Tag Archives: thriller

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: BOO by Neil Smith

Published 21st May 2015 by Windmill Books.

24702495Goodreads Synopsis: When Oliver ‘Boo’ Dalrymple wakes up in heaven, the eighth-grade science geek thinks he died of a heart defect at his school. But soon after arriving in this hereafter reserved for dead thirteen-year-olds, Boo discovers he’s a ‘gommer’, a kid who was murdered. What’s more, his killer may also be in heaven. With help from the volatile Johnny, a classmate killed at the same school, Boo sets out to track down the mysterious Gunboy who cut short both their lives.
In a heartrending story written to his beloved parents, the odd but endearing Boo relates his astonishing heavenly adventures as he tests the limits of friendship, learns about forgiveness and, finally, makes peace with the boy he once was and the boy he can now be.

My Review: As soon as I’d read the synopsis for Boo I knew it would be my kind of book – it reminded me of an old favourite anime series, Angel Beatswhich is about a high school that deceased teenagers find themselves at. The ‘heaven’ in this book is quite different, though shares similar themes, so I was really interested in reading Boo.

Boo is the nickname of the protagonist, Oliver – who wakes up in an afterlife consisting only of American 13 year-olds like himself. He thinks he’s died of a heart problem in school – but when he finds his sort-of friend there with him, Boo has to track down who killed them.

The story is very dark and unnerving at points – but is also unexpectedly a heart-warming story about the bonds people make. I couldn’t predict a single thing about the plot – it turns in ways impossible to imagine. The ‘reveal’ was abrupt and shocking. There’s no way I could’ve guessed it, but as soon as I finished the book I was wondering how I’d missed it! It definitely sent a chills through me, though.

Neil Smith’s imaginative ability is admirable. His version of heaven in Boo felt completely individual and was the perfect backdrop for the mystery plot. As fantastical as it was, it seemed so real: Each uniquely crafted character of the strangely bound community seemed to jump from the page, brimming with personality.

The main protagonists were incredibly memorable. Oliver is a slightly awkward thirteen year-old, who is more engrossed in his science fascination than anything else. I saw a little of my thirteen year-old (and current…) self in him and his voice grabbed me from page one. I’m sure I say that the voice stood out about a lot of books I read, but Boo was just different. The narrative was flawless to me and I felt Boo’s vulnerability and curiosity shine through.

Overall, I’d without a doubt recommend Boo. It’s certainly not for everyone, given its disturbing subject – but it’s hard to fault Neil Smith’s writing. His characterisation and narrative were brilliant – as was the plot, which unravelled cleverly. Boo didn’t turn out the simple ghost murder mystery I thought it would be: It was addictive, ingenious and the kind of book that breaks your heart then sticks it back together again. Multiple times. I can see Boo getting a lot of attention!

My Rating:

four and a half

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

Book Review: If You Were Me by Sam Hepburn

Published 2nd April 2015 by Chicken House.

22892748Goodreads Synopsis: From the author of CHASING THE DARK comes a thrilling young teen crime mystery, guaranteed to keep you guessing until the very end.

Not long after Aliya’s family escapes Afghanistan for Britain, her brother is accused of a bomb attack. Aliya is sure of his innocence, but when plumber’s son Dan finds a gun in their bathroom, what’s she to think?
Dan has his own reasons for staying silent: he’s worried the gun might have something to do with his dad. Thrown together by chance, they set out to uncover a tangled and twisted truth.

My Review: Recently, I’ve read quite a few books based around religion, intolerance and terrorism – so I was very excited about getting to Sam Hepburn’s latest title, which is along the same lines. I really enjoyed it!

Aliya is an instantly loveable character; from the moments we see her forced to leave her home, to the closing pages. Her chemistry with Dan was great. I was a bit nervous watching them develop as I was certain it would end up in a love story, but I’m really glad it didn’t. The story is focused on finding the truth about Aliya’s brother – and told through Aliya and Dan’s switching perspectives, which were really insightful.

