Monday, 29 August 2016

BOOK REVIEW | 'The Beekeeper's Secret' by Josephine Moon (****)

Hello readers, and happy Monday! Today I am really excited to be able to share with you another book review - this time of the wonderful The Beekeeper's Secret by Josephine Moon. I was sent this book a few months ago by Allen & Unwin, along with a Burts Bees lipbalm and a mini pot of honey - so top marks from me! I saw the cover of the book on Twitter and was immediately entranced by it. However, when I picked up the book and started reading, I discovered that The Bee keeper's Secret was so much more than a pretty book cover...

Published last month, The Beekeeper's Secret follows the lives of beekeeper and ex-nun Maria and her niece Tansy as their quiet, relatively peaceful lives are, violently and without warning, disrupted by the past. Maria is shocked when her niece Tansy turns up out the blue, having long ago lost touch with the entirety of her family, and her peaceful, solitary life suddenly becomes littered with complications. Tansy has problems in her own life to deal with, but when Maria's past suddenly comes hurtling into her present, she has to stick by her aunt as the truth comes out, and a terrible dark secret threatens to destroy everything.

Intrigued? Check out the blurb here...

Maria Lindsey has secrets to hide. Living on top of a secluded mountain is a good way to hide from the world... until her past begins to track her down. The surprising and intriguing new novel about the astounding secrets we keep from those we love.

'Maria knew about guilt. It was a stubborn, pervasive and toxic emotion, and incredibly difficult to shake. Especially if really, deep down, you didn't think you deserved to let it go.'

Maria Lindsey is content. She spends her solitary days tending her bees and creating delicious honey products to fund orphaned children. A former nun, her life at Honeybee Haven has long been shaped by her self-imposed penance for terrible past events. But the arrival of two letters heralds the shattering of Maria's peaceful existence.

Pushing aside the misgivings of her family and friends, Tansy Butterfield, on the eve of her marriage, made a serious deal with her adored husband, Dougal. A deal she'd intended to honour. But, seven years on, Tansy is finding her current feelings difficult to ignore. And on top of those not-really-there feelings, Dougal wants to move to Canada!

With captivating characters and an intriguingly tangled mystery, The Beekeeper's Secret celebrates families in all their joys and complications.

Adult contemporary fiction is one of my favourite genres and I'm so thankful to have discovered Josephine Moon - the story along with the writing style of The Beekeeper's Secret was so fantastic and I can't wait to check out her other books. In her Goodreads bio Moon describes her books as being 'like a good chocolate brownie - rich, comforting, uplifting, but with a few chunky nuts to chew on'. I definitely thought this was true of The Beekeeper's Secret - it was a warm, comforting story yet had a searing emotional edge that had me really feeling for the characters and turning the pages ferociously to find out what happened next.

I loved the array of characters in the story and they were all so well-developed and endearing. In particular I loved Tansy and Leo and their relationship was so special. George was also a fantastic character and his story gave a mysterious, gritty edge to the novel. I loved the way that the different characters' stories intertwined, and finally collided at the end of the novel, making each character become more connected to the wider community and important themes of the novel. The Beekeeper's Secret is a fantastically told story which shows the complexities of family life, with all its ups and downs, and the beauty and unconditional love that lies beneath its complications.

The way that Moon created a book about beekeeping, abuse in the Catholic church and family secrets is applaudable, and it was done in such a fantastic way that the topics seemed made to fit together. The chapters about the abuse in the Catholic church were really well done and were so intensely written. The mystery was fantastically concealed and Moon kept me in suspense throughout almost the entirety of the book. I learned so much whilst reading the book, and it's safe to say that I have a newfound and heartfelt appreciation for bees! Moon managed to pack so much information into The Beekeeper's Secret without making it a chore to read; I felt like Maria was sitting by me, patiently explaining how to care for bees and what fantastic creatures they are. Passion and wonderment exuded from each and every page. 

The setting of the book (the sunshine coast, Queensland, Australia) was beautifully described and each detail was perfect in its descripton. The quaint town, the mountains and gorgeous scenery came to life in The Beekeeper's Secret and it was such a facinating place to read about, feeding really well into the story as a whole.

