Afterlove by Tanya Byrne, reviewed by Abi

5 Word Review: Love, family, friendship, tragedy, death.

Grab the tissues, you will need them. And a blanket to combat the chills that this love story will give you. I am struggling to review this, because I loved it so much. Basically: Good book. Book booked good. Read book.

Ash and Poppy are just… They’re my OTP now, the one ship I will go down with. I loved their love, the way that even though their situations in life are so different it doesn’t matter to them. Their hearts are full of love. And when Ash becomes a reaper, I have to be honest – it broke me. Afterlove doesn’t shy away from difficult topics – whether its homophobia, or racism, or class disparity, or religious beliefs in the face of your family. It was empathetically done, carefully done, and wasn’t afraid to be ugly when it had to be. This book gently plays with the paranormal, and if I’m honest I barely realised it for what it was. I loved the lore behind it, and I thought it was very clever in the way it was executed.

The story is split into before and after and I think that was a clever way to play with the concepts of the words. It’s not just Ash’s death, but herself and how she experiences the world, her new role.

That ending though? Excuse me, I need more. I loved the ending, but it left me gasping. It wraps up beautifully but I’m aching for more. Afterlove is the romantic tragedy Romeo and Juliet want to be.

Afterlove is a gloriously beautiful story that will fill your heart to bursting and then break it into a million pieces. You will never be ready, and you will never get over it, but you need to read this book.

About the book

THE LESBIAN LOVE STORY YOU’VE BEEN DYING TO READ. Ash Persaud is about to become a reaper in the afterlife, but she is determined to see her first love Poppy Morgan again, the only thing that separates them is death. 

Car headlights. The last thing Ash hears is the snap of breaking glass as the windscreen hits her and breaks into a million pieces like stars. But she made it, she’s still here. Or is she?

This New Year’s Eve, Ash gets an invitation from the afterlife she can’t decline: to join a clan of fierce girl reapers who take the souls of the city’s dead to await their fate. 

But Ash can’t forget her first love, Poppy, and she will do anything to see her again … even if it means they only get a few more days together. Dead or alive …

NOT EVEN DEATH CAN TEAR THEM APART. 

The Upper World by Femi Fadugba, reviewed by Torrin

The Upper World is the stunning debut from Femi Fadugba. Interstellar meets Attack the Block in a head on collision of fact and physics.

Esso hits his head in a car crash and is transported to the mysterious “Uppper World” which may or may not facilitate a form of mental time-travel. 
Meanwhile Rhia meets her new personal tutor Dr Esso, who begins to explain not just her  homework but the physics of time-travel itself. 

This is one of the best science fiction novels I have read in a long, long time. What might seen like a time-travel story from the outside is in [reality] a carefully veiled story of redemption, loss and acceptance. Esso and Rhia have a very different dynamic to the central characters of a typical teen novel. The story is not about love but acceptance. 

Although the concept of time travel is an important aspect of the book. It often takes a backseat to so it’s effects on the novel’s characters can be explored. With something as high concept as time travel it can often be difficult to get your head around the mechanics of it. But Fadugba uses modern metaphors and simple language to make the concept accessible for all. 

This book is a truly excellent read, and one that I urge you to pick up! 

Hello, I’m Torrin. I like good books. I’m a fan of Crime, Fantasy and Sci-Fi. My favourite quote from any book is: “Doors are for people with no imagination” If it’s got too much description and emotions, I probably won’t read it.  Check out my website at www.ananonymousautistic.wordpress.com   

About the book

This epic thriller is soon to be a major Netflix movie starring Academy Award winner Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out, Black Panther, Judas and the Black Messiah).  

‘Believing is seeing, Esso . . .’

Esso is running out of time and into trouble. When he discovers he has the ability to see glimpses of the future, he becomes haunted by a vision of a bullet fired in an alleyway with devastating consequences. 

