IS THIS IT? by Hannah Tovey

-Employed (you have frequent nightmares about your job)
-Single and fabulous (swiping Tinder in your pyjamas while your best friend shops for engagement rings)
-Thriving (surviving)

Ivy and Mia have been best friends since the fun, messy, hungover years of their twenties.

Ten years later, Mia has it all – the man, the house, the career. Ivy is skint, single, and scared that she isn’t a ‘hot mess’ any more – she’s a walking disaster.

But one night, Ivy switches her phone off, peels last night’s drunken pizza off the sofa, and makes a list. A list that changes everything . . .

The new Ivy has a proper job. She goes on fancy dates in wine bars. She’s starting to think: maybe ‘faking it till you make it’ is easy?

But then she meets Scott.

Curly-haired, sarcastic Scott.

Sh*t.


Title : Is This It?
Author : Hannah Tovey
Format : Paperback
Page Count : 368
Genre : Contemporary Romance
Publisher : Piatkus Books
Release Date : July 22, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★.5


Micky’s 4.5 star review

Headlines:
Witty & Welsh
Finally getting your act together
New beginnings

Is This It continued the story of Ivy from The Education of Ivy Edwards but you could totally read this as a standalone. That said, the Ivy in this story was an Ivy I could identify with more and I loved seeing her journey here. I felt that new attitude in Ivy from the first few pages and the story pulled me in really quickly.

Ivy hadn’t changed completely but she had realised she needed a direction, a focus and she was determined. This really was a story of your life can be in the gutter for some time, but it is possible and believeable to find a way out. This book was full of positivity alongside the occasional typical Ivy high jinks.

There were a range of other characters I loved in this book but none more than Scott, Anna and Eleanor (with an honourable mention for Mr Reid). Scott saw that spark in Ivy that seemed hidden in the previous book and he helped her shine, I loved these two but they did put me through some angst (but I secretly loved it). Anna and Eleanor were such an important part of this story and I really liked the sisterly closeness and the complete unreserved love Ivy had for Eleanor. I thoroughly disliked Ivy’s mother and her cruel comments to her daughters.

Ivy’s education and job journey really drew me in and I thought how she blossomed was quite special. The kids were hilarious and Ivy really was made for the profession.

I think Is This It was made more of a sweet experience because of the hard won journey from book one. I could read about Ivy again!

Thank you to Piatkus Books for the finished review copy.

THE GILDED KING by Josie Jaffrey

In the Blue, the world’s last city, all is not well.

Julia is stuck within its walls. She serves the nobility from a distance until she meets Lucas, who believes in fairytales that her world can’t accommodate. The Blue is her prison, not her castle, and she’d escape into the trees if she didn’t know that contamination and death awaited humanity outside.

But not everyone in the Blue is human, and not everyone can be contained.
Beyond the city’s boundaries, in the wild forests of the Red, Cameron has precious little humanity left to lose. As he searches for a lost queen, he finds an enemy rising that he thought long dead. An enemy that the humans have forgotten how to fight.

One way or another, the walls of the Blue are going to come down. The only question is what side you’ll be on when they do.


Title : The Gilded King
Author : Josie Jaffrey
Series : Soverign #1
Format : Paperback
Page Count : 285
Genre : Dystopian YA
Publisher : Silver Sun Books
Release Date : June 25, 2018

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★


Micky’s star review

Headlines:
Humans ‘v’ vampires ‘v’ zombies
Parallel stories
Dystopia meets historical

I feel like I’ve possibly done this series starter a disservice on the one hand because this is a story that builds on a previous series. I think I would have understood quite a bit more if I’d read that previous series but with this being a book one of a series, I thought I would be okay. Overall, I found the world building confusing at times and I was jarred by my lack of understanding.

Those aspects said, this was a very character-driven story and some of these characters were ones to get behind. This was a tale with two stories running in parallel where Julia and Lucas were at the fore of the story in the Blue and Cam was at the fore of the story in the Red. It took a long time for these stories to intersect but I wasn’t bothered by that.

While this was a dystopian tale that occasionally harkened back to our contemporary times, life in the Blue felt somewhat historical, ancient Grecian or Roman with nobles, servitude and a basic standard of living. I was most interested in Julia and Lucas in the Blue for these reasons, but still, there was a lot to get your head around.

The story did pull the threads together towards the end but I’m left with many unanswered questions that I’ll have to read on for.

Thank you to the author for the review copy.

