How Not To Fall In Love
– Jacqueline Firkins –
Published 21 December 2021
How Not To Fall In Love is a cute, sexy and slightly exasperating (just kiss him already!! or maybe don’t kiss him!!! arghhh!!!) YA romance novel.
Harper knows all about love. Or at least how phoney it is. She has seen enough bridezillas in her mother’s wedding shop to know love is fake. And let’s not even talk about her last relationship. It’s better of avoiding. When her best friend, heartbroken after another failed relationship, asks for her help on how not to fall in love, Harper makes him a deal. She’ll start dating and prove she can keep her emotions out of it, if she can teach him how to protect his own heart. But as Harper finds herself falling for her new not-her-boyfriend and Theo finds himself inundated with interested girls, Harper discovers love isn’t as easy to figure out as she thought. Especially when the only guy she finds herself thinking about might just be that boy next door after all.
Graceling The Graphic Novel
– Kristin Cashore and Gareth Hinds –
Published 16 November 2021
It has been quite a number of years since I’ve read Graceling, so it was so delightful to enjoy the story again, this time in graphic novel format.
For those of you who are new to the Graceling Realm, Katsa is Graced. She is the most feared assassin and King Randa uses her to threaten and maintain his power. Katsa knows that what is asked of her is often wrong, so she and her friends have created a council that seek to fight for justice. On one of her missions, Katsa encounters another Graced fighter. When Po turns up at Rwanda’s court, Katsa has no choice but to let him in on the secret of the council. And when troubling news from the Kingdom Monsea of reaches them, Po and Katsa team up to discover the truth behind the rumours.
Everything Within and In Between
– Nikki Barthelmess –
Published 5 October 2021
Everything Within and In Between is a novel about finding your identity and challenging racism. While the concept is great and there are some powerful moments, but I found the pacing to be slightly off and the character growth unsatisfying.
Ri Fernandez is white passing. It’s how her grandparents raised her, determined to fulfil their American Dream after emigrating from Mexico. But when she discovers that her grandmother has been lying about her mother and has been keeping them separated, Ri decides it’s time to take control of her story. She joins Spanish class, determined to learn her mother’s language and becomes aware of how she has separated herself from the Mexican community and other Latinx kids at school. Her change of heart causes conflict between Ri and her best friend Brittany, as well as rising tension between Ri and her grandmother. As Ri tests the boundaries of her world she tries to discover who she really is.
You Can Go Your Own Way
– Eric Smith –
Published 2 November 2021
You Can Go Your Own Way is a cute YA romance, sure to be enjoyed by readers who love a simple storyline and ex-best-friends to enemies to lovers storyline.
In my head I have named this book the Pinball Book. Sorry, but it’s kind of stuck. Adam helps his mother run the family pinball arcade. It was his father’s passion and since his father’s death, Adam has done everything he can to keep that dream alive. Even alienating his once best friend. But he can’t help it if Whitney – or at least her dad – is the enemy. Whitney’s father wants to buy the arcade and add it to his growing eSports cafe locations. Whitney and Adam each run the social media accounts for their family businesses and online it is war. When a snowstorm throws the two together again, they rekindle their friendship and possibly something more.
Anything But Fine
– Tobias Madden –
Penguin Random House Australia
Published 31 August 2021
Ballet is everything for Luca. It’s his future, his time, all his effort and his friendships. So when he falls down the stairs at his ballet studio and breaks his leg, it changes everything. When the doctors say he will never dance again, Luca isn’t sure what that means for his future. Who is he without ballet. When he loses his scholarship and has to move school and he shuts out his friends, the only bright side is seeing Jordan at OT. Jordan is the school captain and rowing champion at Luca’s new school. Luca thinks there might be something between them but Jordan is apparently straight. And has a girlfriend.
Anything But Fine is authentically Australia, from the Ballarat setting, to the slang and high school culture. #LoveOzYA
One of the things I most enjoyed about this book was Luca’s friendship with Amina. Amina is nerdy, talks a lot and isn’t who Luca thought he would be spending time with. She’s also as different from his old friends as possible. Amina is Indonesian-Australian and Muslim. She is absolutely fantastic and just what Luca needs. Luca also learns to be a better friend to Amina and more deserving of her. He makes some pretty lousy mistakes in this book, both towards Amina and his old friends, as well as to his dad and other adults who have been there for him. But Luca isn’t afraid to own up to these mistakes and learn from them.
– Kara Bietz –
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Published 21 September 2021
Football, friendship, romance? What’s not to love.
