ARC REVIEW: Survive the Night by Riley Sager

*Thank you to Hodder for the eARC*

Survive the Night follows university student Charlie as, in an attempt to get away from the grief and anguish of losing her best friend, she accepts a carshare away from their university with a handsome stranger. Charlie is losing grip on reality though, and the longer she’s in the car, the more convinced she becomes that Josh, her driver, isn’t what he seems. It becomes clear that her only option is to mentally study all of the movie history that she’s learned from horror to get through their six hour drive and survive until morning, or until she can find help.

I don’t read a lot of thrillers so I don’t have a huge amount to compare this to, but this was definitely one of the best I’ve read this year. It was fast-paced enough to get me out of my reading slump and, from the very beginning, completely unputdownable. Charlie’s deteriorating grip on reality made her an incredibly unreliable narrator and it was so interesting to try and guess all the way through whether she was in danger, what kind of danger she was in, and what reckless thing she would attempt in order to get out of it. What made it even more entertaining for me is that the entire book takes place over a day or so, so it really felt like I was on their journey with them, with every second accounted for, without the book becoming slow at all.

This book was twisty and definitely went in a lot of directions I wasn’t expecting so, even though some of the major plot twists were very guessable, the amount that weren’t balanced these out incredibly well. There were some parts that were easy to foresee and some characters that were too suspicious to ignore even when I think we were supposed to, but I didn’t find that this slowed the pace at all. It was easy to keep track of what was happening too, and all the twists all made sense as well, which was a pleasant change to a lot of confusing and jumpy thrillers that I’ve read in the past.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I definitely liked the first half slightly more than the second, with the incredible amount of suspense that the author built from the get-go, but the whole book was a gripping, edge-of-your-seat read that I’m sure will become a new favourite for fans of Riley Sager’s other books and fans of the psychological suspense genre in general.

Rating: 4/5

ARC Review: Not Here to Be Liked by Michelle Quach

*Thank you to Usborne for the e-ARC*

It’s taken me almost a month to get my thoughts in order about this book and, even now, I admit that this review is pretty much just a stream of consciousness about how much I ADORED it. It’s not uncommon for me to get obsessed with books, but it is actually pretty rare for me to love a contemporary as much as this one, and I’m so excited to finally share my thoughts on it!

Not Here to Be Liked tells the story of Eliza, editor-in-chief candidate for her school newspaper and all round academic perfectionist.

What she lacks in people skills, she makes up for with her desperation to be the best journalist their school has ever seen, and she’s obviously the ideal candidate to run the paper in her senior year…

Eliza’s plan to become editor-in-chief is completely foolproof – that is, until former footballer and reforming jock, Len, shows up and decides that he can steal her spotlight. Eliza is outraged that Len is running against her, and even more outraged that his popularity and masculinity seem to be ensuring he gets the position that she was always destined for.

The story that ensues is angry, feminist, and all too real, as Eliza fights for the position that is rightfully hers – against a boy who may have a little more to him than meets the eye.

This is easily the best contemporary I’ve read this year, and I haven’t stopped raving about it since I put it down. Eliza was sold as an unlikeable, angry protagonist and, whilst this would probably be true if she was in your class at school, she’s a really, really great character. She was very relatable, very real and completely honest with herself, which was so refreshing to read about. So many contemporary protagonists are unaware of their flaws or striving to be perfect, likeable individuals, but Eliza is a conflicted young woman with strong opinions, who is not afraid to admit her shortcomings, and I wish I’d read more protagonists like her when I was growing up.

Eliza wasn’t the only character I loved in this book, though. Len was the perfect love interest too. Not too ‘woke’ and perfect to be real (he definitely made his fair share of mistakes too…), he was still a completely likeable character that was easy to fall for. Serena was a prime example of taking the mean girl trope and flipping it on its head, and Winona was honest, tough, and incredibly relatable in her ambitions, so I found the entire cast to be entertaining and very well-developed.

This book tackles a lot of real life sociopolitical issues and, whilst feminism is becoming more and more prominent in YA, this book is definitely the best I’ve read so far that so openly explored the issue. It’s a masterclass in how to teach young readers about feminism in the real world and how to be an activist about it, without reading like a spoon-fed guide to gender politics and I (a woman who is possibly older than the intended target audience) came away with a refreshed outlook on the topic.

