Posted in 2018, ARC, Reads of ..., Usborne

Book Review: Orphan Monster Spy by Matt Killen


Sarah has played many roles. Dutiful daughter. Talented gymnast. Persecuted Jew. Lost orphan. But now she faces her most challenging role of all. Now she must become the very thing she hates. For the only way she can survive as a spy at a boarding school for the cream of Nazi society is to become a monster like them. A monster who can destroy them.

Discover the girl who can beat Bond and Bourne at their own game, in this utterly addictive thriller from a jaw-dropping new talent.

Sarah and the Captain are two strong figures within this novel. Sarah has a flawed balance between bravery and naivety that could only be brought about from the time in which the book is set. There’s an empathy readers will have with the orphaned teen in a war-torn Berlin.
Sarah is given a new name and a new role to play, which allows her to come into contact with enemies of her own age. There are a number of characters readers will meet during Sarah’s mission, but it will be Mouse that you will take to your heart.
The Captain does take a back seat for most of the story, but he is an interesting character that I wish I’d gotten to know more. He has a mystery surrounding his character that will leave any reader begging for a sequel.
I cannot do the plot justice without spoiling it. So, all I will say is that it is a well written historical war story that will not let you catch your breath for a second. The second act takes place in a boarding school setting, that will forever change your ideologies of an education away from home.
The ending is haunting is the current climate. It doesn’t shy away from the brutalities of life outside of the war and the pressures of family. It seeps through slowly, but the reveal still hits you like a brick.
I have so much respect for Matt Killen. He has written such a strong female protagonist that is flawed and impassioned; layered within a story that it firmly placed within a researched history. Matt proves, with this one novel, that you don’t always have to stay within your comfort zone and write what you know.
It a compelling and emotion-fuelled read, that works well as a standalone. However, I’m hoping Matt has at least another story waiting for fans who will be undoubtedly begging once they read that final chapter.

Posted in 2018, ARC, Reads of ...

The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare

When I had the offer of reading a Mills and Boon novel I was flooded with so many emotions. I honestly didn’t know what to expect other than my own ideas I’d built up. I saw them as the romantic, adult version of Point Horror that I was reading as my nan raced through novel after novel. She borrowed from her local library and had a little symbol she would put on the inside back cover so she would never take the same book twice. It wasn’t only her; the books where covered in a variety of tag marks from literary borrowers.
I also knew my mum to partake from time to time; choosing to own hers outright. I’m gutted to say that I didn’t give them a second thought before passing them to a charity shop when she died a decade ago. The remorse has come from reading this novel, The Duchess Deal. A well written, passionate story with some wonderful characters.

Emma is an independent character who is living below her social class through mysterious circumstances. She is able to hold her own and is perfect agreement, on the most part, with her playmate, Ash. While I struggle to empathise with such a character and am jealous of her being swept off her feet, I did enjoy her spirit and fire when it came to dealing with her husband of convenience.
Ash, on the other hand, I fell in love with him right away. Self-loathing nobleman, a bit of gruff with a dash of elegance. I could see why Emma only needed a little nudging to agree to the match. It’s hard not to like this sort of character who seems to have everything, but is humbled through circumstance. Move over Mr Darcy and Mr Grey, there’s a new swoon worthy man on the shelf.

A plot such as this; a marriage of convenience may come across as farfetched in less abled writer’s hands, this plot is wonderfully fun and light-hearted. The time in which it has been set helps to establish the motives behind the convenience and the isolated insights into the couple’s thinking gives the romance its spring.
Obviously, there are obstacles the characters have to overcome as well as ensuring we see that there is chemistry between the two. It’s all done with precision and epic timing. I did find the ending a little rushed, but that is only my own sadness that the story had to end.

Tessa has a charm that brings this tale to life. She is able to pass between the Duke and Duchess’ view point with a delicate ease. The intimate sections of the story never feel forced or gratuitous; instead they flow organically into the plot and allow for comfortable, enjoyable reading.

Posted in 2018, ARC, Net Galley, Reads of ...

