The Love Curse of Melody McIntyre – Robin Talley

Rating: 4 out of 5.
This is very different in terms of style than the books I’m usually reading, but I really enjoyed it nonetheless. I found the writing to be refreshing and perhaps that’s due to it being YA, but it’s definitely also down to the writer.

Melody is the stage manager for the performing arts productions at her high school. She’s known as a serial monogamist, even as a junior. Like most people involved in theatre she follows a number of superstitions and her crew manages to convince her that for the sake of their productions she needs to be single or the curse will strike again.

Odile is the school success story. She’s already been to Broadway, featured on some TV shows and is up for a movie. She returns to school for her senior year, adding a certain star quality to the school musical.

The majority of the book explores the things that take place in order to put on a musical – in this case Les Miserables. I love musicals, did perform in them at school, but have managed to not somehow not see Les Mis, so some of the references went over my head a little bit – but it didn’t hinder my enjoyment of the narrative.

Both the narrative surrounding Mel and Odile falling for each other, and the storyline of the curse and the production itself work really well, especially when they intertwine. Naturally as the book centres on a group of teenagers there are some moments of drama but none of it feels out of place or overblown.

All of the characters, even the bit part ones, fit in the narrative and despite the large ensemble I was able to keep track of who was who – which is an achievement on Talley’s part as far as I’m concerned. I also really enjoyed the diversity throughout the book.

It’s a longer book than I was expecting, but I still read it one sitting as it became quite the page turner and was very disappointed when it finished.

I received an e-ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Rainbow Race – Cate Summers

Rating: 4 out of 5.
This was a really sweet novella about a summer camp for girls with a secret LGBTQ friendly side.

I liked the main character Eleanor, her ability to bring people together and her almost grown up before her time attitude. Yvette was interesting in that despite the fact she is introduced early and it’s clear Eleanor likes her, her quiet nature means she probably doesn’t speak as much as some of the secondary characters – keeping her enigma persona.

I’m sure writing a book that incorporates lots of different characters in this kind of environment is a big challenge so I’m really glad to be able to say that Summers does this really well. The incorporation of the cabin groups and the team events opens up lots of opportunities for different interactions.

I also really liked that the book explored all the things that teenagers might be worried about, from family, to getting into College, to how to pay for College, whilst still keeping a positive tone to the narrative. There’s a lot of humour amongst the more serious topics too.

When Eleanor and Yvette do get together, I loved that it didn’t suddenly change who they were, they both continued to undertake the relationship on their terms. The book ends in such a way that this could easily start a series, either about Eleanor and Yvette in the future – should the happy for now turn into happily ever after – or into a series about the camp itself.

I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.