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Review: The Roanoke Girls

The Roanoke Girls: A Novel - Amy Engel

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

I snagged a copy of this one when it was a read it now for the first 100 members. It promised some of my favourite tropes in novels – rich family, idyllic setting, dark twisty secrets.  This book has one of those annoying boats in the title tag line saying the most dark twisty shocking plot! However, this one did deliver on the dark twist.

 

My biggest issue with this (side from the really nauseating disturbingness of the plot twists) is that it was predictable. I’d guessed the Roanoke family secrets almost immediately. Anyone who’s ever seen Law and Order: Special Victims Unit could probably guess what’s going on here. I also guessed correctly who the killer was.

 

That being said, there was something utterly compelling about the story telling. I really liked Lane, the main character. Told in a then and now format, what happened when Lane was a teenager and went to live with the Roanokes after her mother committed suicide. Her grandparents and her cousin the same age as her Allegra. And the now chapters of what happens when Lane goes back as an adult after Allegra disappears.

 

Lane was by no mean a good, nice person. Not as a teen, nor as an adult. She was a flat out bitch, she was blunt and cold and didn’t even bother to hide the fact that sometimes it was easier to be cruel than to be kind. Despite her personality flaws, she made a very interesting character, and I kind of loved her. While her cousin Allegra was your typical spoilt rich girl. She could manipulate people easily, and wrap boys around her finger. She could convince you to do anything, regardless of consequences. She had a certain charisma about herself, despite the fact Allegra could be stroppy selfish and childish. She tells Lane about the sordid history of the Roanoke girls before them. All the girls in their family line - including both their mothers  - all got pregnant young and either ran away or committed suicide.

 

The Roanoke household is a big mansion and a farm run by its patriarch Yates Roanoke Lane and Allegra’s grandfather. He has an old world charm about him. Firm when needed without being overbearing, yet very witty, charming and always with a kind word and encouragement, while grandma is your typical blue blood grandma. Beautiful but cold and kind of passive.

 

In the summer in their teens Lane learns about farm life and meets Allegra’s current boyfriend Tommy, and his best friend Cooper. Tommy is your average small town good boy from a nice family while Cooper is the good looking dude with the shady family and bad history, he and Lane hit it off immediately and begin a relationship, more hooking up when they can than anything else.  

 

When Lane comes back to town as an adult she reconnects with Tommy, now married and a police office and Cooper, now a mechanic. The Roanoke house is still the same as it was when Lane ran away in her teens. With one exception. Allegra is gone. Lane searches for answers to what happened to her. Flipping back and forth between what happened that summer when she arrived and her investigation on return.

 

Also flittered into the novel is chapters on various Roanoke women and what happened to them either when they ran or when they died.

 

The writing is top notch, even though none of the characters are particularly likeable. The story telling makes you want to know what’s going on, what happened back in that summer, why did Lane run away, what did she learn about the Roanoke secrets. And when she comes back what happened to Allegra. Did she finally leave – was she murdered? What happened? It’s twisty and very disturbing in parts. The answers to the Roanoke secrets are actually in the text if you look between the lines. And it is sick. It’s stomach wrenching and utterly utterly wrong in very way possible.

 

It’s a pretty fucked up book but it’s excellently written.

 

Thank you to Netgalley and Hodder and Stoughton for the review copy.

Review: My Sister's Secret

My Sister's Secret - Tracy Buchanan

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

I came across this book whilst browsing Netgalley looking for something different to read. The synopsis caught my attention, and if I was flipping through channels and this was a movie I would have watched it.

 

I can’t say I found it particularly gripping or emotional. By half way through I was bored with the plot. I’m usually wary of books that claim things like “the most emotional gripping thing you will ever read!” (or along those lines) in a title headline. It’s always seemed unnecessary to me. Let the novel stand on its own and let the readers judge. Don’t bombard the title lines with crap like that. It’s annoying! (Certainly is to me, anyway). I don’t remember seeing that bit when I initially requested the title).

