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DNF: Manhattan Beach

Manhattan Beach: A Novel - Jennifer Egan

I received a copy from Netgalley.

This is one of those books that's out of my usual comfort reading zone but sounded really good so I thought I would give it a try. It's not that I hate it or anything, I did actually like most of what I read, the setting was interesting and so were the characters but it's been well over month since I last picked this book up and don't see myself doing so any time some. Something I may pick up again at a different time - I didn't dislike it or anything I just seem to have lost interest for the time being.

Thank you to Netgalley and Little, Brown Book Group UK for approving my request to view the title.

Review: The Broken Girls

The Broken Girls - Simone St. James

I received a copy from Netgalley.


I love boarding school mysteries. Especially ones where there is a mix of past and present. The mystery of this one was what caught my interest in the synopsis. A journalist who can’t get over the murder of her older sister at an exclusive boarding school is still haunted by the brutal crime. Still stalking the grounds of the now closed school.


And discovers a body in a well. On the same grounds. To make things worse…the school is reopening.


The present chapters are the main character Fiona investigating, still troubled by her sister’s death, despite the fact that the culprit was caught and imprisoned and remains in prison. She seems to think there was something more to it. Despite being told to let it go. Of course, she won’t. Her police officer boyfriend seems to be slowly losing patience with her obsessiveness into this murder.


The past chapters tell the stories of a group of girls who all attended the boarding school in the 1950s. The school was a stowaway place for unwanted girls – from a mix of poor families and wealthy ones with secret daughters they wanted to keep hidden. The teachers were all cruel, the rules were strict, and there were frightening stories of a ghost haunting the grounds and the buildings. There was at atmosphere of mystery, gloom and unpleasantness. The girls in one dorm all around the same age, were all very different yet managed to bond and eventually share secrets.


One of them disappears.


Fast forward to modern times and Fiona’s investigation. She’s a journalist and convinces her boss to let her write a story on the upcoming revival and reopening of the school, allowing her more freedom to dig into the events surrounding her sister’s death and subsequently the discovery of the dead girl in the well.


To be perfectly honest I really didn’t care much about Fiona or her side of the story. She was likeable enough, but everything felt just a bit bland and cardboard cut-out. She reminded me of the same sort of journalist I’ve seen in TV movies – strong willed and independent, smart in some circumstances but irritating in others. Obsessive where she doesn’t need to be which of course leads to discovering secrets that dangerous people want to keep hidden and will go to any lengths to make sure things stay that way.


What really interested me was the 1950s story of the girls at the school, their histories and secrets and how they came together, the mystery when one of them disappeared. There were no obvious suspects which didn’t help matters. And the body went undiscovered for so many years.  The more Fiona digs in the more unanswered questions she finds. What leads to the truth is was really surprising.


There was a good sense of atmosphere and mystery, and the plot was fairly fast paced and made for a pretty good page turner. The writing was good, and made the story flow really well and easy to picture and disappear into the narrative. While I’ve already said I didn’t care for the main character, I still really enjoyed the book. I always find it a mark of a really good book when I don’t like half the characters but still really enjoy the story. I would definitely pick up something else by the same author.


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

Review: Enchantée

Enchantée - Gita Trelease

I received a copy from Netgalley.


I love a bit of French history, after obsessively watching three seasons of Versailles, and the recent BBC adaption of Les Mis, this book was pretty much a must have for me. It did take a long time for me to get through it, but I did really enjoy it.


The unique mix of French history and magic mixed together in a fascinating way I’ve never seen done before. And it was completely gripping. The heroine Camille lives with her frail sister Sophie, and her asshole of a brother Alain. Their parents have died and the family are struggling to make ends meet in 18th Century Paris. The conditions of the area they live in is harsh, Sophie designs luxurious hats at a specialty shop through struggling with her health, while the brother is a gambler and a drunk, also nasty and violent and a thief. He has a nasty habit of stealing what little funds the sisters can scrape together and using for himself, despite the fact they are on the verge of eviction if they can’t pay their overdue rent ASAP.


The form of magic is described as dark and petty, magicians in this book have a bad rep and their type of magic in the day and age now is frowned up on and kept hidden by those who could do it. Camille’s mother could practise and she taught Camille. Though there are consequences to using magic – blood must be spilled and it has serious long term effects on the wielder’s physical body and health.


