Tag Archives: drama

Book Review: Crush by Eve Ainsworth

Related posts: 140 Character Reviews [contemporary fiction]

Published March 3rd 2016 by Scholastic Books.

26099256Goodreads Synopsis: Love hurts… but should it hurt this much? Reeling from her mum’s sudden departure, Anna finds the comfort she needs in her blossoming relationship with Will. He’s handsome and loving, everything Anna has always dreamt of. He’s also moody and unpredictable, pushing her away from her friends, her music. He wants her to be his and his alone. He wants her to be perfect. Anna’s world is closing in. But threatening everything is a dark secret that not even Will can control…

My Review: I was so excited when Eve Ainsworth’s second book was announced, because Seven Days, her début novel, was absolutely stunning. Upon learning more about it, I was even more eager to read it; I don’t think abusive relationships (that aren’t parental) are talked about enough in YA.

Crush is quite a short read, at under 300 pages, but I do almost wish it was longer! I was really engrossed in the story.

Anna meets Will and falls for him quickly – soon, they’re in an all-encompassing relationship; but Will isn’t really who Anna has thought she’s fallen for. He begins to take over aspects of her life, and Anna realises after everyone else that this isn’t what a relationship should be.

I really liked how Ainsworth takes the time to delve into both main characters’ backstories, in different ways. Each chapter is told from Anna’s perspective, and it’s visible how her life becomes divided between her life with Will and the struggle she has at home, where her family is recovering from her mother’s leaving. Will’s perspective, however, is only seen through the letters he writes, which appear after every chapter or so, and are really haunting. The letters provide a really interesting outlook on Will, and why he acts the way he does.

I really felt for Anna, and the things she goes through are pretty scary – especially because she doesn’t initially realise the emotional manipulation that’s occurring. The story is an incredibly important one to be told, but also very chilling. It’s a very grim reminder of how hard it can be to recognise abuse that isn’t always physical.

Overall, Crush is most definitely worth reading – I feel like it’s going to start a really thought-provoking conversation in the YA community. I’m really glad this book is out there, and I’m sure it chas the potential to really help people in asimilar situations. As before, Eve Ainsworth’s writing is fantastic – I can’t wait to see more from her in the future, as the contemporary fiction she writes is realistic, raw and memorable.

My Rating:

four

I received a copy of Crush from the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.

Book Review: This is Where the World Ends by Amy Zhang

Published March 22nd 2016 by Greenwillow Books (US)

24039424Proof Synopsis: Janie and Micah, Micah and Janie.

That’s how it’s been ever since elementary school, when Janie Vivian moved next door.

It’s the perfect friendship – as long as no one finds out about it.

It’s the perfect friendship, until Janie Vivian disappears and Micah can’t remember when or how or why.

My Review: I started This is Where the World Ends not hugely knowing what it was about – and I raced through it, I couldn’t put it down. I loved living in the world of Janie and Micah, and unravelling the story of what happened to cause everything in their lives to change.

I wasn’t too sure of the book at first, as from the first pages, it had a very Paper Towns-y vibe to it – Janie is very much like Margo, although that was also a reason I was so fascinated by Janie – I love complex characters like that. However, the story is individual – it seems like it’s taken elements of some of the best contemporary books I’ve read, and combined them to make one fantastically feels-y book.

I think the best thing about This is Where the World Ends are its characters – their voices are incredibly strong and memorable, especially Janie’s. The story is written in three different ways – chapters are either ‘before’ in Janie’s narrative, ‘after’ in Micah’s narrative, or pages from Janie’s journals. The journals were perhaps the hardest-hitting parts of this book, which took a turn for the emotional.

I didn’t expect this book to be as emotionally-charged and poignant as it was. There are, especially towards the end, plenty of moments you’ll need tissues for. Just a heads up. The ending was not what I’d expected at all and left me wondering about the protagonists, especially Micah, for a long time afterwards.

Overall, I think This is Where the World Ends is a perfect read if you’re a fan of John Green or E Lockhart. It’s a powerful and moving novel about a close friendship, and how things can change so quickly and unexpectedly. There’s also quite a tragic mystery in its core, too, as you slowly piece together the night Micah lost his memory throughout the split narratives and diary entries. Definitely recommended!

