Book Review

Book Review: The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James

Published 7th September 2017 by Walker Books.

32601841Goodreads Synopsis: 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 . . .

My Review: I’ve left it a while between finishing this book and writing a review, yet I still can’t put into words how mind-blowing it was. The Loneliest Girl was incredible.

James’s latest book tells the story of Romy, the first human born in space, travelling alone on a ship to a new planet. Any communication she has with Earth is on a two-year delay, so when she hears of a new ship travelling to join her, Romy is ecstatic – but is the news she’s receiving trustworthy?

I haven’t read a sci-fi book in a while, so I was so excited to read this! This concept is hugely different, but just as breathtaking as the world of James’s last books. The space setting was so eerie, and the idea of one girl travelling alone after some horrifying events, is so scary. I got chills reading parts of this. As unsettling as it could be, this book is so addictive. I ended up racing through it in a day because I had to know what would happen. It reminded me of Harstad’s gripping 172 Hours on the Moon – equal parts creepy and riveting.

I really liked Romy and could imagine her clearly, so alone and deep into a quest that has a dark past. I was completely engrossed in her story, empathising with her loneliness. Her backstory was both fascinating and terrifying – it’s a huge, crazy concept but strangely believeable. I found the dynamic between Romy and J so fascinating to read. They communicate through email with huge time delays; that gap slowly closing as his ship approaches hers. Also, kudos to James for writing a complex timey-wimey story and having all the emails dated. That must have been hard.

I became so engrossed in following their emails, and the delayed news Romy was receiving from Earth. I became completely swept up in their story, even though there are almost no physical dialogue.

The Loneliest Girl is being marketed as a romantic thriller, and I kind of like that! I was led into this story thinking it would be a spacey romance, and therefore not too sure if I’d enjoy it. Then… boom, so many plot twists and unexpected turns. It certainly is more of a thriller, and it’s awesome.

Overall, there’s no doubt: The Loneliest Girl should be at the top of everyone’s TBR piles when it’s released. The story has certainly stayed with me – it took me ages to write this review, and I still don’t think I’m able to do it justice! There’s something to appeal to everyone in here – a riveting sci-fi story, with classic-feeling elements of horror, and an romance with an unexpected twist. Mark your calendars for the release date!

My Rating:

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

Book Review

Book Review: With Malice by Eileen Cook

Published 9th June 2016 by Hot Key Books.

29604253Goodreads Synopsis: When Jill wakes up in a hospital bed with her leg in a cast, the last six weeks of her life are a complete blank. All she has been told is that she was involved in a fatal accident while on a school trip in Italy and had to be jetted home to receive intensive care. Care that involves a lawyer. And a press team. Because maybe the accident…. wasn’t just an accident.

With no memory of what happened or what she did, can Jill prove her innocence? And can she really be sure that she isn’t the one to blame?

My Review: With Malice arrived in the post by surprise, but I was was desperate to start reading it after looking into what it was about. Psychological thrillers are right up my street, so I was really sure I’d find this great!

The plot is centered around Jill, who wakes up in a hospital with no memory of the last six weeks. She discovers that she was involved in an accident that the press is not obsessed with – but was the accident her fault? Is she to blame for the tragic outcome?

I’ll get the slightly negative part of this review out of the way – I couldn’t like Jill. She had many likeable traits, but there were so many reasons why I just couldn’t feel for her. It meant I felt a little distanced from the story – though not entirely, it was incredibly addictive. Maybe it’s because of the way she was portrayed by the media excerpts in the book, maybe it was because she didn’t seem to mourn after the accident – she just seemed a little two dimensional to me, though that’s not to say everyone else will think that. I’m sure many readers will engage with her.

I really did enjoy the story, because it’s full of many unexpected twists, especially towards the end. It feels like a very classic mystery, with modern elements. Whenever I wasn’t reading, I was coming up with theories as to what could have caused the accident!

I really enjoyed the way in which the story is told. It isn’t told in modern day extracts and then flashbacks, like I’d expected. Instead, we follow Jill in the present day, and between chapters are extracts from various news channels, witness interviews, and blogs, which allow the reader to see into the mystery from multiple perspectives – characters close to Jill, hateful media perspectives, and anonymous blog trolls. It was really interesting to see the story told from lots of different perspectives – it also revealed lots of little hints and different theories, which kept me hooked.

