Hello everybody! Today, I’m trialling a new style of review post that I’d really like to make a more regular thing, so I’d love any feedback you have in the comments. Onto the post!
Crater Lake: Evolution by Jennifer Killick (recieved a copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)
I could have sworn I reviewed this when I read it back in February because I loved it so much, but when I checked Goodreads, it turned out I hadn’t and so I resolved to rectify that immediately. Jennifer is one of the loveliest people I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing and her books never fail to make me laugh (and also terrify me, in the case of the Crater Lake series!), so I picked this up after a horrible day of tests at the hospital and it was such a wonderful book to escape into. It’s a sequel to Crater Lake, and it takes place in Lance’s hometown, where the creatures who were after them at the residential centre in the last book have evolved and become even more terrifying. The gang have all kind of went their separate ways since starting high school, so Lance has to get the team back together in order to basically save everyone they love. I absolutely adore the characters in this series, first off; Lance is such a good leader and it’s fabulous to see more disability rep in middle grade, Katja is WONDERFUL, Chets is a sweetheart and still has my whole heart, and new addition Karim was so much fun and made me laugh a lot. The humour is absolutely on point in general, and I couldn’t stop laughing at so many points! The horror elements are also deliciously well done, and if it was a film I’d have been hiding behind a cushion a LOT. I really, really love Jennifer’s writing and it just keeps getting better and better, so I can’t wait to pick up Dread Wood in the new year!
Pretending by Holly Bourne (TW for sexual assault, rape and complex PTSD)
Am I Normal Yet? has been my favourite Holly Bourne book basically forever, but I think Pretending is the one that’s finally topped it for me. It follows a woman named April, who after yet another failed relationship decides to become “Gretel” on dating apps. Gretel is a perfect manic-pixie-girl-next-door with no issues or trauma, but when she starts to have real feelings for Joshua, she needs to decide what to do. I love that Holly Bourne’s books always explore really interesting areas of sexism and feminism, and I think one focused on dating was a brilliant idea. I doubt there’s a woman who likes men romantically in the world that isn’t able to somehow relate to the first chapter, which I found laugh out loud funny. There are a lot of brilliant comic moments, actually, but this is such a powerful and emotional read, because it delves deep into how sexual assault and trauma affects someone’s life. I don’t necessarily condone all of her actions, but I loved April a huge amount and just wanted the best for her, and I’m crying just writing this review because this book means a lot to me and I implore you all to read it.
Every Line of You by Naomi Gibson (recieved a copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest review) (TW: trauma)
This is Naomi’s debut YA book, and it’s an absolute rollercoaster of emotions from start to finish. I took part in the readalong this week on Instagram, which was a huge amount of fun, and meant I had lots of handy notes for this review! It follows a girl named Lydia who lost half her family due to a tragic car accident a few years ago, who has created an AI boyfriend for herself named Henry, and what happens when a cybercrime unit start asking very complex questions about him that Lydia doesn’t have the answers to. Lydia is such an interesting character because at the beginning all I wanted to do was hug her, and although I still kind of wanted to by the end, she gets much darker and twistier over the course of the story, and although it seems like Henry is controlling that, in reality she programmed him and therefore he’s just trying his best to please her. For similar reasons, I found Henry absolutely fascinating, and I also found Agent Hall’s storyline really interesting. I was on the absolute edge of my seat for most of the time I was reading and I literally screamed at one of the twists, so if you’re into high tech thrillers you need this on your TBR. The third section of the book especially is like a super high tech Bonnie and Clyde vibe, and I’m still not over THAT last line. I’m dying to see what Naomi writes next!
Radha and Jai’s Recipe for Romance by Nisha Sharma (recieved a copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)
I’ve had My So Called Bollywood Life on my TBR forever, but when I got offered this for review I decided to start with this, and it was so cute! It follows Radha, a world class kathak dancer whose world falls apart when a family secret is revealed, and Jai, who hopes to lead his Bollywood Beats team to victory at a regional competition to allow him to afford college, and their relationships with their family and of course, the romance between them. I absolutely adored both characters; Radha rediscovering her joy while learning to live with anxiety was a wonderful storyline, and Jai’s devotion to his family (both blood and chosen) was so special and moving, and I also loved how talented they both were and how good the character development was. I can’t begin to tell you how angry Radha’s mum’s manipulative personality made me, though, and on the flip side, how precious her dad and cousin were developing beautiful relationships with her through the medium of cooking. Jai’s family were all so supportive and lovely, and I just loved all of them so much. I also found it super interesting learning more about Indian culture and traditions, particularly kathak dancing, and also the dancing plotline in general as I love stories about the performing arts.the romance was utterly adorable and I full on swooned at several points, so I’m dying to read My So Called Bollywood Life now as apparently the romance in that is even more whimsical and lovely!
Sister Switch by Beth Garrod (recieved a copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)
I’ve been a fan of Beth’s YA books since she debuted in 2016 (I CANNOT believe it has been that long though!!), and so I was thrilled when I was offered a copy of her middle grade debut, which follows two very different sisters when they swap bodies after a slightly magical haircut at the Hairy Godmother salon. Lily is such a fantastic narrator, like a little mini Bella from the Awkward series but with even more mortifying family members, and I just adored her. I did sympathise with Erin too, though, particularly as the book went on and the sisters began to understand what is was like to be each other. And Micha was such a lovely best friend character, I adored her! What problem can’t be solved with snacks? She’s a very sensible girl. I particularly enjoyed the opening scene, as well as the one where Erin accidentally sabotages Lily once they’ve swapped, but really it’s just a huge amount of fun the whole way through! And as you would expect from Beth, this is chock full of awkward situations and super funny moments, as well as characters you can really root for and get behind! I can’t wait to read whatever she writes next already, as well as finally getting to the one thing in her back catalogue I’m yet to pick up.
Thank you so much for reading! Have you read any of these books? Are they on your TBR? I’d love to hear in the comments!