Blog Tour Book Review: Monsters in the Mirror

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Publisher: UCLan Publishing
Pages: 424
Release Date: 1.3.2019
About: Darwen Arkwright’s world is turned upside down when he is forced to move from a small English town to Atlanta in the United States of America. Feeling out of place and struggling to fit in at school, Darwen seeks solace in a mysterious shop full of mirrors. It’s there that he discovers the ability to step through mirrors in to different worlds – worlds beyond his wildest imagination. Darwen befriends creatures including Moth, a tiny being with mechanical wings, but he soon learns that there is a terrible darkness threatening this new world…and only he can save it.The problem with doors is that they open both ways. There are monsters inside, and some of them are trying to get out…

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Monsters-Mirror-1-Beyond/dp/099551559X

I fell in love with Dawen, his world and the story almost immediately and I couldn’t put it down. From the first page, you’re thrown into the story and it doesn’t let up until you close the book on the final page.

It holds a nostalgic magic that’s not only reminiscent of Snicket and Potter, but of one of my favourite childhood book series; the Shivers collection. They were an alternative to Point Horror and they were my go to. My favourite of them all was Madness at the Mall and Monsters in the Mirror really gave me such a throwback to it that I’ve been searching my bookshelves ever since.

Monsters in the Mirror would be an upgraded, movie quality version of those delightfully scary books of my childhood. With a chilling reminder of Return to Oz, I was hooked with both worlds presented and I really would love to see this being made into a TV progamme with 90s vibes. The worlds are artfully and passionately built that I dare people not to love them.

It’s a perfectly set out plot, that sees the protagonist develop relationships that have a fulfilling arc over the whole book while also laying a foundation for whatever comes next. Which, believe me, I’ll be here waiting for any news of an upcoming release date.

Its a story for all, but most of all… this could be the book series that gets parents recommending books to their children, digging out their old paperbacks and sharing them with a new generation of readers.

Book Review: Enchantee by Gita Trelease

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Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books
Pages: 480
About: Paris in 1789 is a labyrinth of twisted streets, filled with beggars, thieves, revolutionaries—and magicians…
When smallpox kills her parents, Camille Durbonne must find a way to provide for her frail, naive sister while managing her volatile brother. Relying on petty magic—la magie ordinaire—Camille painstakingly transforms scraps of metal into money to buy the food and medicine they need. But when the coins won’t hold their shape and her brother disappears with the family’s savings, Camille must pursue a richer, more dangerous mark: the glittering court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.
With dark magic forbidden by her mother, Camille transforms herself into the ‘Baroness de la Fontaine’ and is swept up into life at the Palace of Versailles, where aristocrats both fear and hunger for la magie. There, she gambles at cards, desperate to have enough to keep herself and her sister safe. Yet the longer she stays at court, the more difficult it becomes to reconcile her resentment of the nobles with the enchantments of Versailles. And when she returns to Paris, Camille meets a handsome young balloonist—who dares her to hope that love and liberty may both be possible.
But la magie has its costs. And when Camille loses control of her secrets, the game she’s playing turns deadly. Then revolution erupts, and she must choose—love or loyalty, democracy or aristocracy, freedom or magic—before Paris burns…

My heart is aching, this was such a perfect book for me. It is charming, hopeful and gracefully historic. I’ve had an inexplicable and emotional draw to the French Revolution for as long as I can remember. The ancien regime and the civil unrest that led to the end of the French monarchy has always held my attention. I have a theory as to what was the root cause of the breakdown within French society, but I’ve needed to find someone more read in the history than me.
I knew I would enjoy this book going in, perhaps be a little critical if history was not played out quite right but I k. Never, in my wildest dreams did I think I would have my heart stolen and my senses transported to such an authentic (yet utterly magical) world. Move over The Night Circus and make space for your literary equal.
Normally, it is the characters that pull me in first; there’s something about them that makes me root for them. While it’s fair to say this is true of the gorgeous and loyal Camile, it is the author’s use of language that charmed me so utterly that I was torn from the moment the first chapter ended; on one hand, I wanted to devour this story in one sitting but, on the other I wanted to savour it and make the book last forever. The use of French is the key. In other books, it wouldn’t have sat so organically beside the English. There’s a glossary, but the phrases and words are so well integrated into the dialogue that I certainly didn’t feel the need to search their meaning.
There are so many characters that bring life to this entwining plot of magicians, class system and the romance. As a reader, you will be as confused and lost as Camille when it comes to your appraisal of some characters, whereas others will win you over instantly.
I must say, I didn’t see the ending coming; literally and figuratively. I was so enchanted by the storytelling that I am still processing that I’ve read the final page let alone the fact that I missed something that with a lesser writer I would have called much earlier.
I cannot wait to reread this novel once I have the physical book in my hands and I am already looking forward to what Gita Trelease will publish next as I will forever be a devoted fan.

