Fourteen Summers by Quinn Anderson is a sweet coming of age, second chance childhood sweetheart, super cute M/M romance story about twin brothers Aiden and Max and their best friend Oliver. Growing up, the three of them were inseparable, but when Oliver moved across the country the twins lost contact with him. Until they accidently run into each other again, now aged 20 and all in college, and take up the friendship again. Only, this time there might be more than friendship between Oliver and Aiden, which makes the whole threesome thing a lot more complicated…
Especially as Aiden starts to grow out of letting Max, who has always been the fun, extrovert, big brother speak for them both and itches to discover who he is outside of his “twin” identity. Summer won’t last forever, and with friendship, family, and happily ever after on the line, they three of them have to navigate their changing relationships before it’s too late.
I immediately rooted for Aiden and Oliver (Max not as much) and read it in one sitting as it was completely unputdownable until the very end! The prologue with the childhood marriage was such a cute start, really setting the tone for the book:
“Do you both swear – cross your hearts and hope to die – that you will always, always be the best of friends?”
The only objections I have is that the proteges felt a bit too immature (more like 15-16 than 20 at times, and I think the story and the way they acted would have made so much more sense if they’d been in High School rather than in college) and that the book changed a bit from sweet, slow-burning, awkward romance to NA quite sudden. I feel that it would have been better to keep the sweetness all through the book instead of going explicit, but that’s just my personal opinion, and I really understand if someone else appreciate the steamy parts. For being explicit, the sex scenes were very well written, I have to give Quinn Anderson kudos for that.
What I really liked about this book was the focus on the burgeoning romance and the changing dynamics of the brothers’ relationship, and not solely on Aiden and Oliver dealing with being gay and coming out. Those are important and, sadly still often problematic and scary issues, but there are also so many other aspects to tell about gay love stories. It therefore felt really refreshing and hopeful that being gay was not the big thing in itself in this story - when we get to meet them, they were both very clear about their identity and had already come out years ago, with family and friends loving and respecting them for who they are - but that just as in any other romance novel, it was all about the feelings, the butterflies in your stomach, the wonder of falling in love and having someone love you back, and for Max the feeling of jealousy and being left out.
All in all, this is a wonderful, sweet and addictive reading experience and I can’t wait to read more of Quinn Anderson’s books!
Find our more about the book and the author here: Quinn Anderson
Love, Creekwood was one of my most anticipated releases this year. I love, love, love Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda and couldn’t wait to get back into Simonverse again. And I’m so happy that this novella did not disappoint. Not at all. Love, Creekwood was such an adorable and addictive read. I read it in one sitting with a goofy smile all over my face.
I loved the chance to hang out with all the wonderful Simonverse characters again (Simon, Bram, Leah and Abby and the others from Simon vs, The Upside of Unrequited and Leah on the Offbeat) and to meet them all in their respective colleges, getting glimpses of their lives through the emails they send to each other.
I really enjoyed that this book was staying true to Simon and Bram’s origins with the emails, and I also really, really enjoyed the references to the characters and places in some of my other favorite books such as The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, THUG, What If It’s Us and Dear Martin.
If you loved Becky’s other books and her adorable characters, then you’ll definitely want to read this gorgeous novella too and find out what’s going on with them all!
Find out more about the book and the author here: Becky Albertalli
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is the prequel to The Hunger Games trilogy, focusing on Coriolanus Snow (i.e. President Snow to-be) as a young, poor, student and mentor in the 10th Hunger Games.
I really enjoyed the backstory of the games and to see how Snow impacted them to evolve the way they did to Katniss’s time, and to get the history as to why the mockingjay became a symbol for the rebellion. It was also interesting to learn more about the consequences of the war and how Snow had to struggle with keeping the façade up and protect his family legacy, while starving in post-war Panem. I also really liked to know more about his cousin Tigris and his grandmother, and I loved Lucy Gray Baird’s character, but I never really felt attached to any of the characters the way I did in the original series. I missed the bravery and honesty of the original characters, and their struggle for the freedom and their willingness to sacrifice themselves for the greater good that made the original story so addictive and engaging.
Picking up this book, I was intrigued to know how Suzanne Collins would try to make us sympathize with one of the most evil villains in YA literature and had hoped for something that would shake things up and alter my whole impression of him. But unfortunately that didn’t happen. Even though the book provided Snow’s perspectives and gave more depth to his character, it didn’t really do enough to endear him to me. Already from the start, there was something selfish, manipulative and spineless about him, with his ambitions and his need to always keep up appearances. Also his mentorship and kindness towards Lucy Gray was really just another project for his portfolio and a means to get him the desired university scholarship. And as the book continues, he becomes more and more ruthless, willing to do anything, betray anyone, in his quest for power.