I am so glad that so many books are being written on similar themes lately (see also: You’re Not Proper and One Of Us) as terrorism and victimisation are things happening every single day. If You Were Me tackles stereotypes and the way the media portrays events expertly and brutally honestly – within a tense and gripping plot.

The plot was incredibly well paced and engrossing. Solving the mystery was such a thrill ride – I guessed some elements, but there were a lot of surprises. I think the only problem I had was that I lost track of characters at points: There’s an intricate web of antagonists and allies in If You Were Me and I got a little mixed up sometimes (partially blaming that on reading distractions though…:P).

Overall, If You Were Me was a lot more than I’d expected. It’s a totally gripping read with some unbelievable twists and turns that kept me hooked. With prominent themes of media portrayal, and terrorist attacks, I hope this gets a lot of attention as it’s a very relevant book. Definitely recommended if you’re looking for a nail-biting thriller, or something that’s very relatable.

My Rating:

four

 

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

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Book Review: Flesh and Blood by Simon Cheshire

Published 12th March 2015 by RED EYE (Stripes Publishing).

Goodreads Synopsis: I must record the facts that have led me to where I am now. So that, when someone reads this, they understand. Sam Hunter’s neighbours are pillars of the community, the most influential people in town. But they’re liars too. The Greenhills are hiding something and Sam’s determined to find out what it is. As his investigation unfolds, he realizes the lies reach further than he ever imagined – is there anyone he can trust? Uncovering the horror is one thing …escaping is another. A chilling new story in the Red Eye series.

My Review: No exaggeration, I jumped up and down for a while when I heard about Stripes Publishing’s new imprint – RED EYE – a series of new horror YA novels, starting this year. I haven’t gotten around to reading the first two in the series yet, but was very excited when I was able to read this instalment!

Flesh and Blood centres around Sam Hunter, who moves to a nicer and seemingly perfect neighbourhood after his dad’s success. Everything seems dreamily brilliant until he stumbles across the first horror, and then notices some strange traits in his neighbours… Then begins to search for the horrifying, shocking truth behind the Greenhills.

I was absorbed in the story straight away and loved the format it was written in: Sam’s narration felt really honest and I liked how it was written as a report, stating the facts with occasional present-tense comments about what had happened. Sam is a very three-dimensional feeling character. The decisions he makes in this book are bound to drive people crazy… But in a weird way, I understood him because it was just realistic.

Despite the suggestive cover image and the title Flesh and Blood, it was a lot gorier and freaky than I’d assumed – and it got freaky and gory very quickly. I’d read on the press release that this book wasn’t for the “faint hearted” and… Well, I can’t emphasise that enough… I got pretty squeamish at a lot of points! The story is pretty brutal. The plot was really great and felt like a classic horror story, yet refreshing – but the themes were just unnerving.

I don’t even know how to talk about the ending. No words will do it justice! It’s twisted, horrific, and makes you question everything you knew about the main character – though I think it gave him more depth. It’s safe to say the last pages will be stuck in your head for days. I’m still wishing I knew what happened next – but in a good way. The cliffhanger-feeling is pretty epic in this.

Overall, I was really blown away by my firs RED EYE read, and I will definitely be seeking out the other books from the imprint as they’re released. It was riveting: The story is definitely one of the most grim things I’ve come across – some points I got real chills. Definitely recommended, though only if you can handle its creepy contents. I’m now apprehensive about going to the doctor’s.

My Rating:

four

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

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Book Review: Big Game by Dan Smith

Published 1st January 2015 by Chicken House books.

22892753Goodreads Synopsis: Written by acclaimed children’s novelist Dan Smith, BIG GAME is a stunningly told survival story set in the icy wilderness.

13-year-old Oskari is sent into the cold wilderness on an ancient test of manhood. He must survive armed only with a bow and arrow. But instead, he stumbles upon an escape pod from a burning airliner: Air Force One. Terrorists have shot down the President of the United States.