Love Han x

Book Review: Slayer by Kiersten White

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Publisher: Simon and Schuster UK Children’s
Pages: 416
Release date: 21st February 2019
About: Into every generation a Slayer is born…
Nina and her twin sister, Artemis, are far from normal. It’s hard to be when you grow up at the Watcher’s Academy, which is a bit different from your average boarding school. Here teens are trained as guides for Slayers—girls gifted with supernatural strength to fight the forces of darkness. But while Nina’s mother is a prominent member of the Watcher’s Council, Nina has never embraced the violent Watcher lifestyle. Instead she follows her instincts to heal, carving out a place for herself as the school medic.
Until the day Nina’s life changes forever.
Thanks to Buffy, the famous (and infamous) Slayer that Nina’s father died protecting, Nina is not only the newest Chosen One—she’s the last Slayer, ever. Period.
As Nina hones her skills with her Watcher-in-training, Leo, there’s plenty to keep her occupied: a monster fighting ring, a demon who eats happiness, a shadowy figure that keeps popping up in Nina’s dreams…
But it’s not until bodies start turning up that Nina’s new powers will truly be tested—because someone she loves might be next.
One thing is clear: Being Chosen is easy. Making choices is hard.

What a wonderful addition to the Buffy franchise.

It remained true to canon and everything a reader would know of Slayers, Watchers and everything that goes bump in the night. The plot is delightfully unique while adding in familiar names without making it feel forced. There’s nods to so many family’s within the show and we get an insight to where some fan favourites are. While I haven’t caught up with Whedon’s comic continuation, I’m well read enough to sense that this story is faithful to the Dark Horse comic seasons 8 onwards.
As a reader I was hooked from the first chapter and really warmed to all the characters from the outset. The mystery element was what made me frantic to get to the end; my heart in my mouth and constantly trying to predict the outcome.
I could see this as a TV series and Kiersten White made that very easy; the action was well written and incorporated into an expertly-told story. It’s a well rounded stand alone, with enough intrigue, mystery and plot left unexplored to want more.
I felt like I was living the best parts of my teen years while reading this book; it gave me a sense nostalgia that has me regretting gifting my Buffy book collection to family members. I just can’t wait for what happens next and rereading those who have softened the wait.

Love Han x

Book Review: Song for a Whale by @LynneKelly @PiccadillyPress

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Publisher: Piccadilly Press
Pages: 322
Release date: 5th February 2019
About: A stirring and heart-warming tale of a young deaf girl who is determined to make a difference, the perfect read for fans of Wonder.
Iris was born deaf, but she’s never let that define her; after all, it’s the only life she’s ever known. And until recently she wasn’t even very lonely, because her grandparents are both deaf, too. But Grandpa has just died and Grandma’s not the same without him. The only place Iris really feels at home anymore is in her electronics workshop where she loves taking apart antique radios.
Then, during a science lesson about sound waves, Iris finds out about a whale who is unable to communicate with other whales. The lonely whale awakens something in Iris. She’s determined to show him that someone in the world knows he’s there.
Iris works on a foolproof plan to help the whale but she soon realises that that is not enough: Iris wants to find the whale herself.
One stolen credit card, two cruise ship tickets, and the adventure of a lifetime later, Iris and the whale each break through isolation to help one another be truly heard in ways that neither had ever expected.