The only reason why this book is a 4* instead of a 5* is only because there is one section in the book where all of the family secrets are revealed - simultaneously. I like the idea of each member of the family having a secret to conceal, however I thought it was a bit much that each secret would be revealved to the reader (and to the other members of the family) at exactly the same time. This is just my opinion, however, and other readers might have really enjoyed this part :)

Overall, I really enjoyed The Beekeeper's Secret and I would highly recommend reading it, or any other of Josephine Moon's books if you haven't already. She is certainly a heavyweight in Australian fiction and I am definitely going to check her other books out :)

Buy The Beekeeper's Secret here.

Check out Josephine Moon here:

Until next time :) 


Thursday, 25 August 2016

BOOK REVIEW | 'Crush' by Eve Ainsworth (*****)

Hello readers, and happy Thursday! Today I am very excited to share with you a much belated book review, of a YA novel I was sent unsolicited by Scholastic at Christmas time - I know, I am the worst at keeping up with my TBR!

Waaaay back in December the lovely Lucy at Scholastic sent me a bunch of wonderful books, and one of these was the fantastic Crush by Eve Ainsworth, a gritty, heartbreaking, fiercely-written novel about an abusive teen relationship. (I was sent Crush in exchange for an honest review).

Crush follows fourteen-year-old Anna - who lives in a tiny flat on a rough estate with her Dad and her little brother Eddie. Things have been tough since her Mum left, and daily life is littered with constant fights with her Dad and the pain of cleaning up after her little brother. Life at home for Anna is tiring and unhappy, and Anna can't wait for the day when she can leave the flat and the estate and do what she wants to do with her life.

Then Anna catches the eye of Will - the year 11, the popular boy in school, the boy every girl fancies, the boy every guy wants to be. When Will admits his feelings for Anna, she can't believe it. Why would a guy like Will fancy a girl like her? For the first time in what seems like forever, Anna is happy. But when things start to take a dark turn, Anna finds herself in too deep, stuck in a position where she can't find a way out. How did something so good turn into something so destructive?

Sound intriguing? Check out the blurb here...

Love hurts ...but should it hurt this much? 
Reeling from her mum's sudden departure, Anna finds the comfort she needs in her blossoming relationship with Will. He's handsome and loving, everything Anna has always dreamt of. He's also moody and unpredictable, pushing her away from her friends and her music. 
He wants her to be his and his alone. 
He wants her to be perfect. 
Anna's world is closing in. 
But threatening everything is a dark secret that not even Will can control...
Eve Ainsworth's gripping second novel is a pitch-perfect exploration of love at its most powerful, addictive and destructive.

Going into Crush, I had no idea it was about abusive relationships until I read the reviews on Goodreads. The beautiful, intricately detailed cover really plays well into the subtle showcasing of a toxic relationship under the disguise of love. I think Crush is a powerfully written, emotional, essential book that every teenager, male and female, should read. 

From the very first page, I really warmed to the character of Anna. I thought she was intelligent, interesting, and realistic. The best kind of YA novels are those that portray teenagers fairly and authentically, and Ainsworth definitely achieved this in Crush. I thought the dialogue was spot-on, and Anna's frustrations at her Dad, her teachers and her therapist were realistic for Anna's age, and really brought to the forefront how much she had been brainwashed by Will. There was such psychological depth to Anna and this made for a powerful reading experience. 

At times I just wanted to shake Anna and make her see what Will was doing to her, however her unawareness at what was going on was a realistic depiction of many abusive relationships. Ainsworth clearly illustrated through Crush that when you're in love with someone, it can be near impossible to realise how destructive some behaviour can be. While reading it was obvious to me that Ainsworth had worked with teenagers who had gone through experiences like this - the writing was not only emotionally realistic, but confident and assured in its telling of this tragic, but all too common tale.

I thought the characterisation was fantastic and I really warmed to the characters of Izzy and Dan (they could star in their own book!) The one thing I would change about Crush would be that there was a bigger build up at the beginning of the book, so we could get to know Anna before she knew Will. I wanted to see what her friendship was like with Izzy before Will poisoned it, and what her time with the band and Dan was like. I feel like if we got to get to know Anna before she was in a relationship with Will, then the book would have packed that extra emotional punch.

