I received a copy from Penguin First to Read.
I went into this book not really knowing anything about it. It flagged my attention because I remembered if from my TBR list. I wasn’t expecting such an emotional gut-wrencher.
It starts with teenager Audrey wakened by firemen knocking on her door and some ungodly hour of the morning informing her of mandatory evacuation due to a raging wildfire. Audrey lives in Orange County, California. Her dad is out of town on a business trip and her mom and younger sister Maya have gone somewhere (I can’t remember where) for some really exclusive ballet audition for Maya. Audrey stayed home and went to a party the night before. It’s clear something happened there and she may be a tad hungover.
Naturally she’s completely freaked out and running around trying to figure out what to save, to get hold of her dad. She can’t bear the thought of freaking out her younger sister before her big audition. Also extremely worried over her boyfriend Brooks who is a volunteer firefighter.
What follows is an emotional roller coaster as Audrey comes to terms with the raging fire and how it’s effecting the people in her life. Also with flashback chapters on how she met Brooks and how their relationship developed.
It’s excellently written and the emotion pours out of the characters. Audrey comes across as a bit of a shy loner, with one best friend Grace. She doesn’t seem to get out much and feels a little left behind since Grace got a girlfriend, Quinn. Audrey works with Grace’s older brother Hayden on some AP projects for a class they’re in together. They’re friendly but you also get an impression something happened there as well that Audrey’s trying to avoid dealing with.
She meets Brooks at a party and they strike an immediate connection. He’s a loner as well, there’s gossip about him Audrey’s heard throughout the school grapevine but Brooks is nice and she doesn’t want to listen to rumours. Especially since they seem to be getting on so well. They start hanging out more and more and develop a deeper relationship going from friendship to something more romantic.
Audrey misses some red flags when Brooks’s behaviour starts changing. He’s got a complex past, his beloved brother died, he’s struggling to deal with it. Understandable. He can get her to talk, but doesn’t always seem to divulge much information about himself and gets annoyed and angry when asked about it. That should raise a few questions on its own. He doesn’t seem to like Audrey hanging out with her friends. He makes a scene about it when her friends show up at a birthday celebration for Audrey. He also seems kind of pushy about sex as well, especially since Audrey’s made it clear she wants to wait until she feels ready. Yet at the same time he can be very romantic as well.
The chapters switch between what is happening the day of the evacuation and what happened over the summer leading to that point. As Audrey gets closer to Brooks she starts ignoring her own friends, and there’s big questions about what happened to Brooks’s deceased brother. Audrey gets some pretty shocking information. Yet she still can’t seem to think of much else.
There’s also a really great family dynamic as well, Audrey and her sister are really close and their relationship with their parents is decently described as well. The parents are involved without being overbearing and not pushed to the background.
There was a surprising twist in regards to the wildfire as well.
Beautifully written and really emotional as well, this was a quick read but a very good one. Definitely an author I would read again.
This was a really good book. I found it fascinating to see something written from the point of view of a Muslim character. I found the author’s note at the beginning quite moving as well. Sometimes author’s notes can be annoying or preachy, but this didn’t feel like that at all. The harsh reality of it is an eye opener and something to make a reader more aware.
I can’t judge how accurate the representation is (I am a white lady) but I found it very interesting. Maya’s family is the only Muslim family in her small Ohio town. She is the only black student in her high school. Maya is bright and bubbly. She has dreams of being a film director. She makes her own movies, mostly family stuff, mainly weddings and big events.
The novel opens with Maya filming a big Indian wedding. Which seems fun and very colourful. Her parents are quite strict and have a set idea of what they want for her future - go to college, become a lawyer, marry a nice boy from a good Indian family. Maya wants to go to film school in New York. She doesn’t quite know how to tell her parents. She has an ally in her aunt, her mother’s sister who never married and lives her own life quite comfortably. She’s more of a role model for Maya than her mother. Mother can be very overbearing and doesn’t seem to get the fact that her teenage daughter likes her privacy.
Maya actually meets a nice Indian boy at the wedding, a young man named Kareem, a college student, their parents are thrilled. One thing this novel had in abundance – descriptions of Indian food that makes your mouth water. I love Indian food. So these descriptions always made me smile and want to gobble whatever was being described. Maya also finds her long term school crush, popular boy Phil finally starts paying attention to her.