My Rating: 

four

I received a copy of This is Where the World Ends from the publisher, via Harper360, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.

Book Review: The Lost and the Found by Cat Clarke

Published July 2nd 201 by Quercus.

20685157Goodreads Synopsis: LOST.
When six-year-old Laurel Logan was abducted, the only witness was her younger sister. Faith’s childhood was dominated by Laurel’s disappearance – from her parents’ broken marriage and the constant media attention to dealing with so-called friends who only ever wanted to talk about her sister.
FOUND.
Thirteen years later, a young woman is found in the garden of the Logans’ old house, disorientated and clutching the teddy bear Laurel was last seen with. Laurel is home at last, safe and sound. Faith always dreamed of getting her sister back, without ever truly believing it would happen. But a disturbing series of events leaves Faith increasingly isolated and paranoid, and before long she begins to wonder if everything that’s lost can be found again.

My Review: I have no idea why I put off reading this for so long. Undone and A Kiss in the Dark, Cat Clarke’s other recent books, are the two books I’ll recommend to anyone and everyone. I love them. I bought The Lost and the Found at YALC, back in July… and didn’t pick it up until December. Why? I don’t know. But I’m glad I finally did. It was fantastic!

Cat Clarke has a fantastic ability to craft realistic, relatable and loveable characters. I fell in love with Faith straight away, and found it so fascinating to read from her point of view as she adjusts to life with Laurel back, after thirteen years. I found the dynamic between the two characters so thought-provoking.

The plot is absolutely genius. What happened to Laurel is dark and incredibly unsettling, and I really liked how the book focuses on how the media portrays her story – it was quite unnerving to realise how stories are documented in the news like this all the time.

I might sometimes say this as an exaggeration, but I actually did tear up at the ending. I was not expecting an ending like that – I’ve never come across such a clever plot twist. It broke my heart! As unexpected as it was, I think Cat Clarke wrote *those* end scenes absolutely perfectly. The writing is poignant and memorable.

Overall, I really, really highly recommend The Lost and the Found – although it may not be for everyone due to some really sensitive themes. The plot is unpredictable and moving – and the characters will stay with you long after you read the last page.

My Rating:

five

I purchased a copy of The Lost and the Found at YALC 2015.

Book Review: INFERNO by Cat Doyle

Related posts: Book Review: VENDETTA by Catherine Doyle | Vendetta Blog tour: Catherine Doyle on films that inspired Vendetta | Cover Reveal: Vendetta #2 by Catherine Doyle

Published January 7th 2016 by Chicken House Books.
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Goodreads Synopsis: Sophie’s life has been turned upside-down, and she’s determined to set things right. But Nic, the Falcone brother who represents everything she’s trying to forget, won’t give up on their love – and it’s Luca’s knife she clutches for comfort. Soon another mafia clan spoils the fragile peace – and with her heart drawn in one direction and her blood in another, Sophie’s in deeper than ever.

My Review: Vendetta was, undoubtedly, one of the biggest UKYA books of last year – it was an epic story and it was everywhere online. When I read it, I enjoyed it, but not as much as others, which I was kind of sad about.

When I was asked if I’d like to read Inferno, I jumped at the chance to, because I really wanted to know what happened next! I ended up devouring the story over Christmas, and I enjoyed this instalment so much.

I think I enjoyed this book more because it was full of even more action and drama, and a little less romance. There are so many shocking plot twists, more than I remember there being in the first book. It was great! In Inferno, the story takes even more complicated turns: tensions between the Mafia families of Chicago are heightening, and rivalry is starting to result in violence. It was a nail-biting ride from start to finish!

The ending was fantastic, and fit the story perfectly – what Sophie discovers, and what happens as a result of that, is both horrifying and emotional. I guess it was inevitable, but didn’t see it coming.

Sophie’s character really grew on me in this book. I didn’t dislike her before, but I just feel like this book displayed her personality so much better, and she develops so much more in this sequel. I’m really loving her story, and the complexity of it all.

Overall, Inferno was such a brilliant read! Packed full of action, tension and a little romance, it’s got something fro any YA reader. I’m really looking forward to the next book, now!

My Rating: 

four

I received a copy of Inferno from the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.