I don’t think i have ever related to a character so much in all my life. I felt every emotion Iris had along her journey. My heart ached at the beauty of the storytelling and the gratitude that this book exists for those who identify with Iris’ hearing issues. Not only is this book about to go out into the world and allow some people, like myself, to feel represented but it’s a book that will enlighten others on some of the physical and emotional problems faced by those with hearing difficulties.

The theme of isolation resonates with me quite strongly; I was diagnosed with serve hearing loss at the age of 15. However, I was showing signs of hearing loss as young as 6 or 7. My inability to answer people was put down to my dreamer nature with a bit of laziness thrown in.
School was a different matter. I suspect that in an environment where blanking someone was the highest crime. I was considered rude and stuck up. I felt like I spent much of high school in my own little prison cell of silence.
In short, I totally relate to Iris’ frustration and I would have been exactly like her and feeling the kinship with Blue-55. I might not have gone on the adventure she did, but curling up and reading this book I feel like I actually did.

The writing is breath-taking and compliments the heartfelt plot entirely. How ASL is relayed in the book is nothing short of perfection. There’s a distinction made between speech and ASL, and that in itself is wonderful. However, Lynne Kelly goes beyond that and gives some stunning descriptions of the hand movements to some words and phrases.

The plot moves at an engaging pace, intermingling what appear on the outset to be completely unrelated and independent plot threads. It means that you get to know all the characters that surround Iris in all parts of her life. I’d have personally loved to have seen more interaction between Iris and her brother, but it reminded me so much of the relationship I had with my brother and I just wanted to dive right in and stay a little longer.

This book will forever have a place in my heart, it has soothed my soul and I already predict a mid-year reread. Thank you, Lynne Kelly, from the bottom of my heart for allowing people like myself to be seen, heard and most importantly, understood.

Song for a Whale is out on 5th February 2019.

Love Han x

Han’s January Wrap Up

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Now I’m no longer teaching and am on the road to officially being my father’s carer, I am hoping to up my game with my blog. There’s no goal in terms of followers or awards, I just want to be more organised and help more books to succeed.
One thing I’ve always wanted to do is show my gratitude for the books I receive and reflect on what I’ve achieved over the previous month. Hopefully, this will be the first of many Wrap Up posts in which I share with you my purchases, book post and Net Galley gains before implementing a TBR I hope to stick to.
As always, comment and follow.
Love Han x

The Books I Got

  • Slay on Tour by Kim Curran (Usborne book post)
  • Hotel Flamingo by Alex Milway (Piccadilly Press book post)
  • Twisted Tree by Rachel Burge (Hot Key book post)
  • The Anomaly by Michael Rutger (Zaffre book post)
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Crimes of Grindelwald by J. K. Rowling (Sphere/ Little Brown. Bought)
  • Evermore by Sara Holland (Harper Teen. Bought)
  • DC Icons Batman: Night Walker by Marie Lu (Random House YA. Replacement purchase)
  • Doctor Who: The Good Doctor by Juno Dawson (BBC books. Bought)
  • Song for a Whale by Lynne Kelly (Piccadilly Press book post)
  • Monsters in the Mirror by A J Hartly (UCLAN publishing book post)
  • Devoted by Jennifer Mathieu (Hodder Children’s Press. From Wildest Dreams Book Box subscription)
  • Dark Blade by Steve Feasey (Bloomsbury YA book post)
  • Slayer by Keirsten White (Simon & Schuster Children’s UK. Net Galley)
  • Twisted by Steve Cavanagh (Orion Press. Net Galley)
  • The Go-Away Bird by Julia Donaldson (Macmillan Children’s Books. Net Galley)
  • Ever Alice by HJ Ramsay (Red Rogue Press. Net Galley)
  • Aries 181 by Tiana Warner (Rogue Cannon Publishing E-Copy)

The Books I Read

  • Slay on Tour by Kim Curran
  • Hotel Flamingo by Alex Milway
  • Twisted Tree by Rachel Burge
  • Slayer by Kiersten White
  • The Anomaly by Michael Rutger
  • Dr Ninth by Adam Hargreaves
  • Dr Tenth by Adam Hargreaves
  • Dr Eleventh by Adam Hargreaves
  • Dr Twelfth by Adam Hargreaves
  • Enchantee by Gita Trelease
  • Twisted by Steve Cavanagh
  • Song for a Whale by Lynne Kelly
  • The Go-Away Bird by Julia Donaldson
  • Ever Alice by H.J Ramsay

So as it stands, I’m 14 books (18%) into my Goodread’s 80 book 2019 reading challenge. It also puts me a staggering 8 books ahead of schedule. I would love to keep this up, but I am also aware that 5 of my books are 5 minute reads.

