ARC REVIEW: Tell Me When You Feel Something by Vicki Grant

*Thank you to Penguin Teen for the eARC*

Tell Me When You Feel Something tells the story of somewhat-friends Viv and Davida in the lead-up and aftermath of a tragic event in their lives. When Viv is seen taking a pill that causes a potentially fatal reaction at a party, Davida is desperate to prove that this was some kind of mistake; but as we witness the weeks leading up to the party, it becomes clear that maybe nobody really knows Viv enough to understand what’s going through her mind at all.

This book is very intense and covers some incredibly serious and troubling subjects including addiction, sexual assault and drug use, but this is definitely handled carefully and, sadly, believably. The book is told from Viv, Davida and Davida’s boyfriend Tim’s perspectives, with police interviews with all involved parties mixed in following any big reveals in the plot. This was a really fascinating style for me, as I loved that the police interviews were almost responses to Viv’s chapters, and that the police were discovering things just as the reader was.

I can see from the twists and even the characters why this book is compared to One of Us is Lying and I would absolutely recommend it to fans of Karen McManus’ books, or anyone who likes intense, high-school set thrillers and contemporaries. It was a fast-paced, serious story with a troubled set of characters, an impossibility to determine who to trust, and a page-turning quality that no other book has gripped me with for a while.

Not only was the end surprising, it was also fascinating to see Viv throughout the story in situations that you wouldn’t expect and reacting in ways that were completely unpredictable. She’s a likeable, realistic character who is in no way to blame for anything that happens to her and that really makes this a heart-breaking tale and a saddening warning about society and the struggles that young people go through in the wrong situations.

RATING: 4/5

Tell Me When You Feel Something is publishing in June 2021.

ARC REVIEW: The Girls Are All So Nice Here by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn

The Girls Are All So Nice Here is a thriller that follows former mean-girl Amb as she is forced to return to her university for her ten-year reunion and, in turn, to face all of the horrible things she did as she tried to fit in. It tells two stories: one of Amb at the reunion, trying to hide her former self from the husband that knows her as a sweet and innocent woman, and one of Amb at university as she finds herself becoming wrapped up in drugs, alcohol, drama, and her toxic best friend, Sully.

It’s so interesting to read the story of a girl who clearly becomes the villain in her own story as she creates nightmares for everyone around her and rapidly unravels. Her relationships are toxic, her friendships are toxic and, of course, there’s a traumatic event from her teenagedom that she is trying desperately to move past, despite the ghosts in her head that refuse to allow it.

I hated Amb but in all the best ways. She was actually quite a terrible human being but a fascinating protagonist, and it was unnerving how many of the toxic behaviours she and her friends exhibited that I’m sure everyone will have come across at some point in their lives. I didn’t like her and I wanted to scream at her to live her life differently, or to choose different friends but somehow, deep down, I was also kind of rooting for her in a terrible way.

The ending was really satisfying and helped resolve some of my struggles with who was really the good guy/bad guy in the situation and, although I didn’t find myself growing attached to many of the characters, I was deeply interested in a few of the side characters and could happily have read much more about them: namely Flora and her boyfriend.

This was an interesting read and an exciting story for anyone who has ever wanted to get inside the head of the mean girls from your past. It was quick and both timelines became equally gripping, to the point that I was completely unable to put it down, and I would definitely recommend to lovers of plot twists and unique thrillers.

RATING 4/5

ARC Review: The Shadow in the Glass by JJA Harwood

*Thank you so much to Harper Collins for the e-ARC!*

The Shadow in the Glass tells the story of Ella, a young housemaid who dreams of a better life. Having been taken in by a wealthy family for a few years before being cast aside, Ella knows that she can’t live without the wealth and security that the world owes her; so when an empty-eyed woman appears and promises seven wishes, Ella jumps at the chance to start a new and better life. As she begins to twist the world to her liking, however, she quickly realises that this may not be quite the bargain she thought it was.

Before I read this book, I was convinced that every possible Cinderella retelling had been done, but The Shadow in the Glass completely proved me wrong. It was a new, dark twist on the tale that would be perfect for readers who prefer their fairytales a little more Grimm and a little less Disney. The overlap between the two stories was expertly done and, although I definitely have a few unanswered questions, so much of the story was answered either by aspects of the original tale or by inventions from JJA Harwood’s imagination that I was completely satisfied.

