Book Review: There’s Someone Inside Your House (Stephanie Perkins)

* I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review *

Publisher: Pan Macmillan

Pages: 320

Release Date: October 5th 2017

Summary (from Goodreads):

One-by-one, the students of Osborne High are dying in a series of gruesome murders, each with increasing and grotesque flair. As the terror grows closer and the hunt intensifies for the killer, the dark secrets among them must finally be confronted.

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Book Review: The Loneliest Girl in the Universe (Lauren James)

* I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review *

Publisher: Walker Books

Pages: 290

Release Date: September 7th 2017

Summary (from Goodreads):

Can you fall in love with someone you’ve never met, never even spoken to – someone who is light years away?

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 . . .

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Book Review: 13 Minutes (Sarah Pinborough)

* I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review *

Publisher: Gollancz

Pages: 320

Release Date: July 14th 2016

Summary (from Goodreads):

I was dead for 13 minutes.

I don’t remember how I ended up in the icy water but I do know this – it wasn’t an accident and I wasn’t suicidal.

They say you should keep your friends close and your enemies closer, but when you’re a teenage girl, it’s hard to tell them apart. My friends love me, I’m sure of it. But that doesn’t mean they didn’t try to kill me. Does it?

Review:

This was one wild ride of a book that kept fooling me with each little red herring it threw.

I have to say, I got off to a rocky start with this one. It didn’t grab me from the beginning but I’m glad I persevered as it turned out to be amazing.

Sixth form student Natasha is found face down in a river and is technically dead for 13 minutes before being found and revived. Her best friends are acting suspicious and, with the help of an old friend, Natasha tries to find out what led her to her death.

The story is told in a really clever way so you don’t see the ending coming. It’s misleading at times and part way through I began to wonder what narration I could trust and what was leading me up the garden path. There are several different points of view in the book: first person from Natasha, third person POVs from her ex best friend Becca and Jamie, the man who found her in the woods, as well as transcripts from counselling sessions, extracts from Natasha’s diary, and texts between her best friends Hayley and Jenny. The story is pieced together in a way that worked brilliantly for building tension and mystery.

The characters in this book were all brilliantly thought out and well rounded. I enjoyed the narrative from Becca’s POV, although I sometimes disliked her personality: her naivety and jealousy regarding her boyfriend felt really childish and annoying – the kind of girl I’d avoid to be honest – but you have to love a character with flaws. I really loved Natasha: she was very clever in everything she did and the way her character evolved took me by surprise.

This is a thrilling story with lots of twists and turns that throw up something new each time. Whenever I thought I had the book sussed, something else came along and it turned out I was wrong – I really enjoyed this as I’ve been guessing twists in books a lot lately, so it’s good to read something that could surprise me! I think this book will appeal to adults as well as young adults as it’s so well crafted and clever. I really recommend this if you’re looking for something to keep you on your toes.

4

Book Review: In the Dark, In the Woods (Eliza Waas)

* I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review *

Publisher: Quercus Children’s Books

Pages: 304

Release Date: April 21st 2016

Summary (from Goodreads):

The woods were insane in the dark, terrifying and magical at the same time. But best of all were the stars, which trumpeted their light into the misty dark.

Castella Cresswell and her five siblings—Hannan, Caspar, Mortimer, Delvive, and Jerusalem—know what it’s like to be different. For years, their world has been confined to their ramshackle family home deep in the woods of upstate New York. They abide by the strict rule of God, whose messages come directly from their father.

Slowly, Castley and her siblings start to test the boundaries of the laws that bind them. But, at school, they’re still the freaks they’ve always been to the outside world. Marked by their plain clothing. Unexplained bruising. Utter isolation from their classmates. That is, until Castley is forced to partner with the totally irritating, totally normal George Gray, who offers her a glimpse of a life filled with freedom and choice.

Castley’s world rapidly expands beyond the woods she knows so well and the beliefs she once thought were the only truths. There is a future waiting for her if she can escape her father’s grasp, but Castley refuses to leave her siblings behind. Just as she begins to form a plan, her father makes a chilling announcement: the Cresswells will soon return to their home in heaven. With time running out on all of their lives, Castley must expose the depth of her father’s lies. The forest has buried the truth in darkness for far too long. Castley might be their last hope for salvation.

Review:

Wow. This book was just awesome.

It’s been a while since I haven’t been able to put a book down, but this was definitely one of them. I read it as an eARC on my phone, which I tend to read while feeding Little Moore, and I found myself looking forward to each feed just so I could get stuck back into it!

After enjoying Seed by Lisa Heathfield last year, I was really looking forward to another book featuring a religious cult, and this did not disappoint.

We see the story from Castley Cresswell’s point of view, a young girl with a father who speaks the word of God. She and her siblings are isolated from everyone else, and have only recently started going to high school after being found out by the authorities. Their fathers rules the home, using the fear of God to manipulate and control the siblings.

Castley has been raised to believe her and her siblings are destined to marry each other and live in heaven, and that everything to do with modern life and the outside world are sin, but now she slowly begins to question these beliefs, and the words of her father.

