Category Archives: Books

Zenith – Sasha Alsberg, Lindsay Cummings

31394234It’s very nearly the end of the year. With less than two weeks left until Christmas, that means there’s less than three weeks until 2017 is over, and we’re starting all over again in a new year. I’m actually starting a new job on January 2nd, so 2018 is getting off to a start of big changes for me. But even though today I went out for lunch with my new workmates, and it’s only three weeks away, it really doesn’t feel like the start of this new job is that close – it doesn’t feel like the start of a new year is so close! Is it not still only about April of 2017? Where has the year gone?

In any case, with only a few weeks left in the week, there isn’t much time left for reviews. But Zenith, which has been on my to-read list since I picked it up at YALC, and was bumped up largely because it starts with a Z, so was helpful for my Title Challenge, is one that I finally finished this week, and really enjoyed… except for that ending.

Most know Androma Racella as the Bloody Baroness, a powerful mercenary whose reign of terror stretches across the Mirabel Galaxy. To those aboard her glass starship, Marauder, however, she’s just Andi, their friend and fearless leader.

But when a routine mission goes awry, the Marauder‘s all-girl crew is tested as they find themselves in a treacherous situation and at the mercy of a sadistic bounty hunter from Andi’s past.

Meanwhile, across the galaxy, a ruthless ruler waits in the shadows of the planet Xen Ptera, biding her time to exact revenge for the destruction of her people. The pieces of her deadly plan are about to fall into place, unleashing a plot that will tear Mirabel in two.

Andi and her crew embark on a dangerous, soul-testing journey that could restore order to their shipor just as easily start a war that will devour worlds. As the Marauder hurtles toward the unknown, and Mirabel hangs in the balance, the only certainty is that in a galaxy run on lies and illusion, no one can be trusted.

Zenith was one of the proofs that people queued for absurd lengths of time for at YALC. I was one of those people, not because I had heard all the hype about it, but because the queue was sitting down, and my feet hurt, so I was pretty pleased with getting a free book out of it as well. Zenith tells the story of an all-girl crew of space pirates – like Firefly, but with less sudden but inevitable betrayal.

Actually, is there less betrayal? Perhaps there isn’t.

In any case, the premise of Zenith is one that I could totally get behind. Four girls from different ends of the galaxy, all running from something in their pasts, scraping by on petty piracy jobs, and being boss friends. Which was pretty interesting. I would’ve liked a book about this space girl pirate crew. But that’s not really what we got.

I also think that I would’ve liked a book about what’s going to happen in the second book of the Androma saga. But what I didn’t really like was the book we actually got.

So this book was actually kind of a mess. There was one major plot thread running through it which was resolved about 50% of the way through the book, and then the following 50% was all a mess. There was a whole load of unresolved plot threads, and the rest of the book wasn’t particularly enjoyable.

Zenith ends on a massive cliffhanger – setting up for the second book in the saga. And to be honest, I was disappointed in it. There was some interesting relationships between Andi and her crew, some interesting discussion of the family that you choose for yourself.

But honestly, this book had too much backstory and too much faffing. The actual action was limited to the last hundred pages or so, and I was disappointed in that. This book could easily have been condensed down to half the size it was, and the second book in the saga probably tacked on to the end of it. I hate series which are unnecessarily extended into multiple books when they could be easily condensed down into a single, punchy book.

There’s a lot of other stuff I could probably criticise here, including the flimsy supporting characters and the lack of actual romance between the main and the romantic interest. But I don’t know how interested I am in that.

This book was co-written by a massive booktuber, with over 100,000 subscribers, and so it’s subject to a lot of discussion online about whether it’s written on the back of her fame, whether it’s any good, whether it’s ghostwritten, how much success it will have, etc. I actually had never heard of Sasha Alsberg, because I’m not into booktube at all, and have no opinions on her getting a book deal on the back of her booktube fame. So that’s a kettle of fish for someone else to deal with.