Book Review: All About Pumpkin by Natasha Farrant

The Diaries of Bluebell Gadsby #3 | Read my review of book one, After Iris, here

Published September 2015 by Faber.

24321595Goodreads Synopsis: It’s the summer holidays and Flora has gone off with Dad to the exotic set of his new film and Mum is at home having a much-needed rest with baby Pumpkin. Bluebell, Twig and Jas have been sent to stay with Grandma at Horsehill in the countryside.

With Grandma keen that the children get as much fresh air as possible, they are sent off on bikes to go wild swimming and befriend the boys next door. With so much freedom, they can’t help but get into trouble, and Grandma doesn’t seem to be as capable as looking after them as she should be…

My Review: I’ve been a fan of Natasha Farrant since the first book in this series, After Iris – so I was really excited when I was offered the chance to review the third title, especially as it’s being published in the new cover style that the whole series is being re-modelled with. Isn’t it pretty?!

Like the previous two books in the series, All About Pumpkin is half transcripts from Bluebell’s filming, and half diary entry. I love the format so much, and I always say that when I’m talking about these books – I just think it’s such a good idea, and Farrant writes both formats so brilliantly! The film transcripts are so much fun, and always very witty.

In this instalment of the series, the latest member of the family, Pumpkin, has been born – and he’s taking up everybody’s time. Bluebell’s dad and eldest sister are in New Zealand, and unable to cope, her mum sends her and her younger siblings off to their grandma’s so she can cope with just the new baby – but inevitably, being the Gadsby family, things always end up going a little wrong.

I honestly can’t find the words to describe how much I love the Gadsby family, and these books – each one has a completely fresh-feeling, fun plot. Natasha Farrant is leading the way in children’s fiction – her books are so entertaining, and I love escaping into the fictional family’s antics for a while so much. Although the Bluebell Gadsby books have their fair share of emotional bits, there’s an equal amount of hilarious moments – Farrant has got the balance of the two perfect. I also really enjoyed the way that Farrant explored the Gadsby family in All About Pumpkin, as I feel like it put a lot of focus on the younger siblings, like Jasmine, who is so loveable.

Overall, I really enjoyed All About Pumpkin – it was actually the one book that managed to get me out of a month-long reading slump! It’s such a joy to revisit these characters, and I’m really looking forward to the next in the series – they feel like such timeless classics and I love to read them no matter what mood I’m in. I really recommend All About Pumpkin, and all three books so far if you haven’t tried them yet – as they’re just such fantastic reads, no matter what genre or age category you usually might stick to.

My Rating:

four

I received a copy of All About Pumpkin from the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.

Book Review: The Bones of You by Debbie Howells

Published 16th July by Pan Macmillan.

The Bones of YouGoodreads Synopsis: When eighteen-year-old Rosie Anderson disappears, the idyllic village where she lived will never be the same again. Local gardener Kate is struck with guilt. She’d come to know Rosie well, and thought she understood her – perhaps better even than Rosie’s own mother.
A family torn apart: Rosie was beautiful, kind and gentle. She came from a loving family and she had her whole life ahead of her. Who could possibly want to harm her? And why?
A keeper of secrets: Kate is convinced the police are missing something. She’s certain that someone in the village knows more than they’re letting on. As the investigation deepens, so does Kate’s obsession with solving the mystery of what happened to Rosie.

My Review: This book looked and sounded amazing, so I was very excited to start it! I had to read the first half in short snatches between the last-week-of-school-rush-to-finish-coursework, but on the last day of school I sat and devoured the last half of the book in one reading. I wish I could’ve read the whole book like that. It’s fast paced and definitely one of my most gripping reads this year!

Rosie, teenage daughter of the famous TV presenter Neal Anderson, has disappeared. Kate, the local gardener who had a connection to Rosie, is shocked and saddened by the truths that are slowly coming to light. She decides to investigate on her own as to what happened – delving into the murky and mysterious background of Rosie’s famed family. The outcome of the story is absolutely terrifying.

The story felt so real at points it was scary – I especially really liked the psychological aspects and the heavy focus on media representation. It was very chilling to read about how the national papers exaggerated Rosie’s disappearance story – and made me think of how so many papers do this in real life.