When Alain steels the money Sophie and Camille have put together for their rent, out of desperation Camille turns to some dark “La Magie ordinaire” using a blood work spell to enchant an old gown and transform herself into a beautiful baroness. She can turn card tricks and use la magie to turn the cards to her advantage, therefore earning enough money for her and Sophie to live comfortably. So heads off to Versailles to charm the court and get into the gambling halls.


Of course it’s not as easy as it sounds. She finds herself drawn into the glamorous and dangerous world of court gossip, gambling and politics. And it’s not long before someone is on to her secret. It’s tough to know who to trust and Camille must keep her wits about her before her charade comes tumbling down.


In her regular life an accident with a carriage leads Camille to a group of scientist boys her age who are trying to build a hot air balloon. She becomes entranced in the group and the balloon itself, one of the charming boys in particular – who also turns up in her new group of friends at Versailles.


I loved Camille as a heroine. She was strong, quick witted and determined. The book was brilliantly written, plenty of intrigue and increasing angst and worry as the plot took more dramatic turns, the revolution is starting to happen, the poor are uprising and the streets are dangerous. The atmosphere was tense and nail biting in some situations and dramatic without being over the top.


And there was a delightful barely there romance where you just want to shout and Camille and the boy involved “JUST KISS ALREADY!!” An interesting mix of characters as well, some strong friendships developed, and some nasty villains. This book had everything I look for in an epic fantasy and I loved all of it.


This was a brilliant book and I highly recommend it.


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

DNF: Revelations 12:12

Revelations 12:12 - David De Freitas

I received a copy from Netgalley.

I snagged this one when it was a Read it Now title as the concept sounded interesting.

And it was an interesting idea. Small town where everyone knows everyone, woman gives birth and a mysterious doctor shows up last moment to help with a difficult home birth. Then things start happening - when the boy grows up and hits his teens the strange doctor starts appearing again, but no one knows who he is. There's no record of a doctor anywhere by that name. There was a gift given at the time of birth of a special bible, with a creepy message, and something apocalyptic hinted at. The mother asks her local priest to look into this.

Problem was it was just so flat and uninteresting. The characters were all cardboard with no depth whatsoever, and the dialogue was so stilted and unrealistic. All tell and no show and very very boring. Calling it quits and DNFing.

Thank you to Netgalley and Troubador Publishing Ltd for the review copy.

Review: The Poet X

The Poet X - Rosa Elizabeth Acevedo Marin

I received a copy from Netgalley.


When I initially requested this one I didn’t realise it was a novel in verse. I normally don’t like novels in verse at all. I’ve never been a poetry person at all, really. The only novel in verse I have read I didn’t like much.


That being said, however, this book just blew me away. I completely loved it. It took a bit of getting used to the style of the poems. Every page more or less had its own poem, and those poems told the story. The words were just so…incredibly powerful. I don’t know how else to describe it.


Xiomara’s voice was just amazing. I can’t even begin to relate to Xiomara’s circumstances, but her words were just mesmerizing. Her mother is a deeply religious woman who seems to want Xiomara to follow in those footsteps. In her parent’s eyes X’s twin brother Xavier can do no wrong. He’s smart and goes to a special smart kid school different from X’s high school. X’s only friend seems to be her church buddy Caridad whom she has known forever. Forced by mom into taking confirmation classes at church X isn’t really into it. She starts to have questions.


She’s not allowed to date, and because of how she looks she often gets picked on by boys and has become very tough in defending herself. Yet when she’s paired with a boy in her bio class she starts to notice things about him, they have similar tastes in music and start to get closer and bond. Into a more than friendship thing.


Which she knows if she gets caught will raise hell with her mother. Her struggles with her desire for the boy and fear of her mother echo in her poetry. She wants to do normal things and doesn’t think kissing a boy is wrong. It’s not. But her upbringing tells her differently.


And then her English teacher mentions a poetry club. She’s noticed X has promise in her writing. But poetry club clashes with confirmation class. X rarely shows her poems to anyone. (Her poems are awesome! I can’t say enough times how much I loved the pure, raw power of this girl’s voice).


Of course before long things go wrong. And it’s just heart breaking. After everything this girl goes though, at one point she just stops talking to everyone she knows when her trust is betrayed. I felt so bad for her. I just wanted things to get better. The pain in her silence comes through in such anguish. Yet she gets the chance, finally, to make her voice heard, and it’s just wonderful.


