Posted in book reviews

Goodbye, Perfect – Sara Bernard

When I was wild, you were steady . . .
Now you are wild – what am I? 

Eden McKinley knows she can’t count on much in this world, but she can depend on Bonnie, her solid, steady, straight-A best friend. So it’s a bit of a surprise when Bonnie runs away with the boyfriend Eden knows nothing about five days before the start of their GCSEs. Especially when the police arrive on her doorstep and Eden finds out that the boyfriend is actually their music teacher, Mr Cohn.

Sworn to secrecy and bound by loyalty, only Eden knows Bonnie’s location, and that’s the way it has to stay. There’s no way she’s betraying her best friend. Not even when she’s faced with police questioning, suspicious parents and her own growing doubts.

As the days pass and things begin to unravel, Eden is forced to question everything she thought she knew about the world, her best friend and herself.

  • so I’m kind of laughing at myself right now because I just realised reading this back through I was calling Eden “Edith”. Oops, I mean, I guess that shows something right???

Thanks to Netgalley/the publisher for providing me this ARC in exchange for an honest opinion.

Let’s just say it shall we? I liked this. I did. I liked the themes explored – adoption, fitting in with a new family, the struggle with being stereotyped. There were some interesting discussions going on and I was glad to see representation for this in a way I have never seen before. A pair of adopted sisters who know they’re adopted and love the new family they’re in, no actual ‘relationship’ drama was surprisingly refreshing (like yay – I ship this and they’re happy together #winning), young carers, conversations around opening up and learning to become trustful. It’s great, it really was. Yet . . . it was a bit dull. I feel like it wasn’t explored enough, and fair enough the main focus is on the story of Edith being upset/confused/conflicted about finding out her best friend ran away with their teacher, but it still could’ve done a bit better on expanding the sub-plots. I thought it was great when we finally got scenes like that – like the screaming match between Valerie and Edith in the car *might* have made me tear up.

Also this book felt surprsingly long. It seemed to just draaaag. And the whole time I was shouting at Edith to just tell. I rememember being around like 39% of the way in and was like “Okay this back and fourth should I – shouldn’t I and will she – won’t she has been going on long enough now” but nope. And (view spoiler). So yeah. I just felt as if this book should have been shorter than it was because it really did start to feel formulaic. Like present day scene / things that now meant something different I knew the truth / present scene (usually included an argument / her texting Bonnie being #conflicted). It just felt like it took forever to get somewhere.

But it wasn’t terrible. I did like it – I’m just sad it wasn’t better.

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The Star-Touched Queen – Roshani Choksi (The Star-Touched Queen, #1)

Fate and fortune. Power and passion. What does it take to be the queen of a kingdom when you’re only seventeen?

Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of death and destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father’s kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her whole world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. Soon Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Neither roles are what she expected: As Akaran’s queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar’s wife, she finds something else entirely: Compassion. Protection. Desire…

But Akaran has its own secrets—thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Soon, Maya suspects her life is in danger. Yet who, besides her husband, can she trust? With the fate of the human and Otherworldly realms hanging in the balance, Maya must unravel an ancient mystery that spans reincarnated lives to save those she loves the most…including herself.

I love the cover. Shame that’s not the way I feel about this book.

Unfortunately, I really didn’t find myself liking this one. That’s such a shame because I had heard a lot of good stuff about this book with people raving about how awesome and beautiful it was, but nope. To me, this book felt like one big purple-prose mess. The writing wasn’t all bad, except when it started to go off into metaphors and similes that made no sense AT ALL. And often the writing was getting so “whimsical” that it kind of felt like it was drifting away from the point.

This book had promise. It started off and I was like “oooo yaaas, I can get into this” and then about five pages later I was like ?? nope. It went off in a completely different direction that I wasn’t expecting. The world building was so freaking poor. Honestly. And the whole “magic” thing didn’t seem well fleshed out either. It was basically a whole mash up of concepts randomly shoved in at points and you’d be like ?? didn’t realise it was that kind of book. And you know, sometimes this works – books surprise you. But here, as I said in my opening, this just felt MESSY. It’s like the book couldn’t really decide what it wanted to be, but it knew that it wanted to be *epic* and *different*. I mean it achieved those things but in entirely different ways . . .

