Friends Like These by Meg Rosoff – Book Review

It’s the eighties, New York. Beth has landed a dream summer internship at a newspaper along with four others, and quickly makes friends with quirky whirlwind Edie. But is getting caught up with Edie the best or worst thing that could happen to Beth?

I feel that there aren’t a lot of books around set in the eighties – or am I about to find myself reading every eighties book that there is? I enjoyed the world of New York in the eighties that Rosoff created, however I felt the book was overall very surface level, emotion-wise. It was one of those books where a lot happens, but I didn’t feel particularly engaged or connected to it. A good, quick read, but not a lot of depth.

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera – Book Review

If you get a call from Death-Cast, you know it’s your last day. This happens to Mateo and Rufus, who connect through an app for those who are about to die. Two very different people from very different backgrounds, being together for their last day may just be perfect.

I loved this concept, and all of the philosophical questions it poses. Would you want to know if you were going to die? Would knowing change your behaviour? There are side stories in the book of other deaths, deaths that happened because the person changed their behaviour. Would they have died regardless of what they did? I am intrigued by this. This was also a really good YA book that I’d definitely recommend, and I feel would make a decent film.

Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin – Book Review

Sam and Sadie were friends as kids as one was recovering from an accident in hospital and the other’s sister was being treated in the same hospital. The one thing that bonded them was video games. After a long falling out, they bump into each other as they attend college and, joined by Sam’s housemate, they develop a highly successful video game.

I seem to be in the middle of a spate of books which I don’t connect with initially but then grow to love. This was one which, despite having a lot happening, it felt like nothing was going on – until it was. It took me until about three quarters of the way through the book, and then I just couldn’t put it down. I’m not sure if that makes it a good book or just annoying… the one thing I found interesting was the gaming talk. I don’t play video games, I enjoyed them as a kid, but even then it was the repetitive ones, like Tetris, rather than the fancier long play type things which I enjoyed. But I liked the discussions around what a game should be, how the audiences connect, discussions on popularity vs artistic integrity. It was cool.


The Guncle by Steven Rowley – Book Review

Patrick was the star of a huge sitcom who lives alone in Palm Springs since his partner died. When his best friend dies after a long illness and her husband, Patrick’s brother, admits to becoming addicted to painkillers, Patrick takes their two children until . their father comes out of rehab.

Initially, this was a light read, a bit silly and it didn’t really grab me. But then I kept reading, and the way the characters dealt with, and didn’t deal with, their grief and finding a new way after losing someone significant became… wonderful. I didn’t expect to come to enjoy this book so much.

Before You Knew My Name by Jacqueline Bubitz – Book Review

The tale of an American teen and an Australian woman who both travel to New York for fresh starts – only one is murdered, and the other stumbles across her.

Bubitz reveals information about the story, about the characters and about the way they fit into their worlds with such mastery. I found myself wanting more, but happy to trust that, when she was ready for me to know it, she’d tell me. The characters are flawed but not irredeemably so, and I left the book feeling sad for the world, but also hopeful.

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green – Book Review

When a couple of twenty-somethings make a YouTube video about a mysterious, 10-foot-tall robot artwork that they nickname Carl, they have no idea of the impact this will have on their lives. Firstly, it’s not really an artwork, but no-one is all that sure about what it is. Secondly, there are Carls in cities across the globe, and it is unknown where they came from and why they are there. Thirdly, their video goes viral. April, the face of the video, becomes internationally renowned and she and her best friend Andy, who filmed it, want to keep the buzz going. Are they going to need to save the world?

This is such a fun, action packed read. I only recently discovered the pleasure that is Hank Green through TikTok. He is a science communicator in a super-engaging way, and between him and his brother, author John Green, they do so much good in the world. So when I stumbled across this book in an op shop, I was delighted. I’d highly recommend it for YA Sci-fi lovers of any age.

Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty – Book Review

When Joy Delany goes missing, her four adult children are forced to band together to try to work out what has happened – whilst trying to avoid implicating their father and piecing together where the mysterious stranger who recently entered their parents’ life fits in.

For me, Moriarty can be a bit of a hit and miss, and for me this one was a hit. There were a few parts that felt a bit convenient in the way they fit together, but I was happy to go with it. I enjoyed the way she looks into the different characters, their backgrounds, their choices, and pulls it together by the end. It’s a quick, light, fun read.

At the End of Everything by Marieke Nijkamp – Book Review

What happens when a pandemic more deadly and contagious than Covid races through the world and a bunch of teenagers are left to their own devices in a juvenile treatment centre? That is, not quite a jail, but certainly a long way from freedom.

I loved the concept of this book. I’m a big fan of YA books of teens without adults having to deal with survival (like Gone by Michael Grant or The Enemy by Charlie Higson) because of the questions it raises. What are the things that adults do that children take for granted, and can they get their act together in time to have enough food and shelter and everything else required to survive? In this case, with an illness so devastating, would the people that work at the facility take the time to put things in place for the teenagers or just abandon them? Would anyone remember them or be able to help? Or be willing to help? Would the teens fall naturally into certain tasks, or would some things just not get done? This is an interesting take on all of this, adding in seamlessly LGBTQIA+ characters as well as characters with disabilities.

Bad Girls Never Say Die by Jennifer Mathieu – Book Review

Evie is a bad girl, hanging with a gang of bad girls sticking the middle finger up and the wealthy kids and the world. But when someone outside their group ends up entangled in their lives, loyalties are challenged and they need to work out how to get through.

This has been promoted as a gender-flipped reimagining of The Outsiders, and it’s been so long since I read that, I couldn’t say if that is accurate. Regardless, it’s a great read with characters that I both loved and hated. I’ve recommended it to a few teenagers who have also really enjoyed it.