The boy hunter and the world’s most powerful man are suddenly the hunted, in a race against a deadly enemy…

My Review: I started Big Game a little apprehensively. I had read and really enjoyed Dan Smith’s previous historical novel, My Brother’s Secret (review here!) – though this new book is a novelization of a movie script, for a film of the same name. I wasn’t sure how I’d find it, because of that – would it be as good as Dan Smith’s historical YA? Would it be as enjoyable? I was a little nervous but very eager to read it, as the synopsis was awesome.

I loved Dan Smith’s writing yet again. It was fast paced and I was sucked straight into the story. I really loved Oskari’s narration. He’s comes across at first as a character defined by his flaws, but he flourishes throughout the story as an incredibly brave, powerful protagonist. He was so fun to read about! I really enjoyed seeing him develop.

The plot was so great and I am really looking forward to seeing it played out on a big screen. On the night before Oskari’s birthday, he must embark on a journey to the Finnish forest, and stay there for a night and a day. When he returns, he will be a man and must present a trophy – a hunted animal that will reflect his personality.

However, when he finds the president of the U.S.A in an escape pod after witnessing terrorists land close by, Oskari realises there’s a much bigger game being played than his own hunt. It felt really original and exciting to me; a real pulse-raiser of a book.  The ending felt a little abrupt, but made me smile.

Overall, I enjoyed Big Game a lot and I definitely recommend it. Smith’s writing is fantastic and enthralling, and he’s channelled the personalities and emotions of the characters brilliantly. I felt really attached to Oskari by the end and found myself wanting to read some more about him – the ending did make me smile but was a little abrupt. I can’t wait for the movie, which features Samuel L Jackson as the president – and I’m also eagerly awaiting Dan Smith’s next book now. 🙂

My Rating:

four

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

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Book Review: The Death House by Sarah Pinborough

Published 26th February 2015 by Orion Books.

24597331Goodreads Synopsis: Toby’s life was perfectly normal . . . until it was unravelled by something as simple as a blood test.

Taken from his family, Toby now lives in the Death House; an out-of-time existence far from the modern world, where he, and the others who live there, are studied by Matron and her team of nurses. They’re looking for any sign of sickness. Any sign of their wards changing. Any sign that it’s time to take them to the sanatorium.

No one returns from the sanatorium.

Withdrawn from his house-mates and living in his memories of the past, Toby spends his days fighting his fear. But then a new arrival in the house shatters the fragile peace, and everything changes.

Because everybody dies. It’s how you choose to live that counts.

My Review: I hadn’t heard of The Death House until I received a proof copy, but after reading the blurb I was sure I would enjoy it! The concept sounded very chilling and dark, and it definitely was – it’s very unsettling at points.

The concept of the story is that if you get a certain result on a blood test as a child, you are sent to the Death House – here you stay with the other infected kids, similar to a boarding school, but there’s seemingly no way out… Unless you start to show symptoms and you’re taken to the sanatorium. Which nobody ever returns from.

I liked the mysterious concept, as Sarah leaves much to the imagination of the reader. I tried to come up with possibilities and answers, my mind running away with all sorts of scenarios of the outside world. The whole book is very eerie, because nothing about this illness, and not much about the outside world, is fully explained. However it did get to the point where I just needed to know how and what and why. I was a little sad the ending didn’t completely wrap it up – the last few pages were incredibly tragic but I felt at the end that there was something missing.

I’m quite mixed on the characters. They are incredibly well fleshed-out, real-feeling teenagers, and yet I just didn’t… Attach to them very much… Oh god I have no heart. I really don’t know why, but I know I’m in the minority of people who are mixed on this book – There have been so many five star reviews, and I can completely see why so many people have found this book, particularly the characters, truly astounding. Of course, there were a couple of bits I got quite choked up at but I just never felt like I was 100% into the story.

Overall, The Death House was a very evocative, quick read – I really recommend it if you’re looking for a very chilling, mysterious standalone novel. It’s hard to place it into a category, because it felt almost like a zombie novel, and it looks and feels like a dark horror, but it reads like a YA contemporary romance – quite bizarre sounding, but it’s incredibly memorable. I know I’m one of a small number of people who hasn’t enjoyed this just as much of others – for some reason, something just didn’t click with me – but I’m confident most people will be rendered completely awestruck by Pinborough’s inventive plot.

