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!!

January Wrap-Up

Hi! February’s reading so far is not going great, but January actually ended up being a really fun reading month for me. I took a break from reading ARCs so I could fall back in love with reading and started powering through some other books that have been on my TBR forever. And it worked! Because I ended up reading seven books which, for me, is a super strong start to the year.

About the books I read in Jan:

First up is House of Hollow. I’ve had a copy of this book since it came out but I lost it somewhere in my house and didn’t want to buy a new one in case it showed up… But, like heroes, Hot Key Books sent me a proof as part of a very exciting giveaway win in December and I finally got to read it! This is a really fun, dark, twisty fantasy, with a fascinating protagonist. It was a really quick read for me because I couldn’t put it down, and the plot twists and dramatic moments absolutely did not disappoint. It’s a very satisfying first read of the year and was absolutely worth the wait. 4.5/5

An Arrow to the Moon is next (the only ARC I read in January!!! Review to follow…). My expectations were unrealistically high for this book and, although I didn’t love this one as much as I originally hoped, it was still a fun, very easy read, inspired by the story of Chang’e, the Moon Goddess. The characters felt very young and parts of the story seemed a little jumpy but, other than that, the overall story was really interesting and the romance really cute. 3/5

Next up: Everyone Dies Famous in a Small Town. I bought this book forever ago because I’m obsessed with the title, and I had no idea really what it would be when I started. It’s actually a collection of short stories about the lives of different protagonists in different small towns, all tied together by relationships with characters in the story before. Despite the short time we spend with each character, the stories all felt so real that I grew attached to quite a few, and I really enjoyed seeing how each of the characters dealt with their own challenges, which included both the somewhat trivial problems of fictional teenagers and some very real social and political issues. 4/5

My fourth read of the month was All of This is True. This is such a unique read, which tells the story of a group of teenagers who befriend their favourite, NYT-bestselling author, only to discover that she’s only spending time with them so she can use their lives as the plot of her next book. It’s a dramatic book with a very varied set of protagonists and a few interesting twists, and it’s a very quick read as it’s told largely in journal entries, interviews and message threads. 3.5/5

The next book I read was Heartstopper Vol. 2. I’m saving these volumes for days that I’m not feeling great, because it’s such an adorable, heart-warming series to pick up when you don’t feel like reading anything else. I love love love Nick and Charlie and I’m so excited to see what happens next in their story. 4/5

My only audiobook of the month was Empress and Aniya. This is another one that’s been on my TBR forever and the audiobook (at around four hours long) was so un-intimidating that I decided not to put it off any longer. The target audience of this one is likely slightly younger than me, but I still found it to be a really sweet book about friendship, love and empathy. Also, the narrator is amazing, and I’d fully recommend if audiobooks are your thing. 3.5/5

Finally, my last read of the month was It’s Behind You. Very much in the same vein as Good Girls Die First, this one is a creepy horror/thriller full of jump-scares, possible hauntings and overly dramatic protagonists, set in a sealed, haunted cave. I’m not entirely sure how I felt about the ending, but the book overall was really great and kept me on the edge of my seat throughout. 4/5

And that’s it! I’d love to hear what you think if you’ve read any of the above, so let me know in the comments 🙂

NOVEMBER WRAP-UP

I can’t process a couple of things about this wrap-up. The first is that it’s already the end of November?? It seems impossible that we’re weeks away from Christmas now and, although I’m very excited about that, it’s also terrifying to think about… The second thing I can’t process about this wrap-up is that I read EIGHT books this month. EIGHT. As in: double what I read last month. So happy to have had such a good reading month and crossing my fingers that I don’t find myself slumping in December to make up for it!

Anyway, I read a lot of great books this month and I’m very excited to talk about all of them.

First up is Only a Monster by Vanessa Len – This was my first read of NetGalley November and I absolutely loved it. It took the villain protagonist trope very literally and I loved how conflicted I felt about 90% of what happened. Although it took me a while to get into it, it was very much worth the read. 4/5

Lock the Doors by Vincent Ralph – This was a very quick and easy thriller read. Sadly not one of my favourite books of the month as it was a little jumpy and I didn’t find myself overly invested, but it was still a fun read with an interesting protagonist, and it definitely got better towards the end. 2.5/5