The Books to Read in February

  • Monsters in the Mirror by A J Hartly
  • Dark Blade by Steve Feasey
  • Aries 181 by Tiana Warner
  • Time Traveller’s Guide to Modern Romance by Madeline J. Reynolds
  • Hunting Evil by Chris Carter
  • Extinction Trials: Rebel by S M Wilson
  • When We Collided by Emery Lord
  • Casino Royale by Ian Fleming
  • The Boneless Mercies by April Genevieve Tucholke
  • Doctor Who: The Good Doctor by Juno Dawson

Happy February geeks x

photo out-take

Book Tour: Slay on Tour by Kim Curran

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As a reader it feels as if Curran’s opening story was the album and this, second offering that is so aptly named, is the amazing and anticipated arena tour.

You’ll gratefully applaud the hits the familiar characters roll out smoothly and with wonderful transitions. You will get that comfortable, almost homely, sensation even though it also feels different and new. Just like with all good bands on tour, Curran offers the fans something new that also teases what will come next.

I devoured this book, much in the same way I did the first. The key with the enjoyability of this book is having characters, relationships and situations I feel invested in. Slay on Tour has all, in buckets.

What I loved was the sub plot of Tom coming to terms with losing his hand. I had the pleasure of seeing Def Leapord last year and their drummer had his whole arm amputated in a car accident. The band stuck by is side while he recovered and learned to embrace his ‘disability’. I say it in that way because the man was one incredible drummer, regardless. Having that experience allowed me to experience Tom’s predicament on another level and that is all down to Curran’s writing.

The story in itself is fast paced, action packed and contains all the feels. It’s well wrapped up, but we get a juicy sting to tell us that London’s Calling. I can’t wait to see what’s next for Slay.

Love Han x

Kick the Moon by Muhammad Khan

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Muhammad Khan’s second novel is a relevant cautionary tale of self realisation, challenging the trappings created by fear and, most importantly, acknowledging stereotypes of gender and culture before working against them.

My affection for the protagonist hit me fast and hard. Ilyas is a young man I’ve had in my classroom time and time again. He’s a person who is so busy trying to balance what everyone else expects, that he forgets who he really is and what makes him happy.

The journey that Ilyas goes on, in part, is a solo one. However, as a reader, you feel every step he takes. It’s hard to see the assumptions made about him and decisions made for him when you get to hear his own thoughts of the matter.

By the time the reader meets Kelly, they already get a feel for the world in which Ilyas lives and the way in which it goes against his own moral code. Khan is able to explore the complexity of a teen’s life and how complications don’t always arrive from one social group or source alone.

Kelly’s arrival and Ilyas’ Maths teacher takes the story on a wonderful and heart warming adjacent storyline. It’s here where I feel Khan does his best work; raising issues and challenging stereotypes not only within the story, but to the reader directly.

My favourite aspect of this story is the comic Ilyas and Kelly develop. The glimpses you get about the story will have all readers scrambling to Twitter and begging Khan to create the comic book proper.

Kick the Moon is out now.

Love Han x

Hotel Flamingo by Alex Milway

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This is a delightful, fanciful tale that would make for a cute bedtime read for younger children and a perfect independent book for older littles.

I devoured it in a little over an hour, falling in love with the characters, their relationships and the overall tone of the book.

It’s the message that is central to this charming book’s success. The main character, Anna, is good at problem solving and that will be inspiring to any young reader. However, the most heartwarming message I took from this story was that its as much a strength to recognise when you need help and seek it out. Some of the story’s best situations are solved when Anna seeks out the expertise of other people at the hotel.