My Rating: 

three and a half

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

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Book Review: Catalyst by S. J. Kincaid

[I have a spoiler-y thing to say about CATALYST but I’ve put the spoiler BELOW my review – under the rating – so you can read this review if you haven’t read the book yet! 🙂 ]

Published 6th November 2014 by Hot Key Books.

23927683Goodreads Synopsis:  Tom Raines is about to break through the impossible…

Tom Raines and his friends return to the Pentagonal Spire for a new year, eager to continue their training for the elite Intrasolar Forces. But they soon discover troubling changes. Strict new regulations, suspicious agents in positions of power and the revelation that the Spire is under military control. The trainees are now cadets.

What begins as an irritating adjustment soon reveals a dangerous shift in reality. Those in control have a ruthless agenda. And when the military academy begins welcoming suspicious new cadets, they reveal a plan with horrifying worldwide ramifications. Tom is desperate to stop it, and it seems he is not alone. But when the enemy comes for Tom, how much can he endure in the battle to save himself?

read my review of INSIGNIA, book one || read my review of VORTEX, book two

My Review: When I received this in the post I was ridiculously excited, because I’ve been a fan of S J Kincaid since I read INSIGNIA, in 2012! I got a little nostalgic feeling, too, because INSIGNIA was the first ever book I reviewed for Hot Key Books. I was very eager to start reading it, as I’ve been waiting for the last book for so long – but also it was pretty sad to realise it was time to let Tom, Wyatt, Vik, Yuri and Medusa go…

It took me a few pages to regain my memory of what had happened at the end of VORTEX, but as soon as I had, I was completely absorbed in Tom’s world. I’d forgotten how much I’d loved it. From Tom’s realistic narration, to the eerily believable future world, to the hilarious banter between Tom’s friends, the supporting characters.

CATALYST was, needless to say, action packed. There was never a dull moment – I think I’ve said that before about the previous books, but it’s true – and CATALYST is without doubt the most intense, eventful novel of the trilogy. It was hard to put down! The events of the book played out really cleverly, and the twists in the story were utterly unpredictable. I did get a bit confused at a few points, as the pace was really fast and there was a lot going on, but it was overall such an enthralling read.

Overall, CATALYST was such a great read, and a compelling end to a memorable trilogy. I really recommend it, as it was a satisfying end to Tom’s story – and also if you haven’t picked up the trilogy at all… whhhyyy not? I wouldn’t have ended the plot on a different point: S J Kincaid did such a good job at tying up all of the loose ends, and creating an unforgettable finale to what’s most definitely the most inventive Sci-Fi tale I’ve ever read.

My Rating:

four and a half

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

*SPOILER KLAXON* Don’t read this bit if you haven’t read CATALYST…

There’s a huge plot twist within the first third of the book that literally had me on the edge of my seat! The meteor was such a tense, thrilling part of the story. It was really well written, but if I could change one thing about CATALYST, I’d love to know the true after-effects of the crash, because it was left unmentioned for the much of the book, and I was really interested to see how the future world could have coped.

Book Review: Vendetta by Catherine Doyle

Published January 1st 2015 by Chicken House Books.

22317508Goodreads Synopsis: When it comes to revenge, love is a dangerous complication.With a fierce rivalry raging between two warring families, falling in love is the deadliest thing Sophie could do. An epic debut set outside modern-day Chicago.

When five brothers move into the abandoned mansion in her neighbourhood, Sophie Gracewell’s life changes forever. Irresistibly drawn to bad boy Nicoli, Sophie finds herself falling into a criminal underworld governed by powerful families. As the boys’ dark secrets begin to come to light, Sophie is confronted with stinging truths about her own family, too. She must choose between two warring dynasties – the one she was born into, and the one she is falling in love with. When she does, blood will spill and hearts will break.