Also the characters. Could they have a little bit more personality?? Backstory??? ANYTHING????? If the talking horse did land up eating them all I wouldn’t have been mad. That would have been the best plot twist ever.

So now after writing my review I think I was too generous in my two star . . . down we go to one . . .

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This is One Moment – Mila Gray (Come Back to Me, #2)

A forbidden romance.
A wounded Marine who thinks he’s beyond saving.
A girl who’s determined to prove him wrong.
 

Didi Monroe’s waited her whole life for the type of romance you see in the movies, so when Hollywood heartthrob Zac Ridgemont sweeps her off her feet, Didi believes she might finally have met the one.

While Zac’s away filming for the summer, Didi begins her internship at a military hospital in California. There, she meets wounded Marine Noel Walker. Frustrated on the outside and broken on the inside, Walker’s a pain-in-the-ass patient who refuses all help.

Yet Didi can’t help but be drawn to him, and though he’s strictly out of bounds it soon becomes impossible to ignore the sparks flying between them.

As the attraction simmers into dangerous territory, Didi finds herself falling hard for a man she knows is going to break her heart. Because Walker doesn’t believe in love or happy ever afters. So what possible future can there be?

Then tragedy hits, shattering both their worlds, and Didi is forced to choose between fighting for love or merely falling for the illusion of it.

From Mila Gray, author of the bestselling romance Come Back To Me, comes a devastatingly beautiful, compelling and sexy story about the meaning of love and the heartbreak of loss.

What did I think? To sum it up: wild. This book was well and truly wild. I was torn between giving this book a high four stars, and this low rating of two. After talking it out with Emer , relaying all the moments of this book, I knew I couldn’t justify giving it a four.

Be warned, this review will contain spoilers. 

– Didi is supposedly a trained psychology student about to go on to study her masters/PhD or whatever, but can’t pick up on the signs of someone committing suicide. Neither can any of the professionally trained workers of the institute either, even though they were pretty much spelt out in black and white
– The fact that after the funeral she catches her mother sleeping with a random man in another patients bedroom
– It wasn’t all “love fixes all” because it was stated in the beginning that the blindness wasn’t permanent, but it still had that wisp of “Didi came along and loved Walker and Walker then got his sight back”. So . . . love kind of does fix all I guess?? Even if Walker then realised even without Didi he needs to start opening up / healing / living his life (note that this enlightenment came at the funeral of the man who committed suicide)
– Disability was sometimes handled well. Just not enough to make me want to give this more than two stars.
– Also don’t say your characters are so smart / or so grumpy. Like they laid on that Walker was so rude and never talked to anyone EVER but he literally always did. Like okay. Sure. I believe you.
– Sometimes cute and awww but the more I reflect the more these issues that I had become an issue where I’m like !! wow !! not !! ok !!

So yep, two stars for this one.

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The Loneliest Girl in the Universe – Lauren James

Can you fall in love with someone you’ve never met, never even spoken to – someone who is light years away?

Romy Silvers is the only surviving crew-member of a spaceship travelling to a new planet, on a mission to establish a second home for humanity amongst the stars. Alone in space, she is the loneliest girl in the universe until she hears about a new ship which has launched from Earth – with a single passenger on board. A boy called J.

Their only communication with each other is via email – and due to the distance between them, their messages take months to transmit across space. And yet Romy finds herself falling in love.

But what does Romy really know about J? And what do the mysterious messages which have started arriving from Earth really mean?

Sometimes, there’s something worse than being alone . . .

Look, the SCI-FI thriller/horror books that I have read [attempted] I haven’t got along with. *cough* Illuminae*cough* BUT THIS WAS FREAKING FABULOUS. I don’t usually that books on spaceships because I have a fear of being lost in space and floating away throughout all eternity. Yeah. When films have scenes in space and all that creepy shit happens, I usually feel extremely faint. Anyways,

With this I felt the perfect mixture of fear but enjoyment. I was like shit, shit, shit, I hope she doesn’t fall out of the door (this wouldn’t have been that easy) or holy crap, what if she runs out of fuel?? I just.