Ella was a fascinating protagonist. I’m still unsure how I feel about a number of her decisions and her moral position, but it was interesting trying to justify her actions and wondering what I’d do in the same position. I loved her transition too, from indecisive and doubtful in the first part of the story, to committed, serious and downright dangerous when she realised what she wanted.

This book took the darkest parts of Cinderella and made them darker, twisting this into a gothic and grim tale of dangerous magic. A number of incredibly serious themes are tackled from the very beginning and these hinted at how dark this book might get, but I was completely taken aback by how gothic it ended up being.

What started out slow and descriptive with only a hint of magic turned quickly into a gripping page-turner that had my mind wandering back to it every time I managed to put it down. I would recommend this book for adult readers, young adult readers, lovers of fantasy, fairytales and historical fiction. I don’t have too many to compare it to, but this was possibly the most compelling fairytale retelling I’ve ever read, and I’m excited to see what JJA Harwood will write next.

Rating: 4/5

The Shadow in the Glass is publishing on March 18th 2021.

January Reading Wrap-up

Hi! It’s the end of January so I hope everyone is having a (slightly, at least) better 2021 so far.

It’s been a crazy-busy and stressful month for me and it feels like there are a million things happening all at once, so I really thought my reading was going to suffer and was pleasantly surprised when I realised I have seven books for my January wrap-up!

So, the seven books I’ve read so far this year are:

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Turner – I wanted my first book of 2021 to be amazing and I was really struggling to decide what to go for, but I’m SO glad I settled on this one. It was a fun, exciting, super unique read with so much positive LGBTQ+ representation and a really fast-paced storyline. 5/5

To Whatever End by Lyndsey Frydman – this was an easy, and pretty predictable, YA romance. It has a tiny bit of paranormal activity but is primarily a typical romance, and I got through it in a day, which was great. It was pretty cliche and not entirely to my taste, but it definitely seems like a fun read to get you out of a slump. 2.5/5

The Girls Are All So Nice Here by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn – review to come for this one, but it was a very unique take on a mean-girl thriller, from the perspective of a girl that can only be considered the villain of the story. It was another quick read with a very interesting protagonist and a lot of drama. 4/5

Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered by Georgia Hardstark and Karen Kilgariff – I listened to this one as an audiobook and I feel like that was absolutely the best format for it. It was motivational, uplifting and full of personal anecdotes. It was very much a self-help book, rather than a book for lovers of true crime, but it was a fun and interesting read all the same. 3/5

The Wing Thief by Samantha Atkins – my review for this is here, so there’s not much more to say other than that it was a really cute middle-grade about fairies and discovering where you belong. 4.5/5

The Stolen Kingdom by Jillian Boehme – my review for this one is here! This was another book that I adored. With enemies to lovers, royalty, dark magic and a kingdom at stake, this had pretty much everything I look for in YA fantasy. 5/5

The Sad Ghost Club by Lize Meddings – this book is adorable and was pretty much solely a cover-buy. It’s a really sweet graphic novel about a sad ghost who feels completely alone in the world until they discover that there are others in the exact same situation, and is the kind of book you can easily get through in an hour or so. 4/5

And that’s it! How was your reading this month, and what’s been your favourite book of 2021 so far? I’d love to know in the comments below 🙂

ARC REVIEW: The Stolen Kingdom by Jillian Boehme

THANK YOU to Tor Teen for sending me an eARC of this wonderful book 🙂

Maralyth Graylaern, the daughter of her country’s most well-renowned vintner, has spent a lifetime hiding the magical power that she’s been assured she shouldn’t possess. And Prince Alac Thungrave, the forgotten second-born of the King of a stolen throne and possessor of stolen dark magic, has spent his life trying to avoid the power at all costs.

When Maralyth discovers that her magical abilities actually prove she could be the rightful heir to Alac’s father’s stolen throne, she rapidly finds herself being manipulated into a coup that will have her on the throne, at the expense of the Thungrave family and their cursed abilities. But the deeper Maralyth finds herself in this plot, the more she starts to worry that the plan to get her on the throne may cause more harm than good.

