Divergent – Veronica Roth

I really liked the movie and had heard so much about the book, I had to give it a go. I’ll be honest and say it started a little slow for me. Perhaps it just lacked a bit of depth and I didn’t feel connected to the characters or world, but I found it so hard to engage with, I almost gave up.

Once the story got going in the second half of the book, I was gripped – it became quite fast-paced and dramatic.

Genre: Dystopian YA

Rating: 4/5⭐️

A Wish For Jinnie – Audrey Davis

I’ll never fail to enjoy Audrey Davis’ brand of romantic comedy. A Wish for Jinnie is a fun read packed with a comedic rhythm that keeps the story well-paced and entertaining throughout. I loved Jinnie, and Jeanie Dhassim as much as I enjoyed Sam’s character and the blossoming romance. Audrey Davis always developed does develop fantastic characters though and Jinnie’s gran just leapt off the page – she was fab. The story itself is well developed and believable because despite the element of magic and fantasy the characters’ lives are a reflection of our own.

If you want to lose yourself for a few hours of heartfelt fun, this is definitely the perfect book for you.

Genre: romantic comedy

Rating: 5/5⭐️

The Stones Thieves – Eddy Telviot

The Stone Thieves is a traditional childrens’ adventure story with a futuristic twist that I feel will be enjoyed by teenagers and adults alike. There are flavours of Lord of The Rings, The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner, The Night Circus and Harry Potter but make no mistake; this is a unique book in its own right.

The world building really drew me in. It was imaginative and vivid with lots of recognisable ‘real world elements’ which helped me as a reader connect to the story. You can tell the author has a keen interest in science as the inventions and creations are plentiful and beyond the realms of most humble imaginations. Saying that, I did like how many of the inventions were based on technology that we’ve almost developed because this gave the story an element of believability. I won’t give anything away because I don’t want to ruin the story for anyone but I will say this: Pass me the anti-ageing stuff now!

The characters are well drawn and the fact the main group are teens, shone through brilliantly. Their nativity at times, and curiosity at others gave them added dimensions, as did the banter between Sam and friends.

Overall, fans of science fiction and fantasy will love this book – I’m pleased to see the author has more novels planned (I for one can’t imagine where he’ll take us next).

Genre: Sci-fi/ fantasy

Rating: 5/5⭐️

Darkest Night – Jenny O’Brien

I hadn’t read the first book in the Gaby Darin series but that in no way hampered my understanding of Jenny O’Brien’s latest instalment, Darkest Night. The opening grabs you straight away with a hook that’s puzzling to say the least, What should be a cut and dry case transpires to be something more when Detective Darin gets involved. She’s a great heroine, flawed yet driven in her field and no stone is left unturned. The story is told in multiple POV and I really loved this extra dimension that added to the pace.

There is some wonderful camaraderie between characters and there’s a highly satisfying ending. I raced through this book – it kept me on the edge of my seat trying to work out what the heck had happened.

Genre: Crime / Thriller

Rating: 5/5⭐️

Summer Strawberries at Swallowtail Bay – Katie Ginger

This was my first Katie Ginger book and I’ll definitely be picking up her others. Summer Strawberries at Swallowtail Bay is the perfect escapist read. Set by the sea, it perfectly encompasses the British seaside vibe and gave me a wave of nostalgia as it reminded me of my own UK holidays when I was a child.

The story follows Hettie who is determined to shake up the annual strawberry show by putting on an all singing and dancing strawberry-themed festival. Despite many roadblocks, Betty’s determination gets her there with twists and turns along the way.

Hetty is a sweet heroine with a feisty side and I enjoyed watching her grow and figure out what she wanted personally and professionally. As with all the characters, she’s well drawn out and vivid and I loved a certain Mr someone too!

With a gorgeous backdrop, plenty of yummy food references and lovely storytelling, this is the perfect read to accompany this summer’s ‘staycation’.

