The First Review Book Club met last Sunday to discuss the forthcoming YA titles they read last month. There was a range of reactions to the books under their scrutiny, with titles rated anywhere from 0 to 10 out of 10!
Here are the books that received rave reviews:
The Smell of Other People’s Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock (Release date: July 1)
Rated by Freya: 8.5/10
Alaska, 1970: growing up here is like nowhere else. Ruth wants to be remembered by her grieving mother. Dora wishes she was invisible to her abusive father. Alyce is staying at home to please her parents. Hank is running away for the sake of his brothers. Four very different lives are about to become entangled. Because if we don’t save each other, how can we begin to save ourselves? These intertwining stories of love, tragedy, wild luck, and salvation are set on the edge of America’s Last Frontier.
The Hypnotist by Laurence Anholt (Release date: October 3)
Rated by Georgia: 10/10
Jack has left his native Ireland and is making a new life as Professor of Neurology at a university in the American South. He has certain skills, honed over his lifetime, that he mostly keeps hidden. Skills in hypnotism and mind control. Thirteen-year-old Pip is plucked out of an orphanage by a farmer, hired as a farm-hand, and as carer for the farmer’s wife. But Pip is black. The farmer and his wife are white. And this is 1960s America, where race defines you and overshadows everything. As racial tensions reach boiling point with a danger closer to home and more terrifying than either thought possible, Jack and Pip’s lives become inextricably linked. And Jack’s hypnotic skills are called on as never before.
Black by Fleur Ferris (Release date: June 27)
Rated by Sam: 9/10
Ebony Marshall is in her final year of high school. Five months, two weeks and four days. She can’t wait to leave the town where she’s known only as Black. Because of her name, of course. But for another reason, too. Everyone says Black Marshall is cursed. Three of her best friends have died in tragic accidents. After Oscar, the whispers started. Now she’s used to being on her own. It’s easier that way. But when her date for the formal ends up in intensive care, something in quiet little Dainsfield starts to stir. Old secrets are revealed and terrifying new dangers emerge. If only Black could put all the pieces together, she could work out who her real enemies are. Should she run for her life, or stay and fight?
Breathing Under Water by Sophie Hardcastle (Release date: July 12)
Rated by Matilda: 8/10
Nineteen minutes and eleven seconds separated us at birth. On the official documentation, he is older. Although it really has nothing to do with age. What it really means is that I am, and have always been, second. Ben and Grace Walker are twins. Growing up in a sleepy coastal town it was inevitable they’d surf. Always close, they hung out more than most brothers and sisters, surfing together for hours as the sun melted into the sea. At seventeen, Ben is a rising surf star, the golden son and the boy all the girls fall in love with. Beside him, Grace feels like she is a mere reflection of his light. In their last year of school, the world beckons, full of possibility. For Grace, finishing exams and kissing Harley Matthews is just the beginning.Then, one day, the unthinkable. The sun sets at noon and suddenly everything that was safe and predictable is lost. And everything unravels.
Whisper to Me by Nick Lake (Release date: June 1)
Rated by Erin: 9/10
‘I love you. I’m sorry for what I did to you. I’m going to write it all down, explain everything that happened, why I broke your heart, and then I’m going to email it to you. I will be waiting for you at 5 p.m. Friday by the windmill hole at the crazy golf at the Pier where we played once. If you still want me then, when you’re done reading this, come and get me. OK? Consider this the most screwed up love letter ever.’ So begins the story of Cassie, a New Jersey Shore teen who, over the course of one summer, experiences the exhilarating highs of new love, the frightening free falls of personal demons and family tragedy, and the bumps along the way to forgiveness, acceptance, and self-discovery. Told entirely through flashbacks, readers will savour every moment of Cassie’s relationship with a boardwalk boy and race to the last page to discover how it all ends.
Blame by Simon Mayo (Release date: August 29)
Rated by Rory: 8/10
What happens when society wants you banged up in prison for a crime your parents committed? That’s the situation in which Ant finds herself. Together with her little brother Mattie and their foster-parents, she’s locked up in a new kind of family prison. None of the inmates are themselves criminals, but wider society wants them to do time for the unpunished heritage crimes of their parents. Tensions are bubbling inside the London prison network Ant and Mattie call home, and when things finally erupt, they realise they’ve got one chance to break out. Everyone wants to see them punished for the sins of their mum and dad, but it’s time for Ant to show the world that they’re not to blame.
Game Theory by Barry Jonsberg (Release date: June 1)
Rated by Tim: 7/10
Game theory has brought me to this point and I must follow where it leads. Even though this is not a game. Jamie is a sixteen-year-old maths whiz. Summerlee, his older sister, is in the grip of a wild phase. Tensions at home run high. When Summerlee wins a 7.5-million-dollar lottery, she cuts all ties with her family. But money can cause trouble – big trouble. And when Jamie’s younger sister Phoebe is kidnapped for a ransom, the family faces a crisis almost too painful to bear. Jamie thinks he can use game theory – the strategy of predicting an opponent’s actions – to get Phoebe back. But can he outfox the kidnapper? Or is he putting his own and his sister’s life at risk?