 

The story focuses on a then and now method of telling. There were initially three sisters, Hope, Charity and Faith who lived in a small English village by the sea, where they hung out with their mate Niall. In their late teens Faith is tragically killed in an accident, Niall the guilty driver. In 2016 Charity’s daughter Willow has returned to the cottage where Charity lived with Hope looking for some answers about her mother’s past. Charity had an interest in diving looking for underwater forests. So does her daughter. Aunt Hope is stingy with information and comes off as quite cold. Charity is deceased as well now and Willow has mostly been raised by Aunt Hope. Clearing out the cottage Willow finds some things about Niall and Charity and sets off to find out more, especially since Niall is now a big name in underwater forest diving and photography.

 

The then chapters tell the story taking place in the late 1980s of when Charity and Hope are living together running a little café in the same town they’ve always lived in. Charity still wants to do her diving, but it’s more a hobby these days, she’s a social worker whilst Hope is a budding poet/writer. The town is captivated by dazzling rich new comers David and Lana when Charity inadvertently winds up rescuing Lana from a car accident. Getting to know the couple, Niall winds up coming back into the picture and before long sparks are flying.

 

The novel flips between the stories of Charity and Niall, David, Lana and Hope in the past, whilst in the presence Willow is following in Charity’s footsteps going along what appears to be the same route Charity took in her youth.  There seemed to be a lot more going on in Charity’s storyline. She’s developing strong feelings for Niall which brings up a mess of emotion due to Faith’s tragic accident, which is Hope is furious about. Then there’s David, there’s intense chemistry between them, not helped by ditzy Lana who’s a total lush by this point with her own problems.

 

I did find the plot got a little repetitive. It’s the same troubling feelings for Charity over and over. I can understand where she’s coming from. Some of the little twists in Willow’s chapters are trying to be deep and emotional, and again I can understand why but there was just something missing for me. To be fair the twist at the end revolving around some secrets before and after Faith died were quite a surprise I didn’t see coming. One character was considerably more twisted than they appeared.

 

There was an awful lot of it about underwater forests and diving which kind of made my eyes gloss over a bit. Though there was some interesting info in the author’s note for those interested in looking into more about the subject.  I did like the sense of family and togetherness between Charity and her sister Hope, and later on echoed in the relationship between Willow and Hope. Though there was just something kind of “meh” about the whole thing for me.

 

It wasn’t really a bad book, just not my taste in the end, I guess.

 

Thank you to Netgalley and Bookouture for granting my wish to view the title.

DNF: The Mirror Sisters

The Mirror Sisters - V.C. Andrews

No stars.

 

Possibly one of the worst books I've read from the VC Andrews ghost writer. 22% in and the thought of anymore makes me want to cringe. It's about identical twins. All I'm getting is how identical and how special they are. And I'm fed up already. The mother is an overbearing bitch who wants her super speshul twins to be identical in every way down to thoughts. She's not allowing them to play with other children because they might disrupt the twin's special identicalness. It's the same thing over and over and over. It's ridiculous and I can't stomach any more of this book.

 

Thank you to Netgalley and Gallery Threshold, Pocket Books for the chance to view the title.

Review: Fireblood

Fireblood (The Frostblood Saga) - Elly Blake

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

This is one of those delightful fantasy series that the plot twists are actually pretty ridiculous and kind of laughable, but it’s just SO GOOD you can overlook how silly it really is because it’s so exceptionally well written and the characters are excellent. Definitely one of my favourite fantasy series of this year.

 

Review contains spoilers for the first book.

 

Picking up shortly after where the first book ended, Arcus is now King of the Frostbloods and Ruby is now a Lady living in his court. She still has the hideous Minax monster hiding in her mind and is on a quest to figure out how to destroy it. Her friend from the first book, Lady Marella is helping her with court etiquette. Despite the fact that the Frostblood curse and throne is gone, and the evil king Rasmus along with it, not all the nobles are over joyed with the changes Arcus wants to implement, giving the regular people more fair trade terms for farmers and such. And treat the Firebloods better. Ruby is still met with scorn and suspicion. But she handles it a lot better.

(show spoiler)

 

She’s definitely got a spark and attitude and a delightful snarky manor about her, given everything Ruby went through in the first book, she’s an incredibly strong and well-adjusted character and is definitely (in this reader’s opinion) entitled to her moments of moaning and temper. She’s smart enough to know and understand that everything isn’t going to go smoothly.

