Girl Out of Water by Laura Silverman

Rating – 3/5

“Anise Sawyer plans to spend every minute of summer with her friends: surfing, chowing down on fish tacos drizzled with wasabi balsamic vinegar, and throwing bonfires that blaze until dawn. But when a serious car wreck leaves her aunt, a single mother of three, with two broken legs, it forces Anise to say goodbye for the first time to Santa Cruz, the waves, her friends, and even a kindling romance, and fly with her dad to Nebraska for the entire summer. Living in Nebraska isn’t easy. Anise spends her days caring or her three younger cousins in the childhood home of her runaway mom, a wild figure who’s been flickering in and out of her life since birth, appearing for weeks at a time and then disappearing again for months, or even years, without a word. Complicating matters is Lincoln, a one-armed, charismatic skater who pushes Anise to trade her surfboard for a skateboard. As Anise draws closer to Lincoln and takes on the full burden and joy of her cousins, she loses touch with her friends back home – leading her to one terrifying question: will she turn out just like her mom and spend her life leaving behind the ones she loves?”

This isn’t a bad book – I enjoyed it, but I didn’t love it. It’s your stereotypical summer contemporary which I always enjoy but it takes a lot for me to really adore a contemporary as they are all so similar. I wasn’t a huge fan of the characters – I didn’t hate them, I just felt rather indifferent towards them. I found Anise to be rather irritating as she constantly moaned about wanting to be back at home and it became quite repetitive. I did enjoy the surfing and skateboarding aspect of the book as they are two sports that I think are really cool.

This was by no means a bad book, I just found it to be quite similar to other contemporaries that I have read. I would recommend reading it if you are after a quick, summer read!

Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh

Rating – 3.5/5

“The only daughter of a prominent Samurai, Mariko has always known that being a woman means she’s not in control of her fate. Never mind her cunning or her skills as an accomplished alchemist, Mariko was raised for one purpose only: to marry. At just seventeen years old, Mariko is sent to the imperial palace to meet her betrothed, a man she did not choose. But the journey is cut short when her convoy is ambushed by the Black Clan – a group of bandits hired to kill Mariko before she reaches the palace. The lone survivor of the attack, Mariko swears revenge on those who want her dead: she infiltrates the Black Clan disguised as a peasant boy and befriends their leader. The clan warms to Mariko, impressed by her intellect and ingenuity – but as she gets closer to her enemies, Mariko uncovers a dark history of secrets that will force her to question everything she’s ever known.”

This book was a highly anticipated read for me as I heard it was a Mulan retelling and Mulan is one of my favourite Disney films. Whilst I shortly learned that the book bears little resemblance to Mulan, I did see a lot of similarities to the story I love.

I’d heard very mixed reviews about this book but for the most part, I really enjoyed it! This is my first Renee Ahdieh book and I really loved her writing style – it was poetic but in a way that was still very easy to read. I also really enjoyed the characters she created as I was constantly torn between loving and hating them. Mariko was a really feisty female lead and I really warmed to her character, much like I did with most of the members of the Black Clan.

Unfortunately, what let this book down for me is that I never knew what was going on. It isn’t one of those books that slowly feeds you information so that by the end of the book you know exactly who is on what side; by the end of the book, I still had no idea what had happened and who the bad guys were! This let the book down for me as even though I did really enjoy it, I feel as though I couldn’t fully engage with the story because I didn’t know what was happening. I understand that there is going to have a sequel, which will hopefully explain more but this lack of understanding really let this book down.

I will most definitely be picking up the sequel and reading more from Renee Ahdieh as I really enjoyed her writing style!

Our Dark Duet by V. E. Schwab

Rating – 5/5

“Kate Harker is a girl who hunts monsters. And she’s good at it. August Flynn is a monster who can never be human. Nearly six months after Kate and August were first thrown together, the war between the monsters and the humans is a terrifying reality. In Verity, August has become the leader he never wished to be, and in Prosperity, Kate has become the ruthless hunter she knew she could be. When a new monster emerges from the shadows – one who feeds on chaos and brings out its victim’s inner demons – Kate must face a monster she thought she killed, a boy she thought she knew, and a demon all her own…”

This book broke me. I’d fallen so completely in love with the characters so the ending (which was horribly unfair) broke my already fragile heart.

This book was incredibly tense and I never knew what was going to happen next. The characters went through so much development – my heart broke for my poor August as he faced so many struggles to be the person he thought he needed to be. I really enjoyed the more vulnerable side to Kate that we saw in this book and watching her relationship progress with August was really beautiful to read. I fell more in love with Ilsa who was such a strong character in This Savage Song and was somehow even stronger in this sequel.

I really adore this duology and it most definitely one of my favourites! I can’t wait to read more from V. E. Schwab in the future as she has become one of my favourite authors. Her writing is so beautiful but also so easy to read; you swiftly become immersed in the worlds she creates, forgetting everything that is going on around you. She is most definitely an auto-buy author for me now!