Phil’s nice and friendly, though he has a popular ex-girlfriend and her cronies who don’t seem to know that the relationship’s over which creates angst for Maya. She and Phil have great rapport and develop a believable friendship. At the same time she’s spending time with Kareem as well. Chatting with her best friend as well.
The dialogue is believable, the characters fleshed out well. Maya is likeable main character, and her struggles are easy to understand and identify with. While there’s some cultural differences as she has difficulty getting to grips with her parents expectations and her own desires. At one point it all seems like everything’s going to work out.
Then there is a terrorist attack. And Maya and her family have the same surname as the prime suspect. And is subjected to shocking treatment. Her parents’ business is vandalized, she is bullied at school. Her parents start tightening the leash again. Her dreams are defeated. It’s just heart-breaking to see the treatment she gets and it’s awful. She’s done nothing wrong. Her family have done nothing wrong.
A wake up call for Maya as she finally decides it’s her future, and it’s up to her – not her parents. Her parents reaction is a little over the top (at least in this reader’s opinion) given their own history and how they came to be in the United States. It’s sad as well, but at least Maya has her aunt there to support her and help.
Gut-wrenching at times, sweet at others, funny in some moments, this was a really enjoyable book. Believable concluded as well. Definitely worth reading and an author I would like to read more from.
Thank you to Netgalley and Bonnier Zaffre /Hot Key Books for approving my request to view the title.
An okay YA mystery novel. I read the first 20% or so then the rest of it in a couple of hours the following evening. It tells the story of Maggie who’s perfect boyfriend Joey dies in a tragic accident whilst they are hanging out with their group of friends.
Joey was handsome, witty popular and friends with the most popular kids in their grades. Maggie was sort of on the edge for years and started becoming part of the group when she dated Joey. Maggie was with Joey just before he died, they were doing some stupid jump of a cliff into the lake below stunt, and something happened. Only now Joey’s dead and Maggie can’t remember what happened.
The group are interrogated by police and parents about what happened but no one has any answers. It all lies on Maggie who seems to be so traumatised she can’t focus or remember on anything that happened at that time. She can remember up to a certain point and then some time afterwards but is blocking the actual event.
The focus of the novel is Maggie grieving over Joey’s death and trying to figure out what happened, reflecting on her relationship with Joey and her friends. Joey’s best friend Adam is by Maggie’s side and the most supportive, joker Pete doesn’t really seem to want to know what’s going on, party girl Tanna is there to lend a hand and popularity queen Shannon seems to be taking Joey’s demise harder than Maggie herself.
Of course everyone is looking at Joey through rose-coloured glasses. This particular reader thought Joey was a dick. He was a massive douchebag. Cruel, manipulative and two faced. This came through as the story progressed and the reader learns of some of the things going on with Joey that Maggie never knew about.
Maggie’s voice is believable, and she was a likeable enough lead. I didn’t get a particular sense of emotion or closeness to any of the characters or the story itself. It was a fairly fast paced read. It was interesting enough and the story was quite compelling and well written enough that I needed to know what happened. Given the events of the book when the questions are finally answered the were no overwhelming surprises at the end. At least not for me.
I liked seeing Maggie finally getting the cloud lifted and realising she can move on with her life and finally seeing the truth about some of the people she thought were her friends. Ultimately it’s a novel about dealing with grief when a loved one passes, and how friendships can change and how people can change and grow.
Well written and while this particular book wasn’t necessarily something I would read again but I would definitely read something by this author again.
Thank you to Netgalley and Sky Pony Press for approving my request to view the title.
I received a copy from Netgalley.
I must be a black sheep on this one. Most of the reviews I browsed through were fairly positive, there was a handful of one stars but no actual reviews. It caught my eye whilst browsing Netgalley because I like revenge themed books featuring famous people with glitz glamour and potential murder. When I looked it up on Goodreads and saw that the author was compared to the British equivalent of Jackie Collins that pretty much sealed the deal for me.
I thought it was one of the stupidest, most annoying books I have ever read.
I didn't find it glamorous or captivating or anything. The characters were unremarkable and annoying with maybe one exception and it was nearly 70% into the book before the reason all these people were brought together was finally explained. It started out okay, the frost problem I had with the book was that the review copy I was reading on my iPad kindle app had an appealing font which wouldn't go out of bold which annoyed the hell out of me. I ended up buying a finished copy with a sensible font I could read properly. At this point the book still had my attention to want to know the what was going on.