In case it isn’t already obvious, I’m completely obsessed with this book. It’s fun, easy, informative, important, and so entertaining to read, and I will definitely be recommending it to anyone who wants to listen.

Rating: 5/5

PS. If you’ve read it and loved it as much as I did, please let me know, I’d love to hype with you😂

ARC REVIEW: This is Why We Lie by Gabriella Lepore

Thank you! To Harper 360 YA for sending me an ARC of this very exciting new YA mystery. I’ve had my eye on it for a while and was SO excited for the opportunity to read and review 🙂

When Jenna Dallas, a high school student in a small coastal town, and Adam Cole, a student from Rockwood – a local boarding school – find the body of one of Jenna’s classmates on a local beach, the entire town is completely taken by surprise.

With every student at Rockwood a reformed teenage boy with plenty of secrets, and a whole lot of drama between the girls in Jenna’s class, everybody is suddenly a suspect – and the more time we spend uncovering their secrets, the more obvious it becomes that literally everyone has something to hide.

This was such a fun and easy read. The story was told from Jenna and Adam’s perspectives, as well as through various text chains and interviews, so it had short chapters and stayed really fast-paced all the way through. Even as I read their views and their sides of events, I couldn’t figure out whether I trusted anyone at all, so I read desperately to the end in order to could get the answers I needed without waiting. It only took me one afternoon to read the entire thing, and I’d definitely recommend if you’re in a reading slump and looking for something easy to get you out of it.

If you enjoy high-school mysteries, there’s a high chance you’ll enjoy this book. It definitely had some predictable tropes and some clichéd bad-boy/mean-girl characters, but they were unique and interesting enough that they didn’t feel completely overdone. The plot as well felt a little familiar in places, as can be expected when you’ve read as many high school thrillers as I have…, but it was overall surprising enough that I didn’t guess the majority of the plot twists or the final whodunnit!

This book is a great addition to a popular genre, and I’m fully here for it. With its creepy small town setting, its suspicious cast of characters and its fun and easy format, it made for a really exciting afternoon of reading.

Rating: 4/5

ARC Review: Defy the Night by Brigid Kemmerer

Thank you! to Bloomsbury for the e-ARC of this wonderful book. I feel like every review I’ve done recently has been five-stars and this is no exception, but it fully. deserves. it.

Defy the Night is the dual-perspective story of the cruel Prince Corrick, brother of the King, and Tessa, an outlaw, smuggler and local people’s hero, as their paths converge on the brink of civil unrest. The two find themselves in very difficult but equally conflicting situations as they try to ultimately reach the same goal of preventing a civil war.

This is easily one of the best books I’ve read this year. I didn’t want to put it down for even a second and, the few times I had to, I found myself itching to pick it back up. Multiple times I found that my heart was actually racing or that I was holding back tears, and I definitely became far too emotionally attached to Tessa, Corrick, and even Palace Master Quint, or Corrick’s brother King Harristan. It was gripping from the first page and I found myself hooked instantly.

The story is of civil unrest, so there are a lot of political undertones, but I found learning the politics of Kandala much more exciting and necessary than I expected to. It was fascinating to learn about the inner workings of all sides, and have these all be tied together with violence, action and romance. I likewise loved watching the characters’ romances building with dangerous intensity as the story went on, and found myself very invested in my ship from far too early in the story.

It’s hard to talk about this book without spoilers, but I absolutely urge any YA lover to read this. It has a gripping storyline, wonderful characters and so many climactic points that it’s impossible to put down, and I’ll absolutely be reading Brigit Kemmerer’s other books now to see if they’re all as truly incredible.

Rating: 5/5

The Fall Bucket List Book Tag

Hi everyone! I know it’s been Autumn for a little while now, but it’s only starting to feel like it now with the colder weather and the sudden switch from iced lattes to cappuccinos! And to celebrate the sudden change in season, I decided to do this super fun tag that I stumbled across recently: The Fall Bucket List book tag, created by Read With Tiffany.

First up: Light a Scented Candle – A Book That’s Lighthearted

The Island Home by Libby Page is the first book that came to mind for this! If you like k-dramas, it’s the adult fiction equivalent of Hometown Cha Cha Cha and I absolutely loved how easy and relaxing it was to read. (PS. If you want to read my review, it’s here!)