Zenith was interesting, but not brilliant, and I don’t know if I have any interest in reading the sequel. It seems like it’s a vehicle for a lot of controversy, and to be honest, it doesn’t really feel like it’s a good enough (or bad enough) book to have this much excitement over it.

 

Three Stars
***

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Title A-Z Challenge

I’ve posted loads of times already this year about my three A-Z challenges.

Well over the weekend, I finished the title challenge, so here’s my beautiful list of my 26 books starting with letters A-Z!

A

Alanna: The First Adventure – Tamora Pierce

B

The Birds and the Bees – Milly Johnson

C

The CEO – Victoria Purman

D

The Diabolic – SJ Kincaid

E

Eyes Like Mine – Sheena Kamal

F

Frogkisser! – Garth Nix

G

The Good Girlfriend’s Guide to Getting Even – Anna Bell

H

He Said/She Said – Erin Kelly

I

I’ll Be Home For Christmas – Roisin Meaney

J

The Judge’s Wife – Ann O’Loughlin

K

Kill Me Twice – Simon Booker

L

The Longest Holiday – Paige Toon

M

A Monster Calls – Patrick Ness

N

Neverwhere – Neil Gaiman

O

One of Us Is Lying – Karen M McManus

P

The Princess Bride – William Goldman

Q

A Quiet Kind of Thunder – Sara Barnard

R

Rakkety Tam – Brian Jacques

S

Second Star – Alyssa B Sheinmel

T

Three Dark Crowns – Kendare Blake

U

The Unpredictable Consequences of Love – Jill Mansell

V

Visser – KA Applegate

W

White Bodies – Jane Robins

X

Xenocide – Orson Scott Card

Y

You Had Me At Hello – Mhairí McFarlane

Z

Zenith – Sasha Alsberg, Lindsay Cummings

I haven’t counted ‘the’ or ‘a’ in titles, because I’d be here with about fifty different T books. I think that’s fair enough. It’s what libraries do!

All 26 books on this list are distinct, by 26 different authors (although I did have two books by the same author for a while, and only realised as I was typing up this post), so I’m pretty happy with how this challenge panned out. There’s a mixture on this list of women’s fiction, fantasy, sci-fi, children’s, and YA, although they’re all quite modern – I think they’re almost all published within the last decade, with one or two exceptions. Actually, most of them were published in 2017!

I’m very happy with how this particular challenge went, and I think the collection of cover art at the top isn’t too bad either – one of three challenges complete and blogged. Thumbs up!

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How To Be A Woman – Caitlin Moran

Caitlin Moran’s seminal book on Feminism was one of my audible purchases on an impulse, but I was surprisingly disappointed by many of the points made in it. With some funny moments, but also some points that I really disliked, this wasn’t a book I could recommend wholeheartedly.

How To Be A Woman – Caitlin Moran

10600242Though they have the vote and the Pill and haven’t been burned as witches since 1727, life isn’t exactly a stroll down the catwalk for modern women. They are beset by uncertainties and questions: Why are they supposed to get Brazilians? Why do bras hurt? Why the incessant talk about babies? And do men secretly hate them? Caitlin Moran interweaves provocative observations on women’s lives with laugh-out-loud funny scenes from her own, from adolescence to her development as a writer, wife, and mother.

I think a large part of my problem with this book was that it was full of generalisations. Moran made sweeping declarations that all women should love big lingerie, all women love weddings, all men are stronger than women, and I was just left shaking my head at many of these statements.

There were some great chapters in here – Moran’s chapters on pregnancy and abortion were excellent, with a balanced view of bodily autonomy and the pressures on women, as well as a really good declaration of the things she learned as a mother, in counterpoint to a very clear statement that there’s nothing mothers can do that non-mothers can’t. But I also disagreed with some of her statements about multi-tasking – who’s to say that mothers are busier than non-mothers? and there was some really very objectionable language in the book.

As well as that, an entire chapter dedicated to what to call your genitals, and the misuse of the term vagina when she meant vulva, left me rolling my eyes expressively.

