We Were Liars was an absolute young adult sensation back on its release in 2014. But, it’s quirky writing style and off-the-wall twist did divide readers. I was firmly in the love camp, and so when I saw the author was releasing a prequel after almost a decade, I was far too intrigued to pass this up.
In this book, we return to the Sinclair family and their private island, but we’re whisked back in time to the 1980s. We get a glimpse at a summer of the “aunts” of WWL when they were teens, through the eyes of Carrie.
I received Harrow Lake in exchange for an honest review
I requested this book way back ahead of its publication in summer but for some reason the publishers granted it right before Halloween. This worked out well – this YA horror is the perfect spooky treat for these dark nights. It’s an easy, breezy, creepy read (yes, it can be all those things at once) combining a homage to classic horror with a little touch of coming of age YA fiction.
I received A Deadly Education in exchange for an honest review
Pitched as a ‘dark feminist Harry Potter’, set in a magical school where not everyone makes it out alive and with that stunningly mystical cover, I was very excited to get my hands on an ARC of A Deadly Education. The author has already made a name for herself in fantasy fiction, but this was my first read from her, despite having her hit debut Uprooted waiting on my Kindle. And oh I wish it had been as magical a read as I was anticipating, but sadly it fell a little short for me.
The premise of the Scholomance is an interesting one, it’s a clever twist on the usual tropes. In this magical school there are no teachers, and not everyone makes it out alive. All of the students are training for ‘graduation’, when they will have to fight a series of monsters known as ‘mals’ who prey on vulnerable young magic folk. Our protagonist is Galadriel, known as El, is a snarky, sarcastic sixteen-year-old student just living her best life at the school trying to stay alive whilst hiding the strength of her own powers and the dark prophecy her grandmother foretold when she was a little girl. Continue reading
I received Punching The Air in exchange for an honest review
Maybe ideas segregate like in the days of
Dr. King and no matter how many marches
or Twitter hashtags or Justice for So-and-So
our mind’s eyes and our eyes’ minds
see the world as they want to
Everything already illustrated
in black and white
Wow, where to start with this one? An incredibly powerful, timely YA novel written in verse, this book tears apart racism and ingrained biases in the American judicial system through art, poetry and raw emotion. It’s a collaboration between established YA author Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam, a man who was wrongly imprisoned aged just fifteen in the Central Park five case and since exoneration has gone on to achieve a Lifetime Achievement Award for his work as an advocate of criminal justice. Continue reading
I know I’m very behind the times with this trilogy. I don’t read as much young adult these days but sometimes you just need to dive into a whole other world – and this series was the perfect thing to plough through during lockdown. This won’t be a super detailed review, more just my thoughts and feelings on the series.
Shadow & Bone
This was a strong beginning to the series, as we meet our protagonist Alina and follow her journey from a common soldier to a powerful, magical, Sun Summoner and Grisha after her powers are revealed battling for her life on the Fold. We’re also introduced to the Darkling, an awesome, complex villain with layers of darkness but just enough humanity, worn away by his many years. Sadly I feel like this first instalment has the most face-to-face Darkling action, and whilst he’s a powerful presence throughout the whole trilogy I still wanted more. Continue reading
I received The Beautiful in exchange for an honest review
Vampires and murders set in 1800s New Orleans?! This book promised magic, intrigue and darkness and I was very excited to get started. But it’s left me with some mixed feelings.
The story starts off strong; we follow teenagers Celine and Pippa on a journey to New Orleans. Both are fleeing their pasts in Europe for the hope of a new life in the land of opportunity, and the city doesn’t disappoint. As the girls travel through the heart of the city at the peak of carnival season, they’re swept up in the atmosphere and anticipation of what’s to come, and so was I. Continue reading
I received The Grace Year in exchange for an honest review
This book has been compared to The Handmaid’s Tale, The Hunger Games, The Power and Lord Of The Flies. Some big books to live up to, right? But it does, and it does it with a style all of its own.
