23 Books Of Summer


Consider this my June and July wrap up in one. I've been travelling from Italy to France, The Netherlands, Germany, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Croatia, Slovenia, and back to Germany and Italy so, of course, I've had a lot of travel time, meaning a lot of reading time. This could be a horrifically long blog post so I'm going to list the books I've read in order and add a line or two of my thoughts. There's simply no way I could write a full review for all of them! If you want to talk more about any of these books then send me a tweet @JessikahHope

The Girlfriend - Michelle Francis 5/5 


An absolute MUST READ. I cannot stress that enough. Not only does the cover have a beautiful swimming pool image, but the dramatic storyline is so enticing. My head is still reeling from all of the tension between Cherry and her boyfriend's mother, as each woman loves him and wants his full attention.

Blood Sisters - Jane Corry 3/5

Although I don't have as much love for this book as Jane Corry's first thriller, Blood Sisters is interesting as the two protagonists are kept apart until the final quarter of the novel. I have a full review to come soon!

Lie With Me - Sabine Durrant 4/5


Can someone assure me that I'm not the only person who was surprised that this protagonist was male? The voice felt slightly confusing to begin with, but the story soon picked up. It was a little far fetched but still great to disappear into. It's another thriller about lies and deception. WHO CAN YOU TRUST?

With Malice - Eileen Cook 4/5

Oh man, I had been looking forward to reading this one for a while. That's why I'm a bit sad that this story hasn't stayed with me. I honestly can't remember why I gave it a 4. I remember enjoying the YA mystery vibes, especially the parts that involved Italy as it gave the story a spark of summer. Overall, it was fun while it lasted but it's not the most memorable.

Dreaming Of Spain - Alli Sinclair 3/5

This is my first Alli Sinclair reading experience so I opted for a novella to see if I enjoyed the style. While I didn't fall in love with it, I took away an enjoyment for the family aspect of her writing. If you want close knit families and all of the complex emotions that come with them then this is an author for you. I'll definitely be taking on another one of her longer novels.

Sister Sister - Sue Fortin 3/5

I wanted to like this but even the cover was painfully predictable. The storytelling was poor in parts so I'd class this as a bit of a trashy read. I enjoyed it like I might a cringey reality TV show. 

The Good Daughter - Karin Slaughter 5/5

You may have seen my review for the blog tour to celebrate the release of The Good Daughter - if not, here it is.

Emma In The Night - Wendy Walker 4/5

I have a full review coming in August for this one so keep a lookout for that. In short, I loved the way this one had a bit of every genre in it - literary, YA, mystery, thriller - and "it kept me guessing". That's such an overused phrase but entirely appropriate in this case.

No Filter - Orlagh Collins 3/5

I have a full review for No Filter which you can read here.

What Light - Jay Asher 3/5


What better time to read about Christmas trees than June? What Light was so different to Thirteen Reasons Why, Jay Asher's other novel, but it was still great. Written in a relaxed, YA way - you know, the kind you can just sink into - it was exactly what I was looking for.

The One Memory Of Flora Banks 4/5

I did not expect to enjoy this so much which is maybe why the ending completely disappointed me. Everything was going so well and I still had to give it a 4 for being such a different story. Flora has a form of amnesia which holds her back from relationships, until it starts to change. Dun dun duuuun.

Cress - Marissa Meyer 3/5

I don't know what to say other than Cress is the third book in the Lunar Chronicles series, which has a good idea, but is just okay. 

The Woman In Cabin 10 - Ruth Ware 4/5

I cannot decide which I prefer: Ruth Ware's first or second novel. Both are equally as gritty and filled with paranoia. In this one, a woman is the only witness to a murder and no one will believe her. Do not read it alone in the dark. Creep rating: 100%

Stillhouse Lake - Rachel Caine 4/5


As a teenager I loved the Morganville Vampire series and now I'm in my twenties I LOVE this new adult series from Rachel Caine. Think forged identities, murders and prison. One family is on the run and I can't wait to see how their story continues. I loved how Stillhouse Lake was short and snappy, never pausing for breath.