 

During a fancy ball, after an assassination attempt Ruby makes the acquaintance of a strange but handsome boy Kai, who has an interesting offer for her. He’s a Fireblood like her and can take her to the Fireblood island to meet with the Fireblood Queen. One of the new ideas Arcus is after is a peace treaty between the Fireblood lands and the Frostblood lands. The Queen didn’t respond to his invitations to the ball and talks. Ruby figures if she takes Kai up on his offer then she can be the emissary for peace talks. And she’s also learned that the book she needs to destroy the Minax in the library at the Fireblood palace. So another reason to go.

(show spoiler)

 

Of course there is naturally some suspicion there. Wouldn’t be that simple. (And of course if everything went according to the plan there wouldn’t be much of a book.) There’s a lot of arguing between Ruby and Arcus on this point which makes a lot of sense if you think about it. There’s not a lot of information on who Kai is, or if he’s really who he SAYS he is. Or what he’s really doing there. Is she just going to blindly trust him and believe what he says? You can understand Arcus’s reasons against it.

 

 

 

At the same time Ruby has the chance to learn more about her own people and her own powers, she’ll be with others the same as herself – Firebloods. You can understand as well why Ruby wants to see the Fireblood lands. It’s a well reasoned argument with good points from both sides, made more frustrating by the deep attraction and the love that the two have for each other. And it’s almost painful to read about for the two of them clearly care deeply for each other but both are damned stubborn.

 

So Ruby heads off for the Firebloods lands across the sea. Where she’s met with some disturbing home truths about how the Fireblood Queen really is. Kai of course has kept his own secrets and reasons for bringing Ruby to the island. She’s pissed, naturally, but that doesn’t stop the fantastic bantery flirting between the two of them. Leading to internal conflict inside Ruby because she still has strong feelings for Arcus. <

(show spoiler)

 

Ruby has to take trails to become a Master before she can get access to the information she needs. And nothing goes according to plan. As the training increases and the tests she has to pass become more and more difficult, she’s hit bit a number of startling revelations about who she really is and who her own deceased mother was.

 

The twists are a bit silly to be perfectly honest, but like I said earlier, this is such a brilliantly written book, the daftness of the plot which can be eye rolling at times, doesn’t particularly matter because it’s so much fun to read. Left at a cliffhanger (of course) for the final instalment. Which I am really looking forward to.

 

This is a fantastic series I can’t recommend enough. I’ve already pre ordered the last book.

Review: There's Someone Inside Your House

There's Someone Inside Your House - Stephanie Perkins

 

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

I was so excited for this book. It was one of my most anticipated releases of this year. I had pre ordered months in advance. I did a happy dance when my e arc request was approved early. Only to find this is one of my biggest disappointments of the year.

 

I really just didn’t like it much at all. Didn’t particularly care about the characters, wasn’t really that invested in the plot and the big reveal for the why of the whole thing was dull and anticlimactic.

 

It tells the story of Hawaiian teen Makani who has moved in with her Grandmother in a small town in Ohio. She has made some new friends, has a potential new relationship. She’s dealing with difficult parents who are in the middle of a bitter divorce, and is clearly hiding something bad that happened in Hawaii, the main reason she’s moved in with her grandmother.

 

A girl from the drama club has been viciously murdered, the small town is in shock and everyone’s gossiping about what could have happened and why. Before long another teen is murdered, a boy from the football team. So it continues. Random kids are dropping like flies in increasingly gory and violent murders. But there’s seemingly no connection between the victims. The novel focuses on Makani and her friends and her new love interest trying to figure out what’s going on, suspicions abound.

 

I just didn’t care. About any of it. I was bored. Teen slasher movies are one of my favourite things. Maybe I’m just jaded from having seen so many slasher movies raging from good to bad to what the fuck was that? It’s hard to compare not to compare this novel to a movie. That’s the feeling it gives.

 

Unfortunately, this book just didn’t work for me. Which sucks because this is one of my favourite authors.  

 

Thank you to Netgalley and Pan MacMillian for approving my request to view the title.

Review: The Hawkweed Prophecy

The Hawkweed Prophecy - Irena Brignull

I received a copy from Netgalley. An interesting quick read with a switched at birth plot with a magical twist. A UK based YA paranormal romance.

