As we’re thrown back into the world of Eve, the first girl born in 50 years things are about to get dark. This will contain spoilers for the first book (review here) so if you haven’t read it yet pop back later!
It might just be that I haven’t read the first book in a long time but this definitely felt darker and earned its place as a dystopian book in my opinion. With new technology, a few big twists and a plot that meant I could not put the book down for the life of me.
When starting the book I was a little lost, but thankfully the end of book one is recapped in an interesting way, from a different perspective which allowed me to remember where we left off and who was who. I didn’t realise that the first book came out 2 years ago – no wonder I felt like it had been a while.
That said once I’d caught up that was it. It was also great to find out more about the world that Eve had been shielded from and what the reality was outside her own paradise. I had chills while reading this.
While I can’t say much about it, because I wouldn’t ruin a book like that, the ending is incredible. I did wonder about it a little earlier on but once it happened I was full of intrigue and excitement. That is how you write a cliff hanger, the Fletcher’s have got it spot on.
This is easily my favourite sequel of the year so far and deserves all the praise. A 5 star read and I’ll be eagerly anticipating book 3, which according to the internet is supposed to come out in 2021 – I will be keeping everything crossed.
Thank you to the publisher, authors and Netgalley for a copy in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Well, what a reading year so far! At the time of writing this post I have read a total of 72 books…I’m pretty sure that’s the most books I’ve ever consumed in 6 months.
While I set my goal at 100 books, I’m pretty sure that I will hit at least 120, if not more. So while I’m not freaking out I am excited to look back at the books I’ve been reading in the first very weird half of the year. If you want to see how it compares to 2019 you can click here.
Best Book Of The Year So Far
This is too hard, there are so many excellent books I’ve read this year so, top 3? Even that was super hard but they are all new to be books and the authors you’ll find out more about below!
Clap When You Land is an excellent YA novel about two girls who are sisters…but neither knew the other existed.
Hold Still is about a young woman who’s coping with the death of her best friend. It’s beautifully written and while it hurt my heart it also made it full.
Come Tumbling Down is the 5th book in the Wayward Children series and definitely my favourite but that is because I have a soft spot for Jack – I highly recommend the audiobook!
Best Sequel Of The Year So Far
The Eve Illusion – Tom and Giovanna Fletcher
I thought this was going to be good but I was blown away by the second in the series and the ending was incredible. Spoiler free review coming soon, keep your eyes peeled. 👀
A New Release You Haven’t Read Yet But Want To
I am all about the Sapphic books this year, can’t get enough of them. This looks absolutely adorable and came out in June. It follows Saoirse who no longer believes in happy endings after her mother ends up with early onset dementia – something she may inherit.
That is until she meets a girl at a party who’s determined to give her a summer of fun, including movie cliches, rom-com moments and the promise it will end in the autumn.
This just screams cute to me and I need to get to it soon.
Most Anticipated Release Of Autumn/Winter
So Victoria Schwab has become an autobuy author, I’ve already preordered a signed special edition of The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue. A bargain is made by a young woman so that she can live forever – but to do so will mean that cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets. That is until she meets a man who remembers her name. Dun, dun, duuuuuuuun. Sounds so good, I’m so excited.
Also, Nina LaCour is now an autobuy author. This one looks a little different and has a paranormal element to it which is totally different to her other books but I find her writing beautiful and lyrical so obviously I need it.
Biggest Disappointment Of The Year So Far
Similar to last year I think I’ve outgrown Amanda Lovelace as an author. I’ve now read all of her poetry collections and while I loved her first, I just can’t get on with the others, they just seem to repeat.
Biggest Surprise So Far
I was one of the few people who couldn’t get into The Poet X, so I didn’t really keep an eye on Elizabeth Acevedo as an author but then I kept hearing about With The Fire On High and it peaked my interest.
After I read this I immediately wanted more of her writing and requested Clap When You Land, one of my favourite books of the year so far.
New Favourite Author (Debut/New To You)
I couldn’t pick just one…because this year I’ve found three authors I absolutely adore (all of which I found in lockdown). I tried Elizabeth Acevedo again this year and fell in love with two of her novels and absolutely devoured them.
Similarly, I started We Are Okay by Nina LaCour after getting it for Christmas and as soon as I could I ordered her first novel Hold Still. I’m looking forward to getting through the rest of her books.
Last but not least Seanan McGuire. I got through all of the Wayward Children series in record time while listening to the audiobooks (thank goodness for Scribd!).
Newest Fictional Crush
I don’t get crushes on fictional characters, sorry!