Overall, With Malice was a really brilliant and addictive read. It’s the perfect book if you’re looking for a thrilling read for this summer. I really enjoyed the story, and although I had a couple of problems with the characters, I’m sure many people will love it.

My Rating:

three and a half

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

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Book Review: My Second Life by Faye Bird

Published 1st July 2014 by Usborne Books.

20958008Goodreads Synopsis: The first time I was born, I was Emma.
I was beautiful. I had everything to live for.
But I died.

Now I have been born a second time, and my previous life haunts me. Because in it I think I did something very wrong. I must find out what I did to Catherine. I must uncover the truth about Emma…

Intriguing, compelling, heartbreaking.
What if your past life could shatter your future?

My Review: I’ve been really behind on reviewing ARCs due to general summer busyness, so I think I’ve left too much time between reading My Second Life and reviewing it, to be able to do it enough justice! It was, without doubt, a very compelling, suspenseful and original debut novel. I really enjoyed it, and though I wasn’t completely blown away as most readers have been, it was a really gripping read.

I fell in love with the concept of the story right from the first few sentences of the blurb, and the idea kept me hooked throughout the book. It was really individual, and makes My Second Life stand out. What if you were born into a second life, with memories of your past – and what if you did something terrible in your first life, that you know you need to rediscover? It’s haunting, and very chilling!

I felt like I really knew Ana and Emma (Both lives) really well by the end of the story. I got to know them really well through Faye’s writing. I was really absorbed thanks to Faye Bird’s writing voice. I would really love to read more from her in the future.

There were some very long scenes, particularly towards the end, that were very dialogue heavy… I don’t usually mind that, of course, but I found myself getting a bit tired during the long, long conversations – even though they were revealing massive plot twists (which were very clever and exciting!). I think that was the only big reason, really, that I didn’t fully enjoy it – though I understand why so much of the story was conversation.

Overall, I really enjoyed My Second Life, and I would definitely recommend it to fans of psychological thrillers, and gritty crime stories! The characters are very well developed, and I think the concept of the story was one of the most unique concepts I’ve seen in a debut novel. A few little things meant I didn’t full enjoy the story – but overall it was a genius debut, and I’m really looking to reading more from Faye Bird!

My Rating:

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

 

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Book Review: Every Day by David Levithan

Published September 2013 by Electric Monkey.

17451795Goodreads Synopsis: Each morning, A wakes up in a different body. There’s never any warning about who it will be, but A is used to that. Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere. And that’s fine – until A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that moment, the rules by which A has been living no longer apply.

My Review: Upon finishing Every Day, I was in… an emotional mess, to say the least. I know it’s a book I will go back to and read over and over again. In one word, it was beautiful. Levithan’s poetic writing style; his unforgettable characters; the original concept; the wild love story – It was all so beautifully written and captivating. Every Day is one of the best books I’ve read this year. Close contender for the best book I’ve read this year.

I’m not sure why I’d left this on the TBR pile for so many months, since reading the blurb when I bought it when it was first released had me really intrigued: Waking up in a different body every day, having to leave no trace of your true self anywhere, not being able to attach to anybody… The whole concept just sounded like a brilliant premise for a novel.

As I was starting, I got a bit worried I’d just get really confused – having to get used to a whole new character that protagonist A is inhabiting for every different chapter. However, David Levithan just made it work. I kept track of everybody and I was left thinking about all of the characters A inhabits just for a day, long after I put the book down.

A, the protagonist, has no gender, no ethnicity, no true body aside from each one A inhabits every day. A is just simply… A. Despite not being able to picture a face for the A, I found A to be one of the most memorable YA characters I’ve ever read about. A has such a memorable and complex personality that I instantly resonated with. On the other hand, Rhiannon is just an average teenage girl – but I fell in love with her character as much as I did with A, I think! She felt so three dimensional and I loved how she believed in A and went to huge lengths for him. They had such a great chemistry.

I can’t even write about the ending without spoiling it or crying so I’m just going to leave a gif here for David Levithan.