Jade Fire Gold by June CL Tan – This is an absolute MUST read for YA fantasy lovers. It’s definitely similar in many ways to a lot of other fantasy books out there right now, but it was still a unique and impressive read with characters that I loved, incredible world building and some very dramatic climactic scenes. My favourite book of the month, for sure. 5/5

After the Rain by Natalia Gomes – Unfortunately, I didn’t love this book. It’s been on my TBR for a while and I made myself read it for Netgalley November, but I didn’t connect with the characters or their friendship as much as I hoped I would. The author does handle sensitive topics very well and I did appreciate the characters’ journeys towards recovery, but that was sadly the only thing I really enjoyed about it. 2/5

Heartstopper Volume 1 by Alice Oseman – I was starting to feel a little intimidated by my TBR this month so decided to take a break and read a fun graphic novel instead. This book is so sweet and so worth the hype, and I’ll definitely be picking up the next few volumes asap. 4/5

If This Gets Out by Cale Dietrich and Sophie Gonzales – This is a sweet contemporary read about two members of a world famous boy band who fall in love, and how they deal with the complications of it. It seemed really genuine in its portrayal of their relationship, and handled some other sensitive topics with the side characters as well. Although not my usual genre, I did really enjoy it. 3.5/5

Hotel Magnifique by Emily J Taylor – This book is more my style than anything else on this list. It gave off major Caraval vibes and I instantly fell in love with both of the main characters. It reads as slightly younger YA and I’m definitely above the YA target audience, but the setting was very well-developed, the story was fun and it was perfect as a quick, escapist read. 4/5

Finally, The Girls are Never Gone by Sarah Glenn Marsh – such a fun read. It has ghosts, it has a creepy mansion, it has romance, it has influencers. The YA horror vibes reminded me of Anna Dressed in Blood (which is one of my all time FAVES) and I devoured this book in basically one sitting. It was definitely a little cliched at times but, to be honest, that kind of made me enjoy it more… 4/5

And that’s it!… phew. I’d love to hear what you think of any of the above, and what your favourite book of the month was! All best wishes for a good reading month in December ❤

ARC REVIEW: How We Fall Apart by Katie Zhao

*Thank you to Bloomsbury for the eARC!!*

How We Fall Apart follows Nancy, a scholarship student at the elite Sinclair Prep School, in the aftermath of the tragic death of her classes’ top student, Jamie Ruan. The whole school is shaken when they hear the news, but it only gets worse when an anonymous poster on the school’s social media app tries to pin the murder on Nancy and three of her closest friends, by revealing their deepest darkest secrets, one by one. Nancy and her friends need to find out the identity of the poster, and Jamie’s murderer, before they go down for a crime that they all swear they did not commit.

If you like Karen McManus books, or AGGGTM or any of the other trending high-school murder mystery books, you will absolutely love this book. It’s so fast-paced that I found myself saying ‘just one more chapter…’ for hours on end until I finished the whole book in two sittings, and it’s a really quick and easy read. It’s also quite terrifying at times, with the intensity ramping up and up towards the end in the lead up to the book’s big reveal.

The protagonist in this book was absolutely my favourite thing about it. I liked that Nancy’s friends – Alexander, Peter, Akil, Krystal and Jamie – were developed with their own troubles and backstories, but the depth of Nancy’s character overshadowed all of this. What on the surface came across as inconsistency with her actions turned into a complicated sense of self as the story went on, and Nancy’s erratic emotions and behaviour seemed completely justified as we delved deeper into her difficult relationship with Jamie, the school, and her other privileged classmates.

I wasn’t overly surprised by the ending, but it was written in such a dramatic and intense way that I didn’t mind that I guessed the ‘whodunnit’ element before it was revealed. It definitely felt worth the lead up with an intense and dangerous climax and there were enough suspicious characters throughout the story that it didn’t feel like it was too obvious.

I’d definitely recommend this if you’re in a slump or looking for a fun, gripping, drama-filled read, and I’m excited to see what Katie Zhao writes next.

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 🙂

NOVEMBER TBR

October’s nearly over! I’m struggling to comprehend the fact that it’s almost November, but I’m also super excited for the colder weather, the Christmas books and movies, and curling up with a million Costa Gingerbread Lattes (no spon, I’m just obsessed…).