 

Teenager Poppy has always been awkward and never seemed to fit in anywhere. Whenever she gets stressed, angry or upset, strange things just seem to happen. And as a result Poppy keeps getting expelled from school. Even though she has no idea what happened most of the time. Doesn’t help that her dad is a workaholic and almost never home. Her mum had some sort of breakdown and is an institution convinced that Poppy is not her daughter.

 

Another teen, Ember lives with a coven of witches in caravans who live off the grid and by their own female only society rules. Ember is really pretty, sweet and innocent and made fun of by the other girls. She’s by far the worst witch in the group and seems to have little to no magical talent whatsoever. Her cousin Sorrel is the meanest of the mean girls. Sorrel’s supposedly destined to be the next Queen of the Witches. Sorrel’s mom Raven is the sister of Ember’s mum Charlock. T

 

here’s some sort of prophecy and Raven has interpreted it to her favour. The witches only take normal men as lovers in order to become pregnant, only the girls are allowed to live. They seem to know when its going to be a boy and the mother is given a potion which kills the baby in the womb before it can be born. Raven’s been manipulating Charlock with potions and spells to make sure if she gets pregnant it’s only ever boys that she knows will never be born. Until something changes and Charlock finds herself pregnant with a girl. Raven is furious at this, she wants her daughter to be the next Witch Queen so the two of them to conspire to make Ember as miserable as possible.

 

Which sucks because not only is it unecessarily cruel, Ember is really nice. Very naive, but good and pure and wants to believe the best in everyone. Ember has a secret little hang out just on the edge of the witch’s property. By chance Poppy finds her way there one afternoon and meets Ember. They become fast friends, a connection sparking between them immediately. I really enjoyed the friendship between Ember and Poppy. How they connected with each other, Poppy tells Ember about her normal ever day world and even though she’s not supposed to tell, Ember tells Poppy about hers. Poppy’s world suddenly starts to make sense. She becomes obsessed with magic and witches and convinced that that is why the things around her happen as they do.

 

While all this is happening Poppy meets homeless teen Leo when a couple of nasty men try to mess with her. Leo intervenes and saves her. I can’t say I really liked Leo all that much. Compared to Poppy and Ember he didn’t seem to have much of a personality, he seemed like a generic love interest with a tragic background, and didn’t do much, while Poppy and Ember and the other background characters all seemed to leap off the page and to life. Leo has an instant connection with Poppy and feels like they were destined to meet. It’s eye rolling YA insta-love at it’s best. Sometimes insta-love works, sometimes not and for me, this one was just annoying.

 

Poppy starts spending more and more time with Leo, and eventually brings him to meet Ember, who of course having never actually met a boy before is fascinated with him. Meanwhile, Sorrel has noticed Ember’s been sneaking off to hang out with Poppy and blabs to her nasty mother. So Raven has Sorrel spy on Ember to find out where she’s going. And Sorrel spots her with Leo. Next thing you know, Sorrel is suddenly consumed with jealousy. She’s falling for Leo as well.

 

The plot takes a few darker twists as Poppy learns more about magic and some home truths are revealed. Silly love triangles aside, this was actually quite a good read with some interesting takes on magic. I really liked Poppy and Ember as main characters, both were quite unique and full of life. She makes some interesting choices towards the end of the book. Some of the plot twists were kind of obvious right from the start, but either way, it was a well written book and I’m looking forward to seeing where this story is going.

 

Thank you to Netgalley and Hatchette Children’s Books for the review copy.

Reading progress update: I've read 100%.

— feeling big smile
The End of Oz - Danielle  Paige

I finished a series!!!!!

Review: Zenn Diagram

Zenn Diagram - Wendy Brant

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

I snagged a copy of this one when it was a Read it Now on Netgalley. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I wound up enjoying this book. Early on I very nearly DNFed, the concept just wasn’t getting through to me, and I found Eva’s young siblings incredibly annoying. As the novel progresses, the depth of the two main characters and emotional connection between them was pretty amazing.

 

Eva is math genius. She has a bizarre condition (possibly as a result of a car accident when she was a baby) where when she touches people, she can see patterns in the form of mathematical fractals that tell her things about people. She can see feelings in the form of colourful mathematical patterns that show her emotions about a person. She can learn things about someone by a touch. Which makes her very uncomfortable about touching people. With a gift like that you never know what you’re going learn. It’s understandably quite scary. And beyond uncomfortable to have this happen every time you accidentally touch another person.