The Bones of You is a very dark tale and certainly not for the faint-hearted – there are lots of grim scenes. However I raced through the story, utterly engrossed, desperate to unravel all of the answers. The Bones of You is an absolutely stunning début novel. The plot was so intricate and complex and I came up with countless theories, but none of them were anything like the outcome. I had to read over the revealing lines to make sure I wasn’t seeing things!

I became really attached to the characters, especially Kate. She felt very realistic and her actions were so believeable. Her daughter has just left for university, and on top of adjusting to that change, she becomes tangled up in the mystery of what happened to Rosie, a local friend’s daughter. I don’t read from adult perspectives very much as I mainly read YA but, unexpectedly, I came to love Kate as much as I would love a YA protagonist.

Overall, I was really impressed with this début novel – I went in with not very many expectations and was met with a truly unique, dark thriller. I would jump at the chance to read more from Howells in the future! She has a great talent for writing very realistic thriller stories. The plot was so well crafted, as were the unforgettable characters. I definitely recommend this to people who love crime books.

My Rating:

four and a half

I received a copy of The Bones of You from the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.

Book Review: Anatomy of a Misfit by Andrea Portes

Published September 2nd by HarperCollins US.

18340210Goodreads Synopsis: Outside, Anika Dragomir is all lip gloss and blond hair—the third most popular girl in school. Inside, she’s a freak: a mix of dark thoughts, diabolical plots, and, if local chatter is to be believed, vampire DNA (after all, her father is Romanian). But she keeps it under wraps to maintain her social position. One step out of line and Becky Vilhauer, first most popular girl in school, will make her life hell. So when former loner Logan McDonough shows up one September hotter, smarter, and more mysterious than ever, Anika knows she can’t get involved. It would be insane to throw away her social safety for a nerd. So what if that nerd is now a black-leather-jacket-wearing dreamboat, and his loner status is clearly the result of his troubled home life? Who cares if the right girl could help him with all that, maybe even save him from it? Who needs him when Jared Kline, the bad boy every girl dreams of, is asking her on dates? Who?

Anatomy of a Misfit is Mean Girls meets The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and Anika’s hilariously deadpan delivery will appeal to readers for its honesty and depth. The so-sad-it’s-funny high school setting will pull readers in, but when the story’s dark foreboding gradually takes over, the devastating penultimate tragedy hits like a punch to the gut. Readers will ride the highs and lows alongside funny, flawed Anika — from laughter to tears, and everything in between.

My Review: This caught my eye online and I was so excited about reading it! From the blurb, it sounded like a really funny but dark contemporary, a little like Looking for Alaska. It really was, though I’m really mixed about it. Anatomy of a Misfit is definitely going to be well loved – I think I’m in a minority of people still unsure.

I liked Anika, needless to say. She’s a very relatable protagonist, and I think Andrea Portes has captured the social hierarchy competition in high schools really accurately. Anika had a greatly developed back-story that’s the reason for most of her social struggle. The way she deals with things is often really funny. The protagonist did have a good voice but I didn’t click with her like I do with other characters.

There are two love interests… something which I instantly worried about because I can hardly ever tell either love interest apart. I’m useless. And truthfully, I got so mixed up with them… Even with the shocking ending, I had to reread earlier bits to make sure I was getting everything right. It’s probably mainly me being really forgetful though…

The plot is enjoyable and there are so many things dealt with in it. Every event was either really funny or really hard-hitting. There were some things, though, that seemed to just be forgotten about after a while – there’s one minor character’s story that could’ve developed more especially, I think.

On the back of my copy it talks about the story having a dark undercurrent flowing through the story, and lots of foreshadowing towards an unbelievable ending. That’s completely true. Every few chapters, there’s one that’s a flash forward, that’s so sinister sounding I struggled to figure out what could possibly happen! The last few chapters really do hit you like a punch to the gut. I could never have predicted it. At first I didn’t see how it was… There are hints in the plot, but because I got so confused between parts I don’t think it hit me as hard! The foreshadowing is very hard to see, but reading over bits made me kick myself a little. Portes leaves you in a bit of a daze at the ned of the story.

