Quickfire Reviews

Quickfire Reviews is a thing I do very sporadically when there are books to talk about that I should have reviewed but haven’t. Sometimes I didn’t like these books enough to want to review them; sometimes I loved them but time got away from me; and sometimes, less is just more. Also it’s something a bit different which is what I am all about this year – being more than just review after review.

So here we have it, grab a KitKat and settle down.

What’s it About? Sam and Ilsa – twins – have spent their high school lives throwing legendary dinner parties at their Grandmother’s apartment. Graduation is looming which means one thing: time for one last dinner party. Told over one night, this is the story of Sam and Ilsa’s last hurrah. The clue is in the name, guys.

What I liked It’s cute this book, and we all know how much I love a good YA coming of age story. Sam and Ilsa – Sam in particular – were interesting characters and I was really fascinated by their whole dynamic. Also it reminded me a little bit of Gossip Girl. Ilsa was so Blair in my head.
What I liked Less 
It felt a little bit try-to-hard-to-be-quirky which surprised me because I am a big fan of David Levithan usually. The pacing was off and it felt under-developed, like, the things that really caught my interest weren’t explored as much as I’d hoped they might be. I wanted more of Sam and Ilsa, frankly, everything else felt like distracting window dressing.

What’s it About? The one thing Eden has always been sure of in life is her best friend – solid, dependable, straight A Bonnie. So it’s a bit weird when Bonnie disappears just before their GSCE’s with a boyfriend Eden never knew she had. Especially when it turns out that boyfriend is their teacher and everyone – police included – are trying to find her. Eden knows where she is, and she knows she should probably tell, but how do you betray your best friend like that.

What I liked I really really liked this book. It’s so refreshing actually to read a book that doesn’t glamourise student/teacher relationships because let’s be real here: a teacher dating a GSCE aged student is morally reprehensible. I mean, I firmly believe age is irrelevant when both parties are consenting adults – the guy I’m seeing is older than me and I LOVE that about him, but that’s the thing isn’t it. I’m not 16; I’m 35. So often in teen fiction these relationships are romanticised and it’s wrong. That doesn’t happen here – this book is to the point, brutally honest and explores the intensity of love – romantic and platonic – as well as cleverly delving into the dangers of grooming. Eden is an excellent protagonist, perfect for this story – loyal, awkward, far from perfect and with her own issues. It was so interesting to watch this whole thing develop through her eyes, to watch her make mistakes and try to figure things out. I loved her, flaws and all.

What I liked Less There were a lot of side stories that I loved and would have liked more of, which seems weird because the book wasn’t really about those things, but still, they were mentioned which meant it bugged me that they weren’t fully delved into – Eden’s little sister for example, or her boyfriend and his role as a caretaker. Don’t tease me with these really interesting plot points and not go anywhere with them. Also it was a little repetitive. & I’m never a fan of the idea that the ‘good kids’ are somehow missing out on the necessary life experiences. LIES LIES AND DAMN LIES.

What’s it About? Am I the last person in the world to read this? This is Eleanor Oliphant’s story – her social skills are somewhat lacking, she avoids social interactions and spends the time she’s not at her 9-5 office job where her colleagues think she’s weird, drinking vodka and eating pizza and she is fine with that, until quite by accident she runs into a completely undesirable man from her office in the street and helping save an old man who’s fallen on the pavement and starts to realise what it means to have friends.

What I liked Feelings. I has them. This book is really realy good. It’s been getting all the hype; it deserves it. I was not ready for this book, and I was not fine after finishing it because OH MY, MY HEART. I was not warned and I was not ready. This book is profound and it is beautiful and it is so worth a read. It’s quite extraordinary, really.

What I liked Less the supporting cast. Eleanor was fabulous, Raymond pretty good…everyone else though kind of fell by the wayside and that made me sad.

What’s it About? In a nutshell it’s a portrait of black Londonders in the wake of Obama’s election victory and follows two couples, set to John Legend’s Ordinary People album, which by the way is a clever way to write a book and also an excellent album.

