One Minute Book Reviews: What I’ve Been Reading This Summer

28 Sept 2023

Summer reading

There's dragons, there's love stories, there's planes sinking to the bottom of the ocean. We travel to America, to Singapore and everywhere in between. Here's everything I've been reading this summer:

Romantic Comedy by Curtis Sittenfeld

This was fun! It does what says it on the tin – a romantic comedy, but between a ‘normal’ person and an international star. Sally, a writer working for a legendary late-night comedy show swears off love, fed up of average men dating beautiful, accomplished women but not vice versa. But then she works with Noah, a pop idol, for a week and they click instantly. Would someone like him ever date someone like her? I liked the three very different parts – comedy show in New York, email train and romance during lockdown. It made it stand out from the usual genre format. Slick and funny. 4/5

The Vintage Shop of Second Chances by Libby Page 

Libby Page has become my go-to for light-hearted, not-to-taxing but still-with-a-little-reality reads. If that’s a genre. I like that she writes about real women and real female friendships. Her novels are great if you want an uplifting read that isn’t about romance. I saved this to read during our holiday in Frome, Somerset because that’s also where the novel is set. Based around a fictional vintage clothes shop, this is about three women of different ages who are desperately searching for a chance to start again. It celebrates the power of friends, community and excellent clothes during hard times. 3.5/5

Drowning: The Rescue of Flight 1421 by T.J. Newman

If you happen to have just watched Hijack on Apple TV and want something to read in a similar vein, this would be a good place to start. A slightly bonkers-but-just-about-still-believable thriller that doesn’t let up from page one. Flight 1421 crashes into the ocean six minutes after take-off. Most passengers escape onto the lifeboats but 12 are still trapped inside when the plane sinks to the bottom of the ocean and lands, half-teetering, on the edge of an underwater cliff. Cue an absurd, race-against-low-oxygen rescue mission that is highly entertaining. 4/5 

Last One At The Party by Bethany Clift 

The majority of the human race is wiped out by a virus and a woman in her thirties finds herself alone in London, a city now filled with rotting corpses and burning pyres. She is woefully unequipped to deal with the new world she finds herself in and I loved that about her. She’s not a protagonist who just happens to have skills or knowledge that makes them perfectly set up to survive the end of the world, she is every one of us. She checks Instagram to see if anyone else is still alive, she has no idea how to survive without power and she has spent her whole life conforming to other people. The question is, who will she be now she is truly alone? I have thought about this book a lot since I finished reading it. I found it disturbing because it felt very realistic; I didn’t doubt any detail of the new world the protagonist found herself in and it was richly detailed (perhaps don’t read whilst eating). But I also thought it was brilliant story with a big character arc, and a fresh take on the post-apocalyptic genre. I would love to read a sequel, or another story set in the same world. 5/5

Taste: My Life Through Food by Stanley Tucci 

A charming little memoir about a life in and out of the kitchen, written by actor and food obsessive, Stanley Tucci. If you’re a foodie or enjoy food writing, I would definitely recommend this regardless of whether you have an interest in Tucci as an actor. This is a lovely book full of anecdotes and reflections about food and the joys of life. Plus a few great tales involving some big names. 3.5/5

Summer reading

Summer reading

Summer reading

Everything’s Fine by Cecilia Rabess 

Set in the years between Barack Obama becoming president and Donald Trump becoming president, we follow the relationship between Josh & Jess, two analysts working at Goldman Sachs in New York and explore whether it is possible for a black liberal woman and a white conservative man to be happily in love. It considers how far one can separate a person from their beliefs, and how important shared values are in a relationship. This was a brilliant, clever, socially astute book. I have thought about the ending a lot since finishing, and there is a scene involving a maga hat that was so brilliant and haunting. I would highly recommend. 5/5

In Such Tremendous Heat by Kehinde Fadipe

Three Nigerian expat women living in Singapore all have their lives upturned by the arrival of a stranger. I had mixed feelings on this one; I enjoyed the Singapore setting and the rich array of characters, but I thought the plot was a bit thin on the ground. The link between one of the women and the stranger was tenuous at best and I didn’t find their connection particularly believable. I think ultimately, I just expected more to happen and I’m not sure the characters were interesting enough to make up for the lack of plot. 2.5/5

Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros  

I came because of the internet and stayed for the grumpy dragons. This was pure escapism, and I was here for it. It’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but I do have a bit of a weak spot for this style of book. At Basgiath War College, Violet is joining hundreds of candidates striving to become elite dragon riders. You either graduate or die. She’s smaller than everyone else, most people would kill her for being the general’s daughter and war is looming outside the college walls. And she has to train alongside her sworn enemy (who is inconveniently attractive). It is technically an adult book but reminded me a lot of some of the really great YA books I grew up with (think Hunger Games, Divergent). My only gripe was I found the two explicit sex scenes just a bit cringey and out of place, perhaps because it was reminding me of other YA books. Otherwise, absorbing world building, sassy dragons, great enemies-to-lovers storyline, and I have the sequel on pre-order. 4.5/5 

Book Lovers by Emily Henry 

Alright, so I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I was tired, it was summer – I wanted a ‘beach read’ for want of a better phrase but there can be a lot of poorly written-shite in that genre so I didn’t have particularly high expectations. A literary agent and book editor – New Yorkers and professional ‘enemies’ – end up spending the summer in the same small town. They keep bumping into each other and it would be a meet-cute if not for the fact they have met many times before and it’s never been cute. It was funny, I really loved the characters and their banter, and it gave me a lot of nostalgia for watching American rom coms as a teenager. That kind of vibe. I can see why people rate Emily Henry. 4/5

This Could Be Everything by Eva Rice 

Set in Notting Hill in 1990, 19-year-old February Kingdom is hiding away from the world as she grieves the loss of her parents and her twin sister. Then one day, she finds a canary in her kitchen, and it sparks a glimmer of hope in her. Just as she starts to find her way out of the darkness, her aunt starts an affair with a married American drama teacher. This is a gentle coming-of-age story about hope, love and finding reasons to keep going, with a lot of nostalgia for times gone by. An enjoyable read. 4/5

Happy reading folks x