MARCH WRAP-UP

Happy April!

I’m optimistic about this month for a lot of bookish reasons. The new releases coming out this month are incredible, the bookshops are re-opening(!!) AND I am, for once, not starting the month in a reading slump. I feel like I read in every spare moment I had in March and I was given so many good new books on NetGalley that things in the non-reality sphere are definitely looking good.

With that in mind, here’s my (pretty exciting) March wrap-up…

The Loop by Ben Oliver – I was gifted this book and its sequel for a blog tour (that will be up very, very soon!) and I loved it SO much. If you like The Fifth Wave or The 100 or The Maze Runner or really any of the slightly older dystopian YA, this book is definitely worth a read. Full review to follow but, honestly, a wonderful start to the month.

Hunter x Hunter (volumes 11 and 12) by Yoshihiro Togashi – this is a kind of random choice since I haven’t read volumes 1 through 10 but I love HxH and could not resist picking these up when I found them in a charity shop last year. Both were super fun, though 11 was by far the more exciting of the two. On a side note, if you haven’t watched HxH (2011), you absolutely need to…

All Our Hidden Gifts by Caroline O’Donoghue – my review for this one is here. This was a super fun, slightly younger YA read about tarot reading, with lots of good LGBTQ+ rep.

The Lock In by Phoebe Luckhurst – contemporaries are not normally my thing in winter, but I requested this one on a whim and really enjoyed it. Though a little predictable at times, this was a funny rom-com set in a very familiar setting (a rented house-share in London…).

Love in Five Acts by Daniela Krien – this again is not my usual genre, but it was a pretty unique and very interesting exploration of how different women cope with love and loss in the twenty-first century. My review, if you want to check it out, is here.

Of Wicked Blood by Katie Hoyez and Olivia Wildenstein – this one was my only audiobook for the month and I’ve been listening to it forever on NetGalley. It’s a magical adventure set in France, following a life-or-death quest and an unlikely romance. I didn’t really connect with it as much as I would have liked, but the narrators were great and I loved the action elements a lot.

Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim – this book is the best thing I read in March. As with The Loop, I’m super excited to be reading the sequel this month and can’t wait to see what happens next. My review for this is here.

And that’s it! Hope you have a wonderful reading month ahead, and I’d love to hear what your best book of March was, in case it’s something I need to add to my TBR…

Books That Got Me Into Reading

HAPPY WORLD BOOK DAY! I’m super excited about today because it always makes me nostalgic for when I was younger, and the amazing £1 book selections that, honestly, I still buy at age twenty-two… As a book-addict for as long as I can remember, World Book Day holds a special place in my heart and, to honour that, I wanted to take a trip down bookish memory lane.

So, to do that, I thought I’d share a very small selection of some of the books that got me into reading!

Rainbow Magic by Daisy Meadows – this was one of the first series’ I ever read. I only recently found out that Daisy Meadows was a pseudonym for multiple authors, which slightly broke my heart, but that doesn’t take away from how much I adored these. I have at least seventy in a box at my parents’ house (including a World Book Day special!) and I don’t think I’ll ever clear them out.

Totally Lucy by Kelly McKain- I was obsessed with the Totally Lucy book series. I read the second book first, got completely hooked, and then read the entire rest of the series in a couple of weeks. My name is never on anything, but my middle name is Lucy, so I was super excited about the fact that a character almost shared my name, and her love of fashion really resonated with my (clearly very stylish) ten-year old self. I started reading a lot after that, but none of my younger reads stuck with me quite as much as this one.

The Shapeshifter series by Ali Sparkes – This is another series I got completely obsessed with, but this time it wasn’t a series of quick reads, but a really intense, slightly-shorter, action-packed series. It’s middle-grade, but it definitely acted as my bridge into YA, and I loved everything about it. The fantasy elements, the twists and the characters were all incredible and, honestly, I think I would still love this series to this day.

Divergent by Veronica Roth- The beginning of my YA obsession! This is the first YA series I read and, after finishing Allegiant, I never really stopped. I went from this, to The Hunger Games, to The Mortal Instruments and fairly quickly through all of those big YA series from the early 2010s. I got completely hooked on this in 2014, bought merchandise, started buying multiple copies and made my first ever (slightly embarrassing) Instagram fanpage…

Wings by Aprilynne Pike – So you can probably tell from Rainbow Magic that fairies were kind of my thing growing up. I was obsessed with all things fae (and it definitely carried over into my YA love of The Folk of the Air and Wicked Lovely) but Wings is the fairy series that I think I hold dearest. Also, Aprilynne Pike is the first author who ever tweeted me back (in 2014!!) so that holds a special place in my heart too.