This mixed creepy, humour, romance, loneliness – it was a blend of a bit of everything and it never felt too much. The suspense was built up, and then bam PLOT TWIST, and you were just left gripping those pages, mouth hanging open, heart beating like OHHHH MY GODDDDD ROMY YOU IDIOT, DON’T DIE!!

Honestly. Romy is the perfect blend of female heroine. She’s capable and independent and at the same time this makes her vulnerable and gullible and leads her into this mess. BUT YOU CAN’T BLAME HER. This poor girl has been on her own.

AND THEN THAT ENDING.

I was like NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. I felt so bad for her. And then she made that discovery and I nearly cried with relief/happiness with her and I hope one day she gets to set foot on an actual planet.

(please be a second book, I need this)

BUT YES. THIS WAS 290 PAGES OF PURE FABULOUSNESS. I admit, to begin with, I was a bit sad it was so short, but that’s perfect. It meant it wasn’t dragged out at all.

FOUR VERY HIGH PRAISING STARS.

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It Only Happens in the Movies – Holly Bourne

Audrey is over romance. Since her parents’ relationship imploded her mother’s been catatonic, so she takes a cinema job to get out of the house. But there she meets wannabe film-maker Harry. Nobody expects Audrey and Harry to fall in love as hard and fast as they do. But that doesn’t mean things are easy. Because real love isn’t like the movies…

The greatest love story ever told doesn’t feature kissing in the snow or racing to airports. It features pain and confusion and hope and wonder and a ban on cheesy clichés. Oh, and zombies… YA star Holly Bourne tackles real love in this hugely funny and poignant novel.

WARNING: SPOILERS

HOLLY BOURNE YOU GENIUS WOMAN.

I have had a great time with all the Holly Bourne novels I have read so far. My first read was Am I Normal Yet? which I absolutely loved and adored and encouraged me to finally seek help for my anxiety/ocd. I read that a time where I was doing my GCSE exams and my social anxiety went to an extreme, like pull your hair out kind of thing, and reading this book gave me that confidence to go and get help for it. #empowering

I am a feminist, so when I read What’s a Girl Gotta Do? And Lottie was doing and saying all the things I agreed with I teared up at parts because it was just like YES YES YES she gets it! She understands! Like yes! Call out this bullshit and educate!! Yes!! After I read that I felt extra EMPOWERED. It’s wonderful. And I want other girls, whether they’re young or old, to pick up a book like that and feel the same way. To feel empowered and unafraid to say “no” or to not smile, or to not conform to societal standards. To be THEM.

And now, I’ve read this. This takes on many issues, parental issues, self-harm, consent. It’s freaking feminist.

Now here is a side note: I hate that we have to actually call things “feminist”. Like oh “this is so freaking feminist”. And truly, feminist books can be ground breaking for defying rules laid out in literature that have deemed women characters as a certain way for hundreds of years. Look at that freaking literary canon, spot the women am I right? It just really angers me that we have to have this term for something like this, that we have to put a label on treating women like freaking human beings and letting them live their lives the way they want to. As Emer pointed out, it’s the same with diversity. When there’s diversity in a book we all applaud it because it’s like thank God, right? Thank God books are finally recognising there is something other than white men/hetero-normative relationships. But it’s so freaking upsetting that these things aren’t every day. That we can’t just read a book and naturally expect diversity / feminist views, you know??

Anyways, went slightly of track.

What I love about the way Holly Bourne writes is that she can talk about issues such as consent without it being preachy. It’s not like she sits there and is like right, I’m now going to lecture my audience on consent. No, she does it in an almost implicit way. She can make fun of it (god, the metaphors she used) but not in an offensive way. The humour she takes and the way it’s discussed doesn’t take away from the seriousness of what she is saying, but rather, you take in what she’s saying. And I think that’s brilliant. It’s not too heavy to scare people off from having these discussions (that some people have been brought up thinking talking about it is taboo) but also it’s not too light that it doesn’t get it’s point across. BRILLIANCE, I TELL YOU.