There’s so much emotion packed into this book, the characters. It’s just such an amazing story. There are not enough ways I can say how much I loved this novel.


Thank you to Netgalley and Egmont Publishing for approving my request to view the title.

Review: When I Cast Your Shadow

When I Cast Your Shadow: A Novel - Sarah Porter

I received a copy from Netgalley.


If I could give this book 0 or minus starts I would, it was really that bad.


It’s been a long time since I’ve read a book I have actively hated so much. I’m all for diving into dark fiction every now and then but this book was one of the worst, most absurd things I have ever read. It made no sense whatsoever.


Normally I would just say to hell with it if I don’t like it and DNF, which made it all the more irritating because even though I hated the story and loathed the characters, I wondered if A) it would get any better or B) I would be able to work out what the fuck was going on.


Unfortunately, neither of these things happened.


The premise was what caught my attention, I’ve read a previous book by the same author, which was a little weird, but I liked it. As I said, I do like dark fiction every now and then. So why not try it? The story follows New York based teenage twins Everett and Ruby whose eldest brother Dashiell died recently of an overdose.


Ruby was completely besotted with Dashiell to something boarding on reverence. (I’m half convinced there was something else going on there as well.) They were both totally obsessed with each other. Ruby was completely blind to Dashiell’s flaws. He was an addict, charming and manipulative and could convince her to do anything, long after he’d been thrown out of the house. The father was a workaholic, their mother left years ago. Ruby was an idiot. A sycophantic moron who couldn’t see the danger around them. Her brother Everett was possibly the only remotely likeable character in this. The more straightforward, sensible of the pair.


Something seems to allow Dashiell to come back from the dead in a spirit form where he can possess a body if he murders it and can live in it’s skin. At least that was my understanding. So naturally Ruby is the first person he goes to. Which is squicky enough in itself. Yet when Everett notices something off about Ruby and when she’s not possessed she tells him Dash came back he thinks she’s lot the plot. And before long Dashiell has convinced Everett whilst possessing Ruby that he could possess him instead. He can have one or the other.


And does some pretty vile things whilst wearing Everett – including visiting his old girlfriend whilst in Everett’s body and getting her into bed. She doesn’t know Everett is possessed, of course. Which is pretty much rape – she consented to Everett, not Dashiell. If she doesn’t know Dashiell is the one riding the front she gets no say in that. And that’s pretty fucking disgusting.


On top of all this there’s some of sort Land of the Dead plot where other ghosts are walking around, and Dashiell has pissed off the Big Bad who runs the show. And comes after him for revenge.


The whole thing was bizarre, twisted. Way too many characters, all of whom had no personality and were just pretty horrible people. It was beyond fucked up and just an awful, awful novel. Nothing made sense and it was pretty much one of the worst things I have ever read.


Thank you to Netgalley and MacMillan-Tor/Forge for approving my request to view the title.

Review: When The Lights Go Out

When The Lights Go Out - Mary Kubica

I received a copy from Netgalley.


The premise of this one caught my attention and made me want to request it. A girl’s identity is called into question when she finds her name is on a record of deceased people. With an alternate story of a woman’s decision some 20 odd years ago that might be the cause of it.


For the most part, this was actually a pretty good book. Jessie Sloane has lived with her single mom her whole life then mom gets sick and dies. Jessie has spent most of her life caring for her. She suffers from terrible insomnia which plagues her for days at a time during this difficult period.


I liked Jessie as a character, she was tough and seemed fairly smart and logical given her terrible circumstances. She knew how to look after herself. Applying to college for financial aid she discovers Jessica Sloane is deceased. Bringing on a whole host of panic and desperate search for answers as to what the hell her mom was hiding and where it all went wrong and how could she have never known this before?


The second story line follows Eden and her husband Aaron. The one thing Eden wants more than anything is a baby, but Eden seems to be unable to conceive. Which puts a huge strain, both emotional and financial on what was otherwise a perfect relationship.


