Leah on the Offbeat

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda. You can read my review of this novel [here].

Leah on the Offbeat was written by Becky Albertalli and first published in 2018. It is a work of contemporary fiction that focuses on a bisexual girl developing a crush on one of her friends. The story is part of the Creekwood series and takes place a year after Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda (2015), however it does largely stand alone and could probably be fully enjoyed even if you haven’t read this book.

Leah Burke has known that she was bisexual for years but has never told any of her friends. Even though they were all supportive when they learned that Simon was gay, she’s always been paranoid that they would act differently to her. It’s never seemed very important anyway. She’s never had a relationship with anyone as she’s just not that kind of person. She’s more interested in her fandoms and drawing than being all lovey-dovey like her friends Nick and Abby.

However, the end of high school is drawing closer and now all that anyone can think about is the Prom. The need to find dates and plan their final blow-out is putting tension on everyone and cracks are starting to form in their friendship group. Leah breaks off a friendship with one friend after she makes a racist comment, Nick and Abby’s relationship starts to fall apart, and Garret actually asks Leah to the Prom. While Leah accepts his promposal, she immediately starts to regret her decision. She doesn’t really like Garret in that way and he seems to be getting really into it.

But more complicated still is her friendship with Abby. While Leah and Abby used to be good friends, they haven’t been close in over a year. Now, both of them have discovered that they’re going to be at the same university and Abby is keen for them to take a road trip together to check it out. Leah’s life seems to be spiralling out of control and she’s not sure what to do to keep things together. How can she cope with the fact that the end of the year is looming and nothing will ever be the same again?

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The Season of Sequels

Hi Everyone! I hope you’re all well.

With both Camp NaNoWriMo and my UKYA month over, it’s time to get back to business as usual here on Arkham Reviews. However, I can’t help but notice that there are a lot of sequels to previous novels that I’ve reviewed coming out over the next few months and so I would really like to have a chance to get my grubby little mitts on them. I have a lot of pre-orders winging their way to me at the moment, so expect my regularly schedule reviews to be randomly interrupted with the likes of the following:

Inferno by Julie Kagawa

Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli

The Extinction Trials: Exile by S.M. Wilson

Lumberjanes: The Moon is Up by Mariko Tamaki

Storm by Sarah Driver

Legendary by Stephanie Garber

Charmcaster by Sebastien de Castell

Bruja Born by Zoraida Cordova

Five Nights at Freddy’s: The Fourth Closet by Scott Cawthorn and Kira Breed-Wrisley

In between these exciting new releases, I will be picking my way through the many, many other books that are eagerly waiting for me on the always massive to read pile. This has recently been augmented by a few fantastic looking series that I managed to snaffle through YA Shot giveaways and I’m really excited to be able to share them with you:

Beetle Boy by M.G. Leonard

Sapphires and Secrets by Leila Rasheed

The Glass Republic by Tom Pollock

Cell 7 by Kelly Drewery

The Sword of the Kuromori by Jason Rohan

Fiendish by Brenna Yovanoff

City of Glass by Cassandra Clare

The Book Knights by J.G. McKenney

Night of Cake and Puppets by Laini Taylor

The Runaways and the Everlasting by Monifa Anderson

The Girl Who Dared to Stand by Bella Forrest

Satellite by Nick Lake

Well, I guess it’s time for me to get started on them. Hope they give you some great ideas for potential summer reads!

Nina is Not OK

Nina is Not OK was written by Shappi Khorsandi and first published in 2016. It is a work of contemporary fiction that focuses on a teenager as she comes to accept the fact that she has a drinking problem. The novel stands alone, so you don’t have to have read any of the author’s other work to fully appreciate it.

Nina likes to have a drink but then, isn’t that true of all teens? A night out for Nina isn’t fun unless she gets absolutely plastered and her friends are always more than happy to fill her in on the things that she can’t remember. That is, until one night when everything goes wrong and Nina comes around in a taxi with her knickers in her hand. She can’t remember if she slept with the man who she met at the club and is filled with shame whenever she thinks about it.

From there, things start to go from bad to worse. Nina is not having a great time of things at home. Her boyfriend has recently left her, her mother is preoccupied with her new husband and young daughter, and her friends think that Nina’s drinking is a bit of a laugh. As Nina drinks more and more, she begins to do things that she never would sober but still keeps justifying it as all being normal fun.

That is until something terrible happens. A former friend posts a photo of Nina on Facebook, showing her doing something that she can’t even remember. Suddenly, everyone has an opinion about Nina’s behaviour and are more than happy to share it with her. How will Nina ever get her life back on track and does she have the strength to pursue the man who committed an unforgivable crime against her?