The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare – This one may be slightly cheating since I was very much into reading by the time I read The Mortal Instruments, but this is another series that made me realise just how deeply obsessed my teenage self could get with books. I wore a rune necklace all through college (and actually made a lot of reader friends because of it) and got hooked on all things fantasy. I never got round to continuing with the Shadowhunter books after The Infernal Devices, but this series will always hold a special place in my heart.

I could go on forever about books that I obsessed over when I was younger, but I think I should probably stop here. I hope you’re having (or had) a wonderful World Book Day, and would love to hear about the books that got you into reading too!

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 🙂

Resolutions Book Tag!

So, yes, we’re halfway through January and, no, I did not have any New Years resolutions this year, but I saw this tag and couldn’t resist taking part! It’s a bookish twist on New Years resolutions and an excuse to talk about some really great books I’ve read recently, so I’m really all for it.

This was created by Mikaela Reads and you can check out her original post here!

Exercise More – name a book that has made you want to leap up out of your seat (for any reason)

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Turner made me want to jump up out of my seat in all the best ways. I wanted to scream and cry at some times and I wanted to leap up and cheer at others. I cannot fault this book at all and am honestly always looking for an excuse to talk about this to anyone who will listen.

Get Organised – a book with an exceptional plot

This one took me a while because, whilst a lot of the books I read have amazing plots, I read a lot of very character-driven stuff. I think one that just kept me turning the pages was Caraval by Stephanie Garber.

Learn A New Skill – a book which taught you something

Definitely Foreshadow by Nova Ren Suma and Emily XR Pan. I feel like I bring this book up at every opportunity as well, but here we are. Not only were the stories so interesting that they made me want to write, the essays and the prompts really helped with certain techniques and plotting.

Live Life To The Fullest – a book which inspired you

Shine by Jessica Jung, for sure. This book did not inspire me to become a kpop idol but the protagonist, Rachel, will stop at absolutely nothing to achieve her dreams. She is strong-willed, super talented and willing to look past personal problems to achieve her ultimate goal.

Save more money / spend less money – the most expensive book you’ve bought and was it worth it?

This is the most boring answer but the most expensive books I’ve bought are all textbooks (you probably aren’t interested but Major Problems in American History, I’m looking at you). They helped me get my degree but in terms of whether the books themselves were worth £60? Umm… probably not.

Spend More Time With Family and Friends – a character you would want to be best mates with

Pip from A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson! Her personality is so relatable but, on top of that, she seems super committed to her friends and just like a really fun person to be around.

Travel More – a book with a location you’d love to visit

Warcross by Marie Lu (I find a way to include a Marie Lu book in every tag I do and I will absolutely never stop). Not only do I want to visit Tokyo, I also want to visit dystopian, virtual-reality Tokyo.

Read More – a book you are desperate to read this year

Witches Steeped in Gold by Ciannon Smart is my most anticipated read of 2021 and I am completely desperate to read it. I just got an ARC (praise the book gods) and will likely be dropping everything after writing this post to read it.

If you’re interested in doing this, consider yourself tagged!

I’d love to hear if you agree with my choices too, so let me know your thoughts in the comments😊

ARC REVIEW: Threadneedle by Cari Thomas

I’ve decided that my reading of this book was fated. I saw it on Twitter, realised that I would die for a copy, and received an email the following day inviting me to review on Netgalley and giving me an automatic-approval link to it (so thank you so much to HarperVoyager for the e-ARC). I don’t think I’ve ever been so blessed by the book gods in my entire life and obviously, in the midst of my excitement, I had to read this entire book in a day.

That day was a while ago, but I was (for once) organised enough to write my thoughts as soon as I finished. Those thoughts were as follows:

Threadneedle is about a teenage witch named Anna, who has been raised by her aunt to detest and fear her own magic. She has spent her life repressing it, preparing herself for having it cut off by a group called The Binders when she turns sixteen, in order to protect herself from all of its dangers. Having been raised surrounded by ordinary humans and people with no knowledge of the beauty or the danger of magic, this hasn’t been especially difficult for Anna- particularly because her magic is reluctant to show itself in the first place.

But when Selene, an enchanting family friend who flaunts and thrives on magic, comes to visit with her daughter Effie and Effie’s best friend Attis, everything that Anna has been taught begins to blur. Anna is swept into a world of witches who proudly wreak havoc with their magic, a world of underground magical libraries, potions and all-out recklessness. And it quickly becomes unclear who she should believe when it comes to magic.