Your Newest Favourite Character
Eileen Cotton is adorable, fierce and lovely and I completely fell in love with her while reading Beth O’Leary’s second novel, The Switch. She’s the best.
A Book That Made You Cry
So I teared up at the end of this book, which means I can tell you absolutely nothing about the reasons why but I didn’t expect to because the rest of this book is absolutely hilarious.
A Book That Made You Happy
The Most Beautiful Book So Far
I bought this over Christmas while I was working in a book shop but only got around to it once I’d finished in January. Oh this is stunning, absolutely beautiful in both its illustration and its message. A good read for adults or kids too (I swear I’ll be trying to sell this book for the rest of time, it’s like muscle memory now).
Books You Need To Read By The End Of The Year
There are so many but out of the books I already own and are currently staring at me The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas (I know, I know!), The Missing of Claire de lune by Christelle Dabos and Everything Leads To You by Nina LaCour.
What have you loved so far this year? I’d love to hear your recommendations below!
Piper was raised in a cult. She just doesn’t know it.
Seventeen-year-old Piper knows that Father is a Prophet. Infallible. The chosen one.
She would do anything for Father. That’s why she takes care of all her little sisters. That’s why she runs end-of-the-world drills. That’s why she never asks questions. Because Father knows best.
Until the day he doesn’t. Until the day the government raids the compound and separates Piper from her siblings, from Mother, from the Aunts, from all of Father’s followers–even from Caspian, the boy she loves.
Now Piper is living Outside. Among Them.
I can’t help but find myself intrigued by these kind of books about those who are raised in cults and don’t know any better, because they have had no choice. This is a story about Piper’s discovery of herself and questions about the world around her.
The novel is told before and after the raid. In the time before the raid we see Piper and what she believes to be her siblings being raised under strict rules by the Aunts with visits from her mother and father – the heads of the compound. All she wants is to care for her younger siblings and prove herself to her father. Although she is starting to question memories and practices in the house.
In the after sections, however, Piper is struggling. She doesn’t trust anyone and thinks that this is the real kidnapping, living with a woman who claims to be her mother. She also starts therapy which was incredibly interesting. Seeing her attempt to unlearn years of lies and pressure.
There is also a romantic element which, at first, I was unsure about whether it was necessary in terms of the wider plot, but the more I read the more I understood. When there is a lack of people around, it isn’t surprising that you would have feelings for one of the people who show kindness.
I really wanted to know more about what happened after the children were rescued, how they coped and while we do see some of this I found myself wondering if they ever saw each other again. That said, I understand that wasn’t the intent of the book.
This was a 4 star read for me. I read it incredibly quickly and found myself absorbed in the story and even through I knew that Piper and the other children would be rescued at times I forgot while reading – that’s how absorbed I was in the story.
Seeing as we’ve somehow got to the middle of the year (I know, I know what even is time after the last few months?) it seemed like a good idea to look ahead to some of the books that will be coming out later this year!
The Falling In Love Montage (9th June)
This book will already be out by the time this post goes live but it sounds like its going to be a good one. Saoirse is coping with her Mum’s dementia diagnosis and coming to terms that she may develop it later on – which means she does not have time for love. Or does she?
A Beautifully Foolish Endeavour (7th July)
I had very mixed feelings about Hank Green’s first book in this series An Absolute Remarkable thing but I just remember needing to know what happens next. He writes a damn good cliff hanger.
Loveless (9th July)
Alice has been tweeting about this book and how much it means to her and I’m really looking forward to reading it. It is also has an Ace main character, something I’m really interested in reading because I don’t think I’ve read a book with an Ace main character before.
This Is My America (28th July)
Tracy is already dealing with the fact that her father is an innocent black man on death row with time running out, then her brother is accused of killing a white girl. Dealing with the US prison system and someone being seeing as instantly guilty because of the colour of their skin this one is going to be heavy but super important.
Midnight Sun (4th August)
Yep, I’m doing it. I really loved Twilight when I was a teenager so I’m going to be buying a copy out of curiosity.
The Black Kids (1st September)
Set during the 1992 LA riots after the beating of Rodney King at the hands of 4 LAPD officers, this one couldn’t be more timely. Ashley is from a well off black family but has to consider who she is, where she stands and what this means to her.
Majesty (3rd September)
I read the first in the series American Royals as an ARC last year. The premise is what if America had a royal family. Kind of The Crown mixed with american culture. The first was left on a big cliff hanger and I can’t wait to see what happens next.
Every Body Looking (22nd September)
Described as ‘a heavily autobiographical novel of a young woman’s struggle to carve a place for herself–for her black female body–in a world of deeply conflicting messages’ told in verse.