A generation later, fifteen-year-old Rhia is desperately searching for answers – and a catastrophic moment from the past holds the key to understanding the parents she never got to meet.

Whether on the roads of South London or in the mysterious Upper World, Esso and Rhia’s fates must collide.

And when they do, a race against the clock will become a race against time itself . . .

Every Line of You by Naomi Gibson, reviewed by Farrah

If you like to be kept on the edge of your seat, in a constant state of suspense whilst reading, this may just be the book for you. To call ‘Every Line of You’ a rollercoaster, filled with twists and turns as it was, would be an understatement. Although this is not my usual go to kind of story, I read it in one sitting as I was gripped from the very first chapter. It is packed with action and intrigue.

‘Every Line of You’ follows Lydia and the AI (Artificial Intelligence) she has created as it develops and gains power. The author, Naomi Gibson, examines grief, loneliness and the effects of bullying through the metamorphosis of her AI as it acquires human characteristics. You’ll continue thinking about the characters and the themes explored long after you’ve finished reading the book.

About the book

The edge-of-your-seat thriller you’ve been looking for this summer … ‘What a debut. So tense – and it didn’t lead where I thought it was going.’ SUE WALLMAN, author of YOUR TURN TO DIE

Lydia has been creating her AI, Henry, for years – since before her little brother died in the accident that haunts her nightmares; since before her dad walked out, leaving her and Mum painfully alone; since before her best friend turned into her worst enemy.

Now, Henry is strong, clever, loving and scarily capable: Lydia’s built herself the perfect boyfriend in a hard-drive filled with lines of code.

But what is Henry really – and how far is he willing to go to be everything Lydia desires?

This summer’s must-read: EVERY LINE OF YOU’s twist after twist will have everyone talking about Lydia and Henry’s complex Bonnie-and-Clyde relationship

Elements of thriller, psychological drama and love: Her meets Girl, Interrupted with hints of Black MirrorThis dark, modern twist on young love explores the complexity and scope of artificial intelligence while also examining bigger themes of humanity, revenge, grief, love and forgiveness

House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland, reviewed by Sophie

This book is a mystery that will capture your attention as the bond between the three Hollow sisters Grey, Vivi and Iris is deeply explored. A uniquely horrifying story, where the beauty of language is entwined into the very soul of this tale and Krystal Sutherland knows how to tell a tale. 

So when an unknown man in a bull skull kidnaps Grey, it is down to Iris and Vivi to find her – but where and from what? It really is a story of dark, dark secrets.

House of Hollow is a modern-day thriller like you’ve never read before. I ask you now, will you be prepared for the unexpected when it comes sinisterly crawling nearer?

Hi, I’m Sophie and I absolutely love books, tv, music and films. My favorite film has to be How to train your Dragon. I play the Saxophone and I’m studying English Lit/Lang, Film studies and Textiles for my A-levels.  

About the book

‘This story will steal up your spine, slip beneath your skin, and stick to you like honey.’ — Samantha Shannon

The Hollow sisters – Vivi, Grey and Iris – are as seductively glamorous as they are mysterious. They have black eyes and hair as white as milk. The Hollow sisters don’t have friends – they don’t need them. They move through the corridors like sharks, the other little fish parting around them, whispering behind their backs.

And everyone knows who the Hollow sisters are. Because one day the three Hollow sisters simply disappeared. And when they came back, one month later, with no memory of where they had been, it was as if nothing had changed. Almost nothing, Apart from, for example, the little scar that had appeared in the hollow of their throats … and a whispering sense that something is not quite right about them, despite (or maybe because of) the terrible passion to be with them that they can exert on anybody at will…A thrilling, twisting, novel that is as seductive and glamorous as the Hollow sisters themselves….

