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 previously read and am now ready to share my full thoughts about.
First up, I’d like to talk about When Night breaks by Janella Angeles. Thank you so much to Meghan Harrington at Wednesday Books for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
The competition has come to a disastrous end, and Daron Demarco’s fall from grace is now front page news. But little matters to him beyond Kallia, the contestant he fell for who is now lost to this world and in the hands of a dangerous magician. Daron is willing to do whatever it takes to find her. Even if it means embarking on a dark and treacherous journey, risking more than just his life, with no promise of return.
After awaking in darkness, Kallia has never felt more lost. Especially with Jack by her side, the magician with who has the answers but cannot be trusted. Together, they must navigate a dazzling world where mirrors show memories and illusions shadow every corner, one ruled by a powerful game master who could all too easily destroy the world she left behind — and the boy she can’t seem to forget. With time running out, Kallia must embrace her role in a darker destiny, or lose everyone she loves, forever.
Publication Date: 5th October
TW: grief, controlling behaviour, gaslighting, sexism
When Night Breaks is the stunning conclusion to a gorgeously romantic and underrated duology that deserves every ounce of love.
I absolutely adored Where Dreams Descend; it was just this alluring story that entrapped me in its pages. So, I was beyond excited when I got the chance to read the sequel early.
Angeles’ writing is again so breathtakingly beautiful. I love the hints of danger and darkness that are interwoven into every page. There’s plenty of glamour and spectacle, but there’s always a shiver down your spine at the possibility of what is lurking beneath the facade. I loved that moody, atmospheric opening. It served to drop me right back into this world and its beauty, but also its danger. Angeles effectively summarises the first book through the use of the article. I liked this epistolary touch that helped me reimmerse myself in this rich world. It just like sets you back in the environment and tone of the story, as well as the various relationship dynamics.
Sequels always have that difficult task of building on the amazing groundwork set before them. I always love when the world and characters feel developed and evolved, both thematically and stylistically. Angeles more than lives up to this task, with an even more detailed expansion of the world and mythology. It feels so entrancing and I loved how certain moments from the first book are revisited in a whole new light. The mystery elements from the first book are also back and stronger than ever here, with twists and turns around every corner. Like any good magician, Angeles has plenty of tricks up her sleeve and masterfully uses misdirection to surprise and shock you.
When Night Breaks is a spellbinding, romantic and moody tale that perfectly wraps up this enchanting duology.
Next up, I’d like to talk about Stay Another Day by Juno Dawson. Thank you so much to Hachette Children’s Group for sending me an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
When three very different siblings, Fern, Rowan and Willow, go home for a Christmas reunion at their family home in Edinburgh, it’s not long before some very big secrets threaten their cosy holiday …
The McAllister house on Arboretum Road has seen 120 Christmases since its completion. This year, Fern is bringing her gorgeous boyfriend home and she wants everything to be perfect. But her twin brother Rowan would rather go on the pull than pull crackers with the family. And their younger sister Willow is terrified of Christmas Day.
With four sleeps till Christmas,
Three secretive siblings,
Two hot houseguests,
And one juicy secret …
This Christmas, there will be some big surprises under the tree.
Sometimes at Christmas, you don’t get what you want, you get what you need…
Publication Date: 14th October
TW: self-harm, eating disorders, cheating, biphobia
Stay Another Day is a heart-warming read that delves into tough issues in a nuanced way. In short, it’s another smash-hit from a queen of UKYA.
This is such a magical, Christmassy read that just filled my heart with joy. Dawson explores the magic that seems to spark in the air in the holidays. That time of year is so markedly charged with a different kind of energy with the day itself being this bubble of family, be that blood or found. I really appreciated how Dawson explores the snarky bite and less happy side of Christmas that some families experience though and how people can be as happy in their own created communities.
The family presented here is a messy one, humanely flawed and bound up in their own journeys and issues. However, their love for one another sparks through the pages. Similarly, the relationship dynamics are complex and entangled by secrets, trauma and misplaced emotions. All this makes for an engaging, dramatic and decisively heartfelt story. I just flew through the pages. Despite reading this during the spooky period, I was transported to those cosy Christmas nights. The juxtaposition of the setting and my current environment just melted away.
Once again, Dawson proved why she reigns supreme in UKYA. She just has that spirited, passionate and charming writing style that draws you in and keeps you hooked to the pages. That magic of Christmas and the joy it sparks in people seems to be harnessed completely by Dawson. It of course helps that the characters she draws are so three-dimensional and easy to engage with. Fern, Rowan and Willow just stole my heart with their captivating voices and how they’re all struggling with their own path in life. They’re complex, fractured people, but they’re all trying for love and happiness.
Stay Another Day is ultimately a heartfelt, hopeful story about family, recovery and love.
Finally, I’d like to delve into If This Gets Out by Cale Dietrich and Sophie Gonzales. Thank you to Wednesday Books for sending me an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Eighteen-year-olds Ruben Montez and Zach Knight are two members of the boy-band Saturday, one of the biggest acts in America. Along with their bandmates, Angel Phan and Jon Braxton, the four are teen heartbreakers in front of the cameras and best friends backstage. But privately, cracks are starting to form: their once-easy rapport is straining under the pressures of fame, and Ruben confides in Zach that he’s feeling smothered by management’s pressure to stay in the closet.
On a whirlwind tour through Europe, with both an unrelenting schedule and minimal supervision, Ruben and Zach come to rely on each other more and more, and their already close friendship evolves into a romance. But when they decide they’re ready to tell their fans and live freely, Zach and Ruben start to truly realize that they will never have the support of their management. How can they hold tight to each other when the whole world seems to want to come between them?
Publication Date: 7th December
TW: abusive parents, drug use, homophobia, forced closeting, mental abuse, eating disorder, addiction, body shaming
If This Gets Out is YA contemporary at its finest, with superbly crafted characters and a highly entertaining storyline that isn’t afraid to delve deep.
I am a huge fan of Sophie Gonzales’ work and after reading this, I really need to pick up some of Cale Dietrich’s books. Their two styles of writing meshed together so well and made the book incredibly easy to read. It just flowed impeccably, with the drama and tension keeping the pace moving along nicely. The entire atmosphere felt cohesive and enjoyable.
I absolutely adored the character work here. These are likeable but complex characters, with their own issues to work through. What connects them all is their friendship and shared love for music. Their band is messy and dysfunctional at times, but ultimately they are united in wanting to express their creativity freely. They’re all such distinctive, well-rounded characters that it was a joy to follow them along.
I loved the exploration of celebrity culture and the complex relationships celebrities have with their fans. On one hand, it can be filled with joy, love and admiration for the people who support you, understand you and make you what you are. However, they dig deep into the downsides of the constant scrutiny and censorship from management. Their tour is a gruelling task to slog through, but the music, their fanbase and each other are worth it in the end. I liked how it discussed the ongoing impact of this lifestyle and associated trauma, particularly in terms of sexuality and turning to substance abuse in order to cope.
If This Gets Out is a whirlwind exploration of friendship, fame and finding yourself.