Simon Vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda - Becky Albertalli 5/5

Late to the party, I know. Simon is gay and none of his friends know so when he is blackmailed by a kid at school, he's pushed to the limit. The perfect book to celebrate LGBT month.

By Your Side - Kasie West 4/5

Potentially the best Kasie West book, By Your Side is about a romance in a library. It's predictable and cheesy in parts but so happy and it gave me this bubbly feeling of satisfaction because there's nothing too horrifying in this story.

Truly Madly Guilty - Liane Moriarty 4/5


Someone make this into the next Big Little Lies TV show! Although not as great a book, it has amazing potential to be a mini series. Like BLL, the story focuses on one horrible event and the details are slowly pulled out.

Another Together - Lauren James 3/5

A short, okay historical romance novella that I decided to try to see if I could get into Lauren James. I think it will take me a longer book to learn to love the characters and the more traditional writing style. It just didn't excite me that much.

The Couple Next Door - Shari Lapena 4/5

Another one that I highly recommend, you'll probably see The Couple Next Door in all the airport bookshops this summer and that's because it's great. When you think the twisted plot couldn't get worse, it does. I devoured this sinister story in one sitting and there was only one character I liked by the end.

Requiem - Lauren Oliver 3/5

I had to read this because I hate not finishing a series but really, from the way that the Delirium series started, this was just a disappointment. There was so much meaningless action and a lot of deaths I couldn't bring myself to care about. I now don't know if I'd recommend Delirium because why bother get excited by the premise that love is a disease if the series just flops?

This Raging Light - Estelle Laure 3/5

A heart-warming YA novel about a young girl under a lot of pressure after her mum abandons her and her little sister. Trying to keep the secret, she finds comfort in all the wrong places and finds herself at the risk of losing her best friend. This story is serious yet easy, and light and dark all at once.

The End Of Our Story - Meg Haston 3/5

This romance is interesting because it's about a couple that are essentially on the cusp of a break-up. It's funny how this kick starts their narrative and it gripped me through another one sitting reading session. I'm intrigued to pick up Meg Haston's most popular book, Paperweight.

New Boy - Tracy Chevalier 3/5


Othello is one of my favourite Shakespeare plays and so to see it re-written in the youthful American setting made it all the more special to me. The casual (and not so casual) racism that surrounds Osei is enraging and it's easy to follow the parallels between him and Othello. Iago becomes Ian, a jealous school bully with a scheming mind, while the girls on the playground become the love interests. Their skipping games make them appear to be fickle, but just like Shakespeare's play, they turn out to be the most lovable characters of all.

Totalling less than 200 pages, New Boy was a snappy version of the classic which managed to capture every mood of the original. From the overwhelming romance to the dark betrayal, the school playground was the perfect setting for the quick ups and downs of relationship drama. It increased my love for Othello even more.
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BLOG TOUR: The Good Daughter - Karin Slaughter


The Good Daughter - Karin Slaughter
Published by HarperCollins on 13th July 2017.
My rating: 5/5
Book depository purchase link.

As a new reader of Karin Slaughter, I had no idea of what to expect when I picked up The Good Daughter. From the cover, I imagined it would be a dramatic thriller with a selfish middle aged woman taking the lead, made to feel paranoid and jealous until all is revealed that she has been done a huge wrong. From the very first page I realised I was in for something different. The Good Daughter isn't a trashy thriller, written for the sake of a trend, but a well-written criminal story that could easily become a classic.

It starts when two girls are marched into the woods at gunpoint. Twenty-eight years later, their whole worlds have changed. Charlie has become a lawyer, like her father. When she's the first witness at another tragedy, she's wrapped up in the one thing that has the power to bring the two girls back to that horrendous day.

With snippets that could come straight from To Kill A Mockingbird and the modern day dramatic edge of every good BBC mini-series, The Good Daughter is one of the most suspenseful reads I've come across in ages. When the second tragedy occurred, I couldn't figure out how the two linked and how the second would unravel, especially as The Good Daughter edged on with seemingly no resolution. For the final hundred pages, I couldn't figure out how the story could be resolved. It's not often that I can say that I couldn't guess it for the life of me, but this book was written so intelligently that I felt completely helpless to the twist. 

