laurenreviews

2

Prisoner of Night and Fog (Prisoner of Night and Fog #1) 

by Anne Blankman

In 1930s Munich, danger lurks behind dark corners, and secrets are buried deep within the city. But Gretchen Müller, who grew up in the National Socialist Party under the wing of her “uncle” Dolf, has been shielded from that side of society ever since her father traded his life for Dolf’s, and Gretchen is his favorite, his pet.

Uncle Dolf is none other than Adolf Hitler.

And Gretchen follows his every command.

Until she meets a fearless and handsome young Jewish reporter named Daniel Cohen. Gretchen should despise Daniel, yet she can’t stop herself from listening to his story: that her father, the adored Nazi martyr, was actually murdered by an unknown comrade. She also can’t help the fierce attraction brewing between them, despite everything she’s been taught to believe about Jews.

As Gretchen investigates the very people she’s always considered friends, she must decide where her loyalties lie. Will she choose the safety of her former life as a Nazi darling, or will she dare to dig up the truth—even if it could get her and Daniel killed?

*I received a free copy from the publishers via Edelweiss

Prisoner of Night and Fog follows the life of Gretchen Müller who grew up with the support of the National Socialist Party and her ‘Uncle Dolf’, as she refers to him as. Gretchen’s father gave up his life for Hitler’s and now Gretchen sees him as a second father, following his every command and believing every lie. When Gretchen meets Daniel, a Jewish reporter, she falls unexpectedly in love even though she has been raised to despise him. As the two investigate her father’s death, Gretchen questions everything she’s ever known and she must choose between her old life or uncover the truth.

I was originally drew to Prisoner of Night and Fog because of the cover because it’s gorgeous. Then I read the synopsis and decided I needed it. So when I requested it and got accepted I was thrilled. Beyond thrilled, actually. Being a fan of young adult historical fiction, I was instantly drawn into the book. I’ll begin with the plot. It was intricate with many twists and turns and I was captivated from the beginning. Adolf Hitler is shown, on the surface, as a kind caring man who has the good of Germany at his heart. Yet, even though we know what a cruel man he was, Gretchen is slowly exposed to the disturbing truth. Hitler wants to destroy the Jews, exterminate them. He wants to wage wars and he’s not working for the ordinary man. I won’t say anymore because I don’t want to spoil it, but when Gretchen discovers the truth, about her brother Reinhard aswell, she must choose between two paths. Does she stay in her old life as the privileged girl under the wing of Adolf Hitler, or does she run and not look back?

The characters were a strong  point of the story and I think that Blankman did a fantastic job interweaving her own characters in with real ones, the dynamic between them all felt flawless. Gretchen was a great protagonist and I admired her loyalty, yet found her admirable  in her quest to uncover the truth. She was evidently intelligent and determined, and brave. Brave for questioning the life she had grown up with, and brave for falling in love with a Jew in 1930s Germany, and then proud for falling in love with a Jew in 1930s Germany. Another character I really enjoyed was Daniel Cohen. Can I have a Daniel Cohen? Please? He was fearless, loyal to Gretchen, intelligent and intent on finding the truth, yet sarcastic and fun loving. I loved the development between Daniel and Gretchen and I found they had great chemistry. Reinhard was an incredibly well developed and intriguing character, yet I seriously despised him, along with 'Uncle Dolf’. The secondary characters, such as Eva and Geli, were also well developed and a great addition to the story.

Whilst the atmosphere didn’t feel as genuine as other historical novels I have read, it did not lessen my enjoyment of the story and I think that Blankman did a very good job and was very historically accurate.

I would recommend to fans of historical fiction, and fans of books like Code Name Verity and The Book Thief.

RATING: ★★★★☆ 

2

Sea of Shadows (Age of Legends #1) 

by Kelley Armstrong

In the Forest of the Dead, where the empire’s worst criminals are exiled, twin sisters Moria and Ashyn are charged with a dangerous task. For they are the Keeper and the Seeker, and each year they must quiet the enraged souls of the damned.

Only this year, the souls will not be quieted.

Ambushed and separated by an ancient evil, the sisters’ journey to find each other sends them far from the only home they’ve ever known. Accompanied by a stubborn imperial guard and a dashing condemned thief, the girls cross a once-empty wasteland, now filled with reawakened monsters of legend, as they travel to warn the emperor. But a terrible secret awaits them at court—one that will alter the balance of their world forever.

*I received a free copy from the publishers via Edelweiss.

Sea of Shadows follows the lives of twin sisters, Moria and Ashyn, who are the Keeper and the Seeker of the Forest of the Dead, where the empire’s most terrible criminals are exiled to. Every year, the Seeker and Keeper are tasked with calming the infuriated spirits of the forest. Yet, this year, something darker lurks in the forest, creatures of myth and the spirits won’t be calmed. Violence is unleashed and the two sisters are separated, accompanied by a thief and a irritable guard. The two sisters race against the clock to deliver a message to the emperor and attempt to save the empire from the ancient evil.  

I’m a fan of Kelley Armstrong’s first YA series, The Darkest Powers, and so I was eager to give this a read and so took the first opportunity I could to give it a shot. It did not disappoint and fans of Kelley Armstrong will enjoy massively. As far as I know, this is Kelley Armstrong’s first epic fantasy, and I must say she did a very good job. The world building was fantastic and I really felt drawn into the empire and felt I travelled with the girls across the Wastes and battled with the ancient and supposedly mythical creatures right along with them. The pacing was a little slow at times, yet this did not lessen my enjoyment and I found myself reading at every opportunity. There was lots of action and suspense and you will not be disappointed if that’s what you’re looking for, but bear in mind that the story can move slow at times.

As for the characters, I loved them. Moria was by far my favourite and was much more interesting that Ashyn. Moria is badass, she’s strong, loyal to her sister and to her duty as a Keeper. She has a sharp tongue, quick wit and takes shit from no one. A female character to be deeply admired. Ashyn, whilst not as badass as Moria, was just as strong. She’s vulnerable and insecure and a dreamer, hopelessly romantic and scared.  Yet, I still loved her. I also think that Armstrong captured the dynamic between twins (being a twin myself), and this was definitely a highlight of the novel. Whilst romance plays a part in the girls life, it is not overwhelming nor a centric part. I loved both Ronan and Gavril, though at times Gavril was a bit of an ass, but mysterious and that made him all the more alluring. I would really like to learn more about both of them in the sequels.

Sea of Shadows is definitely a book to pick up if you’re a fan of the Young Adult genre, as it ticks all the boxes: suspense and action, great heroines and broody love interests. I would also recommend to fans of Kelley Armstrong and fans of the high fantasy genre. Definitely one of the best books I have read this year and is a series I will, without doubt, be continuing with.  