Apart from that, the plot worked really well and it was so powerful the way the abuse became more and more blatant for the reader. At first the remarks made by Will may have been missed by a younger reader (I have been keeping up with Helen and Rob's story in The Archers, so I have become accustomed to spotting all the signs) but gradually as the novel went on and the story grew darker and more complex it was really powerful to see Anna finally come to terms with what was happening to her. It was fantastically handed by Ainsworth and the ending was all I was hoping for. Even though this is a novel with a clear societal message and a dark reality, it is evident that above everything Eve Ainsworth is a terrific writer and storyteller, and knows how to keep her readers engrossed until the very last page.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed Crush and I definitely want to pick up Ainsworth's other YA novel, Seven Days. If you are yet to check Eve Ainsworth out, I would recommend that you do!

Buy Crush here:

Check Eve Ainsworth out here:

Until next time :)

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

BOOK BLOGGER SPOTLIGHT | Meet Maia from Maia and a Little Moore!

Hello, readers! Today I am very happy to be spotlighting another amazing blogger, as part of my book blogger spotlight series!

Today I am excited to welcome Maia to Delightful Book Reviews, from the wonderful reading, writing and parenting blog - Maia and a Little Moore. Maia has a wonderful, beautifully curated blog where she publishes copious amounts of book reviews, hosts authors in interviews and guests posts, and also shares what Little Moore is reading too! Today Maia is on my blog to talk all things books, YA and what the blogging community means to her...

Hi Maia!
So, what’s the best thing about being a book blogger?

Reading lots and lots. I've always been a reader but it dropped off when university and then real life took hold. Since I started blogging, I made time to read more so I could post more reviews, and that makes me happier.

What’s the most difficult/challenging thing about being a book blogger?

I think trying to establish yourself to a point where you're happy with it is hard. As a new blogger it's hard not to fixate on page views and followers, even when everyone tells you not to. But not everyone can be a well known blogger with thousands of views every day. As long as you're enjoying yourself, you're doing a good job.

What’s been your highlight in the time that you’ve been a book blogger?

Going to the UKYA Extravaganza events in Birmingham and Nottingham. It was amazing to put faces to so many bloggers and authors. Also having my reviews quoted in a couple of books was an insane buzz!

Name one author you would love to meet, and one blogger you would love to meet in real life!

I can't because he's dead, but I would love to meet Michael de Larrabeiti. He wrote The Borrible Trilogy, which is one of my all time favourite books. And for bloggers I would like to meet Grace from as I love her blog and she seems so awesome and friendly.

What advice would you give anyone who wants to start a book blog?

Just go for it. I got the idea and started it within a few days and was so happy I did. You might need to straighten a few things out along the line, but you'll soon find your feet and be in one of the most awesome and friendly blogging communities.

 Thank you so much, Maia, for taking part in my book blogger spotlight feature!

Check Maia's blog out here: 

Follow Maia on Twitter here: 

Until next time :)

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

BOOK REVIEW | 'Luca, Son of the Morning' by Tom Anderson (****)

Hello readers, and happy Tuesday! Today I am very happy to share with you yet another book review (aren't I getting through my TBR quickly ;) ), this time of Tom Anderson's wonderful YA fantasy novel, Luca, Son of the Morning. This novel is part of Accent Press' new YA imprint, which launched a few months ago, delivering fresh new voices to the ever-evolving genre which is YA.

I was lucky enough to receive a copy of Luca, Son of the Morning at London Book Fair, (and also get my copy signed by the author!) in exchange for an honest review.

Luca, Son of the Morning is a beautiful novel about Luca, a fifteen year old who desperately wants more. More than coming home to his parents drinking rum and listening to pounding music while he tries (and fails) to sleep. More with Gaby, the best friend who he isn't allowed to speak with in school, and yet is hopelessly in love with. More than the endless taunts he receives at school from kids who don't know the first thing about him.