That's part of what makes The Good Daughter a stand-out read. I'm tired of picking up thrillers and finding repetitive tropes and overdone stereotypical characters. Yet, Charlie and Sam are intriguing from the offset. They're upfront, which is refreshing, and while they had their own personalities, their sisterly relationship was perfectly captured. Not everything is sunshine and daisies, but likewise not everything is stabs in the back.

I may not have gone into The Good Daughter as the biggest Karin Slaughter fan, but I am now. Let me know what you think of this one.

Love, Jess

Chat about The Good Daughter with me on Twitter @JessikahHope

Thank you to HarperCollins for the ARC and invitation to the blog tour.
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REVIEW: No Filter - Orlagh Collins


No Filter - Orlagh Collins
Published by Bloomsbury on 13th July 2017.
My rating: 3/5
Book depository purchase link.

I was drawn to No Filter initially by the cover. The title 'No Filter' directly contrasts the blue-pink tones that mask the summer sky and the young couple on it scream YA romance. It conjured up ideas of Morgan Matson and Kasie West and although not quite on a par, Orlagh Collins has a decent debut here.

Emerald is in a bit of a crappy place. Her supposed BFFs at school are treating her like crap, the guy she was sort of with is cutting her out, her dad's hardly ever around and her mum finds it difficult to stay sober for more than two seconds. As much as she can't see it at first, what she really needs is a break from her life. So, when her dad sends her to Ireland for the summer to stay with her grandma, Em's far from pleased. 

She meets Liam and from the offset, the story becomes somewhat predictable and I've seen romance like this done a million times before. The saving elements were the unique Irish setting, with gorgeous descriptions of an island, and Em's fiery disposition. On the downside, I didn't quite understand what she saw in Liam because he didn't seem to bring anything to the relationship but problems.

The whole story is about learning lessons and it's clear how Em influences those around her. Rather than just a teenager who needs to learn about herself, she is also able to show her parents and Liam, exactly how they need to change too. This sense of agency is uncommon in the YA category (in my experiences) and it was refreshing to see here. 

How can I forget the central use of Instagram as a topic for discussion? It was great to see so many modern references and a complete understanding of the teenage mind through social media. Em's addiction to taking selfies and carefully wording the perfect caption is central to the story and her own development and I loved how true to life this whole aspect was.

A light, easy read without too much drama or heaviness, No Filter is what I would call a "beach read". It's okay and you'll probably love it whilst on holiday, but it's not one that I'll hold close to my heart.

Let me know how you found No Filter.

Love, Jess

Talk books with me on Twitter @JessikahHope

Thank you to Bloomsbury for the ARC.
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REVIEW: Widdershins - Helen Steadman


Widdershins -  Helen Steadman
Published by Impress Books on 1st July 2017.
My rating: 3/5
Book depository purchase link.

"Did all women have something of the witch about them?"

Widdershins is a dark and sometimes horrifying tale of how women and "witches" were treated in the mid-seventeenth century. It twists nature and politics to show how the church held high influence on topics like midwifery and healing and exposes the reality of major gender issues just a few hundred years ago. 

Following the perspectives of Jane, an apprentice healer, and John, a damaged man, we see the two sides of witches at this time - the hunted and the hunter. It was interesting that Jane and John aren't as connected as I expected. They lead quite separate lives, both suffering loss yet dealing with it in entirely different ways. They balanced each other out, but I did look forward to Jane's chapters way more by the end. You'll see why.

With natural herbs acting as remedies for many illnesses back then and limited scientific knowledge, the women were the ones fighting for the safety of humanity. Yet, instead of encouraging their efforts, men like John were frightened. Kind of destroys that image of masculinity everyone had, doesn't it? Instead, John gets a bit frightened when his wife goes into labour and is about as useful as a wet leaf. 

It only takes a moment to remember that the witch trials in the novel are inspired by true events to make you shiver. 

I admired Jane's bravery and her relationship with Tom. Her strong moral code and love for her family made her a powerful character, not even considering that she could help to heal others. While John was supposed to be stronger considering the century, he really wasn't. He was whiny, self-pitying and mistrusting. Even worse, when he turned to witch-hunting, he lost any sense of innocence that he had as a child and became a complex villain.

