Life and work has honestly been so hectic lately so hi! I’m back again and will hopefully be able to post more regularly, so thanks so much for sticking around as always <3.
Today I’m posting a very delayed July 2021 recap because better late than ever right?! This time around though it’s slightly different because I’m only focusing on the book-side, with mini reviews of all the books I read in July! Welcome to the second chapter of The Book Briefing series (see 01 here with a review of These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong)!
Today Tonight Tomorrow by Rachel Lynn Solomon ★★★★★ (4.5)
The SynopsisToday, she hates him.
It’s the last day of senior year. Rowan Roth and Neil McNair have been bitter rivals for all of high school, clashing on test scores, student council elections, and even gym class pull-up contests. While Rowan, who secretly wants to write romance novels, is anxious about the future, she’d love to beat her infuriating nemesis one last time.
Tonight, she puts up with him.
When Neil is named valedictorian, Rowan has only one chance at victory: Howl, a senior class game that takes them all over Seattle, a farewell tour of the city she loves. But after learning a group of seniors is out to get them, she and Neil reluctantly decide to team up until they’re the last players left—and then they’ll destroy each other.
As Rowan spends more time with Neil, she realizes he’s much more than the awkward linguistics nerd she’s sparred with for the past four years. And, perhaps, this boy she claims to despise might actually be the boy of her dreams.
Tomorrow … maybe she’s already fallen for him.
WHAT I LIKED
- Rivals to lovers Definitely up there with my all-time favourite tropes (post on those coming soon!) and this book absolutely delivered on this. From competing to be their high-school valedictorian, to beating each other in the scavenger hunt, the rivalry was so perfectly executed whilst maintaining the believability of their slowly realised romance.
- The scavenger hunt Any form of game/challenge in a book or tv show and I am sold, so I found this element so much fun. It added to Rowan and Neil (our MCs) rivalry whilst also creating that nostalgic, end of an era atmosphere.
- If you’re looking for a quick, summer YA contemporary that you’ll be absolutely hooked on then I’d definitely recommend it! I also really enjoyed The Ex Talk by the author so I’m looking forward to reading more from Rachel Lynn Solomon (in fact, I’m currently reading her latest release ‘We Can’t Keep Meeting Like This’).
Take Me Home Tonight by Morgan Matson
Take Me Home Tonight follows two best friends, Kat and Stevie who go on an adventure around New York – except nothing goes to plan. Morgan Matson is one of my favourite contemporary authors (with Since You’ve Been Gone being one of my all-time favourite contemporaries) but unfortunately this one fell a little short for me.
The SynopsisTwo girls. One night. Zero phones.
Kat and Stevie—best friends, theater kids, polar opposites—have snuck away from the suburbs to spend a night in New York City. They have it all planned out. They’ll see a play, eat at the city’s hottest restaurant, and have the best. Night. Ever. What could go wrong?
Well. Kind of a lot?
They’re barely off the train before they’re dealing with destroyed phones, family drama, and unexpected Pomeranians. Over the next few hours, they’ll have to grapple with old flames, terrible theater, and unhelpful cab drivers. But there are also cute boys to kiss, parties to crash, dry cleaning to deliver (don’t ask), and the world’s best museum to explore.
Over the course of a wild night in the city that never sleeps, both Kat and Stevie will get a wake-up call about their friendship, their choices…and finally discover what they really want for their future.
That is, assuming they can make it to Grand Central before the clock strikes midnight.
WHAT I LIKED
- The NYC setting – this book definitely had that night-time in NYC atmosphere which was just so fun and fast-paced. From subway rides to seedy theatres, apartments to fancy restaurants, this book has it all.
- The main NYC plot – the main plot was just such a fun adventure and I loved the trope of every single plan going wrong. It meant that even though it was larger than your usual YA contemporary (416 pages) I don’t remember getting bored.
- The friendship focus Despite there being a small side-romance (that was definitely not needed sorry), friendship is the big focus here and I really loved that. Kat is the super headstrong and spontaneous one, and Stevie is the calm and collected one, so I felt that they really balanced each other out. They did have an argument but I enjoyed how this was written and resolved, especially given that both of their POVs were valid (as far as I can remember anyway oops. Apparently my memory of this book is… very minimal).