Eden’s story was hard for me to relate to, as a woman who has no interest in rearing children, her obsession was just something I couldn’t get my head around as a reader. Yet as the novel progressed and Eden’s chapters went on I did find myself empathising with her. No matter what this poor woman tried nothing was working. And her best friend who came to visit has two or three noisy children she always brings with her and is pregnant again. It was heart-breaking for Eden. But as things go on and get more difficult Eden’s desire for a child becomes all consuming. She works at a hospital and is often going to the new baby ward. She drops hints that she did something terrible and it doesn’t take a genius to figure it out. At least that’s what the story seems to want you to think, anyway.


Meanwhile Jessie is struggling to find out what happened and why “Jessica Sloane” is deceased. And how did she get this girl’s social security number? Made worse and worse by the fact that she just can’t sleep and her mind is going round in circles. She doesn’t know what’s real or what’s not anymore. It’s all pretty compelling stuff. And definitely becomes a page turner.


This is a huge spoiler but it pissed me off so much and ruined the whole book for me and I need to rant about it.


It gets to the point where Jessie can’t cope anymore and you start thinking dear god what else can go wrong for this poor girl, how is this ever going end? And then the book does what every English teacher told me in school was the poorest way you could end a novel ever. “And then I woke up and it was all a dream!” At the start of the novel Jessie is with her mother in the hospital on her death bed. She won’t leave her mother’s side and has been there for days. A kind doctor gives her something to help her sleep. Understandable. But then the combination of stress and drugs give Jessie this epic nightmare. And that’s all it was. A nightmare.

(show spoiler)


I mean…for fuck’s sake. All of that…all of that and to have it ruined with that. It just felt like such a huge let down for what was otherwise a really good book. The truth about Eden’s story is revealed as well, and thankfully that wasn’t as infuriating. It actually turned out to be nothing like what I thought it would be.


Great potential but ruined by a rubbish twist. The end itself wasn’t that bad, really. But that twist just pissed me off so much.


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

Review: Lady Mary

Lady Mary - Lucy Worseley

I received a copy from Netgalley.


I did wind up buying a finished copy for this one. I saw it whilst browsing in the bookstore. And the cover was just lovely. A green cover with gold accents and a princess silhouette. Caught my eye right away and I just had to have it.


I have a weakness for anything Tudor related, I’m completely fascinated by anything related to Henry the 8th and his six wives. This one looked interesting as it was charting the history of Catherine of Aragon’s daughter Mary. Might be interesting to see things from Mary’s point of view, starting from when she was a young child to her early twenties.  


Unfortunately, I just didn’t like this novel much at all. It felt like a history lesson, and a boring one at that. It was very much tell and not show. And I may be a bit biased as Anne Boleyn is my favourite Tudor wife and she is portrayed as very much a villain and a vile woman with little more grace than an ambitious whore in this one. Which I really did not like.


But then again, I can understand, Catherine was the first wife and Mary is her daughter and while Mary finds herself reluctantly understanding that kings, like her father have mistresses, this one is becoming very prominent in his life and it will be impossible to like her from Mary’s point of view. Mary has always idolized her father, and when he starts changing and pushing Mary and her mother aside for this new woman, things change.


Mary does go through some horrible things as she gets older and has to deal with the loss of her princess title, being manipulated and shut out, separated from her mother and everything comfortable and familiar, to dealing with new people she doesn’t know who don’t respect her…it’s pretty awful.


Though again, as this was being told it felt like it was all tell and not show. I can certainly empathise with Mary but I didn’t feel an emotional connection to her character at all. The whole thing felt very boring and long winded.


Not for me at all in the end.


Thank you to Netgalley and Bloomsbury Publishing PLC for approving my request to view the title.

Review: The Girl King

The Girl King - Mimi Yu

I received a copy from Netgalley.


I was so excited when my Netgalley wish was approved as this title was one of my most anticipated of early 2019. And I got it early.


And….it’s another one I honestly don’t know how I feel about it. I read the first half of the novel pretty quickly. The world building was interesting, and I loved Lu’s fierceness and determination to stand against the male dominated norms of her society. She was convinced her father the Emperor would name her his heir. She was a strong warrior, smart and determined, if a little headstrong. She certainly had an attitude about her, but it suited her character pretty well.


Of course the start of a 500 page plus fantasy novel, it’s never going to go as smoothly as this awesome girl is going to get what she wants and become the first Female Emperor. Lu’s mother is cold, horrible and manipulative. And clearly has an agenda of her own planned. Lu’s father is kind of passive. He’s a decent man but easily swayed.


