Red, White and Royal Blue

Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

God I loved this book! I thought it was going to be total trash – the cover is quite bad – but I’d seen it on so many lists for the best royal stories (I have a total thing for those!) that I thought I’d give it a try. I mean really, I’m on lock down, what do I have to lose? As it turns out, I have only to gain because it was glorious!  It’s about the 22 year old son of the first female president of the US, Alex, and the 23 year old third grandson of the Queen of England, Henry.  They start the book as arch enemies but slowly… yeah, you know the drill. But it’s so well delivered it’s very hard to put it down. Be warned, there is also A LOT of sex in it though. I mean, a lot. Not for the faint hearted this one! It’s worth mentioning that in the final acknowledgements, the author said that she wrote it after the 2016 election, as a kind of personal antidote to the US elections. I have to tell you, it was a very effective move.

We Used to Be Friends

We Used To Be Friends by Amy Spalding

This is a pretty lovely story told in a slightly confusing way – but it works, once your brain remembers that all the passages are out of order! It follows the “break up” of Kat and James, two (girl) best friends who have fallen out. Well, more like they’ve drifted out, and neither can quite put their finger on why.  It’s quite refreshing to read a book centred on the failing of a platonic relationship, as opposed to a romantic one, and the reasoning behind it all felt pretty real.  I did find Kat a touch tiresome though, but I suppose that was the point!   Overall it was a good read, but not one I’d necessarily peddle to the masses.

Orbiting Jupiter

 

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Oh what a heartbreaking, page-turning, perfectly formed little book! I couldn’t put it down and now I think I need some ice-cream to right the world… This tiny gem of a novel is told from the point of view of 12 year old Jack, whose 13 year old foster brother, Joseph, changes his life completely. Joseph clearly comes from terrible trauma, and has had a hideous time in the juvenile detention system, but his heart remains 100% focused on finding the daughter he’s never had a chance to meet, Jupiter.  The story of how the two boys come to love and trust each other is so perfectly told, and every fiber of my being just ached for Joseph…. A fantastic novel, really easy to read – beautifully paced, written like it could have been told by a 12 year old, nicely spaced out lines – and just unputdownable.

Legacy

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This was kind of amazing but also quite confusing and maybe a little hard to get into… And I’m still not 100% sure what happened in the end. It’s essentially about a teenage boy who falls into his great-grandfather’s story during WWI, after being hit by a bus in the present day.  It didn’t really grab me from the outset, and even once I got into it I was still largely reading to find out how he was going to get back to the present day – let’s just say that it didn’t end how I thought it would! I think I’d recommend this, but it’s definitely complex and you’d want to give it to young people who are interested in war, because they do have to work for it, it’s not an easy read.   Weird. But good. But Weird.

Bugs

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I feel a little bit ashamed to admit that it took me two tries to get through this very, very good novel, and only returned to it because one of my students is having to write on it for an exam. (In my defense, the first time round I had about 45 other books on my bedside table!)  This is an insightful kiwi novel about a Maori teenager who goes by the nickname Bugs. It almost spoils it to reveal that Bugs is a girl – I was surprised to realise this about 30 pages in – but it’s going to be hard to write this without giving it away!  At any rate, Bugs was born to a solo mum in her teens, who has gone on to carve a good career and income for herself and Bugs. She raised Bugs with the support of her wider family, and as a result, Bugs is pretty grounded and is able to stay on the right path in life, feeling loved and supported, even when she makes bad choices. Her two best friends, on the other hand, aren’t so lucky, and the book serves as an illustration of how money really can’t buy you happiness.