With a taste of the power she could possess, for the greater good, she wants the throne; but she absolutely does not want Prince Alac, or any other innocents, to die.

I am obsessed this book. It’s a fast-paced, edge-of-your-seat story from start to finish, and I found myself desperately turning the pages as one climactic scene built into another. The world-building is impressive, and the magical abilities felt so real that I could feel the tendrils of dark magic and the bursts of life from Maralyth every time she could.

The joint narrators, Maralyth and Alac, were fascinating characters, and I loved both of their stories; Maralyth in her guilt and selfless desperation to do what’s right, and Alac in his quest for knowledge to end the curse that magic has held over his family for generations. Their feelings for each other were equally enjoyable to read about, and I loved how they warred with their emotions constantly as they tried to juggle romantic feelings, as well as their- perhaps slightly more important- goals of saving the entire country.

With its forbidden romance, dark magic and high-tension fights for a long-since stolen throne, this book is a unique addition to a very much loved genre of YA, and I enjoyed every second of it. It’s exciting, unputdownable fantasy, and I’m so caught up in the land of Perin Faye that I’m not sure I’m fully ready to leave.

Rating: 5/5

ARC Review: The Last Girl by Goldy Moldavsky

THANK YOU to Electric Monkey for this ARC.

Okay, so I made an observation a while ago that I’ve never disliked a book published by Electric Monkey and, as a result, I have ridiculously high expectations for every single one of their books that I read. The Last Girl– a high-school-set, YA thriller about horror addicts- is really no exception.

And yet, I still found myself taken aback by how completely hooked I was by this book. I started it at 11:30pm with the promise of ‘just one chapter’ and, by the time I went downstairs for breakfast, I’d finished the whole thing and was raving about it to anyone who would listen.

So… you can probably guess how my review is about to go 🙂

The Last Girl (publishing in the US as The Mary Shelley Club) is about a girl named Rachel who moves to a new city and a new school after a break-in at her former home scars her for life. In an attempt to forget the nightmares from that terrible night, she develops a coping mechanism of immersing herself in horror movies and gore, which has her completely shunned by her new classmates. That is, until she meets the rest of the Mary Shelley Club: a secret group of misfits, dedicated to arguing over horror tropes and terrifying their classmates.

Rachel finds herself rapidly becoming wrapped up in the twisted club, beginning to fall for the mystery of it, as well as the allure of its members, and finding it to be her only source of peace as trouble picks up for her at the new school. But the Mary Shelley Club is not as perfect for her as it seems, and what started as a simple game suddenly seems a lot more lethal the more they play it.

This book was the most unputdownable book I read last year. Rachel, as a result of her trauma, is an innocent and likeable character who develops a warped sense of what is right, along with some mildly disturbing coping mechanisms that help her fit right in with the Mary Shelley Club. Each character plays an entirely different role and it was really fun figuring out who I should and shouldn’t trust as the game turned deadly. The horror movie references (there are a lot) largely went over my head, but I love the way they are included throughout as a reminder of just how sinister the characters’ minds are and how deeply captivated they are with all things truly gruesome.

I would definitely consider this much closer to the thriller genre than the horror genre despite this, but if you like any form of exciting, twisty YA, I would absolutely recommend this book.

Rating: 5/5

The Last Girl is publishing in the UK in April 2021!

ARC Review: Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco

Happy Halloween! My plan to spend an entire night reading has fallen through and, honestly, I think I’m going to nap my way through the rest of the evening, so I figured I’d get in the spooky spirit with a very Halloween-y review instead!

If you follow me on Twitter, you’re probably already aware of how I feel about this book, but here’s my review of Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco (thank you so much to James Patterson Presents for the e-ARC!)…

Emilia has been brushing off stories about the princes of Hell for her entire life, chalking her grandmother’s fear up to superstition and folk tales. She was born and raised a witch so it isn’t that she doesn’t believe; it’s just that she and her sister know that these creatures of nightmares are too stuck in hell to be any kind of a threat.

At least, that’s what she believes, until one dark night in the monastery, her twin sister is found dead, missing a heart and being observed by a beautiful stranger with a devilish aura and a golden knife.