Ace of Spades by Faridah Abike-Iyimide, reviewed by Abi

When I finished reading Ace of Spades, I was overcome with a very unfamiliar feeling: I wanted to go back to the very first page and read it cover to cover again. Set in an elite private school and told in alternating perspectives, we follow two Black teens: Chiamaka, a Italian-Nigerian-American teen who is Head Girl, popular, and isn’t afraid to get what she wants to stay in power; and Devon, a Black American teen and talented musician who just wants to keep his head down, focus on his music, and protect his secret. When an anonymous texter named Aces begins bringing Chiamaka and Devon’s secrets to light, Chiamaka and Devon reluctantly team up together to take the anonymous texter down.

The story is excellently paced, the mystery dark and delicious and addictive. Faridah plays with our emotions, dropping hints here and there, expertly instilling a growing sense of dread and horror that I really enjoyed. Yet, when I think about Ace of Spades, its brilliance isn’t just because it is mind-blowing and terrifying. Rather, the genius in the mystery is its thoughtfulness and that is speaks to real experiences that will resonate with readers – and I wish I could elaborate on this, because if this book wasn’t spoiler-free, this review would be twice as long with my thoughts on how I thought the reveal was brilliant. I highly recommend this book to everyone, it’s an amazing read and will leave you shocked.

I have two sisters, both are younger than me (I’m the oldest child). I’ve lived in Brighton and Hove my whole life. I live with both of my parents and siblings. I have 6 cats which can be very stressful at times. I’m currently in Year 10 but I only have a few months till Year 11. When I’m older I want to become an English teacher, I want to inspire young people to follow their dreams.

About the book

“One of 2021’s biggest books.” gal-dem

“This summer’s hottest YA debut.” Entertainment Weekly

An instant New York Times bestseller, ACE OF SPADES is Gossip Girl meets Get Out, with a shocking twist. Buried secrets come to light when two students are targeted by an anonymous bully with an explosive agenda.

Hello, Niveus High. It’s me. Who am I? That’s not important. All you need to know is…I’m here to divide and conquer. – Aces

Welcome to Niveus Private Academy, where money paves the hallways, and the students are never less than perfect. Until now. Because anonymous texter, Aces, is revealing the darkest secrets of two students.

Talented musician Devon buries himself in rehearsals, but he can’t escape the spotlight when his private photos go public.

Head girl Chiamaka isn’t afraid to get what she wants, but soon everyone will know the price she has paid for power.

Someone is out to get them both. Someone who holds all the aces. And they’re planning much more than a high-school game…

Unputdownable and utterly compulsive, this high-octane thriller takes a powerful look at institutionalized racism. As seen in Vogue, The Guardian, Marie Claire, The New York Times, Elle, Buzzfeed, Cosmo and Entertainment Weekly, and on BBC Front Row, perfect for fans of Karen McManus, Holly Jackson and Angie Thomas.

“ACE OF SPADES is the thought-provoking thriller we ALL need.” Nic Stone, #1 NYT bestselling author

“A heart-racing and twisty thriller.” Alice Oseman

“Strong Gossip Girl vibes and a whole lot of mystery.” Buzzfeed

“Thunderous and terrifying. There’s no way you’re putting this down until you get to the last page.” Maureen Johnson, NYT bestselling author

Boy in a White Room by Karl Olsberg, reviewed by Tegan

This book was definitely an interesting read. From the first line, I was hooked.

Olsberg created a character that you wanted to read more about without even knowing lots of things about him. The book explores the story of a young boy called Manuel who wakes up in a white room and doesn’t know where he is. As he investigates his life from inside the room, he discovers things that would turn his world upside down.

I would say that this book is for 14+, as it does delve quite deeply into some quite complex things. However, I very much enjoyed reading it and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys mystery or science fiction. 

Hi, my name is Tegen and I am fourteen years old. I enjoy reading book genres like fantasy, crime and adventure. Some of my favourite authors are Holly Black, Alice Oseman, Stephen King and John Green. My other interests include playing chess, horse riding and writing. My favourite quote from a book is ‘that’s the thing about pain, it demands to be felt’ from the fault in our stars.’ 