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
- The characters I know I mentioned that I liked the friendship focus (which is true), but to be honest the characters themselves fell completely flat for me which was so disappointing. Although Stevie does have some backstory as she navigated her family struggles, they just didn’t feel that complex and were quite 2D for me. Kat especially was so self-centred!! I just really didn’t like her, which meant the side-romance didn’t interest me at all and I didn’t even care whether the friends made up or not. If anything I liked the side characters more (Stevie’s step siblings were so fun to read about) than our MCs.
- The weird subplot Although most of the time the story was centred on Kat and Stevie in NYC, there was an odd subplot that I really couldn’t connect to? It just felt a bit unnecessary and detached (Criminals? Spies? Stolen diamonds?) from the main story, without actually adding anything?
Those were my main two issues but they were pretty big ones which completely brought my rating down. With a better cast of characters and no weird sub plot it would have been another Matson favourite because the plot itself was just so fun and really made me want to visit NYC!
The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris
The SynopsisTTwenty-six-year-old editorial assistant Nella Rogers is tired of being the only Black employee at Wagner Books. Fed up with the isolation and microaggressions, she’s thrilled when Harlem-born and bred Hazel starts working in the cubicle beside hers. They’ve only just started comparing natural hair care regimens, though, when a string of uncomfortable events elevates Hazel to Office Darling, and Nella is left in the dust.
Then the notes begin to appear on Nella’s desk: LEAVE WAGNER. NOW.
It’s hard to believe Hazel is behind these hostile messages. But as Nella starts to spiral and obsess over the sinister forces at play, she soon realizes that there’s a lot more at stake than just her career.
A whip-smart and dynamic thriller and sly social commentary that is perfect for anyone who has ever felt manipulated, threatened, or overlooked in the workplace, The Other Black Girl will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last twist.
I always feel bad writing negative reviews so I won’t write too much in depth about this one but I was just so disappointed!! The premise sounded absolutely incredible and I’d seen so many positive reviews about this one, so I had high expectations. Unfortunately though I just ended up so confused with the plot and had no idea what was going on half the time?
In terms of what I enjoyed, the publishing house setting was really enjoyable to read and I loved seeing some behind the scenes of the industry. The writer also wrote the office atmosphere so well and the characters did feel quite real, although not always likeable.
There was also discussion of racism within the publishing industry which was so important to mention.
However, that was where the liking stopped because the plot itself just… didn’t work for me. It was a 357 page novel and yet it felt like every thing happened very fast-paced, right at the end of the novel, leaving me feeling totally underwhelmed and a
little lot lost.
There were also a few subplots which were meant to be somewhat clues to the mystery but just didn’t add anything except even more confusion. To me it felt like the author was handing us puzzle pieces throughout but never told us what the final picture was meant to be.
I have seen a lot of 4/5 star reviews for this one though, so maybe it was just me? I never read thrillers so maybe I was just clueless at piecing everything together and understanding what was happening.
Date Me, Bryson Keller
The SynopsisEveryone knows about the dare: Each week, Bryson Keller must date someone new–the first person to ask him out on Monday morning. Few think Bryson can do it. He may be the king of Fairvale Academy, but he’s never really dated before.
Until a boy asks him out, and everything changes.
Kai Sheridan didn’t expect Bryson to say yes. So when Bryson agrees to secretly go out with him, Kai is thrown for a loop. But as the days go by, he discovers there’s more to Bryson beneath the surface, and dating him begins to feel less like an act and more like the real thing. Kai knows how the story of a gay boy liking someone straight ends. With his heart on the line, he’s awkwardly trying to navigate senior year at school, at home, and in the closet, all while grappling with the fact that this “relationship” will last only five days. After all, Bryson Keller is popular, good-looking, and straight . . . right?
Kevin van Whye delivers an uplifting and poignant coming-out love story that will have readers rooting for these two teens to share their hearts with the world–and with each other.
WHAT I LIKED
- This was just so much fun! A light, summer contemporary which was just so cute!! It gave me similar vibes to the Heartstopper graphic novel series by Alice Oseman so if you enjoyed that definitely give this a go!
- Fake dating Alongside rivals/enemies to lovers, fake dating is another all-time favourite trope and this perfectly delivered on this! I loved how it all happened so quickly, the easy relationship they fell into and just how cute they were!! Bryson and Kai were also well-developed together and both had their own complexities and personal things to work through which I loved. Even though it was a tad insta-love (but done well!), I still enjoyed how they were kept as individuals if that makes sense?
You can tell I find it harder to write reviews of books I loved because both this and Today, Tonight, Tomorrow are the shorter reviews despite the other two being some of my least favourite 2021 reads oops.