MY RATING: ★★★★★

2

Between Shades of Gray

by Ruta Sepetys

That morning, my brother’s life was worth a pocket watch …

One night fifteen-year-old Lina, her mother and young brother are hauled from their home by Soviet guards, thrown into cattle cars and sent away. They are being deported to Siberia.

An unimaginable and harrowing journey has begun. Lina doesn’t know if she’ll ever see her father or her friends again. But she refuses to give up hope.

Lina hopes for her family. For her country. For her future. For love - first love, with the boy she barely knows but knows she does not want to lose … Will hope keep Lina alive?

Set in 1941, Between Shades of Gray is an extraordinary and haunting story based on first-hand family accounts and memories from survivors.

‘Have you ever wondered what a human life is worth? That morning, my brother’s was worth a pocket watch.’

Between Shades of Gray
 is a moving story that opens your eyes to the horrors that occurred to the Baltic countries under the rule of Stalin and the USSR. I was previously unaware to such horrors, despite studying the USSR in University. I feel that it is a subject that goes overlooked in history, and I feel guilty about not knowing about it. 

Between Shades of Gray follows the story of Lina, a Lithuanian girl who is forced out of her home by the NKVD along with her family and sent to labour camps. The story tells of their suffering during this period, which lasted over a decade. They were starved, were kept prisoner and along the way, people died. They were treated as animals. 

Lina is the narrator of the story, and her narrative is gruesome and straight to the point. She is a strong and brave character. Despite the dangers, she draws and writes about the cruel Soviets. Whilst living under such grim circumstances, she remains hopeful that she’ll be reunited with her father and that she’ll even go home. It made me sad to know that it would take over a decade to do so.

I found Andrius a great character as well, and I think that the love he had for Lina is obvious and they supported each other when they needed someone the most. It’s a moving story with a genuine development. 

“Good men are often more practical than pretty “ said Mother. "Andrius just happens to be both.” 

Between Shades of Gray was a seriously engaging story that may make you cry because it’s meant to convey such an important message - that these people were ignored  by the rest of the world. The Nazi’s were the priority at this time, and there are several points within the story that it states that German would help them when they invaded Lithuania, but the two evils are the same. 

Ruta Sepetys is an amazing author that depicts the events with such clarity and feeling that it should not be ignored. 

 MY RATING: ★★★★★

2

None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio

A groundbreaking story about a teenage girl who discovers she’s intersex … and what happens when her secret is revealed to the entire school. Incredibly compelling and sensitively told, None of the Above is a thought-provoking novel that explores what it means to be a boy, a girl, or something in between.
What if everything you knew about yourself changed in an instant?
When Kristin Lattimer is voted homecoming queen, it seems like another piece of her ideal life has fallen into place. She’s a champion hurdler with a full scholarship to college and she’s madly in love with her boyfriend. In fact, she’s decided that she’s ready to take things to the next level with him.
But Kristin’s first time isn’t the perfect moment she’s planned—something is very wrong. A visit to the doctor reveals the truth: Kristin is intersex, which means that though she outwardly looks like a girl, she has male chromosomes, not to mention boy “parts.”

Dealing with her body is difficult enough, but when her diagnosis is leaked to the whole school, Kristin’s entire identity is thrown into question. As her world unravels, can she come to terms with her new self?

I received a free copy to review via Edelweiss

When I saw None of the Above, I was excited because I had never heard of a book with an intersex protagonist, and therefore I feel that None of the Above has made a giant leap in the diverse books movement. When I read it, I found it was a moving, raw and emotionally driven novel that tries its very best to stay authentic and provide a relatable intersex character struggling with her identity.

I knew very little about being intersex before starting this book and knew a lot more after finishing it. Whilst also being informative and discussing the prejudice of being intersex, it also discussing the psychological impact and decisions that come with a diagnosis.

When Kristin discovers she’s intersex, she feels that her whole world has fallen down around her as she struggles with her diagnosis and her identity, and when the whole school finds out Kristin, faces disgusting behaviour and prejudice from her classmates, and even her boyfriend.

I thoroughly enjoyed Kristin as our protagonist and I loved watching her progress throughout the story.

I.W. Gregorio handles the topic in a delicate and informative way, but also honestly and emotionally.

It’s a book that I cannot recommend enough.

MY RATING: ★★★★★

2

The Distance Between Lost and Found by Kathryn Holmes

Ever since the night of the incident with Luke Willis, the preacher’s son, sophomore Hallelujah Calhoun has been silent. When the rumors swirled around school, she was silent. When her parents grounded her, she was silent. When her friends abandoned her … silent.

Now, six months later, on a youth group retreat in the Smoky Mountains, Hallie still can’t find a voice to answer the taunting. Shame and embarrassment haunt her, while Luke keeps coming up with new ways to humiliate her. Not even meeting Rachel, an outgoing newcomer who isn’t aware of her past, can pull Hallie out of her shell. Being on the defensive for so long has left her raw, and she doesn’t know who to trust.

On a group hike, the incessant bullying pushes Hallie to her limit. When Hallie, Rachel, and Hallie’s former friend Jonah get separated from the rest of the group, the situation quickly turns dire. Stranded in the wilderness, the three have no choice but to band together.

With past betrayals and harrowing obstacles in their way, Hallie fears they’ll never reach safety. Could speaking up about the night that changed everything close the distance between being lost and found? Or has she traveled too far to come back? 

First Impression: The Distance Between Lost and Found is a powerful and moving story of survival in both the physical and mental sense. I LOVED it, and Hallie (short for Hallelujah) is very much a relatable character who struggles to find her voice, but when she does it’s truly inspirational. 

“The storm won’t last long. And, Hallelujah realizes, sometimes you need the storm to really appreciate the sun and the blue sky.”

Review:  Something bad happened between Hallie and Luke Willis, the preachers son. Luke, because he’s an absolute shitface (mind my language), lies about what happened and Hallie suffers the consequences. She’s tormented and bullied, distrusted by her parents, shunned by her peers and abandoned by her friends. Six months later, Hallie returns to church youth group and they’re out hiking in the mountains. Hallie continues to be tormented, Luke takes pride out of her shame and embarrassment. When she meets Rachel, a fun outgoing new girl who knows nothing of Hallie’s and Luke’s past, who hasn’t heard the nasty rumours, Hallie is still on the defensive and thus is quickly distrustful of Rachel. When out hiking, Rachel, Hallie and Jonah – Hallie’s ex-best friend – get separated from the group and must stick together to survive. They begin to form a strong bond and the life and death struggle is enough to encourage Hallie to speak out, to stand up for herself and to stop being tormented by the past.


I was excited about The Distance Between Lost and Found. I don’t entirely know why, I just was. Yet, I had every right to be because it’s a deeply moving story and I’m glad that I had the opportunity to read it. 