About the book

A gripping YA sci-fi thriller perfect for fans of Ready Player One and The Maze Runner. A boy wakes to find himself locked in a white room. He has no memories, no idea who he is and no idea how he got there.

A computer-generated voice named Alice responds to his questions – through her, he is able to access the internet. He gradually pieces together his story – an abduction, a critical injury, snippets of his past … But how can the boy tell what’s real and what’s not? Who is he really? A gripping YA sci-fi thriller by German and Spiegel-bestselling author, Karl Olsberg.

The novel has sold 40,000 copies in Germany alone and been optioned for TV development by Netflix. Explores themes of virtual worlds, artificial intelligence, philosophy and identity.

The Boy I Am by K.L. Kettle, reviewed by Mel

Wow. When I read that this book was a dystopian thriller, I didn’t really know what to expect as I’m not the biggest fan of dystopians, yet I am a huge fan of thrillers. The Boy I Am was everything and more you can get from a book. There is an insane amount of plot and character building right from the get go, with carefully placed flashbacks which really let you connect with the main character, Jude Grant, in a way which I find rare in a book. The conflict/battle scenes were detailed on a level similar to The Maze Runner- every scene was clear and I didn’t get confused once. Jude Grant undergoes insane character development throughout this book as his beliefs of the world around him slowly crumble as the reality of the situation is revealed.

Such an interesting and well executed look into different types of power and gender roles.

A fantastic book for anyone who loves plot twists, thrillers, dystopians and fight scenes!!!!

 As I kid I always adored reading, and it was my number one hobby. That filtered away for a bit when I started secondary school, but since getting back into it again over lockdown I haven’t been able to stop. My mums an english teacher, so
she’s always encouraged me to read and help me understand how amazing it is. I am an optimistic, chatty, kind person with a big love for animals and treating the planet kindly. I took Early Modern History, Psychology, and English Lang/Lit (combined) for A level to help myself gain a better understanding of the reasons behind people’s actions

About the book

They say we’re dangerous. But we’re not that different.

Jude is running out of time.

Once a year, lucky young men in the House of Boys are auctioned to the female elite. But if Jude fails to be selected before he turns seventeen, a future deep underground in the mines awaits. Yet ever since the death of his best friend at the hands of the all-powerful Chancellor, Jude has been desperate to escape the path set out for him.

Finding himself entangled in a plot to assassinate the Chancellor, he finally has a chance to avenge his friend and win his freedom. But at what price?

A speculative YA thriller, tackling themes of traditional gender roles and power dynamics, for fans of Malorie Blackman, Louise O’Neill and THE POWER.

One Of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus, reviewed by Mel

Watch Mel’s TikTok video review:

@melslibrary

one of the most fast-paced mystery books I’ve ever read 🙂 #booktok #fyp #bookreview #oneofusislyingbook

♬ original sound – mel 🥰✌️
As I kid I always adored reading, and it was my number one hobby. That filtered away for a bit when I started secondary school, but since getting back into it again over lockdown I haven’t been able to stop. My mums an english teacher, so
she’s always encouraged me to read and help me understand how amazing it is. I am an optimistic, chatty, kind person with a big love for animals and treating the planet kindly. I took Early Modern History, Psychology, and English Lang/Lit(combined) for A level to help myself gain a better understanding of the reasons behind people’s actions.

About the book

THE INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER Five students go to detention. Only four leave alive.

Yale hopeful Bronwyn has never publicly broken a rule. Sports star Cooper only knows what he’s doing in the baseball diamond. Bad boy Nate is one misstep away from a life of crime. Prom queen Addy is holding together the cracks in her perfect life.

And outsider Simon, creator of the notorious gossip app at Bayview High, won’t ever talk about any of them again. He dies 24 hours before he could post their deepest secrets online. Investigators conclude it’s no accident.