To escape the hopeless dreariness of his day-to-day life, Luca finds solace in Reggae music and the beach, which he often wanders alone, in the dead of night, letting the silence and darkness engulf him. He's always alone - except one night, he isn't. Luca watches as ghostlike figures emerge out of the sea and walk across the sand. One night, one of them beckons him. Luca follows. After that, he is well-aware that his life may not ever be the same again.

Sound intriguing? Check out the blurb here...

The water is warm … but can you be in too deep?

Luca loves reggae, hates his parents’ rum habit, and wishes his dad could get a proper job. He also loves Gaby (though he’d never admit it to her face) so upsetting her is enough to push him into a dark place. Retreating to the local beach, as he always does when he can’t sleep, watching the waves gives his life some sort of rhythm.

One night, as he lets the tide lull him, a group of figures emerge from the water and walk past him, unseeing. Spellbound by these impossible sea-men, Luca holds nightly vigils at the beach. Until one night the sailors beckon him to follow them back into the sea…

For fans of Mark Haddon and Neil Gaiman, Luca, Son of the Morning is a haunting book about imagination, delusion and the grey places in between.

I thoroughly enjoyed Luca, Son of the Morning - it is a beautifully-written, haunting, creatively-crafted book that pulls you in from the start and doesn't let you go until the very last page. I loved the way that it was a etheral fantasy novel set in a small,ordinary town in Wales, and laced with important issues such as mental health, bullying and friendship. Anderson packed warmth, colour and passionate storytelling into this book, which captivated me and allowed me to explore the very depths and dangers of imagination. 

I found Luca to be an incredibly convincing and unique protagonist, and I loved that the story was told from his perspective in first person. I was sucked into his world and felt all of his emotions and frustrations keenly. A lot of novels (particularly YA) told in the first person can feel somewhat 'moany' and overly indulgent in the feelings of the protagonist but Anderson perfectly balanced Luca's thoughts with the action of the plot. I felt like I understood Luca really well as a character, and this kept me engaged throughout as I cared immensely about how things worked out for him. 

The setting was beautifully described by Anderson and I could imagine each scene so vividly in my head; I particularly enjoyed the scenes on the beach where I could virtually taste the salt whipping around in the air. The language was intricately detailed and delightfully vivid, which gave meaning to the premise of the book - how imagination can allow us to feel swept out of our world and into another.

I thought that Gaby was really well written in a complex and intriguing way. Anderson held back the mystery and allowed us to feel like Luca - out of our depth, berwildered, and wholly enraptured in Gaby. I loved their friendship (though at times I was frustrated by the way Gaby treated it) and I was pleased it wasn't an insta-friendship like you see in so many YA novels. Gaby was intelligent and interesting and a refreshing female character who also happened to be the love interest of the novel. Alix approves.

Luca's relationship with his parents was again, extremely complex and wasn't as simple as the typical YA trope of ugh I'm a moody teenager and my parents don't understand me. I enjoyed reading about the chapters with Luca and his parents and the dialogue exchange was brilliant. I felt like Anderson captured perfectly and realistically a complicated parental/child relationship of equal resentment and love.

Luca, Son of the Morning was definitely a novel I enjoyed the further I got into it. The reason why this review isn't 5*s is simply because I felt the beginning was too rushed and I was too quickly thrown into the deep end. As a reader I wasn't given time to explore the complexities of Gaby and Luca's relationship, I just had to accept it and read on. I felt like if I had more of an in-depth introduction to Luca's world then I would have enjoyed the beginning the lot more. 

I adored the end section of the book and the way in which the mystery was unravelled was so brilliantly done. I really felt for Luca and the way that certain passages were written were so heartbreaking yet beautiful. The end section of the book was definitely when the themes of mental health so brightly shone through, and I thought it was brilliantly and sensitively done. Luca, Son of the Morning is undoubtedly a novel with so many layers, that masks suprises only to be revealed when you can't see the story getting any more mystical.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed Luca, Son of the Morning and if you haven't checked out Tom Anderson yet, I would thoroughly recommend that you do!

