THE ARC by Ben Oliver – BLOG TOUR & GUEST POST

Hi! Today’s blog post is very exciting, as it’s my stop on the blog tour for The Arc by Ben Oliver! When Chicken House reached out about this blog tour, I was so quick to say yes because The Loop and The Block were two of my absolute favourite reads of last year. So, first things first, thank you to Chicken House for the early copy and the opportunity to be part of such an exciting blog tour 🙂

Before I share my thoughts on The Arc, feel free to check out my blog tour reviews for books one and two here.

Synopsis of The Arc (please note, there will be some spoilers for books one and two below):

Luka Kane is dead, executed in front of a crowd of Alts who cheered despite the fact that the truth of their oppressive leaders had been revealed to them.

But one Alt, Chester “Chilly” Beckett, did not celebrate; his eyes have been opened to the truth. Luka’s corpse is dragged away, but Chester remains determined to find out what is going on in the Laboratory on the 65th floor.

There, he finds three subjects tortured in an attempt to extract a regeneration formula… and one of the subjects is, impossibly, a face he never thought he’d seen again. A bold escape sets in motion a race against time as Happy’s plans to release planet-eating nano-bots into the world draw nearer. The Loop team must reassemble, survive Happy’s final attempts to rid the world of the rebels, and figure out how to halt the apocalypse before humanity is destroyed.

Review:

This book is everything I hoped it would be after the ending of The Block. The plot twists made me scream, and the introduction of an Alt as a protagonist added such a fascinating perspective that we didn’t really explore in the first two books. Chester was fascinating as he developed, from his very first appearance on page one when he realised what he was doing but was not entirely sure why he was doing it.

It was also really great to see so many familiar faces from the rest of the trilogy, including one in particular that I’m sure readers of books one and two would be especially thrilled about. One of my favourite things about this series is just how much the characters grew throughout the first two books, and it was great to see this progression as they took on Happy one final time in The Arc. It was as action-packed as I hoped, full of futuristic tech, and a great ending to a really enjoyable trilogy.

Now onto the most best part of the post! Thank you very much to Ben Oliver for providing the following fascinating insight into where he writes:

“Where I Write” – Ben Oliver

I’ll be honest, I’ve answered this question in the past and made something up about liking to write at my office at home because it’s comfortable and I know where everything is, but the truth is kind of boring: I’ll write anywhere!

I quite like writing in hotel rooms, I don’t know why but I always find myself getting lost in the world when I write in hotel rooms, maybe it’s because I’m staying somewhere so unfamiliar that my work-in-progress is a little bit of familiarity and comfort to cling on to.

I also like writing in cafes and coffee shops (I wrote most of The Arc in a Starbucks in a retail park next to a gigantic Tesco). I think the background noise of a cafe is somehow great for focusing my mind and cutting out distractions. I don’t like writing to music (especially songs with lyrics), but I do like the background hum of a coffee shop.

I’ll write in my car if I have long wait to pick someone up. Sometimes I stay late and write after work (I’m a teacher of young people with additional support needs), I can write in waiting rooms, at the beach, on trains, planes, boats. I think my final answer is, I’ll write anywhere, I just love writing, as difficult as it can be, as infuriating as it can be, I love it and I’ll do it anywhere. And the best part is I can do it anywhere because writing is not only the act of putting words on the page, it’s the act of imagining the characters, figuring out the plot, building the world, coming up with twists and turns, figuring out arcs, adding little details that bring it to life, and that can be done (sometimes literally) in your sleep.

And that’s it! If you’ve read The Loop, The Block or The Arc, I would love to hear your thoughts – and I highly recommend you check out the rest of the stops on the blog tour as well for some wonderful reviews and some other great posts from Ben Oliver 🙂

APRIL TBR

Hi! I haven’t posted anything in forever but I figured it was time to make a comeback.

Between reading things for work, other commitments in my free time and, honestly, a pretty terrible reading slump, I think I’ve read like three full books in the past two months (not good for my blog or my GR challenge, oops).

So when I decided I wanted to start posting again, I figured that a more positive post than my pitiful March wrap-up would be a hopeful April TBR. Reading-slump-permitting, these are the books that I will hopefully be checking out this month:

Blood to Poison by Mary Watson. From what I can gather, this book is a super exciting combination of fantasy, history and female rage, which I’m completely here for. I was blessed with an eARC of this a while ago and am very much hoping to get it read before it publishes later this month!

The Dragon’s Promise by Elizabeth Lim. The fact that I have an eARC of this sitting on my NetGalley shelf that I haven’t read yet feels like a legitimate crime. If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you’ll probably know that Elizabeth Lim books are my all-time, absolute favourites and I don’t think I can bear to leave this one waiting any longer…

All That’s Left in the World by Erik J. Brown. Literally everything about this book looks good. The cover is gorgeous, the post-apocalyptic LGBT romance premise sounds flawless, and the fact that I’ve already read and loved the first 10% of it feels like a good sign.