Whilst at times it may seem like The Distance Between Lost and Found is just about trying to survive in the wilderness, trying to rely on each other, it’s much more than that. It would have been a great story still if it wasn’t, but I think the touching storyline and fantastically developed characters and back-story (for everyone, not just Hallie) was what made The Distance Between Lost and Found a book I won’t be forgetting anytime soon. 

It’s an important novel because it shows the REALITY of situations like this, which is incredibly disturbing. Everybody took the preacher’s son, and the popular kids side because he was found in a compromising position and OF COURSE he couldn’t do any wrong, could he? But also, WE MUST PROTECT HIS REPUTATION.

It’s wrong, and I hate Luke and everyone else for it, but stuff like this actually HAPPENS, and it needs exposure, because girls need to know they can speak up. 

They put Hallie in a position where she feels threatened to tell the truth, but it’s also disgusting that’s she’s treated the way she is. 

Hallie is a very courageous character who is deeply hurting and can’t find the strength to speak out about what happened. She’s vulnerable inside, but the silence is just a shield – keep your head down and it will go away, they’ll find something new to talk about. It doesn’t happen like that, and Hallie comes to realise it. It was a wonder and an inspiration to get to watch Hallie make that choice. I enjoyed Rachel as a character too, her supportiveness, her openness and general optimism in the face of danger. She was a great friend to Hallie, despite just meeting. Jonah, whilst at times he acts entitled, has some serious character development throughout the novel (though I wish they’d just stayed friends). Luke was someone I detested from the start and people who do something intentionally hurtful and so emotionally and mentally scarring should be punished for what they did. 

Overall, The Distance Between Lost and Found is a book I will probably find myself recommending frequently because the story behind it is a powerful one, because Hallie ends up the one in control.

RATING: ★★★★★

2

Everything That Makes You

by Moriah McStay

One girl. Two stories. Meet Fiona Doyle. The thick ridges of scar tissue on her face are from an accident twelve years ago. Fiona has notebooks full of songs she’s written about her frustrations, her dreams, and about her massive crush on beautiful uber-jock Trent McKinnon. If she can’t even find the courage to look Trent straight in his beautiful blue eyes, she sure isn’t brave enough to play or sing any of her songs in public. But something’s changing in Fiona. She can’t be defined by her scars anymore. 

And what if there hadn’t been an accident? Meet Fi Doyle. Fi is the top-rated female high school lacrosse player in the state, heading straight to Northwestern on a full ride. She’s got more important things to deal with than her best friend Trent McKinnon, who’s been different ever since the kiss. When her luck goes south, even lacrosse can’t define her anymore. When you’ve always been the best at something, one dumb move can screw everything up. Can Fi fight back?

Hasn’t everyone wondered what if? In this daring debut novel, Moriah McStay gives us the rare opportunity to see what might have happened if things were different. Maybe luck determines our paths. But maybe it’s who we are that determines our luck.

*I received a free copy from the publishers via Edelweiss for review purposes.
Everything That Makes You is an interesting concept – what if that ONE thing didn’t happen? How different would your life be? Would it be better, or worse? Would you fall in love with the same person? It was this type of narrative that really made this book something unique.

Fiona has a scarred face from an accident twelve years ago. She’s shy and considers herself an outcast. She writes songs about her life, her scars and the beautiful and charming Trent McKinnon. Throughout Fiona’s story, she finds the courage not to be defined by her scars anymore. Then there’s Fi – the Fiona who didn’t have the accident. Ranked top in the state for lacrosse heading to one of the best colleges for female lacrosse, Fi has it all. Her best friend is also Trent McKinnon, who is acting weird since their kiss, but Fi has more important things on her mind and when her luck goes sideways, she decides lacrosse isn’t the only important thing in her life.

Everything That Makes You is a moving piece of writing with a relatable protagonist, witty dialogue, thoughtful choices and some loveable secondary characters. It makes you really think about whether YOU define your path or whether fate or luck does. I’m happy at how both Fi’s and Fiona’s stories ended, and how their difficult choices and unfortunate luck made them the people who they were. Their interests differed, but essentially, they were the same girl – headstrong, passionate, kind and realistic. 

For me, it was Fiona and Fi who made this story as great as it was. To see each develop into somebody stronger and better and didn’t let her scars/lacrosse define who she was. By the end of the novel, they have discovered themselves. 

A highly recommendable piece of contemporary fiction with some really great moments.

Plus, the cover is lovely.

RATING: ★★★★☆ 

2

Code Name Verity (Code Name Verity #1)

by Elizabeth Wein 

Oct. 11th, 1943-A British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France. Its pilot and passenger are best friends. One of the girls has a chance at survival. The other has lost the game before it’s barely begun.

When “Verity” is arrested by the Gestapo, she’s sure she doesn’t stand a chance. As a secret agent captured in enemy territory, she’s living a spy’s worst nightmare. Her Nazi interrogators give her a simple choice: reveal her mission or face a grisly execution.

As she intricately weaves her confession, Verity uncovers her past, how she became friends with the pilot Maddie, and why she left Maddie in the wrecked fuselage of their plane. On each new scrap of paper, Verity battles for her life, confronting her views on courage, failure and her desperate hope to make it home. But will trading her secrets be enough to save her from the enemy? 

A Michael L. Printz Award Honor book that was called “a fiendishly-plotted mind game of a novel” in The New York Times, Code Name Verity is a visceral read of danger, resolve, and survival that shows just how far true friends will go to save each other.

I first read Code Name Verity over a year ago–GOD, that long? (Read my first (and awful) review here, though it really doesn’t do CNV justice)–and believe me when I say I instantly fell in love. Yes, yes, I reluctantly admit that the first 50 pages or so are bogged down with technical terms and aircraft types (but frankly, I didn’t mind so much–I am a history nerd) so some people have difficulty getting into it BUT PLEASE CONTINUE WITH IT! You’ll be viciously catapulted into a heartwrenching story of friendship and bravery and fall in love with an arrogant, stubborn SCOTSWOMAN.

Jesus, I love and hate this book. Hate because it makes me CRY

“KISS ME, HARDY. Kiss me, QUICK!" YES, OK. I’M BLUBBERING LIKE A BABY.

"Fly the plane, Maddie.” Yes, more tears.

You’ve also GOT to re-read Code Name Verity to understand and appreciate the cleverness of it. You see things that you never did the first time round. You notice things and you’re like “OH MY GOD, YES! HOW DIDN’T I SEE THAT BEFORE?”

I love Maddie, and poor, poor Julie, and Jamie and bloody hell, even Engel. I love this book with a passion. It’s my favourite, period.

Also, if you have read and loved Code Name Verity, I would highly recommend reading the companion novel (and meet a few familiar faces), Rose Under Fire. Obviously, no protoganist can compare to Julie, but Rose Justice is absoloutely breathtaking in her own way.

