ARC REVIEW: FORESHADOW by Nova Ren Suma, Emily X.R. Pan, et al.

This is my first time reviewing a short story anthology, and only my fifth time reading one (my former favourite being Slasher Girls and Monster Boys), so I’m honestly not entirely sure how to go about this! BUT I know that I loved the collection and wanted to share my thoughts with you, so here we go:

*Thank you to Algonquin Young Readers for the e-ARC of this wonderful collection*

Foreshadow is an anthology of short stories by thirteen incredible, diverse and lesser-known Young Adult authors, introduced by a variety of famous names. Each story is followed by a short essay by Nova Ren Suma or Emily X. R. Pan about a theme, motif or technique used within, and each essay is followed by a writing prompt on a similar theme.

I adored this collection. When I first heard about it, I was instantly obsessed, and when I started reading, that didn’t change at all. The range in these stories means that there is at least one in the collection that everyone will love, and I found myself constantly surprised by the genre variance from one tale to the next. It’s consistent in the way that each story resonates with the reader, but uses an incredible array of settings, genres and voices to achieve this. It is easy to see how every single author used their own personality to shape their contribution to this collection and it was fascinating to become so invested in thirteen different plots in such a short space of time.

I do have to admit that a couple of the stories weren’t my favourite, but the entire concept of this collection completely made up for it. I found that, even if a specific story wasn’t for me, I connected with the characters anyway and looked forward to the analysis that followed. Plus, whether I loved them all or not, I can easily say that every story in this book is edited to perfection. A few of my favourites (that were 5/5 reads easily) were ESCAPE, SOLACE, GLOW and BREAK, all of which have inspired me to check out the authors in the hope that they have something else I can read immediately.

This beautiful collection showcases the diversity that Young Adult Fiction has to offer, as well as the depth that can be achieved in a short story, which is interesting for all readers, but especially for aspiring authors. This collection made me want to open up a new document and start writing after every single story, and I haven’t read anything powerful enough to inspire me like that in a long time.  I would recommend this to anyone who is looking for a diverse and thought-provoking collection of stories by up-and-coming new authors, but would argue that it’s essential reading for anyone who wants to be inspired to begin (or continue) their own writing journey.

RATING: 5/5

Side note: this collection was originally a digital anthology, published at foreshadowya.com, where there are additional stories and content warnings for everything included in this collection!

Foreshadow comes out on October 20th 2020.

BOOK REVIEW: SEA WIFE by Amity Gaige (BLOG TOUR STOP)

Hi, welcome to my first ever blog tour review! Firstly, thank you so much to Grace Vincent at Fleet for the advance copy of this book, and HAPPY PUBLICATION DAY to Amity Gaige! This was such a fascinating read and I’m so excited to be part of the blog tour.

Seawife tells the story of a woman named Juliet, whose husband convinces her to join him on a year-long trip around the Caribbean, living almost entirely on the ocean. When their voyage is over, and tragedy has struck, Juliet must adjust back into life on land and to parenting their two children in a more conventional way.

All the while, though, her mind is still on their journey across the ocean and her husband’s sailing obsession, and we learn the specifics of their trips through a combination of Juliet’s story, Michael’s logbook and, occasionally, their daughter Sybil’s thoughts and prayers.

It might just be because this isn’t a genre that I’ve really looked into, but I have never read a book like Seawife. The style and subject matter were both so completely new to me that I found myself getting quickly sucked in, and I ended up so glad that I gave this book a go! I was definitely intimidated by all of Michael’s technical terminology at the beginning, but the story is written in such a compelling and accessible way that I was genuinely interested in the technicalities of sailing by the time I finished (something I really never thought I’d say!)

Juliet speaks of the sceptics of her voyage in this book and, I admit, I also didn’t understand the allure of a life on the ocean until the story really got into it. I never would have considered the possibility of abandoning life, school, work, etc, to live in a 44 square-foot floating home, but I was very quickly hooked on learning about their new lifestyle. Their life story is beautiful, fascinating and completely believable, and it definitely made me re-evaluate my initial thoughts. By the end, it seemed strange when the characters were on land, and I wanted to hear more and more about their life on the water.

The characters in this book- primarily Juliet, her husband Michael, their daughter Sybil and their son George- were all really interesting, both in terms of their personalities and their relationships with each other, and I found myself deeply invested in the lives of each of them. I think Sybil may be my favourite character, overall. She was believable as a young child, funny and enthusiastic, but also grown-up in a way that her lifestyle would make her. George was adorable as well. Michael and Juliet were both strong-willed, firm in their beliefs and completely genuine and seeing the complexities of their marriage was fascinating.

Overall, I found this story to be a compelling depiction of the dangers and the allures of a life at sea. It’s thought-provoking, gripping and completely absorbing and I would absolutely recommend it to anyone who has ever wondered about life on the ocean, or even just anyone who wants some good, old-fashioned escapism.