Overall, Anatomy of a Misfit was an enjoyable novel, but one that I expected to love more than I actually did. I think the protagonist was likeable, but didn’t really completely stand out to me – though I’m sure that many other readers will love her! The plot was so memorable and I’m sure I won’t every forget that ending… There were aspects I couldn’t get on with, but I’m sure I’d read another YA title from Andrea Portes!

My Rating:

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I received a copy of Anatomy of a Misfit from the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.

Radio Drama Review: The Electrical Venus by Julie Mayhew

Not a usual review post today! Last week, Julie Mayhew, Carnegie nominated author of Red Ink (which I loved! Review here.), asked me if I’d be interested in listening to and reviewing her new radio drama, The Electrical Venus. It’s a forty-five minute radio play that’s set to broadcast this Friday (October 3rd) at 2:15. Click here to go to the radio programme’s page!

I wasn’t very sure if it was my thing, at first. I don’t listen to radio drama – I haven’t even listened to an audio-book in ages! However, after I read that Julie intended for this play to be directed at teens, a demographic that I don’t think is ever explored by radio drama, I was very interested. Also, of course, I loved Julie Mayhew’s YA novel Red Ink and I’ve been wanting to experience more of her writing ever since.

Though I was excited to try it, I wasn’t really sure what to expect from a radio drama, or if I’d get into the story properly given the unfamiliar format. I plugged in my earpieces and started listening to it while I was doing some art homework… And was completely blown away! It did take me a few minutes to get used to it but once I’d become familiar I started to really enjoy it. The Electrical Venus was simultaneously a new entertainment experience for me, and a great story too, with plot themes I didn’t see coming at all.

I really loved the voice acting. I was really unsure of how I’d be able to connect and relate to the characters, because I’d _JG_6595_2have no visual and no descriptions to go on. However, I felt like I got to know the characters, especially Nim, so well, even though I only heard the voices and only for a forty-minute listen! The characters were really well developed and realistic, I loved them. Nim, the protagonist, has a great back-story that was explored really well throughout the play.

Another thing I loved about the play was the setting, which was fun but dark and mysterious too. It was really inventive and well-described through the plot. The Electrical Venus is set centuries ago in a travelling circus, and scenes, especially like the opening one (a circus performance), I felt like I was transported back in time… something I really wasn’t expecting.

Overall, The Electrical Venus was a really great play. I’d definitely recommend listening to it once it’s out – whether you’re a regular radio listener, or not, like me. Mayhew’s story was memorable and thrilling; After finishing it I just wanted to listen again! It dealt with things I wasn’t expecting and the story was very cleverly written. The voice actors were brilliant too, and really captured the personalities of the characters. Now I’ve tried listening to radio drama, something I would never have done otherwise, I’d definitely listen to it again. I’d love to see Julie Mayhew (and other writers!) writing more radio plays aimed at younger audiences. It was really fun. (:

My Rating:

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I received a copy of The Electrical Venus from the author, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.

Graphic Novel Review: Confessions of a Blabbermouth

By Mike and Louise Carey, illustrated by Aaron Alexovich.

Published in 2007 by Minx.

1335621Goodreads Synopsis: After her mom brings home an annoying boyfriend, Tasha’s dysfunctional family is headed for a complete mental meltdown. But Tashas blog is her ultimate weapon–and shes not afraid to use it. Mike Carey (“LUCIFER, Hellblazer”) teams with his teenage daughter Louise for this tale of teen angst.

My Review: At the talk with comics writer Mike Carey I went to a few weeks ago, this book was briefly talked about. There were lots of graphic novels I was excited to read after hearing about them at the event, but this one stood out the most for me, as Carey wrote it with his fifteen year old daughter! I was in the library earlier this week, not actually looking for this book, but as soon as I saw it I knew I had to borrow and read it. I’m so glad I found it. I really enjoyed it!

Confessions of a Blabbermouth is centered around Tasha, a teenage girl who writes about her crazy life on her blog, Blabbermouth. Her mum’s prone to bringing home lots of boyfriends, and when her latest one turns up, so does his daughter. Tasha instantly grows to hate Chloe- but on an unpredictable journey she discovers something about her.

I really liked the story. It’s funny at points, pretty emotional at others. It was pretty crazy and I found some parts a bit strange, but it’s a great contemporary plot. While some bits are pretty wild, it’s a story I think lots of people will relate to, with the family drama and the stereotypical school bullies.