On one hand, I knew that it was the church, his uncle and his loss that had caused him to become that way. On the other, he was a vile murderer. It left me wondering, could I really hate him? 

Showing how violent such strong beliefs and fear can become, Helen Steadman put together a haunting historical novel. It's my favourite anti-summer read of the season so far.

Love, Jess

Thank you Impress Books for my ARC.
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REVIEW: Greatest Hits - Laura Barnett


Greatest Hits - Laura Barnett
Published by W&N on 15th June 2017.
My rating: 3/5
Book depository purchase link.

After reading and loving The Versions Of Us a couple of years ago, I was excited to see a new literary novel from Laura Barnett. This one, Greatest Hits, is about a woman named Cass who is reflecting on her life and music career whilst putting together her Greatest Hits album. Each track represents a period of her life and the narrative flickers between the present and the past until the two merge at the end.

Defined by love, loss and suffering, Cass has experienced the worst of what we can all relate to which is what made this novel such a surprisingly dark read. In many ways, this also gave it a powerful effect. We can all relate to losing someone we love, through the fault of our own, or accident, or theirs. For many of us, music becomes the way we can process it. I spent the past two years as an editor for a music magazine where I read about people connecting with all sorts of music and one thing is for sure: it doesn't have to be a power ballad to be powerful. So, for Cass, her music is her escape and again the reader can relate to her - can almost become her.

Laura Barnett's execution was, once again, brilliant. She has a melodic style (that's the only way I can think of to describe it) and I felt lulled into the story as though it were a fairy-tale. The descriptions of the vicarage felt so traditional and slightly magical that they reminded me of Angela Carter's writing. 

I wanted to love it, I really did. But I found that I struggled to immerse myself in the story during the first half because there seemed to be no conflict. Cass wandered through life, this happened, that happened, so what? It was only in the second half that I began to become emotionally tied to the plot and found myself feeling, well, miserable. Maybe if the first half hadn't seemed to go on forever, I might have loved it more, or maybe it just wasn't for me.

If you're looking for a well-executed literary novel that will take your heart and rip it to shreds, this is the one for you. I've seen so much love for this book already.

Love, Jess

Thank you to W&N for my ARC.

Talk books with me on Twitter @JessikahHope

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WRITING UPDATE #6

Inspired by Italy.

It's been three weeks since I last posted an update (if you can even call that an update?). I told you how I'd taken a decent break from writing and was about to get stuck into the looming challenge that was draft four. 

Momma and I went over to Italy where I spent the mornings editing (inside - I am not an insect kind of girl) and the afternoons reading. The perfect combo was amazing, but draft four has possibly been the hardest stage yet and I'm still not done. In fact, I'm determined to get through it before I go away again this weekend so that I can have another break before draft 5. Phew. I feel like I'm running or something, who knew that editing could be so exhausting. 

Everyone who has been reading my third draft has come back to me - yay! Now there's no excuse for me to fix the typos, small inconsistencies and character development issues that I'm working on. Any niggle that I've buried at the back of my brain, they have brought forward so that I have to combat it. Any little thing that I don't 100% love and want to stand by, I have to fix. It's now or never. In short, this is why early readers are essential and I am so thankful for them. 

Another major thing that happened was I got my university results! If you're new to my writing update series then you should know that I submitted the first two chapters of my WIP as my dissertation. On Friday I found out they were awarded first class marks, leaving me with a 2:1 in my English degree. Needless to say, I'm very pleased and I'm encouraged by the fact that my current WIP has earned me my highest marks across the three years. It's a confidence boost to say the least.

So, going into the end of June and start of July I'm going into another break before the big final draft and the submission process begins. If anyone has any top tips for submitting manuscripts, do let me know...

Love, Jess

Talk writing with me on Twitter @JessikahHope
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REVIEW: The Girl's Guide To Summer - Sarah Mlynowski


The Girl's Guide To Summer - Sarah Mlynowski
Published by Orchard Books on 15th June 2017.
My rating: 5/5
Book depository purchase link.