Genre: Romance / Romcom

Rating: 5/5⭐️

The Boy in The Black Suit – Jason Reynolds

The Boy in The Black Suit is an understated coming-of-age story about a teenaged boy coming to terms with his mother’s death whilst trying to make his way in the world. The sense of community throughout was low-key yet powerful and whilst the book avoids preachy tones, there’s plenty to take away from it.

I found the story believable and heartwarming and enjoyed the light humour and perspective.

Genre: YA fiction

Rating: 4.5/5⭐️

Regretting You – Colleen Hoover

Whatever Colleen Hoover wants you to feel; pain, heartache, fear, you feel it and Regretting You is another hilly ride of emotion.

Whilst it is a romance of sorts, the real story is the fragile bond between mother and daughter. A relationship that’s unfiltered and stripped back to its bare bones and rebuilt. The book focusses on the perspectives of both the mother and daughter and you get an insight into both perspectives in an impossible situation.

I enjoyed the book, not quite as much as other CH books I’ve read but it’s definitely worth a read.

Genre: women’s fiction / romance

Rating: 4/5⭐️

The Things I Know about Love – Dolly Alderton

Before I start, I should say I’m probably not the intended demographic for this book and I had a definite (fatigued) sense of ‘been there done that.’ I pretty much grew up a decade ahead of Dolly so with that in mind, you may take the negatives in this review with a pinch of salt.

I’ve listened to and loved Dolly Alderton’s podcasts so I really thought I’d enjoy this book but sadly, I didn’t like it as much as I’d hoped. Dolly’s experiences are similar to the ones we all had as teenagers, except she had more money than most of us did and doesn’t at any point seem to realise her privileges even with the benefit of hindsight. Instead the tales are told as thought they were unique and the tone felt off.

Some of the anecdotes offered a little bit of fond 90s nostalgia but on the whole I struggled to relate and was left a little disappointed through this earlier part of the book. I think the wild stories were supposed to be funny but something about the way they’re told come across as though the author has a misplaced sense of pride in her actions. Never at any point did you get a sense of young naivety with reflection. Instead, it felt like the author imprinted the wisdom and perspective she’d gained over he years onto her younger self so it felt a bit sanctimonious.

As the stories cover her getting older there are some more serious topics covered. It was a great opportunity to show a scared side or a rawness but even the telling of these tales fell flat for me. Instead of opening up, the author just covered the ‘here’s what good advice I offered’, ‘here’s how I was funny’ or ‘here’s what I did well’. It felt disingenuous and came across as a little narcissistic at times. The parts where we’re supposed to empathise just didn’t work for me. The key messages are there but clouded so much with what she felt then rather than what she’s learned since.

Overall the book Just seemed self-indulgent. It’s a shame because it’s really well written (hence the 3 stars) and there were some quite profound statements and observations. I think it could have been a great read with plenty of laughs and opportunities for content that people could to relate to but for me, it missed the mark.

Genre: non-fiction/ autobiography

Rating: 3/5🌟

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes – Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games series is one of the best examples of the old writing adage ‘show don’t tell.’ You’re forced into the action with immediacy and feel every urgent, terrifying step of Katniss’s journey – it’s one of the things that makes it great. The Ballad of Snakes and Songbirds starts off telling the story, with much of the action told after the event. There’s no urgency and it leaves the pace a little slow in the first section of the book. The switch from 1st person (Hunger Games) to 3rd person gives the book a completely different feel too. Although it changed the experience, I get why Collins did it. First person works best when you’re rooting for the MC. Katniss is our heroine and we’re not supposed to doesn’t to root for Snow.

The story is interesting and when it does pick up, it gets good. Really good. Seeing the games play out from an outside ‘Capitol’ POV rather than a tribute POV was interesting and much of the action. tension and violence in this section felt very much on-brand and I got a little bit nostalgic at this point, reminiscing about the first time I read the trilogy.

All in all it’s a stunning hardback which is superbly written and a perfect accompaniment to the series. It’s a little slow in parts but worth a read.

Genre: Dystopian YA

Rating: 4/5⭐️

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