My Review: I was so excited to read Doyle’s début, Vendetta, when it came through the letterbox! All of the online buzz described it as a tense and gripping retelling of Romeo and Juliet, in suburban Chicago, with a Mafia twist. And if that doesn’t sound like the most insanely awesome idea for a book, then you’re wrong. 😀

I loved the beginning chapters of the story. From the first sentence, there’s a strangely chilling mystery. I found myself completely sucked into the story; I started Vendetta on a train, and somehow got through sixty pages, then (reluctantly) put it away. It was difficult to stop reading!

During the first chapters I had grown to really like the main character, and really feel for her; the mysterious, vague foreshadowing about her father’s story kept me reading, as I was sure it was somehow linked to the new family that moves into the town.

Sophie felt realistic for a lot of the story… though, I did get really annoyed at a lot of parts, where the she is too busy swooning over the dudes even after she’s seen REALLY SCARY STUFF relating to them. Like… I would have run far away at some of the things that happen based around the new boys in town: Not gone running to them. Maybe that’s just me…? I just found her reactions so weird and at a couple of points I just wanted to yell, because seriously, stop swooning for a sec and look PROPERLY at these dudes.

Anyhow, minus some of Sophie’s actions which confused me: I did really enjoy the story. It had the perfect setting, and everything was revealed in really clever ways. There were lots of unpredictable moments and I was up all night finishing Vendetta. The story has that chilling, foreshadow-y feeling throughout and the story spiralled very quickly into a dark and violent crime story. The new family that move in, including the five mysterious new brothers, were so interesting to read about. The story made time to build a great back-story for each one of them, which was brilliant; while maintaining a good enough pace to keep me engrossed.

Overall, I am very mixed about some bits of the book, but in general it was an enjoyable book and an exceptional début. I finished it thinking, whoa. I adored Catherine Doyle’s writing, and I would love to read more by her in the future. Some things were left unsolved in Vendetta, which I know will be explored more in the next two books (Vendetta is the first in a trilogy). I think I will carry on with the trilogy, as I’m just very interested to see what direction Doyle will take her daring, action-packed story in.

My Rating:

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

The Maze Runner Blog Tour: SIGNED BOOK GIVEAWAY

Martyn Pig stg2One day to go! It’s the 9th of October – Which means that tomorrow The Maze Runner is officially released in the UK! Today’s blog post is an exciting blog tour one, celebrating the movie’s release.

I read The Maze Runner at the beginning of 2013, and I loved every fast-paced, thrilling second of it. It was such a great book! I loved the mysterious world of the Glade – it interested and terrified me (as did the rest of the trilogy later on in the year…). The main thing I loved about the book, though, was all of the characters. Thomas was such a great protagonist, and I loved reading about the Lord of the Flies-esque community of Gladers too. You can read my review from last year by clicking here.

I can’t wait to see the book brought to life on the big screen. I’m a little nervous because so many YA novels are being adapted – but I’m a big Teen Wolf fan and love Dylan O’Brien’s acting in that… I think he’ll make a brilliant Thomas!:D View the trailer for the movie by clicking here, if you haven’t seen it yet! It looks awesome and the Glade is exactly the way I imagined it when I read it.

 

Giveaway time!!

The Bibliomaniac Book Blog is teaming up with Chicken House books for this giveaway –  and it’s a pretty exciting one! You can win a classic copy of The Maze Runner, SIGNED by James Dashner, the author. Enter using as many methods as you like from the rafflecopter menu below & good luck! AS I can’t get the widget working on my blog, click on the hyperlink below to go to the giveaway page.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms / Conditions / etc etc

-This giveaway closes at midnight on the 19th of October: You have ten days to enter as many times as you like!:)

-I will tweet or facebook the winner of the giveaway a few days after the competition ends.

-I, the blogger, will NOT be sending out the book. I will pass postage details from the winner onto the publisher, Chicken House Books, who will post the prize.

-I’ll have to privately message the winner for their address (obvs:P) but as soon as I’ve passed the details onto the publisher I’ll delete them.

Good luck, and enjoy the book and movie!:)

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.