When Women Were Dragons by Kelly Barnhill. I haven’t read this book yet obviously, but I already want to talk about it with everyone I know?? It sounds completely incredible and, if you’ve already read it, please tell me that it lives up to expectations because I may have set my hopes a little too high already…

The Revelry by Katherine Webber. This book was a total impulse-buy from the buy-one-get-one-half-price section in Waterstones, but it looks so exciting! It sounds eerie, creepy and hopefully twisty, and I’m hoping to get through this one in one or two sessions – wish me luck!

And that’s it 🙂 I would love to hear what you’re planning on reading this month, and if you have any tips for getting out of a reading slump, please please share them in the comments below!!

ARC Review: You’ve Reached Sam by Dustin Thao

Hi, readers! I read You’ve Reached Sam way back in April and somehow convinced myself that I’d already shared my review when, in fact, I never did. So, since it published this week, I thought I’d share now!

You’ve Reached Sam follows Julie, a high-school girl who is trying to come to terms with the loss of her long-term boyfriend and the unravelling of all of the plans that they had for the future. Her mourning takes a sudden turn, though, when she calls Sam’s phone in a moment of weakness and he actually picks up.

What follows is a heart-wrenching story of love and loss, and an emotional portrayal of a young woman dealing with grief and the urge to move on.

This book is as emotional as you’d expect it to be. It’s completely filled with touching scenes about Sam and Julie’s relationship, heart-breaking moments of grief as she tries to cope with her loss, and touching friendships with Sam’s family and friends as they all struggle to move on in different ways. It’s the kind of book that makes you want to cry for the majority of the time you’re reading (I personally cried during the very first chapter…) so, if you want a book that will break your heart, this is a solid choice.

Some of Julie’s actions are flawed and, normally, I would criticise a protagonist for their mistakes, but everything she does is because of her grief and mourning and that really comes across throughout. I got frustrated when she missed opportunities that I wished she would take, but it was so understandable for someone in her position that, instead of being critical, I felt largely empathetic.

This was a really bittersweet, emotional story about young love, loss and figuring out what’s important in life. It’s a poignant contemporary with fantasy elements that I would absolutely recommend if you’re looking for a book to make you cry.

Rating: 4/5

OCTOBER WRAP-UP

It’s officially my last post of Blogtober!!!! And officially my last post of my crazy schedule of one post every 48 hours! Super happy with all the blogging achievements I’ve had this month and I’m very excited to hopefully pick up a much more regular schedule going forwards – wish me luck on that🍀 


But enough on blogging… In terms of reading, it’s really just been an okay month! The books have been pretty good, and all very quick, but I’ve been so busy with other things that I only finished four. I’ve got my fingers crossed for a better NetGalley-November!


Anyway, the books I read this month were:


Dead Lucky – this was a fun murder mystery about influencer lifestyles gone wrong, and how you shouldn’t trust everything you see online. I didn’t love it as much as I hoped I would and found some bits a little too caricature-ish but it was a very fun and quick read with a plot twist and a lot of suspense – 3/5 (if you want to check out my review, you can do so right here)


The Devil Makes Three – dark academia horror may be one of my new favourite things! I feel like I haven’t stopped talking about this book since I finished it, because it’s quite unlike what I usually read, and I definitely want to find more books in this same genre. It was a dark, creepy horror set in a cursed library, and it was completely perfect for Spooktober – 4/5 (if you want to check out my review, you can do so right here)


You’ll Be the Death of Me – I’m convinced that Karen McManus books can do no wrong. Although sometimes they’re a little cliche, and they follow a lot of similar tropes, they’re always so quick, fun and full of twists, and You’ll Be The Death of Me was no different. It was perfect to get me out of my mid-month slump, and I’d fully recommend – 4/5 (if you want to check out my review, you can do so right here)


How We Fall Apart – in the same vein as You’ll Be The Death of Me, this is another fast-paced, high-school murder mystery thriller. It was twisty, fun and contained some surprisingly complex characters, and the constant jumping between timeframes kept me on my toes all the way through. I’d definitely recommend – 4/5 (review to come!)

And that’s it! Let me know what your favourite read of the month was in the comments, and best of luck for a great month of reading in November 🙂

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

September Reading Wrap-Up

It’s nearly October! Which means it’s nearly time for Halloween reads only and horror and spooky books, and I’m SO excited for it. That being said, September was also a pretty incredible month for reading. I really expected to finish more books this month and the fact that I only read five might be disappointing if the majority of them just weren’t so good! Anyway, here’s my brief but very exciting September reading wrap up:

Gilded by Marissa Meyer – I LOVE this book. I never read the story of Rumpelstiltskin so I have no clue how heavily it referenced the fairytale, but it was an incredibly told story either way. The descriptions were magical, the characters were fascinating and the story was well-told, in sections that felt almost like individual short stories but tied together perfectly. 5/5 (the first of many this month…)

