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



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

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. 

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.


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

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.

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.

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.

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

REVIEW: The Hawkweed Legacy - Irena Brignull

The Hawkweed Legacy - Irena Brignull
Published by Orchard Books on 1st June 2017.
My rating; 3.5/5
Book depository purchase link.

The second book in The Hawkweed Prophecy series, The Hawkweed Legacy, is here! Witches, clans, sisterhood and magic - this series is so wonderfully women-centric that I love it. 

In the first book, The Hawkweed Prophecy, the witches are looking for their new queen. If you haven't read this book yet, you might want to pick it up now and come back to this review because it's impossible to talk about book 2 without giving some secrets from book 1 away. Bookmark me...

In this story, it's time for Poppy to step up and be queen. Except, she doesn't want to and the whole plan starts falling apart. Ember and Leo go back to the chaff world but nothing is the same without Poppy. Essentially, they thought life could go on as normal, but it can't. 

This time the novel is split into a range of perspectives and acts as almost a prequel in some ways to show how the past is influencing the present. The timeline splits into Poppy's life now and the history of Charlock's old friend Betony. I enjoyed the beautiful descriptions of Poppy's travels in the opening and the Ember, Leo, Poppy love triangle continues in such a heartbreaking way. So many of these characters as self-sacrificing that it hurts to read. I mean that in the best way.

The story churned by emotions even more as Sorrel becomes such a complex character and I still don't know if I love or hate her. The witch clans are still bubbling with tension and I can't help but wonder, is book 3 when we're going to get an out and out war with full on battle scenes? What's that going to look like? I am so caught up in this building tension that I will definitely be continuing with the series.

Yet, book 2 wasn't 100% perfect for me. Irena Brignull's standard of writing and her enchanting story-telling ways remained completely engaging (come on, those animal descriptions are on point), but I found that I missed a lot of the story elements from Book 1. The narrative was split into more perspectives, meaning less Poppy and Ember time and I also hugely missed their friendship. Okay, Charlock remained a key part of the story, but I had always hoped that Melanie would step up and shine. It felt that some characters were being very clearly left in the past to make way for some new ones, like Betony and Danny.  I was not ready to let go of some of my favourites just yet.

All in all, I don't think anyone could call themselves disappointed with this follow up. 'Even-more-engaged' would be a better description. While book 2 directly picks up from the end of book 1 and takes the Hawkweed girls to new levels of despair and anguish (and me along with them) I remain completely thrilled by this series. I feel like the best is still yet to come.

Let me know your thoughts!

Love, Jess

Thank you to Orchard for my ARC.

May Wrap Up

Abruzzo, Italy

You might remember that at the start of the month I posted about my library TBR for May. I'm pleased to say I got through all of my library books and found some real treasures. I didn't read any book that I rated below a 3 this month and had quite a few 5s, not bad! Not all of these are library reads but here we go...

Widdershins - Helen Steadman


I've been really into reading women-centred novels lately and a few have touched on witchcraft. Widdershins is a historical novel told from a dual male/female perspective, showing both sides of the witch-hunt. A very descriptive read and one that was quite horrifying too. Look out for my full review!

Kindred Spirits - Rainbow Rowell


Kindred Spirits was released for World Book Day way back in 2015. Short and sweet, Rainbow Rowell lives up to her fantastic reputation once more. I know exactly what to expect when I open one of her books and it never lets me down. This one is about a queue. Yeah.

The Hawkweed Legacy - Irena Brignull


The second book in The Hawkweed Prophecy series, The Hawkweed Legacy continues the story of two young girls and continues the witchcraft trend on my book pile. Poppy and Ember have switched lives and the way the prophecy plays out was not how I was expecting at all, but it worked. I was looking for something more from this one but I'm still excited to continue on in the series. Look out for my full review.

One Of Us Is Lying - Karen M McManus


This one is about a murder. Yep. But, it's not all dark. Lighthearted teenage drama meets a murder mystery to create One Of Us Is Lying. I would recommend this one for fans of Riverdale! Look out for my full review in June.

Vanishing Girls - Lauren Oliver


Another month, another Lauren Oliver novel. She has such a talent for capturing young voices and Vanishing Girls is about two sisters and the trauma that ensues after a horrendous incident. I felt like the twist was a bit of a cheat but I enjoyed it all the same.

Our Endless Numbered Days - Claire Fuller


After seeing this floating around for ages, I took it out from the library. It's about a survivalist father who steals his young daughter and takes her out to live in the woods. Told from the growing girl's perspective, this was such a unique read. The writing was powerful and the twist was excellent. However, I don't think it's one that will stay in my memory forever and I'm not sure why.

When Dimple Met Rishi - Sandhya Menon


You've probably seen this book cover everywhere! When Dimple Met  Rishi is doing incredibly well right now and for good reason. Check out my full review here.