I listened to the audible version of this book, narrated by Moran herself, and it swung wildly between her childhood Wolverhampton accent and a more neutral accent that she uses now. There were several points where the Wolverhampton (which was generally only put on for imitating herself as a child) inexplicably appeared mid-chapter, which was disconcerting. Not that I have any issue with accents, but fluctuation of accent detracts from the book itself.

Some great chapters, some very dull chapters, some chapters I vehemently disagreed with. Approach with caution!

Three Stars
***

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Reading Goals for the Rest of 2017

So it’s the first week of December. Only three weeks until Christmas. Four weeks left in the year as a whole. So I thought I’d take a little look forward at the books I absolutely want to have read before the year is up. Where I’ll find the time to read these books is somewhat debateable, but I’m sure I’ll squidge them in somewhere. Who needs sleep, right?

Final Challenge Books

Zenith

31394234

I’m already part-way through this, and I’m thoroughly enjoying it. The only problem is that paperbacks are a pain in the bum to read, because they don’t sync between my devices (what with them being made of paper), which means I can’t just pick up whatever’s closest to hand and keep reading.  This means that although I spend a substantial amount of time transferring my book from handbag to clarinet bag, etc, I don’t actually spend all that much time reading it. Must change.

A Wizard of EarthseaimagesQJZKXWJR

It’s been lurking on the list since early this year, but the other day I actually got it down from the bookcase, so that has to be a step in the right direction, amirite? Hopefully that means I’ll actually read it before the month is out.

Life of Pi

81E9oNSK3bLMy sister reckons she suggested this to me months ago as a first name beginning with Y (Yann Martell, that is), and I said yes, then completely forgot about it. I admit that is a distinct possibility. In any case, when I visit her right after Christmas, I’ll be picking this up to tick off another category in my challenge.

An X surname book.

Still struggling…

King’s Cage9780062661913

Having bought it for only £2 on Amazon, and it marking the end of my book buying ban, as well as the fact that I *quite* enjoy the Red Queen series, King’s Cage is definitely on my list of things what I need to read before the year is out.

How To Stop Time

imagesF0X82SJ2

I’ve had this reserved from the library for about three months, and it finally made its way into my BorrowBox app this week, so I’m excited to read this. Having been on the bestsellers for ages, and showing up on every ‘read this’ table in bookshops I visit, I’m looking forward to this story of a long-lifed lover. Even if only for the alliteration!

The Hate U Give

*The* book which has shown up on everyone’s best of 2017 lists, I actually have TWO copies of this book, and have managed to read a grand total of neither of them, because I am rubbish. It’s definitely on my to-do list.

41F2ytTU1wL__SX323_BO1,204,203,200_That’s seven books to definitely read this month, plus whatever else I manage to plow through when I find the time. Hopefully I’ll get them all done before the year is out, and I’ll count myself a happy bunny. But is there anything I’ve missed that I should definitely read between now and when the clocks strike 2018? Let me know in the comments!

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November Roundup

 

November has been a slow and dreary month, with lots of work to be done, and not a lot of reading gotten through. I did tick a few things off my challenge list, however, and enjoyed myself all around.

I’ve taken to doing the crossword when I’m on my way into work with my dad, which is losing me three hours of reading time a week. I might have to stop that!

Hard to believe it’s the first of December today – it seems like no time since 2017 was beginning, so it’s very strange to think it’s nearly over!

Thirteen books isn’t a lot for a month, but I’m not exactly upset about it. It’s a decent number alright!