So naturally Lu is absolutely livid when she finds herself betrothed to her moronic cousin Set and Set will be the emperor. Set is a jackass to say the least. Power hungry and dumb as a bucket of rocks.  The other main character in the novel is Lu’s younger sister Min. Min is the more reserved sister, favoured deeply by their mother, Min is a proper, demure lady who at first seems happy to do as she is told.


Furious at her father’s decision to make Set emperor Lu formulates a plan to get him to realise Set is the wrong choice. Which of course goes hideously wrong and before you know it while Lu is out of the palace the emperor mysteriously dies and Lu is wanted for his murder. Thrusting Min into a spotlight she never expected.


Min discovers she has secret magic, Set has a companion – a priest of sort who can help Min train her magic and help Set win over the empire. Min’s mother is all for Min getting together with Set. Min discovers countless twists and secrets in her new position. Her power is ever growing and in ways no one thought she was capable of. Min realises she doesn’t have to do what everyone always tells her.  There was so much more to Min as her story developed and I found myself routing for her as she grew over the course of the novel. She discovered inner strength and determination of her own. She could be just as powerful and manipulative on her own.


Lu meanwhile finds herself forced to make an uneasy alliance with a strange boy, Nok, whom she remembers from her childhood, a brief encounter but brief enough to make an impression. Nok (as far as he knows) is the last survivor of a race of magical shapeshifters. Who were exterminated by Lu’s family.


There’s a rumour of mystical race hidden in the mountains, people of immense power and a great army, and both Lu and Set seem to think that they can get these people on their side to cement their claim to the throne. Set by sheer force and domination, Lu by negotiation and determination. With Nok’s help. Of course, none of this goes according to plan and nothing is as it seems.


I really liked the magic system and the mythical side of things. Lu and Nok also showed incredible growth throughout, their views changed, and while some aspects of their personalities of course remained the same, (they wouldn’t be so interesting otherwise) they showed brilliant strength in their own ways.


Some of the novel dragged a bit, and all the things going wrong seemed a like one terrible thing happening after another and it did get a bit boring towards the middle with Lu and Nok’s story. Min’s story helped bring the novel out of its lull and things started picking up again towards the end. Which was unexpected. A cliff hanger of course. But I definitely want to know where this story is going.


Excellently written with some lovely imagery, and some interesting world building. It wasn’t without is problems but definitely an enjoyable read and would recommend for fantasy lovers.


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

Review: Flight of a Starling

Flight of a Starling - Lisa Heathfield


I received a copy from Netgalley.


I have no idea if I liked this one or not to be perfectly honest. I didn’t dislike it, but I don’t know if I actually liked it. I snagged this one on a bit of cover lust more than anything reading. And I have a weakness for anything with a circus based theme.


It follows the story of twin sisters Rita and Lo who are the trapeze act in their family’s travelling circus. They move from town to town performing. Rita is the more responsible sister, while Lo is the more rebellious ones. They’ve known the other circus kids their whole lives and are a pretty close knit group.


I did find it totally fascinating how daily life within the circus group was portrayed, who was responsible for what, how the act was performed, the story behind it, was all really interesting. There was a deep sense of togetherness and family community.


However, when in one town, Lo makes friends with an outsider boy, things start changing. The girls are not supposed to have relationships with outsiders. The group moves all the time and the girls are essential to the act. Their father flat out forbids it. So Lo starts lying and sneaking about to be with this new boy she meets, Dean. Who’s nice enough and doesn’t judge her background. He presents a “normal” view of everyday life that she’s never experienced. And Dean’s life is not an easy one.


As they get to know each other more, the relationship changes and becomes something more romantic. Lo’s views start changing, her behaviour starts to change. Rita’s worried about her, and has her own drama when she starts falling for one of the much older men in the circus group, a very close family friend. Lo can’t understand it as Rita can’t get why Lo’s change in attitude. Then Lo discovers a shocking secret about the man Rita is convinced she’s now in love with.


Which adds a whole new element of secrets and family drama. There were some beautifully written passages as their girls struggle with their situation, thought provoking and emotional.


Then the novel takes an unexpected and quite devastating twist. It’s hinted at right at the beginning that something terrible happens and as I read a long I had sinking feelings I knew what was going to happen, but turned out it wasn’t anything like I thought it would be. And that made it all the more heart-breaking and surprising. A bitter sweet ending rounded the story off.


