Title: Maybe in Another Life (2015)
Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Publisher: Washington Square Press
Genre: Chick Lit, Contemporary
Extent: 342 pages
Release Date: July 7, 2015
At the age of twenty-nine, Hannah Martin still has no idea what she wants to do with her life. She has lived in six different cities and held countless meaningless jobs since graduating college. On the heels of leaving yet another city, Hannah moves back to her hometown of Los Angeles and takes up residence in her best friend Gabby’s guestroom. Shortly after getting back to town, Hannah goes out to a bar one night with Gabby and meets up with her high school boyfriend, Ethan.
Just after midnight, Gabby asks Hannah if she’s ready to go. A moment later, Ethan offers to give her a ride later if she wants to stay. Hannah hesitates. What happens if she leaves with Gabby? What happens if she leaves with Ethan?
In concurrent storylines, Hannah lives out the effects of each decision. Quickly, these parallel universes develop into radically different stories with large-scale consequences for Hannah, as well as the people around her. As the two alternate realities run their course, Maybe in Another Life raises questions about fate and true love: Is anything meant to be? How much in our life is determined by chance? And perhaps, most compellingly: Is there such a thing as a soul mate?
Taylor Jenkins Reid is far from being my favourite author, but I’ve always appreciated what her books speak to. Her stories are essentially, I think, coming-of-age stories: her protagonists always undergo some huge life change that forces them to grow and learn. In Maybe in Another Life, we see one protagonist do exactly that… but in separate timelines.
Title: Caraval (2017)
Series: Untitled – Book #1
Author: Stephanie Garber
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Extent: 416 pages
Release Date: January 31, 2017
Scarlett has never left the tiny isle of Trisda, pining from afar for the wonder of Caraval, a once-a-year week-long performance where the audience participates in the show.
Caraval is Magic. Mystery. Adventure. And for Scarlett and her beloved sister Tella it represents freedom and an escape from their ruthless, abusive father.
When the sisters’ long-awaited invitations to Caraval finally arrive, it seems their dreams have come true. But no sooner have they arrived than Tella vanishes, kidnapped by the show’s mastermind organiser, Legend.
Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But nonetheless she quickly becomes enmeshed in a dangerous game of love, magic and heartbreak. And real or not, she must find Tella before the game is over, and her sister disappears forever.
Well, where to begin? Caraval is on many, and I mean many, people’s most anticipated lists for 2017, and it was… well, it was good (in fact pretty damn great at some parts) but it was not as good as I wanted, and those two are very, very different things. Let’s get to it. 🙏
Title: The Diabolic (2016)
Author: S. J. Kincaid
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Extent: 416 pages
Release Date: November 1, 2016
Nemesis is a Diabolic, a humanoid teenager created to protect a galactic senator’s daughter, Sidonia. The two have grown up side by side, but are in no way sisters. Nemesis is expected to give her life for Sidonia, and she would do so gladly. She would also take as many lives as necessary to keep Sidonia safe.
When the power-mad Emperor learns Sidonia’s father is participating in a rebellion, he summons Sidonia to the Galactic court. She is to serve as a hostage. Now, there is only one way for Nemesis to protect Sidonia. She must become her. Nemesis travels to the court disguised as Sidonia—a killing machine masquerading in a world of corrupt politicians and two-faced senators’ children. It’s a nest of vipers with threats on every side, but Nemesis must keep her true abilities a secret or risk everything.
The Diabolic is the story of Nemesis, an artificial creature created specifically to the person she is chemically bonded with. Her entire life is devoted to Sidonia, a senator’s daughter, and when she has to impersonate Sidonia as the Emperor’s hostage to protect her, she does so completely willingly, even knowing that she might be walking straight into her death.
Title: Heartless (2016)
Author: Marissa Meyer
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Extent: 464 pages
Release Date: November 8, 2016
Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the yet-unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend and supply the Kingdom of Hearts with delectable pastries and confections. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next Queen.
At a royal ball where Cath is expected to receive the king’s marriage proposal, she meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the King and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship.
Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.
Heartless is my first Marissa Meyer book, and boy, was I excited to get to it! I originally wanted to read The Lunar Chronicles first but decided against it because of its representation problems, but this book, being loosely related to Alice in Wonderland, takes the cake for me. 😍
Title: Zac and Mia (2013)
Author: A. J. Betts
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Extent: 310 pages
Release Date: July 24, 2013
“When I was little I believed in Jesus and Santa, spontaneous combustion, and the Loch Ness monster. Now I believe in science, statistics, and antibiotics.”
So says seventeen-year-old Zac Meier during a long, grueling leukemia treatment in Perth, Australia. A loud blast of Lady Gaga alerts him to the presence of Mia, the angry, not-at-all-stoic cancer patient in the room next door. Once released, the two near-strangers can’t forget each other, even as they desperately try to resume normal lives. The story of their mysterious connection drives this unflinchingly tough, tender novel told in two voices.
Plenty of people compared this to John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars. I didn’t really get that feel, but I could certainly see the similarities: two kids with cancer fall in love. The characters and personalities in Zac and Mia are different, though, so I’d say the story is quite different.