Defy the Night by Brigid Kemmerer – like Marissa Meyer, Brigid Kemmerer is another bestselling author that I’ve been missing out on for a pretty long time. This book is fast-paced, unique, very intense and emotional, with a strong, very moral protagonist, a swoon-worthy royal love interest and a fascinating story. I loved it. 5/5

Fools in Love by various authors – this was a really sweet short story collection entirely about love, with each story being based on a popular YA romance trope such as ‘only one bed’ or ‘friends to lovers’. The stories were very diverse and representative and, although some were much better than others, it was really fun overall. 3/5

This is Why We Lie by Gabriella Lepore- if you like traditional YA high-school murder mysteries, you will absolutely love this book. It’s a super quick read with a high-school whodunnit storyline and a very suspicious cast of characters. I would definitely recommend if you’re looking to get out of a slump or for an easy, gripping story. 4/5

Not Here to Be Liked by Michelle Quach – !!! This book exceeded my expectations by SO much. I was hoping for an easy contemporary romance read and, whilst I definitely got that from this book, it also discussed so many important themes and topics alongside its romantic storyline. This book is a masterclass on how to use fiction to genuinely educate on issues without forcing the message and making the story feel artificial, and I adored it. 5/5

And that’s it! Let me know in the comments if you loved any of these as much as I did, and what your favourite read of September was 🙂

ARC Review: Gilded by Marissa Meyer

First of all, THANK YOU to Faber for the eARC of this incredible book. I dropped my entire TBR to read it and regret absolutely nothing.

Also may have *accidentally* preordered the stunning Fairyloot edition the second I finished reading it… Anyway –

Gilded follows Serilda, a miller’s daughter who has been blessed by the God of Lies with an ability to spin stories, as she catches the attention of an evil undead ruler and lies her way into his favour.

Convinced that Serilda has the ability to spin gold from straw, the Erlking draws her back at every opportunity and Serilda finds herself trapped between the dead and the living, trying her hardest both to escape the web of lies she’s found herself in and find a way to ensure nobody she cares about gets harmed in the crossfire.

I’ve never read any of Marissa Meyer’s other retellings, but I’ll absolutely be reading them all after this one. Gilded is in part beautiful and magical, and in part grotesque and gothic, as every good Grimm-inspired fairytale should be. The descriptions were so beautifully written that I found myself fully immersed in the villages, castles and forests as Serilda was, and the plot twists were so dark and often unexpected that the amount of scene-setting didn’t slow the pace for even a page. It became obvious early on where the general direction of this story was going, but the twists and turns weren’t predictable and I found myself excitedly awaiting each new section of the story.

Serilda is a bold, impressive protagonist with an unexpectedly solid moral compass for someone so adept at lying, and the cast of characters she surrounds herself with are equally fascinating, from the schoolchildren, to the forest folk, to the dark king himself. Gild (the castle’s mysterious resident poltergeist) was, unsurprisingly, my absolute favourite character, with his intricate and beautifully-told backstory and his adorably charming personality.

I knew halfway through this book that it was going to be one of my favourite reads of this year, and the second half fully lived up to my expectations. Gilded is a dark, magical, twisty tale, and I’m seriously begging for a sequel.

Rating: 5/5 !

Gilded publishes in the UK on 2nd November 🙂

Book Review: Fire With Fire by Destiny Soria

*Thank you to Hodder for gifting me an eARC in exchange for an honest review*

Fire With Fire tells the story of Dani and Eden Rivera, who could almost be your average competitive sisters if not for one added complication: they come from a family of well-renowned and highly dedicated dragon slayers. Eden is the responsible older sister and Dani is the reckless teenager with little interest in the family’s business but, so as to be as unfair of possible, Dani is of course the young dragon-slaying prodigy that excels in every aspect of her training.

As if life isn’t complicated enough for the Rivera sisters, everything becomes a little more confusing and a lot more dangerous when Dani stumbles across a dragon one night and finds that they may not be the lethal, heartless creatures that she’s always been taught that they are. With dragons, slayers, high school romances, sorcerers and rivalries, Fire With Fire is an exciting story about sibling rivalries gone too far, loyalties, and how it isn’t always easy to know who you can trust.

Although I enjoyed it from the beginning, it took me quite a while to get into this book. When I did get hooked though, around 40% in, it became completely impossible to put down. The plot was exciting and the action scenes were well-written, but my favourite thing about this book by far was the wonderful cast of characters. The lengths that her anxiety and pride take Eden to make her a fascinating character, and Dani’s growth was possibly even more gripping to read about. The entire set of side characters – Nox, Tomas, Sadie, Kieran – were also really likeable, and the strength of their trust and friendships was so pure and refreshing to read about.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. Its combination of intense and detailed fight scenes, teen angst, magic, sibling rivalry and great representation made it a fun, unique read that I would absolutely recommend.

Rating: 4/5