I’m going to leave you with my favourite quote:

“I am no longer afraid of getting old. Indeed I can’t believe I ever said anything so stupid. So childish. So offensive and arrogant. But mainly, so very, very stupid. I desperately want to grow old.”


You’re also probably wondering why I’m doing a completely seperate review, right? It’s because I got a lovely US edition from a friend to go alongside my UK one.

RATING: ★★★★★

2

Snow Like Ashes (Snow Like Ashes #1) 

by Sara Raasch

A heartbroken girl. A fierce warrior. A hero in the making.

Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. Now, the Winterians’ only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been waiting for the opportunity to steal back Winter’s magic and rebuild the kingdom ever since.

Orphaned as an infant during Winter’s defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee, raised by the Winterians’ general, Sir. Training to be a warrior—and desperately in love with her best friend, and future king, Mather — she would do anything to help her kingdom rise to power again.

So when scouts discover the location of the ancient locket that can restore Winter’s magic, Meira decides to go after it herself. Finally, she’s scaling towers, fighting enemy soldiers, and serving her kingdom just as she’s always dreamed she would. But the mission doesn’t go as planned, and Meira soon finds herself thrust into a world of evil magic and dangerous politics – and ultimately comes to realize that her destiny is not, never has been, her own.

Sara Raasch’s debut fantasy is a lightning-fast tale of loyalty, love, and finding one’s destiny.

I received a free copy from the publishers via Edelweiss

“Fear is a seed that, once planted, never stops growing.”

Snow Like Ashes follows Meira and her quest, along with other Winterian refugees, to free Winter, their home. Meira was orphaned during the War between Spring and Winter and raised by the Winterian General, William, who she calls Sir. When the location of Winter’s locket is discovered, a locket that can restore Winter’s power and help the refugees, and the King of Winter, take back their home from the clutches of Spring, Meira goes after the locket only to be thrust into the dangerous world of politics and unforeseen destinies.

The plot, at first, is fairly simple. Retrieve Winter’s conduit (the locket) and save Winter from Spring. In that sense, it reminded me very much of Finnikin of the Rock, and thus I think fans ofThe Lumatere Chronicles will enjoy Snow Like Ashes. However, towards the middle to the end of the novel, the pace really picks up and you’re thrown into a very quick and enticing plotwith many twists and shocks throughout. Snow Like Ashes is a very compelling read and I highly suggest you give it a read, particularly if you’re a fan of the high fantasy genre. Raasch’s writing is great, and easy to follow yet rich and emotive. 

As many high fantasy fans will be aware of, world building is essential to the readers enjoyment. I can assure you that Raasch did an excellent job in bringing the Seasons and the Rhythms to life, and although it starts of confusing, I got my head around it all very quickly. I also loved that your season determined how you looked from Winters white locks and pale skin, to Autumns copper skin. You really did have a sense that you were in an alternative universe, with constant winters and summers, with charming princes and badass ladies throwing chakrams.

I particularly enjoyed the characters and I think that the characters coupled with the world building is what made Snow Like Ashes such an awesome read. It took me several chapters to warm to Meira, but one cannot deny her fierceness and independence and willingness to prove herself. Those who like Celaena from Throne of Glass will probably like Meira, though she is certainly not as arrogant or brash, but her temper tantrums can be likened to Celaena (though she has every right). Also, there are a couple of swoon worthy princes thrown in there which are easy to love. 

Overall, I think that Snow Like Ashes is an awesomely great high fantasy novel.

MY RATING: ★★★★★

2

On the Fence

by Kasie West

For sixteen-year-old Charlotte Reynolds, aka Charlie, being raised by a single dad and three older brothers has its perks. She can out-run, out-score, and outwit every boy she knows–including her long-time neighbor, and honorary fourth brother, Braden.

But when it comes to being a girl, Charlie doesn’t know the first thing about anything. So when she starts working at a chi-chi boutique to pay off a speeding ticket, she finds herself in a strange new world of makeup, lacy skirts, and bedazzlers. Even stranger, she’s spending time with a boy who has never seen her tear it up in a pick-up game.

To cope with the stress of faking her way through this new reality, Charlie seeks late night refuge in her backyard, talking out her problems with Braden by the fence that separates them. But their Fence Chats can’t solve Charlie’s biggest problem: she’s falling for Braden. Hard. She knows what it means to go for the win, but if spilling her secret means losing him for good, the stakes just got too high.

*I received a free copy from the publishers via edelweiss.

On The Fence was a refreshing YA contemporary romance, one that had a genuine friendship and relationship that developed realistically and was not incredibly cheesy like your run of the mill contemp-romance.

Charlie is a tomboy and has grown up with three protective brothers, and thus knows how to bad-mouth and out do all the other boys. Along with her three brothers, Charlie includes her neighbour, Braden as an honorary brother. When Charlie’s father, a cop, makes her get a job to pay off another speeding ticket, Charlie finds herself working in a clothes shop - and she doesn’t know the first thing about fashion, or about being a girl. She finds herself in a new world, one with short skirts and make-up, and boys that haven’t seen her play football. With the inability to sleep due to missing out on her late night run because of her new job, Charlie finds comfort in her backyard with Braden and their Fence Chats. She begins to see Braden in a new light and can’t help falling for him.

On The Fence is a pretty easy going read, with a lot of fun and humorous moments. It even scored low on cringe-worthy moments, but I found myself entranced from the beginning; and read the whole thing with a massive grin on my face. I’ve never read Kasie West’s other books, but after reading this, I might just have to, because I thought it was pretty damn awesome. Charlie was a relatable character, and whilst she struggled with her identity, she came out of it confident with her head held high. Braden was swoon-worthy, and I really loved their friendship and how it developed. I really enjoyed her brothers also, as each had a different personality that went well with Charlie.

For fans of contemporary romance, I would highly suggest giving this a go. Even if you don’t usually like contemporary romance, give this a go, because it’s one of the good ones.

RATING: ★★★★☆

2

Stray

by Elissa Sussman

Epic, rewarding, and provocative, this original fairy tale tells the story of Aislynn, a princess who misbehaves and must give up her royal trappings and enter a life of service as a fairy godmother. Stray will appeal to readers of Entwined, by Heather Dixon; to those who grew up watching the Disney princess movies; and to fans of the acclaimed musicals Into the Woods and Wicked.

Princess Aislynn’s magical ability is powerful and uncontrollable, and at her academy’s Introduction Ball—where she hopes to be introduced to her beloved and begin a life of happily ever after—Aislynn makes a horrible mistake instead. According to The Path, the strict patriarchal doctrine of the land, Aislynn must now be redirected—her loving heart is removed and put in a cabinet, her royal ball gown is replaced with a simple purple robe, and she is assigned to a Princess Linnea as her fairy godmother. A cross between The Handmaid’s Tale and Wicked, with a dash of Grimm and Disney thrown in, this original fairy tale is part coming-of-age story, part fairy tale, part adventure, part sweet romance. Will Aislynn remain true to her vows and her royal family and turn away from everything she longs for? Or will she stray from The Path and discover her own way? Includes a recipe for Fairy Godmother Bookbinder Bread.