WOULD I LIE TO YOU? by Aliya Ali-Afzal

From fresh new voice Aliya Ali-Afzal, Would I Lie to You? is a page-turning, warm and funny debut about what happens when you have your dream life – and are about to lose it.

At the school gates, Faiza fits in. It took a few years, but now the snobbish mothers who mistook her for the nanny treat her as one of their own. She’s learned to crack their subtle codes, speak their language of handbags and haircuts and discreet silver watches. You’d never guess, at the glamorous kids’ parties and the leisurely coffee mornings, that Faiza’s childhood was spent following her parents round the Tooting Cash ‘n’ Carry.

When her husband Tom loses his job in finance, he stays calm. Something will come along, and in the meantime, they can live off their savings. But Faiza starts to unravel. Raising the perfect family comes at a cost – and the money Tom put aside has gone. When Tom’s redundancy package ends, Faiza will have to tell him she’s spent it all.

Unless she doesn’t…

It only takes a second to lie to Tom. Now Faiza has six weeks to find £75,000 before her lie spirals out of control. If anyone can do it, Faiza can: she’s had to fight for what she has, and she’ll fight to keep it. But as the clock ticks down, and Faiza desperately tries to put things right, she has to ask herself: how much more should she sacrifice to protect her family?

A tense, funny and page-turning debut from a fresh new voice in fiction, Would I Lie to You? is perfect for readers of Adele Parks, Celeste Ng, and Kiley Reid.


Title : Would I Lie To You?
Author : Aliya Ali-Afzal
Format : Hardback
Page Count : 416
Genre : Contemporary Fiction
Publisher : Head of Zeus
Release Date : July 8, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
A house of cards
Spiral of lies
Social pressures

What a angsty read this was. Would I Lie To You plunged you into the privileged life of Faiza, Tom and their family. That privilege soon turned to difficulty in a spate of difficult life turns that brought the spotlight to all the things Aliya had been brushing under the carpet and hiding.

I have to say there were times I found the spiriling descent of Faiza’s desperation to cover things up pretty anxiety-provoking but I couldn’t look away. These changes in their family’s life was accompanied by a backdrop of social pressures, school tuition fees, older parents and job hunting.

Faiza was a character that in some ways was hard to like, but she had endearing characteristics that made you want to see her claw her way out of this hole she’d dug. There were events and experiences that she encountered with regards to her race and gender that were simply awful to read.

I would classify this as a women’s fiction/contemporary read that was sometimes suspenseful. The plot had depth and complexity and the characters were very well honed. If you’re looking for a read that keeps your attention with good pace, Would I Lie To You will meet your needs; it’s an impressive debut.

Thank you to Head of Zeus for the early review copy.

THE FOREVERS by Chris Whitaker

What would you do if you knew the world was going to be destroyed by a huge asteroid in one month? The mesmerising YA debut from acclaimed crime writer and New York Times Bestselling author of We Begin at the End.

They knew the end was coming. They saw it ten years back, when it was far enough away in space and time and meaning.
The changes were gradual, and then sudden.

For Mae and her friends, it means navigating a life where action and consequence are no longer related. Where the popular are both trophies and targets. And where petty grudges turn deadlier with each passing day. So, did Abi Manton jump off the cliff or was she pushed? Her death is just the beginning of the end.

With teachers losing control of their students and themselves, and the end rushing toward all of them, it leaves everyone facing the answer to one, simple question…

What would you do if you could get away with anything?


Title : The Forevers
Author : Chris Whitaker
Format : Paperback
Page Count :355
Genre : Dystopian YA
Publisher : HotKey Books
Release Date : July 8, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★


Micky’s 2 star review

Headlines:
Difficult plot to gel with
Unlikeable characters
Confused writing

I’m sorry that I don’t have better things to say about The Forevers. I love the cover and I definitely found the blurb appealing but as it spun out, the plot was very difficult to like. When the end of the world is definitely coming in 30 days, this small community was pretty wrapped up in the death of Abi, not the big impending asteroid. That seemed a little out of kilter with my expectations.

Mae as a character was likeable but the rest of the characters weren’t. The school, the forevers, the community were a messed up ball of intricate effed-up-ness. Added into this was the fact that the writing was really confusing at times. I was jarred when unnamed characters entered scenes and I never knew who that person was and so the plot point was lost. There were also occasions where I felt like a small chunk of narrative was missing, so again, I was confused. All that said, I was able to string the story together but it was a push to keep going with the aid of some skimming.

I liked the premise but sadly the execution didn’t work for me.