Overall, the story is perfectly pitched for this to be a book that grows as a child does. It contains stunning artwork to compliment what undoubtedly will be just the start of a wonderful series of books and a grand adventure.

This beautiful book is available from 7th Feb 2019 and is available to pre-order now.

Love Han

Devoted by Jennifer Mathieu

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Devoted is quite possibly the most difficult read I’ve ever experienced. It’s expertly written and contained wonderful, well rounded and well intended, characters to compliment a complex and compelling story.

However, it really held me ransom and I had to take a few pauses and even considered abandoning it completely at one point. Again, this is actually a testament to the writer. Mathieu has, again, created something real and emotive.

It just so happens that while I have a love of books like Book of Fire and The Special One’s that contain a cult-like society, I found devoted, being one rooted within a real religion, so unbelievably frightening. There were certain fears I had about the progression of the plot and that the book would send an anti-religion message. I think my fear came from the thought that this plot is so real in parts of the world.

I’m happy to say, the message I wanted was made very clear. It’s the first contemporary book I’ve read in a long time that has had me question the world in which we live in. My main reason for not abandoning the book was that I felt I had a duty to not leave Rachel with her family. I felt overwhelmed and trapped within the narrative, just as she did.

Mathieu’s writing helped me moved past my own weakness and I felt like I was supporting Rachel on her journey. I loved the romantic sub plot between Rachel and Mark. More so that there was no rush to tell their story within the confines of the novel. I’ve been inspired, they’re now part of me and I will spend some time considering their blossoming friendship and perhaps romance.

Love Han x

Jack Loves Rosie Blog Tour- Important Journeys

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Rosie Loves Jack by Mal Darbon is one of my favourite reads of 2018. It hooked me from the first page and reduced me to tears by the delightful ending. It is my absolute pleasure to be part of this blog tour, telling you about my own journey of discovery.

Getting Lost and Finding Myself

The Giant’s Causeway

In July 2016 I was in a weird place. I’d lost a bit of who I was while trying to be what I thought other people liked. Namely a boy. I’d convinced myself that if I lost enough weight, he’d at least look at me in away that wasn’t disgust. To me, he was beautiful, funny and I would have been happy for him to just be my friend.

He never did see me as anything other than ugly and pathetic and I didn’t speak to him again when I left my job in July. I was 3 stone lighter,but I was also beginning my journey into managing the chemical imbalance in my brain that had led to life defining anxiety and depression. I don’t think I’d ever hated myself more.

One of my favourite people in the whole world suggested a trip to Oban and the Outer Hebrides by way of landing on the beach of Barra. I jumped at the chance and hoped time away would mend my broken soul.

Finding Myself

One thing I decided before we left was that I would use this opportunity to try foods I wouldn’t normally. No burgers, no pizza and no salads. Being Scotland, my diet became primarily fish based. From the ‘best fish and chips’ to muscles, I tried it all.

The best part of this new mind set was trying oysters for the first time. London isn’t void of the shellfish; but they’re never cheap especially when you’re not certain you’ll like them. Turns out, I love them and that moment marked a much more experimental me when it comes to food.

The whole experience was documented

Searching for gods in all the Ancient Places

My friend, knowing I was struggling with my mental health,found some ancient rituals that took place in the area we visited. One was sacrificing wine to the god in order to be given good health over the following year. I didn’t have any wine on me, so I’m hoping the grapes I chucked were accepted with equally good grace.

The other was to walk 7 times around the church in a clockwise direction to improve your mental outlook. Having waded into the sea to offer my grapes, I didn’t want to put on my shoes. I figures the surrounding area of the church in question would be grass so off I went down the path towards the church.

How wrong I was. Not only was the quarter mile to the church(only accessible by foot) pathed with sharp rocks and nettles, so was the entire path around the church; it was almost as if someone knew I was going to attempt to do this barefoot.

The first lap was unbearable and I considered giving up and just letting my friend complete it without me. That was when I noticed there was a small concrete section next to the wall of the building. If I was careful with my footing and pace; I could walk it pain free. And so I did.

There were the corners that were hard and if I took them too fast, my feet paid the price. However, the last two laps were taken without a single misstep. Not sure it was what I was meant to take away from the activity, but I certainly saw it as a perfect metaphor for my own mental health.