Books

  1. Three Wishes – Liane Moriarty
  2. White Bodies – Jane Robins
  3. Open Minds – Susan Kaye Quinn
  4. The Start of Me and You – Emery Lord
  5. The Note – Zoe Folbigg
  6. The Crow – Alison Croggon
  7. Tower of Dawn – Sarah J Maas
  8. Troubletwisters – Garth Nix & Sean Williams
  9. The Girlfriend – Michelle Frances
  10. Becoming Betty – Eleanor Wood
  11. Royce Rolls – Margaret Stohl
  12. Skinny Melon and Me – Jean Ure
  13. Frankenstein – Mary Shelley

Cover Art

 

Favourite Book This Month

Again, hard to decide. I really enjoyed Three Wishes, because I laughed a lot. Tower of Dawn was a great instalment in the Throne of Glass canon. And Becoming Betty was a really interesting read. But I think in the end I’m gonna have to go with Three Wishes. The story was hugely entertaining, and the narration added so much to it. I thoroughly recommend the Audible version of this!

Least Favourite Book This Month

Royce Rolls, which I reviewed earlier this week, didn’t work for me at all. No fan, and I doubt I’ll be reading more by Margaret Stohl.

Favourite cover art

For the second month in a row, I’m giving my monthly cover art award to a watercolour cover. The start of me and you has a gorgeous cover, available with both white and pink backgrounds (I think one is a Zoella book club special?), but both with gorgeous colour schemes, and oodles of atmosphere.

35546621

 

Other…

I FINALLY read enough YALC books to let myself off my book buying ban. It’s been about four months, and although I’ve bought a boatload of Kindle books, and gotten loads from the library (plus spending my Audible credits), but I actually bought a hard copy book this week! King’s Cage was only £2 on Amazon, and I needed to get my spend over £20 to get free delivery, so that was delightful! It arrived today, so I’m gonna start it as soon as I finish my current book, Zenith, which is about lady space pirates, and is badass.

 

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Royce Rolls – Margaret Stohl

I was browsing BorrowBox a few weeks ago, looking for something funny to read, and happened upon Royce Rolls. A satirical look at the excesses of scripted reality tv, it was blurbed as a laugh out loud romp.

I don’t think I laughed once. Not for me!

Royce Rolls – Margaret Stohl

31423549Sixteen-year-old Bentley Royce seems to have it all: an actual Bentley, tuition to a fancy private school, lavish vacations, and everything else that comes along with being an LA starlet. But after five seasons on her family’s reality show, Rolling with the Royces, and a lifetime of dealing with her narcissistic sister, Porsche, media-obsessed mother, Mercedes, and somewhat clueless brother, Maybach, Bentley wants out. Luckily for her, without a hook for season six, cancellation is looming and freedom is nigh. With their lifestyle on the brink, however, Bentley’s family starts to crumble, and one thing becomes startlingly clear–without the show, there is no family. And since Bentley loves her family, she has to do the unthinkable–save the show. But when her future brother-in-law’s car goes over a cliff with both Bentley and her sister’s fiancé inside-on the day of the big made-for-TV wedding, no less-things get real.
Really real. Like, not reality show real.

Told in a tongue-in-cheek voice that takes a swipe at all things Hollywood, Royce Rolls is a laugh-out-loud funny romp with an LA noir twist about what it means to grow up with the cameras rolling and what really happens behind the scenes.

I’m not really sure what it was about this which didn’t work for me, I just know it really didn’t work for me. The structure is very strange – something like a diary, something like a novel, something like a working draft for something that will become a novel made from a diary, it’s filled with side notes and commentaries made by executive producers, but the way the notes work is like they were edited chapter by chapter as the events happened. The structure of the book was choppy, too, with the first chapter telling us that Bentley and the fiancé had gone off a cliff, and the next chapter immediately jumping back to several months previously. While I appreciate the structure of a hook to get you to wonder how the story is going to get to where you know it’s going, there was too much jumping in this, and not only did I not know how the story was getting to where it was going, I didn’t even know how it was going to explain where we were at the time. I also really, really didn’t care.

The characters in this book were generally deplorable, as is to be expected when it’s a take on KUWTK, but I was okay with that. The problem was that I didn’t feel anything for them at all. I didn’t hate the hateable characters. And also, one character who turned out to be a really big deal at the end of the book was in such a throwaway scene at the beginning that I had completely forgotten he even existed.