 

She has a best friend, Charlotte, but doesn’t really interact with other people much. She lives with her mum and dad, her dad is a Pastor for a local church, and she has four quadruplet siblings all of whom are very young, very lively (and very very annoying at least to this reader).  Eva makes some money by offering to tutor kids failing in math.

 

One of the guys she tutors is popular sports star Josh whom her BFF Charlotte has an epic crush on. There’s a sweet little side plot about Eva fixing the two of them up. Which turns out to have a not so great impact on their friendship when the fix up is a success.

 

The second guy she tutors is moody but very hot artist Zenn. Zenn and Eva connect pretty well. They find themselves getting to know each other a bit more, helped along by an incident where Eva decides the church van her family drives needs repainting - Zenn is an artist. Zenn agrees to repaint the van. Zenn’s a really good artist.

 

As they get to know each other and Eva’s feelings deepen, at the same time she’s dealing with her friendship with Charlotte deteriorating. Now she’s dating Josh, Charlotte is instantly more popular than she’s ever been and doesn’t really seem to have much time for Eva anymore. There’s still conversation, but it’s sparse and not as frequent and they’re not hanging out or having lunch together as much as usual. Eva’s naturally disappointed but at the same time this allows her the opportunity to spend more time with Zenn.

 

Eva and Charlotte’s friendship is actually very well written and quite realistic, it’s not all over the top drama, there’s a certain amount of emotional turmoil, but also some really sweet bits as well.

 

Likewise with Eva’s growing relationship with Zenn. They take time exploring their feelings, Eva gets to know Zenn’s home situation which isn’t all that great. Parents divorced, Dad just come out of long term prison sentence, Mom is an alcoholic who goes from bad boyfriend to bad boyfriend. The mom was actually quite nice but not very bright.

 

Both are struggling with decisions of what to do after high school. Zenn doesn’t really see much option other than to work to support his mom who can’t really take care of herself, while Eva wants to go to college. But with four small children and herself, Eva knows money is tight, and unless she can get a scholarship or something, her MIT dreams are just that – a dream. As fun as the flirting and growing romance is with Zenn they have some serious discussions as well.

 

There’s a really surprising twist as well which impacts both Eva and Zenn’s parents greatly. Which also has a big consequence for Eva and Zenn as well, but they both have to decide whether they love each other enough to get past it. Eva’s touch ability works differently with Zenn as well, opening her to sensations and experiences she never thought she would have. It’s not all swoony romance, there’s some pretty serious drama.

 

A really excellent contemporary YA. I would definitely read another book by this author.

 

Thank you to Netgalley and Kids Can Press.

Review: Love and Other Man-Made Disasters

Love and Other Man-Made Disasters - Nicola Doherty

 

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

I snagged a copy of this one from my Hatchette Children’s auto approval at some point last year. It’s a cute light hearted contemporary, easy and quick to read, but only okay for me. There was nothing particularly outstanding about it.

 

It wasn’t a bad book by any means, just a little bland for my tastes.

 

It tells the story of 17 year old Juno who’s on a skiing trip with her family, her mum and mum’s second husband and her two annoying twin step brothers. Juno’s very nervous and seems to be freaked out about everything. She’d much rather spend her holiday at home with books and studying but her mum has decided she spends too much time studying and needs to get out into the real world. Juno would rather be anything else.

 

After a disaster at beginners skiing mum gets her private lessons from a good looking instructor who appears to be around Juno’s age nick-named Boy. The bulk of the story is Juno and Boy getting to know each other and become something more than friends. They have some nice snarky banter between them, Juno struggles with developing feelings for a romance that will probably go nowhere. At the same time she finds herself making friends with Tara, the young woman assigned to look after their cabin – cooking and cleaning, etc.

 

The novel deals with Juno’s worry at the increase of adventure in her life as she makes new friends and has new experiences at the same time dealing with her mum and her added new family. It had some fairly good emotional depth. Juno was a likeable enough character and the family interaction was quite believable.