But my God, did I love this. I raced through this in just over three hours. It is WONDERFUL.

I guess if I had to criticise something it would be this: [I wish the situation with her mum was expanding upon. It’s mentioned when at the hospital that her mum would be seeing someone, and towards the end we get the sense that her mum is getting help and is getting better. I just feel like this would have been better if there could’ve been an actual conversation about what happened (the manic episodes, the alcoholism,
self-harm/suicide threats). However, the book doesn’t lose brownie points for not doing this.
I do think it leaves this off nicely, but maybe just could’ve done a little bit better. (hide spoiler)]

Also regarding the ending [I KNEW THEY WEREN’T GOING TO BE TOGETHER. I mean it literally freaking says it in the title pretty much. People only ever end up together like that in the movies. And how this book poked fun at every romance etc I was like Holly so isn’t going to give us the typical HEA (happily ever after) because that’s the point she’s trying to make. Not everything is that classic happily ever after, HOWEVER just because it’s not that doesn’t mean it can’t have a happy ending. And it was, I guess. Harry and Audrey ended things okay. I mean, do I wish they were together?? Yeah. Would it work out?? No. So I like it. And Audrey in that scene when she made that decision I was just like *thumbs up*. I don’t know, it was bittersweet. So I hate it, but I also love it. #walkingcontradiction. (hide spoiler)]

Also the female friendships in this. She has a great group of girl friends that are understanding and supportive and #Icry. That’s what I like to see.

I’m not sure if anyone else has read Our Chemical Hearts but this book sort of reminds me of that.

I think that’s all I have to say (Milo you can choke, Dougie I did want you to choke but not so much any more, Rosie you can also choke and burn in hell). I LOVED it. Well done Holly Bourne. Another great one. Now I’ve got to wait for my other buddy readers (Emer, Sam, Nkisha) to catch up so we can all talk about how epically awesome this is!

 

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How Do You Like Me Now? – Holly Bourne

‘Turning thirty is like playing musical chairs. The music stops, and everyone just marries whoever they happen to be sitting on.’ 

Who the f*ck is Tori Bailey?

There’s no doubt that Tori is winning the game of life. A straight-talking, bestselling author, she’s inspired millions of women around the world with her self-help memoir. And she has the perfect relationship to boot.

But Tori Bailey has been living a lie.

Her long-term boyfriend won’t even talk about marriage, but everyone around her is getting engaged and having babies. And when her best friend Dee – her plus one, the only person who understands the madness – falls in love, suddenly Tori’s in terrifying danger of being left behind.

When the world tells you to be one thing and turning thirty brings with it a loud ticking clock, it takes courage to walk your own path.

It’s time for Tori to practice what she’s preached, but the question is: is she brave enough?

The debut adult novel by bestselling author Holly Bourne is a blisteringly funny, honest and moving exploration of love, friendship and navigating the emotional rollercoaster of your thirties.

Thanks Netgalley for sending me this ARC in exchange for an honest review!

I’ve liked every single one of Holly Bournes novels that I have read. Am I Normal Yet?What’s a Girl Gotta Do? and most recently, It Only Happens in the Movies. All of these novels have held something special for me: whether it’s important and good discussions on mental health, feminism, consent, I have loved them all. Bourne has a distinct narrative voice: she is able to take serious issues and be brutally honest about them. There is no sugar coating, and it’s exactly the same within this one.

Bourne doesn’t sugarcoat sex. It’s not all magical. It’s not the romanticised portrayals you see on screen or often read about books. It’s honest. What I think is great about this is whether you’ve had no sex, a little sex, tons of sex, its having a conversation with you. It’s not lying to you and telling you if your not doing this your not doing it right / you have to do this. No. It’s opening that discussion up with it’s audience – whether YA, or adult – and I think that’s hella good. I find too often in YA and some of the adult books I have read (it’s not my fave genre) that everything is perfect and magical and problematic issues are pushed under the rug because *romance* and what Bourne does is stamp a big fat “NO” over that. This isn’t her saying that it can’t be like that, this is her saying that it DOESN’T have to be. Isn’t that great?

