Hello everybody! Today, I have another review post for you, which doesn’t really have a theme because I saw someone coin the phrase mood reading May and I decided to jump on the bandwagon. There’s a fair bit of variety here so hopefully something for just about everyone! Onto the post!
Twelve Days in May by Niamh Hargan
I’ve been excited about this book for absolutely ages, since I saw an author who read an advance copy raving about it on twitter, so I made it an absolute priority to read it in May given the title. It’s the story of Lizzy and Ciaran, who were friends years ago while studying abroad in France together until it all went wrong, and their unintentional reunion years later at Cannes Film Festival which they’re both attending because of work. Some of this is SO funny- the writing style reminded me a lot of Mhairi McFarlane with the dry wit, and like her books, it was hard to pick a favourite comedic moment. I think it has to be Ciaran’s dealing with a small but slightly vicious French child named Thierry, though, because that was the moment where I fell in love with him myself. I did also love Lizzy though, lest I sound like I didn’t- she just made me laugh and cry and I adored her, not least because she feels like someone just about everyone could relate to in some way. They work so well together as a couple, and their chemistry was just EVERYTHING in both the friends-to-lovers past timeline and enemies-to-lovers present day setting. I am so excited to see what Niamh does next, because her debut has made her an auto-read author for me for sure.
Day of the Whale by Rachel Delahaye (recieved from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)
I’ve been looking forward to this book for absolutely ages because I’d heard nothing but incredible things, and so when Rachel got in touch to offer me a review copy, I essentially bit her hand off (sorry for that Rachel!). It takes place in a utopian society based on Australia, where people now live ruled by whales after the climate crisis became overwhelming and destroyed the earth. We follow a boy named Cam who is trying to find out the truth of what happened when his father went missing, by following his final words that told him to pay attention to Big Blue, who is the most powerful of the whales. There is a phenomenal twist in this that I just didn’t see coming at all, and I was blown away by how original and clever and creative the worldbuilding is. I genuinely could not put this down until I was finished because I was so worried about the characters and how things would turn out for both them and the world as a whole. I also want to mention that I loved seeing such a different side to Rachel’s writing than what I’d seen before in the Mort the Meek books, while it also still had the same charm that I love in those. I’m definitely looking forward to reading more from Rachel in the future.
Welcome to Your Life by Bethany Rutter
The premise of this instantly had me hooked: a woman named Serena jilts her fiancé on the day of the wedding, because she just isn’t as in love as she should be and is no longer willing to settle because she should be grateful to have found anyone at all due to her weight. I loved Serena instantly, from the first page, where we meet her in a restaurant eating ice cream and drinking wine after running away, because I mean that is just absolutely boss energy. Watching her grow in confidence and realise how incredible she is as she decides to go on at least one date every week was absolutely joyous, and no spoilers but I really liked the man she ends up with in the end, I think he was her perfect fit. However, they were not my faves because Nicole is the most incredible friend character I think I have ever read, I want nothing more than for she and I to be besties, and actually I’d really like a book with her as the main character. I am SO HERE for books about fat babes finding love and being gorgeous in general though, so this book was very relevant to my interests and I wish there were so many more like it! Roll on Bethany’s next book!!
Twin Crowns by Katherine Webber and Catherine Doyle (recieved from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)
I love both of these authors separately, as you may know if you’ve been around for a while, so when I heard they were writing a romcom-esque fantasy about twin sisters who both want to be crowned queen, I was elated. Somehow, because life is weird sometimes and things happen to me that I still cannot believe, I was offered a review copy and I took it away with me for an overnight trip and I just DEVOURED the whole thing. As I said, it’s about sisterhood, but these sisters have been separated from birth- Rose has been raised as a princess by the Kingsbreath, her father’s closest adviser before his untimely death, who hates the kingdom’s witches and sees Rose as a bit of an inconvenience, while Wren was taken away by the witches and raised among them by her grandmother. Then they are forced (well, Rose is, at least) to switch places and a thrilling adventure begins. This book is just a masterclass in how to craft lovable, unique characters; I loved literally everybody except people who were very clearly signposted as villains (and even in those cases, they’re baddies you will just love to hate!). My very favourite was Wren because I loved how fearless and fierce she is, but some other big highlights were Shen, Elske and Rose’s best friend Celeste (and my fave minor character was Cam, I want to see more of him next time please!!). There are some truly gorgeous swoony moments to enjoy too, as well of loads of humour, but the climax of this is unbelievably high-octane and exciting and kind of devastating in many ways, so I cannot WAIT for the next book already!!