All of them are suspects. Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you’ll go to protect them. 

The Black Kids by Christina Hammonds Reed – review

The Black Girls is a brilliantly written and engaging book, with a deceptively chatty tone that lures you in to a sense of comfort, before a perfect, powerful sentence snaps you to attention.

Perfect for fans of The Hate U Give, this unforgettable coming-of-age debut novel is an unflinching exploration of race, class, and violence as well as the importance of being true to yourself. 

Los Angeles, 1992

Ashley Bennett and her friends are living the charmed life. It’s the end of high school and they’re spending more time at the beach than in the classroom. They can already feel the sunny days and endless possibilities of summer.

But everything changes one afternoon in April, when four police officers are acquitted after beating a black man named Rodney King half to death. Suddenly, Ashley’s not just one of the girls. She’s one of the black kids.

As violent protests engulf LA and the city burns, Ashley tries to continue on as if life were normal. Even as her self-destructive sister gets dangerously involved in the riots. Even as the model black family façade her wealthy and prominent parents have built starts to crumble. Even as her best friends help spread a rumor that could completely derail the future of her classmate and fellow black kid, LaShawn Johnson.

With her world splintering around her, Ashley, along with the rest of LA, is left to question who is the us? And who is the them?

This is a timely and arresting book about growing up and drifting apart from your friendship group, learning who you are and who you want to become. It’s about facing history head on and understanding how the past impacts the present and the future.

It hits hard on social injustice, race and class, opening the eyes and hearts of the characters and the reader. Although Christina Hammonds Reed doesn’t gloss and filter or provide unrealistic happy endings, The Black Kids is an ultimately hopeful book, looking to a future that could be better. Should be better.

The comparisons with The Hate You Give are well deserved. We loved it.

You can order your copy here.

Books That Feel Like a Big Hug

In times of uncertainty we try to find comfort in the day to day and one way many people find this is through reading.

Personally, the book I could return to time and time again is Moominland Midwinter by Tove Jansson. I am a big fan of the Moomins but there’s undoubtedly something very reassuring about being pulled into Moominvalley and exploring the magical snowy landscape with Moomintroll. The characters all feel like old friends and I know that if anything does go wrong, Moominmamma will make it all better somehow, either with her unerring patience and logic or with something useful stashed in her gigantic handbag.

Winnie the Pooh is another such book that welcomes me into a world of childhood innocence, joy and fun. The Hundred Acre Wood is the friendly yet slightly wild playground we all dreamt of and who else is of more comfort than Pooh himself? He’s a simple bear; surprisingly wise, completely at ease with himself and he always has honey on hand in case you feel a little peckish.

Another story for a slightly older audience that feels like a big hug is I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith. It’s the coming-of-age story of teenager Cassandra who lives in an old romantic castle with her eccentric family. The narrative style, relationships between characters and the romance that entails never fail to give me warm fuzzy feelings inside.

I asked our followers on social media which books brought them the greatest comfort and these either tended to be books loved at a young age which create feelings of nostalgia, stories read by adults with their children when they were little or those that had heart warming moments within providing the warm fuzzy feelings we all love.

The Harry Potter series was a very popular choice for many, especially Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. If you combine the escapism of the magical world, the excitement at rediscovering Hogwarts, the warm embrace of familiar characters like Hagrid and Dumbledore and the nostalgia associated with this series then it’s no surprise that this was the most widespread suggestion for ultimate comfort reading.

Other suggestions included books that made people laugh like Claude in the City by Alex T. Smith, magical classic picture books read repeatedly at a young age, more modern classics such as Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson or pure magical escapism such as The Enchanted Wood series by Enid Blyton.

If you’re in need of a comforting story at the moment then call the shop on 01273911988 or email us on info@booknookuk.com, talk to a member of staff and they’ll recommend something just for you. We can deliver free locally or post to anyone outside of Brighton and Hove.

Keep reading and keep safe!