This book is very long, and yet I didn’t find it even remotely slow. There’s a lot of character building, a lot of scene setting and a lot of high-school drama thrown in amongst the magic and the mystery, but not a word of it was unnecessary. There’s a hugely varied, fascinating cast of characters, and an entertaining mix of romance, YA angst and dark magic, which I absolutely loved.

My favourite thing about this book, though, was how it made me feel. Namely: unsettled, the entire way through. With frequent mentions of a curse, the dangers of dark magic, the characters’ recklessness and Anna’s Aunt’s paranoia, I felt like something could go wrong any second and on every page. I was grappling with my fears of who to trust and what could go wrong the entire way through this book, and it left me feeling unnerved, anxious and completely enthralled.

I really wanted to love this book and I’m so glad that I did. Everything tied together wonderfully, the characters were exciting, and the world was entirely immersive. As someone who has only recently discovered the genre of Witchy YA, this book has only made me more desperate for book two and anything else about dark magic that I can get my hands on.

RATING: 5/5

DECEMBER WRAP-UP

Happy New Year!

With just seven hours to go until 2021, I finally met my (recently increased) reading goal of sixty books! I’m so happy with how my reading went last year and am even happier that I’ve not really been able to stop reading for the last month- and that, as a result of that, my December Wrap Up is ten books, which is more than I have read in a single month for a long time. So. Here we go.

When Life Gives You Lemons Instead of Lattes by Rayna York – I don’t review books on my blog that I don’t particularly enjoy, so I didn’t share this one. This is a summery contemporary about a girl who is torn away from her wealthy lifestyle in California when her father is found to be embezzling company money and forced to adapt to life in rural Ohio. It was a cute book with lots of romance, but sadly was not for me. Still, it was a quick, easy read. 2/5

Good Girl, Bad Blood by Holly Jackson – I’m kind of mad that I didn’t read this as soon as I bought it, but at least I got round to it eventually. I really enjoyed this sequel to A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder and will absolutely be sure to keep up with book three when it is released. 4/5

Caraval, Legendary and Finale by Stephanie Garber – it has been years since I read an entire series in the space of a week (or even read an entire series full stop…) but this one was so beautiful and magical that I was completely unable to put it down. I loved the set of protagonists in book two just as much as I loved book one’s and found myself experiencing a severe book hangover when I realised that I was done with them at the end of Finale. I will be waiting desperately for Once Upon a Broken Heart. 5/5

The Last Girl by Goldy Moldavsky – review to come, but I really enjoyed this YA thriller about a girl whose coping mechanism after a home invasion is to turn to horror movies and gore in an attempt to feel safe once again. It had a fascinating set of characters, a very unique storyline, and an enjoyable series of twists that got me through the entire book in less than a day. 5/5

All Your Twisted Secrets by Diana Urban – I’ve had this book on my radar since I first heard about it and decided this month to give the audiobook a try. It was a really gripping story with a troubled cast of characters, a high-tension situation and the romance expected of a high-school thriller. I wasn’t a huge fan of the ending, but I did enjoy this book and would fully recommend it as an audiobook, as the narrator was amazing! 3.5/5

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz – People on my twitter timeline have been talking about this book for centuries and I’m so mad that I didn’t read it sooner. Also mad because I didn’t realise that the audiobook was narrated by Lin Manuel-Miranda! It was such a sweet and gripping story about friendship and love, and I fell completely in love with both Aristotle and Dante. 5/5

Rent a Boyfriend by Gloria Chao – Apparently, this was a month of contemporaries for me. This is another book that I’ve been eyeing for months and finally gave in and bought last week. It was a super cute and easy read about a girl who develops complicated feelings for the boy pretending to be her boyfriend to get her parents off her back. It was pretty cliched and very typical for the genre, but it was quick to read and honestly pretty sweet. 4/5

A Girl Made of Air by Nydia Hetherington – which I finished a few hours ago in an attempt to complete my 60th book. I have mixed feelings about this one (again, review to come, when I’ve figured out my thoughts…) but it was a beautifully written, unique tale that combined historical fiction and magical realism. 4/5

And that’s it for the last month of the year. I hope you all had a wonderful year of reading (and a safe year in general) and wish you all the best for 2021!

My Top 10 Books of 2020

It’s December! And, having finally met my Goodreads goal (52/45!), I’m feeling nostalgic about my year in books. The change in my reading since starting this blog in November 2019 has been insane, and I’m so lucky to have discovered so, so many incredible, diverse authors and novels over the course of the year.