Not Working - Lisa Owens


Lisa Owens please write more books. Please supply me with a new book every week. Not Working has one of the best voices I've read in ages. Claire is an observer and when she quits her job to find her purpose, she sees a new side to life. This book made me both laugh and bury myself in my own anxieties. I have a full review on the way.

The Names They Gave Us - Emery Lord


Faith is hardly ever discussed in YA but Emery Lord has brought it into the mix very successfully in The Names They Gave Us. Lucy is a devout Christian and when her mum is diagnosed with cancer, she doesn't know why it's happening. When she meets new people at a new camp, her eyes are opened. I loved reading about faith in this way and how it interacted with topics like relationships and family. My full review is on the way.

Attachments - Rainbow Rowell


My second Rainbow Rowell read of the month did not disappoint. Attachments is about two women who email each other while at work and a man who has to intercept the emails. He ends up falling in love with one of the women (oh no) (actually very cute). The book was told mostly in email form which sounds crazy but it was amazing. The characters were so vivid and I could read about them over and over again.

The Girl's Guide To Summer - Sarah Mlynowski 


I am so glad I  got to read The Girl's Guide To Summer (look out for my full review in June). It's about two girls who go travelling around Europe, meeting new people and bumping into the same people and trying to balance the trip of a lifetime with life decisions. It's the perfect summer read and it really set me up for my own trip around Europe this summer.

Into The Water - Paula Hawkins


The new Paula Hawkins novel is, dare I say it, perhaps better than The Girl On The Train. Into The Water reminded me of J K Rowling's The Casual Vacancy. It had that town-y vibe, with lots of perspectives and strange characters. Also women centred, it was a twisting mystery that I couldn't predict. 

You Will Know Me - Megan Abbott


Confession: I've actually read this book twice. Another confession: it's just as amazing the second time around. Devon is a gymnast on the verge of making it to the Olympics. Told from her mum Katie's perspective, everything goes dark when a young man everyone likes dies in a hit and run. The bubbly world of gymnastics turns sinister and once again Megan Abbott crafts tension like a pro.

The Hate U Give - Angie Thomas


It took me so long to get around to getting a copy of The Hate U Give. Everyone's raving about it for a reason. This Black Lives Matter novel is about a girl named Starr, who sees her a white police officer shoot her unarmed friend Khalil. She gets stuck between her life at private school and the area she calls home, where colour makes a lot of difference. I'll never forget Starr's dad and his fiery strength, or the way Starr's frustration made me frustrated. This is really a book that brings you along. You feel everything. 

REVIEW: When Dimple Met Rishi - Sandhya Menon

When Dimple Met Rishi - Sandhya Menon
Published by Hodder & Stoughton on 1st June 2017.
My rating: 4/5
Book depository purchase link.

This is the book that everyone is talking about. The release date was pushed forward by over a month and everyone is going wild. Seriously, it's one to keep your eye on.

You can tell right from the cover that this is going to be one of those diverse YA novels that the industry needs. Dimple is a young woman on the road to a career in coding and computing. She's desperate to win a competition that will see her idea for an app launched in the professional market. Although she comes from a traditional Indian family, she's not interested in make-up or finding the Ideal Indian Husband. Meanwhile, Rishi is set on following his parents' wishes and when he's told his future wife will be attending a six week long competition, he decides to go. When the two meet their clashing personalities for a vibrant and comedic narrative that discusses Indian American culture, arranged marriages and feminism in a light-hearted way. 

Told in alternating perspectives, Dimple and Rishi are both completely set in their ways and the way they bounce off each other is wonderful. I can see this perfectly translating into a rom-com on the big screen. I loved the balancing out of the characters through Dimple's mum and Rashi's brother as well as the other teenagers at the competition. In some ways, Celia was exactly the opposite of Dimple, yet the way they still managed to maintain a great friendship paved the way for Dimple and Rishi. 

The novel touches on so many topics, including bullying and prejudice. Dimple and Rishi even handled that differently but it didn't mean that either of them had a perfect solution and that was important. I loved the lack of perfections and conclusions and everything-will-be-brilliant. Their struggles and fears made their decisions all the more powerful.

I wasn't such a fan of the talent show which seemed a bit bizarre in ways. It didn't seem to have much relevance to the competition and I would have liked to have seen more chapters on how Dimple and Rishi prepared their product and how they could use any extra money towards it. It kind of felt like a plot device rather than a step in moving the story forward. In the same way, the way that sex was handled as a topic throughout the novel was very casual and not at all how I expected it to be. Maybe it's just me but I found it odd that it wasn't a bigger deal.

However, I highly recommend sinking into the world of Dimple and Rishi. It's well worth picking up and adding to your TBR. Just let me know what you think of it when you do!

Love, Jess

Thank you to Hodder & Stoughton for my ARC.

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