From God to a Naughty Dog

I wasn’t the only person who was lost on this holiday in the highlands. While trying to find out way to our fourth (possibly fifth?) hotel of the trip, we encountered what looked like a frightened and lost terrier dog.

After getting our directions from the Post Office that just so happened to be back the way we’d come, I decided to walk while my friend drove ahead. This was in the hopes of me capturing the lost looking pup and getting him back home. I should point out here that I’m a little bit like Hagrid; I’d spent the entire trip trying to stroke the cows and any other animals we happened upon.

Alvie

However, I soon realised he had a cunning, yet dastardly, plan. The ankle height beauty would stand still, trembling until I got to grasping distance; when he’d run away at full speed. He then leapt over the grassy dip at the side of the road and waited on the other side. There was nothing for it but to jump over myself. Except I fell into the dip and plastered myself with mud. I swear I heard him laugh.

I gave up after that and decided to inform whomever lived at the house we’d just past, figuring that it must be theirs. The gentleman opened his door. Between myself and my friend, we explained that we’d seen this dog, that we’d tried to catch him and that if he was to hear about a lost dog we’d last seen it in what we assumed was his field.

“Oh, that’s Alvie! He’s forever getting out of my neighbour’s yard and causing mischief.”

Rosie Loves Jack is out now. 

Distortion by @VictorDixen @HotKeyBooks

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About:

After a speed-dating show that is literally out of this world, twelve young astronauts are set to become the first humans to colonise Mars. They are also the victims of the cruellest of plots.

Léonor thought she was a pioneer on an extraordinary mission. She thought she had left all regrets behind her on Earth. But when memories are this painful, there can be no forgetting . . .

Characters

Leonor is as wonderful as ever. Her relationship with the rest of the crew is a little more open. It gives the story scope and allows her to become the leader, whether she wants it or not. She is the consistent within a world of chaos and you’ll want to stay by her side from start to finish.

Returning characters Harmony and Andrew are thrown further into the fray in Distortion and they are a welcome addition to the narrative. Now Andrew is not trying to put pieces together on his own, the tension has changed somewhat. Allowing him to spend time with Harmony gives the reader more scope into his character and he’s someone I want to spend even more time with.

Plot

Not going to lie, I wasn’t sure where the sequel was going. By the mid way point I was convinced there wasn’t a sequel. I assumed that perhaps the trilogy was condensed, and it was leaving me a little sad. It’s on of the reasons why the final act pulled the rug from under me and yet again had me begging for the sequel. 

Collision cannot come quick enough for me. The writing is engaging and the story is compulsive. You can’t put it down and it certainly would make the perfect TV show for all ages.

 Pick up Distortion and Ascension now. Collision is due April 2019

https://amzn.to/2AmrhVq

OtherEarth by @jasonsegel and @banksirregular

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What do you do when your first novel in the Otherworld trilogy is near perfect? Well, you up the stakes of course. And with Jason and Kirstin at the helm, boy do they amp up the pressure!
A year ago, I went on an adventure that surpassed all my expectations. This year, I feel as if my imagination has been hijacked, given an upgrade and thrown onto a high speed rollercoaster. I was a bit worried that we’d be spending too much time out of the simulated world, but it’s actually where the drama and tension can really be found.
Simon has a plan, and he can’t do alone. In what can only be described as a Bond on the run, Simon and his friends locate allies, makes deals with enemies and try to not get the rug pulled from under them too many times.
The plot is such a wonderful treat, its best kept a secret until you read it for yourself, but I will say that there is a gritty realism within the narrative that is a refreshing change from the nostalgia trips other books like this provide. Kristin and Jason are able to provide a commentary on some deep and serious topics, including addiction.
The final act brings a mental health sub plot to a head. It’s something that is so subtle and unobtrusive to the plot that don’t be hard on yourself for it blind siding you.
The only fault I can find it that there wasn’t more of the book to read. It ends in such a way that you’ll be screaming and shouting about it for weeks after. Then, just to escape the fact that there’s a year until OtherLife reaches us, you’ll head back to Otherworld for another trip with Simon.