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Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for earlier instalments of this series. You can read my reviews of these novels by clicking the links below:

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone | Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets | Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban | Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

As you can see, today I’m taking another look at the Harry Potter series. I suppose that means that this is another milestone review! It’s hard to believe it but this post marks the 400th novel that I have review on this site. Thank-you all for your continuing support!

Anyhow, on with the review. As I expect that most of you have already read this book, please note that this post contains massive, massive spoilers. In case you’re not familiar with this novel (for example, if you’ve been living in a submarine since the late 90s), the Harry Potter series is a worldwide phenomenon which was penned by J.K. Rowling. The main series consists of seven novels – Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (1997), Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (1998), Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (1999), Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2000), Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2003), Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2005) and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2007). This has been further supplement by a number of short-stories and plays that further expand the world.

Harry Potter has always hated spending his holidays at the Dursleys but this summer has been the worst yet. His friends seem to have forgotten all about him and he’s largely been forced to deal with his guilt over Cedric’s death alone. Everything seems to be crushingly mundane in Little Whinging until Harry and Dudley are suddenly attacked by two Dementors. Harry is forced to case his Patronus charm to save Dudley’s life. As doing so breaks the restriction for magic use by underage wizards, Harry finds himself on trial and risking expulsion from Hogwarts.

As Harry is whisked away to stay with Sirius while he awaits his trial, he is furious to find out that everyone he knows has been preparing for the battle against Voldemort without him. Dumbledore has made them all swear to keep him in the dark as they reformed the Order of the Phoenix – a secret society devoted to destroying the Death Eaters. It seems that the Order have discovered that Voldemort is searching for something and are intent on keeping him from obtaining it.

However, Harry also learns that he is no longer the golden boy of the wizarding world. Desperate to keep the truth about Voldemort from the world, the Ministry of Magic have publicly accused Dumbledore and Harry of lying and now portray him as an attention-seeking lunatic. When Harry returns to Hogwarts, he learns that the Ministry’s reach has even stretched as far as the school. Delores Umbridge – a ruthless Ministry official – is now the Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher and is intent on making some changes around the school…

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Love Song

Love Song was written by Sophia Bennett and first published in 2016. It’s a contemporary romance that focuses on a teenage girl who finds love while travelling with a boy band. The novel stands alone, so you don’t have to read any of the author’s other work to fully appreciate it.

Everyone knows who The Point are. Jamie, Angus, Connor and George are the biggest boy band to ever roam the earth and almost every teenage girl would give her right arm for a chance to meet them. Unfortunately, Nina is not one of these girls. She only attends a meet and greet with the band to chaperone her sister but while she is there something happens that changes her life.

When a freak accident almost injures Sigrid Santorini – reality TV star and fiancé of the beautiful Jamie – Nina is lucky enough to come to her rescue. A few days later, Nina is contacted by the band’s manager and offered a place on tour. Sigrid’s personal assistant has resigned and she wants to hire Nina to take her place. Although Nina is reluctant, the tour does offer a unique opportunity to see the world and so she accepts.

However, things soon prove to be a lot more difficult that she was expecting. Sigrid is rude and demanding and Nina soon starts to see that her continued presence is starting to put a strain on relationships between the band members. Slowly, Nina begins to help the boys overcome their problems and realises that they’re all quite different to how they appear on TV. However, in befriending the band she gradually starts to make an enemy of the jealous Sigrid…

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How I Live Now

How I Live Now was written by Meg Rosoff and first published in 2004. It is a work of speculative fiction, focusing on the experiences of a teenage girl in rural England as World War III breaks out. The novel stands alone, so you don’t have to have read any of the author’s other work to fully appreciate it. It also won a number of literary awards, including the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize and the Michael L Printz Award.

Daisy is fifteen-years-old and feels as though she has been utterly abandoned. Her father cares more about his pregnant wife than he does for her and has sent her away to live with her Aunt for the summer. Daisy finds this to be a bit of a culture shock at first. Not only has she been forced to trade Manhattan for the English countryside, but she has also got to get to know her four decidedly odd cousins – Osbert, Edmond, Isaac and Piper.

Luckily Daisy is quick to hit it off with her distant family, especially Edmond with whom she develops a mutual attraction. The summer seems to be perfect but everything changes when Aunt Penn leaves to attend a lecture in Oslo for a few days. It is over this time that the first bombs hit London and everything descends into chaos. The teenagers find themselves cut off from everything. Although the war has not reached them, they slowly begin to feel its impact through rationing and power failure to the village.

For a while, Daisy and her family are still happy and continue life as normal. However, that is before the army decide that they need to commandeer their house for a base. The girls and boys are split up and sent to different villages and everything suddenly becomes very real. Daisy and Piper know that they need to escape and find the boys, however how can they hope to do so when supplies are scarce and The Enemy could be anywhere?