Picking my top 10 books for 2020 was way too difficult, so I’ve narrowed it down to only books that released this year in an attempt to make it easier (spoiler: it didn’t) and, after a lot of internal debate, I finally think I’ve got it. So, without further ado… my top 10 books of 2020:

TEN. Again, Again by E. Lockhart – I LOVED this book, but I think my rating is at least partially biased. We Were Liars is my favourite stand-alone of all time, but I’ve never really clicked with a lot of E. Lockhart’s books, so finding one in the same style with a cute story line and a lot of trippy parallel timezones was really all it took for this book to make the list.

Check out my review here.

NINE. The Rules by Tracy Darnton – This book is one of those books where you read the ending and can’t get over it for at least a few days. It’s a gripping, twisty thriller in the exact style that I one day hope to write and I adored it.

Check out my review here.

EIGHT. The Kingdom by Jess Rothenberg – I bought this entirely as a cover-buy but ended up reading the whole thing in one night (finishing at 2am when I had to get up at 7am, oops). It was a really fun thriller with androids, romance, mystery, suspense and way too many parallels between the setting and Disneyland to be accidental.

(I didn’t review this, oops, but more information can be found here.)

SEVEN. Shine by Jessica Jung – I have never been as excited to receive an ARC as I was to receive this one. Electric Monkey literally only publishes books that I know I’ll adore, and this one tied my loves of Kpop and YA together so well. It was realistic, exciting and really well written.

Check out my review here.

SIX. Foreshadow by Nova Ren Suma and Emily XR Pan – This is the only short-story anthology I’ve read this year because it isn’t really my go-to form, but I’m so, so glad I read this. The combination of stories, writing prompts and essays provided me with so much insight and motivation for my own writing that I couldn’t not include it.

Check out my review here.

FIVE. Skyhunter by Marie Lu – MARIE LU. DYSTOPIA. That is all.

Check out my review here.

FOUR. Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco – I was blessed to get this on Netgalley and I’m still mad about how long it took me to start it. It had a strong protagonist, an exciting romance and so much fantasy. It gave me major 2014/2015 YA vibes and I’m completely here for it.

Check out my review here.

THREE. The Court of Miracles by Kester Grant – THIS. I’m in love with Les Mis and have developed a newfound appreciation for Enjolras in the months since reading this book. It was so beautifully written that I swear I highlighted something on every other page and I’m beyond excited for the sequel.

Check out my review here.

TWO. Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo – I’ve since read Poet X as well and I can’t get over how beautiful Elizabeth Acevedo’s writing is. This book was a poetic masterpiece, and is another that I read in a single sitting.

Check out my review here.

ONE. The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu – oh look, more Marie Lu (how she managed to release two completely contrasting works-of-art in the space of a year, I will never know). I’m surprised that I enjoyed The Kingdom of Back more than Skyhunter but this book just feels so special to me. The order of my top 10 has shifted a lot in the last few minutes, but there is no doubt in my mind that this book deserves to be number 1.

Check out my review here.

And that’s it! Thank you so much to the publishers that gifted me books on this list (namely: Hot Key Books, HarperVoyager, James Patterson Presents, Electric Monkey, Algonquin and Little Tiger).

I would love to hear what your favourite books were this year, so comment below which books wowed you in 2020!

The Stay at Home Book Tag

I don’t know if blogging slumps are a thing but, if so, I have fallen into one. I’ve read very few books in November so far, so I don’t have a review that I can post right now, and I’ve been struggling so much to come up with any other type of content! Suggestions and advice very gratefully accepted.

That being said, I have a lot of free time on my hands and a 24/7 urge to talk about books to anyone who will listen. So… as I sit at home, trying to figure out what I can do today that doesn’t involve leaving the house, here’s a very relevant tag that I found whilst panic-scrolling through Google this morning: The Stay at Home Book Tag

Laying in Bed – a book you read in a day

Threadneedle by Cari Thomas. This book is so long and literally took me the entire day to get through, but it was 100% worth it. I dedicated a solid 9 hours to sitting and getting sucked into the world of witches, vengeance and betrayal and didn’t even consider putting it down. After my introductory I don’t have a review to post spiel, I actually do have a review of this one, but I’ll be posting next year since it publishes in May. You can probably guess my rating already…

Snacking – a guilty pleasure book

Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett. All of Jenn Bennett’s books are adorable, easy-to-read YA romances that, although not the most complex books I’ve ever read, are too cute not to read. This one is about a girl who ends up abandoned in the woods with the boy who broke her heart, which is total guilty pleasure book stuff. I would absolutely recommend it. Bonus points: it also taught me how to protect myself from bears if I’m ever stuck in the woods so… there’s that.