I received a free copy via Edelweiss.

I’ve had some disappointing reads recently and I was so glad that Stray turned out to be an entertaining, beautiful and refreshing fairytale. 

Princess Aislynn’s magic is uncontrollable and it rewards her with nothing but punishment. At her Introduction Ball (where she becomes of age to be married off), Aislynn makes a mistake that causes her to be Redirected – she becomes a fairy godmother in training and she is assigned to Princess Linnea, who very much becomes a friend to Aislynn. The ancient and strict teachings of her society, known as The Path is what all members of society live by and Aislynn must choose whether to live by The Path, or to stray from it.

An original fairytale, I think this novel will appeal to fans of Brothers Grimm, Charles Perrault, and hell, even fans of our favourite Disney movies from our childhood and adulthood.

My favourite thing about Stray is the characters. I loved Aislynn as our protagonist. She had her flaws, certainly, but she is self-consciousness (yet learns to overcome this), brave and kind, even though this does mean that she lands herself in trouble a lot of the time. I really loved to read about her development throughout the novel and how she came to accept herself and her magic. 

I also very much loved the charming Thackery. He is, as you probably guessed, the love interest for Aislynn – but it’s sweet and slow and leaves you aching for more interaction between the two. 

The story is dark and enticing , compelling and addictive to read despite some slow pacing at times. Overall, I really did enjoy this original novel with a very genuine fairytale feel.

RATING: ★★★★☆ 

2

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before #1) by Jenny Han

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister’s ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.

“Margot would say she belongs to herself. Kitty would say she belongs to no one. And I guess I would say I belong to my sisters and my dad, but that won’t always be true. To belong to someone—I didn’t know it, but now that I think about, it seems like that’s all I’ve ever wanted. To really be somebody’s, and to have them be mine.”

Instead of telling her crushes of her feelings, Lara Jean writes them down in a letter and hides them in a hat box under her bed. It’s her way of letting go, of moving on from these crushes. Whilst Lara Jean never intends for them to get sent, they do anyway as you would expect, and Lara Jean must face the consequences.

I must admit I was pleasantly surprised by To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before because, whilst I was super excited to start it (I really enjoyed Burn for Burn and I need the next one), the first few chapters left me a bit…meh. Then I met Peter Kavinsky and all was forgiven. 

In order to ‘save face’ in front of her current crush, Josh (after he receives a letter), she unexpectedly kisses an old crush…in front of the entire school. Peter is a jerk at times, sure, but deep down he’s actually a pretty darn nice guy. As soon as I saw the relationship between the two of them, I had forgotten all about Josh (sorry Josh!). And at first, Lara Jean did annoy me and her voice was a tad naive, but throughout the story, you really see her grow and it’s a pleasure to read. 

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before was a cute, lighthearted and humorous read and a series I’ll be sure to keep up with.

RATING: ★★★★☆ 

2

Dissonance (Dissonance #1) 

by Erica O'Rourke 

Delancy Sullivan has always known there’s more to reality than what people see. Every time someone makes a choice, a new, parallel world branches off from the existing one. Eating breakfast or skipping it, turning left instead of right, sneaking out instead of staying in bed ~ all of these choices create an alternate universe in which an echo self takes the road not travelled and makes the opposite decision. As a Walker, someone who can navigate between these worlds, Del’s job is to keep all of the dimensions in harmony.

Normally, Del can hear the dissonant frequency that each world emits as clear as a bell. But when a training session in an off-key world goes horribly wrong, she is forbidden from Walking by the Council. But Del’s not big on following the rules and she secretly starts to investigate these other worlds. Something strange is connecting them and it’s not just her random encounters with echo versions of the guy she likes, Simon Lane.

But Del’s decisions have unimaginable consequences and, as she begins to fall for the Echo Simons in each world, she draws closer to a truth that the Council of Walkers is trying to hide ~ a secret that threatens the fate of the entire multiverse.

I received a free copy from the publishers via Edelweiss


That was pretty damn awesome. 

Dissonance follows the life of Delancy Sullivan who is a Walker, or at least training to be, and has the ability to walk between worlds in the multiverse. Del’s job is to keep harmony between all the worlds, worlds that are created through choices. When Del is suspended by the Council because of a Walk gone bad, she begins to unravel something bigger than Park World, all the whilst falling for Echo Simon and Original Simon, but a powerful secret threatens them all. 

One thing I really admired about Dissonance was the incredibly well thought out, intricately woven and brilliantly executed world building. There was no big info dump, but it was revealed slowly and concisely throughout the novel. Whilst the science stuff confused me at times (because I don’t understand it and barely passed physics), I found that it was explained nicely. I thought the multiverse was very interesting and well done. It was one of the best things about the book. 

Another great thing about Dissonance were the characters who were so multi-dimensional that I fell for each one. Whilst there was the obvious girl and best friend and unattainable bad boy love triangle, I still found myself loving each character individually. Del was a seriously badass character, even though she annoyed me at times, but it made her all the more realistic. She made mistakes, she had serious authority issues and she was hot headed and reckless, but I still loved her as a character and her development throughout the novel was such a pleasure to read. Then there is her sister, Addie, who I disliked at times but liked at others; seemingly a heartless, by-the-book, girl, Addie proves herself to be caring and thoughtful, though still puts the Key World and the Consort first. I really enjoyed the dynamic between Del and Addie. Eliot was also a great character, though I felt like I didn’t see him as much as I would have liked, but his devotion to Del is admirable. At first, I really shipped the relationship between Simon and Del though I felt that their interaction became a little stiff when he found out who she was. I’m not sure if it was intentional or not, but I didn’t like their relationship as much. I still totally ship it though. 

Then there is the plot, and the massive plot twists that are revealed towards the end, and I’m left like…whatttttt? Monty? *Sad face*. But seriously though, an incredibly engaging plot, though it moves slow at times. 

A great read and I highly suggest giving it a go.

RATING: ★★★★☆

2

The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time

by Mark Haddon

Christopher is 15 and lives in Swindon with his father. He has Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of autism. He is obsessed with maths, science and Sherlock Holmes but finds it hard to understand other people. When he discovers a dead dog on a neighbour’s lawn he decides to solve the mystery and write a detective thriller about it. As in all good detective stories, however, the more he unearths, the deeper the mystery gets - for both Christopher and the rest of his family.

“Prime numbers are what is left when you have taken all the patterns away. I think prime numbers are like life. They are very logical but you could never work out the rules, even if you spent all your time thinking about them.” 

