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

All of This is True

Release date: 15.5.2018
About: In this genre-defying page-turner from Lygia Day Peñaflor, four teens befriend their favorite YA novelist, only to find their deepest, darkest secrets in the pages of her next book–with devastating consequences.
Miri Tan loved the book Undertow like it was a living being. So when she and her friends went to a book signing to hear the author, Fatima Ro, they concocted a plan to get close to her.
Soleil Johnston wanted to be a writer herself one day. When she and her friends started hanging out with her favorite author, Fatima Ro, she couldn’t believe their luck–especially when Jonah Nicholls started hanging out with them, too.
Penny Panzarella was more than the materialist party girl everyone at the Graham School thought she was–and she was willing to share all her secrets with Fatima Ro to prove it.
Jonah Nicholls had more to hide than any of them. And now that Fatima’s next book is out in the world, he’s the one who is paying the price…
Perfect for fans of One of Us Is Lying–and told as a series of interviews, journal entries, and even pages from the book within the book–this gripping story of a fictional scandal will keep you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end.
Buy it here


Character/s

This book wouldn’t be the same without each and every one of these complex characters. Their personalities don’t work in isolation and are a result of actions of others. Meeting them in a Pretty Little Lies post-event environment makes for some unreliable narrators and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Plot.

It’s a puzzle piece plot that will only make sense once you get to the end. Because of the nature of the plot, I can’t actually talk much about it, other than the fact that it will consume you completely. You will not want to put it down until you have all the answers.

Writing

It’s amazing when you have so many different characters with their own narratives going on that a writer can give each one a unique voice on paper. You don’t have to read the start of chapters multiple times to find out whose views your reading.

 

Posted in 2018, ARC, Han, Han's Reviews, Hot Key Books, Net Galley, Reads of ...

Ascension by Victor Dixen @VictorDixen

Release date: 28.6.2018
About:
Six girls, six boys. Each in the two separate bays of a single spaceship. They have six minutes each week to seduce and to make their choices, under the unblinking eye of the on-board cameras. They are the contenders in the Genesis programme, the world’s craziest speed-dating show ever, aimed at creating the first human colony on Mars.

Leonor, an 18 year old orphan, is one of the chosen ones.
She has signed up for glory.
She has signed up for love.
She has signed up for a one-way ticket.
Even if the dream turns to a nightmare, it is too late for regrets.
Pre-order here


Characters

I love Leonor. She’s a good voice to have when you’re stuck in space; she grounds you, so to speak. When you have a character like her; passionate, flawed and insightful. The way she works through the speed dating is interesting and something I easily identify with. Not only that, it adds a level of internal conflict that some narratives miss.

We learn bits about the other crew, but it’s those left on earth that are the most interesting. We have Serena, who communicates directly with the participants and becomes the ‘host’ of the broadcast. She’s a piece of work, you’ll quickly learn, but I want you to find that out for yourself.

Plot

It reads like a brilliant Sci-fi blockbuster. There are many threads in play and they change your perspective like a rubrics cube, waiting to be solved. Being the first in a trilogy, you go in knowing that you will have a resolve of some sorts, but there will be questions left unanswered to ensure you want more. It’s expertly done so that it doesn’t feel like it’s the first in a sequence, but a story in its own right.

Writing

Being a translated story, there’s always a worry that the writing loses something. This story, I’m delighted to say, doesn’t. It’s language is clean, its engaging and powerful. It makes for such a consumable, compulsive read.
I just wish I knew enough French to read the other two books in the series. Yes, they’re already published guys but you need to have progressed further than a GCSE in French to be able to access them.

Posted in 2018, ARC, Hot Key Books, Net Galley, Reads of ...

Sunflowers in February by Phyllida Shrimpton

Release Date: 8.2.2018
About:
Lily has died in a car accident. The trouble is, Lily’s really not at all sure she wants to ‘move on’ . . . This funny, heartbreaking novel is perfect if you loved John Green or The Lovely Bones.
Lily wakes up one crisp Sunday morning on the side of the road.
She has no idea how she got there. It is all very peaceful. And very beautiful. It is only when the police car, and then the ambulance, arrive and she sees her own body that she realises that she is in fact . . . dead.
But what is she supposed do now?
Lily has no option but to follow her body and sees her family – her parents and her twin brother – start falling apart. And then her twin brother Ben gives her a once in a deathtime opportunity – to use his own body for a while. But will Lily give Ben his body back? She is beginning to have a rather good time . . .
Buy from Here


Character/s

Lily is one of the most interesting characters I’ve seen on page. She’s dead from the moment we meet her, so we never really get a true sense of who she was. Being in the first person means we get a reflective character full of regret. It’s just as untrustworthy as other characters you meet and establish as untrustworthy.

Plus, a good chunk of the time, she’s not being herself. She’s being her brother. Now that is interesting and is truly good at showing how little we can sometimes know people.

Plot

The supernatural Freaky Friday plot really works here. It toes a perfect line of light-hearted scenarios and a deep emotional look at grief and loss. It’s not for everyone, but for those people who have lost someone close and have found it difficult to process those emotions, this might actually be the story for you.

Writing

The sign of good writing here is how the movements of Lily. Regardless of her form; ghost or host, there’s no confusion as to where she is or who she is. The writing also keeps emotion in play while allowing the reader to remove themselves from the grief.

Posted in 2018, ARC, Book reviews, Net Galley, Reads of ..., The British Book Challenge

Starfish by @akemidawn

So, this book is not going to take my normal approach to reviewing because my thoughts are all jumbled in a this-is-so-amazing brain dump. I still can’t, 12 hours or so from finishing the story, process how much EVERYONE needs to read this book.

There are so many threads within the book that at least one will have you gasping ‘that’s so me’. It deals with so many crucial issues that make or break someone; divorce, cultural belonging, parental approval, plans for the future, truthfulness, failure and so many more. Not only does Bowman address them, she provides solutions to some if you’re open to seeing them and not all of them are to do with acceptance.

I cried, more than once, reading the novel in my almost-one-sitting. I had a twenty minute break while I had something to eat; unfortunately with now having two beautiful kittens, eating at home is like waging war; one false step and I’ve lost my food. I digress. There are points in the book, whether you’ve been through it or not, your empathy will flood you with emotions. Bowman has created such a strong character that perceives herself as unworthy and weak. It’s hard not to want Kiko in your life as a friend.

While I have my own feelings about the Uncle Max thread and how that is dealt with has brought me some comfort that I never thought I’d find from a book, it is the issue of anxiety that I most identified with. The way Bowman represents Kiko’s thought process hopefully reveals to those who don’t suffer from anxiety, how exhausting it can be. It also helped me feel a little more ‘normal’.

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.
Characters
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.
Plot
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.

Writing
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.

Characters

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.

Plot

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.

Writing

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

Characters

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.

Plot

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.

Writing

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.