The premise was interesting enough, a bunch of people have been invited to the opening debut of a new snazzy restaurant by popular celebrity chef Dexter Franklin in St Tropez. It's all expenses paid as well. It becomes obvious immediately that bringing this particular group together is a disaster waiting to happen. It's also made clear right away that each person invited to the opening have history with Dexter and pretty bad history at that. The tag line hinted at murder so the interest for me was who do these annoying people is going to get bumped off first?
Two members of a former squeaky clean girl group Crazy Sour, who had a massive career as pop idols for teen girls until one of them, Holly, fell into drugs and drink and ruined the band and destroyed everyone's careers. Holly wound up becoming a high class prostitute and raked the cash in until she got caught up in a scandal with a politician and the whole thing came crashing down around her, again. She’s an utter bitch, out for number one and doesn't seem to give a fuck about anyone else other than herself. Of course, she's got a few secrets of her own which sort of explain her deplorable personality and the defensive attitude she displays. She had a hot fling with Dexter at some point and it didn't end well.
The other girl band member Mew, I got the impression was supposed to be the sensible smart one of the group. She and Holly rubbed each other the wrong way. There wasn't much mentioned about the third member of the band or there than she wasn't all there. I think the only reason she wasn't brought in on this little trip was she didn't have anything going on with Dexter. When Crazy Sour failed Mew made her fame and fortune by winning a celebrity cooking show hosted by Dexter. There was a big scandal when it was discovered that Mew was screwing Dexter behind the scenes. Mew went on to have her own cooking career and wrote best selling cookbooks. Mew brings her assistant/agent Olivia along on the trip complexly oblivious to the fact that Olivia is head over heels in love with her. Of course, neither Holly nor Mew know the other has been invited.
Leland Franklin, Dexter’s older brother. The two brothers never got along. Leland is actor who made his name as a hunky TV action adventurer star who thinks he’s the best thing since sliced bread and God’s gift to women. A better than thou jerk who thinks the sun rises and sets on him, and completely unfaith to his supposed long term girlfriend. To the point where he brings some fame hungry American girl he picked up and has been screwing on the side, the girl who was notorious for having once been a hooker on the trip. Leland’s supposed actual girlfriend is a Brazilian actress Rosita Velazquez. She's a huge star in her own country and wants to break into other markets and she's convinced that dating Leland will raise her profile. She's outlandish and takes over the top to a whole new dimension. Neither knows that the other has been invited to Dexter’s restaurant opening. Rosita has her own complex history with Dexter.
Finally DC Riding, a restaurant critic. Openly gay and friendly DC is probably is the only likeable character amongst this lot. He had a failed try at producing a big broadway production. He's had some not so pleasant things to say about Dexter’s restaurants before. He’s into really kinky sex stuff as well and doesn't seem to care where it comes from and is quite happy to pay for it.
A few other minor characters are introduced who wind up having fairly decent rolls as the plot goes on.
The bulk of the novel is all these characters arriving in St Tropez and their reactions to each other. Which in the most case are not happy reunions. It's drama drama drama. They've all worked out there must be something going on. Dexter hasn’t made an appearance yet. Most of his chapters up to this point are reflections on his relations with the other characters and hints of something big that's going to happen. By this point I am bored to tears with the book. I lost interest in the drama between the characters, the bitch fest between Holly and Mew, Olivia pining over Mew, Rosita and her ridiculous attempts at making a name for herself, Leland who I despised right from the start and remember very little about. The only fun chapters were the ones from DC Riding.
Opening night approaches and the reasons for bringing these particular people together were finally revealed. Over 70% in and no ones been killed. What happened to the murder hinted at in the tag line and why is these thing called Revenge?
So…who did it? More secrets are revealed and more past information comes to light.
One thing I did actually like at the end was how the women came together to defend each other when found in a dicey situation with the killer.(show spoiler)
Not enough to salvage the book for me, but something about it I actually liked.
There was a brief what happened afterwards conclusion detailing where each of the main characters when after the eventful opening night of Dexter's restaurant. Most of them had shown some sort of growth over the novel and some found new relationships, new friendships and new directions in life.
This wasn't a page turner for me, nor was it a gripping thriller at all. I found myself skimming a large portion of the middle. It had its moments but in the end just not for me. I’m not really interested at all in trying anything else by this particular author. Every now and then I try something different from my usual type of book but unfortunately this one wasn’t for me at all.