 

Boy just irritated me, that name for one thing drove me up the wall. I’m guessing it was meant to be cute, but it was really just annoying. He wasn’t a bad character either, just had stupid name. You do actually learn his real name right at the end of the book and considering you can understand why he would have a nickname. But I didn’t like the nickname and that sort of sapped my enjoyment of the story whenever Boy was in the scene.

 

A quick contemporary read. Only okay for me. Not something I would read again.

Review: All The Missing Girls

All the Missing Girls: A Novel - Ms. Megan Miranda

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

This will be short review because I read this some weeks back and to be perfectly honest I remember very little about the book other than I really didn’t like it much. The mystery itself of what happened to the two missing girls so many years apart under the circumstances was interesting enough that I actually did finish the novel.

 

From what I remember about the plot the main character is coming home to help her brother with the sale of their family home after their father has moved into a nursing home. The first girl who went missing some ten years ago when the MC was a teen was her best friend at the time. Sometime after she’s arrived a second woman goes missing, this woman had always been on the fridge of the MC’s group of friends when they were growing up.  The first missing girl, the best friend, was outgoing, lively, popular and a colossal bitch who knew how to push everyone’s buttons. The police investigation was limited as it’s a small town and she’s an 18 year old girl with a reputation. Possible she just said to hell with everyone and ran off.  But her legacy is still present in the town as a few of the friends of the MC and the girl are still living there.  The second woman who went missing has a faint connection to the first girl and to the MC. There’s connections there, and the MC finds herself digging into what happened to the second one, bringing up memories of the first girl and figuring out the connection between the two disappearances. And managing to ruffle some local feathers while doing so of those who would rather just forget about the first girl. Getting herself reacquainted with old friends and people she’d put in the past as well.

 

The actual writing itself wasn’t bad at all, nice and descriptive, the area and the setting were easy to picture. Unfortunately, I can’t think of anything about the characters that really stood out. In fact I can’t even remember their names. I certainly didn’t like any of them.   The biggest problem I had with the novel was that the method of storytelling was immensely confusing, told in a backwards fashion, counting backwards in chapters. Which I didn’t get at all. To be fair the actual reveal of what happened was fairly surprising, I didn’t guess at all before-hand.  

 

While I do like mysteries, this one just didn’t work for me at all. Thank you to Netgalley and Corvus, Atlantic Books for approving my request to view the title.

Review: Bad Girl Gone

Bad Girl Gone: A Novel - Temple Mathews

 

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

Oh dear. This was a hot mess of a book. I really didn’t like it much at all. For the post part it was okay, but then something at the end made me really want to throw something at it.

 

This book tells the story of teenager Eileen “Echo” Stone. Echo has a pretty decent life. She has two loving parents, and her boyfriend of 2 years, Andy, practically worships the ground she walks on. Then one day Echo wakes up in a mysterious location after blacking out, a sort of boarding house/orphanage surrounded by weird and mean kids of various ages and a strict matronly type lady over seeing everything.  

 

Echo is very confused and tries desperately to convince everyone she’s not an orphan. So with the help of the good looking Cole, the only person being nice to her, Echo manages to escape and runs home. Only to discover to her shock and horror – a car passes right through her. She’s dead. And has no memory of how she died or the last few months of her life.

 

The plot of the novel revolves around Echo solving the mystery of her murder and coming to terms with her memories of her life – she’s not the good sweet girl she seems to think she was.  She also has to learn how to be a ghost. The place she’s stranded in is a sort of a half way point, the other kids staying there are all ghosts like her, who have been murdered. They have to find their killers and dole out justice before they can “pass over”. Each ghost has a unique ability. Echo learns this quickly on her first revenge outing with the other ghosts. Echo’s power is (unsurprisingly) the rare and unique ability to take over human’s bodies and learn their memories and secrets. Only one other ghost has been able to do this in the last ten years or so.

 

The plot doesn’t actually sound too bad. The different abilities of the other ghosts and their backstories were mildly interesting. The actual story telling came across to me as kind of bland and rather boring. And I can’t actually say I liked any of the characters. Echo was a brat. She came across as moody and entitled and more often than not I found myself wanting to slap her. Granted, it can’t be easy seeing people you used to know and discovering you’re not as well liked as you thought, and discovering disturbing things about yourself you had forgotten. But I really just had no sympathy for this girl.

