is quite a journey ahead of Felix – as they are forced to explore his identity and relationships after being deadnamed and exposed by a troll in front of the whole school.

It is a really quite emotional read, as so many themes are explored throughout the story. However, most importantly it teaches that you have to be willing to accept yourself and focus on your happiness and remove those who risk that for you. Even if that can be incredibly hard.

This is a book that I will be recommending to readers because it is not just a story – it is an education. And, as Kacen Callender says in the ‘Author’s Note’, I hope it really helps young people and readers who may find themselves in a similare situation to Felix to feel supported and not invisible. A really beautiful book.

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.