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

Book Review: Every Line of You by Naomi Gibson

I read this book forever ago now (okay, two months ago… but still) and it wasn’t actually a gifted review copy but a book I went out and bought for myself. So I didn’t always plan on reviewing it.

But as we get deeper into Spook-tober, I find myself remembering how fun and creepy this book was, and finding myself wanting to recommend it to everyone all over again. So… this post is basically that. I loved this book and can’t wait to go on a hopefully intelligible rant about it.


Every Line of You tells the story of Lydia, a young coding prodigy who, somehow, accidentally falls in love with the AI that she’s developing, Henry. What starts as basic coding hobby turns into so much more as Henry begins to develop, rewrite and reprogram himself until he’s fully independent, portable, sentient and… romantic?

I heard about this book for months before it published and knew that I had to go out and buy it as soon as I was able to (I ended up walking four miles to get the Forbidden Planet exclusive edition and, honestly, no regrets). I love love love books about VR, AIs and pretty much any of that technical stuff, and this seemed too unique and creepy an addition to the genre to miss.

Anyway, this book totally lived up to my expectations. Although very dark and at times a little gruesome, it does read like it’s intended for the younger YA audience, which made it a really easy read. I finished the whole thing in a few hours because it was so fast-paced, gripping and, honestly, pretty short.

Lydia is a fairly straightforward character: a young girl who has suffered much more loss and sadness than she should have to deal with, who is suffering both at home and with bullying at school. She was totally believable as an impressionable teenager looking for an escape, and that made what happened with Henry feel all the more believable and, as a result, all the more terrifying. It was fascinating and horrifying to watch her go completely off the rails under the influence of her AI, and to see what terrible things grief and pressure can encourage a young girl to do.

Henry, although not a person, was an equally impressive character. Like Lydia, I often forgot that he was an AI because he was so well developed and fascinating in himself. He definitely got scary as the story went on, but I somehow found myself rooting for him for the majority of the story in a way that I’m still kind of concerned by.

The story itself was a great twist on a classic YA thriller. We saw everything Lydia was feeling as her life started to unravel, and I found myself desperately turning the pages to see either when she would snap out of it or when she would completely go off the rails. This book really had all of the elements needed by a YA thriller: high school drama, revenge, plot twists and – after all of the build up – an ending that didn’t disappoint.

If you’re into dystopia or YA thrillers or even scary articles about how fast technology is developing, I absolutely recommend this book. It’s the perfect line between fun and creepy and I will definitely be going back for a re-read in the (likely very near) future.

Rating: 5/5

ARC Review: Dead Lucky by Andreina Cordani

*Thank you to Little, Brown for the eARC*

Dead Lucky follows Maxine, and her various influencer frenemies, in the aftermath of the murder of fellow influencer, Xav, which was filmed and uploaded for millions to see. Xav had a lot of enemies and a tendency to provoke, but nobody could have predicted that something so brutal would happen to him. And as Maxine and her friends try to figure out the whodunnit of it all, it becomes clear that this may not have been a one-off event. What’s even worse: Maxine could easily be the killer’s next target.

This is a very quick and easy read. Like most books I’ve read about influencers, it comes across perhaps more light-hearted than it should for a book about a brutal murder, but it was really fun to read about their lives and struggles as internet celebrities. Although it’s difficult to sympathise with a lot of the characters, Maxine is quite a down to earth protagonist who is aware and appreciative of her supporters, and at least somewhat concerned about everyone around her.

The suspense in this book was really well done. With the bursts of narrative that were scattered throughout from Sam (one of the influencers’ former best friends and an incredibly suspicious presence), I felt nervous the entire way through, like something bad was always about to happen. There weren’t that many pivotal climaxes in the story and I think there could have comfortably been a few more, but the build up throughout was really good and I did like a lot of the plot twists and reveals that were thrown in. The big ‘whodunnit’ reveal was handled well too and, although I wasn’t hugely convinced by the killer’s motivation, it was entertaining and quite unexpected.

Overall, this was a good read with a unique set of somewhat caricature-ish characters and a fun combination of tension and celebrity. It’s an easy book to finish in a couple of days and an interesting commentary on influencer culture.

Rating: 3.5/5

Dead Lucky publishes on 11th January 2022 🙂

Book Review: The Devil Makes Three by Tori Bovalino

*Thank you to Titan Books for the eARC*

The Devil Makes Three is a dark-academia YA horror that follows Tess, a scholarship student and resident school librarian, and Eliot, the evil-headmaster’s privileged son, as they pair up to find grimoires and histories of dark magic to help Eliot on a personal quest and… accidentally unleash a book-bound demon. The two find themselves forced to put their differences and personal problems aside so they can work together to figure out what they seem to have set free, as Tess is all the while plagued by dreams of the devil and Eliot finds himself losing touch with the magic he has been struggling all his life to get a grasp of.

I’m mad at myself for having had an eARC of this since July and only now, in October, getting round to reading it, but I can’t deny that it fits perfectly on my scary October reading list. It’s a really dark story with a typical spooky setting and it had all of the atmosphere that I wanted from pre-Halloween reading. If you’re squeamish, it’s important to know that the author definitely doesn’t shy away from gore, but it really does help push the intensity and danger of the characters’ situations, and I do think that this was generally done well. Likewise, you should definitely look up the trigger warnings of this book before going into it as well, as there are a lot of triggering subjects such as child abuse, death and self-harm.

