Nirvana fan and budding scientist Natasha is having the worst day of her life when she meets Daniel on the streets of New York. There ensues an extremely sweet, entertaining and heart-warming love story, with added physics. What raises The Sun Is Also A Star* above your standard contemporary YA, though, is Yoon's deft touch for character; she brings every person to life on the page with touching and occasionally devastating vignettes that show how the tiny gestures we make on a day-to-day basis can have enormous knock-on effects.
The Power* poses the question: what if the power to hurt were in women's hands? If, with a flick of the wrist, women and girls could cause agonising pain and death? It begins as the ultimate feminist revenge fantasy, as women strike back after thousands of years of patriarchy: oppressive regimes in the Middle East are overthrown; women empowered the world over. But - despite the dark humour - it quickly becomes clear that this is no feminist utopia. As the world heads towards a cataclysmic event, we discover that power will always be abused, no matter who wields it. This is a violent, brutal page-turner of a dystopian novel, and I heartily recommend it.
If I Was Your Girl
Amanda is 18 and about to start her senior year at a new high school. What her new friends don't know, however, is that Amanda was born Andrew. Being a little bit tired of cisgendered people telling trans stories (*cough* Lisa Williamson *cough*), I was excited to read a trans author's take on YA. And one thing I particularly enjoyed about If I Was Your Girl was the fact that - some flashback chapters apart - this was a post-transition story. It was also a fairly straightforward 'new girl at school' tale, and all the better for it, demonstrating that Amanda's life isn't centred around being trans: she has the same worries - making and keeping friends, crushes, college plans - as any other teenage girl.
Lie With Me
Lie With Me is an engrossing, slow-burning thriller of the very best kind: think Patricia Highsmith, rather than the pile-em-high Gone Girl-alikes. We meet our thoroughly unlikeable narrator Paul in a damp Charing Cross Road bookshop, where he bumps into an old university friend, and follow him as he wheedles his way first into a dinner invitation and then to a Greek island holiday. The genius of Lie With Me is in the way every piece fits together like a jigsaw puzzle: tiny details pass us by, as they do Paul, before finally we realise their significance at the end. And oh how perfect to read this while lying on a sun lounger on a Greek island myself. My favourite thriller of 2016 so far.
Sierra's parents own a Christmas tree farm and, as a result, she spends 11 months of the year on the farm in Oregon and the month of December on their Christmas tree lot in California. And her seventeenth Christmas in California may well be her last - as her parents are talking about closing the lot - so this is not the ideal time for her to fall for a local boy with a troubled past. What Light* is a fluffy, festive read but a long way from Asher's highly praised, gritty debut, Thirteen Reasons Why. Caleb and Sierra's romance is entirely PG and as saccharine sweet as the candy canes they're constantly stirring into hot chocolate.
I picked up Missing, Presumed in the library but didn't have particularly high hopes for it, so I was surprised to find myself completely absorbed and engaged within the first few pages. The first in a new series following police detective Manon Bradshaw, what I particularly liked was the combination of a police procedural with multi-character points of view, so that instead of seeing everything through Manon's (admittedly very interesting) eyes, the reader also 'hears' from the parents and best friend of the titular missing person, a co-worker of Manon's, etc. Also appealing to me - being a bleeding heart leftie - were the ways in which Steiner incorporated such issues as children in care, the Met's racist stop-and-search practices, and prison conditions, but with a light enough touch that the reader never feels preached at.
The Blood Card
I've always enjoyed Elly Griffiths books, although I'm baffled by the speed with which she cranks out both this Stephens & Mephisto series and the Ruth Galloway novels. The Blood Card* finds all the usual ingredients present and correct, most notably an atmospheric post-war Brighton setting combined with a fairly predictable but enjoyable plot. It just didn't get me turning the pages in the way I expect of a Griffiths novel.
* A digital copy of this book was kindly provided by the publishers for review via NetGalley.