The Girl's Guide To Summer is the perfect companion to the summer. If you're not going anywhere, this is your holiday. With vivid descriptions of everywhere from Paris to Corfu, it's so beautifully written. I loved Sydney's quirky observations and her travel tips. They might actually come in useful. If you are going away, this is the way to get excited. Live vicariously and soak up the anticipation. I am.

When Sydney is invited to go travelling with her best friend Leela, she isn't sure. Her mum's agoraphobia is demanding and Sydney's never strayed far from home before. She's never even left America. When she takes the leap, she finds herself meeting all sorts of people, from a cute Canadian to some hilarious Aussies and Leela's not-so-nice ex-boyfriend. They haven't even touched down in London when Sydney spots Matt (that's the BF's ex) and things get awkward. 

Until she sees Jackson.

The official cover

I had a feeling about him from the start. He was so cute and adorable. The way he opened up to Sydney - and you could just tell he doesn't normally open up to anyone - was crazy levels of sweet. Almost as sweet as the gelato, which yes, I could practically taste. 

The Kat-Leela relationship was also so good! I could completely understand both sides of the conflict. For Kat, she just wanted to fit in with Sydney's life and she was trying her best. For Leela, she didn't want to share her best friend, especially not with someone she didn't know. Their conversations and just how they progressed was one of the most addictive parts of the story.

Of course, I couldn't write a review without mentioning the kissing. By that I mean the best descriptions of kissing I've come across. For a YA novel, there were more sexual references than I expected and I LIKED THAT. Finally, a girl can go and have fun without feeling anything other than enjoyment. All of the spontaneous romantic moments worked and they didn't detract for a second from the main romance plotlines. In fact, I think the end broke my heart.

I'm heading off on my own European adventures from 24th June so Sydney's story made me ten times more excited to see some of the places she described (although I don't think I'll be going to see a sex show in Amsterdam). 

To celebrate the publication of #GirlsGuide I've been tweeting my top travel tips! If you missed any of them, here's the full list below:

1. Write a list of everything you want to pack a few days before you go to give yourself a chance to remember everything you forgot.
2. Make sure you have the address of your nearest British Embassy and the phone number just in case something happens.
3. Always, always, ALWAYS get travel insurance.
4. If you're travelling in Europe, take your EU health card in case you have an accident or become unwell. It happens!
5. If you have any dietary requirements, know how to explain them in the right languages. As a veggie, I find this so important as some cultures assume I eat fish.
6. See if you can get a phone deal for using texts, calls or data approve. Chances are it might be expensive, but sometimes companies have deals on. 
7. Look up and print out any important directions, bus or metro timetables in advance because trying to understand them on the spot can be scary!
8. Only ever use taxis you trust and make sure they set the meter to zero when you get in so you aren't charged a hefty fee.
9. Know your local laws to avoid fines for crimes like jaywalking, eating near churches and other things you might not be used to.
10. If you're travelling with someone get everything double printed so you each have a copy. If one copy is stolen along with your bag, you'll have a spare.
11. Breathe and relax. Travelling can be scary and stressful sometimes. Remember that you aren't in a rush and find a person of authority if you think they can help.
12. Do a walking tour as soon as you can after arriving in a new place. It will not only give you some knowledge of the history and culture but help you to get your bearings too.
13. Talk to people! It sounds simple but talking to people who have visited the places you're going to can help you find the best places to visit, eat and explore. Alternatively, talk to locals and other travellers when you arrive.
14. Use your apps. There are loads for food (like HappyCow) and activity ideas (like TripAdvisor). 
15. Europeans take long lunch breaks so some places might be shut until 2pm. Plan well!

What are your top travel tips? Let me know!

Love, Jess 

Thank you to Orchard Books for my ARC and fun travel accessories. 
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Joining In With The Book Blogging Community


Photo Credit: Wilfred Iven

Step one: follow 13 book bloggers. Step two: retweet 7 tweets a day. Step three: post one ever 362 minutes. BOOM. Followers and friends.

(Joke).

There's a myth that making friends online is easy, after all it isn't the real world. That couldn't be further from the truth.