This month has absolutely not been the best reading month for me and I’m cramming to finish a fourth book by month end but, as always, I’m overly optimistic about how much reading I’m going to get done in November. So, without further ado, my November TBR:

The Girls Are Never Gone by Sarah Glenn Marsh – this book has been living rent-free in my mind since I first discovered it and, honestly, the fact I haven’t already bought and read a copy is a crime. I’m hoping it will be a fun, easy read, and a good way to keep Spooktober going past October 31st

If This Gets Out by Sophie Gonzales and Cale Dietrich – I’ve been reading exclusively horror/thriller/dark fantasy books for the last month, and this one looks like a really interesting change of pace. I’m hoping for an adorable whirlwind read and have my fingers crossed that this will live up to my high expectations.

Jade Fire Gold by June CL Tan – if you’ve seen this on my TBR for like four months now, pretend you haven’t. And also please convince me to read it. It looks incredible and I’m pretty sure it’s going to be a five-star read when I finally get round to it but, for some reason, I just keep getting distracted by other things! This month will hopefully be the month I finally start it.

Dark and Shallow Lies by Ginny Myers Sain – maybe I’m not ready to move away from the spooky vibes of my October TBR because I know that this is a dark, creepy thriller but it’s also my number one priority on my November TBR. It looks like a quick, fun, mysterious read and I’m hoping I can devour the whole thing in one sitting.

It’s Behind You by Kathryn Foxfield – I actually have no idea what this book is about, oops, but I bought it because I loved Good Girls Die First and it looks like it has the same creepy tone. If you’ve read it, I’d love to hear what you thought!

And that’s it. Let me know which book you’re most excited to read in November, and if there are any November new releases that you’re looking forward to picking up!

Pumpkin Spice Latte Book Tag

I promise I’m going to take a break from tags soon because I’ve absolutely spammed with them this month but, for now, just one last one!

I saw this tag over at Kristin Craves Books and it looked too fun to miss.

Without further ado, the Pumpkin Spice Latte Book Tag:

Pumpkin Spice Latte – a book everyone likes to hate on but is delicious

I didn’t even think for a second before Anna and the French Kiss came to mind. I know that the hate it gets is often justified, but it’s my ultimate comfort read and honestly 90% of the reason I visited Paris…


“Fall is my favourite season” – a cliché you can’t get enough of

The Chosen One cliché. It’s been done to death and, sure, I roll my eyes at it sometimes too, but am I ever going to stop reading The Chosen One books? Probably not.


Sweater Weather to T-Shirt Weather – a book you thought was one thing but was completely different by the end

The Spiral by Iain Ryan. I knew it was a thriller and I knew it was going to be weird, but it turned into one of the most bizarre and unnerving things I’ve ever read. I don’t know remotely how to describe it but, if you want to check out my review, it’s here.


“Spoops” – do you have a spooky book on your tbr?

A million spooky books are on my TBR! I’ve had my eye on The Girls are Never Gone by Sarah Glenn Marsh for a really long time and, if anyone can tell me how good it is, please do.


Tarot Reading – a five-star prediction

I’m absolutely expecting Daughter of the moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan to be a five-star read! The cover is absolutely stunning and the blurb sounds incredible. I don’t want to judge a book entirely because it’s pretty, but I have impossibly high hopes for this book and can’t wait to read it.


Sephora Sage + Crystal Set – a book that meant well but missed the mark

Resistance by Val McDermid. I try not to hate on books and I’m sure releasing a graphic novel about a pandemic in the middle of a pandemic was, umm, well-meaning, but… this book was not it for me. Unfortunately, at all.

And that’s the tag! If you want to do it, consider yourself tagged 🙂

ARC REVIEW: YOU’LL BE THE DEATH OF ME by Karen McManus

First things first, THANK YOU to Penguin for the eARC! I’ve been meaning to read more of Karen McManus’ books since I read (and loved) One of Us is Lying a few years ago, and my 2017 self is screaming that I got this opportunity to do so with an ARC. I had no choice but to drop my October TBR for a while to read this one and I was definitely not disappointed…

You’ll Be the Death of Me follows high-school students and former friends, Cal, Ivy and Mateo, as they experience the day from hell, when what they thought would be a Ferris Bueller inspired day of skipping school leads instead to a murder enquiry.

When Ivy finds the body of one of their classmates, and her recent school council rival, in an abandoned art studio, the three find themselves completely wrapped up in the enquiry, trying to figure out what happened, keep themselves safe and, most importantly, not become the case’s primary suspects.