Basically, this book did not work for me. The humour didn’t tickle me, the structure irritated me, the characters did nothing for me, and the mystery didn’t intrigue me.

Two Stars
**

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Becoming Betty – Eleanor Wood

So I bought this book largely because Eleanor Wood was my Quiz team captain at YALC this year. Yeah, good reason for buying a book, I know. I had never read any of Eleanor Wood’s stuff before, and this was actually a really great introduction to her work.

Becoming Betty – Eleanor Wood

33630962Lizzie Brown’s life is one big to-do list:
1. Start college
2. Become cool
3. Decide wtf to do with her life
So when she meets Viv, the crazy, beautiful lead singer in a band, she thinks she’s on her way to achieving number two on her list. And when Viv asks her to be the bass player in the band, there’s only one problem – Lizzie can’t play a single note. And that she’s nowhere near cool enough (ok, two problems). And that she has a huge crush on the guitarist (ok, three), who happens to be Viv’s boyfriend (ok, this is a terrible idea).
But Viv won’t take no for an answer, and decides that a makeover is the answer to everything. Boring Lizzie Brown is going to become Betty Brown the Bass Player and there’s nothing Lizzie can do about it…

I really thoroughly enjoyed this story of becoming Betty, the cool bass player in a teen band. Lizzie’s journey of starting to learn music and finding something she actually really liked, together with her experience of an overwhelming friendship with Viv, was compelling, and so, so believable.

I also loved Lizzie’s gentle growing closer to her sister, and the way her move from secondary school to a specific sixth form college was handled. Some really great stuff in here.

Although I thought that her poor left-behind best friends ended up being a little bit thin on the ground, and I really don’t understand how she sorted out her schooling issue at the end of the book, in general this was a really fun, interesting read, and definitely an author that I’m going to look out for more UKYA contemporary from.

Four Stars
****

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The Girlfriend – Michelle Frances

I can’t remember where or why this popped up on my to-read list, but it ended up on my Audible account, and so I started listening to it last week, as I was driving the three/four hours from Sheffield back down to London. Touted as a psychological thriller, this was more of a story of two utterly despicable women fighting over a totally bland man, both in obsessive and frankly disturbing ways.

The Girlfriend – Michelle Frances

33974714The addictive Number One bestselling thriller, perfect for fans of Into the Water.

A girl. A boy. His mother. And the lie she’ll wish she’d never told.

The Girlfriend by Michelle Frances is a gripping and chilling debut psychological thriller, based on the fall-out following an unforgiveable lie. It looks at the potentially charged relationship between girlfriend, boyfriend and his mother, which most women can identify with, and locates it in an extreme but believable setting.

Laura has it all. A successful career, a long marriage to a rich husband, and a twenty-three year-old son, Daniel, who is kind, handsome, and talented. Then Daniel meets Cherry. Cherry is young, beautiful and smart but she hasn’t had the same opportunities as Daniel. And she wants Laura’s life.

Cherry comes to the family wide-eyed and wants to be welcomed with open arms, but Laura suspects she’s not all that she seems.

When tragedy strikes, an unforgiveable lie is told. It is an act of desperation, but the fall-out will change their lives forever.

There was plenty that was admirable in this book. Cherry and Laura were both terrible people, but they were certainly believable. Unfortunately, I saw nothing worth fighting for in Daniel himself, so both women’s obsession with him, whether because he represented the perfect family life, or because he was a ticket out of the drudgery that Cherry’s early life had been, was utterly bewildering to me.

The blurb says that Frances locates this power struggle between two women in an extreme but believable setting, but honestly, I don’t believe it. From the off, this book was predictable, with the cover and early hints showing exactly what was going to happen in the end.