Christopher has Asperger’s Syndrome and is extremely talented at maths and science, but has difficultly understanding people. When his neighbour dog is murdered, Christopher sets out to finds out who did it, and write it down as a novel. However, he uncovers more than just the killer’s identity. 

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this and only really picked it up on a whim because I wanted something small to read. I have never met anybody who is autistic, and I know very little about it and thus I cannot comment on the accuracy of Haddon’s novel. Nevertheless, I rather enjoyed The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time.

I love his passion for maths and his determination to get an A-Level in it. Whilst I found the math equations confusing (I’m not very good at it…like not really at all.) I found that they made the book all the more realistic, along with his drawings. 

My favourite thing about The Curious Incident were the characters. I loved reading from Christopher’s point of view, and although he said he couldn’t tell jokes, I found him rather humorous at times. It was a really insightful read, reading from Christopher’s point of view, but also seeing how it affected his family. Another character I really enjoyed was Siobhan. She was patient with Christopher and evidently cared for him.

Whilst it is simply written, it’s impact is anything but. I highly recommend.

RATING: ★★★★☆

2

The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2) by Maggie Stiefvater 

The second installment in the all-new series from the masterful, #1 NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Maggie Stiefvater!

Now that the ley lines around Cabeswater have been woken, nothing for Ronan, Gansey, Blue, and Adam will be the same. Ronan, for one, is falling more and more deeply into his dreams, and his dreams are intruding more and more into waking life. Meanwhile, some very sinister people are looking for some of the same pieces of the Cabeswater puzzle that Gansey is after…

“In that moment, Blue was a little in love with all of them. Their magic. Their quest. Their awfulness and strangeness. Her raven boys.”

Possible spoilers ahead.

The Dream Thieves
 is much more intense than The Raven Boysand their quest becomes a little more dangerous. Ronan’s dreams are intruding on reality more and more, Adam feels different-angrier almost. Gansey grows impatient, and Blue falls in love, and there are new arrivals in Henrietta that pose a threat to the raven boys. 

The writing was beautiful and elegant, and right from the first chapter, I knew I was going to love this book. The pacing was fantastic and suspenseful, and I took my time reading it because I wanted to soak it all up. 

The Dream Thieves is much more focused on Ronan than Gansey like in The Raven Boys and I loved every second of it. I have a special place in my heart for the broken, sad and lonely Ronan, and I was thoroughly impressed with the character development. Ronan’s scared of his nightmares, yet filled with pride at the things he can fetch from his dreams. Ronan is such a complex character, and in The Dream Thieves we finally find out what happened to his family, his father, and his origins. 

“And Ronan was everything that was left: molten eyes and a smile made for war.” 

It wasn’t just Ronan that Maggie managed to make so multi-dimensional, but all the other raven boys as well. I’ll start with Noah, dear, lovely Noah. Noah’s dead, and thus does not play a prominent role within the novel, particularly with the ley lines dysfunctionality at times, yet the times I read about him, I wanted to read more. 

“He was fading. It wasn’t that she could see through him. It was that it was hard to remember what he looked like, even while she was looking at him. When he turned his head, she saw him swallow. He mumbled, ‘I’d ask you out, if I was alive.’” 

Please Noah, you’re breaking my heart.

At times, I found Adam rather obnoxious. I know why he was like that, why he got angry so quickly, and I was glad he came through towards the end of the book. I found him rather possessive of Blue, and it was a quality I disliked in him. Perhaps in the next book, I’ll like him more, but in The Dream Thieves I was irritated by him. 

Then there’s Gansey, the 'leader’ of the raven boys. The charming, confident and smart Gansey. I think I love him more in The Dream Thieves than I did in The Raven Boys. His passion for Glendower is admirable and his admiration for Blue is obvious. I can’t bear the thought of him dying.

“He hadn’t realized yet that Gansey could persuade even the sun to pause and give him the time.” 

Then there’s the awesomeness that is Blue. I’m sorry but she is sort-of bad-ass, right?

“Right, sure. Because there’s no girls in politics! I have no interest. Voting? What? I forgot my apron. I think I ought to be in the kitchen right now, actually. My rolling pin-” 

She’s so snarky and I love it.

Blue and Gansey are perfect together. But I am so glad that Maggie is taking her time with their relationship and letting it develop, and basically letting them fall in love.

“I wish you could be kissed, Jane,’ he said. 'Because I would beg just one off you. Under all this.’ He flailed an arm toward the stars.” 

I loved the magic and the mystery and basically everything about this book. I really loved the addition of the illusive Gray man. I can’t wait for the next one. 

Definitely read if you’re a fan of The Raven Boys.

MY RATING: ★★★★★

2

Twisted Fate by Norah Olson

When Alyson meets Graham Copeland, the new boy next door, she instantly feels like he’s a kindred spirit—shy and awkward like her, someone who has trouble making friends. It’s impossible to resist having a crush on him. 

As usual, her sister, Sydney, sees things differently. In Sydney’s mind, Graham’s odd personality and secretive past scream psychopath, not sweetheart. Her gut is telling her to stay away from him, and to protect a love-struck Alyson from her own naïveté. But despite her instincts, Sydney is surprised to realize that a part of her is drawn to Graham, too. 

And the more Sydney gets to know him, the more she realizes just how right—and wrong—she is about everything.

Perfect for fans of Michelle Hodkin, and E. Lockhart’s We Were Liars,Twisted Fate is an unputdownable novel, teeming with suspense. 

I received a free e-book copy for review purposes from the publishers via Edelweiss.

First Impression: I think a 3.5 rating is more appropriate for Twisted Fate. Whilst it had me guessing at times, I managed to figure out the plot twist early on. Not a bad book, but I wouldn’t put it on the same wavelength as We Were Liars as I think Lockhart managed the suspense and disbelief aspect better than Olson. 

An interesting, but frustrating read.

Review: When Alyson meets Graham, she has an instant connection with him. They’re both shy and awkward. Her sister, Sydney, however finds his secretive past creepy and thinks he’s a psychopath and thus tries to keep Alyson and Sydney apart, but ends up drawn to him as well. 

At first, Twisted Fate read like a normal contemporary but quickly evolved into a mystery and the story behind Graham and his odd habits that, unfortunately, end up hurting people. The writing style is OK, if not a little sloppy. The several POVs is also a little off-putting because I had a difficult time differentiating the characters voices. 

The plot twist was a little unexpected but little hints are dropped in here and there which helped me guess the turn a bit before it happened. The characters were a little flat, but not overly bad.

Overall, an OK read that needed a little but more character development.