In typical Karen McManus fashion, this is a clever and gripping high-school murder mystery. Like One of Us is Lying, it is told from the perspectives of three wildly different characters, all of whom have a million reasons why they absolutely can’t get caught up in the crime investigation. I think Mateo was my favourite of the three characters, as the most down-to-earth and genuinely kind of the three, but I liked all three protagonists a lot, and the interesting dynamic of three former friends accidentally reuniting for their nightmarish day.

The story itself is a straightforward murder mystery, with fairly standard motivations and victim, but the twists kept it interesting the whole way through. I definitely guessed a few of the big reveals before they happened, but I also found myself going off on completely wrong tangents multiple times, to the point that I stopped trying to guess what would happen around ¾ of the way through when I realised I would inevitably be wrong. I felt that the ending was a little bit dragged out, with a lot of chapters taking place after the mystery has been solved, but this did mean that every possible question you could have is definitely answered and tied up really well. Although I found this part to be a little slower than the rest of the book, I did really appreciate that the author literally thought of *everything*.

I really enjoyed this book and, having been in a reading slump for almost the entirety of October, I don’t think I could’ve picked a better book to get myself out of it. It was an excellent combination of fun, dark and clever, and a reminder that I should definitely be reading every book that Karen McManus puts out.

Rating: 4/5

10 Dark Reads For Halloween

Here I am, once again, coming at you with books to read on Halloween!

One of the first ever posts I made on Rarely in Reality was Halloween Book Recommendations and, in honour of the fact that today is my two year Blogiversary, I thought I’d recreate it. So, without further ado, here’s my top 10 dark book recommendations for reading next weekend:

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake – this book was definitely featured on my Halloween recs post two years ago, but it’s too good not to include again. It’s an incredible YA thriller/horror/romance with a heart-crushing sequel and I definitely cannot recommend it enough.

Slasher Girls and Monster Boys by April Genevieve Tucholke – I will never shut up about this anthology, and one of the best things about it is that there is a story for everyone. There’s so much variation in this collection and so many incredible authors that, even if one or two of the stories are not to your taste, there will be a story that you absolutely love. And at least one that scares the life out of you.

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin – Any book that features a sleepover in an abandoned asylum and a girl who can kill creatures with her mind deserves a place on my Halloween recommendations list. This is dark, creepy and one of my favourite series’ ever – and also features your next fictional crush, Noah Shaw.

Good Girls Die First by Kathryn Foxfield – A YA horror set on an abandoned pier with a creepy magical presence, a group of suspicious teens and a mysterious invitation is also the perfect book to curl up with on Halloween. It’s a really easy standalone with the kind of scene-setting that makes you nervous to read while home alone.

The Shadow in the Glass by JJA Harwood – This one’s a little different to the others on the list in that it’s not exactly horror, but it’s just as deserving of a spot on your TBR. It’s a very gothic and creepy Cinderella retelling with a morally corrupt protagonist and a fair amount of gruesome deaths so, if fantasy is more your thing than straight-up horror, this could be the book for you.

In the Ravenous Dark by AM Strickland – or this one! This is another fantasy where the author does not shy away from gore. It’s got an excess of dark magic, a royal setting and plenty of untrustworthy characters, and it’s one of the first books that comes to mind when I think of genuinely dark YA.

Survive the Night by Riley Sager – the first and only non-YA book on this list, this adult thriller is dark, unpredictable and very fast-paced. It’s got a completely unreliable, grieving narrator, a mysterious stranger and an overnight car journey that could go wrong in a million ways. Though it’s definitely more thriller than horror, it’s perfectly creepy for Halloween.

Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco – A YA fantasy about beautiful princes of Hell, a sacrifice and a vengeful, witchy protagonist. I think everyone knows about this book at this point and it’s not exactly a niche recommendation, but it definitely deserves a spot on your TBR if you haven’t already read it.

The Devil Makes Three by Tori Bovalino – a very recent addition to this list, since I only read this book earlier this month! It’s a dark academia horror with a haunted library, gruesome violence and a demon that resides in an old grimoire. It’s very traditional YA horror and a straight-forward choice for reading on Halloween.

The Last Girl by Goldy Moldavsky – if you’re into horror films and looking for something more along the lines of your favourite slashers, this could be a great option. With a film buff protagonist who’s obsessed with horror movies and gore, a group of disturbed outcast teens and a masked stalker, this is another obvious choice to curl up with on a dark and stormy night…

And that’s it! I’d love to hear your favourite Halloween recommendations, so please let me know in the comments what go-to read for October 31st 🙂