Cherry’s and Laura’s power plays were interesting enough, but they didn’t exactly draw me in. Besides that, the blurb makes it sound like the whole story stems from an unforgiveable lie, and we come in right before that happens, but actually, the lie only appears about half-way/two-thirds of the way through the book, so the majority of the story, I actually spent waiting for it to get going.
The slowness of the start of the story meant that I spent much of the book waiting for something to happen, because I felt like the massive lie (which was huge, and ridiculous) was the real starting point of the story, so everything which came before that was preamble.

Boy, though, that was a lot of preamble.

While enjoyable, I think this book had some serious pacing issues, and predictability issues, as well as being difficult to believe a lot of the time. locating a story in the world of the superrich means that some things have to just be glossed over (the lift from the garage to the living areas, for example), but there were other aspects of it that stretched the bounds of believability, and aspects of it that were too coincidental to be true.

Not a terrible read, but the more I think about it now, the more I roll my eyes at it. Definitely not something I’ll be reading again, but it was enjoyable enough at the time!

Three Stars
***

 

PS  I may have to cut myself down to two blog posts a week at this rate. I am BUSY, and running out of time to blog. Or read!

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Tower of Dawn – Sarah J Maas

My review of the last Throne of Glass book, Empire of Storms, although split between two posts, had two major complaints. One of those complaints was that there was no Chaol.
Well, over the course of the next year, it became clear why there was no Chaol in Empire of Storms – it’s because he got his entire own book, Tower of Dawn.
More than a year since I finished Empire of Storms, and Tower of Dawn popped up on BorrowBox – this was great, because it meant I could read it without breaking my self-imposed book buying ban, so although it took me over a week, and I read it all on my phone, which wasn’t the most comfortable reading experience, I got to immerse myself in Chaol’s story, which was so sorely missing from EoS, and also enjoy two bad-ass women kicking butts and taking names!

Tower of Dawn – Sarah J Maas

33306347In the next installment of the New York Times bestselling Throne of Glass series, follow Chaol on his sweeping journey to a distant empire.

Chaol Westfall has always defined himself by his unwavering loyalty, his strength, and his position as the Captain of the Guard. But all of that has changed since the glass castle shattered, since his men were slaughtered, since the King of Adarlan spared him from a killing blow, but left his body broken.

His only shot at recovery lies with the legendary healers of the Torre Cesme in Antica—the stronghold of the southern continent’s mighty empire. And with war looming over Dorian and Aelin back home, their survival might lie with Chaol and Nesryn convincing its rulers to ally with them.

But what they discover in Antica will change them both—and be more vital to saving Erilea than they could have imagined.

Tower of Dawn takes a different direction from the other ToG books. Running in parallel to Empire of Storms, it follows Chaol as he seeks healing for the disastrous spinal injury he suffered at the end of Queen of Shadows, and also asks the Khagan for his assistance in the upcoming war against the dark. Together with Chaol, we’re also inside the heads of Nesryn Faliq, the new Captain of the Royal Guard of Ardalan, and Yrene Towers, the heir-apparent to the Healer on High and a character we saw in the bindup of prequel stories, The Assassin’s Blade, in a brief encounter with Celaena.

Two of the major complaints I had about EoS were totally erased here. With too many perspectives in EoS, I felt it was sprawling somewhat, and character development got lost. That wasn’t the case here. With just three heads to be inside, it was tight and interlinked. The parallel nature of this book and EoS also meant that we had delicious insights into what was happening on the Northern continent that Chaol & co did not – that Skull Bay tip, we knew what was going to happen there way before Chaol did.

My second complaint, no Chaol, was also totally dealt with. There is plenty of Chaol going on here, and links back to old characters and main characters from the first five books (plus the bindup), which is great, as it makes the whole series feel like a really cohesively plotted arc (even though I’m preeeeetty sure it wasn’t, in the beginning).

