Hello everybody! Today, I have another review post to share with you, this time made up of some YA and adult books, the first one being one I read a few months ago and the rest being ones I’ve picked up this month. Onto the post!
The Road Trip by Beth O’ Leary
I’ve been a Beth O’ Leary fan for years now, but the Road Trip is undoubtedly my favourite of her books to date. It follows exes Addie and Dylan, who are forced to travel together to a mutual friend’s wedding in Scotland after a car breaks down. With them are Addie’s sister Deb, Dylan’s slightly douchey friend Marcus and random stranger Rodney, who asked for a lift on the wedding’s Facebook group. We get a before timeline from when Addie and Dylan met, got together and subsequently broke up, and also the present day timeline with the car journey from literal hell. First up, the characters are all amazing. Addie is so strong and capable and wonderful, Deb is a badass queen, Dylan is ultimately a really good guy (even though I got very angry with him at points!), Marcus is just the type of character you love to hate, and Rodney’s fish out of water commentary had me in absolute stitches. Speaking of being in stitches, I laughed so often while reading this that my mum decided she had to read it too if it was THAT funny. Also, this is a romcom so I don’t know if you’d call it a twist as such, but there’s a reveal in this I loved more than I can even put into words. And of course, this is a romcom, so the romance is every bit as lovely as you’d expect from Beth O’ Leary too. Roll on the No Show next year!
The City of Lost Dreamers by Lisa Lueddecke (recieved a copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)
This is my first Lisa Lueddecke book, despite having wanted to read all her books since the first one, and it was absolutely the sort of fantasy I enjoy. It’s about a girl named Siya, who lives in a city cut off from the rest of the world by Baba Yaga, and her quest to try and find the map pieces that when put together could unite them again. She is the non-magical daughter of a very powerful man, and despite her thinking this is her chance to make history, she and Feodor, her companion in this adventure, instead end up being pursued by some very dangerous people with nefarious intentions. The world in this is so unique and interesting and well-crafted, and I loved the magic system too. And I thought the parallels between the real world and the floating city were really interesting too; I definitely felt like some parts of the plot were designed to mirror the attitudes of some people in real life. Siya is such a fantastic character and I loved watching her confidence grow and seeing her realise that being magicless didn’t define her or make her lesser to those who do have magic, and her friendship/flirtation with Feodor was probably my favourite part of the whole book. It’s also quite a quick read, so perfect for anyone who’s really in the mood for a fantasy but doesn’t have time to commit to a gigantic tome that’s hard to get into!
Perfect on Paper by Sophie Gonzalez
I had expected to like this, but I wasn’t expecting to fall in love in love with it. But I did. It absolutely charmed my socks off. It’s about Darcy, who runs an anonymous dating/love advice locker at school, and what happens when new boy at school Brougham propositions her into helping him win back his ex. Amidst this love/hate relationship with him, Darcy is also navigating her complicated feelings towards her best friend Brooke, who she has been secretly in love with for quite a long time, and changes in that relationship that she’s inadvertently caused via her locker. Darcy is not perfect. She is messy and real and I loved her all the more for the fact that she’s flawed. She felt like someone I’d really like to be friends with, and I was backing her to the hilt the whole book. Her sister Ainsley was an absolute joy and I loved her, and Brougham is a delightful love interest. Their flirty, bickery banter was hilarious and I just adored them, basically. I think the messages in here about not having to be perfect are really important, and this is easily one of the best YA books I’ve read this year. I can’t wait to pick up Only Mostly Devestated and If This Gets Out!!
A Single Thread of Moonlight by Laura Wood
As you’ll have seen if you follow my social media, I took this with me to my recent MRI results appointment, specifically because I knew 1000% that I would love it, and I couldn’t have been more right. It was a very sucky day, to put things lightly, and getting lost in this story during it helped me block out the horrors of the waiting room and the pretty bad news I got. So, first of all, thank you to Laura for providing that escape once again, as she’s done with so many of her books for me now. And now, I’ll shut up about me and talk about her brilliant book! It’s the sort of Cinderella story of Iris, who ran away from home after the very suspicious death of her father following his remarriage, and her returning to her family home to seek revenge against her stepmother Helena, both for her sake and that of Nicholas Wynter, who also wishes to sabotage someone at the society party they’ll be attending there. Now, this is a Laura Wood book, so they obviously soon realise that they have far more in common than a desire for revenge, and their relationship is one of my favourites I’ve read in ages, and quite possibly of all time, actually. Iris herself as a character is undoubtedly my favourite Laura Wood heroine (I’m so sorry Lou and Freya and Bea, she’s just so INCREDIBLE!!), and I knew within a couple of chapters that her narration and her way of dealing with people she didn’t like were going to make the whole book a treat. She is the needle, and I adore her all the more for being her sharp, spiky yet kind self. I don’t have much to say about Nick other than to ask when I can please marry him? Helena is the perfect wicked stepmother, I adored Cassie and her ambition, and Nick’s grandmother… I mean, I do not have words. What a legend. What a QUEEN. The revenge and the mystery and the society scandal elements were all just icing on the already utterly DELICIOUS cake.