First off, this is by no means a "how to" guide. Making friends with other book bloggers is still something I'm learning about every day and I've been at this for over a year now. So, I guess if there's anything you should take away from this post, it's that you'll always be discovering new ways to connect with others readers (and writers) and that this isn't a quick process. It's something you build over time.

In my own experiences, I've found that joining Facebook group Book Connectors and joining in with #SundayYAchat and #UKYAChat has helped me to reach out to readers with similar interests to me. These social spaces are all about interaction and I wouldn't have half as many people reading my blog posts or chatting with me online, if I didn't also interact with their posts and discussions. But, as I mentioned, I'm by no means an expert on this (is anyone?) so I've asked for some help from fellow bloggers and authors. Here is their advice...

Cora Linn (@Corazzz) aka Tea Party Princess

Follow people and interact, and they'll do the same back. Join in with chats like #SundayYA and people will see you there every week and start chatting, and then they start chatting more outside of chats. Join in with memes like Top Ten Tuesday and Book Beginnings - you get regular content and by linking up you get more views and comments, and by checking out other links you get to find more awesome blogs and bloggers. Read and comment on other blogs - a community is about give and take.


Check out this Twitter thread for more of Cora's advice.


Lia (@Lost_In_A_Story) aka Lost In A Story

Getting friends online is a process and it starts with commenting on someone's posts. I think commenting is always a good thing, but sometimes it leads to conversations and if you comment a lot over a longer period of time, it might grow into a friendship. Follow people you like on multiple medias, like Instagram, Twitter and Goodreads. Take every opportunity to talk to people and if you want to meet new people, take part in projects, chats and readathons.

Making friends is hard so don't be sad that you haven't met your new BFF yet. The most important thing is that you shouldn't be afraid to talk to people - just do it.


Bettina Geary (@teens2006) aka TripFiction


Always remember the mantra: it's SOCIAL media, so keep being social!

Harriet Springbett, author of Tree Magic (@HarriSpringbett)

Comment on books that you love or are intrigued by. If you read more than one book a week, that's 52 books you can discuss in a year. 

Alli Sinclair, author of Under The Spanish Stars &more. (@allisinclair)

Using a series is a great way to expand social connections. When authors comment, their readers come over to my blog and we interact and they often end up following my blog and my readership grows. As long as you're genuine, show an interest in others and don't use blogging as a sales pitch then you can't go wrong.

Jennifer Mason (@jennymarston_xo) aka Jenny In Neverland

Don't be scared to read out if you are new. Talk to people and ask for help if you need it. Get involved in Facebook groups like Book Connectors and follow other bloggers on Twitter etc.

Thanks to everyone who helped me create this post!

I want to add one more piece of advice that I think, although obvious, needs to be repeated. While it can be tempting to create a 'new you' online, the best thing to do is be yourself. Not only will that lead you to the people who you will have the most in common with, but you'll enjoy it more than anything. The discussion doesn't end here, make sure you tweet your top tips!

Love, Jess

Make friends with me on Twitter @JessikahHope
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REVIEW: Not Working - Lisa Owens


Not Working - Lisa Owens
Published by Picador on 15th June 2017.
My rating: 4/5
Book depository purchase link.

First off, isn't this cover of Not Working so beautiful? I hugely prefer it to the hardback version that launched last year. I think the gorgeous blue and yellow aesthetic fits the tone perfectly.

Claire quits her job to find herself and discover her true, meaningful purpose. Her boyfriend Luke has always been ambitious and is on the way to becoming a surgeon, but what is her calling? On her "journey", Claire observes the world around her and the people in her life, calling everything into question with her Bridget Jones-esque humour. 

I've been aware of Not Working for a while. It's one of those books that floated in my periphery, whispering read me, but I couldn't hear it over all of the other books shouting at me. Okay, now I just sound a bit crazy. What I'm trying to say is that I wish I'd picked up Not Working a bit sooner. It's packed with detail as the story flickers around at rapid pace. You might get just a line or a snippet of a scene before moving onto Claire's next observation. From her relationship with her parents, to her boyfriend Luke and her job hunt and complicated friends, there's so much depth beneath the surface of every relationship.