As I’ve said, I love how Bourne takes on her female characters. While throughout all of this I didn’t particularly love Tori, I appreciated what Bourne was doing with her character. The whole discussion on success and how to most people that means nothing, rather you have to be a mother, was heart wrenching. It sucks, because it’s true. Too often I see career women being degraded because they haven’t had kids yet / never want to, and somehow because of this they are “missing out”. That isn’t freaking fair. And also, that isn’t freaking feminism. Whole point of feminism is giving women A CHOICE. Just saying. And I like how Holly displays that in this – that is up to you when you want to make that choice, and your the one to take control of it.

Ah, the feminism in this.

Women OWN THEIR FREAKING SEXUALITY IN THIS. I love it. And when there is some slut-shaming it is REFUTED. But I love this. Women being allowed to own their freaking sexuality.

I also love this:

I’m sure he has good intentions and all, but I just cannot handle men who get applauded for not being an arsehole. It should not be rewarded, it should just be a given.

This reminds me of a discussion I was having the other day about how it’s sad we get excited about saying “wow! this book is so feminist/diverse!” like that’s something we are still excited about. All books should simply just be feministic without it having to be pointed out you know?? It should just be a given that going in to a book you’re going to have this.

But while I really enjoyed it, I can’t say I loved it.

– I feel like this book didn’t really have much of a plot. It definitely wasn’t a juicy enough plot to go on for as long as it did. For a while it really did just feel like I was reading someones diary about them whining about their day.
– While this book is very female power, I feel like it is let down by all it’s male characters who do act like pieces of crap. I mean Nigel was alright, there wasn’t much of him, he was just so bland. And Tom??? Arse wipe. I often find that with Holly Bourne books. There’s so much female power (which I love) but yeah.
– Something happens with Tori / Tom (I think that’s his name, I’ll just call him Rock man) that was NOT OKAY. And it’s not really elaborated on. Tori just feels bad and cries and then tells herself it’s all okay and tries to forget about it. No. . . I wish their was more discussion that just because your in a relationship doesn’t mean that’s okay. Same with her and something she does even though Rock Man is like “no”. It’s like !!! just don’t be a dick and be a bit more respectful, you know???
– Like I know the plot of this book was Tori / Rock Man and what shit was going on between them etc BUT I JUST WISHED THEY’D BREAK UP AFTER A PAGE.

I also think – and to no fault of Bournes – that this book wasn’t for me. I’m only 19, and considering this book was about feeling like you’ve wasted your twenties/regretting, I couldn’t really relate. I mean, I do feel like my teenage years have gone nowhere and that I probably have wasted most of them (no – I find staying at home and netflixing and reading is a perfect way to spend any of your decades) this wasn’t exactly what the book was about. So most of the time I did find it hard to connect, but I tip my hat off to Bourne for still keeping me reading despite the fact this novel wasn’t particularly for me.

So all in all, I did think this was a good debut to Bourne’s dip in the adult novel genre! While I do prefer her YA, I can say I did like this and will pick up anymore adult novels she writes.

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Renegades – Marissa Meyer (Renegades, #1)

Secret Identities. Extraordinary Powers. She wants vengeance. He wants justice.

The Renegades are a syndicate of prodigies—humans with extraordinary abilities—who emerged from the ruins of a crumbled society and established peace and order where chaos reigned. As champions of justice, they remain a symbol of hope and courage to everyone…except the villains they once overthrew.

Nova has a reason to hate the Renegades, and she is on a mission for vengeance. As she gets closer to her target, she meets Adrian, a Renegade boy who believes in justice—and in Nova. But Nova’s allegiance is to a villain who has the power to end them both.

I could kiss you Pan Macmillan and Netgalley. THANKS SO MUCH FOR THE ARC (especially since my feedback ratio isn’t the best oops)

Hi hello everyone welcome to one of my favourite books.
I LOOOVVEEDDD THIS SO MUCH. Nova. I love you. Adrian, I also love you. I pretty much love everyone?! Like they’re all such cool and interesting characters, and Ruby and Oscar are totally adorable and we need more of them.

