This month’s reviews:
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
I had no idea what this was about going in. All I knew is that some people don’t like the narrator and find it unreadable in adulthood, even if they loved it as a teenager. However, I liked the narrative style, I found Holden Caulfield’s grumpy teenage voice and tendency to think the worst of everyone except his little sister very endearing. But despite this, I found it slow to get through because not that much really happens. Holden is such a loner, isolating himself from other people, that at points it loses any compelling drive. Although I enjoyed it overall, I’ll be happily passing my copy on to another reader!
Knife Edge by Malorie Blackman, second in the Noughts and Crosses series
I approached this with much more trepidation, the memory of the emotional trauma wreaked upon me by the ending of Noughts and Crosses still fresh after nearly ten years! I can’t really tell you what this is about because it will spoil that ending, however it picks up nearly just where the first book left off and shows you the aftermath and what happens next for some of the characters. It is pretty grim, but nowhere near as harrowing and so I’ll be reading the next one, Checkmate, much sooner.
The Little Bookshop of Lonely Hearts by Annie Darling, first in the Lonely Hearts Bookshop series
Posy has just inherited a bookshop! But it comes with a catch – she only has two years to make it a success moment and if she doesn’t then it goes to the previous owner’s awful grandson Sebastian, described by newspapers as the rudest man in London. Sebastian, of course, thinks she should give it up immediately. But Posy refuses and decides to give the shop a mega-makeover with a new name and a new purpose – it will become Happily Ever After, a dedicated romance bookshop. Sebastian isn’t so keen. Posy struggles to make him see that he isn’t in charge, hijinks ensure, and romance! I really enjoyed this, now I’ve read them all I can say it’s my least favourite of the series, but it was really lovely and cute. It does not have a very twisty plot, so if you’re someone who hates typical romance plot twists, you’ll probably love this.
Jade City by Fonda Lee (unsolicited review copy sent by publisher back in 2017)
Magical gangsters! Clan politics! Violence! I really enjoyed this urban fantasy gangster novel, especially all the backstabbing and plotting and love and lies that go on between the warring factions and warring clans. It is very serious, so not to my taste exactly, but I will definitely be reading the rest of the series. The magic system is fascinating – jade gives people with the right bloodline special abilities, but it takes its toll on them, and even years of training cannot compensate for this fully. Cultural expectations clash with personal hopes and physical and mental limitations. The action scenes are excellent, vivid on all levels (I could imagine the pain as well as the thrills of fighting) and I really liked the author’s realistic take on gender politics within the warrior clans.
True Love at the Lonely Hearts Bookshop by Annie Darling, second in the Lonely Hearts Bookshop series
This follows one of the other characters from the first book, Verity, who decides to dump her fake boyfriend, but before she can do so, her bookshop friends follow her and in a desperate bid to maintain the fiction, she asks a stranger to pretend to be her date. With no time to explain, he introduces himself as himself! So poor Verity get rid of the fake boyfriend but now her colleagues all think she has this real love interest. But he comes up with the idea for them to fake date over the summer, to put off their interfering friends and concerned family members, and after some reluctance, Verity agrees, and as they go to parties and weddings and other events together, she starts to get quite used to having him around… Once again it’s extremely cute, and I loved the details about all the people in their lives and the parties they go to.