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
Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld was such a pleasant surprise. I didn’t have any expectations picking up this book, it was more a spur of the moment. But it was so good! And so funny!
Rodham is a creative re-imagining of what the Clintons are and what they could be in an alternate universe, telling the story of what would have happened to Hillary Rodham if she hadn’t married Bill Clinton. It’s written in such an inspired, light and amusing way that it completely draws you in. You don’t have to know much about politics or be a fan of Hillary Clinton or anything to enjoy this book. It’s not at all as political as you could have expected, and it sure does not shy away from criticizing or making fun of well-known persons like the Clintons, their friends and even Donald Trump, to showcase Hillary as a human being. She’s portrayed as a woman who is very clever and intelligent, but also as someone who makes mistakes, regrets them, tries to move on and who longs to be loved for who she is.
“I don’t know if this sounds pathetic or conceited,” I said. “But I always hoped a man would fall in love with me for my brain.”
Phyllis’s voice was kind when she said, “Hillary, no man falls in love with a woman’s brain.”
Even though this book is about how much better off Hillary would have been professionally without Bill, it is in no way idolizing or glorifying her. There are plenty of harsh descriptions of Hillary as a problematic figure (in both this reality and the alternative reality in the book), showing problems with racism, sexism and a naïve take on complex issues and it doesn’t try to blame Bill for all of it, as could have been expected. (Bill Clinton is described in a very negative way though as a sex addict and scrupulous womanizer with shady moral standards...)
All in all, this is a reflective and insightful imagination that highlights sexism and how far from equality we still are. It’s both an enjoyable, easy and funny read, and a book that hopefully will make it easier for the next woman to become the first female president. I really recommend it!
“Top-of-game alone. Sure. At times, I feel lonely because there’s only one of me. But the plus side is… there’s only one of me. I was born with special abilities, special creativity, and if it was 1850, I’d be out of luck. But it’s 1997, and the sky’s the limit. I can do it, and I am doing it.”
Find out more about the book and the author here: Curtis Sittenfeld
Chain of Gold is the first novel in a new trilogy by Cassandra Clare that stars the Shadowhunters of Edwardian London. Chronologically, this book takes place after The Infernal Devices (way before The Mortal Instruments), with James and Lucie Herondale, children of the famous Will and Tessa, as the main characters. For years there has been peace in the Shadowhunter world, but everything changes when the Blackthorn and Carstairs families come to London and awakens the demons waiting in the dark.
I put off reading this book for a while, fearing that I might be a little bit over this fandom. But clearly, I am not. This fandom still always draws me in. There’s something so addictive about Cassandra Clare’s writing and the characters she creates… As always there is drama, adventure, epic good vs. evil fights, crazy plot twists and characters you immediately root for. And of course, love conquering all.
“I am a Herondale. We love but once.”
“That is only a story.”
“Haven’t you heard?” James said bitterly. “All the stories are true.”
A lot in the story was predictive and reminded of similar plots and situations in the other books, but somehow it didn’t really matter, I was so intrigued nevertheless. What I especially love about this book is seeing Will and Tessa and their children James and Lucie and their group of friends, and Jem and Magnus Bane again and to get more of their background stories to connect the dots between the Infernal Devices and the Mortal Instruments series. I also really loved two of the new characters, Matthew and Cordelia, and hope things will get better for them as the series continues. (With the cliff hanger ending in this book, things will definitely be different for Cordelia at least… don’t want to say anything more to risk spoil anything though.)
And Anna. I have to say something about her. I think she’s my new favorite Shadowhunter character of all time. One thing that I especially appreciate about Cassandra Clare’s books is that there is a lot of queer representation and diverse characters. And Anna is one of the best and most fascinating and loveable characters I’ve come across lately (not only in the Shadowhunter world but in all books). She’s a lesbian in Edwardian London who seduces women and wears suits and questions just about any tradition and is so vivid and full of faults and intrigues that you know she will cause disaster wherever she goes. How can you not be completely floored by her? I can’t wait to read more about her adventures in the sequels.
“I thought you wanted to have tea!” objected Cordelia.
“No one ever just wants to have tea,” said Anna. “Tea is always an excuse for a clandestine agenda.”
I don’t know how Cassandra Clare does it, but once again she has left me desperately waiting for the next book.
Find out more about the book and the author here: Cassandra Clare’s Shadowhunters
Tailgates & Twists of Fates is the fourth and final book in Haley Rhoades’ enchanting, sweet and heart-warming series following a group of High School friends in small town Athens from graduation until adulthood.
It’s almost impossible to write a review of a fourth book in a series without making any spoilers, so for those that haven’t yet read this series I want to say congrats for having this wonderful experience still to enjoy and that I recommend it with all my heart!
For those that have read the previous three books, we all know that it ended with Madison’s and Hamilton’s wonderful “first” date. I loved this part from the third book:
“We’re going to the spot where we began.”