The discussions about good and evil, and how to go about being free etc was so interesting. With Nova as our protagonist, sitting now somewhere in the gray area, we are able to see both sides and it makes for some fun story telling.

I absoloutely freaking can not wait for the sequel. Like Phobia dropped a *subtle bomb* that has you like AHHH it’s YOUUU and then other stuff happens and you’re like

WOOOOOOOOOOOT

Honestly. This book was FREAKING FABULOUS and it met all my expectations. I’m so happy. The Lunar Chronicles are some of my favourites, but I was so disappointed by Heartless, but MARISSA MEYER IS BACK AND KICKING ARSE PEOPLE. WHOOP WHOOP.

So despite having this in arc form I will definitely be reading this again when my preorder arrives.

Ah. To be in love with a book.

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Chasing Red – Isabelle Ronin (Red, #1)

They said she was going to be my ruin…
Then let her ruin me.

Caleb Lockhart has everything—wealth, adoration, a brilliant future. Until a chance encounter with a siren in a red dress changes everything. Until he meets the woman he dubs Red.

Veronica Strafford’s past makes it hard for her to trust anyone. Now, kicked out of her apartment, she reluctantly accepts Caleb’s offer for a place to stay.

Caleb feels intensely drawn to Veronica. And, for the first time in his life, he really wants something—someone. Too bad Veronica’s heart might just be the one thing Caleb can’t win.

Thank you Netgalley/Sourcebooks for this ARC in exchange for an honest review!

I do like Chasing Red, don’t get me wrong. I first red it on Wattpad, and this published version has changes/differences to do with Veronica’s past – I do like these changes, as in the Wattpad version they were just – far fetched? Yeah. A bit out there and confusing.

Anyways, the writing is good but the problems lie more within the plot line. There isn’t really much plot or action at all? And I in no way mean that as a sort of pun towards Caleb/Veronica but really?? Most of the book just revolved around them trying to resist sleeping with each other and their other various relationship issues. I mean…it was okay, but wasn’t really entertaining enough. And then, about 83% of the way into the book the drama and plot begins to unfold with the “fork in the road” conflict with Beatrice-Rose and Veronica realising it’s time for her to stop running and fight.

This no doubt leads into the sequel. However, I feel like a lot of this book could have been cut down and Chasing Red/Always Red could’ve remained together as one book. This one really just felt like a really looooooooong lead up to the sequel.

Caleb was probably the most developed character. Where as with Veronica, it really took until about the 98% mark for her to have some sort of development. I just feel like throughout this all there was too much back and fourth on the personality. Yes, this goes with Veronica and her uncertainty, but as a reader it can get boring reading about someone for like 300 pages going “should I? Shouldn’t I?” Then the whole *drama* happened and this all worsened and ugh!

I did also quite like the female friendships. They were there for each other and didn’t put each other down and that was cool. But their friendship just mainly seemed to revolve around the men in their lives and not about them??? I think every conversation they had was about Cameron / Theo / Caleb or being interrupted by a man. So yeah. It’s nice to see friends being supportive, but maybe show that women can talk about other things apart from clothes and boys??? For example – Kara is a boss. And that’s kick ass. She came into this book as a fiery business woman but that quickly went downhill, soon enough she was just another girl with *boy drama* and it was sad to see her reduced to ONLY that. So yeah. These girls and their friendship had their strengths but I’m only hoping this can also be developed in the second novel.

So I overall give this 2 stars. I’m tempted by 3, but I can’t really see enough reasons for that much of a high rating.

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A Semi-Definite List of Worst Nightmares – Krystal Sutherland

Ever since Esther Solar’s grandfather was cursed by Death, everyone in her family has been doomed to suffer one great fear in their lifetime. Esther’s father is agoraphobic and hasn’t left the basement in six years, her twin brother can t be in the dark without a light on, and her mother is terrified of bad luck.