RATING: ★★★☆☆ (Actually 3.5)

2

Revolution

by Jennifer Donnelly

BROOKLYN: Andi Alpers is on the edge. She’s angry at her father for leaving, angry at her mother for not being able to cope, and heartbroken by the loss of her younger brother, Truman. Rage and grief are destroying her. And she’s about to be expelled from Brooklyn Heights’ most prestigious private school when her father intervenes. Now Andi must accompany him to Paris for winter break.
 
PARIS: Alexandrine Paradis lived over two centuries ago. She dreamed of making her mark on the Paris stage, but a fateful encounter with a doomed prince of France cast her in a tragic role she didn’t want—and couldn’t escape.
 
Two girls, two centuries apart. One never knowing the other. But when Andi finds Alexandrine’s diary, she recognizes something in her words and is moved to the point of obsession. There’s comfort and distraction for Andi in the journal’s antique pages—until, on a midnight journey through the catacombs of Paris, Alexandrine’s words transcend paper and time, and the past becomes suddenly, terrifyingly present.

“I played a role. That is what actors do. But I played it too well. I went too far. And by the time I wanted to stop, to take a bow and leave the stage, it was too late.” 

I’m not entirely sure what I expected from this…but HOLY MOLY IT WAS FANTASTIC. One of the best books I have read this year. 

Revolution follows the lives of Andi from Brooklyn, who suffers over the loss of her brother, finds the diary of Alex from 18th Century France. Andi finds herself relating to Alex who becomes attached to Louis-Charles, who reminds Andi of her brother Truman. However, the story doesn’t focus on just Andi and Alex, but Amade and Louis-Charles and Virgil and I fell in love with every single character and formed a rather strong attachment myself. 

I found Andi relatable, genuine, lonely, strong, stubborn, passionate and so many other likeable qualities. She was incredibly well developed, and her acceptance of the death of her brother becomes evident as the story progresses. I did find myself more engrossed with Alexandrine’s life and her love and devotion to Louis-Charles and her struggle through the revolution, but also her passion for performing, just like Andi’s passion for music. I really loved the relationship between Alex and Louis-Charles and the lengths that Alex went to try to save him, so much so that I found myself wiping away tears. Another character I really loved was Amade, and I really enjoyed him and Andi’s relationship. It was really clever for Andi to (seemingly) travel back in time and finish what Alex started. But you are left wondering, did it happen?

The plot was so intriguing and I felt myself captivated from the start. There were so many things I wanted to know from Alex’s diary entries. Did he survive? Did you survive? 

This book is about love and loss and sacrifice. 

Fantastic writing, fantastic pace and fantastic characters and I just loved everything. 

Fan of historical fiction? Fan of contemporary? Fan of emotional filled traumatic books? Read this. RATING: ★★★★★
2

Out of The Easy

by Ruta Sepetys

Out of the Easy is set against the vivid backdrop of 1950s New Orleans. Written by New York Times bestselling author Ruth Sepetys, this novel has something for everyone: love, mystery, murder, blackmail and warmth.

Josie Moraine wants out of The Big Easy - she needs more than New Orleans can offer. Known locally as a brothel prostitute’s daughter, she dreams of life at an elite college, far away from here.

But then a mysterious death in the Quarter leaves Josie caught between her ambition and a clandestine underworld. New Orleans is luring Josie deeper in as she searches for the truth, and temptation beckons at every turn.

“My mother’s a prostitute. Not the filthy, streetwalking kind. She’s actually quite pretty, fairly well spoken, and has lovely clothes. But she sleeps with men for money or gifts, and according to the dictionary, that makes her a prostitute.”

Out of the Easy follows the story of Josie, the daughter of a prostitute, trying to leave New Orleans for college far away, in Massachusetts. She works in a book store and as a cleaner at the brothel in the French Quarter where her (frankly horrible) Mother works. On New Years Eve, a man enters the store where she works. He leaves an impression on Josie - he treated her with respect that other’s didn’t. But that night, he turns up dead, and Josie is determined to find out why. 

Set in 1950s New Orleans, Sepetys captures the period well and shows the brutal truth of New Orleans, aswell as capturing the class and gender divide very well. Josie, working in a brothel and not at college, is set apart from the others in New Orleans. 

Out of the Easy also had a fantastic set of characters. Josie, our protagonist, was intelligent and passionate and determined. She set her eyes on Smith College and she fought, and is fighting still. She’s also sort of badass. 

“The only reason I’d lift my skirt is to pull out my pistol and plug you in the head.” 

Oh, and she loves books. 

She put up with her horrid Mother, who stole from her, lied to her and put her in harms way, as well as leaving her with a crap load of debt. Willie was another favourite character. She was seemingly cold hearted, mean and vulgar, but is shown to care deeply for our Josie. Cokie was another favourite, such an optimistic, kind-hearted man. Patrick and Jesse were also good characters, and I’m glad that the romance was not at the forefront of the story, but Josie’s development of self.

The writing was great, with a good pace and a strong plot. A must read for any fans of Historical Fiction.

RATING: ★★★★★

2

The Bone Season (The Bone Season #1) 

by Samantha Shannon

It is the year 2059. Several major world cities are under the control of a security force called Scion. Paige Mahoney works in the criminal underworld of Scion London, part of a secret cell known as the Seven Seals. The work she does is unusual: scouting for information by breaking into others’ minds. Paige is a dreamwalker, a rare kind of clairvoyant, and in this world, the voyants commit treason simply by breathing.

But when Paige is captured and arrested, she encounters a power more sinister even than Scion. The voyant prison is a separate city—Oxford, erased from the map two centuries ago and now controlled by a powerful, otherworldly race. These creatures, the Rephaim, value the voyants highly—as soldiers in their army.

Paige is assigned to a Rephaite keeper, Warden, who will be in charge of her care and training. He is her master. Her natural enemy. But if she wants to regain her freedom, Paige will have to learn something of his mind and his own mysterious motives.

A great dystopian!

“Knowledge is dangerous. Once you know something, you can’t get rid of it. You have to carry it. Always.”

The Bone Season is set in the year 2059. Paige Mahoney is what’s known as a clairvoyant. Clairvoyants have been shunned by society; hunted, killed, imprisoned. Paige is a rare type of clairvoyant, she’s a Dreamwalker which means that she can enter other people’s dreamscapes, their minds. She works in the underground syndicate, working for a man called Jaxon. When Paige is hunted and kidnapped by Scion, she is sent to Oxford, a place thought destroyed. The Rephaite control Oxford, a powerful race who have come from the Netherworld. The Rephaites see the voyants and their slaves and soldiers and treat them as such. Warden lays claim to Paige and trains her, but he is the enemy and Paige is determined to fight for her freedom. 

