Back to reading YA – Simonverse

AFF – There is a book link for which I would get a cut if you purchased this book (at no expense to yourself).

When I set up this little blog it was to share book reviews and write about the environment. This year I want to make sure that I spend a lot more time doing what I love best – reading books. Today I thought I would start with the first kindle book that I have finished this year, ‘Love, Creekwood’ by Becky Albertalli.

I fell in love with Becky’s style of writing when I first read her brilliant LGBTQ story which was turned into a cool movie – ‘Love, Simon.’ I previously mentioned how amazing Becky was in this post about my fave YA writers.

Following on from the Simon novel I was pleased to see that his best friend, Leah, got her own story told in the very entertaining ‘Leah on the Offbeat’ (reviewed here). The writing in this book was chatty and inclusive, making me feel as though as I was one of her friends, totally involved in the storyline. It revealed her own insecurities about being bi and the dilemma she faced when posed with two potential suitors.

Love, Creekwood

It is fair to say that as soon as I saw ‘Love, Creekwood’ available on Apple Books I snapped it up straight away. I cannot get enough of Albertalli’s clever, cool writing style and so this was a no-brainier for me to get into. At 70 pages long on kindle, it is a quick but highly satisfying little book.

Becky chose to write this story as a series of back and forth emails between the main characters from the Simonverse. I just just mention that the Simonverse is the environment that was created for these stories, centring around a secondary school called Creekwood High. This same surrounding was used in the ‘Love, Victor’ TV series which continues to explore all sorts of issues with reference to Simon and his legacy. In fact, the actor who played Simon in the movies, Nick Robinson, is a producer of the show alongside Becky.

Finding out how Simon and Bram manage a long distance relationship whilst at different universities is interesting. Similarly Leah and Abby are exploring their relationship whilst being roommates at their university. The other friends come into the story too and we find out more about their journeys after leaving their home towns, whilst often returning for catch-ups.

For some, the idea of reading a load of emails might seem weird but believe me, you will love it. The anecdotes, tribulations and funny general banter make this gem unmissable. I totally recommend trying one of her other books first or checking out the movie, but you can probably appreciate this also as a stand alone novella. Once you have tried Becky’s books I am sure you will be a fan.

Heartstopper – Review

As a lover of the work of Alice Oseman, the time had come for me to try one of her books that began as a WebComic. Part one of ‘Heartstopper’ is a colourful book that explores the beginnings of an LGBTQ relationship which is now going to be played out in a Netflix show.

Having already read her novella, ‘Nick and Charlie’, I was already familiar with these teenage characters and their intriguing dynamic. ‘Heartstopper’ turned out to be a well drawn comic that showed how neurotic Charlie and curious Nick first crossed paths at school. Nick was a protective friend who soon discovered a strange connection with Charlie and Alice wrote a story which explored their journey sensitively.

In a Nutshell

Charlie Spring is a seventeen year old geek (I consider a geek to be a positive term as I am one myself) who is openly gay and has a secret arrangement with a guy called Ben (who is very closeted, apparently). There is no love in this relationship and Charlie is starting to realise how used he has become.

Nick Nelson comes onto his radar as a very ‘straight-acting’ 18 year old who is very much into Rugby and seems to fit into the right kind of crowds. To Charlie’s surprise, Nick is not quite so predictable and actually shows signs of wanting to be close friends with him.

The rest is for you to discover in this brilliant LGBT+ story of attraction, confusion and general awkwardness. It is a sweet romance that is modern and involves really relatable characters.

Thoughts

Having watched an interview with the author, I realised that this book began as instalments of regular tumblr comic strips, with Alice adding up to ten pages every couple of weeks. Set in England, I could relate to the surroundings and situations and was impressed by the smooth flow of the narrative. It was easy to empathise with Charlie and his anxiety about himself. Similarly, Nick came across as very realistic, being a popular guy feeling uncertain about his feelings, yet trying to keep up appearances.

The story was fun, sweet and thought-provoking and shows just how clever Alice is at writing realistic YA content. I will certainly be reading the next few books in the series as I want to know how things played out for the leads. If you like YA books then this one is a very easy read with lots of pictures and a good coverage of LGBTQ issues.

Heartstopper Rating : 5 stars

I hope that you enjoyed my brief Heartstopper review and will consider following my little blog. If you want to read about more YA books that I enjoyed, click here.

My New Book (YA) – Extract

Blackbirds keep popping up in my mystery book.

As I read carefully through my final proof copy of my upcoming YA mystery novel, I decided that now was the time to begin sharing snippets from it.

The book is about Drew and his friend Siobhan, who come across a mysterious house one day, while cycling to town. As two A-Level students, their lives are full of exam revision and hobbies but after visiting this house to retrieve a blown away scarf, their lives change for good.

Feel free to share your thoughts on this in the comments below. I hope that you enjoy.

Being Watched

I was reluctant to get up when the alarm went off for the third time and I realised that I couldn’t press ‘snooze’ one more time and get away with it. I nipped to the shower straightaway and went downstairs half-dressed, grabbing some bread and hoping there was time to toast it before I had to make a run for it. Dad had left the telly on and the breakfast news was blaring out about some atrocity somewhere. I changed the channel to see if I could find something more entertaining. As I pressed the button and flicked channels, I noticed something unusual. The telly seemed to drag its heels a bit. It sort of paused before it changed over. I stood dead in my tracks. The fresh toast that I had just plucked from the toaster seemed to burn my hand and I dropped it as I froze, stunned, almost glued to the spot.

In front of me, the TV had paused on the image of a house. Not just any old house. It was feint but easy to identify. I tried to grab for my phone to capture the image and send it to Siobhan but it quickly altered and ITV came on. Goosebumps were immediately covering my arms. The whole thing must have only been half a second but it struck a chord with me. It made me feel sick. Was I hallucinating? Had I had too much to drink last night? No. I hadn’t even had a sip of the wine I was handling for customers. Mum had offered me a glass of bubbly but I turned her down in favour of the chance to drive the car home under her observation. I noticed a few more missed calls from Siobhan and decided to ring her straightaway.