Thank you to Netgalley and Bookoture for approving my request to view the title.
I received a copy from Netgalley.
I snagged this one as a read it now title. I'd heard a lot of buzz on this book and to be honest it didn't really interest me having seen a lot of Firefly comparisons and I've never seen an episode or been interested in the show. But then I saw it as a read it now and I've enjoyed the authors work before so figured why not give it a try?
I tried. It was certainly creative, an interesting take on time travel agencies. The hero of the novel is an anomaly who was born outside of time - his mom was a famous pilot and on a job when it happened - and the hero has gained a somewhat infamous notoriety. He’s charming, witty and snarky though appears to have an attitude with authority. Nothing particularly new there where YA heroes are concerned (at least not to me anyway). Dude has done his training and is ready to take his final exams so he can become an official part of the space and time program that run the show.
Left with little options he finds himself taking a risky job of basically going through time and retrieving select objects requested by the boss for huge sums of payment. He gets to pick his own crew and name his ship. Each crew consists of the captain, the historian, the doctor and the math guy. Bonus points for diverse characters. The only really memorable character for me was Imogen the historian who changed her hair colour every day.
During a mission a new comer hijacks the object the the crew are after sending the mission into a tailspin. And causing of course, all sorts of other problems. Something to do with parallel words comes up half way through and at this point I sort of lost interest and started skimming. The technical side and sciencey side of things were a little bit too much for me and I got rather bored.
I found the plot getting rather silly by the end as well and rolling my eyes a lot. Though one interesting thing about it was it was a standalone which is really rare inYA sci-fi. Everything concluded though it was left with a possibility that it could continue. Some times sci-fi with time travel works for me, sometimes not.
Unfortunately I just didn't like this one much at all.
Thank you to Netgalley and Little Brown Books for Young Readers for the chance to view the title.
I received a copy from Netgalley.
A fun twisty YA mystery novel.
The heroine, Candi “Skye” Thorn, goes by her middle name “Skye” (can’t say I blame her there) does tarot reading for her classmates at school as a way of making some extra cash. She and her best friend Drew have this idea that when they graduate they’ll finally be able to ditch their small home town and head off to New York and live in an apartment together. BFF comes from a wealthy family, Skye lives in a crappy apartment with her mom and money is an issue.
So Skye has a regular job and reads tarots for extra cash. Skye is fake, she reads off intuition and good guesses. She’s not part of a crowd, pretty much a loner and has a somewhat blunt personality I quite liked. She’s a lot more down to earth than most girls her age, and has a fairly logical sense of reality. (I.E. not all convinced that this dream of going to New York is really going to happen) Skye does come across as rather cynical. But given her circumstances it’s believable for her character arc. Her mom is actually convinced she is a real psychic. And appears to be kind of a flake.
When a popular, rich girl of a local very important Judge, Paige goes missing, Skye starts having “psychic” visions relating to Paige and her disappearance. She winds up working with the police one really grumpy and dismissive detective and one who seems a lot nicer and more inclined to listen to what Paige has to offer. Especially when some of Skye’s “visions” start panning out and yielding actual results. Basically the old good cop, bad cop routine. And of course Skye’s mom is thrilled her daughter is exhibiting “psychic” abilities. And eventually Paige’s parents come into the plot. Along with an angry ex boyfriend of Paige’s who doesn’t believe a word of what Skye says and is convinced there is more going on.
He’s not far wrong.
Skye has gotten herself involved in something that turns out to be darker than she had ever imagined. Initially it seemed like a good idea to make a bundle of money. Only the drama has escalate and things are going badly wrong and people are turning out to be nothing like she expected. Nothing goes according to any sort of plan and then a dead body turns up. And now Skye is thrown into a murder investigation.
Which reveals even more twists. It was quite a tense and fast paced plot, and very well written. Interesting characters, and I will say I didn’t actually guess what was going on in this one. The last few sort of twists were pretty damn good, and I liked the way it all wrapped up and concluded.
I’ve liked everything I’ve read by this author so far so this is definitely one that will be going on my auto-buy list.
Thank you to Netgalley and Bonnier Zaffre/Hot Key Books for approving my request to view the title.
I received a copy from Netgalley.