I’ve started to really enjoy novels in verse and think this will be a great addition to my growing collection.
Watch Over Me (15th September)
I’ve only discovered Nina LaCour this year but I’ve fallen in love with her way of writing. This looks different to her other contemporary novels, it’s about a young woman fresh out of the foster system who chooses to take a job on an isolated farm but has to deal with her own demons and the ghosts of those who have been there previously.
More Than A Woman (15th September)
This appears to be a follow up to her bestseller How To Be A Woman. While I know now that it was problematic Caitlin really got me to embrace feminism while at university and I’ve enjoyed her other books so I’m looking forward to a new perspective in this one.
Dear Justyce (29th September)
This is titled on NetGalley as Dear Martin #2. Dear Martin was an incredible book and showed Nic Stone’s talent as an author. The novel follows Quan during his time in a holding cell while he awaits trial after pleading not guilty in the shooting of a police officer. I have a feeling I’m going to cry at this one.
The Invisible Live of Addie LaRue (6th October)
V.E Schwab’s next release and that alone makes me super excited. This is also a book that Victoria has been working on for years. It’s about a young woman who makes a deal to live forever but she’s cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets.
Hijab and Red Lipstick (15th October)
A debut by Yousra Imran who is an absolute gem on Twitter and Instagram. It’s about a young woman with a strict Egyptian father finding herself and her voice.
The Midnight Library (20th October)
The latest novel from Matt Haig whos books I absolutely adore. Firstly its set in a library, which is a instant plus for me. It also talks about the ability to live other lives as you choose, I’m intrigued, especially after I loved How To Stop Time so much.
The Book Of Two Ways (22nd October UK Release)
Jodi Picoult has been one of my favourite authors since I was a teenager. From the information that has been released it’s about the choices we make and you can expect a Picoult twist as is standard and one of the reasons I love her books.
The How & The Why (5th November)
Told across time as a young pregnant woman writes to her unborn baby, 18 years later her daughter is looking for answers to who she is and where she comes from. This sounds like it could be a really beautiful novel and I love the idea of seeing both young women at different points in their lives.
Admission (1st December)
One of the first novels I’ve seen that deals with the college admissions scandal in the US. I’m really intrigued when real life news topics are explored in fiction. I’m interested to see how the author tackles the topic.
What are you looking forward to in the second half of the year? Let me know below!
Marin hasn’t spoken to anyone from her old life since the day she left everything behind. No one knows the truth about those final weeks. Not even her best friend, Mabel. But even thousands of miles away from the California coast, at college in New York, Marin still feels the pull of the life and tragedy she’s tried to outrun.
Now, months later, alone in an emptied dorm for winter break, Marin waits. Mabel is coming to visit, and Marin will be forced to face everything that’s been left unsaid and finally confront the loneliness that has made a home in her heart.
I’d heard so much about Nina LaCour’s books, so I added We Are Ok to my to read/to buy list, then I got a copy for Christmas and I didn’t know I’d find a new favourite author. Fast forward to the UK lockdown and I picked it up…then I couldn’t put it down.
This is not a story that is full of action, movement and adventure. It is a quieter novel, something that fully wraps itself around you and lets you see a life rather than a spectacle. A glimpse into grief, sadness and becoming an young adult for the first time.
The novel is written incredibly well and has a beautiful lyrical quality that I haven’t seen in a while. I read this in less than 24 hours, only stopping to sleep. I needed to know what was going to happen between Marin and Mara (although I will admit I did get the two names confused at times). What had happened in the past and how it impacted the current story.
There is also an LGBT element to the story which came across as very well done, particularly because it wasn’t the main focal point of the novel, it was simply there. Additionally, I felt the pain of losing a friendship and not knowing how to put it back together.
I would happily have read a book that was double the length because I wanted to know what happened after the last page, I can’t say more than that because I don’t want to spoil it for anyone.
This was a 4.5 star read for me. I absolutely adored it and felt for Marin the whole way through. Beautiful writing, a thought provoking novel and one that I absolutely adore. Keep your eyes peeled for my review of Hold Still, LaCour’s first novel, coming soon.
Last week I joined a Twitter chat, talking about the Black Lives Matter movement, which then evolved into talking about media by Black artists and creators. As we were discussing books, The Colour Purple by Alice Walker in particular, one member said something that stuck with me – to read books that focused on Black joy rather than simply trauma.
It got me thinking about all of the fantastic books I’ve read with Black protagonists living their lives. There are some in this list that deal with racism and police brutality but not all.