Not long after, as her motivation to find and punish her sister’s killer devours her, Emilia finds herself face to face with enough princes of Hell to see exactly why her grandmother has been warning her all along. And what’s worse is that working alongside one of them might be the only way to find out what truly happened to her sister, and why.

Words cannot express how much I loved Emilia as a protagonist. She was the most strong-willed, fearless character I have read all year and, despite wanting to scream at her in the beginning to stop and think before running into danger, I admired her commitment and believed within a few pages that she could handle anything that was thrown at her (and there was a lot!). Her dedication to her sister never faltered and Emilia didn’t come across as weak even once on her journey to hunting down what she needed to know.

Wrapped up in this story of vengeance was a wonderfully built world of wickedness that I could read about forever. The summonings, the demons and the spellbinding magic were effortlessly written and completely believable. If anyone ever tries to tell me that it’s possible to outgrow YA fantasy, this is the book I will recommend to convince them otherwise.

This story was beautifully crafted, grippingly fast-paced and devilishly creepy, with just the right amount of ethereally beautiful princes of Hell. I ordered a hardback copy before I was even halfway through the ebook because I knew that this would be a book I needed on my shelf and I can guarantee I will be recommending this to anyone who will listen, especially if they’re looking for an wicked tale to add to their Halloween TBR.

Rating: 5/5

BOOK REVIEW: THE QUEEN OF NOTHING by Holly Black

I finished this book seconds ago so please bear with me if my thoughts are a little incomprehensible. Also, bear with me if they seem a little vague. I’ll attempt to give a full review but am aware of just how much expectation there is for this book and how much I don’t want to accidentally spoil it for anyone. It’s so hard to say anything about this without giving too much away but I’m really going to give it my best shot.

If you’re reading this book, I assume you’ve already read The Cruel Prince and The Wicked King. If not, the plot would make very little sense to you and I fully recommend you go and read them now (I’ve linked them at the bottom of this page!)

The Queen of Nothing is the gripping finale to Holly Black’s most-anticipated trilogy and, although my thoughts are still jumbled, I’m certain that it doesn’t disappoint. Parts of it get a little weird and overly-fantasy compared to the first two but, as a book series about Faerieland, that’s completely to be expected. Holly Black really uses her creative license and ability to use magic a lot more in this book than I noticed in the other two books and, honestly, I’m mostly just impressed with the scope of her imagination and how realistic she can make everything seem.

The general premise of this book is that Jude has been exiled from Faerie by her husband, and the High King, Cardan. Jude’s twin sister, Taryn, arrives early on in the story with a desperate request for Jude to help her by returning shortly to Faerie. When that ‘short trip’ doesn’t go exactly to plan, Jude finds herself rapidly invested in the conflicts of the throne once again.

The characters remain much the same throughout this book as the other two, with Jude really, finally getting the chance to show what she is capable of in terms of telling people what to do. My favourite development in the whole story, though, is definitely Vivi. Although many of her storylines are side-lined, she really develops as a character in this much more than in the last two books. We also get a lot more insight into each character’s personal lives, which I really loved.

The one part of this book that I take some issue with is the ending, so I’m going to be purposely vague. I appreciate the ending and believe that Holly Black tied the series together well, but parts of it just seemed a little less complex than the rest of the trilogy. Overall, though, I was generally very impressed and think that she brought everything impressively to a close, with very few unanswered questions left and a lot of emotions running high.

As always with Holly Black’s books, the writing itself is stunning. The imagery of Faerie and, even to some extent, the human world is incredibly descriptive and she paints a fantasy image in a way that very few authors can. Alongside her interesting characters, this makes for a book that you can’t help saying ‘just one more chapter’ to. It’s so easy to ignore the outside world with this series and I’m delighted to have had one more chance to do that.

I would recommend this series so much. If you’ve read the first two, obviously this is a must-read, but if you haven’t, you really, really should (the other two are 5-star in my opinion). I’m not disappointed at all and, honestly, I’m so sad to say goodbye to these characters after only discovering them six months ago.

MY RATING: 4/5

If you haven’t bought this book already, you can get it here.

You can also buy The Cruel Prince here and The Wicked King here.

(Disclaimer: I get a small commission if you use these links!)