The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar (TW: homophobia, a character being outed, cultural appropriation and racism)
I read and fell in love with Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating by this author back in June, so I wanted to squeeze this in before the end of the year and it didn’t disappoint. It’s the story of Nishat, and what happens when she meets beautiful new girl at school Flàvia, who is starting a rival henna business with her racist cousin Chyna, to Nishat’s own, despite Nishat respectfully asking her not to as it’s cultural appropriation. And thus begin the Henna Wars, and the friends-enemies-lovers relationship between the two girls. I really enjoyed Nishat as a character. She is just trying to figure herself and what she wants and who she is out and I was so angry with all of the people who made that harder for her during this book. Her relationship with her family is pretty complicated and difficult in terms of her parents, but the close bond she has with Priti and her love for her Nanu was just the loveliest thing. Flàvia was pretty hard to get a read on sometimes, but overall I liked her. And in terms of their relationship, I thought it was super fun and their exchange in French was hilarious. The ending made me cry in a couple of places, though no spoilers as to why, and I truly can’t wait to see what Adiba Jaigirdar writes in the future because she is so talented. This is a lovely romance, but more than that, I think it tackles some really important issues and it’s one I wish a lot more people would read.
You and Me at the End of the World by Brianna Bourne (recieved a copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)
I was on the blog tour for this back in the summer, and it’s been on my TBR ever since, so I’m really glad I finally picked it up this month. The story follows two teenagers: ballet dancer Hannah and glam metal musician Leo, who wake up in a version of Houston where there are no other people and strange weather disasters keep occurring, putting them in huge danger. This is very much a character focused book, and so a lot was riding on how I felt about the characters, who I thankfully just utterly adored. Hannah I found very relatable in terms of wanting to be perfect and not let anyone down, and Leo I just wanted to give a massive hug most of the time, because he thinks he destroys everything when really that isn’t the case at all. Their romance is such a slow burn and it’s beautiful to see them connect so strongly in these unimaginable circumstances. I also loved the glimpses we get of Astrid at a few points, as she was just so cool, and I don’t know if I’ve ever read a book set in Houston so I enjoyed that loads as well. I don’t want to give anything away because things went in a different direction than what I’d expected, so all I’ll say is that I personally really liked the ending and I’m definitely planning to read more from Brianna Bourne in the future.
The Way Back by Jamie Fewery
I read Jamie Fewery’s brilliant debut Our Life in a Day back in 2019, and I have no idea why it took me this long to read his second, but I’m so glad I did because I think I liked it even more. It’s about the Cadogan family, in which the patriarch has just died and he has asked his three grown up children who are semi-estranged to travel to Scotland so his ashes can be scattered at Port Ellen. All three of the Cadogan children are so well developed that they felt like real, three-dimensional people; I can’t quite say I liked Jessica but I understood why she was the way she was, Patrick was incredibly likeable and I really felt for him with his marriage situation but also loved his little romance subplot, and I thought Kirsty was absolutely great, she was definitely my favourite of the three and I loved the way she was with Livvy. I am very into books about family secrets being revealed and the big one in this book was an absolute doozy; I did sort of guess what was coming because the foreshadowing was great, but I certainly didn’t guess all the aspects of it and I got really emotional at one particular reveal. Given it’s basically my favourite show of all time, I do not say this lightly, but if you enjoy This Is Us, I think the Way Back is definitely something you should be picking up.
Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender (TW: transphobia, racism)
This is another one I’ve wanted to read for absolutely ages, and so I was very excited when it was finally released in the UK a few months ago. It’s the story of a Black, transgender boy named Felix, who is being threatened by an anonymous bully who released pre-transition pictures of Felix at school, and how his quest to seek revenge on them lands him in a bit of a love triangle. I’m a big fan of a love triangle and this is a great example of one, which endeared the book to me straightaway, and I think how much I liked Felix was a big part of that too. As always, I love when books have a kind of mystery element to them, and trying to work put who grandequeen69 was kept me absolutely hooked. Felix’s best friend Ezra, who is pretty awesome, and the relationship they share was something else I really liked in this. And this is maybe mean of me, but I have a burning hatred for Marisol. I think I was meant to, but oh my GOD I loathe her. Kind of like a cross between Simon Vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda and Jack of Hearts in terms of the writing style and witty humour, but with its own unique discussions about identity and sexuality and gender fluidity and privilege.
Afterlove by Tanya Byrne
I’ve heard so much praise for this book that I was almost nervous to start reading, but as soon as I picked it up I was just utterly absorbed in Ash’s story. The book begins with us meeting Ash working as a reaper in the Afterlife, guiding the dead to their eternal fate, and then we are taken back to her life when she was alive to experience her first love with Poppy in real time, and then we shift timeline again to after, where Ash is desperate to see Poppy just one more time (dead or alive…). I’m sorry for the long winded explanation, I’ve tried very hard not to give spoilers, but I feel like it’s really difficult with this book? Anyway. From the very first page, I adored Ash. Her narration is brilliant and often made me laugh, and the love story between her and Poppy is gorgeous. The relationship between Ash and her family was complicated, but also kind of beautiful, and I also loved her best friend Adara, especially her slightly dodgy dating advice. The concept is incredible, and while I’m frightened to say much else for fear of ruining this book for you, please know this: I laughed, I cried, loved it. Tanya Byrne is a phenomenal writer and if you’ve not picked this up yet, I highly recommend it (and Someday at Christmas, which is one of my all time fave romance books!!)
Thank you so much for reading! Which books in these age categories have you enjoyed recently? Have you read or are you planning to read any of the books I’ve included in this post? I’d love to hear in the comments!