I’ve pulled together some books that I’ve enjoyed personally and that you will hopefully enjoy. If you have any more please do recommend them in the comments.
The Black Flamingo – Dean Atta
Dean Atta wrote a beautiful novel in verse about a young man growing up, exploring his sexuality and learning about drag culture. A quick read but one that’s incredibly well written. You can read a full review here.
Everything, Everything – Nicola Yoon
It’s been a long time since this came out but Nicola Yoon has a way for writing stories that involve romance that make you think about the bigger picture. The novel follows a teenager who has a rare medical condition meaning she can’t leave her home and her journey of falling in love with the boy next door. It’s adorable.
The Sun Is Also A Star – Nicola Yoon
Another romance but set over a day if I remember rightly between two young people who are trying to deal with forces outside their control. Natasha is fighting the deportation order against her family and Daniel is feeling the pressure from his parents standards. Another truly wonderful love story that will make you think about possibilities. You can read a review here.
With The Fire on High – Elizabeth Acevedo
The first Elizabeth Acevedo novel that I read and I devoured it as much as I wanted to devour the cooking that is described. It follows a young mother trying to juggle high school, caring for her daughter, her future dreams and career. A really wonderful book that you should not read on an empty stomach.
Clap When You Land – Elizabeth Acevedo
I was lucky enough to recieve an early copy of this book and it was absolutely brilliant. The story of two young women who lose their father in a plane crash. What they don’t know is that they have the same father, they didn’t know the other existed. This is probably one of my favourite reads of 2020 so far. Review here.
Dear Martin – Nic Stone
A story of police violence and the first I read (I think). Justyce begins to question the world around him after being faced with discrimination from a police officer. He begins writing letters to Martin Luther King jr as he tries to navigate being a young black man. A really interesting read and especially poignant. You can read a review here.
Tyler Johnson Was Here – Jay Coles
After Marvin’s twin brother is found dead after a house party he and his mother think that is bad enough, that is until a recording surfaces that changed everything. Tyler was murdered by a police officer. As his brother becomes a hashtag, he needs to pick up the pieces of a family left behind. Get your tissues for this one, review here.
Piecing Me Together – Renée Watson
I think this sentence from the blurb sums up this novel perfectly ‘Friendships, race, privilege, identity—this compelling and thoughtful story explores the issues young women face.’
Full Disclosure – Camryn Garett
Full Disclosure is about a young woman living with HIV and trying to live her life as a normal teenager, while also trying to keep her status a secret. It covers friendship, romance has LGBT characters and is about a topic I hadn’t read about before. It an incredible book you can read a review here.
We Will Not Be Erased: Our Stories About Growing Up As People Of Colour – Gal-Dem
I’m not entirely sure that this is YA but it is a really great read, especially for those of us who have grown up with White Privilege. The people who have written for this book identify as people of colour, but I would still include it in this list. I read this back in May and it was eye opening, I’d highly recommend picking it up.
Giovanna Fletcher is a best selling author, award winning podcast host and is known for her down to earth social media channels. As well as all that she’s raising three small humans alongside her husband Tom (yes, Tom Fletcher from McFly). She writes letters to her sons, her family and her husband in this beautiful collection.
I love the idea of writing letters to children while they’re growing up, it’s something I’d like to do for children that I have in the future. While I’m sure there are so many more that aren’t published (because privacy!) this gives an insight into motherhood that I feel will bring light to others who may feel like they’re alone.
This isn’t Gi’s first book about being a Mum, her previous non-fiction book Happy Mum, Happy Baby was also a firm favourite of mine. That book birthed an incredibly popular podcast as well. What works well is that in no way does she pretend she knows it all or even knows what she’s doing half the time.
There is a kindness within the pages of this book and a calming nature. Giovanna doesn’t make out that motherhood is all sunshine and rainbows, she shares the moments of self doubt, times when she felt overwhelmed and what it is like to raise 3 little boys who are so different.
As well as warming my heart there were a few times where I really, really laughed – which I often do as Gi share’s her musings on her Instagram page. It really does feel like a light that shines. I intend to get these books out again in the future, as well as buying them for friends who have little ones/are expecting.
This is a 5 star read, there is no doubt. There is so much honesty, love and warmth through these pages. While I may not have children myself, reading this made me feel so much towards my own mother, towards the children I hope to have in the future.
The Near Witch is only an old story told to frighten children.
If the wind calls at night, you must not listen. The wind is lonely, and always looking for company.
And there are no strangers in the town of Near.
Lexi has grown up with the stories of the Near Witch with little thought to them other than to scare children. But not long after a mysterious stranger arrives and children start to go missing from their beds, Lexi needs to find out the truth – and make sure her sister doesn’t become one of the missing children.