 Check out Tom Anderson here:

Until next time :)

Monday, 22 August 2016

BOOK REVIEW | 'What A Way To Go' by Julia Forster (*****)

Hello readers, and happy Monday! Today I am delighted to be able to share with you another book review - this time a 5* review of the wonderful What A Way To Go by Julia Forster. I am currently on holiday in Cornwall and therefore to have lots of time to get through my towering TBR pile. I received What A Way To Go way back in February and it sat on my university room bookshelf for so many months but I just never got around to reading it. So I packed it in my suitcase this summer, determined to read it and finally tick it off my TBR list! 

I was kindly sent What A Way To Go by Ruth Killick publicity (on behalf of Atlantic Books) in exchange for an honest review :)

What A Way To Go follows twelve-year-old Harper Richardson as she comes to terms with her parents' divorce, the impending selling of her house, and a crush on the boy from the Lone Ranger's single parent's club. As a kid stuck in the middle of a very adult world, Harper has a lot of questions - and the sharp feeling of responsibility when it comes to fixing other people's lives, and keeping everyone happy. But sometimes in life there are things that happen that are beyond your control, and Harper has a hard time accepting this.

Sound intriguing? Check out the blurb here...

1988. 12-year-old Harper Richardson's parents are divorced. Her mum got custody of her, the Mini, and five hundred tins of baked beans. Her dad got a mouldering cottage in a Midlands backwater village and default membership of the Lone Rangers single parents' club. Harper got questionable dress sense, a zest for life, two gerbils, and her Chambers dictionary, and the responsibility of fixing her parents' broken hearts. Set against a backdrop of high hairdos and higher interest rates, pop music and puberty, divorce and death, What a Way to Go is a warm, wise and witty tale of one girl tackling the business of growing up while those around her try not to fall apart.

As you can probably tell from the 5*s, I absolutely adored What A Way To Go. It was such a comforting read, with a fantastic narrator, that really made me think about the importance of family and the various shapes and sizes family can come in. Although Harper's parents are divorced, and are not on the best of terms with each other, Harper has a happy life at home with her Mum and Kit, then has weekends with her Dad that are spent attending Lone Ranger's single parents club events, and listening to her Dad reminisce about the war. I felt like this is a book that could have been written in such a dispiriting and depressing way, but the way Forster wrote it - the book couldn't have been more warm and delightful. 

One of the highlights of the novel was undoubtedly the narration by Harper. It was wonderfully warm and witty, and astonishingly true to life. Forster perfectly captures what it feels like to be on the cusp of adolence; the feeling of having the whole world at your feet, yet the painful reluctance of never wanting to grow up. At times Harper's assessment of what was going on around her was hilarious, and at other times heartbreaking. By the end of the novel I found myself caring desperately about her, and wanting everything to work out for the best. You can easily mark the greatness of an author by how much you care about the characters they created, and I cared deeply about all of the characters in What A Way To Go.

While we're on the topic of characters, I thought the characterisation in What A Way To Go was flawless. I loved the character of Harper's mum and found her dialogue to be fresh, funny and thoroughly unique. She is written in such a complex way and I loved how you learned so much more about her through her relationship with Harper. I also enjoyed the fact that Harper's parents were so completely different, which was really interesting to read about, to see how differently Harper acted with both of them. Kit was also a standout character - and I loved reading about how his relationship with Harper developed and how he became much more of a father figure to her. Harper's friend Cassie was adorable and their conversations were so realistically written - the only fault I can point out is that I wished there had been more chapters that focused on Harper's friendship with Cassie so we could learn more about her life.

I adored the setting of the novel in a small English town in the 1980s, and although I definitely wasn't alive then, I definitely enjoyed the little nuances of nostalgia that decorated the story. Although this was a comforting read, there were also dark and important themes running throughout, such as politics, mental health, and economic hardship. From this novel one definitely got a clear understanding of what it was like to live through Thatcher's Britain, and how the problem social immobility felt today was also a thing of the past. As well as thoroughly enjoying this book, I also learned a lot, and the innocent, funny, fresh voice of Harper Richardson allowed me to reflect on these topics long after I had turned the last page. 

So overall, I think it is pretty evident that I loved What A Way To Go! It is definitely one of those books that are under-hyped, and if you haven't got it in your life then I would thoroughly recommend that you pick it up - I guarantee that you be disappointed!

