I received My Absolute Darling in exchange for an honest review
I’d struggle to recommend this book to a friend, simply due to the fact that it contains some extremely disturbing content, to the point where I almost stopped reading. It almost feels at points like the author is relishing the horror that the protagonist endures. But there’s no doubt that this is one of the most skilled, powerful debut novels I’ve read in a while. And, if you stick with it through the darkness, you will find some hope. Continue reading
I received Defender in exchange for an honest review.
I was excited to read this debut as the author lives quite local to me, something I don’t come across often. But, in the end, I took a while to get round to it and when I finally did, it didn’t blow me away. Maybe someone from Birmingham in the UK just wasn’t able to conjure the dry, empty landscape of a post-apocalyptic Texas which I wanted. Or maybe, it’s to do with the plot. Either way, I know this book worked for a lot of people, but I struggled to connect with it the way I’d hoped to.
The premise of this novel is great – a blend of your typical post-apocalyptic theme with a touch of some more supernatural science fiction thrown in. It’s an ambitious tale, touching on themes of sanity, grief and survival. Continue reading
I received The Roanoke Girls in exchange for an honest review.
The Roanoke Girls had everything I wanted – a mystery set in a sprawling farmhouse mansion, dark family secrets and complicated relationships. But it won’t be for everyone. This book deals with some extremely serious, dark and disturbing subject matter – to call the Roanoke family dysfunctional would be a huge understatement. If you’re a reader who is triggered easily, I’d perhaps suggest you avoid this one, but if you like your stories dark, twisted and multi-layered then read on.
The ‘secret’ of the Roanoke family is revealed quite early on, but I’m not going to spoil it here. Because, to be honest, if you knew the subject of this book, it could put you off reading. I actually think this book is one that is best when the reader goes in fresh, and just soak up the characters and atmosphere for yourself. Because, if you’re anything like me, it will suck you in completely. Continue reading
I received Hold Back The Stars in exchange for an honest review.
Hold Back The Stars was a beautiful, unusual book. It blends multiple themes and genres – science fiction, a utopian future and a romance – split between earth and space. But the heart of this story is definitely romance – a story of first love and two people whose relationship is strong enough to challenge the status quo.
We meet Carys and Max as they’re floating in space with ninety minutes of oxygen left in their tanks and no way back to their ship. As the minutes tick away, the star-crossed lovers try everything they can think of to get back to safety. It’s tense, edge-of-your-seat stuff from the very first page. Continue reading
I received The Book of Mirrors in exchange for an honest review
“I remembered the title of Flynn’s book and the maze of distorting mirrors you used to find at carnivals when I was a kid – everything you saw when you went inside was both true and false at the same time.”
This book left me with mixed feelings. The writing style felt slightly unnatural to me, almost devoid of emotion and more just a relaying of various facts about the characters’ lives. Each of the main narrators had their own romantic entanglements but I really struggled to care about them, and, to some extent, all of their voices felt very similar.
But, on the other hand, this psychological thriller has an intelligent, strong, multi-layered plot which, despite some issues with the narrative, was enough to carry it through and keep me avidly reading. Continue reading
I received The Bear And The Nightingale in exchange for an honest review.
This book took me a little out of my comfort zone; set in another time and place, with a strong undercurrent of fantasy. It left me in a strange situation, where I didn’t really get along with the story – but I can’t quite put my finger on why. The writing was beautiful, the author weaves elements of religion, mythology and fantasy amongst a story of a very likeable young girl. And yet it wasn’t quite for me.
Set in the historic wilderness of Russia where winter stretches most of the year and the country is ruled by Grand Princes, this story follows a family in a small village as they forage for food and share fairytales together around the fire to keep warm at night. The protagonist is Vasya, a headstrong young girl who has a touch of magic in her genes. Vasya is almost at one with the Russian wilderness; she understands every nook and cranny of the forest from a young age, and she can see things which others can’t. Continue reading
I received Caraval in exchange for an honest review
I was drawn to this book due to its inevitable comparisons to The Night Circus and – while the similarities with my favourite book are only slight – I’m so glad I gave this young adult fantasy novel a try. I don’t read much YA and, as I started Caraval I wasn’t sure how I was going to get on with it – there are some cliches and there’s a very strong romance angle right from from the off which was a little too much at times – but it’s also incredibly fast-paced, engrossing and addictive.
“Whatever you’ve heard about Caraval, it doesn’t compare to the reality. It’s more than just a game or a performance. It’s the closest things you’ll ever find to magic in this world.” Continue reading
I received The Dry in exchange for an honest review.
I love a good psychological thriller. And The Dry, I’m happy to say, is a perfect example of the genre at its best. I saw another reviewer ask ‘What’s debut-ish about this debut novel?’ The answer has to be nothing. Australian debut author Jane Harper has given us a book which is tense, atmospheric and truly difficult to put down.
Let’s first talk about the setting. The Australian outback, a quiet farm town suffering an inordinately long drought “Officially the worst conditions in a century”. It’s so well-written the tension is palpable, the scene visceral. Add to this a family murder-suicide and things start to get interesting. Continue reading
I received Good Me, Bad Me in exchange for an honest review
This was a great start for 2017, a little depressing but great. Good Me, Bad Me is powerful debut which packs an emotional punch, offering a glimpse into the psyche of a damaged girl
Annie is starting life anew. She’s been given a new name and a new foster family and she’s ready to try to move on from the ghosts of her past. But before that, she must give evidence in a court case, where her mother stands trial for 12 counts of child murder. She’s the daughter of a serial killer, and it takes more than new surroundings to erase the ghosts of her past. Continue reading