Book of the Week, Young Adult

Book of the Week: You Should See Me in a Crown

The first BotW pick of the new year is a nice uplifting YA novel, which as we’re back in lockdown from today, is probably for the best. I think we all need a bit of cheering up right now. Coming up tomorrow are my favourite books of last year – and just in case you haven’t seen them already my obsessions and the books that I read for my Read the USA challenge.

Cover of You Should See Me in a Crown

You Should See Me in a Crown is the story of Liz Lighty. She’s got a plan to get her out of her small town and get the future her mum had dreamed of for her. But when she misses out on the scholarship she needs to be able to go to Pennington College, she thinks her dream is over – until she remembers the scholarship that comes with the Prom Queen’s crown. Her small Indiana town is prom-obsessed – and to win the crown she’ll have to run the gamut of public events and contests – all in the spotlight of the school’s social media channel. The only thing making life bearable is the new girl, Mack. They’ve got so much in common – including the fact that Mack is running for prom queen too. Can Liz afford to fall for the competition?

Now I’ve written that summary and it sounds like this is going to be all cut throat and mean, but it’s not. Leah Johnson has constructed a prom competition that’s not entirely a popularity contest – with grades factored in and a community service requirement. Liz doesn’t have to go all Mean Girl or ditch her friends to be popular. It’s like She’s All That and Never Been Kissed had a book baby, but without all the problematic stuff* and with a heroine who is black and queer. Liz is fun and funny – and a band kid (like me!) and I really liked her backstory. There is some sad stuff here – Liz’s mum is dead, her brother has a chronic illness and Liz herself has some anxiety issues, but it is all very sensitively handled.

My copy of You Should See Me in a Crown came from the library, but you can get it on Kindle (but irritatingly not on Kobo) or in paperback now. It was the first pick for Reese Witherspoon’s YA book club and is being compared to Becky Albertalli and Jenny Han so I would have expected it to be fairly easy to find in bookshops, if only bookshops were open

*Little sis and I loved Never Been Kissed when it first came out, but she can’t watch it now she’s a teacher because it’s not ok that Mr Coulson has a thing for Josie, even if she’s actually not a pupil. And she’s not wrong, even if I can manage to ignore it if I concentrate very hard.

Book of the Week, graphic novels, Young Adult

Book of the Week: Pumpkinheads

A busy week in reading last week with lots on the list. You’ll be hearing more about some of them (yes I know, I keep saying that but look – you had a Recommendsday post last week and that was worth it right?) but as it’s Halloween this week this seemed like the obvious choice.

UK Edition of Pumpkinheads

Written by Rainbow Rowell and illustrated by Faith Erin Hicks, Pumpkinheads tells the story of one night in the life of Deja and Josiah.  They are seasonal friends.- they’ve worked at the same stall at the same pumpkin patch together, every autumn, all through high school – but never see each other between Halloween and next September 1. But their last year. And more specifically their last night. Josiah wants to be melancholy, but Deja wants him to seize the moment and let go of his quest to be the employee of the month and enjoy their final shift together. To that end she’s traded their shifts at the succotash stall for something closer to where Josiah’s long-term crush works, in the hope that she can persuade him to finally ask her out. But what actually happens ends up being a mad chase around the patch to finally see all the sights and taste all the snacks.

I’m not a horror reader, so Halloween themed reading is always a challenge for me.  But if you’re like me and need some low stakes, low peril Halloween reading, this may be exactly what is required. This is funny and sweet and not at all scary, but it is very, very Halloween-y. We don’t really have pumpkin patches over here – or if we do it’s a very recent arrival – so it’s not something that I’m familiar with, but that didn’t matter because the art did all the work for you.  I loved the visual style of this – the colour palette is gorgeously autumnal and the characters are all really expressive.  There’s so much detail here too – I loved the runaway goat and the troublesome teens.  Read this curled up on your sofa with a seasonal beverage whilst hiding from trick or treaters.

My copy of Pumpkinheads came from my local comic store – your local should be able to get hold of it too. Otherwise it’s available from all the usual sources.  I’ve also written about some of Rainbow Rowell’s books before – here are my reviews of Carry On and Fangirl. I also finished Wayward Son – which is the sequel to Carry On – last week.  It’s really good, but you need to have read Carry On to get the most out of it.  And there’s a third book coming too.  Exciting times.

Happy Reading!

Book of the Week, new releases, Young Adult

Book of the Week: Fire Colour One

This week’s BotW is Jenny Valentine’s Fire Colour One.  I do try to mix my choices up a bit – although when I go on a massive reading jag of one author that doesn’t help – so here’s some new YA fiction.  I got my copy via NetGalley and raced through it in two train journeys.

Iris likes lighting fires.  She doesn’t like her mum – or her mum’s boyfriend.  She’s lost touch with her best (and only) friend Thurston. Then the dad that she hasn’t seen for years gets in contact to say he’s dying.  Her mum is delighted – she wants Ernest’s art collection to fund her lifestyle. Iris is angry.  But her dad has things he wants to tell her.

Now, it took me a while to warm to Iris.  She’s a bit difficult to like at first, but then you see what she’s dealing with.  And she’s dealing with a lot.  Her mum sees her as an inconvenience and really isn’t on her side.  Her mum’s partner is the most narcissistic guy I’ve come across in a book this year.  Iris can control the fires.  She can’t control her life, or stop her dad from dying (and she’s not sure she wants to either).

Death is such a theme in YA literature at the moment, that I was worried that this book was going to leave me miserable and upset*, but I got to the last page with a tear in my eye and a smile on my face.  Then I went back and read the last chapter all over again.  I can’t really say much more about why the end worked for me, without giving it away and that would really spoil the book, but it’s clever.  Really clever.  And I’m desperate to know what Iris does next.

So, I didn’t read a lot last week, but I’m still thinking about this one – and I’m wondering if there are any teenagers in my life that I can buy it for (I’m not sure there are).  I know that I’ll go back and read it again too, which is unusual for me and YA fiction that’s not boarding school stories.  I’ve added Jenny Valentine’s other books to my to-read list too

Fire Colour One came out last week – get your paperback from Amazon, Foyles, Waterstones or on Kindle or Kobo.

 

* A la the 3am Fault in Our Stars crying jag.