So many times whilst reading this, I found myself highlighting lines and reading them to people. "Isn't this true?" I would say, as Owens once again touched on something that everyone is aware of, but no one ever talks about. From grandparents to boyfriends, her social commentary was a brilliant form of honest comedy. 

The only reason I couldn't give this a 5/5 was because I already know it's not a book that will stay with me forever. It was light and fun and so engaging, but not earth-shattering. That's not a bad thing, though, we all need something to relax in and simply enjoy from time to time.

If you haven't read Not Working yet and are looking for a humorous summer read, I couldn't recommend this more.

Love, Jess

Thank you Picador for my ARC.
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Faith In YA / REVIEW: The Names They Gave Us - Emery Lord

The Names They Gave Us - Emery Lord
Published by Bloomsbury on 1st June 2017.
Book depository purchase link.
My rating: 4/5

Faith is weird. When you think about it, faith is such a vague, flexible thing that can mean a different thing to every person. I know people who don't drink because of their faith, who have tattoos because of their faith. Some people even set off bombs because of their faith. That's what makes it such an interesting topic for YA, where often these kinds of books have a 'message' or something to learn from. Don't worry, The Names They Gave Us isn't a recruitment book for any type of religion. 

Lucy is looking forward to the summer (aren't we all?) and has a perfect all-American girl life. Boyfriend, check. Job, check. Quality time with her parents and mum who doubles as her BFF, check. But then, Lucy's mum's cancer returns and everything goes to crap. She volunteers as a counsellor at a summer camp for troubled kids, rather than the church camp she knows and loves. It challenges everything she thought her faith meant to her and her family, from pre-marital sex to how to deal with the great unknown of her future.

I grew up attending a Church of England school and found myself grappling with ideas of faith when I was younger than Lucy, asking all of the same questions. Mostly, how can you have faith when your mum has cancer? Why would a God do something like that to you and your family? But instead of being a nasty, ignorant bash at Christianity, or any religion, The Names They Gave Us, explores how faith doesn't have to mean following a rule book, or even following the same thing as everyone else. It can be personal. 

While I lost my religious faith, I found faith in the people around me. In knowing that friends and family can be kind, supportive and comforting and that kindness is key (sorry for the cheesy overload here). In the same way, Emery Lord transcends religious faith and applies the concept to everyone, no matter what  their beliefs.

Lucy's relationships with the other counsellors provided the diversity that brought this story to life. Anna in particular was an insightful and eye-opening character. I found myself exactly on the same page as Lucy. When she was surprised, so was I. When she didn't know what to say, neither did I. But, I felt I learnt a lot from their relationship and it gave me a warm, fuzzy feeling aka faith in humanity. 

Of course, how could I review this book without mentioning Jones? Jones - such a common surname - could be any guy. He's exactly what Lucy needs to show her that it's okay to be herself, even when it's not what she expected. She gets to experience his life and meet his family and I couldn't read those chapters fast enough because they were so damn good.

Whether you've read Emery Lord before or not - I strongly suggest you do - The Names They Gave Us is a versatile read and the faith slant was dealt with so well.

If anyone has any recommendations of other YA writers/novels that deal with faith, let me know!

Love, Jess

Thank you to Bloomsbury for my copy.
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REVIEW: One Of Us Is Lying - Karen M McManus


One Of Us Is Lying - Karen M McManus
Published by Penguin Randomhouse on 1st June 2017.
My rating: 3/5
Book depository purchase link.

I love YA and I love crime fiction so I went into One Of Us Is Lying with some high expectations. With a solid Goodreads rating of 4/5 (at the time of writing), it seemed that it was all everyone could talk about. And I could see why.

With the recent success of teen suicide TV show Thirteen Reasons Why (TRW), the popularity for high school dramas has risen again and book sales for Jay Asher's novel have boomed for the first time since 2007. The interesting thing is, both TRW and One Of Us Is Lying follow the same clear principle: a student dies and their peers fill in the backstory. 

