Highlights in the Charts
Promise Me by Jill Mansell
Reviewed by Lauren Fardoe
Promise Me is a heartwarming tale brimming with endearing character archetypes, set against the charming backdrop of the picturesque Cotswolds. Weaving through semi-predictable yet thoroughly enjoyable adventures, Mansell’s artful storytelling keeps the reader engaged in the intertwining lives and captivating narrative.
The enchanting village of Foxwell comes to life through its quirky inhabitants. The rumour mill of this close-knit community works overtime: everyone knows everyone else’s business, and the main characters each bring their unique backstory, allowing readers to quickly slot them into their village paradigms. Lou stands out as the eccentric yet charming protagonist, embodying the essence of a hopeless romantic. Edgar, an eighty-year-old curmudgeon whose lack of social graces becomes Lou’s endearing project, is a challenge she is determined to conquer. Two pivotal figures, the conventionally attractive Remy and charmingly scruffy Sammy (two musically inclined brothers), further enrich the novel’s tapestry.
Lou embarks on a journey of self-discovery in the embrace of Foxwell. Her path leads her to the enigmatic Edgar, a recluse known for his standoffish demeanour. Lou’s decision to work for Edgar sets the stage for her mission to rekindle his passion for life. In her role, Lou uncovers the shadows of his past, unearthing remnants from his former life. Their connection adds layers of intrigue to the tale.
Simultaneously, Sammy contends with living in the shadow of his more polished brother. As the narrative unfolds, the interconnectedness of these stories forms the foundation of a compelling reading experience. Mansell’s trademark writing style brings remarkable depth to her characters, gifting them with rich backstories explaining their individual traits and quirks. While some aspects of these may feel slightly out of place, they ultimately contribute to the depth of the storyline. The novel’s focal point may be Lou, yet the interwoven plotlines create a truly immersive narrative.
Promise Me confidently stakes its claim as a heartening and witty read. Ultimately, it’s the book’s ability to capture the essence of camaraderie and community that ensures its place as an enjoyable literary offering.
The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
Reviewed by Marisha Puk
The Kiss Quotient is a TikTok bestseller with raving reviews.
Based around Stella, an econometrist who happens to have Asperger’s syndrome, the story begins with Stella’s mum demanding Stella meet a man – as she is ready for grandchildren. Stella, however, is not interested. Later, after a coworker points out that she is probably inexperienced in relationships, Stella embarks on a journey to love everything (and I mean everything) about relationships. She finds Michael, who is experienced in all things relationships and who becomes her “relationship teacher” in this sensual novel.
I particularly love how Hoang has managed to incorporate her Vietnamese heritage into the novel through Michael and his family. This gives the reader a very homey and realistic feel, adding to the verisimilitude of the novel. I have not read many books featuring neurodiverse central characters, and I found Hoang’s portrayal of such characters interesting. Hoang actually revealed that her inspiration for the novel was a blend of the film Pretty Woman and her experiences with autism through her own child, who doctors thought may have had autism when she was younger, inspiring Hoang to create a novel based around a neurodiverse central character.
Overall, I highly recommend the novel. It is spicy, but it definitely has a loving plot and an ending that does not disappoint.
The Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros
Reviewed by Maddy McManus
Move over, Rhysand, there’s a new book boyfriend in town…
Violet Sorrengail has been training all her life to excel in the quiet, bookish life of the Scribe Quadrant, studying history in the archives of Navarre. But her mother has different plans for her. As Commanding General at the dragon military school, Basgiath War College, Violet can’t refuse her mother’s demands that she join the trials to become a Dragon Rider. She must fly – or die trying.
Luckily, her sister Mira is a legendary and fiercely protective Dragon Rider, determined to help her survive the brutal trials leading to the Threshing, where rider and dragon are bonded. Her greatest piece of advice to ensure her survival is to avoid anyone who will kill her on sight for the crime of being her mother’s daughter… especially Xaden Riorson.
One of the most powerful wingleaders in the Riders Quadrant, Xaden, is the son of a rebel leader whom Violet’s mother was charged with killing. Their mutual hatred is sizzling. Throughout the trials, Violet continuously faces Xaden, and their inability to avoid each other becomes clear – whether sneaking around the college or clashing heads in classes, their connection seems destined.
Violet’s strength may not be physical, but she plays up her mental and manipulative powers, scraping through the trials and progressing to the Threshing, where Xaden and Violet’s relationship truly begins to change. As Xaden is tasked with helping Violet tackle the new world of dragon riding, they begin to see a different side to their former enemy. Truths are revealed, changing the way both view the Navarre they thought they knew so well.
With an enemies-to-lovers romance, badass action scenes and plenty of dragons, Fourth Wing is understandably dominating the charts and the BookTok scene. The follow-up title, Iron Flame, will be published in November and is no doubt likely to have a similar success story to its predecessor.