#CountdownML April Releases – Highlights

By Jim Dean, March 21, 2016

Tonight at 8pm GMT it’s #CountdownML! Remember there’s a full list of what’s being released over the next month or so here – but here are some highlights!

Ones We’ve Read

When We Collided by Emery Lord (Bloomsbury) – Seventeen-year-old Jonah Daniels – grieving for his dead father and having to help his older brother and sister take care of their younger three siblings – meets Vivi Alexander, in town for the summer with her mum. I completely adored this one – I had high hopes as I loved Open Road Summer, but Emery Lord managed to exceed them. Jonah and Vivi are gorgeous characters and I loved the relationship Vivi formed with Jonah’s entire family, while the small town setting quickly became a favourite of mine. Emery Lord’s prose is beautiful, and the topics of grief and of mental health issues are dealt with really well. A must-read!

Head Over Heels by Holly Smale (Harper Collins) – I read this in one sitting today because I was having a bad day and wanted something that would snap me out of it. The Geek Girl series is a perfect comfort read for moments like that – it’s great to catch up with Harriet and the rest of the brilliant characters Holly Smale has created, and you know exactly what to expect here. Each book in the series is a warm and funny read, aimed at 11+ but with lots of older teen/adult fans too, and also a significant amount of younger readers who are devoted to them. It’s easy to see why – I think this may be Holly Smale’s best yet! (I especially loved seeing Harriet as part of a bigger group of friends now!)

Love Song by Sophia Bennett (Chicken House) – I loved Sophia Bennett’s You Don’t Know Me a couple of years ago and it’s brilliant to see her return to the world of pop music with this new book! Telling the story of Nina, new assistant to a diva whose fiance is one of the boys from the hottest pop group around, The Point, it’s a really fun read with great characters. Nina is fabulous and the boys in the Point are all adorable (and hot!)

We Are All Made Of Molecules by Susin Nielsen (Andersen Press) – Susin Nielsen’s gorgeous dual narrative about two very different teens whose parents fall in love and move in together was one of my favourites of last year; I’m hoping that with it coming out in paperback it will find even more fans to add to all the people I know who already love it! Both teens are fantastic here but it’s popular girl Ashley’s voice which I especially loved, while her character development as she gradually starts to warm to her geeky new brother, Stewart, and come to terms with her dad’s new relationship with a man, is fantastic. This has huge heart and is really funny! For a fuller review, check out mine at YA Yeah Yeah.

Read Me Like A Book by Liz Kessler (Orion) – Another favourite of mine getting a release in paperback, Liz Kessler’s coming of age story about a girl who realises she’s a lesbian after developing a crush on her teacher is a really charming read. In addition to Ash’s discovery of her sexuality, there’s also issues she has with her parents becoming increasingly unhappy living together, a falling out with her best friend Cat, trying to decide whether she wants to go to university, and problems with her boyfriend (before she starts to realise that she’s a lesbian.) I really loved the relationships in this – especially Ash’s friendship with Cat, which is suffering a rocky patch, and her changing relationship with her mother. For a fuller review, check out mine on YA Yeah Yeah.

Ones In Series We’ve Read

Jolly Foul Play by Robin Stevens (Puffin) – Other mystery series are available – and there are some really amazing ones out there, with Katherine Woodfine and Patricia Elliott standing out for me as well – but it’s easy to see why Robin Stevens’s schoolgirl sleuths Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong have become so incredibly popular! They are an amazing duo and it’s awesome to see the action return to the school setting of Deepdean. The mystery, about the murder of an unpopular Head Girl on Bonfire Night, sounds especially intriguing.

Urban Outlaws: Counterstrike by Peter Jay Black (Bloomsbury) – Peter Jay Black’s Urban Outlaws books are an incredibly fast-paced series with lots of fantastic action in them. I’m actually a book behind here, having loved the first book and sequel Blackout, but not having had a chance to read Lockdown yet, but I’m definitely looking forward to both that and Shockwave!

Ones We’re Especially Looking Forward To

The Smell Of Other People’s Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock (Faber Children’s) I’ve just started this one, set in 1970s Alaska and following four teens whose lives become entangled. I’m intrigued already by it, having seen lots of fantastic reviews from people who’ve read it early, and it gets off to a great start.

The OMG Blog by Karen McCombie (Barrington Stoke) Barrington Stoke have a fairly strong claim for ‘best lineup I’ve ever seen from one publisher in a month.’ Seriously – Gillian Cross, Kaye Umansky, Michelle Magorian, Malorie Blackman AND Karen McCombie? Wow! Of all five, though, I’m especially excited about Karen McCombie’s as I’m a huge fan of hers – this story about four girls who meet in detention and have to start a blog together, choosing to do one on ‘Our Mums – Grrr!’ sounds fantastic.

Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo (Walker) DiCamillo’s gorgeous Flora & Ulysses is a favourite of mine so I’m really excited for her upcoming novel. I love books focusing on friendship and this story about three girls forming an unlikely trio as they enter theĀ  Little Miss Central Florida Tire contest sounds like a brilliant read.

Our House by Tom Easton (Piccadilly Press) – Tom Easton’s YA Boys Don’t Knit is up there with Lobsters by Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison, and the Faith trilogy by Candy Harper, as one of the funniest books I’ve read in the last few years. His MG for Piccadilly Press, described as My Family and Other Animals meets Outnumbered, sounds fantastic. It’s about a young girl doing a school project about her house who also ends up telling the story of her chaotic family at the same time.

Surviving High School by Lele Pons with Melissa De La Cruz (Simon & Schuster) – I’m always interested in books with characters who use social media, so this ‘fictional memoir’ by Vine superstar Lele Pons, along with the awesome Melissa de la Cruz, looks really fascinating. About a girl who finds digital fame and goes from being bullied to becoming popular in school, it sounds like a great read.

What do you think?