In terms of characters, I really liked the combination of Tess and Eliot’s perspectives. Tess was strong-willed, completely independent and unwilling to take anything from anyone, and Eliot’s quiet, inquisitive, hiding-behind-his-office-door nature made them a really fun pair to root for. It was a little strange at times that the way they described each other didn’t always completely align with the way that they actually behaved, but the use of both characters as protagonists made it much easier to understand both of them and why they might be falling for each other, despite their drastically different outlooks. It also definitely helped my enjoyment of this story that the rich-boy/scholarship-student romance trope is one that I love, and I may or may not have found rooting for them from before they even met (oops).

The story is a fairly straight-forward one, with a lot of intense moments of action and not a lot of twists. If you’re looking for a lot of surprises, this book may not be for you as it definitely relies more on atmosphere than mystery, but if you’re in the mood for a gory (for YA) page-turner, it definitely is. It’s an entertaining, not-quite-slasher-level horror with elements of dark academia, witchcraft and dark magic, and I’d absolutely recommend if you’re looking for some YA to get you into the Halloween spirit.

Rating: 4/5

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

The Fall Bucket List Book Tag

Hi everyone! I know it’s been Autumn for a little while now, but it’s only starting to feel like it now with the colder weather and the sudden switch from iced lattes to cappuccinos! And to celebrate the sudden change in season, I decided to do this super fun tag that I stumbled across recently: The Fall Bucket List book tag, created by Read With Tiffany.

First up: Light a Scented Candle – A Book That’s Lighthearted

The Island Home by Libby Page is the first book that came to mind for this! If you like k-dramas, it’s the adult fiction equivalent of Hometown Cha Cha Cha and I absolutely loved how easy and relaxing it was to read. (PS. If you want to read my review, it’s here!)

Drink Pumpkin Spiced Lattes – A Book That Has a Lot of Hype

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Sáenz! I think this one came to mind because I’m so excited to read the sequel, and it absolutely deserves all of the love it gets, but it’s definitely one of the more hyped up books I’ve read recently.

Go Apple Picking – A Book That Has Fun Friendships

Fire With Fire by Destiny Soria. Although this book is mostly about family (and dragons), the friendships were done really well. The main character Dani developed such strong friendships throughout the story, both with her animal companion and her non-magical friends, and it was really lovely to watch these develop.

Wear a Cozy Sweater – A Book That Warms Your Heart

Not Here to Be Liked by Michelle Quach! This is an intensely feminist story with a potentially very unlikeable protagonist but, serious themes aside, it was such a heart-warming and lovely read. Girls weren’t pitted against each other just because they were from different ‘cliques’, the romantic storyline was adorable, and the character growth in so many of the characters really restored my faith in humanity.

Bake Cinnamon Rolls – A Character Who’s a Talented Chef

To Lahore, With Love by Hina Belitz! I read this book last year and honestly don’t remember that much about it, but I do remember that every chapter was introduced with a recipe that made my mouth water, stolen from the protagonist’s recipe book.

Jump Into a Pile of Leaves – A Book That Made You Jump For Joy

Rebel by Marie Lu! This book made me jump for joy simply by existing, and by being released as somewhat of a surprise years after I fell in love with Legend and Marie Lu’s books in general. But it definitely also made my jump for joy by giving me closure on a few things that I spent years waiting for answers on, and for giving me more of June and Day as characters, who I absolutely adore.

And that’s the tag! I’m tagging a lot of people to do this one and cannot wait to steal book recommendations from everyone’s answers… 🙂

Tagging: KoosReviews.com

Jackie at BookishCoffeeBlog.com

Sophie at LoveandLiterature.co.uk

Dorothy at starlitshelves.wordpress.com

Morgane at BookMeSomeTime.wordpress.com

Solara at plaidreaders.com

Kristin at kristincravesbooks.com

Caitlyn, Cossette, and Mary at TeaTimeLit.com

And Jess at comfortreadsbookblog.wordpress.com

😊

OCTOBER TBR

Happy October! I had a pretty good reading month in September and I’m crossing my fingers for an even better (and scarier) reading month in October. My TBR isn’t quite as spooky as I initially planned, but there are definitely some dark YA fantasies in the mix that I’m excited to read.

Without further ado, my October TBR:

The Devil Makes Three by Tori Bovalino – if you saw this on my September TBR, pretend you didn’t… I started it last month and am loving it so far so will definitely get round to finishing it this month. And it’s a horror-y enough way to start my spooky October reading.

Steelstriker by Marie Lu– I’ve ordered two copies of this to buddy read with my fiancé and I can. not. wait. Every Marie Lu book I’ve ever read has been amazing and I really loved Skyhunter, so I’ve been anticipating this one for EVER.

Only a Monster by Vanessa Len– a dark fantasy romance about monsters is exactly what I wanted to read this month and Harper approving my request on NetGalley just in time seems like a sign that I need to read it ASAP. This seems like a pretty unique edition to a super fun genre and I’m really excited to check it out.

Year of the Reaper by Makiia Lucier – Having just loved Defy the Night (a story about a royal court, an apocalyptic plague and an unexpected romance), this book with all the same tropes seems pretty perfect. I’m super excited to start this one and hope that it lives up to my very high expectations.

All of Us Villains by Amanda Foody and Christine Herman – The Hunger Games with high magic?! This book sounds amazing and, if it lives up to its description, it stands a chance at becoming a new favourite! I’ve been approved for it on NetGalley for longer than I’d like to admit and really hope I get round to reading it this month.

After the Rain by Natalia Gomes– I’ve been trying to get into this book for a while and haven’t been able to really get into it, but it does seem like an easy, important and emotional read. I’m giving it another try this month and think it will be quite drastically different to everything else I’m planning to pick up in October.

And that’s it! Let me know your most anticipated read for October in the comments (even more appreciated if it’s a Halloween-y book that I can add to my list!) 🙂

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 🙂