20. This Too is Love – Anya Monroe
Story – Trixie comes from a shitty home life, and in an effort to escape this she goes out with boys – a lot of boys. Because even if they’re not offering anything other than a quick encounter in the car or at a party, at least for a moment Trix gets to feel like she’s worth something. But then one encounter leaves Trix with a little more than she bargained for, and her life starts to change.
Thoughts – I really liked this. Trixie was a good character, sympathetically written. I liked her and even though she made some really dumb decisions, it was easy to see how she came to think the way she did. I liked the portrayal of her family, and the way she learned to see her aunt and cousin as both flawed people with their own problems, but also to accept them for what they were and the ways in which they were a positive in her life. I did think Trix changed her mind from keeping the baby to adoption very quickly, but it wasn’t too unrealistic. The part of the book that dealt with grief was very well done, and I loved the happy ending, even if it was a little unbelievable.
19. Double Exposure – Brian Caswell
Story – Cain and Chris are identical twins, but very different people. Cain is living at home with his overbearing father, The General, and his cowed mother while Chris has struck out on his own. Cain feels he is average, while Chris is a former child prodigy and now a gifted adolescent artist. During the course of the story both of them find someone, but secrets and abound and everything in their world is not exactly as it seems.
Thoughts – This was a reread for me. I loved Brian Caswell’s books when I was a teenager and although this was not my favourite (A Cage of Butterflies was the one I loved most) it’s still a good, solid read. Definitely a recommend for me.
18. The Good Goodbye – Carla Buckley
Story – Arden and Rory are cousins who have grown up as close as sisters. Even when they left for college the two girls roomed together. But now they both lie in a coma in hospital after a mysterious fire in their dorm room that killed another student. Their parents stay by their bedsides, family relations strained to breaking point as stories and lies are uncovered.
Thoughts – I really liked this. The characters were flawed in the way that made them seem real, and I was drawn into the complex web of relationships between the family members and wanted to keep reading. I enjoyed the different perspective and the way the story unfolded to reveal the truth.
17. Love and Kisses – Jean Ure
Story – Tamsin is thirteen and has never had a boyfriend. So when she meets Alex, who is handsome and interested in Tamsin, she falls for him hard. But Alex is a lot older than Tamsin, and one lie leads to another as she tries to keep her romance private.
Thoughts – I was really surprised to find this, as I remember reading books by Jean Ure when I was a child. At the time I always imagined she was an older lady, which would make her ancient now…I guess I was wrong! But I was interested to read a recent book from her, and I wasn’t disappointed with it. Tamsin was sweet and came across as a good girl who really just wanted things to work out. Her relationship developed so naturally, and her actions were a realistic idea of how a girl in that situation would react. I have to say that I really liked Alex too, and in a way the portrayal of that character elevated this book above similar stories. He wasn’t a bad guy out to get what he can, but an honest young man who behaved sensitively and compassionately to Tamsin at the end. I’ll definitely hand this one on to Emma.
16. All Fall Down – Sally Nicholls
Story – Isabel thought her life was laid out for her, and she was happy with that. A villein of Sir Edmund, betrothed to her friend Robin, Isabel was the eldest daughter in her family and kept busy with her younger brothers and sister and helping her father and stepmother. But Isabel lived in the year 1349, and a deadly pestilence was sweeping across the nation. Helpless to avoid or avert disaster, Isabel can only watch the disease’s deadly progress.
Thoughts – I love plague books. The sheer enormity of the death toll and the horror of just watching it happen while you stood by, completely helpless, has always caught my imagination. Perhaps I’m just morbid? But I really love to read about people’s stubborn determination to live in the face of overwhelming danger, and the way the human spirit ultimately survives disaster.
15. Don’t Tell Mummy – Toni Maguire
Story – Memoir of a childhood of abuse.
Thoughts – Why do people read misery memoirs? Why did I read this one? I’ve got no answers, and I won’t be doing it again.
14. Stolen – Rebecca Muddiman
Story – Abby Henshaw thought it was going to be a simple lunch out with a friend. She never expected to be pulled out of her car and assaulted. She never imagined that the worst event of her life would lead to something even more horrific, as her attackers left her back at her car only for her to discover that someone has stolen her baby Beth from the back seat.
Thoughts – This was pretty good. It’s apparently the first in a series about the DI involved, Detective Michael Gardener, and I’ll definitely pick up the others if I come across them. It moved along at a pretty brisk pace, and although I guessed who had done it, it wasn’t until close to the end so I got to feel smugly clever while still enjoyed the mystery through most of the book.
13. The Pure Gold Baby – Margaret Drabble
Story – Jess is an anthropologist when she gives birth to Anna, the pure gold baby, an eternal innocent.
Thoughts – Meh, I didn’t like this one that much. I have always enjoyed The Millstone by Margaret Drabble which is why I read this one, but it didn’t catch me. It was too rambly and literary and the story seemed to go nowhere. Maybe I’m just not clever enough to get it.
12. The Infinite Moment of Us – Lauren Myracle
Story – Wren and Charlie, both finishing high school and looking down the road to the future. Wren has always been a good girl, always striving to live up to her parents’ ideals, but now high school is over and Wren has to start making her own decisions. Charlie struggles to come to terms with his past and his foster family. And now they have each other.
Thoughts – Mixed thoughts on this one. It was basically a cute love story between two teenagers, but there were a few things that grated. First of all the instant love- seriously, they’ve been in high school for four years together and never talked, and yet they catch eyes across the yard on the last day and they’re in love? Secondly, Wren. She was insipid, which made it hard to get invested in her romance. Thirdly, Wren’s desire to have sex for the first time without a condom. Yes, she was on the pill and there was a discussion about Charlie going and getting tested, but it’s still a shitty message to be sending. (Incidentally, I also hate the use of ‘clean’ in regards to STI screenings, since it implies that the opposite is ‘dirty’. I think saying the tests are negative is far, far better and less shaming.) Fourthly, the ending. I don’t think that two just turned eighteen year olds should really be arranging their lives around each other.
On the other hand, the supporting characters were good. Tessa (apart from some spectacularly bad and ridiculous sex advice for Charlie) was a good character and even her boyfriend, PG, had more life to him than Wren did.
So…I don’t know. Not a complete dud, since the romance was sweet, but not one I’d recommend.