All in all, I enjoyed this book, but I didn’t love it. It was a bit slow and it definitely would have benefited from being shorter. My main problem was the lack of characters I loved and rooted for, which made me not feel as invested in this book as I had hoped for. But it was a good, decent read, and if you loved The Hunger Games, I definitely think you’d find it interesting and worth the time!
Find out more about the book and the author here: Suzanne Collins
Such a Fun Age starts off with privileged, wealthy, (white) blogger Alix calling her (black) babysitter, Emira, asking her to take toddler Briar to the local market for distraction after a family crisis. There, the security guard accuses Emira of kidnapping Briar, and Alix’s efforts to right the situation turn out to be good intentions selfishly mismanaged. From there, we get to know Alix and her husband, Emira and her friends, and Kelley, Emiras boyfriend-to-be and also a person with whom Alix shares a (not so good) past, as things start to spin out of hand.
This book deals with really important questions like racism, diversity, hypocritical attitudes and ‘white saviour’ complexes in a genuine and objective way, and it was certainly an eye-opener in many aspects.
“I don’t need you to be mad that it happened. I need you to be mad that it just like... happens.”
The story was fast-paced and vivid (it’s a Reese’s Book Club pick and I couldn’t stop picturing it as a movie with Reese Witherspoon herself as Alix the entire time I read it…), thought-provoking, smart and sometimes funny, and a much-needed new voice. I had such high expectations for this book and I wanted so much to love it. But it wasn’t quite what I had hoped for, sadly, even though I still enjoyed it very much.
My main problem was that I didn’t particularly like any of the main characters in the end. It was interesting to see the relationship between Alix and Emira and how it evolved from employer/employee to something else, but after a while Alix’s obsession with Emira felt really unhealthy and questionable. And at the end some big revelations about Alix made me lose my sympathy for her completely. Emira was a much more likeable character, and I loved the empathic, tender and respectful way she treated Briar, but she felt very aimless and lost most of the time. If she was younger than 25, I would have understood it, but as it was now, I started to get annoyed by her lack of direction and for not even trying to find out what she wanted from life. I won’t go into the other characters in detail, but there is a cast of interesting characters in the story, but most of them not so likeable. As Kiley Read successfully manages to point out in her book, some people may have good intentions but sometimes as they are trying too hard to let everyone know they are not racist they manage to achieve the opposite effect…
But overall, Such a Fun Age is a really good novel with insightful, thought-provoking social commentary, an important message and well-developed characters. And even though I didn’t love it the way I had hoped for (I especially didn’t like the ending, that was way too abrupt for me and left me feeling disheartened and like something was missing in the book), I still enjoyed it very much and definitely recommend it! (And I can’t wait to see the movie, ’cause surely there will be one, right Reese?)
Find out more about the book and the author here: Kiley Reid
Ascension by Victor Dixen is something like The Selection taking place in space: The first trip to colonise Mars is made by twelve teenagers as contestants in speed dating show. Six boys and six girls are sent to Mars in separate compartments, but during the journey they meet up for live broadcasted speed dating session for 3 minutes a week, in order to find their future spouse. The idea is that when they arrive on Mars, they should all have coupled up to begin to establish a colony on Mars. So, even though this story takes place in space, it’s more romance than sci fi though.
Starting to read this book, I expected a light-hearted, cute and fun read, but there was a lot going on beyond the speed dating premise. In addition to the space parts, there was a part focusing on the business conspiracy on Earth involving the company behind the show and their leader with a secret mission to run for president. There was also a bit too much of unnatural explanations, and the speed dating parts were kind of rushed over. I wish there was more time devoted to the space travelers and their relationships (both the relationships between the six girls and the romance-buildings with the boys). I also missed out on representation, there were no same sex relations or queer characters at all. I feel like this book could have been really unique and mesmerizing, but the execution didn’t live up to the full potential.
But I did enjoy the book nevertheless, and it was full of suspense and with a main character, Leonor, that I couldn’t help root for. She’s a bold and strong-willed survivor of abuse and negligence, who doesn’t believe in love, but seizes the opportunity to create a better future for herself.
“What I want is glory and I know that I’m not going to get it here on Earth.”
I really want to know what will happen to her and the other contestants. Also, this book ended in a cliffhanger that makes me excited for the sequels. So, all in all, a solid three star read, but it had the potential to be so much more.
Find out more about the book and the author here: Victor Dixen