The Truth about Alice by @jenmathieu

About the book: Rumour has it that Alice Franklin is a slut. It’s written all over the ‘slut stall’ in the girls’ bathroom at Healy High for everyone to see. And after star quarterback Brandon Fitzsimmons dies in a car accident, the rumours start to spiral out of control.
In this remarkable novel, four Healy High students – the party girl, the car accident survivor, the ex best friend and the boy next door – tell all they know.
But exactly what is the truth about Alice? In the end there’s only one person to ask: Alice herself.
The story is told from the point of view of four students at the High School. They are separate enough to not contaminate the narrative and question any of the storytellers.
There is, however one overlap. Alice herself. Each narrator is almost a point on a compass, take one on it’s own and you’re a little lost as to how you feel about the focus. Put them together, and you have a full picture.
The picture I’m given of Alice is one that I like. She is my favourite character. I don’t know if that’s because I don’t get her narration of the events that occur, but she certainly is the person I want to get to know more.
The plot and tone of this book fits well with novels like Asking For It, One of Us is Lying and Thirteen Reasons Why. Rumours have been spread around the small town and the book picks up weeks after the party in which the incident is to have happened. What would have ordinarily been a burn book-esque rumour has escalated at the death of one of the people involved.
The novel uses four bystander’s perspectives to unpack everything that happens; from the incident itself to the aftermath. Along the way, the characters reveal more about themselves than Alice, including their motives for any part they may have to play in her banishment from almost every social circle.
It’s a tense mystery that keeps Alice at arm’s length, which only adds to the chilling lesson to be learnt. From an outsider, it’s easy to say we’d help Alice and we’d see through the social politics. I for one know, I wouldn’t be that brave.

Jennifer Mathieu’s writing is on point. She has an ability to keep a mystery while keeping her characters open and vulnerable. The ability to tell the story of Alice, without her being the storyteller is simply genius.
It was Mathieu’s UK debut, Moxie that gave me back my love of reading. She has a way of telling a bold and impassioned story that helps you question the treatment of others. The Truth about Alice, if I can be so bold, is even better than Moxie. It’s a story that builds upon the necessity of books like Thirteen Reasons Why and Asking For It, but allows the reader to look at the after effects from another perspective.

Posted in 2018, ARC, Net Galley, Ramblings, Reads of ...

Clean by Juno Dawson

First thoughts

This is almost the novel I’ve been waiting for from Juno. I won’t lie, I’ve struggled with Juno’s work since moving from her Point Horror homage; I was comfortable with it and not ready to let go. I will always buy her work in the hopes that it will be the next Say Her Name or Hollow Pike; it’s always the cross an excellent writer has to carry. I am delighted to say that the hope paid off; this is Juno’s best work to date.


I can’t say I relate to any of the characters, they are put on a higher level to the reader. However, that’s no bad thing. Had I related to even one of them, this book would have destroyed me. I needed that little bit of detachment.

You can empathise though and what Juno provides is an eclectic group of addicts; food, OCD and sex. It enable the characters to get to the root of their problems.

Our protagonist, Lexi, is one of the Russian elite. There’s enough about the character to make that believable; Baba Yaga, I’m looking at you.

She’s not very likeable; the anger pours off the page in waves. However, her personality won’t stop you reading the book because you know it’s the drugs talking and you will want the best for her. She grows as the story progresses.


Initially, the plot reminded me on my favourite story arc and episode of Private Practice, in which one of the main characters ended up in a private rehab facility.

The chapters are numbered and named after each stage of recovery, which gives you a certain sense of where the plot is going. However, to say it’s a story of recovery doesn’t quite do Juno or her story justice.

It’s more a journey of self discovery, self repair and self acceptance. One that is not easy, or painless. Lexi’s dependancy on other people as well as drugs is something she needs to set right before she can be well.


Juno has found a wonderful voice with this novel. It’s modern, engaging and very real. While I struggle to get along with some of the dialogue, that’s a personal preference and I can accept it was necessary to give the story context and grounding.

The chapters are long, but fit the story telling. As someone who devoured the book, it certainly didn’t come as a hinderance.

It’s a self contained story and while I have questions, I’m not needing a sequel. However, what it has left me with is a want for a trilogy from Juno. I think I’m ready for a Juno Dawson world that I can fall into.

Posted in 2018, ARC, Book clubs, Net Galley, QoGA-Z, Reads of ...

Everless by @Sara__Holland


It’s not often you find a book where you enjoy and relate to most of the characters. From the protagonist to the staff at Everless, each one is fully developed and invite you in to this world. They are likeable, unlikeable and with one in particular you will be utterly conflicted from start to finish.

Jules is strong, angry and the perfect protagonist to be on this journey with. Her voice is clear and strong, even when under pressure.

Interestingly, it is Liam who was my favourite character from the outset. For the first time, I’ve not trusted the protagonist’s opinion. I willed it to be false. I put that down, in part, to Sara Holland’s writing.


It’s a heroes quest unlike any I’ve read before. It pulls you in from the very start and you’re along for the ride as ? learns about herself and the dangerous world she lives in.

The addition of the time bleeding and blood iron is genius. Elements relating to time can often feel overwhelmingly futuristic. However, we are treated to what I would consider a delightful fusion of steam punk and Historical Britain.


Sara Holland’s first person narrative unlike anything else I’ve ever experienced before. The ability to develop other characters and imply that there is an alternative view is utterly seamless. It’s only reflecting that I’ve realised I questioned Jules’ understanding throughout the novel.