Drink Pumpkin Spiced Lattes – A Book That Has a Lot of Hype

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Sáenz! I think this one came to mind because I’m so excited to read the sequel, and it absolutely deserves all of the love it gets, but it’s definitely one of the more hyped up books I’ve read recently.

Go Apple Picking – A Book That Has Fun Friendships

Fire With Fire by Destiny Soria. Although this book is mostly about family (and dragons), the friendships were done really well. The main character Dani developed such strong friendships throughout the story, both with her animal companion and her non-magical friends, and it was really lovely to watch these develop.

Wear a Cozy Sweater – A Book That Warms Your Heart

Not Here to Be Liked by Michelle Quach! This is an intensely feminist story with a potentially very unlikeable protagonist but, serious themes aside, it was such a heart-warming and lovely read. Girls weren’t pitted against each other just because they were from different ‘cliques’, the romantic storyline was adorable, and the character growth in so many of the characters really restored my faith in humanity.

Bake Cinnamon Rolls – A Character Who’s a Talented Chef

To Lahore, With Love by Hina Belitz! I read this book last year and honestly don’t remember that much about it, but I do remember that every chapter was introduced with a recipe that made my mouth water, stolen from the protagonist’s recipe book.

Jump Into a Pile of Leaves – A Book That Made You Jump For Joy

Rebel by Marie Lu! This book made me jump for joy simply by existing, and by being released as somewhat of a surprise years after I fell in love with Legend and Marie Lu’s books in general. But it definitely also made my jump for joy by giving me closure on a few things that I spent years waiting for answers on, and for giving me more of June and Day as characters, who I absolutely adore.

And that’s the tag! I’m tagging a lot of people to do this one and cannot wait to steal book recommendations from everyone’s answers… 🙂

Tagging: KoosReviews.com

Jackie at BookishCoffeeBlog.com

Sophie at LoveandLiterature.co.uk

Dorothy at starlitshelves.wordpress.com

Morgane at BookMeSomeTime.wordpress.com

Solara at plaidreaders.com

Kristin at kristincravesbooks.com

Caitlyn, Cossette, and Mary at TeaTimeLit.com

And Jess at comfortreadsbookblog.wordpress.com

😊

OCTOBER TBR

Happy October! I had a pretty good reading month in September and I’m crossing my fingers for an even better (and scarier) reading month in October. My TBR isn’t quite as spooky as I initially planned, but there are definitely some dark YA fantasies in the mix that I’m excited to read.

Without further ado, my October TBR:

The Devil Makes Three by Tori Bovalino – if you saw this on my September TBR, pretend you didn’t… I started it last month and am loving it so far so will definitely get round to finishing it this month. And it’s a horror-y enough way to start my spooky October reading.

Steelstriker by Marie Lu– I’ve ordered two copies of this to buddy read with my fiancé and I can. not. wait. Every Marie Lu book I’ve ever read has been amazing and I really loved Skyhunter, so I’ve been anticipating this one for EVER.

Only a Monster by Vanessa Len– a dark fantasy romance about monsters is exactly what I wanted to read this month and Harper approving my request on NetGalley just in time seems like a sign that I need to read it ASAP. This seems like a pretty unique edition to a super fun genre and I’m really excited to check it out.

Year of the Reaper by Makiia Lucier – Having just loved Defy the Night (a story about a royal court, an apocalyptic plague and an unexpected romance), this book with all the same tropes seems pretty perfect. I’m super excited to start this one and hope that it lives up to my very high expectations.

All of Us Villains by Amanda Foody and Christine Herman – The Hunger Games with high magic?! This book sounds amazing and, if it lives up to its description, it stands a chance at becoming a new favourite! I’ve been approved for it on NetGalley for longer than I’d like to admit and really hope I get round to reading it this month.

After the Rain by Natalia Gomes– I’ve been trying to get into this book for a while and haven’t been able to really get into it, but it does seem like an easy, important and emotional read. I’m giving it another try this month and think it will be quite drastically different to everything else I’m planning to pick up in October.

And that’s it! Let me know your most anticipated read for October in the comments (even more appreciated if it’s a Halloween-y book that I can add to my list!) 🙂