Mini Review Monday #35

I’m sharing another instalment of my Mini Review Mondays, the most recent of which was last week. In case you haven’t seen any of my previous posts, I do ‘mini’ reviews of books that I’ve read, loved and usually promised to review ages ago.

Today, I’m talking about three stories that melted my heart in one way or another.

First up, I’d like to talk about Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert. Thank you so much to Piatkus Books for approving my request for an eARC on Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Eve Brown is a certified hot mess. No matter how hard she strives to do right, her life always goes horribly wrong—so she’s given up trying. But when her personal brand of chaos ruins an expensive wedding (someone had to liberate those poor doves), her parents draw the line. It’s time for Eve to grow up and prove herself—even though she’s not entirely sure how…

Jacob Wayne is in control. Always. The bed and breakfast owner’s on a mission to dominate the hospitality industry—and he expects nothing less than perfection. So when a purple-haired tornado of a woman turns up out of the blue to interview for his open chef position, he tells her the brutal truth: not a chance in hell. Then she hits him with her car—supposedly by accident. Yeah, right.

Now his arm is broken, his B&B is understaffed, and the dangerously unpredictable Eve is fluttering around, trying to help. Before long, she’s infiltrated his work, his kitchen—and his spare bedroom. Jacob hates everything about it. Or rather, he should. Sunny, chaotic Eve is his natural-born nemesis, but the longer these two enemies spend in close quarters, the more their animosity turns into something else. Like Eve, the heat between them is impossible to ignore—and it’s melting Jacob’s frosty exterior.

Publication Date: 9th March

TW: autism-related ableism, past parental neglect 

Goodreads | Waterstones

My Thoughts:

Act Your Age, Eve Brown is a wonderful, heart-warming and utterly charming story. 

I’m well aware that I’m late to the Talia Hibbert hype train, but I am fully on board. They just write such amazing romances, packed full of heart and wit. The chemistry and dynamics are just perfect, largely due to the strength of both their characters and their immense talent. I really appreciate the inclusion and representation as well. The Brown Sisters trilogy has just been immaculate, so this review is kind of a love letter to them all. 

Jacob and Eve are so easy to connect with and feel so realistic. I’m a big fan of the pessimistic and sunshine character clash that slowly grows into something more. Their banter just worked so well and the setting of the B & B added to the wholesome, heart-warming feel of their entire story. Also, the representation of autistic characters on page where their needs and worldview are discussed, but it’s also not the only trait the author defines them as – sheer excellence. Throughout the trilogy, Hibbert has strived to include Black excellence, other POC, mental health and chronic illness/disability representation. They have made three-dimensional, brilliant characters that a range of people can see their experiences reflected in and I can only salute them for that. 

I also love how Hibbert’s characters are always humanely messy and flawed. They miscommunicate, make mistakes and don’t see what’s staring right at them, just as in real life. You just feel completely enveloped in the stories. Every time, I’m just had to binge the book as I cannot bring myself to leave this wonderful world I’ve found. Yet again, the romance just is perfect. It’s that right mix of adorable cuteness and more that burns slowly, moving from dislike to love. The chemistry is off the charts and you cannot help but root for these two to make it. 

Act Your Age, Eve Brown is a hopelessly romantic and wonderful conclusion to a fantastic trilogy.

Next up, I’d like to talk about Perfect on Paper by Sophie Gonzales, which the wonderful people at Team BKMRK sent me an early finished copy of in exchange for an honest review.

Everyone in school knows about Locker 89. If you slip a letter in outlining your relationship woes, along with a fiver, an anonymous source will email you with the best advice you’ve ever gotten.

Darcy Phillips, a quiet, sweet junior, is safe in the knowledge no one knows she’s the genius behind locker 89. Until Brougham, a senior, catches her.

The deal Brougham offers is tempting: in exchange for his silence–and a generous coach’s fee to sweeten the deal–Darcy can become Brougham’s personal dating coach to help him get his ex-girlfriend back.

And as for Darcy, well, she has a fairly good reason to want to keep her anonymity. Because she has another secret. Not too long ago, she abused locker 89 to sabotage the budding romance of her best friend, Brooke. Brooke, who Darcy’s been in love with for a year now.

Yeah. Brooke can’t find out about that. No matter what.

Publication Date: 11th March

TW: biphobia, internalised biphobia, toxic parents, drugs, alcohol, vomiting, emotional abuse, cheating

Goodreads Waterstones

My Thoughts:

Perfect on Paper was just incredible. It hit every spot I wanted it to and gave me an excellent YA contemporary that’s realistically flawed and complex in all the best rom-com ways. 