The only time I stopped reading was when i paused to text my best friend, Gem, to tell her that she has to read this book.

One thing that really hit home with me was this quote: “It’s possible to feel joy and grief at the same time.”

No one, not even myself, has ever been able to articulate how depression feels to me. Not only has Holland done this, she has done it in such a beautiful and haunting way.

Posted in 2017, ARC, Han, MacMillian Kids UK, Net Galley, Reads of ...

Out of the Blue by Sophie Cameron #bookreview #hanreview @MacmillanKidsUK

Out of the Blue by Sophie Cameron #bookreview #hanreview @MacmillanKidsUK Release date: 22.03.18


From Goodreads: Sometimes, I imagine alternate endings to the story: last-minute miracles, touches of magic. I picture how things might have gone, if I wasn’t there. If I’d left just a few minutes later. If I hadn’t been alone. It doesn’t make any difference. One way or another, the crash always comes.

Ten days after Jaya Mackenzie’s mum dies, angels start falling from the sky. Smashing down to earth at extraordinary speeds, wings bent, faces contorted, not a single one has survived.

Hysteria mounting with every Being that drops, Jaya’s father uproots the family to Edinburgh intent on catching one alive. But Jaya can’t stand this obsession and, struggling to make sense of her mother’s sudden death and her own role on that fateful day, she’s determined to stay out of it.

When her best friend disappears and her father’s mania spirals, things hit rock bottom and it’s at that moment something extraordinary happens: An angel lands right at Jaya’s feet, and it’s alive. Finally she is forced to acknowledge just how significant these celestial beings are.

Set against the backdrop of the frenzied Edinburgh festival, OUT OF THE BLUE tackles questions of grief and guilt and fear over who we really are. But it’s also about love and acceptance and finding your place in this world as angels drop out of another.

Buy it here

My first thoughts

It’s ET meets I am Traitor in this wonderfully thrilling story. I couldn’t put it down.

The Characters

I love Jaya. She is headstrong, wonderfully moral and self assured. This is quite possibly the first LGBTQ+ main character who knows what and who she is and therefore doesn’t divert some of the plot with that exploration. Plus, it’s wonderful to just have a character who happens to be gay and her sexuality have no direct impact upon the plot.

The angel that falls is wonderful and while unable to vocalise her pain, confusion she is able to communicate. I’ll leave the name for you to discover, but it’s a delight and reflective of her innocent charm.

The Plot

The plot is perfectly woven out of a teen thriller nursing an injured angel back to health and a commentary upon religious belief and how we respond to the end of the world.

The sub plot looks at cults that can arise in such situations and the people who join them. It comments upon the challenges people face when drawn in without considering a way out.

It’s a well developed plot that has a balance between humour and tense drama. Something that will keep you up at night; if you start it, you won’t stop till its finished.

The Writing

It’s clear storytelling and third person narrative gives the story a film-like quality. It’s demonstrated best as the action heats up in the later section of the book. It’s a perfect read and I’d gladly welcome a sequel.

Posted in ARC, Book reviews, Han, Han's Reviews, HQ YA, Net Galley, Ramblings

If There’s No Tomorrow by Jennifer L Armentrout

Release date: 14th December 2017
Buy it here


Description: Lena Wise is always looking forward to tomorrow, especially at the start of her senior year. She’s ready to pack in as much friend time as possible, to finish college applications and to maybe let her childhood best friend Sebastian know how she really feels about him. For Lena, the upcoming year is going to be epic—one of opportunities and chances.

Until one choice, one moment, destroys everything.

Now Lena isn’t looking forward to tomorrow. Not when friend time may never be the same. Not when college applications feel all but impossible. Not when Sebastian might never forgive her for what happened.

For what she let happen.

With the guilt growing each day, Lena knows that her only hope is to move on. But how can she move on when her and her friends’ entire existences have been redefined? How can she move on when tomorrow isn’t even guaranteed?

I don’t trust Lena as much as perhaps I should. I know she’s an unreliable narrator owing to her memory loss; however, even when she regains her memory, she isn’t just pulling away from her friends, she pulls away from the reader too.
Sebastian is a little too perfect for my liking. He’s not an undeveloped character and I doubt for a second he is that perfect. However the things we know about him are from Lena, and I’m afraid she has him on a pedestal.

The first half of the book jumps around the timeline, allowing the reader to feel the same confusion that Lena does. It’s a weird feeling, but it adds to the atmosphere of the narrative.
The plot follows in the manner as we might expect grief to; nonlinear, progressive with unpredictable pitfalls. It’s wonderful and painful.

It’s a solid, professionally written novel. So Clear and well written that could handle the time jumps; something other writers would make feel clunky and convoluted.