Title: Noteworthy (2017)
Author: Riley Redgate
Publisher: Amulet Books
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Extent: 336 pages
Release Date: May 2, 2017
It’s the start of Jordan Sun’s junior year at the Kensington-Blaine Boarding School for the Performing Arts. Unfortunately, she’s an Alto 2, which—in the musical theatre world—is sort of like being a vulture in the wild: She has a spot in the ecosystem, but nobody’s falling over themselves to express their appreciation. So it’s no surprise when she gets shut out of the fall musical for the third year straight.
Then the school gets a mass email: A spot has opened up in the Sharpshooters, Kensington’s elite a cappella octet. Worshiped… revered… all male. Desperate to prove herself, Jordan auditions in her most convincing drag, and it turns out that Jordan Sun, Tenor 1, is exactly what the Sharps are looking for.
Early last year, Riley Redgate impressed me with Seven Ways We Lie, a book with not two, not three, but seven first-person point of views. Entertaining, quirky and surprisingly original, SWWL was very much a solid debut, which is why I have quite high expectations of Redgate’s follow-up. Enter Noteworthy.
Title: You’re Welcome, Universe (2017)
Author: Whitney Gardner
Publisher: Knopf Books
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Extent: 304 pages
Release Date: March 7, 2017
When Julia finds a slur about her best friend scrawled across the back of the Kingston School for the Deaf, she covers it up with a beautiful (albeit illegal) graffiti mural.
Her supposed best friend snitches, the principal expels her, and her two mothers set Julia up with a one-way ticket to a “mainstream” school in the suburbs, where she’s treated like an outcast as the only deaf student. The last thing she has left is her art, and not even Banksy himself could convince her to give that up.
Out in the ’burbs, Julia paints anywhere she can, eager to claim some turf of her own. But Julia soon learns that she might not be the only vandal in town. Someone is adding to her tags, making them better, showing off—and showing Julia up in the process. She expected her art might get painted over by cops. But she never imagined getting dragged into a full-blown graffiti war.
You’re Welcome, Universe is the story of Julia, a Deaf Indian girl who has been kicked out from her Deaf school and must now go to a “mainstream” school. If that’s not interesting enough, Julia has a passion for graffiti tagging and goes by the name ‘HERE’ both on her art and online in internet forums. It’s a cute, fun novel, and it’s even got hand-drawn illustrations done by the author herself. 🎨
Title: Queens of Geek (2017)
Author: Jen Wilde
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBTQIA+
Extent: 288 pages
Release Date: March 14, 2017
Charlie likes to stand out. She’s a vlogger and actress promoting her first movie at SupaCon, and this is her chance to show fans she’s over her public breakup with co-star Reese Ryan. When internet-famous cool-girl actress Alyssa Huntington arrives as a surprise guest, it seems Charlie’s long-time crush on her isn’t as one-sided as she thought.
Taylor likes to blend in. Her brain is wired differently, making her fear change. And there’s one thing in her life she knows will never change: her friendship with her best guy friend Jamie—no matter how much she may secretly want it to. But when she hears about a fan contest for her favorite fandom, she starts to rethink her rules on playing it safe.
Going into Queens of Geek, I was actually kind of hesitant. Fandom books are somewhat of a rarity, in my experience, and what’s there is not always a hit. When I heard about this one and how it’s yet another con experience with best friends as main characters (like All the Feels or The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love), I was fully prepared to be let down. Thankfully, Queens of Geek managed to surpass those stories — at least in my humble opinion. 😉
Title: Pretty Face (2017)
Series: London Celebrities – Book 2
Author: Lucy Parker
Publisher: Carina Press
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Extent: 222 pages
Release Date: February 20, 2017
It’s not actress Lily Lamprey’s fault that she’s all curves and has the kind of voice that can fog up a camera lens. She wants to prove where her real talents lie—and that’s not on a casting couch, thank you. When she hears esteemed director Luc Savage is renovating a legendary West End theater for a lofty new production, she knows it could be her chance—if only Luc wasn’t so dictatorial, so bad-tempered and so incredibly sexy.
Luc Savage has respect, integrity and experience. He also has it bad for Lily. He’d be willing to dismiss it as a midlife crisis, but this exasperating, irresistible woman is actually a very talented actress. Unfortunately, their romance is not only raising questions about Lily’s suddenly rising career, it’s threatening Luc’s professional reputation. The course of true love never did run smooth. But if they’re not careful, it could bring down the curtain on both their careers…
I don’t usually write reviews for the romance novels that I read, but Pretty Face is a bit of a special case for one simple reason: I liked it so, so much, I pretty much started rereading it right after I finished it. It’s actually the second in a series but it’s more of a companion novel, and while I also enjoyed the first one, I like this one just that much better. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that this is the level I think contemporary romance should strive to be at, and I’ll be following Lucy Parker’s work for years to come. ✨
Title: Maybe in Another Life (2015)
Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Publisher: Washington Square Press
Genre: Chick Lit, Contemporary
Extent: 342 pages
Release Date: July 7, 2015
At the age of twenty-nine, Hannah Martin still has no idea what she wants to do with her life. She has lived in six different cities and held countless meaningless jobs since graduating college. On the heels of leaving yet another city, Hannah moves back to her hometown of Los Angeles and takes up residence in her best friend Gabby’s guestroom. Shortly after getting back to town, Hannah goes out to a bar one night with Gabby and meets up with her high school boyfriend, Ethan.
Just after midnight, Gabby asks Hannah if she’s ready to go. A moment later, Ethan offers to give her a ride later if she wants to stay. Hannah hesitates. What happens if she leaves with Gabby? What happens if she leaves with Ethan?
In concurrent storylines, Hannah lives out the effects of each decision. Quickly, these parallel universes develop into radically different stories with large-scale consequences for Hannah, as well as the people around her. As the two alternate realities run their course, Maybe in Another Life raises questions about fate and true love: Is anything meant to be? How much in our life is determined by chance? And perhaps, most compellingly: Is there such a thing as a soul mate?
Taylor Jenkins Reid is far from being my favourite author, but I’ve always appreciated what her books speak to. Her stories are essentially, I think, coming-of-age stories: her protagonists always undergo some huge life change that forces them to grow and learn. In Maybe in Another Life, we see one protagonist do exactly that… but in separate timelines.