The Solars are consumed by their fears and, according to the legend of the curse, destined to die from them.

Esther doesn’t know what her great fear is yet (nor does she want to), a feat achieved by avoiding pretty much everything. Elevators, small spaces, and crowds are all off-limits. So are haircuts, spiders, dolls, mirrors and three dozen other phobias she keeps a record of in her semi-definitive list of worst nightmares.

Then Esther is pickpocketed by Jonah Smallwood, an old elementary school classmate. Along with her phone, money and a fruit roll-up she d been saving, Jonah also steals her list of fears. Despite the theft, Esther and Jonah become friends, and he sets a challenge for them: in an effort to break the curse that has crippled her family, they will meet every Sunday of senior year to work their way through the list, facing one terrifying fear at a time, including one that Esther hadn’t counted on: love.

 

Thank you to Netgalley & the publisher for this in exchange for an honest opinion!

I was considering putting a quotation at the beginning of this review but I highlighted so, so, so much while reading this novel that I wouldn’t know what one to pick. I love Krystal Sutherland’s writing style. Her dialogue is witty and painfully honest. The characters feel honest and it’s easy to connect – for example, Esther’s casual inner commentary like “well, this isn’t going to go great,” just felt so honest, and real. I don’t really know how to explain – but it gave Esther such a strong voice. Sometimes it almost read like reading a recap of an event from a friend.

Once again, much like with Our Chemical Hearts, I like the way mental health is discussed. It isn’t romanticised at all, but rather shown to be a real and painful thing that effects everyone in different ways, but all of it horrible. It shows that you shouldn’t be afraid to speak about it but this novel deals with the fears of coming out with it.

I do think sometimes though it felt a bit dismissive – it was constant questioning of “do they have mental health issues? Is this a magic realist world? Should I be concerned she believes in this stuff?”

So yeah. I don’t think the line between it was always clear. Turns out, this does have some paranormal elements?? I think?? Like I said – I’m still not really sure and I’m not sure how to feel about that. I’m one of those people with books like these that I want it to be defined – is this actually elements of the paranormal or just straight contemporary with a “wacky” character?

That’s also what’s great about this – the book kind of makes fun of itself. Several times Esther is called out because of how she is a “special snowflake” and she admits she wants to be one. While this is only a small dig at itself, because in the end it becomes to have a much greater relevance and heavier meaning towards plot/character development towards the end of the novel.

“You being scared of cornfields and alines doesn’t make you some special snowflake.
Everyone’s fear sounds the same in their head.”

“How dare you, I am a special snowflake.”

Everything did tie in nicely. I don’t feel like anything was added as a “filler” and that in the end everything made sense. You could see the links connecting things together.

On the other hand, I think more of these “links” should have been explored further. I.e the absentee parents and domestic abuse. Yes, this was semi-resolved towards the end and the realisation that “parents are human too” I feel like it should’ve had more to it.

There’s a lot of interesting discussions in this novel. There’s the obvious ones about mental health and how it can take over your life, and how people just want to fix it for you, but it’s not always that easy etc. But it also takes on interesting discussions about fear and what it means to live.

“It’s like a broken bone, you know? You can’t keep walking on it and expect it to heal.”

“Is this the surreptitious Esther Solar acknowledging the existence of mental illness and not just behaving like I’m cursed?”

That’s also what I love about this: the views uttered by the characters on mental health and how to deal aren’t always perfect. They can say harmful things and their outlook can sometimes be negative and wrong, but the great thing about this is the character development. These then negative opinions have been challenged / developed and I think that’s a beautiful thing. It’s showing that even if you’ve got it wrong before you have the chance to listen and to learn and to grow. The novel does this without ever feeling preachy.

Overall, I really liked it and I’m a definite fan of Krystal Sutherland.

Posted in book reviews

The Dazzling Heights – Katharine McGee (The Thousandth Floor, #2)

Thank you to Netgalley / HarperCollins / Edleweiss for this book in an exchange for an honest opinion!

New York City, 2118. A glittering vision of the future, where anything is possible – if you want it enough.