A key strength of this book was the way Gonzales delved into biophobia, both internalised and external. Darcy really struggles with this pervasive idea of having to perform your identity in order to be considered good enough to fit within the LGBTQ+ community. In the book, she struggles with being seen as ‘queer enough’, but learns to overcome this interalised message that’s quite embedded within society and instead accept herself. Near the end of the book, she has this incredibly moving and powerful speech about biphobia and her sexuality that really hit home. 

Gonzales is so good at creating slightly messy, very relatable and realistic teenage characters. All of them were so lovable and the dialogue always felt authentic. They messed up and made mistakes, some of them awful, but they always faced consequences for their actions and had believable motivations behind them. Their dialogue was excellent, brimming with self-deprecating, sardonic humour that’s exactly my cup of tea. Darcy was a fantastic protagonist and the advice given in her column was often so well thought out and true to life. I loved her verve and slightly spiky sense of humour. She’s got a heart of gold, but she’s also fiercely protective of her friends, though she’s got a complex relationship that she wants to become more with her best friend. I really liked watching how her relationships developed over the course of the book and how Darcy herself grew and changed. In particular, I loved Darcy’s relationship with her sister. That kind of sibling bond that goes the distance, but also allows for taking the mick out of each other is just warm and endlessly brilliant. 

Perfect on Paper is a heartfelt gem of a book that balances contemporary romantic entanglements perfectly with nuanced takes on tough issues.

Finally, I would be doing you all a disservice if I left out the phenomenal The Cost of Knowing by Brittney Morris. Again, a huge thank you to Team BKMRK for sending me an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

From the acclaimed author of SLAY, comes a gripping novel, about brothers, grief, and what it means to be a young Black man in America. For fans of Dear Martin and They Both Die at the End.

Sixteen year old Alex Rufus lives with his younger brother, Isaiah, in a quiet neighbourhood in Chicago. But recently their neighbours have started calling the cops on anyone who doesn’t look like their version of safe. 

Alex starts avoiding his neighbourhood by taking on more shifts at the local ice-cream shop, Scoops, and spending time with his girlfriend, Talia. But when Alex picks up an old family photo, everything changes: he has an intense vision that Isaiah might die.

Alex wants to save Isaiah, but he knows the dangers of the future. How will he protect his brother when the street they grew up on doesn’t feel like home anymore?

A story that speaks to hard truths about race, prejudice, and the inherent injustice that permeates the world we live in.

Publication Date: 11th March

TW: racism, self-harm, grief, death, car accident, parental death, shooting, murder

Goodreads | Waterstones

My Thoughts:

The Cost of Knowing has to be one of the best books I’ve read so far this year. It’s a tough but necessary read with a fascinating concept and heart-breakingly emotional punch. 

Morris tackles racism and its insidious nature, particularly how prejudice and casual racism allow for the toxic culture of white supremacy to wreck havoc. She perfectly demonstrates the consequences of casual racism and prejudice. They’re just as harmful and dangerous when left unchecked. They create this horrific environment that sets the stage for tragedy to occur. This is a book that pulses with anger and sadness the whole way through, striking back at a society that just stares on uncaring. Unfortunately we’ve seen this same narrative play out over and over again. It’s up to us to stand up and take action, to declare that enough is enough and call for real structural change. 

This book made me properly sob. Few books achieve this, but this tragically powerful story did. Morris creates such wonderful characters that are so easy to connect to. At its core, this is a story about family, grief and the impact of racism on young Black boys. Morris dedicates it to all the Black men who had to grow up too quickly and you cannot leave this story behind without burning with that same fury and frustration at a world that would allow this to happen. Morris’ writing is sublime. She conveys these emotions so strongly in a compulsively readable story. You have this fateful sense of where the story is going, but you cannot draw yourself away from watching it unfold. 

A huge standout of the book is Alex himself. His power is explained is realistic and understandable terms right from the start and that intriguing concept is fully explored through the book. He has such a distinctive and engaging voice. You fall in love with both Alex and Isaiah fast and hard. They’re just so loveable and fractured by the weight of their grief. Their fear of losing memories hangs over them, as does the constant prejudice they face. 

The Cost of Knowing is a heart-breakingly emotional story that will truly change you.

6 thoughts on “Mini Review Monday #35

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