RATING: 4.5/5

You can find out more about this book on the Little, Brown site, and I would definitely recommend you pick up a copy from The Hive (support your local indie!) or Waterstones.

BOOK REVIEW: CLAP WHEN YOU LAND by Elizabeth Acevedo

*Thank you to Hot Key Books for the e-arc*

I don’t throw the term ‘one of the best books I’ve ever read’ around often, but it’s impossible not to consider this one of the most beautiful, poignant stories I’ve ever read, both in terms of the writing style and the dual stories.

‘Clap When You Land’ follows Yahaira and Camino, two half-siblings who don’t know that the other exists, and who find this out quite drastically following the death of their father. When they each find out that their father had two families and, effectively, two lives, they are heartbroken and confused, and having to deal with that in addition to their loss is a pain that they both face very differently and very beautifully.

I couldn’t choose a favourite character of the two. Both are strong and independent, and I think it makes the book all the more heartbreaking that they both try to be strong throughout it all. It made me more emotional to think about how much they were trying to hold it together than I think it would be to see them both fall apart. Both Yahaira and Camino are two of the most emotionally mature, and yet still believable, teenagers I’ve ever read. The other characters in the story also had an incredible amount of depth to them that I was certainly impressed by, and I found myself becoming invested in the plots of all of the characters, rather than just Yahaira and Camino.

The writing style in this book is something that totally blew me away. I have never read a book in verse before and, when I first started, I was a little sceptical about whether I would be able to read an entirely (relatively long) novel that is written this way. Within pages, though, I was completely hooked. It was so easy to get pulled through the book and I was halfway through before it even felt like I’d started. It’s such an easy book to read, despite the intense and meaningful plot.

The lives that are portrayed in this story are extremely contrasting, but both were equally captivating, and I finished this book in a day because I literally couldn’t put it down. The combination of Yahaira’s determination, Camino’s strength and an incredibly beautiful verse writing style definitely made this my most memorable book of the year so far, and I know for a fact that I will be picking up everything I can by Elizabeth Acevedo.

If you’ve read this book, I’d love to hear if you were as completely gripped as I was. Also, if you have any similar recommendations, I would love to hear them! This is a style that I think I might be quickly falling in love with….

RATING: 5/5

BOOK REVIEW: THE PACT by Amy Heydenrych

(Thank you so much to ReadersFirst and Zaffre for gifting me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review)

This book is incredibly well-written. It had me hooked from start to finish and kept me sufficiently surprised with its twists and turns throughout. I absolutely loved the plot, characters and morals of the story and think it may be one of the best thrillers I’ve read this year.

This story follows Freya and Isla, two women facing serious challenges in their careers and personal lives. Freya has just started work at her dream company, and Isla is a criminal journalist reporting on murder cases.

The two find their lives rapidly intertwining when Freya’s colleague, and her workplace bully, Nicole, is found dead in her home. As the women attempt to uncover who is behind the murder, it begins to seem like larger forces are conspiring to keep the murder inquiry quiet, and the matter becomes much more complicated than it initially seemed.

I’m fascinated by how well the various timelines and stories overlap in this book. The story jumps in no particular order between Freya’s past, the days leading up to the murder and both of the women’s lives after. I thought that this might make the story jumpy and random, but it actually came together very impressively and I found myself equally invested in every story that was woven into the plot.

One thing that needs to be noted about this book is that it deals with some very sensitive topics. Murder is the advertised focus of this book, but it delves much deeper into mental illness, gaslighting, rape and sexual harassment in public and in the workplace. These topics are dealt with in an unnervingly believable way, which makes the story all the more compelling. Both Freya and Isla have issues with sexual harassment that leave them in a state of fear and self-doubt. As an topic that is so important to discuss in the present day, this book deals with this very sensitively, with a portrayal that I consider incredibly important.

My only issue with this book is how many villains there appear to be. Although it is not a major problem, and is actually a majorly useful tool in keeping the reader hooked throughout (which Amy Heydenrych definitely did!), I found the book to diverge slightly from believability when so many of the characters became guilty of various crimes and moral discrepancies. This in no way detracted from the novel, but I did find myself beginning to rank the villains in a way that disconnected me from the reality of the story slightly. This is something I have found to be common in murder mysteries but it is not my personal preference. If this is something you’ve found yourself enjoying in other novels, I think this one probably does the concept justice.

I think you should definitely read this book if you’re looking for a gripping thriller or even a difficult-to-take social critique. I finished this book in one day because it was so addictive, and I think anyone, especially female readers, would find this book relatable, compelling and completely terrifying.

This book comes out on 28/11/2019 and I would 100% recommend you check it out! If you’d like to read the description and other reviews or if you’d like to buy the book, here’s the link:

The Pact by Amy Heydenrych

Disclaimer: I will gain a small commission for any purchase made through this link.