I loved the fact that Tasha had a blog! There are text boxes that narrate the story, that are parts of her blog posts. I really liked that. I also loved how the website plays a really unpredictable part in the outcome.  Tasha was a very cool main character. She’s a bit quirky, gets very angry a lot with her mum and her new, horrid, boyfriend Jed, but she was easy to like. Chloe, who is effectively Tasha’s new stepsister, was a really three dimensional character. She develops a lot throughout the story- More than Tasha, and there are hints about Chloe’s secret laced all through the book, that all make sense at the end! (Also Chloe looked scarily like me. Double awesomeness :D)

The art was really great I liked the style. It’s really unique, and it suited the story.  I really wanted to read some more comics illustrated by Alexovich now!

Overall, Confessions of a Blabbermouth was a fun, quirky read. I really enjoyed the story. I think even people who aren’t fans of comics will really enjoy it. The characters are relatable and three dimensional and the plot’s a crazy, dramatic ride. And, obviously, the art is really eye catching. I loved reading it! I’m hoping to look out for more books published by Minx in the future.

My Rating:

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I borrowed a copy of Confessions of a Blabbermouth from my local library.

Book Review: American Savage by Matt Whyman

You can read my review of book one, The Savages, by clicking here!

Published June 5th 2014 by Hot Key Books.

19383531Goodreads Synopsis: Vegan, veggie, carnivore… humanitarian? Welcome to the top of the food chain.

The Savages are back – this time in a country where servings come supersized. Titus, Angelica and the kids go to great lengths to fit into their new lives in sunny Florida. But that’s not easy when their appetite runs to feasts of human flesh.

In this dark comic serving of everyday family life with contemporary cannibals, the Savages seek to hide in plain sight by setting up a vegan café. But when the venture turns out to be a surprise sensation, and bad apples bob to the surface, Titus is forced to question whether the family have finally bitten off more than they can chew.

My Review: American Savage was a really great sequel- I devoured it in two sittings! I really loved The Savages when I had the chance to read it last year; it was a darkly hilarious story of a family of cannibals and various obstacles like vegetarian boyfriends. I couldn’t wait to read more about the family in this instalment; strangely, despite their… tastes… you grow to love them.

The plot was really great. American Savage sees the Savage family, plus adopted-into-the-family Amanda, moving to America for a change in lifestyle and to avoid arousing any more suspicion in their home country. The family sets up a vegan café; half to cover up any suspicious activity around the neighbourhood caused by them, and half because of a drama caused by Titus Savage and Amanda’s job. The plot kinda terrified me and made me laugh at the same time. It was really weird, seeing the family growing up, and dealing with different issues than had arisen in the first book. But I loved it! There’s a different story for every character, and they link together in clever and unpredictable ways.

The theme for the book is pretty dark and macabre, as it was in book one. But, Matt Whyman manages to keep the story feeling like an upbeat, funny, contemporary drama… except, there’s definitely a higher body count in this book compared to other YA contemps… 😀 Whyman’s writing is really enjoyable. It did take me a couple of pages to get stuck into the story, but after that, I couldn’t stop reading.

There was one thing that kind of disappointed me. In the first book, the most relatable character for me was Sasha- the teenage girl of the family who most of the story was centered around. However, she wasn’t actually in this story- instead she was in another American state studying. I really wish she was in the story, at least for a few pages! She’d been one of my favourite characters. I did get used to the family without her… but the ending, which was a bit heartbreaking, I wish she’d been there for. For reasons. But I can’t say why because I’ll spoil it…

Overall, aside from one part, I really did enjoy American Savage! I wasn’t sure how I’d find the sequel, as the first book was brilliant as a standalone… but this was awesome. It’s a mixture of macabre family tradition, romance, cover-up family business and American lifestyle… Sounds bizarre, but Matt Whyman makes it work. All of the characters are so well fleshed out and each one felt realistic and individual. I really, really highly recommend both The Savages and American Savage, whether you’re more of a contemporary fan or a fan of the macabre. Matt Whyman’s writing is really memorable and I can’t wait to read even more from him!

My Rating:

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 I received a copy of American Savage from the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.