Netflix- a series you want to start

Shatter Me by Taherah Mafi! I’ve completely lost track of how many books are in this series (I own four but I think there are six? I don’t know) but it’s been on my TBR for longer than I can remember. I’m slowly working through the embarrassingly long list of books I own but haven’t read, and this one is definitely going to be one of the next ones I get around to (I hope).

Deep Clean – a book that has been on your TBR for ages

So many books. The first one that comes to mind is Arabesque by Aprilynne Pike. I read the Wings series when I was way younger and, from what I can gather, this is about the same characters, ten years in the future. I’ve had this book on my wishlist for years and finally got it this year, so this one is definitely up there on my priority TBR list.

Animal Crossing – a book you recently bought because of hype

I haven’t bought it yet, but I’m so close to buying These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong. My entire twitter timeline yesterday was talking about it and I’ve seen it popping up everywhere for weeks, so I can’t imagine I’m going to be able to hold off buying it for much longer…

Productivity – a book you learned from or had an impact of you

Foreshadow by Nova Ren Suma and Emily X.R. Pan. This book is a gorgeous collection of short stories by lesser-known authors, with each story followed by an essay about a writing technique that was used within that story. The stories themselves were really enjoyable, but I especially loved that after every story, prompt or essay, I desperately wanted to put their suggestions into practice and write something myself.

Facetime – a book you were gifted

Another book that I got as a result of Twitter hype- Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno Garcia. I got this book for my birthday and am currently just over half-way through. It’s a style of horror that I haven’t read a lot of (more The Yellow Wallpaper than IT) and I’m really enjoying it so far.

Self Care – what is one thing that you have done recently to look after yourself?

I’ve been on more walks in the past few months than I’ve been on in my entire life. Sometimes I just blast music too loudly and other times I listen to audiobooks, but it’s definitely been a good way to clear my head after being stuck in my flat 24/7.

BONUS – name a book coming out soon

The first book that comes to mind is The Cousins by Karen McManus. From what I remember, this book is coming out the first week in December and I preordered it during a book haul I ordered from bookshop.org last month. I probably have unfairly high hopes for this book after One of Us is Lying, but I’m really excited to get into this as soon as it comes through my letterbox.

Book Review: Skyhunter by Marie Lu

I wasn’t sure whether or not to review this because I completely gave up on being impartial about Marie Lu’s books about 6 years ago- but in the end, I couldn’t keep my thoughts to myself. Surprise, surprise, this is not going to be a balanced review. It is instead going to be a short summary, followed by a post full of fangirling. You’ve been warned.

Skyhunter is the story of Talin, a specially-trained soldier, or Striker, for her struggling nation, Mara. Set far, far into the future, after the collapse of the world as we know it, Mara is the only land that remains un-colonised by the ever-growing Federation, and Talin is one of many, fighting on the front lines to defend from the oncoming attack, from humans, technological human experiments and ghosts, which are monstrous beings trained to obey the Federation’s every command.

When a presumed Federation soldier wanders into their territory, all but Talin are happy to watch him suffer for their actions, but Talin feels a strange connection that forces her to risk her own life for him. When he is later paired up as her partner, she discovers that there is more to him than meets the eye, and that he may become the key to their survival and a vital look into the Federation’s plans.

There are elements of Legend and Warcross in this book that were impossible for me to ignore. Marie Lu is incredible at writing dystopia, especially dystopia surrounding technology and world domination, and this book was really no different. The characters were as instantly fascinating as any of her books and I found myself loving and hating exactly who I was supposed to. Talin is a fierce, incredibly well-developed protagonist, suffering from a lot of internal struggle about her duties, her heart and her sense of belonging, and Red is an intriguing, unique and equally powerful character to read. Jeran as well, a close friend, a fierce soldier and a very useful translator for Red and Talin, was a particular favourite character of mine. I loved seeing him develop as the story went on, after finding myself particularly invested in him from the very beginning.

This story is fast-paced, exciting and completely immersive. I got sucked in so quickly to the world of Mara and the Federation that I completely forgot the outside world, caring only about their story and their survival. The technology Marie Lu invents is believable, the world is so detailed that it’s impossible not to find yourself in the story with them, and the characters are the kind that you want to keep in your mind forever.

Rather than recommending this book, I urge you to read it. Or read Warcross, or The Young Elites, or Legend, or The Kingdom of Back (which I also *cough* reviewed, here). Marie Lu’s books are incomparable: inclusive, diverse, thrilling, immersive and incredibly original. This book has further solidified her status as my favourite author of all time, and I can only hope that, if you take my advice and read it, you’ll see exactly what I mean.

Rating: 5/5 (obviously…)