I wasn’t blown away by the novel, and as I said at the beginning I honestly don’t know if I liked it or not. It was…interesting to say the least.


Thank you to Netgalley and Egmont Publishing for approving my request to view the title.

Review: Words in Deep Blue

Words in Deep Blue - Cath Crowley


Another one I was lucky enough to snag from Hatchette Children’s on Netgalley (and another one I somehow managed to lose the review file and bought a finished paperback for).


I think this is a case of I liked the concept of this book, I loved the supporting characters, but I completely hated the main characters for most of the book. The book is an Australian based YA, telling the story of two main characters, Rachel and Henry.


Henry’s family own a popular second hand book stop, and have this wonderful thing called a Letter Library, a section of the bookshop stuffed with books that aren’t for sale, but where customers can put letters in the books where anyone can pick them and read them, and maybe write back. This was such a wonderful concept, there’s something about writing a letter where you can express yourself in words that you would never be able to say to someone’s face. Rachel and Henry were best friends, but Rachel has been crushing on Henry for years and never told him. When her family has to move, Rachel leaves a letter for Henry in his favourite book in the Letter Library telling him how she feels.


By this time Henry has a girlfriend, the beautiful Amy, who Rachel doesn’t really like much or get along with that brilliantly. Henry never finds the letter. Fast forward to school being over, Rachel is suffering from a family tragedy and struggling to cope, she hasn’t told any of her friends about what happened and is keeping everything bottled up inside. I found Rachel aloof, cold and rude. Yes, I get she’s going through something terrible and I could certainly empathise with her, but I really did not like her as a character at all. Her attitude grated on my nerves.


Rachel comes back to her former home town to move in with an aunt. She finds a job at Henry’s family’s bookshop. She hasn’t spoken to Henry since she left and he never found her letter. Henry meanwhile, is moping over a broken heart. His beloved girlfriend Amy has broken up with him, just weeks before they were scheduled to go on a round the world trip together. Henry can’t get over it, he can’t figure our or understand why Amy had ended the relationship. 


Out of the two characters, Henry was marginally more likeable than Rachel. He was friendly and approachable, though he spent most of the novel pining over Amy and basically acting like a love sick moron. It got very annoying very quickly.


One thing I really loved about the novel was the supporting characters. Henry had a wonderful family, his mom and dad were active characters, as was his sister George. Rachel’s aunt was also wonderful. The two of them had the same friends, and some additional characters came in, and I loved them all. I just didn’t like Rachel and Henry (or Amy and her douchebag new boyfriend). 


The more time they spend together the more Henry realises he might have feelings for Rachel, and Rachel finally finds herself dealing with some of the stuff she’s been going through and talking about it, and therefore finally able to get to a place where she can be comfortable with herself and move on. 


It was well written, and very easy to picture what was going on. As I said, I just did not like the two main characters at all. There were some lovely emotional parts towards the end, but it wasn’t really enough to give this book a wow factor for me. It was just okay. 

Review: Girlhood

Girlhood - Hachette Childrens Books, Cat Clarke

I received a copy from Netgalley. This was one I got with my Hatchette Children’s auto approvals. I had heard of the author before, but never read any of her books so I decided to take a chance on this one. 


Trigger warning - anorexia. 


Then between changing Kindles and changing iPhones I managed to loose the original review copy file and ended up buying a finished paperback (along with several others by the same author).


I have a weakness for boarding school stories, particularly ones that promise a mystery. I was sort of expecting one girl vs the mean girl gang. But the main character Harper seems to actually be friends with some of the girls who form one of the popular cliques. It’s a fancy private school where very rich people goes. Harper’s family recently came into a boat load of money. Also suffering from a terrible family tragedy where Harper’s twin sister died recently as well, Harper needed a change of scene so found the boarding school.  She’s made friends and just about coping. 


Harper was a likeable enough main character, though she had a few flaws and could do some crappy things and wasn’t always the brightest bulb in the box, but a decently rounded character that was well fleshed out. She’s also dealing with terrible guilt believing her sister’s death was her fault. The sister was anorexic.  They both started a post Christmas diet at the same time and one took it more seriously with tragic consequences.  Anorexia isn’t something I’ve come across in YA fiction before, and it’s not something I can even begin to wrap my head around. Harper’s grief and guilt are gut punch. The writing packs a punch and can be emotional without being flowery about it. 