This Savage Song by V. E. Schwab

Rating – 5/5

“Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city, a grisly metropolis where the violence has begun to create real and deadly monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the inhabitants pay for his protection. August just wants to be human, as good-hearted as his own father – but his curse is to be what the humans fear. The thin truce that keeps the Harker and Flynn families at peace is crumbling, and an assassination attempt forces Kate and August into a tenuous alliance. But how long they will survive in a city where no one is safe and monsters are real…”

I’ve been meaning to read this book for so long and I decided to pick it up as my first book of the month and I’m so glad I did. I flew through this book – the chapters are quite short which made it really easy to just keep reading and before I knew it, I’d reached the end.

This story is so unique and it really stands out from other fantasy books I’ve read. The idea that monsters manifest from criminal actions is so cool and I loved learning about the different types and how they fit into the world Victoria created. The characters also made this book stand-out! August Flynn is one of the most precious characters I’ve ever come across and he made my experience reading this book all the more enjoyable. I also really loved Kate which surprised me as the Kate we see at the beginning of the book who picks fights and rebels isn’t the sort of character I usually like but the more I learned about her, the more I liked her.

I’m so excited to read this sequel, Our Dark Duet, even though I’ve heard it’s going to break my heart! I highly recommend this book, as well as all of V. E. Schwab’s books – you will not be disappointed!

Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Rating – 3.5/5

“Moving to a space station at the edge of the galaxy was always going to be the death of Hanna’s social life. Nobody said it might actually get her killed. Hanna is the station captain’s pampered daughter; Nik the reluctant member of a notorious crime family. But while the pair are struggling with the realities of life aboard the galaxy’s most boring space station, little do they know that Kady Grant and the Hypatia are headed right toward Heimdall, carrying news of the Kerenza invasion. When an elite BeiTech strike team invades the station, Hanna and Nik are thrown together to defend their home. But alien predators are picking off the station residents one by one, and a malfunction in the station’s wormhole means the space-time continuum might be ripped in two before dinner. Soon Hanna and Nik aren’t just fighting for their own survival; the fate of everyone on the Hypatia—and possibly the known universe—is in their hands. But relax. They’ve totally got this. They hope.”

I enjoyed Gemina much more than Illuminae and I think this may be down to being familiar with the format in which the story is told.

Although I again didn’t connect with any of the characters, I did like them a lot more in this sequel and I found the story much easier to follow. This book was incredibly tense and I read it much faster than Illuminae as I was more invested in the story. I was constantly trying to guess what happened next as we were presented with cliff-hanger after cliff-hanger. The new information we learned in this book was so interesting and I enjoyed reading about how the characters from Iluminae related to the characters in Gemina.

The ending of this book has set up the next book perfectly and even though I do not love this series, I will definitely be reading the next book as I need to find out how the story concludes.

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Rating – 3/5

“This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do. This afternoon, her planet was invaded. The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra – who are barely even talking to each other – are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit. But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.”

I’d heard wonderful things about this book so I picked it up without knowing too much about it. I have never read Sci-Fi before but I thought I would give it a go anyway.

The story is written in really unique formats such as reports, text/email conversations, images etc and I’d heard that this format made the book a really quick read despite it spanning 600 pages. Unfortunately, I found the format quite difficult to read as I was conscious of noting every single detail on the page so that I didn’t miss anything which made this book a rather slow read for me.

I didn’t really like any of the characters, perhaps because of the format or perhaps due to the story being rather difficult to follow. I don’t think I understand the story at all until I finished the book and even now I don’t fully understand what I have read. This may be down to the genre being something I am not used to.

I am going to continue with this series as I already own the sequel but I unfortunately do not love this book as much as everyone else appears to.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Rating – 5/5

“Cath and Wren are identical twins and until recently they did absolutely everything together. Now they’re off to University and Wren’s decided she doesn’t want to be one half of a pair any more – she wants to dance, meet boys, go to parties and let loose. It’s not so easy for Cath. She would rather bury herself in the fanfiction she write where there’s more romance far more intense than anything she’s ever experience in real life. Now Cath has to decide whether she’s ready to open her heart to new people and new experiences, and she’s realizing that there’s more to learn about love than she ever thought possible…”

I love this book so much. I see so much of myself in Cath which is what makes this book so special to me. She is such a relatable character and reading this book has really helped me to prepare for going back to University. I loved the dynamic between Cath and Regan – their friendship was so unique and really comical to read. Levi is also one of my favourite book boyfriends – he makes mistakes but he always owns up to them and it was clear to see how much he cared for Cath by making her feel safe in the relationship. I really don’t like Wren’s character – she’s so selfish and even though she decides to make amends at the end of the book, I don’t think it excuses the way she treated Cath throughout.

I adored the chapters of fanfiction / excerpts from Simon and Baz stories that began each chapter. The first time I read this book was before Carry On but my reread book place after reading (and loving) Carry On and I found I enjoyed the snippets even more the second time round.

This is a really warm and wonderful book that I think a lot of young people can relate to. I’m not the hugest fan of Rainbow Rowell but I highly recommend Fangirl and Carry On!