The weight of his words warms me. We began that night I asked him for a favor; we met in the cemetery and it changed my life forever.
So, now Madison and Liberty have moved to Chicago to be with Hamilton and everything should be perfect, right? It should be time to enjoy the happy ending, but instead life continues to throw them curveballs… Trying to build a new life in a new town, while her book release approaches and Hamilton prepares to leave for spring training, Madison finds herself struggling.
Spoilers coming up…
The happy news about a new baby on the way are squashed when Hamilton is injured on the field and gets a concussion that leads to a personality change. Even though he starts to practice again his mood doesn’t improve. Madison worries that while he’s focused on physical workouts, he hasn’t healed mentally. She’s sure he’s depressed when he starts to withdraw from her and Libby. He’s irritable and has little patience with Liberty. On top of that, Madison feels the pull of her old hometown and a wish to give her children the life she and Hamilton shared while growing up.
End of spoilers.
I loved the character developments in this book and that Haley Rhoades keeps making it hard for our beloved couple. It would have been so easy to make it all peachy and perfect, but Haley Rhoades kept it real. I also love how she involved the old friends more again, especially Savannah, in this book, and how the friends all supported each other.
And the wonderful, wonderful epilogue made me cry happy tears, it was the perfect ending to this amazing series. No spoilers, but I can say that after 15 years, Madison realizes something important about herself and the life she wants to live.
Find out more about the book and the author here: Haley Rhoades
When I heard that there was a new book by Stephenie Meyer coming this fall, my first thought was that FINALLY there will be a sequel to The Host. But sadly, that was not the case... But it made me think about The Host again and realize that I’ve never written a formal review of it. So, I therefore decided to reread it and I am so happy to say that it was still as amazing. I definitely think that this is Stephenie Meyer’s best book.
The Host is a romance-sci fi novel, with just the right balance of sci fi to not scare the romantics away, and not too much romance to bore the sci fi fans. Set in a post-apocalyptic Earth, humans have been invaded by aliens known as ‘Souls’, who take over the minds of human hosts while leaving their bodies intact. When Melanie, one of the few remaining wild humans is captured, she refuses to give up possession of her mind to the ‘Wanderer’. Instead, they have to share Melanie’s body as she slowly starts to push the Wanderer to save her love Jared and little brother Jamie.
Even though it might sound like it, this is not another Invasion of the Body Snatchers, it is so much more than that! It’s much more complex and focuses more on the relationships of the characters and the intriguing dilemma of two lives sharing one body. Not only is there the issue of Melanie loving Jared and the Wanderer loving Jared because of Melanie’s memories; we also have Ian, another member of the rebels, who starts to have feelings for the Wanderer for her beautiful soul. The story of Ian and Wanda is honestly one of the more beautiful things I've ever read because it was a totally emotional connection and not about the physical aspect at all.
All in all, I absolutely love this book and am so emotionally involved with the characters. It’s a very clever and addictive story that, even though it’s young adult, is definitely a recommended read for any age. It is an emotional ride from beginning to end and I really, really, hope that there will be a sequel after all soon. There is so much left to discover about this world and characters!
Find out more about the book and the author here: Stephenie Meyer
Tailgates & First Dates is the third book in The Locals series, and I think this is Haley Rhoades’ best book of them all, which is really something! I have loved this wonderful series from the very first book, immediately rooting for Madison and her friends.
Madison is such a brave, kind and wonderful person you just want the best for. But as you know, if you have read the first two books in the series, her life hasn’t exactly turned out as planned… In this third book, Madison has settled down and started to really build a life for herself alone with her big secret, while Hamilton continues his baseball career. Their cute distance love relationship is evolving in the right direction though and is getting stronger by the day.
Then a mis-step shakes the home Madison has come to cherish with the lovely elderly Alma and of course, we all know that when it rains it pours… so shortly thereafter another major event happens, forcing Madison to return to her old home in Athens. And once again Madison’s life is forever changed.
“With one fall, one accident, my entire world shifted.”
I don’t want to make any spoilers, but I am so happy with the developments in this book. So very happy! Yes, there are some major heartbreaks in this book too, but my biggest wish from the second book came true and I am forever grateful to Haley Rhoades for that. The writing in this book is simply brilliant. Haley Rhoades did such an amazing job to tie it all together while keeping the suspense. I was on the edge the whole book worrying about what returning to Athens would do to Madison. Would she be able to keep her big secret or how would her friends react if they found out? And what about Hamilton, could she ever face him with her secret without losing him for good?
But you know, sometimes something lovely comes from weeks of despair, and that is certainly the case here. Now I just worry about what Haley Rhoades has in store for my beloved characters in the fourth and final book in this enchanting series…
Find out more about the book and the author here: Haley Rhoades