Julian Jackson and Elijah Vance. Once childhood best friends. Now…. Three years after Elijah and his family left town, he has returned. Julian isn’t sure what to think. Does Elijah know it was Julian who called the police and told them Elijah broke the Coach’s window and was going to steal the money? Is Elijah the same boy he remembers? And does he remember that moment before he left? Elijah knows Julian isn’t happy to see him again – he makes that pretty clear. But is there any chance of fixing what was once between them and becoming friends again or something more?
This book is so American and so Texan it’s not funny (though it is delightful). It’s a setting that just jumps from the pages and gives the perfect backdrop to this football-loving romance.
Maybe We’re Electric
– Val Emmich –
Published 21 September 2021
Secrets. The secrets we keep to protect ourselves and the secrets we keep for our family. Maybe We’re Electric is a heartbreaking and romantic novel about finding the balance between speaking out and staying silent.
Covering just one night (plus a bit at the end) Maybe We’re Electric brings Tegan and Mac together. They never would have crossed paths – thinking each other in a different world at their school. But Tegan and Mac have far more in common than they think. When a storm hits, they find themselves together in the Thomas Edison museum. Both are running from their family and themselves. Both know they need to speak up about the secrets they are keeping. Both know the fallout from doing so will have far reaching consequences. Over the course of one night they connect and share more than they expected. But can their blossoming relationship survive the night?
Tegan is a compelling – if unreliable – narrator. As she slowly opens up to Mac, we readers also slowly begin to understand the true depth of what she is running from.
The Gilded Cage
– Lynette Noni –
The Prison Healer #2
Published 12 October 2021
Lynette Noni seems to take pleasure in her readers’ pain. That’s the only explanation for the cruel ending and the build up in this book that had me putting down the book and needing time away to just breathe and recover and psych myself up again for more torment. But it’s a good pain. Sometimes.
The Gilded Cage is the second book in The Prison Healer series. It picks up soon after the first book concluded. Kiva and Jaren have escaped Zalindov. Kiva and Tipp have moved into the River Palace with Jaren and his family. It’s a whole other world from the despair of the prison that was her home for so many years. While Jaren is ready to lay the world at Kiva’s feet – including fulfilling her dream of training at Silver Thorn healing academy, now Kiva is out of prison, she has the opportunity to reconnect with her brother and sister and rejoin the rebellion. Kiva is torn between her growing feelings for Jaren and his family and the knowledge that he will make a good king and her loyalty to the rebellion cause, seeking justice for her father and brother and fighting alongside her siblings.
If Not Us
– Mark Smith –
Published 28 September 2021
If Not Us is a standalone novel from the author of the Winter series. Mark Smith creates in If Not Us a story of growing up, falling in love and finding your voice to speak up and be heard. With themes of climate change action, grief, and first love, If Not Us is a relatable novel for teens with an authentic male narrator.
Hesse lives to surf. He works in a surf shop and spends his free time in the waves. His goal is to one day surf the reef called Razors, where his father disappeared at sea and died. When Hesse gets involved in his mother’s environmental group campaign to close a local coal mine and power station, Hesse is thrown into the spotlight. It means taking a stand and his voice becoming the key to the campaign. It also means standing against his friends, whose parents might lose their jobs if the mine is shut down. In the midst of it all, Hesse meets Fenna, an exchange student who is dealing with her own anxiety and decisions about whether to stay in Australia or return home. As the campaign heats up and Hesse’s feelings for Fenna deepen, Hesse has to decide what is most important to him.
– Orson Scott Card –
Published 7 September 2021
Duplex is the companion novel to Lost and Found. It continues in the same vein – a mix of realistic fiction with a mystery twist. Again, the characters have micropowers – like superpowers but too small, insignificant or useless to be deemed super. They are pretty unique and cool, though.
Duplex is a book that takes a while to read. I enjoyed sinking into its slow pace. That’s not to say nothing happens in the story – it does, everything from guys attacking with guns to fake FBI attempted kidnappings. There’s just a lot of space for inner dialogue and time between events. Time for introspection and relationship building. There’s also just time for great writing and descriptions, a feature of Card’s work.
Life changes for Ryan when he finds his dad has moved out and is dividing their family home into a duplex. Soon, Ryan is sleeping on the couch (he doesn’t have a bedroom anymore) and the rooms on the other side of the new walls and staircase house the Horvat family. Ryan meets Bizzy Horvat at school. She can meet his sarcastic wit and quick jibes like no one he’s ever met. When Ryan reacts so quickly and without thought to a bee in Bizzy’s hair (much like he reacted to a bee that stung his sister), he is approached by a guy who claims to discover people who have micropowers. Ryan’s quick reflexes are apparently a micropower and it turns out that Bizzy and her mother also have micropowers and there are a group of people who will stop at nothing to kill the Horvat family. So, Ryan’s quick responses might just come in handy.