Review: One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston

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Goodreads | Waterstones

For cynical twenty-three-year-old August, moving to New York City is supposed to prove her right: that things like magic and cinematic love stories don’t exist, and the only smart way to go through life is alone. She can’t imagine how waiting tables at a 24-hour pancake diner and moving in with too many weird roommates could possibly change that. And there’s certainly no chance of her subway commute being anything more than a daily trudge through boredom and electrical failures.
But then, there’s this gorgeous girl on the train.
Jane. Dazzling, charming, mysterious, impossible Jane. Jane with her rough edges and swoopy hair and soft smile, showing up in a leather jacket to save August’s day when she needed it most. August’s subway crush becomes the best part of her day, but pretty soon, she discovers there’s one big problem: Jane doesn’t just look like an old school punk rocker. She’s literally displaced in time from the 1970s, and August is going to have to use everything she tried to leave in her own past to help her. Maybe it’s time to start believing in some things, after all.

I think I’ve finally found it. Between The House in the Cerulean Sea and One Last Stop and Afterlove, I think I’ve finally found my favourite type of book. It’s the magical realism, the found family, the tragedy, the rip-your-heart-out-and-put-it-back-together-again type of book. It’s pure magic.

Put simply, I loved One Last Stop. It perfectly portrayed all of the things I have recently discovered I love about books. It was beautiful and heartbreaking and heartwarming all in one. It had a delightful mixture of strength and love and found family. A mixture of loneliness and togetherness. Of finding others but also yourself. I’m so glad I read it.

But, you know, that feeling? When you wake up in the morning and you have somebody to think about?

I both listened to and read One Last Stop, and I loved both experiences. I enjoyed Casey Mcquiston’s writing a lot more in this one than in Red, White and Royal Blue, and I found it translated to audio really well. The narrator was wonderful and perfectly portrayed the wittiness, love and hope of August’s story. Some of my favourite books have been read with a mixture of audio and physical reading, and this one was no different.

I loved August and Jane and the whole diverse cast of characters surrounding them. August felt vulnerable and real but I also found her really likable, and Jane was so easy to fall for through August’s eyes. I also loved how Jane gave us insight into the past, giving us a way to discuss LGBTQIA+ rights throughout history, and how that feels. I absolutely adored the entire cast of characters, especially the found-family in August’s flatmates and their friends. All of the characters had their own depth and backstories, conflicts and interests. They felt authentic and lovely.

Somewhere for hope to go? It’s good. Even when it’s bad, it’s good.

The thing I loved most was the impossibility, or at least improbability, of this book. It meant that truly anything could have happened, and this book could have gone down many different roads. It left me reeling with emotion but also feeling like my heart had been slowly pieced back together. I rooted for August and Jane every step of the way and I certainly won’t forget them in a hurry!

★★★★★
5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: The Falling in Love Montage by Ciara Smyth

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Saoirse doesn’t believe in love at first sight or happy endings. If they were real, her mother would still be able to remember her name and not in a care home with early onset dementia. A condition that Saoirse may one day turn out to have inherited. So she’s not looking for a relationship. She doesn’t see the point in igniting any romantic sparks if she’s bound to burn out.
But after a chance encounter at an end-of-term house party, Saoirse is about to break her own rules. For a girl with one blue freckle, an irresistible sense of mischief, and a passion for rom-coms.
Unbothered by Saoirse’s no-relationships rulebook, Ruby proposes a loophole: They don’t need true love to have one summer of fun, complete with every cliché, rom-com montage-worthy date they can dream up—and a binding agreement to end their romance come fall. It would be the perfect plan, if they weren’t forgetting one thing about the Falling in Love Montage: when it’s over, the characters actually fall in love… for real.

I’ve been wanting to read this book for a while, and it really didn’t let me down. This book had a similar trope to fake-dating but with a twist, and I loved it. It was witty, clever and laugh-out-loud funny, but with deeper, dark moments too. It was fun, but also so much more emotional than I expected.

As someone who is moving slowly and cautiously away from YA fiction, especially contemporary YA fiction, I definitely need something with a twist to keep me interested and on my toes, which is exactly what The Falling in Love Montage did. This book was about that part of the rom-com film where the couple goes on dates and have a cute montage of them, well, falling in love. It’s the bit after the meet-cute and before the devastation, and it is exactly what the main characters of this book had planned for the summer.

“See, the thing about the falling in love montage,” she said, her voice hoarse,

What I expected from this story was a cute, summer romance. And I’m not saying it didn’t provide that, because it did, but it became so much more. I had tears in my eyes from reading about Saoirse’s story, which was a lot darker than I expected. Not only did she have a messy relationship and friendship history, she also had a mum with dementia who was only in her 50s. This really hit me harder than expected, and although I have no experience in the subject, I felt like it was written very well. I connected to Saorise a lot throughout this story, and the situation with her mum brought me close to tears at various points.

Saorise is a bit of an arrogant, stroppy teenager throughout this book, but I kind of loved it. Her witty comebacks were so funny, and her sarky attitude to life was highly entertaining. Even when you wanted to throw the book across the room at her decisions, she was completely self aware at how she was acting, which made it work. Also, she kind of has enough justification for being angry about a lot of the crap she has gone through. Her voice was unique and so was the writing style, which showed her thought processes really well.

“is that when it’s over, the characters have fallen in love.”

It was also lovely to see a YA book set in Ireland and with so many mentions of Irish culture. It is definitely something we don’t see a lot of in YA and really made this book stand out – it was such a joy to read about!

Overall, this was a really lovely story with a fun summer romance and also some emotional discussions. It was incredibly well written and unputdownable, and was a lovely journey to go on even if it was a little predictable in places.

CW: Dementia

★★★★
4.5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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