Today I’m sharing more mini reviews of books that I’ve read and enjoyed recently!
Her Last Holiday by C. L. Taylor
Fran’s sister Jenna disappeared on her last holiday – a wellness retreat in Gozo. The retreat was run by Soul Shrink Tom and his wife Kate. Two people died on that retreat and Tom was sent to prison but Jenna’s death was ruled a suicide and her family just don’t believe this is the truth of what happened. Now Fran’s mum has persuaded her to go on Tom’s re-launched retreat so that she can try and find out what happened to Jenna. This novel is really gripping – I read it all in one sitting as I just had to know what had happened to Jenna but also what was going to happen in the present at the new retreat. The novel is told from Fran’s perspective and also Kate and Tom’s, which made for a really interesting narrative. I was fascinated by how the retreats came to be and the power behind them but also by Fran’s determination to find out what happened to Jenna. This novel has twists and turns and just when you think you’ve got a grip of what’s happening, the rug is pulled out from under you again. I loved this novel, it kept me on my toes all the way to the end and I love that it did! I recommend it!
The Black Kids by Christina Hammonds Reed
I’ve been wanting to read this book for ages so am glad I finally picked it up this week. The Black Kids follows teenager Ashley in the wake of the Rodney King trial and subsequent riots in 1992. In the beginning Ashley has a tight-knit group of friends and they’re typical teenagers but as she sees more of what is happening around her she starts to find her voice and to speak up against the casual racism her friends often use. Ashley’s sister Jo is the character that I found most interesting in this novel – she isn’t afraid to speak out and to fight for what she believes in and I was hoping to see more of this in Ashley. Ashley is a more conflicted character, which is understandable given her age and all the things you go through at her age. She is vocal in some situations but also does some not very nice things to other people at her school. I found this novel to be a much slower read than I was expecting and it didn’t explore Ashley’s feelings as much as I hoped it would but overall it was a really interesting and enjoyable novel, I recommend it.
Boy Queen by George Lester
Boy Queen follows teenager Robin Cooper as he finds his feet in the world. Robin is gay and finds himself in a secret sort of relationship with a boy at school but it’s complicated. I loved Robin’s friends, it was so lovely to read a coming of age story with such wonderful characters and such a strong, supportive friendship group. Robin is left floundering when his plans for the future don’t work out the way he wanted them to but he finds a drag night at a club on his 18th birthday and this opens up a whole new world for him. I loved how Robin found himself through drag, it was really liberating and heartwarming to see how this made him feel. I did find the writing a little flat at times but overall I found this to be a really fun novel, that dealt with serious themes well. I recommend it.
The Gin O’Clock Club by Rosie Blake
The Gin O’Clock Club follows Lottie as she tries to balance her hectic work schedule with her relationship, her friendships and supporting her Grandad Teddy after the loss of her Grandma. I felt for Lottie as her life is so busy but I couldn’t warm to her, she is very unlikeable and self-obsessed. However, I adored her Grandad Teddy and loved learning more about his group of friends and the way he threw himself into trying to make Lottie’s life more fulfilled. Teddy’s parts of the novel are told through letters he writes to his late wife and I adored these sections. Teddy agrees to start dating again if Lottie and her boyfriend Luke agree to start going on old-fashioned dates with each other to try and re-connect. Teddy and his friends are very involved in planning the dates and are often part of them and I loved this so much. This is a really lovely read and is perfect escapism. I recommend it!