 

The boyfriend was madly in love with her and is understandably heartbroken. Echo is watching him go through this, she can’t communicate with him. And his parents and everyone else are already telling him she wasn’t so great – get over it. Hard to do when you’ve been crazy in love for some time. And of course the really popular mean girl who snubbed Echo has her sites on him and Echo is jealous. Again, understandable. But after two or three interactions, she finds herself enamoured with Cole.

 

At the same time she’s feeling very guilty about it. You can sort of see why she might feel conflicted. She’s had the same boyfriend for years, he’s still alive and grieving, but she’s sharing smoochies and new experiences as a ghost with a hot new guy. It’s a fairly interesting predicament, love triangle with a paranormal twist. Problem for this reader is I just hated the characters and as I said earlier due to my severe dislike of Echo I had little to no sympathy for her.

 

The actual plot itself as Echo uncovers what happens to her, is quite intriguing and to be fair, quite surprising and disturbing when the truth about what happened is revealed. I didn’t actually guess or see it coming. The investigation is really what kept my interest as Echo and Cole with the help of the other ghost kids dig into Echo’s past and look at the suspects.

 

This is a bit of a big spoiler for the end of the book but it really pissed me off and I want to rant about it.

 

After solving the murder, Echo still hasn’t moved on. She’s decided she needs to say goodbye to the people who loved her. Mom and dad and boyfriend Andy. Okay. Makes sense. However, she’s decided the way to help Andy move on without her is find him a new girlfriend. Not to say her goodbyes, leave him alone and let him grieve, hopefully in his own time he’ll accept things, deal and move on. It’s only high school, he has his whole life ahead of him. No, Echo decides that he needs a girl to help him. He’s been flirting tentatively with Dani, the mean popular girl. So Echo decides she’s going to “help” them get together with her ghost powers.

(show spoiler)

 

Dani and Andy have a date. Dani has a more out-going style of dress and makeup tastes than Echo. So Echo spies on Dani as she’s getting ready. Dani’s really excited – but Echo knows Andy likes her to dress a certain way, do her make up a certain why. This really really pisses me off to no end. Why should any girl have to change their appearance to suit what their boyfriend likes if they like things done a bit differently? If he doesn’t like the way she dresses or how she does her make up, then it’s his fucking problem and he can deal with it or find someone else.

(show spoiler)

 

 

 So Echo hides the clothes and makeup she knows Andy won’t like. And Dani doesn’t seem to freak out or anything. She goes on the date in the clothes and the subtle make up Echo left for her. And it’s a success. So successful that Echo with her ability of possessing people has finally hit on the idea of possessing Dani so she can be with Andy again.  Why this didn’t idea didn’t circulate before in Echo’s mind is a bit beyond me. Especially since she’s been possessing people throughout the story to learn their secrets. Which would have made for a more interesting plot, with the moral implications of this decision. Which she deals with fairly rapidly.

(show spoiler)

 

 

This particular part made me really hate the book, which I already didn’t like much. It was definitely an interesting idea, the story and characters just didn’t work for me at all. It’s concluded but left with a possibility that it could be a series. I certainly wouldn’t read any more of this.

 

Not for me at all.

 

Thank you Netgalley and St Martin’s Press for approving my request to view the title.

Review: Daughter of the Burning City

Daughter of the Burning City - Amanda Foody

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

I had no idea what to expect with this one, and was pleasantly surprised to find out I completely loved this book. Definitely on my top ten for this year so far. Its premise and characters are so unique and interesting, and it appears to be a stand-alone, which is rare in YA fantasy.

 

This fantasy novel tells the story of Sorina, an illusion worker at the Gommorah travelling circus. Sorina has no eyes but she can see. She creates illusions. The illusions she creates are so real they have become almost as real as real people, to her, they are her family, and together they perform the carnival freak show. Each illusion has it’s own special ability. Sorina has also the adopted daughter of the festival proprietor. She is the heir and will take over running the whole show one day.

 

The festival is travelling across their land, they are from Down Mountain and travelling Up Mountain. The Up Mountain people appear to be the rich snobby people. There’s a war brewing between the two factions hinted at throughout the novel. Sorina’s illusions are being murdered. Each stop a different illusion dies and the novel tells the story of Sorina’s investigation into the Murderers and the truth behind the Gommorah Festival.