I liked the gradual realisation that happened within Castley – it made the story more credible than if she’d just decided sudden;y to disregard everything she’s been taught her whole life. It must be hard to question these things when you’ve known nothing else, but as she makes a friend in school, a new world of possibilities is opened up to her. After learning that the author was raised in a very strict religion herself, you can see why she wanted to tell this story, and I think her personal feelings of isolation really come through in Castley.

This is a really chilling read with plenty of page turning moments that meant I never wanted to put it down. The ending is tense and, while it resolves itself well, I really just want to read on with the Cresswell’s story, as I love the siblings so much (especially Caspar – I can see why Castley wants to protect him so much!) I’d love it if Waas continued this story, but I think I’d also read just about anything from her now.

4

Book Review: Pretty Is (Maggie Mitchell)

* I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review *

Publisher: Orion

Pages: 320

Release Date: April 21st 2016

Summary (from Goodreads):

Everyone thought we were dead. What else could they think?

One summer, nearly twenty years ago, two twelve year olds were abducted and kept captive in the forest.

There they formed a bond that could never be broken.

What really happened in the woods that summer?

Review:

The thing I really loved about this book is probably the thing most people are going to complain about – but I loved the simplicity of it. Two young girls are kidnapped and spend a summer with a strange man. He doesn’t beat them or abuse them in anyway, and when they are found they go back to their normal lives.

I did expect it to reveal eventually that he had done something unspeakable to them, and I’ll admit a dark part of me kind of wanted that, just to spice things up a bit, but that’s not the twist the book takes. While there are some thriller elements, I’d say this is more of a psychological book, as we see the effect of what happened to the girls, however un-dramatic it may seem compared to what could have happened.

Carly and Louis are adults with separate lives, although you know they are destined to meet up during the book at some point. I was waiting for that and had to be pretty patient – it didn’t happen until the very end, and there wasn’t nearly the dramatic reunion that you might expect. Still, it’s a really interesting story, and I loved seeing the way the strange events of that summer affected the two girls in different ways.

The book is split into sections, one of which is taken from the novel Lois writes about that summer. This was probably the bit I was most excited for, and again, nothing too dramatic really happened, but it was just fascinating to see how the events played out and what they felt as they spent the weeks in a cabin with a rather odd man. I did find the writing style there a bit jarring, as it seemed to jump between different people’s points of view at times – I didn’t know if this was the book trying to say Lois wasn’t that great a novelist, or if it was just the way the author wanted it.

If you’re into action and adventure and a dramatic flair then this book probably isn’t for you – what I loved about it was how understated it felt. You really get to know the characters in great, ugly detail (they’re not always flattering to themselves, but it makes them real people) and it makes you think about a traumatic event like this through the eyes of two survivors, rather than the sensationalised media. It feels so truthful it could easily be based on a true story, and I’d really recommend giving it a read.

4

Book Review: White Lies (Zoe Markham)

* I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review *

Publisher: Carina

Release Date: January 18th 2016

Summary (from Goodreads):

Everybody hurts

For Abigail, a new school could be the fresh start she so desperately needs. With her parents in the army and her sister Beth too far away to run to, she knows this year needs to be different. She’s never been part of the cool crowd and for the first time Abby wants to fit in. And all it takes is just one little white lie…because some truths are too painful to share.

Everybody lies

But at Cotswold Community College, Abby isn’t the only one with a past she’d rather forget. And when she stumbles across a closely-guarded secret, Abigail realises that her one little white lie could reveal everything she’s worked so hard to hide…

Review:

This book was a really easy and quick read – I got through it in a day, mostly because I just didn’t want to put it down and couldn’t wait to find out what was happening.

I’ll come out straight away and say I guessed one of the main plot twists, though the book did it’s best to fool me into thinking I was wrong. It didn’t bother me though, as there were so many other surprises along the way, I was never quite sure where it was going to go.

Abigail is a character you can really sympathise with – at boarding school for the first time, a new girl for the nth time, worried about her parents who are in the army and with some mysterious secret about a boy named Jase… you have to feel for her, especially when it all starts going wrong.

I loved that Abby started off by fitting in quite well, even if it didn’t last long. I was all braced for a classic high school story of immediately hating the outsider, but she was welcomed in initially, if a little awkwardly. It’s only when she puts her foot in it that things start to go desperately wrong – cue more sympathy for poor Abby.

Scarlett, Abby’s nemesis if you will, is a real worthy opponent and not one I’d like to be up against. Not only is she the beautiful, popular girl, she’s also smart, manipulative, loved by all and going through some tough times herself which gives her a free pass to do whatever she wants, according to the teachers anyway. It’s not hard for her to make Abby’s life hell, but boy does she go for it.

I don’t want to spoil things so I won’t say too much about the climax, but things spiral out of control really quickly for Abby, so fast that I had to take a step back and slow down my reading a bit just so I could get a grip.

This is a mystery story with some hints of horror that really plays with your mind, especially when you think you’ve got it all figured out. It sets you on edge and makes you really question what is going on – if you’re a fan of the Red Eye series or just general horror/thriller books then this one’s for you!

4