Although originally planned as a novella, and it does show in times, with development a little thin on the ground in places, I very much enjoyed the change of pace that Tower of Dawn represents in the Throne of Glass story. With some interesting disability representation, which I’m not going to talk too much about, because it’s not my bag, and a cast of almost entirely PoC and many WoC taking centre stage, the diversity of this book was certainly to be admired – it was more than a typical white-centric middle England fantasy, but woven into the story in a way which didn’t feel tokenistic. Again, though, as diversity of ethnicity isn’t my bag either (I’m very white, you see), I’ll leave commentary on that to more relevant people.

Lastly, there was some LGBTQ representation here, including one prominent lesbian couple in a royal family, no less. Interesting, but more please!

Some weaknesses in this book, certainly, and it dragged in the middle, a sign that it was originally only meant to be a novella, but a great addition to the canon, with some interesting reveals of motivations of major characters, and links with my fave (Lysandra!!)

Once again, however, I’m in the position of waiting for the next book without so much as a cover or a title, and I’m impatient!

Four Stars
****

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The Start of Me and You – Emery Lord

I am really loving the fact that I have downloaded BorrowBox – ebooks and audiobooks on my phone, borrowed from the library, without even having to leave my bed. It’s *such* a good idea.

I also have to point out that I missed yesterday’s blog post. I was so busy I completely forgot to write. I’m also going to be very busy tomorrow, so I’m merging Wednesday and Friday’s posts into one Thursday post, because I have an hour free to write now, and my most loyal reader is actually staying in my house right now, so I can just tell her my thoughts on books.

So The Start of Me and You is the first Emery Lord book I’ve read, although there’s another queued up on my Kindle waiting for me to get around to it. It was a great introduction to Emery Lord, actually, because I really quite enjoyed this book. It was sweet and it was enjoyable, it was easy to read, and it had some heft. All good things.

The Start of Me and You – Emery Lord

35546621.jpgCan you plan happiness?

It’s been a year since Paige’s first boyfriend died in a swimming accident and it’s time she rejoined the real world.

So she makes a plan:
1. Date a boy (long-standing crush Ryan Chase seems like the perfect choice)
2. Attend parties (with best friends by your side: doable)
3. Join a club (simple enough, right?)
4. Travel (might as well dream big)
5. Swim (terrifying. Impossible)

But when she meets Ryan’s sweet but so nerdy cousin, Max, he opens up her world and Paige’s plans start to change. Is it too late for a second chance at life?

Brimming with characters so real you feel you could pick up the phone and call them, The Start of Me and You will prove that it’s never too late for second chances. Perfect for fans of Rainbow Rowell, Jennifer Niven and John Green.

Emery Lord is a great contemporary writer. Paige was navigating high school, trying to find out who she is, trying to really live life again. Her plan for how to do this involves ticking several things off a list, including kissing a boy, joining a new club, and swimming again, after the death of her boyfriend in a drowning accident a year and a half prior.

There was so much in this book that I loved. Paige was such a likeable and understandable main character. I really felt her confusion and grief at the death of her boyfriend, and I loved that we picked up with her a year and a half after the incident – so the book wasn’t so much about dealing with the immediate, horrendous grief of the aftermath, but more about the lingering effects which echoed through her life over the following years.

Points which I really liked about this book: Paige’s friendships. Paige and her girls were such a tight group, supportive and they really helped each other through tough times. I also really loved Paige’s development as she comes to understand what that female friendship means.

Further than that, I thought the two love interests were great. Long-term crush Ryan Chase and his quiet, unassuming cousin Max played very different roles, and Paige’s understanding of the difference between a fantasy relationship and the real connection that comes of spending time with someone and laughing with them was lovely to see.

There were a couple of things in the book that I wasn’t that impressed with – making fun of Max’s firefly t-shirt, for example. Firefly is awesome, and a cult classic – plus nerd culture is so in right now, that it jarred with me to think that it would be made fun of. And then the climax and resolution of the book were a little predictable, to be honest.

But they were minor quibbles in what was overall a hugely enjoyable experience. I’m looking forward to reading other contemporaries by Lord, and finding out what other adventures we can go on together.

Four Stars
****

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