Simon, Bronywn, Nate, Cooper and Addy all find themselves in detention one afternoon. That in itself is very weird. They aren't exactly friends. Bronwyn is the ambitious, Yale-aspiring student, Nate is the one that's always in trouble, Cooper is the sports-freak and Addy is the resident princess. That leaves Simon, the "omniscient narrator" as he calls himself. It seemed at first that everyone was comfortable with themselves and their high school identity, but when one of the five dies in detention, everything starts falling apart. 

There's an app called About That threatening to exploit their secrets and a police investigation going on that could see them arrested. Tensions rise and each of the characters are pushed to their limits. I particularly enjoyed seeing how Addy changed her perspective on a lot of things, mostly relationships, and how she re-evaluated her family life. That might be an unpopular opinion because there are parts of Addy that make her unlikable (cough cough, her self-pity). Yet, there are aspects of every character that make them imperfect and that's where the mystery lies. Which one of them could have killed another?

The driving force of One Of Us Is Lying is how you begin to suspect every character. I scrutinised every line of dialogue, every alliance, every action and still found myself coming up short. But the ending didn't let me down. While I would have loved some TRW-style flashbacks, I settled for the explosion that concluded the story. Or, I'm still trying to let my brain calm down from it, anyway.

The only thing that I didn't 100% love was the romance aspect of the story. It really didn't need or benefit from it and I found it hard to get on board with the pairing. I struggled to route for them or even see why they were interested in one another, probably because it was all put down to the 'they used to know each other' plot device that I find depressingly lazy. Instead, it would have been more interesting to see some of the remaining four turning on one another, conflicts raging, blaming one another, anything that would have added more fuel to the fire.

Let me know if you manage to untangle the mystery faster than I did!

Love, Jess

Thank you to Penguin for my ARC.
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June TBR


June is here and I'm spending my time travelling, meaning there'll be time to read on planes and trains. While I battle through my fourth edit, these are the books I intend on bringing along...

Greatest Hits - Laura Barnett


I enjoyed Laura Barnett's first novel, The Versions Of Us, and this one sounds intriguing too. It's about a woman who is putting together her greatest hits album and recollecting on her life. A literary novel that I hope will live up to its potential.

Blood Sisters - Jane Corry


Again, this read is based off how much I enjoyed Jane Corry's first thriller My Husband's Wife. Blood Sisters has been getting so much hype. I don't know too much about what it's about but I like to go into thrillers blind. The cover and clues, however, remind me of Reconstructing Amelia which I loved.

The Girlfriend - Michelle Francis


Potentially one of my most anticipated reads, The Girlfriend is a psychological thriller about a mother, her son and her son's girlfriend. The relationship between mother-in-law and a son's girlfriend is such a complex topic and I can't wait to get stuck into this.

With Malice - Eileen Cook


I did once know what this was about (promise!). I added it to my TBR because so many bloggers were raving about it months ago. I can't believe it's taken me so long to get round to it. I am determined that I will take on this YA thriller this month.

Lie With Me - Sabine Durrant


I chose this because like The Girlfriend, it also has a water-y, summery feel and it will be perfect to read on the beach or while I travel. I expect it to be both chilling in the sense that I can relax with it and that it's a thriller.

Under The Spanish Stars - Alli Sinclair


As part of my Around The Year In 52 Books challenge I am reading an Alli Sinclair novel to tick off the challenge of reading a book from a southern hemisphere author. I've heard lots of praise for these novels set in exotic locations so maybe this one will broaden my travels even further.

Cress - Marissa Meyer


The third book in The Lunar Chronicles series, Cress is really long. Based on Rapunzel, it will merge fairy-tale fantasies with sci-fi and if it's anything like the first two books, I'm sure I'll love it. It might just take me a while at 550 pages.

Sister, Sister - Sue Fortin


Again, I know nothing about this book. My mum recommended it so... I'm reading it! The cover makes it look like a dark thriller and it'll be interesting to see how this compares to Blood Sisters.

And, there you have it! Those are the books I am determined to get to in June. Not many ARCs this month, but these are all titles that I've had stored up on my Kindle for a while.

What will you be reading this month?

Love, Jess

Talk books with me on Twitter @JessikahHope
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