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Highlights in the Charts

Signal Moon by Kate Quinn

Review by Lauren Fardoe

Although a short story, this narrative is gripping in its complexity which Quinn navigates with ease. Covered in under sixty pages is a tale of surprising magnitude spanning across two centuries. In 1943, Lily Baines is a young woman in the middle of an all-consuming war. In the far-off future, Matt Jackson is a young US naval officer in 2023 whose ship in the North Atlantic is under attack.

Lily works in the intelligence division of the war effort, intercepting encoded enemy communications to send to Bletchley Park. As a young woman swept up into the cacophony of the war whose work gives her a unique position on the frontlines, she is beginning to feel despondent. Not only at her position within the world, but at the fate of the war itself. Lily, who is praised for her work and adept listening capabilities, is torn between a sense of duty and a longing for the normalcy of her traditional English upbringing, her lost life as a debutante and a deep sense of melancholy for the lives lost fighting a seemingly endless war.

All changes as Quinn’s writing takes us across time when an anomaly in radio transmissions leads Lily to be privy to a series of communications taking place many decades in the future. Faced with devastation in her everyday as she diligently notes encoded messages which contain harbingers of death, Lily hears a distress signal as a US naval officer is attacked by an unseen Russian enemy, the violence paralleling the world war Lily witnesses acutely. Quinn portrays a young woman’s perception of a tragedy resulting in multiple deaths as a silenced witness, forced to listen yet paralysed by her position decades in the past.

This motivates Lily past her circumstances as she resolves to help this unknown American however she can. She is determined to rise to the situation, however improbable it might seem that she is able to communicate across time.

As Lily and Matt first miraculously communicate and trust is established, they work together to try to prevent the disaster Lily heard previously. Quinn writes their burgeoning friendship and repertoire stunningly well, capturing the essence of two characters thoroughly in a short story, resulting in a relationship with surprising depth.

The use of two time periods crossing over without linearity has the potential for shortcomings. However, Quinn writes each time period with eloquence and evident research. She highlights not only the prevalence and importance of young women within the war effort, but a connection which bypasses chronological time.

The Cheat Sheet by Sarah Adams

Review by Maddy McManus

A dancer and a jock? They say opposites attract and they weren’t wrong! The Cheat Sheet is a heart-warming rom com written by Sarah Adams that easily sweeps readers away into the lives of Nathan and Bree, long-term friends who both aren’t ready to admit their feelings for each other. A funny twist in the tale means Bree accidentally spills more than her beer one night and now the whole world knows about her hidden feelings for her best friend. The solution? Pretend to be in love for three weeks.

The main character being called Bree perfectly sets the tone for how cheesy you should expect this story to be. The books’ chapters jump from her point of view to Nathans and provide an even stronger desire for the two to become an actual real-life couple as we learn early on that they are secretly crushing hard on each other.

Bree is a loveable character who you immediately want the best for – especially after learning about her personal tragedy. Despite her past, she powers on with her dream of making being a ballerina accessible and teaches classes to underprivileged students instead. On the other hand, Nathan has achieved all of his dreams and is earning the big bucks, yet doubt grows as the story progresses about whether the life of a professional athlete is truly what he wants.

The fake dating trope comes out in full force in the plot, and we get three weeks’ worth of tender, swoon-worthy and electric moments between the two. The romance and the comedy are equally balanced. The laugh-out-loud moments in the story work perfectly without being cringey, but there are also moments where the two have to protect each other and that’s where the strength in their relationship particularly shines.

One of the best parts about this book are the side characters such as Bree’s sassy dance pupils who will stop at nothing to pester Bree about her new relationship with Nathan. My personal favourite characters were Nathan’s teammates and I enjoyed the dynamic they had with Bree.

The Cheat Sheet is advertised as “seen on Tiktok” and I can see why a teen audience would adore this book. A fun book full of tropes we all love to read, even if the genre might be a guilty pleasure. No one can resist a happy ever after.



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