A dark YA thriller about friendship, obsession and jealousy taken over the top and everything going horribly wrong. Sasha and Xavier have been best friends for years. Sasha is not the most likeable character in the world, she’s cold, blunt and frankly, kind of a bitch. The only person who gets her moods and can handle her is her BFF Xavier. Who this reader found kind of dull and rather bland. But he and Sasha connect pretty well, they hang out, have their own sense of humour and inner jokes. They get each other.
It’s worked for years, they live in a small town, are outcasts at school and pretty much just have each other. Until Xavier got a girlfriend, Ivy. Ivy was even more of a brat than Sasha. Ivy came from a very wealthy family, she has an outgoing personality, but she’s also the type of manipulative bitch who knows how to push people’s buttons and wrap them around her finger and make them think everything she does is okay, no matter how wrong it actually is. She plays with Xavier pretty much breaks his heart.
At the start of the novel what Sasha doesn’t know is that Xavier has started seeing Ivy again. What Xavier doesn’t know is Sasha has fallen for him and has no idea how to tell him. Naturally she’s worried that if he doesn’t feel the same way their friendship would be ruined. And it doesn’t help that Ivy is now back on the screen.
Sasha and Ivy can’t stand each other. Not surprising really, their personalities clash and they are both epically jealous of the other’s relationship with Xavier which in a way is kind of understandable as both girls get different sides of him. Only made worse by Sasha’s feelings now boarding on obsession as she worries over what Ivy’s going to do to him this time.
So Sasha comes up with a plan. She invents an online profile of a guy to trap Ivy and convince Xavier finally that she is a cheater and no good for him. Which is sort of cringe-worthy to read and with the feeling of malice and foreboding in the story, it’s clearly all going to go wrong at some point. The novel is told in three different viewpoints – Sasha’s, Xavier’s and Ivy’s. Then when a plot twist happens another mysterious view point appears with no name, someone else who knows something has gone wrong and is doing their own investigation.
The psychological mind sent of the three different characters was quite interesting over how Xavier, and Sasha both displayed obsessive behaviour, while Ivy was obsessing over the fake profile guy she was getting to know and revealing sides of herself she usually keeps hidden.
Of course everything goes hideously wrong and Sasha finds herself in a very bad situation she doesn’t know how to handle at first. It all gets a bit ridiculous here. Xavier ends up tagging along without realising what’s really going on, Sasha’s got another secret she knows she’s never going to be able to keep for long without giving some sort of explanation and that it could potentially ruin her friendship with Xavier. To make things worse someone else has figured out Sasha is up to something and is on their trail.
The drama is a bit over the top but there is a definite rise in tension in this bit. Nerves are stretched to breaking point and it comes through clear in the writing and makes things very uncomfortable. I was quite impressed with the ending. Didn’t see it coming, and the way it concluded was actually quite believable.
It’s definitely a page turner, and while a little silly in some of the plot twists, there’s a compelling element about it that makes you have to keep going to know what’s going to happen. It’s a great example of a good book about unlikeable characters. The characters are well fleshed out and well written even though they are mostly horrible people.
I wasn’t overly impressed with the first book I read by this author, but I really liked this one. I bought a finished copy from iBooks.
Thank you to Netgalley and Electric Monkey/Egmont Publishing for approving my request to view the title.
I received a copy from Netgalley.
I’m somewhat ambivalent on this one. On the one hand I actually finished it, (I barely got 20 pages into the last book I read by the same author) the plot was interesting enough, but at the same time repetitive and unbelievable. Yet there was something in the story telling that made me interested enough to want to know how it all ended.
Will be spoiler filled as there is so much in this plot that I want to rant about.
It’s a UKYA novel. Ella lives a pretty normal life, goes to school has good friends, but has a secret darker side of herself, a voice in her head that she sees a separate personality that takes over from time to time she calls Bella who makes her do bad things. Get violent, talk back to authority figures, etc. The Bella side of her personality seems to be getting worse and coming out more and more and nice docile Ella seems to have a hard time controlling Bella.
Then one day while she’s in school she’s pulled out of class and into the Head Mistress’s office where her mother is there, and her mother is pulling her out of school for a few weeks without much of an explanation, the grownups seem to know something they’re not saying. Ella’s mum is taking her to Rio for an extended vacation. It’s always been a dream of Ella’s to go to Rio. And everyone seems okay with just going. Her parents don’t tell her anything, just whisk her off to the airport and to a hotel in Rio. They’re worried and suddenly very protective. Ella wants to explore.