What I liked It’s smart this book, and well written – the writing is lyrical and put me in mind of Jon McGregor at first, I had If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things flashbacks which was super. It started out really well, I loved the premise and I loved the opening and the set up. So pretty, I couldn’t read it fast enough. I also – at first  - loved the John Legend references, mostly because I have listened to that album a lot.

What I liked Less It was too much, too long. It got samey and it didn’t know what it was and got a little bit lost in itself and I did, I’m afraid to say, get a little bit bored. I forced myself onwards because I’d liked it so much to start but it did get a bit overwhelmed by its own self. More show less tell would have been good too, always more show and less tell.

What’s it About? A young  girl growing up in Harlem with a fiercely religious mother and not much clue as to where she fits in the world discovers slam poetry and slowly slowly comes to learn that she deserves to be heard.

What I liked Oh man, this book. It’s like nothing I’ve ever read and somehow feels really familiar. Stories told through verse is something I need more of in my life – if any of you have any recs then throw them at me  - it’s a love story to poetry, it’s a raw and honest look at growing up oppressed by something you’re not sure you really believe in, it’s a tender look at a first love, it touches on rape culture and self-love and body-shaming and feminism and religion and it’s not even very long. It’s clever and its beautiful and it’s really quick and easy to read. And I did not expect to like it as much as I did. And it left me wanting to know more about slam poetry too.

What I liked Less Again, it’s a character issue and I actually really get why it is this way but reading this book is a very intimate and insular experience: you only really get to connect with Xiomara and other people – namely her Mother who fascinated the life out of me – are never fully realised. 

What’s it About? The final story in the PS I Still Love You trilogy and Lara Jean and Peter are the cutest ever, her Dad has a boyfriend and she’s getting ready to finish up her senior year and go to college. Life should be peachy, right?

What I liked God I am so not the target market for these books but oh how I love them. They are so easy to read and so lovely and I just want to smush everybody together and cuddle them. Lara Jean is so adorable and I love the thing she has going on with Peter, Kitty is the sassiest little kid you ever met, theres so much talk of cookies, and it’s just such a happy place to spend a few hours. I’m sad this whole thing is over, truth be told. I’d totally read book 4.

What I liked Less Enough of the Peter/Lara Jean will they won’t they already. We had that in book two and it hurt my heart then. Also Trina was a minor character in book two and now suddenly she’s this big important person and it jarred a little.

What’s it About? The first in a new trilogy by Giovanna and Tom Fletcher. Fifty years ago, women stopped giving birth to boys. The human race is on the brink of distinction until an elderly couple give birth to a daughter, Eve. Flash forward 16 years and Eve just wants to be a teenage girl but that’s kind of hard when the fate of the human race is on your shoulders. Three potential males have been selected and it’s going to be up to her to provide the females the world really needs. She’s always been kind of ok with that. But then there is Bram. Is it selfish to choose love over the fate of actual humanity?

What I liked It’s clever and different and intriguing. And kind of unputdownable; I read it in a day over the bank holiday. I am such a sucker for a good dystopia and I love when somebody finds a twist on that, that hasn’t been done to death. I enjoyed the split narrative, that we got both Eve and Bram’s take on things and they were both clear and interesting characters. Eve perhaps a little moreso than Bram. Their individual voices were really distinct too; I wondered if Giovanna and Tom had written one of them each – I’d love to know their writing process on this book actually – and even though a lot of the story centres around the miniscule part of the world Eve has been allowed to see, we still got enough of a hint of the outside world to imagine what was going on out there. Despite a slow part in the middle, I flew through this book and I can’t wait to see where the story goes next.

What I liked Less There’s the fact it really did get slow in the middle, it’s repetitive too and a lot of time was spent going over and over Eve and Bram’s feelings for each other that  wish had been spent getting into the nitty gritty of the story. Things I really wanted answers to seemed to be glossed over so a couple of times I was left thinking ‘but how did that happen, though’ and there was a lot of tell and not enough show and whilst I appreciate that it might not have been the story they wanted to tell, I felt like there were quite a lot of missed opportunities: there’ve been no women born for 50 years so let’s talk about gender roles; women are kept away from men because men cannot be trusted to control themselves so let’s talk about rape culture and gender (in)equality and so on and so forth. As ever, I am greedy, all the time, for more.