Manhattan is home to a thousand-story supertower, a beacon of futuristic glamour and high-tech luxury… and to millions of people living scandalous, secretive lives.

Leda is haunted by nightmares of what happened on the worst night of her life. She’s afraid the truth will get out – which is why she hires Watt, her very own hacker, to keep an eye on all of the witnesses for her. But what happens when their business relationship turns personal?

When Rylin receives a scholarship to an elite upper-floor school, her life transforms overnight. But being here also means seeing the boy she loves: the one whose heart she broke, and who broke hers in return.

Avery is grappling with the reality of her forbidden romance – is there anywhere in the world that’s safe for them to be together?

And then there’s Calliope, the mysterious, bohemian beauty who’s arrived in New York with a devious goal in mind – and too many secrets to count.

Here in the Tower, no one is safe – because someone is watching their every move, someone with revenge in mind. After all, in a world of such dazzling heights, you’re always only one step away from a devastating fall….

 

What is it with this series that keeps drawing me in???

It’s several things really – I love the mashup of genres this has. It has elements of a mystery/thriller, combined with that classic teen drama, filled with those archetypal characters you’d see on shows such as Gossip Girl. On the surface, it probably sounds a bit of a mess – but somehow it all comes together in a combination that works? Not to sound like a broken record, but yes, like beloved show Gossip Girl.

The Dazzling Heights is a fantastic sequel. It continues on the story of the Thousandth Floor not to long after it left, and we’re thrown back into the mess of things. We are dumped in the middle of the drama and the characters – some new – and how they’re coping and using what happened at the end of the first novel in living their lives.

The characters develop – like Leda – and you get to see a more humane side of them. You see others being given opportunities they’ve never had before and it’s interesting in seeing them cope. Others cross dangerous boundaries and it’s so dramatic waiting for them to be caught.

This novel started off with a very strong sense of direction and plot that then unfortunately died out after that first chapter. It’s hinted at about three more times all the way through, before it’s dramatic climax at about 87% into the book. This was disappointing and I feel like we should have had more of this throughout the whole novel, and not just towards the end. It was too quick to end when it had only just started and that was disappointing. And although this quick ending will no doubt have consequences in the third novel, I feel like it was wasted and this books sense of purpose was ultimately lost.

Having said that – this book did deal with the aftermath of events in book one. While, like I said, the overarching plot wasn’t well-developed and ended before it even began, each character had their own subplot. This was good – it was nice seeing how everyone dealt and the actions of each character, and seeing how they now interacted after everything had passed. It made it tense – with all these deep dark secrets between them – and who would snap first. But some relationships took a turn for the unexpected.

I wish other characters – such as Cord – had larger parts in this book and were developed more. Cord, even though he’s not a main character, is my favourite. I love him and Avery’s relationship, and I liked having more of that. Others like Leda and Watt . . . so much dodgy history between them, but seeing their relationship come to develop was interesting.

So yes, I did really enjoy this one – it was a good sequel. I think it’s up to par with the first one, which in a way, disappoints me because I was hoping for this one to blow me away. But still – with the quality matching the first, which was very good, I can’t complain too much because at least it’s consistent.

My only other problem with this is adding in another point of view character whose only objective, for the subplot of another character, was to come between them. I didn’t care for this new character. They were just there to stir the pot, and while, with how this book ended I have no doubt they’ll be stirring up trouble in the third book this still didn’t make me care about this person. Their point of view should’ve been given to a character already established. Also – while the first had problematic elements of characters being drugged and taking advantage of, this one dealt with a student/teacher thing. While it wasn’t as bad as it could’ve been, I was still unhappy with the way it was ultimately dealt with. I’m just happy all the characters weren’t happy with this relationship and that it was condemned – just not enough.

So while there was a lot explored in this – there is still a lot more to come out and be explored that I can only hope will happen in the third. For example, all the drama between Brice, Rylin and Cord to come to light. But overall, this was very pleasing second novel, and if anything it seems to have paved the way for a really exciting third, and what I can only hope will be the novel that will ultimately blow me away with the shock / wow / drama factor.

Three very good stars