I meant to pick this up a while ago but it slipped my mind, it was only when I saw the gorgeous sprayed edges edition that I knew I needed to buy and read it. I also managed to persuade my book club to read it too!
Lexi is an excellent character, she’s intelligent but also has a softer side, it’s great to see a character that has both. While she’s dealing with the death of her father and what is expected of her in her village she’s also fiercely determined and wants to do the right thing.
I was also fascinated by Cole (this edition also included a short story about him at the end which I wish had been a whole book in itself), the element of mystery really kept me reading. Who was he? Was he the Near Witch? Could he be trusted? So many questions.
I’m not entirely clear when or where in the world this is meant to be set but it gives me a old worldy vibe because of the way the town acts and the types of jobs that are mentioned – which I enjoyed.
When you consider that this is her debut and something that she was writing while at university it’s even more impressive. I lost myself in this story and this world once I started reading.
This was a 4.5 star read for me. An engaging story and while at the beginning it was slightly slower than I’d have liked, when it picked up it was an enjoyable read. I’d actually quite like to know what happened after.
While Holland has watched her favourite street musician for months with deepening feelings she’s never had the courage to talk to him, until he rescues her from a drunken attack and disappears. She decides to find him again after her Uncle is desperate for an incredible musician and she knows that Calvin could fit the bill. While everyone falls in love with his talent there’s one catch – he’s in the US illegally after overstaying his student visa.
Fed up of being a second character in her own story Holland decides to take a risk and marry him – even though he has no ideas of her feelings. They’re going to have to put on the show of their lives, but at one point does it stop becoming an act?
I’d heard about Christina Lauren a few times and this is the second book of theirs that I’ve picked up and I’m so glad I did. This is a romance that includes music, theatre and a protagonist that isn’t sure what she wants to do with her life. That ticks a lot of boxes for me!
I listened to the audiobook of this on Scribd and it was a really enjoyable experience, particularly as the narrator has a knack for the variety of accents that this story needs. It’s worth nothing as well that the characters lend themselves to the diversity that a city like New York would have.
While you cannot hear the music and performance that is being discussed, it didn’t matter – it was as if I could feel it through the page. The heart and the soul that these characters were connected by felt second nature to me. Now, I don’t know if this is the case because I have a passion and love for music myself but it touched my heart.
I also found myself feeling connected to the characters – I cared deeply about their lives and wanted the very best for them. I felt like I knew them. I was constantly rooting for Holland and Calvin to find love in each other and have a shot at happiness together. It’s safe to say I was wrapped up in this book from the first page.
This was a 5 star read for me. It’s a fantastic romance that I could not put down. I needed to know what was going to happen, was the relationships going to stick? Would Calvin fall in love with Holland? Would the law catch up with them? Of course, I won’t spoil anything for you but I really enjoyed this book. I’d also recommend the audiobook as a fun read.
Camino Rios lives for the summers when her father visits her in the Dominican Republic. But this time, on the day when his plane is supposed to land, Camino arrives at the airport to see crowds of crying people…
In New York City, Yahaira Rios is called to the principal’s office, where her mother is waiting to tell her that her father, her hero, has died in a plane crash.
Separated by distance – and Papi’s secrets – the two girls are forced to face a new reality in which their father is dead and their lives are forever altered. And then, when it seems like they’ve lost everything of their father, they learn of each other.
After reading Acevedo’s novel With The Fire on High I knew I needed to read Clap When You Land. I was fascinated by the idea of a tragedy bringing together unknown family members and the difficulties they have after learning the truth.
This is ultimately a story about grief, family and secrecy. While both Camino and Yaharia share a father, their lives couldn’t be more different. One is used to living in New York in reasonable comfort, while the other is keeping her head above water with her aunt in a struggling neighbourhood.
As with Acevedo’s other book I read there are a number of diverse characters in terms of race and sexuality as well as looking at forms of intimidation women may face around the world.
The way in which this is written is beautiful, I particularly enjoyed the descriptions of the Dominican Republic and Camino’s sense of community and love for those around her. Overall I think I felt more connected to Camino, simply because I was rooting for her the whole time. That’s not to say I wasn’t rooting for Yaharia, it was just a different kind of connection.
For me this was a 4.5 star read, I can’t talk about the ending without risk of spoilers but I wanted to see more of that happened after the endpoint. I would definitely read a second book about the girls. I wish I could say more but I refuse to spoil this wonderful book for anyone.
Thank you to the author, publisher and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for review.