1. By Your Side by Kasie West
I received a copy of this book in exchange for consideration of an honest review.
In this irresistible story, Kasie West explores the timeless question of what to do when you fall for the person you least expect. Witty and romantic, this paperback original from a fan favorite is perfect for fans of Stephanie Perkins and Morgan Matson.
When Autumn Collins finds herself accidentally locked in the library for an entire weekend, she doesn’t think things could get any worse. But that’s before she realizes that Dax Miller is locked in with her. Autumn doesn’t know much about Dax except that he’s trouble. Between the rumors about the fight he was in (and that brief stint in juvie that followed it) and his reputation as a loner, he’s not exactly the ideal person to be stuck with. Still, she just keeps reminding herself that it is only a matter of time before Jeff, her almost-boyfriend, realizes he left her in the library and comes to rescue her.
Only he doesn’t come. No one does.
Instead it becomes clear that Autumn is going to have to spend the next couple of days living off vending-machine food and making conversation with a boy who clearly wants nothing to do with her. Except there is more to Dax than meets the eye. As he and Autumn first grudgingly, and then not so grudgingly, open up to each other, Autumn is struck by their surprising connection. But can their feelings for each other survive once the weekend is over and Autumn’s old life, and old love interest, threaten to pull her from Dax’s side?
Kasie West is one of my all-time favorite YA contemporary authors, so it pains me to say this book was meh, but. . . this book was meh. There were some very cute moments, and I didn’t dislike reading it, but it lacked most of the spark and dazzle her other books have. First, the being trapped in a library setting was completely underutilized. It didn’t read (ha ha) like they were trapped in a library at all. Dax and Autumn were fine, and were the characters that got the most development, but all the secondary characters fell flat, especially Jeff, Autumn’s almost-boyfriend. They were just all so lifeless, even Autumn’s family(except her older brother, who was the only secondary character I liked). Probably the best part of this book was that Autumn has anxiety and takes medication for it and it’s something that’s shown as completely normal and healthy, even though I did think her anxiety felt very. . . removed from the situations she found herself in. I ended up giving this 3/5 stars, because 2 was too low, but it’s a particularly weak 3. If you haven’t read Kasie West yet, this isn’t the one I’d start with.
2. History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera
When Griffin’s first love and ex-boyfriend, Theo, dies in a drowning accident, his universe implodes. Even though Theo had moved to California for college and started seeing Jackson, Griffin never doubted Theo would come back to him when the time was right. But now, the future he’s been imagining for himself has gone far off course.
To make things worse, the only person who truly understands his heartache is Jackson. But no matter how much they open up to each other, Griffin’s downward spiral continues. He’s losing himself in his obsessive compulsions and destructive choices, and the secrets he’s been keeping are tearing him apart.
If Griffin is ever to rebuild his future, he must first confront his history, every last heartbreaking piece in the puzzle of his life.
This book is heartbreaking, but don’t worry, it’s not an unending stream of grief and sadness. . . which makes the sad parts all the more visceral and real. History is All You Left Me follows Griffin as he grieves Theo, his ex-boyfriend, who died in a drowning accident. The book follows two timelines: the “history” section, which explores Griffin’s relationship with Theo when they were first getting together, and the “present” where Theo is gone and the only one who really understand Griffin’s pain is Jackson, Theo’s at-the-time current boyfriend. It’s a messy picture of not only romantic relationships, but friendships and families as well. And all of those messy, complicated relationships were so well-written. I particularly liked Griffin’s parents, who are supportive of his relationship with Theo and struggle to support him through the grief as well (even though they’re not perfect at it). Getting the “history” timeline and being able to read about Theo and Griffin fall in love made Griffin’s lost and grief so much more impactful. This book is very sad, but it’s not all hopeless gloom and tragedy. Griffin is very much picking up the pieces of his life post-Theo, but it’s clear from the book that he won’t be miserable forever, which is always pleasant to see in a book about grief. 4/5 stars.
3. A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab
THE BALANCE OF POWER HAS FINALLY TIPPED…
The precarious equilibrium among four Londons has reached its breaking point. Once brimming with the red vivacity of magic, darkness casts a shadow over the Maresh Empire, leaving a space for another London to rise.
WHO WILL CRUMBLE?
Kell – once assumed to be the last surviving Antari – begins to waver under the pressure of competing loyalties. And in the wake of tragedy, can Arnes survive?
WHO WILL RISE?
Lila Bard, once a commonplace – but never common – thief, has survived and flourished through a series of magical trials. But now she must learn to control the magic, before it bleeds her dry. Meanwhile, the disgraced Captain Alucard Emery of the Night Spire collects his crew, attempting a race against time to acquire the impossible.
WHO WILL TAKE CONTROL?
And an ancient enemy returns to claim a crown while a fallen hero tries to save a world in decay.
WHAT AN ENDING. I felt tense the entire time I read this book, but I NEVER wanted to put it down. One thing I really appreciate about Schwab’s adult books is that they’re actually not that fast-paced to start with. I always feel like she lets her characters grow and expand into the scenes, which means there’s a surprising amount of quiet moments for how thrilling this book is. It’s those kinds of moments that generally make me fall in love with the characters, so of course I feel attached to all the major characters in this cast. Lila, Kell, Rhy, and Alucard still all have my heart. I don’t want to talk too much about the plot because I don’t want to spoil anything, but suffice to say A Conjuring of Light picks up right where A Gathering of Shadows ends and it is relentless. 5/5 stars, will love forever.