This is a very complex book. Interesting, but complex. I must admit that it took me a while to get into The Bone Seasonbecause of all the information dumping that occurred in the first half, and it was rather disorientating. Shannon re-imagined and recreated the past to suit her story, and it could have gonehorribly wrong, but it didn’t. It was seamlessly brought together and explained thoroughly enough that I found myself enthralled in this new history Shannon had created. It’s a Dystopia that you most certainly don’t want to miss. 

The characters, whilst I had my doubts, won me over in the end. Paige is a character to be deeply admired. She’s witty, intelligence and courageous. She feared herself and what she could do and questioned the strengths of her abilities throughout the novel, created such a dynamic and flawed character that I felt almost instantly attached. Warden was a character I found I had to learn to trust and like. Shrouded in mystery, he took Paige under his wing, though I’m not entirely sure that his true motives were ever revealed. There were some other great characters that I was quick to love such as Michael, among others. 

I know there is a lot of hype surrounding this book, as well as mixed reviews. I suggest you figure it out for yourself and pick this one up.

MY RATING: ★★★★★

2

A Wicked Thing

by Rhiannon Thomas

Rhiannon Thomas’s dazzling debut novel is a spellbinding reimagining ofSleeping Beauty and what happens after happily ever after.

One hundred years after falling asleep, Princess Aurora wakes up to the kiss of a handsome prince and a broken kingdom that has been dreaming of her return. All the books say that she should be living happily ever after. But as Aurora understands all too well, the truth is nothing like the fairy tale.

Her family is long dead. Her “true love” is a kind stranger. And her whole life has been planned out by political foes while she slept. 

As Aurora struggles to make sense of her new world, she begins to fear that the curse has left its mark on her, a fiery and dangerous thing that might be as wicked as the witch who once ensnared her. With her wedding day drawing near, Aurora must make the ultimate decision on how to save her kingdom: marry the prince or run.

Rhiannon Thomas weaves together vivid scenes of action, romance, and gorgeous gowns to reveal a richly imagined world … and Sleeping Beauty as she’s never been seen before.

I received a free copy from the publishers via Edelweiss for review purposes.

One of my favourite fairytales as a kid was Sleeping Beauty, so as you can imagine, I was beyond excited to read A Wicked Thing, where Sleeping Beauty wakes up to the kiss of a handsome prince but doesn’t quite fall in love or have the happily ever after you might expect. If the premise wasn’t enough to draw me into this beautiful book, the absolutely gorgeous cover made it a done deal for me. 

I had my issues with A Wicked Thing, certainly, but it was still a highly enjoyable read. The pacing was slow, sometimes crawling at a snail’s pace, and sometimes it felt like nothing really happened. The world building lacked a certain depth that left you a little disappointed. 

Yet I loved the characters. I loved Aurora who was intelligent, witty, kind but strong-willed and dreamed of bigger things – of not being trapped in a life where she has to marry the Prince, where her future is being set out as a strategy in a dangerous political game (yet her indecisiveness and inactiveness irritated me). I enjoyed Rodric as a character…his shyness, his kindness and easy smile but he left little impact on me. I also enjoyed the flirtatious, charming Finnegan even if he was very much a pretentious jerk, I very much enjoyed the character interaction between Finnegan and Aurora and I am hopeful of more snark between the two in the coming sequels. I did, however, feel that certain characters who I very much enjoyed (Tristan) almost completely disappeared and it deeply saddened me. 

Overall, I really did enjoy A Wicked Thing  and loved how it gave us something different. The characters were by far what made this book the most enjoyable, but the political intrigue and Thomas’ elegant writing also made A Wicked Thing highly recommendable.  

 RATING: ★★★★☆ 

2

Of Metal and Wishes (Of Metal and Wishes #1) 

by Sarah Fine

There are whispers of a ghost in the slaughterhouse where sixteen-year-old Wen assists her father in his medical clinic—a ghost who grants wishes to those who need them most. When one of the Noor, men hired as cheap factory labor, humiliates Wen, she makes an impulsive wish of her own, and the Ghost grants it. Brutally.

Guilt-ridden, Wen befriends the Noor, including their outspoken leader, a young man named Melik. At the same time, she is lured by the mystery of the Ghost and learns he has been watching her… for a very long time.

As deadly accidents fuel tensions within the factory, Wen must confront her growing feelings for Melik, who is enraged at the sadistic factory bosses and the prejudice faced by his people at the hand of Wen’s, and her need to appease the Ghost, who is determined to protect her against any threat—real or imagined. She must decide whom she can trust, because as her heart is torn, the factory is exploding around her… and she might go down with it.

I received a free copy from the publishers via Edelweiss.

Actual rating:4.5

Of Metal and Wishes is such a compelling gothic horror. I don’t what I was expecting but it was not this heartbreaking, chilling and suspenseful novel. I’ve heard it’s a Phantom of the Opera retelling, but seeing as I’ve never read the book, nor seen the movie, or it in the theatre etc. etc. it didn’t influence my reading at all, but perhaps fans of Phantom will certainly find some satisfaction in reading this dark novel.

“I just want to make sure he doesn’t decide you’re one of his toys.”



Wen has just lost her mother and so has to move into the slaughterhouse where her father works. With her pretty dresses and good looks, Wen is considered a peacock, especially by one particularly Noor boy who humiliated and assaults Wen in front of the entire cafeteria. In spite, she asks the Ghost to prove his existence, and he does, unfortunately for the Noor boy. She befriends the Noor boy and their Noor’s leader, Melik. At the same time, she begins a friendship with the Ghost who is just as lonely as she is, and it starts a turmoil of events. 

I must admit, I was shocked at how much I really liked this novel. It’s dark and chilling, suspenseful and fast paced with some great compelling characters that you both love and hate. It’s an unforgettable read that’s I would highly suggest you give a read. It also has an Asian protagonist (which I must admit is very rare) and takes place in a dystopian style Asia. The novel is richly detailed yet gritty when it gets down to describing the harsh life is Gochan One. It’s a moving and passionate novel that delves deep into cultural divisions that I deem very important.

I loved Wen, I really did, even if she seemed naive at times. She was stubborn, intelligence, compassionate and brave. I even enjoyed her father at times, even though their relationship was rather tumultuous. Another character I really loved was Melik, such a sweet and heart warming character, yet protective and dangerous (or seemingly). He is such a fantastic and deep character. As for the Ghost, perhaps I felt very much like Wen did about him. Wary, yet strangely compelled towards him. Personally, I found him somewhat disturbed; perhaps it’s the way he took death in his stride and how it didn’t seem to affect him, yet I still think he has a good heart. A character I hated (and I mean some deep-seated hatred) was Mugo, that disgusting little weasel. Every time he touched Wen I imagined myself shiver and cringe along with her, followed by myself kicking him very hard where it really hurts.

It shows a good writer when the reader feels such intense feelings.

Overall, this was a fantastic novel with a genuine creepy feel to it and I highly recommend.

RATING: ★★★★☆ (4.5)