Overall, Every Day was evocative, emotional and beautifully written YA books I’ve ever read… I’m so glad I picked it up on a whim. I devoured the whole story in two sittings, but I really didn’t want to let it go at the end. I think I say that a lot in book reviews, but I really, really mean it – David Levithan had me completely caught up in the wild, devastating, but gorgeous love story he’s crafted, and I was much more attached to the protagonists by the ending than I thought I would be. Every Day really makes you think, about everything. About identity, living in other people’s shoes, and so much more. I know I’ll be rereading this over and over – if you haven’t already read Every Day, I really recommend it be the next book you pick up (:

My Rating:

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I purchased a copy of Every Day at a bookstore.

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REVOLVER

By Marcus Sedgwick, published by Orion Books.

RevolverGoodreads synopsis: 1910. A cabin north of the Arctic Circle. Fifteen-year-old Sig Andersson is alone. Alone, except for the corpse of his father, who died earlier that day after falling through a weak spot on the ice-covered lake. His sister, Anna, and step-mother, Nadya, have gone to the local town for help. Then comes a knock at the door. It’s a man, the flash of a revolver’s butt at his hip, and a mean glare in his eyes. Sig has never seen him before but Wolff claims to have unfinished business with his father. As Sig gradually learns the awful truth about Wolff’s connection to his father, Sig finds his thoughts drawn to a certain box hidden on a shelf in the storeroom, in which lies his father’s prized possession – a revolver. When Anna returns alone, and Wolff begins to close in, Sigs choice is pulled into sharp focus. Should he use the gun, or not?

My review: REVOLVER was such a breath-taking read! At only about 200 pages, I devoured the whole thing in a day, and really couldn’t get enough of the suspenseful story. It wasn’t exactly ghostly, or spooky, like Marcus Sedgwick’s other titles that I’ve read so it was like a fresh new read in a very different genre from one of my favourite authors. The story began with Sig, a boy living in an Arctic wasteland who has just discovered the frozen dead body of his father who recently fell into a lake and froze to death. He brings the body inside and leaves it to thaw on the table, obviously not so sure what to do with it. A bit grim, but that was to my liking.

The first 75 or so pages were a little confusing for me, as the chapters kept switching back and forth to Sig’s father’s life when Sig was a child this past story leading up to how this mysterious man has turned up at Sig’s door, which happens near the end. That got a bit confusing, as I was reading this book on and off (in between school lessons!) all day, and it was hard to get used to the constantly switching times in the chapters. About halfway through, I finally grasped the concept properly which was a very good thing, as the flashbacks in the last half of the book were crucial to the current plot! I loved how the plot was centered around this one gun, that could change anything at any moment. It added a lot of suspense and climatic scenes to the book. Although fast paced, it was very enjoyable.

In 200 pages, I would have expected the character to have been pretty basic, with not much background or personality. However, Marcus Sedgwick just seems to have this way with fleshing-out characters and making them so real, in short stories. Sig had a great background, because his childhood and upbringing was cleverly revealed in the flashback-like chapters. His personality shone through in the darkest points of the book- especially when he was forced to make a decision involving the mysterious man and the Revolver at the ending. I really grew to like him, and supported him throughout.

Overall, REVOLVER was a heart-stopping, climatic adventure from beginning to end. It had a brilliant focus on how guns can change a family around, and was told very cleverly through two separate time periods in alternating chapters. I really loved the characters, both of Sig and his father, and would really recommend the book to those looking for a psychological thriller  to curl up with right now as the weather is slowly getting a lot colder here in the UK and starting to resemble the arctic wasteland (at least it is in London :)).

My Rating:

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I borrowed a copy of REVOLVER from my local library.

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Imposter

By Jill Hathaway, published by Harper Collins.

Impostor (Slide #2)

Goodreads synopsis: Be afraid of your shadow…Vee Bell has witnessed murder. She nearly died trying to track down the killer, all because of her secret condition. She’d tell her best friend Rollins but lately he seems more interested in his colleague Anna than her. Maybe she should confide in her long-lost aunt who’s turned up out of the blue? All of a sudden life is happening in reverse: Vee is waking up in weird places not knowing what she’s done. The only thing she’s sure of is that someone is messing with her. And when a prank goes horribly wrong, this time the hands with blood on them might be hers.

