December 2021 Mini Reviews - part 2

 This one's a bit of a Christmas bumper special!

The Matzah Ball by Jean Meltzer
Published: 28th September 2021 by Piatkus
I received a copy of this e-book from the publisher via NetGalley. This in no way affects my review.

As soon as I saw this I knew I wanted to give it a go - there aren't nearly enough non-Christmas holiday romances written or published by big houses, so I wanted to show my support. I really liked Meltzer's writing and found that the alternating of chapters between Rachel and Jacob's POV allowed for good character development of them both. I also think the way in which she incorporated Jewish practices and culture into the story was very accessible but still informative and actually taught me a lot. While I am a big fan of the romance in the story, I thought the fact that such a big part of the story is about Rachel becoming more confident in herself was great. I also really appreciated that Meltzer used her own experience with a chronic illness in writing Rachel while acknowledging that everyone endures it differently. The Matzah Ball was such a great example of a refreshing take on a holiday-themed novel and there definitely needs to be more!
4 stars

What Light by Jay Asher
Published: 20th October 2016 by Pan Macmillan
I received a copy of this e-book from the publisher via NetGalley. This in no way affects my review.

This is another book I should've gotten round to at the time of its publication, but with it being Christmas-themed I thought now would be a perfect time. I do remember enjoying 13 Reasons Why, also by Asher, when it came out (as much as you could enjoy a book dealing with such tough subjects), so I hoped the writing in this would be good, and it was! I actually thought that the emotional maturity of Sierra, the protagonist, and her friend Heather in recognising that people with a lot of emotional baggage might not be the best candidates for entering into a relationship with was great, and unlike a lot of characterisation I've read in YA books. Again, Asher is not afraid to tackle tricky topics like violence but I thought for the most part it was handled well from both the adult and teenage characters. Other than my disappointment in Sierra's peers having such a limited vocabulary and a slight concern that the romance was unrealistic in how quickly it got so serious, this was a solid book.
3.5 stars

The Coldest Touch by Isabel Sterling
Published: 9th December 2021 by Hodder & Stoughton
I received a copy of this e-book from the publisher via NetGalley. This in no way affects my review.

I was very intrigued by the concept of The Coldest Touch, as it featured an interesting take on the classic vampire trope in YA literature. The book started off very strong, and I enjoyed the introduction to Claire and Elise, the two protagonists, and their respective personalities and lives. I also liked how there was a little more to the story than the typical human girl being introduced to the concept of vampires being real, with the 'Death Oracle' element. I enjoyed how diverse the book was in terms of the characters identities, but I do think the big selling point of the book to many people was its LGBT romance between the main characters, which I didn't feel was fleshed out enough. The potential wasn't met in that aspect of the book, and it felt very unresolved even by the end. I also feel that the book dipped in the second half, with the pacing increasing hugely and plot points being introduced that were just confusing.
3 stars

Christmas Island by Natalie Normann
(Very Hygge Holiday #2)
Published: 30th November 2020 by HarperCollins UK
I received a copy of this e-book from the publisher via NetGalley. This in no way affects my review.

I didn't realise going into this that it was part of a series, so I was a bit worried about potentially missing out on some details, especially as the first book follows characters who featured in this one. However, I do feel for the most part that this book could be read separately, and I don't feel that it affected my reading experience. I love stories set in small towns, so the constant interactions with everyone in the community was nice to read, and seeing how Holly was embraced by everyone. I thought the dynamic between her and Tor grew very nicely, and how they bonded over their respective difficult situations that led them to the island. What they both went through was unlike the typical sad stories used in novels, but still relatable to many. My main grievance would have to be that the pacing at the end felt rushed, and I would've liked to see Holly at home more before the big ending. Still very enjoyable though!
3.5 stars


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