Buy What A Way To Go here:

Check out Julia Forster here:

Until next time :)

Friday, 19 August 2016

BOOK REVIEW | 'My Husband's Wife' by Amanda Prowse (***.5)

Hello readers, and happy Friday! Today I have another book review for you, of Amanda Prowse's brand new novel, My Husband's Wife, published last month by Head of Zeus. It is a perfect summer read to get lost in whilst lounging on the beach and best of all... it's set in Cornwall!

I was sent My Husband's Wife by the author in exchange for an honest review :)

My Husband's Wife is a contemporary adult novel following wife and mother of two Rosie Tipcott as she goes through the toughest period of her life so far. Content and happy with  her peaceful and ordinary life in Cornwall with her husband and Phil and two adorable little girls Naomi and Leona, Rosie thinks life cannot get any better. But then Phil drops a bombshell. He has met someone else, and he's moving out. Just when things cannot get any worse, tragedy strikes, and Rosie is forced to evaluate everything. How do you build your life back together when it seems unfixable?

Intrigued? Check out the blurb here...

Once a week, Rosie Tipcott counts her blessings.

She goes to sit on her favourite bench on the north Devon cliffs, and thanks her lucky stars for her wonderful husband, her mischievous young daughters, and her neat little house by the sea. She vows to dedicate every waking hour to making her family happy.

But then her husband unexpectedly leaves her for another woman and takes the children. Now she must ask the question: what is left in her life? Can Rosie find the strength to rebuild herself? More importantly, does she even want to?

I thought that one of the greatest strengths of My Husband's Wife was its honest, unflinching portrayal of family life. Browse effectively and sensitively showcased family life at its most joyful, its most mundane, and at its most fragile. The cast of characters were all realistic portrayals that most readers could relate to, and I thought they were all really well developed. I enjoyed reading about the interaction between characters, particularly between Rosie and her brother-in-law, her mother-in-law and her father-in-law. I also thought Rosie's father was a really interesting and well-developed character, and I enjoyed figuring him out. Although I didn't enjoy reading about the imaginary exchanges between Rosie and her mother (too cringe-worthy for me, unfortunately), I enjoyed the whole backstory to Rosie's childhood, and about her parents. I felt this added a much-needed depth to Rosie's emotional and psychological position as a mother, and explained her reaction to a lot of the things that happened to her in the story.

Another strong point of the novel for me, and probably one of my favourite parts of the novel was the dialogue of the children, and particularly their interaction with the adults in the story. I thought everything they said was really authentic and it was very enjoyable and heartwarming to read. I loved the character development of the girls and their reaction to the events that were happening around them. I felt like they were very much at the centre of the action, without being aware of it, and it's always interesting to see the reaction of children to sometimes very adult events that are occurring in their world.

Whilst the relationship between Rosie and her children was very complex, I felt that the relationship with Rosie and Phil could have been made to be much more complicated and realistic. I didn't really get a sense of the tension and underlying strain on the relationship until everything came to blows. I think there could have been a bigger build up to the actual falling-apart of the relationship, which would have created a bigger emotional impact for me. I wanted to care more about the relationship, but I couldn't. I deeply cared about Rosie, however I couldn't stand Phil. I thought he was selfish and insensitive, and really couldn't care less about his children and his ex-wife and the consequences of his actions. I thought the ending of the book was perfect and I was really pleased about the way everything came together. 

One of my favourite parts of the whole book was undoubtedly the scene between Gerri and Rosie. I found myself turning the pages like a madman and I thought Gerri was such a great character - I love a subtle evil side to characters, and this really worked. The tension in this scene was definitely an example of the powerful, emotional punch Prowse packs into her writing, and how sharply her deep care of her characters shines through.

Overall, I enjoyed My Husband's Wife and it is definitely a book you can get lost in this summer. If you haven't checked out Amanda Prowse before, I would highly recommend that you do so!

