Tag Archives: U.K.

Solitaire by Alice Oseman (review by Hita T. ’23)

SolitaireSolitaire by Alice Oseman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sixteen-year-old Tori Spring, a cynical and pessimistic teenager, only likes her brothers Charlie and Oliver, her best friend Becky, blogging, and sleeping. Her life, to her, is uninteresting and dull, and as she enters Year 12 at Harvey Greene Grammar School (more commonly known as Higgs), she expects nothing interesting to happen. However, everything changes when Solitaire struck.

Solitaire, an anonymous organization, starts to run pranks in Higgs and what begins as a few minor pranks leads to more large scale events. Tori’s life is suddenly turned upside as she and Michael Holden, an eccentric student who is new to Higgs, tries to find out who is behind Solitaire. However, the answer might be closer than she expects…

Told in the perspective of Tori Spring, Solitaire, a YA novel, captures the life of an English teenager living in today’s era. Solitaire required a second reading from me as it did not exactly engage me the first time, but when I read it the second time around, the plot twists and the mystery had me on tenterhooks until the very end. -Review by Hita T ’23

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All Clear by Connie Willis (review by Connie M. ’17)

All Clear (Oxford Time Travel, #4)All Clear by Connie Willis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

All Clear is the second half of the time travel Blackout/All Clear duo by Connie Willis, set in World War II. While I found Blackout a bit frustratingly repetitive in places, All Clear was a whirlwind of plot twist after plot twist, with an emotional range of unfathomable despair to shock to tentative joy. Willis will leave you gasping aloud in both excitement and frustration as the three main characters attempt to return to 2060 from WWII. Willis leaps back and forth between different times, places and characters, thus weaving in an element of mystery (pay attention to the date printed at the beginning of each chapter). Blackout and All Clear are must-reads for any time travel or historical fiction fan, but as a message about the strength of the common person undergoing unimaginable hardship and sacrifice, these two novels would be enjoyed by anyone.

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The Crystal Fountain and Other Stories by Malachi Whitaker (review by Andrew R. ’17)

The Crystal Fountain & Other StoriesThe Crystal Fountain & Other Stories by Malachi Whitaker
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Sometimes being forgotten is almost an honor in the literary world. It’s an invitation to be rediscovered decades after one’s death, then to enjoy revival as a cult favorite before breaking triumphantly back out into the mainstream market. When I read my first Malachi Whitaker short story, “Landlord of the Crystal Fountain,” I was sure I’d stumbled upon one of these forgotten masters: despite the near-impossibility of finding any of her work, which hasn’t been collected since the mid-1980s, the story’s flowing language (not to mention its intriguing title) indicated that Whitaker’s work deserves much more attention than it’s been given. The Crystal Fountain and Other Stories is one of very few collections by Whitaker that’s still in circulation, so I sought it out and devoured all its stories over the course of a few days, searching for the quality that had made the title story so appealing. What a disappointment to discover that the other stories were nearly indistinguishable in their plots: rural Britain, lonely working-class woman, innocent dreams developed for several pages then suddenly crushed. That’s not to say the stories weren’t enjoyable, but, unlike “Landlord of the Crystal Fountain,” they weren’t quite worth the effort taken to procure them. – Andrew R. ’17

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Very Good, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse (review by Soham K. ’17)

Very Good, Jeeves! (Jeeves, #4)Very Good, Jeeves! by P.G. Wodehouse
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another of P.G. Wodehouse’s hilarious classics, replete with all the wit and wisdom one could desire! In fact, I often doubled over laughing while poring over each sparkling page. Very Good, Jeeves comprises eleven extraordinarily funny stories, highlighting the exploits of Bertie Wooster and his resourceful valet Jeeves. From extricating Bertie and a cabinet minister from an island inhabited by unusually vicious swans to successfully intervening in yet another unlikely romance, Wodehouse maintains the extremely high standards established in all his other books and epitomizes British wit – pleasantly acerbic without being crude or cynical. I enjoyed this book tremendously and would recommend it to most readers. – Soham K. ‘17

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The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling (review by Anika J. ’17)

The Casual VacancyThe Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In the small British town of Pagford, the death of Barry Fairbrother sets off a chain of events that change everything. He leaves behind an empty council seat, commonly referred to as a casual vacancy. Immediately, Cubby Hall, Simon Price, and Parminder Jawanda begin vying for it, causing a social war between factions in town. Families and friends turn against each other, and nobody knows whom they can trust. Personally, I lost my interest near the end because it felt like too much detail was included and unnecessary conflicts had arisen. The novel starts as a comedy but soon evolves into a grim tragedy. A few of the events were a little too depressing for my taste. On the other hand, J.K. Rowling paints a perfect picture of what it would be like to live in Pagford. In general, I enjoyed Casual Vacancy and would definitely suggest it to someone looking for a long yet eventful read. – Anika J. ‘17

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