My review:  After really enjoying Slide, (Review HERE!), I couldn’t wait to start this sequel! I had no idea what could happen in this book, as all of the loose ends from the murders in Slide had been wrapped up at its ending. However, Imposter went down an entirely new, unexpected route, and I really loved it. Vee’s never-met-before Aunt, who betrayed Vee’s mum and ran away, not even coming back for her funeral, turns up at her doorstep. Whilst Vee thinks that she is experiencing somebody taking over her body (what she usually does to other people), she begins to suspect her aunt Lydia, as maybe the Sliding is a family thing. I really enjoyed that element of suspicion, because it made me think that the new Slider was Lydia, too, but then all was revealed with a very unexpected plot twist!

I also really enjoyed the growing relationship between Vee and Rollins (her best friend). In the first book, I was practically yelling “YOU TWO ARE PERFECT FOR EACH OTHER!” And I was so happy that they formed a relationship in this book. Rollins is a really great supporting character, but I would have liked him to have some more involvement in Vee’s secret plan with Mattie, Samantha and Regina (not saying what it is, I’ll spoil it :))! 

Vee developed a lot more confidence, and investigated under even more pressure than in the previous installment. Through the first person narrative, I got a real understanding of her emotions towards all of the other characters in the story- especially I understood her hatred towards her aunt Lydia. I was rooting for her throughout, even when she was suspected of murder by her friends (I’m not saying whose murder!).  As I’ve already mentioned, I loved her growing relationship with Rollins.

Overall, Imposter was a seriously awesome read. It was around the same meagre amount of pages as the previous title, Slide, but I still loved it anyway. It had such a clever plot, which kept me guessing at who-dunnit? the whole way through. I’ve grown to love the main characters even more, and really enjoyed reading their second psychological adventure. I really hope there’s a third book, or something, because I want to read more about Vee Bell’s life!

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Slide

By Jill Hathaway, published by Harper Collins.

Slide

“I see through the eyes of a killer…”

Vee Bell hates being labelled as the ‘Narcoleptic freak’. Everyone thinks she just collapses because of her diagnosed Narcolepsy, but Vee knows differently. She collapses because she slides- every time she touches an object that somebody has had and felt a strong emotion with, she slips into them, and witnesses what they’re currently doing not matter how far away. One night, she slides into an unknown body, and witnesses that body commit the murder of her cheerleader-little-sister’s best friend: Sophie. Determined to track down the killer of such a lovely little girl, Vee begins an terrifying investigation.

Then another cheerleader is murdered. The stakes are getting higher now, and Vee has little time to solve the murders, because her little sister Mattie is next…

After seeing the sequel to this and reading the synopsis for it, I just had to start Slide! I devoured the whole thing in about a day- It was quite short at 250 pages, but had one heck of a plot. I’ve never read anything quite like it before. The psychological roots of this story made it pretty eerie, but also extremely interesting. The first murder was absolutely terrifying and on the minor character which was the last person I thought would be the first to die. The murder conspiracies were totally riveting and unpredictable, and I loved the genius way that the author connected Vee’s father to the murderer.

Vee was a really unique protagonist. I could tell she was the outcast right from the start- and not just because of her Narcolepsy condition, but because the bullying inflicted on her in the past. It made her a really three-dimensional and realistic character. Also, she was brave and strong and never gave up, despite the terrors and the unidentified murderer she was facing. I really liked her and can’t wait to read more about her in the sequel! I also enjoyed reading about the characters of Zane and Rollins. Rollins was her best friend who began to get distant with her throughout the events of Slide, but I was so happy their friendship became whole again at the end of the book, and that he didn’t leave her alone. Zane was a very complex love interest. As he had ties to the murderer and I don’t want to spoil the story, I won’t go into depth here- but I’ll just say he was very unpredictable. The author went in-depth with his character, making him just as three dimensional as the protagonist, but not arousing suspicion with his character. That made the resolution to the murder so unexpected!

In all, Slide was amazing. IT was a very complex but riveting and fast-paced crime story, with a lot packed into it. Despite supernatural, psychological themes, the book was realistic and had a really important, embedded messages about peer pressure and bullying. I loved it so much! I can’t wait for the sequel, IMPOSTER, published in later in April!