Naturally she wants to know what the hell is going on. Why now? They’ve taken her phone, her passport, and locked them away in a safe in the hotel room. She’s confused. Who wouldn’t be? Exploring and doing touristy things with her mum and dad Ella catches sight of a gorgeous boy, Christian, in the lobby of her hotel and after several passes at making gooey eyes at each other they finally meet.
And it’s a very annoying case of instalove. After one night of partying together Ella’s obsessed with the boy, she knows nothing about him, just that he’s gorgeous and fun and can make her forget about her weird circumstances of being in Rio. It’s eye rolling and irritating. Ella gets herself alone in her hotel room and manages to open her parents safe and finds a shocking secret that her parents had kept from her.
Spoilers but a huge part of the plot.
She freaks out. She doesn’t know how to handle this information at all. Her reaction to me seems a little over the top, drama for the sake of drama to add to the plot. I can imagine it would be a bit of shock discovering something like this type of secret and you would most definitely have all sorts of questions. I can understand being angry that no one actually told you this secret. There is probably a valid reason for it. In the heat of the moment and anger Ella is clearly not thinking logically. The angry Bella side of her personality is coming out. In a fit of rage she breaks a beer bottle and attacks her dad and a waiter, cutting the waiter. So she runs.
She’s confused, angry and frightened. She has her phone, her passport and a credit card she helped herself to from her parent’s safe. She figures out the PIN and can get cash to start. Her thoughts are going round and round in circles as she tries to escape from them and loose herself in the depths of Rio. There are some wonderful descriptions of Rio and you really do get a great sense of place and Ella’s confusion as to who she is. She’s lost her identity and has no idea how to react and what to do. Unfortunately, it’s so repetitive, it’s the same worries over and over again.
Ella can be quite manipulative, she’s charming when she wants to be and works out quickly how to use people to get things she needs when she starts running low on cash. She’s not stupid, she know that her parents will be looking for her, and possibly the police as well. (And of course while all this drama is going on she’s moping over Christian who she’s still desperately in love with). She sweet talks her way into borrowing a boy’s laptop where she looks up some of the info she found hidden in her parents safe. The name in the lawyer’s letter.
And the plot gets even more ridiculous.
She can’t face anyone. She decides to lose herself in the slums of Rio, where no one will look for her. Her passport and credit card are stolen. So she resorts to a little self-help. She learns to take advantage of people’s kindness to a struggling young girl. After sleeping rough a few nights she talks her way again into finding places to say and sees her picture on the news. She can’t speak a word of Portuguese but knows she needs to run again. Eventually she finds herself at a school teaching English to local children and adults. She makes friends and finally starts to develop a sense of self again.
The second half of the novel I found to be stretching the sense of belief a bit, this 17 year old going around Rio with no funds of her own.(show spoiler)
To be fair, while it’s stretching my sense of belief, there was a quite uplifting feeling when Ella starts settling into a regular routine at the school she starts teaching at. She’s making friends and you get the sense she loves the job, she’s teaching art which she has a knack for and is really good at working with the children. She’s making friends and learning the local culture and language. Definitely something she could make a future and a career out of. She’s starting to feel grounded again after so much running around and drama.
Then the drama starts again. Oh, and Christian, the boy Ella’s still pining for is the only one from her old life who can find her and is completely understanding when Ella tells him everything that happened.
The plot was interesting enough even though a little silly in parts. And in some parts the writing as weird and repetitive as Ella falls apart. The descriptions of Rio from party town to beaches to slums was brilliant, very atmospheric and easy to picture. The romance with Christian and Ella was just annoying instalove. I did have trouble connecting to the characters. Too much over the top reactions and drama with Ella and everyone else seemed very one dimensional. Something was missing from this one for me.
Thank you to Netgalley and Penguin Random House UK Children’s books for approving my request to view this title.
I received a copy from Netgalley.
I initially requested this one because I liked the previous book I’d read by the same author. I had no idea it was actually a companion novel to Burning until I was half way through and looking up something else on Goodreads.
This was an interesting book, after reading the first two or three chapters slowly, I read the rest in a couple of hours one evening. I just couldn’t put it down. I wasn’t completely blown away with the book, I can’t even say I really liked all the characters that much. There was just something about the story and the way the plot unwound that made me want to keep reading and just had to know what was going on and how it all wound up together.