When new girl Katie comes in Harper finds herself connecting with Katie, despite the issues her other friends seem to have with the girl. Katie is quiet and keeps to herself, she only seems to connect with Harper. Misunderstandings and misinformation start passing around and with any girls boarding school, the girls can be very nasty when things don’t go their way. Harper finds herself torn when things start going wrong, stick to her own group of friends, stand with Katie...disagreements and arguments start and its hard to tell the truths from the lies. 


It’s a very compelling read and at times quite tough to get through emotionally. Not the most complex book I’ve ever read but definitely interesting. All the characters were interesting, even the ones I didn’t like much. I was rather surprised at how it all turned out in the end, certainly not what I expected, and I’m actually quite pleased on reflection, that it was different to what I thought.


Definitely recommended if you like YA boarding school books. 

Dnf Blanca and Roja

Blanca & Roja - Anna-Marie McLemore

DNF I have no clue what’s going on in this one. And not invested in the characters enough to want to read more and find out.

DNF: Red Harvest

Red Harvest (Haunted Hollow Chronicles) - Patrick C. Greene

Calling it quits on this one.


I really wanted to like it as it had everything I like in small town horror. Characters from the normal to the weird, a sense of community in a place where there's history, everyone's known each other a local Halloween tradition, a family with a creepy secret. It's clear something is going to go very wrong very quickly.


I'm losing patience with the story, there's too many characters to keep track of and it seems like too much going on. My other major problem with this book is how poorly it's edited. Random words are missing from sentences or in some instances entire sentences are missing and while with most you can get the idea of what's going on, it's annoying and jars you out of the narrative. I've had enough, DNF. Not for me.


Thank you to Netgalley and Kensington Books for the review copy.

Review: The Towering Sky

The Towering Sky - Katharine McGee

I received a copy from Netgalley.


I finished a trilogy!!!!


This will be a super short review because it’s going to very hard to avoid spoilers as this is the conclusion of an epic series.


A satisfying ending with all the questions and lose ends tied up.


We finally get the will-they-won’t-they answer to Rylin and Cole. Leda and Watt get a conclusion and start looking towards their futures. Watt has some pretty tough choices to make regarding his education and his super computer implant Nadia. Leda has some demons to deal with and amends to make for her crappy behaviour. The secrets between Avery and Atlas finally come full circle. Not, of course, without it’s drama. Calliope and her con artist mother have their work cut out for her when one Calliope’s former marks, who happens to be Cole’s older brother Brice turns up hot on her heels. But things take an unexpected turn. Avery makes a life changing decision.


Same epic world building and emotional drama as the first two. Glitz and glamor, romance and betrayal, questionable motives and morals abound. What’s not to love? As with the other two, it doesn’t take any great effort to enjoy this, it’s fun and easy to read and great ending.


Thank you to Netgalley and HarperCollins UK Children’s.

Review: The Hunger

The Hunger - Alma Katsu

I received a copy from Netgalley.


I’ve been morbidly curious about The Donner party ever since I read Stephen King’s The Shining where The Donners are referenced. I looked it up – it was a true story, a disturbing one, but a true one. So I was really looking forward to this book as soon as I heard about it.


I was really excited when I got my review request approved, and when I started reading, I liked it so much I bought a finished copy after a few chapters and read that. This one took a while to get used to the style of the writing. There were an awful lot of characters to keep track off, some got more detailed back stories than others. It was hard to keep track of who everyone was.


But the more I read the more fascinated I became with it. There’s a real sense of history and how hard it was for the people making the trek to California. The hardships they went through. The relationships between the people is well written. It’s brutal as well – not everyone is going to get along, obviously, so many people have so many different thoughts, feelings, opinion, violence will breed, love, lust, obsession, hatred…


The author does a brilliant job of capturing a storm of emotions. As well as putting a spooky twist on the story.


It did drag a bit in the middle, but as conditions slowly started getting worse and seeds of mistrust and doubt deepened amongst the people, the story picked up again and was unputdownable towards the end, and quite frightening as the winter hit really bad.


A hard book to read in parts, but so, so worth it. I loved it. And would definitely read it again.


Thank you to Netgalley and Random House UK, Transworld Publishers.