 

The writing is incredible, it’s quite a dark fantasy really. Sorina becomes enamoured with another illusion worker – a poison worker, Luca who’s unique talents make him impossible to kill. His show involves festival goers paying to try to kill him. The characters are all so different and well written. The plot is very twisty and impossible to predict. I was very surprised when the truth was revealed.  Sorina learns quite a few shocking home truths as her investigation progresses. The family connection was brilliant, how they all came together, not without drama and plenty of emotion wound through as various family members were brutally murdered.

 

Not a lot to recap as it would be really spoilery. There was hints of a romance but it wasn’t the sole focus of the plot and the characters were all delightfully diverse as well. Really interesting world building as well. A political undercurrent later on as the war brewing takes alarming shape. Morally questionably acts. It was quite violent in parts.

 

Over all it was excellently written. A fantastic read. I loved it so much I bought a finished hardback.

 

Thank you to Netgalley and HQ Stories for approving my request to view the title.

Review: Words on Bathroom Walls

Words on Bathroom Walls - Julia Walton

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

Never expected to get approved for this one and was quite surprised and pleased when I was. (I so rarely get approved by Random House). Really impressed with the book as well. (Always kind of makes me feel a bit guilty when I get approved for something by a publisher I don’t get approval from and then find I don’t like the book. Thankfully not the case this time.)

 

This novel tells the story of teenager Adam who suffers from schizophrenia. Adam has quite a unique personality, he knows he’s schizophrenic. He sees illusions, people who aren’t there but the interesting thing I found was while each of these illusions of his seem to have their own personalities and speak to him, he’s actually quite aware of the fact that these people aren’t real. They seem to be some form of emotion he can’t express.

 

The novel follows Adam as he struggles with his illness and a new experimental treatment drug and starting at a new private Catholic high school. Dealing with the bullies, the geek who winds up becoming a good friend and the girl he has a crush on who becomes a friend and something more.

 

The novel is told in diary entries through Adam’s therapy sessions – he refuses to speak to his therapist and writes down what’s been going on in his daily life. He’s got a brilliantly blunt tell it how it is attitude, and can be deliciously snarky. Added in some complicated family drama – dad not in picture, mom has new husband. The mom’s new husband was actually pretty decent if a bit dim. Though step dad’s mom was a nightmare.  Some interesting ideas on faith as well considering Adam attends a Catholic private school without being too preachy.

 

Quite realistically handled as well, I though. Some deep emotional turmoil, a sweet romantic storyline as well.  Well handled, without being sickly sweet, fair amount of drama, but not too over the top. Ups and downs, sad and funny. Likeable characters, believable parental involvement. A really good read.

 

Thank you Netgalley and Random House Children’s for approving my request to view the title.   

DNF: Cleopatra's Shadow

Cleopatra's Shadows - Emily Holleman

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

Comes under the category of sounded like a good idea at the time, but I can already tell after just a few chapters this is not one for me. Ancient Egypt is one of those historical periods that absolutely fascinates me, which is why I requested this novel. But I simply don't see myself sticking with it. Not rating because I've not read enough to really judge. 

 

Thank you Netgalley and Little, Brown Book Group UK. 

DNF: The Locksmith's Daughter

The Locksmith's Daughter - Sharmila Cohen, Karen Brooks, Karen Brooks

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

I snagged a copy of this one when it was a Read It Now on Netgalley. This was a case of it sounded like a good idea at the time. I was looking for something different than what I usually read and this one caught my attention immediately. I'm quite fascinated with Elizabethan period drama but I'm just not getting into this one. I'm not rating because I don't think I've read enough to rate, just enough to know that at the moment it's not for me. I may pick it up again at another time.

 

Thank you Netgalley and Harlequin (Australia), TEEN / MIRA.

DNF: Defy the Stars

Defy the Stars - Claudia Gray

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

Another one I was really looking forward to but after about 100 pages turns out I just don't like it. I'm not interested in the plot, there seems to be a bit of a religious theme at the beginning which I really didn't care for at all. I'm not connecting to the characters, and after not being overly thrilled at having to read more, I called it quits. Just not for me.

 

Thank you to Netgalley and Bonnier Zaffre for approving my request to view the title.