The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood (TW: emotional abuse in an academic setting, sexual harrassment/assault)
I’ve been hearing literally just about everyone I know who likes romance raving about this for about a year now, so I recently bought it and I was apprehensive going in, but I have to say I do in fact agree with the hype and think this is great. It’s about a grad student named Olive, who gets into a fake relationship with grumpy professor Adam, and then because this is a romance book they obviously catch real feelings for one another. I’m a sucker for fake dating, I just am. It is my literal dream scenario to have someone fake date me and then we could actually fall in love. So I loved that this both very much honours the trope and is a very classic example, while also poking a little bit of fun at it, because I think we can all acknowledge that it can be a little silly sometimes and this made it feel like a thing that could genuinely happen. Their chemistry, for the record, is just off the charts and incredibly fun, and I also has a good time with the academic setting. I must also say that Holden and Malcolm are awesome and I’d read a whole book of them bantering with each other and/or Adam and Olive. That said, I’m still very much looking forward to reading Love on the Brain when it’s out (I think it’s August?), not least because I think the bubblegum pink of the cover is just so lovely and summery and joyful.
The Good Turn by Sharna Jackson
I really enjoyed this author’s previous series with the incredible Knights Of, so I’ve been looking forward to this for a while and thoroughly enjoyed the experience of buddy reading it with my friend Rachael. It follows a girl named Josie and her friends Wes and Margot, as they take inspired from Josephine Holloway and set up their own Guides/Scouts style group called the Copseys. They then discover that people are living in a disused factory nearby, and set out to work out why and what they can do about it. I think my favourite thing about this is how memories the characters are- Josephine is so ambitious and determined to help people, Wes is just so funny and caring and a DELIGHT (I was GIGGLING so much in the camping scene especially!!), and I loved getting to understand Margot more as the book went on as she’s definitely a bit of a mystery at the start and then as I got to know her, I felt a lot of sympathy for her in many ways. I think the message of this story- which is kind of hard to discuss in detail without giving away the whole mystery, hence my slight evasiveness – is really beautiful and I’m so excited to see where the series goes next.
You, Me and Our Heartstrings by Melissa See (recieved from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)
Okay, so this review might end up being a bit personal and about me, because the representative in it is so important and I can’t separate that from my experience of the book. To set the scene for you, I was told many times in high school that no one would ever find me attractive or fall in love with me because of my disability, and for varying and complex reasons, I firmly believed this to be true and still do to an extent. There were no books like this when I was 15. So when I heard about this YA romance about a disabled violinist named Daisy falling in love with Noah, a cellist who has anxiety, I immediately wanted to read it. The relationship between them is utterly adorable, and they just have such a special connection and so many cute moments together, as well as them both being entirely likable as their own characters. Their friend group is also so adorable and supportive, which was just so nice to see! Also, Noah’s family are just the purest, sweetest souls and I loved them- it’s been ages since I’ve read about such a delightful book family, and I loved every single member of this one! This also tackles ableism head on in so many forms, and I found so much of what Daisy goes through relatable that I cried several times. At its core though, this is a book about joy, and how disabled people deserve joy, and it just made me really happy and grateful that the disabled teens of today might feel a little less alone than I did 5 years ago, and still sometimes do. Love Letters to Joy Corvi cannot come soon enough for me!
The Girl with No Soul by Morgan Owen (recieved from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)
I have taken a horrifying length of time to read this, for which I am very sorry, particularly given that when I finally did start it, I instantly liked it so much. This follows a girl named Iris (well, at least that’s the name she’s been given!), who is a Hollow, a girl with no soul in a world where your soul and the most prominent part of it is the most crucial thing about you. She sets out to discover what happened on this mysterious night that it shrouded in sinister secrecy, the Night That Never Was, and then the plot just gets SO exciting from there. I loved Iris a lot, as she kind of goes through the process of finding herself and understanding what’s happened to her, and I was also a big fan of her side kick/love interest Evander, who is having his own issues with his soul malfunctioning. The kind of found family aspect is just so lovely too, and all in all, I just this book is such a good example of what YA fantasy can and should be!! This is such a hugely impressive debut and I cannot wait to see what Morgan does next, because I just know already that it’s going to be incredible.
Thank you so much for reading! Do you enjoy mood reading? What are your thoughts on the books I’ve reviewed today? I’d love to chat with you in the comments!!