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The Other Alice

The Other Alice was written by Michelle Harrison and first published in 2016. It is a middle grade fantasy novel which focuses on a young boy’s attempt to save his sister when the characters from one of her stories come to life. The novel stands alone, so you don’t have to have read any of the author’s other work to fully appreciate it.

Midge knows that his sister can be a little odd but he has always loved her stories. Alice’s imagination seems to be endless and she believes that every story should have an ending, no matter how silly. However, Alice seems to be having trouble with her new novel. She’s foregoing sleep and food but can’t seem to find a way to make the story end.

At first, Midge feels like Alice is over reacting but then one morning she suddenly vanishes. After that, things start to get very strange. A talking cat shows up at the house and he meets someone who looks strikingly like his sister, only seems to be unable to speak. When Midge finds his sister’s notebook, he realises that the characters from her unfinished story have come to life and are now wandering the village with no idea that they are fictional.

However, some characters seem to be more aware than others. It’s not long before Midge encounters the sinister Dolly Weaver and realises that his sister has a particular talent for writing psychopaths. Dolly is desperately hunting for Alice’s book and Midge knows that she does not care who she hurts in order to get it. Knowing that he has to find it first, Midge befriends a few of Alice’s friendlier creations – mute Gypsy, roguish Piper and Tabitha the talking cat – but in doing so he finds himself in trouble. How will they react if they find out that they’re just characters in a story?

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The Children of Castle Rock

The Children of Castle Rock was written by Natasha Farrant and first published in 2018. It is an adventure story aimed at middle grade readers, focusing on a young girl’s adventures at boarding school. The novel stands alone, so you don’t have to have read any of the author’s other work to fully appreciate it.

Alice has become increasingly withdrawn since the tragic death of her mother. While she was once adventurous, now she just sits in her room and spends all of her time writing stories. When her family is forced to move from their beautiful home, Alice is devastated and her father and aunt worry about her isolating herself further. In an attempt to help her to find herself, they enrol her at Stormy Loch, a remote Scottish boarding school that is known for taking in wayward souls.

Although Alice feels abandoned, she quickly finds that Stormy Loch is not what she expected. Teachers encourage children to discover their talents and regular “Challenges” are a way of life. The school also doesn’t believe in punishments, though sometimes the consequences for failing the Challenges aren’t much better than these. It’s not long before Alice starts to enjoy herself and gradually starts to make friends with Fergus, a genius with a habit of getting into trouble.

When the school holds an open day, Alice is eager to show her father how great Stormy Loch is. However, he she is disappointed when he does not turn up. Later that day, Alice receives a strange parcel and a note telling her to deliver it to her father on an uninhabited Scottish island. Alice and Fergus soon hatch a plan to enable her to get there in time. However, carrying it out will require the map reading skills of their classmate, Jesse. And there is no way that Jesse will break the school rules knowingly…

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A Celebration of UKYA

Hello everyone!

As you’re probably aware, today is YA Shot and I’ve been trying to think of a good way that I can celebrate. My reviews over the next few weeks may be a little slower than usual because of Camp NaNoWriMo, but I’ve decided to ignore my regularly scheduled reviews and instead bring to you a look at some exciting titles from UK based YA authors instead!

Normal service will resume after the NaNoWriMo is over, but here’s what you can look forward to in the meantime:

The Children of Castle Rock by Natasha Farrant

After the Fire by Will Hill

The Other Alice by Michelle Harrison

How I Live Now by Meg Rossoff

Love Song by Sophia Bennett

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling

The Beneath by S.C. Ransom

Nina is Not OK by Shappi Khorsandi

Jinxed

Jinxed was written by Thommy Hutson and first published in 2018. It is a horror story which focuses on a teenager and her friends as they are hunted by a masked serial killer. The novel stands alone, so you don’t have to read any of the author’s other work to full appreciate it.

The Trask Academy is one of America’s wealthiest and exclusive art schools. Teenagers who attend there are ear-marked to become the celebrities and Broadway stars of the future, and the best of them can expect to be scouted at the school’s annual showcase. Layna is disappointed when she loses out to her friend Sydney, but totally understands why. Sydney is stunning and talented, while Layna is at the school on a scholarship. However, she receives her chance a few days later after a tragic turn of events.

Sydney is found dead, apparently having thrown herself from the window of her dorm. Although the school is keen to write this off as an isolated incident, Layna and her friends can’t quite shake off their doubts. Sydney showed no sign of being unstable and was really looking forward to the showcase. It’s not long before their fears are justified when another of Layna’s friends mysteriously vanishes from the library.

The group soon discovers that they are completely isolated as the school is on a remote island and the phone lines are down. As a killer in a theatre mask stalks the halls, Layna comes to learn that he has some connection to both her and an unperformed play written by a former student. However, as the killer continues to strike those close to her, she realises that she must find out what that connection is and unmask him before the curtain falls on her forever…

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