Check out Amanda Prowse here:

Until next time :) 

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

BOOK REVIEW | 'You Know Me Well' by Nina LaCour and David Levithan (****)

Hello readers, and happy Tuesday! Today I am very excited to share with you another 4* book review with you, this time of Nina LaCour and David Levithan's You Know Me Well - a beautiful novel about friendship, adventure and self-discovery. As soon as I saw this proof advertised on the My Kinda Book instagram I knew it was something I'd have to request - a couple of summers ago I read Nick and Norah's Ultimate Playlist by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn and it was one of my favourite books of the summer. Safe to say I was not at all disappointed with You Know Me Well - it was the perfect summer read and it is exactly the kind of book you can curl up on the sofa with and demolish in a couple of hours.

I was sent You Know Me Well by My Kinda Book on behalf of Macmillan in exchange for an honest review :)

You Know Me Well is a touching, realistic story about friendship, first love and the glitter and unprecedented joy of the San Fransisco Pride. It is the story of Mark and Kate and their unexpected encounter in a crowded bar on San Fransisco's first night of Pride. And before you think this is just any old love story, Mark is hopelessly in love with his best friend Ryan and Kate is pining after Violet, a girl she has heard lots about but has never met. It is the summer before college, and there is an electric feeling in the air. It is the summer for Kate and Mark to truly find themselves, what makes them happy, and above all else, what it means to be a good friend when love has the habit of getting in the way.

Sound intriguing? Check out the blurb here...

Who knows you well? Your best friend? Your boyfriend or girlfriend? A stranger you meet on a crazy night? No one, really?

Mark and Kate have sat next to each other for an entire year, but have never spoken. For whatever reason, their paths outside of class have never crossed.

That is, until Kate spots Mark miles away from home, out in the city for a wild, unexpected night. Kate is lost, having just run away from a chance to finally meet the girl she has been in love with from afar. Mark, meanwhile, is in love with his best friend Ryan, who may or may not feel the same way.

When Kate and Mark meet up, little do they know how important they will become to each other—and how, in a very short time, they will know each other better than any of the people who are supposed to know them more.

Told in alternating points of view by Nina LaCour and David Levithan, You Know Me Well is a story about navigating the joys and heartaches of first love, one truth at a time.

I was immediately drawn in from the beginning of the very first page with the writing style. It was so wonderfully authentic and confiding, and it made me automatically believe in Mark and his story. With dual-narrative books, both authors need to ensure they craft out authentic voices, and LaCour and Levithan did this seamlessly. I could feel the aching of Mark's unrequited love, Kate's confusion about her loyalties between her best friend and a girl she's never met, and both of their identity crises that heighten and grow more complex throughout the novel. The narrative not only made the book an effortless and enjoyable read, but drove the story forward and made me want to crazily read on and find out what happens next. As is characteristic of Levithan, the story was fantastically paced and carefully crafted in terms of plot. 

I adored the premise of the story. I have never read a book set in amidst the glittery chaos of Pride, and it was a fantastic setting in which to place a handful of characters who are unsure of their place in it yet. I myself have never been to a Pride event before, but this book definitely made me want to. LaCour and Levithan so flawlessly created an atmosphere that was joyful, inclusive and vibrant through their writing, and it was great to read about. I have read a few LGBT books but never one set in Pride, and I felt this made the story so much more striking, and showcased blatantly and without reserve the community's inclusivity and acceptance of people from all cultures, religions and backgrounds. 

I thought the characters were very complex and well-developed, especially Ryan, who I spent almost the entirety of the book trying to figure out. At times I felt frustrated at him and the way he kept Mark guessing at his true feelings, however I think what Levithan was trying to say was that feelings aren't black and white, and they can't be described as such for the sake of a neatly wrapped-up story. I did feel like the friendship aspect of You Know Me Well was sometimes a bit simplistic and a bit insta-friendship, but it definitely didn't ruin the story for me. Throughout the book, I found myself caring deeply for the characters and hoping that everything would work out. I think that is the mark of a great story and a great writer, and LaCour and Levithan seamlessly came together to deliver just that - a truly great story.

If you haven't read You Know Me Well yet, or any of Levithan's or LaCour's books, I would highly encourage you to do so!

Check out David Levithan here:

Check out Nina LaCour here:

Until next time :)