Trigger Warnings: Suicide.
The novel tells the story of teenager Charlotte, starting off when she’s a very young child, her mother who is some sort of doctor giving her genius tests (which Charlotte is not very good at) her mother has certain expectations of what sort of girl Charlotte should be. You get the impression that Charlotte doesn’t really care about her mother’s expectations, even at a very young age. Skip ahead to a teenager in a posh prep school. Charlotte is in the principal’s office one of her best friends Devon, has recently committed suicide in a very short time since her other best friend Ariel also committed suicide. Both were bright, smart and popular.
Charlotte doesn’t seem to fit the bill with the other smart kids in the school. The kids in the school are all very smart to genius. She’s struggling in her classes and not making the grade. Her mom is a very prestigious (and very rich) alumni. She’s about to pull Charlotte from the school on the principal’s advice, failing grades and the sudden deaths of her two best friends very close together and Charlotte’s attitude seems to be very blasé about everything.
Whilst packing her stuff Charlotte finds a package left by one of her deceased friends containing a strange note and a tiny bottle saying “Drink me”. Charlotte realises there must be something more going on, she can’t stop thinking about the note. She realises she wants to find out what it means and will have to be at the school to do that. When almost overnight her physical appearance improves and her (really bitchy) mom notices too. She uses this and manages to convince her mom to let her stay at the school for the rest of the semester contingent on her grades rapidly improving.
The plot is fairly fast paced and there’s enough intrigue that kept me interested when Charlotte finds more notes and more clues left by Ariel and realises at one point that she found the notes and clues left for her in the wrong order. The mystery deepens, Charlotte’s relationship with Jack is getting more and more intense and she’s got the added irritation of fending off Zoe who seems determined to make things difficult for her.
The characters were kind of flat, I couldn’t really identify with Charlotte much, she was cold and aloof and had a sort of above it all vibe about her. There was an interesting morality grey area to the plot as it developed as well. It definitely takes a darker twist towards the end, and that’s where it ties in with the previous novel Burning. It can be read as a standalone, there’s very little that gives away anything to do with Burning’s actual plot but if you’ve read Burning there’s an “ahhh” moment when you realise the connection.
I also have issues with Charlotte and her two best friends, Ariel and Devon, the reader learns some pretty unsettling things about the two girls as Charlotte delves into the mystery as what caused them both to commit suicide within weeks of each other. These girls were supposed to have been the tight knit group that everyone wanted to be part of, yet there was a sense of underlying threat rather than close female friendship with Ariel as the ring leader and Devon following with Charlotte trailing behind. There was a sense of rivalry and tension that was supposed to be uncomfortable but more annoying than anything else.
There was an eye rolling side plot revolving around Ariel’s former boyfriend Jack who was close with Charlotte and Charlotte had always had a thing for but never did anything cause Ariel got there first even though it’s completely obvious Charlotte liked him. Jack is a typical nice guy, good looking with rich parents. His dad has an important job – senator or judge or something along those lines (can’t remember which) but Jack doesn’t seem interested in following those footsteps and like Charlotte doesn’t seem that interested in the classes at the prep school. He and Charlotte redevelop their friendship which of course develops into something more. She (of course) gets to see the side of him that no one else really gets to see. Then Charlotte notices Jack starts rapidly improving in grades and stuff like she did. The romance angle was irritating.
It was a fairly quick read and definitely interesting, not something I would call a favourite but definitely worth a go if you like prep school mysteries and are intrigued by unlikeable characters.
Thank you to Netgalley and Bloomsbury Publishing Plc (UK & ANZ) for approving my request to view the title.
Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody
Long May She Reign by Rhiannon Thomas
Frostblood + Fireblood by Elly Blake
How To Make a Wish by Ashley Herring Blake
The Bourbon Kings by JR Ward
A Million Junes by Emily Henry
The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco
The Disappearances by Emily Bain Murphy
Spindlefire by Lexa Hillyer
The Valiant by Lesley Livingston
Flashfall by Jenny Moyer
Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare
Dark Breaks The Dawn by Sara B Larson
The Glass Spare by Lauren DeStefano
The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel
Bad Girl Gone by Temple Mathews
Wintersong by SJ Jones
Moon Chosen by PC Cast
The Killer in Me by Margot Harrison
The Creeper Man by Dawn Kurtagich
Places No One Knows by Brenna Yovanoff
Guilded Cage By Vic James
After The Woods by Kim Savage
All The Missing Girls by Megan Miranda
The Murder Complex by Lindsay Cummings
There’s Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins
The Ravenous by Amy Lukavics
The Mirror Sisters by VC Andrews
This Darkness Mine by Mindy McGuiness
Revenge by Nigel May
The Diabolic by SJ Kincaid
Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed
Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire
This Adventure Ends + First and Then by Emma Mills
Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurt
Dorothy Must Die, Yellowbrick War, The Wicked Will Rise, The End of OZ by Danielle Paige
Nevernight by Jay Kristoff
Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon
Glitter by Aprilynne Pike
Royal Bastards by Andrew Shvarts
Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza
The Library of Fates by Aditi Khorana
Burning Glass by Katherine Purdie
Godblind by Anna Stephens
Reign of the Fallen by Sarah Glenn Marsh
Most Anticipated Book: Of Fire and Stars. It’s YA fantasy with lesbian princesses! I’ve been dying for YA fantasy with a lesbian themed romance. So naturally I was exceptionally excited for this book. Only it was kind of a let down. The romance was cute but it took so long for anything to actually happen, the plot was no different than a thousand other fantasies I’ve read, and the names in this book were just ridiculous. I gave it a three star rating and I’ve already pre ordered the prequel. The writing definitely showed promise so I’m still looking forward to the prequel and I believe there’s a second book coming out which I’m sure I’ll wind up reading at some point.
Series: I read a whole series this year!! I started Dorothy Must Die when it first came out some years ago but dropped it half way through. Then at some point earlier this year I went through a stage of retrying some books I had previously tried and hated and this series was one of them. I’m glad I gave it another chance cause second time round I got really hooked and read the series one book after the other and finished. (The only complete series I read this year so I’m quite proud of myself there. I have a terrible habit of starting series, loving them, buying all the available books and never getting around to finishing them). The heroine is snarky, spunky and delightfully crass and has a tone of voice that’s very easy to connect with. The romance is a little eye rolling, and there’s definite problems with the series (books 2 and 3 were both really short and book 2 nothing really happened right until the end and book 3 picked up right after. These two could have been put together to make a trilogy). But it was a fun magical series with a unique take on OZ and a psycho bitch queen Dorothy who was awful and completely full of herself.
Favourite Book of the Year: Long May She Reign which was YA high fantasy for CSI fans. This dealt with the sciencey side of things when a poison massacre happened in a castle leaving only a handful of people alive including a distant heir to the throne now suddenly finding herself queen. Brilliantly original and a flawed heroine. Twisty plot and a surprising end. And a standalone as well.
Most Surprising Book: Tower of Dawn by Sarah J Mass. I’m still reading this one and surprised at how much I actually like it considering on reflection I hated Empire of Storms and I haven’t liked Chaol since Crown of Midnight (still think he’s a moron). Best book by far in the series for me is Queen of Shadows, but I really love the new characters and the new countries in this one and it’s definitely reminding me why I fell in love with this series.
Second Chance Books: Rebel of the Sands trilogy, Tearling trilogy, The Sin Eater’s Daughter Trilogy, A Court of Thorns and Roses trilogy. For some unknown reason I decided to by new copies of all of these (after giving away my originals) and will be reading them again at some point throughout the following year.
Controversial Books: I read The Black Witch. My twitter feed blew up over this one and it was trashed on Goodreads. I normally avoid books with that sort of reputation like the plague but I decided to try this one for myself. Frankly I can see why it caused such an uproar. On the other hand, having read it while there were times I wanted to punch the heroine and throw the book out the window, I did actually quite like it. I will be doing a full review of this one.
Netgalley: I am shamefully behind on reviews. I’ve got 8 or so to write (the plan was to get them done before the end of the year but I’ve been terribly lazy and still not gotten round to it. I will, eventually. I seem to have lost some of my reviewing enthusiasm this year. I still like reading the reviews I see posted between Goodreads and Booklikes from all the bloggers and reviewers I follow). I’m running out of things to say that haven’t been said in different ways already. May pick up again next year. We’ll see.
A huge thank you to everyone who’s still following or a new follower (even though I’m slow at updating and the worst at responding to comments – blame my terrible social anxiety). And Happy New Year!!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.