Thank you to Hot Key Books for the early review copy.

MEET CUTE DIARY by Emery Lee

Felix Ever After meets Becky Albertalli in this swoon-worthy, heartfelt rom-com about how a transgender teen’s first love challenges his ideas about perfect relationships.

Noah Ramirez thinks he’s an expert on romance. He has to be for his popular blog, the Meet Cute Diary, a collection of trans happily ever afters. There’s just one problem—all the stories are fake. What started as the fantasies of a trans boy afraid to step out of the closet has grown into a beacon of hope for trans readers across the globe.

When a troll exposes the blog as fiction, Noah’s world unravels. The only way to save the Diary is to convince everyone that the stories are true, but he doesn’t have any proof. Then Drew walks into Noah’s life, and the pieces fall into place: Drew is willing to fake-date Noah to save the Diary. But when Noah’s feelings grow beyond their staged romance, he realizes that dating in real life isn’t quite the same as finding love on the page.

In this charming novel by Emery Lee, Noah will have to choose between following his own rules for love or discovering that the most romantic endings are the ones that go off script.


Title : Meet Cute Diary
Author : Emery Lee
Format : Hardback
Page Count : 400
Genre : Contemporary YA
Publisher : Quill Tree Books/Harper360 YA
Release Date : May 4, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5


Micky’s 3.5 star review

Headlines:
Young protagonist
Endings and continuations
Pronouns

Meet Cute Diary says it all in the title, this was incredibly cute. Noah, the trans protagonist was 16 years old and I would say that this story felt young, younger than some other YA stories. Maybe he didn’t have street smarts, he’d just come out and was starting afresh, so I think that’s an important representation for readers to have.

The themes in this book were about endings but also how to keep relationships going with friends and family. Noah found himself in a new state, able to start afresh and I loved seeing him feel free from people’s preconceptions. I felt something pretty fishy about Drew early on and that element felt somewhat unfinished but I think Noah thought that too.

The whole concept of the meet cute diary on tumblr and the blog spiralling out of hand was really interesting. Dealing with expectations, trolls, disappointed audiences made for avid reading. I have to give a shoutout to Brian, the best side character in this book, he was the brother of brothers.

It doesn’t matter how I was born or who I thought I was back then. I’m me, and we’re brothers, and there’s nothing in the world that can ever change that.

There were some great but low key elements of education in this book regarding the range of pronouns one might choose for themselves and I welcomed the insight.

Thank you Harper360 YA and Pride Book Tours for the review copy.

SUBJECT TWENTY-ONE by A.E. Warren

What if our future lies 40,000 years in our past? Subject Twenty-One is an astonishing debut novel in which a young woman’s refusal to accept the status quo opens her eyes to the lies her society is built on.

Elise’s world is forever changed when she is given the opportunity of a lifetime – to work at the Museum of Evolution and be a Companion to the Neanderthal, Subject Twenty-One.

As a Sapien, a member of the lowest order of humans, she and others like her are held responsible for the damages inflicted on the world by previous generations. This job may be Elise’s only chance to escape a stagnating life in an ostracised and impoverished community.

But it doesn’t take long for Elise to realise that, away from the familiarity and safety of her home, her own secrets are much harder to conceal.

And the longer she stays the more she comes to realise that little separates her from the exhibits . . . and a cage of her own.


Title : Subject Twenty-One
Author : A.E. Warren
Series : Tomorrow’s Ancestors #1
Format : Paperback
Page Count :304
Genre : Sci-fi
Publisher : Del Rey UK
Release Date : July 1, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
Great concept
Page turner
Friendship & respect

Subject Twenty One was so easy to get into and honestly, this was such a fast and easy book to read. This ‘Jurassic Park-esque’ concept grabbed me immediately and I really enjoyed the immersion in such an unusual story of a dystopian future.

This world with three different species of sapien, showed humanity not at its best. Elise, at the bottom of that rung was employed at a museum to be a companion to Subject Twenty One. The build up to this and the time working with him was just so interesting. Still, I wanted to know Kit better than I did at the end. I’m hoping for more of that from the second book.

There was so much plot to unfurl in this story but it was easy to follow. Trust was an underlying theme and it was truly hard to know who was trustworthy. Even Elise’s family were suspicious to me. I liked Samuel, quite a lot and again, I want to know more about him.

This book was a fresh, gripping read with themes of suspense, trust, ethics and friendships. I am so on board with this world and I’m dying to read more; I can’t wait for book two.

Thank you to DelRey UK for the review copy.