In a bizarre, dystopian, misogynistic world, there are limited routes for women – they finish school young, and they’re either they’re betrothed at sixteen or destined for a life of labour working menial jobs. When they come of age there’s a veiling ceremony, where girls are desperate to get a veil and be destined for marriage. But not Tierney. She’s our protagonist, a headstrong girl who is just about to be sent off for her Grace Year, a rite of passage for all girls her age; a year where they are banished from society in order to purge themselves of their magic. Her veiling ceremony doesn’t quite go to plan, but she has no idea what’s in store for her in her Grace Year…
“My chin begins to quiver when I think of the year ahead, the unknown, but I plaster on a vacant smile as if I’m happy to play my part, so I might return and marry and breed and die.” Continue reading
So, after reading ADSOM back in the 2016 I finally got around to reading the other two books in the trilogy and it was awesome and magical! I very rarely read YA these days and I when I do I like to pick my titles carefully; there’s been such a surge in YA fantasy it can be difficult to sift the average from the gems. This series is definitely an absolute gem. A stand-out read I’d recommend to readers of all ages, this series has some of the most creative and original world-building I’ve read, along with relateable characters and a strong plot which never wavers along the way.
A Gathering Of Shadows
Pirates, princes and magical tournaments are the focus of this middle novel as we rejoin Lila, now a member of The Night’s Spire sailing the seas around Red London, and Kell and Rhy as they deal with the consequences of Kell’s decision to save Rhy’s life by bonding it to his own. This book is all about character and world development as relationships are strengthened and explored and the world beyond the Londons is opened up. We follow Lila exploring the pirate world and learn more about the Maresh family’s relationship with the neighbouring countries. But, despite this perhaps being considered the filler novel of the series, there’s plenty of action too. I absolutely loved the Essen Tach – the magical tournament which saw the nation’s strongest magicians pit their skills against each other in epic live battles. And, in a different London there’s a darker threat gathering power ready for the final instalment…
A Conjuring Of Light
So, we come to the finale which is all out action. I don’t want to go into too much detail in case anyone hasn’t finished the series but there is an awesome villain fully worthy of the series finale; a true embodiment of the darker shades of magic. After following the character arcs through books one and two I was fully rooting for all our characters (although Lila has to be my favourite) and this book picks up immediately where AGOS left off. I read these two back to back and I really feel that way gave the best impact – I just wish I’d read them back when I read the first! This one’s fairly lengthy at over 600 pages, but it packs in so much action it really doesn’t feel that long, and now I’ve finished the series I actually miss the characters. One small negative I have would be that there’s a little more romance as the story goes on which I didn’t think was really needed, but I was happy with how all of the characters’ stories ended.
Surely now there has to be a film of this series – and anyone else want Maisie Williams to play Lila?! It may be because I was watching the final series of GOT while reading these books, but I think she’d be a perfect fit. I’ll keep hoping…
I received The Furies in exchange for an honest review
I raced through this book in a kind of surreal haze, coming up for air at the end and questioning what the hell did I just read?! This is a dark, twisted whirlwind ride through adolescence filled with toxic friendships, a touch of witchcraft and murder. I loved it.
In a dilapidated British seaside town we meet 16-year-old Violet, only survivor of a car accident with her father and sister. With the settlement money, her mother elects to send Violet to elite private girl’s school Elm Hollow Academy on the edge of town. It’s there that Violet meets Robin, Alex and Grace, her first real friends, and is drawn into a decades old secret society; a history of myths and legends, powerful women and dark rituals.
“A centuries-long pattern of deaths, at the hand of those too young and innocent for any rational authority to suspect.” Continue reading
I keep telling myself that these YA romance books aren’t really for me, but then occasionally one comes around that I can’t help falling for. This was one of those. It’s a light, easy and relatively stereotypical coming-of-age tale. But it was cute. And I enjoyed it anyway.
Emily, the protagonist, was a brilliant character. One in that perfect paraniod-shy-angsty teenage phase that I think we can all relate to, but she’s making it work. Then her best friend, Sloane, disappears, leaving Emily with nothing but an intimidating to-do list for her summer.
Emily is a good girl. She’s always been reserved and happy for Sloane to take the lead. So she’s taken completely out of her comfort zones when her friend disappears and all she has is a list of challenges which she hopes will lead her back to her friend. Continue reading