Thursday, 29 September 2016

Book Review: Dancing in the Rain by Lynn Joseph

Read: September 27-28  Verdict: 4 Stars

I received a free digital copy from the author/publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest feedback.

This middle-grade book is set during the events of the September 11 attacks in New York and focuses on two different families and how they deal with the effect the attacks have on their families.

Elizabeth’s father and Brandt and Jared’s mother both work in the attacks and they end up meeting together in the Dominican Republic and realising they can help each other heal their families. This book is whimsical and a bit magical in places with dreamy writing and a childlike optimism that really seems to beam from the pages. I really enjoyed it. It was avery quick read and I read it in two short sittings but I was really invested in the story and I really connected with Elizabeth and Brandt in particular and just how lovely they were. I really wanted to hug them. Brandt’s reactions to his mom and brother Jared (who appears to be slightly on the autistic spectrum possibly) was really wonderful and it made me think of all the things children can probably see and understand around them that adults can’t.

I really loved the very last scene in the book. It really came alive for me and I actually felt a bit emotional at imagining everyone together, and beginning to heal and realising there were so many things life had to offer when you’re able to look past that grief. This book is about loss, grief, companionship and support and it’s really lovely and I definitely recommend it to everyone to read.

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Book Review: Something in Between by Melissa De La Cruz

Read: September 22-24  Verdict: 4.5 Stars

Jasmine De Los Santos is the All-American girl. She’s cheer captain, a shoe-in for valedictorian and a top-class student who has just won the prestigious National Scholar award but then Jasmine’s world crumbles when she finds out she is undocumented.

“I love my country. I love America. Being American is as much a part of me as breathing.”
This was a really great book and really gave me a look into the struggles and fears of being being an undocumented immigrant in the States, or indeed in any country in the world. Jasmine is perfect - almost too perfect. She is cheer captain, valedictorian, popular, beautiful, really, really clever but she definitely goes through a momentous journey of self-discovery once she finds out she’s an “illegal alien”. Jasmine’s identity crumbles and we are really with her along the way as she has to pick up piece by piece of herself and figure out who she is now.

“'I don’t even know who I am anymore.’I really don’t. I feel like a ghost in my own country. No matter what I do, I feel like I’m fading, like I’m becoming a shadow.”
I liked Jasmine’s strong roots with her Filipino background and family. A lot of her experiences with her family seem very close to what I would expect of families from different cultures. She’s encouraged to be American and strive for the American dream but she still needs to be a good Filipino girl who doesn’t go to parties and kiss boys, etc. She loves the Philippines and misses her family vacations to Manila. But that doesn’t mean she wants to live there. Jasmine is torn in a lot of way, she’s not Filipino, but suddenly she’s not American either. Who is she?

I really loved Jasmine’s relationship with Royce. I liked that it was going all sorts of ways at first because it was a text communication and it felt very real. They were just so super cute and I really enjoyed all of their best moments and when they weren’t at their best, I wanted them to make-up. I like that,because this book spans almost an entire year, we see a lot of the ups and downs of their very real relationships. They fight with each other and almost break up a few times over silly things like everyone has done with their partner but eventually they both come around, meet up and apologise They actually talked a lot of stuff out with each other all the time which was refreshing for a YA romance where we normally see things being bottled up for way too long. Their romance just seemed like the real deal to me - plus, I can totally see them being a power couple when they’re older.

“Most of all, I like how he looks into my eyes like he’s seeing past the image everyone else sees into who I really am beyond all the things that I do. And he thinks I’m beautiful.”
I do think this book got a little bit long-winded at times and there were times I wanted Jasmine to stop waffling on and get to the point of things or let me know what was going on with the stuff that was actually important to the plot of the story. This story does take place over the course of the year so a lot of stuff happens, I just don’t think Jasmine needed to describe every single thing. I also wasn’t mad for the side-plot that was Mason. It was a bit predictive and boring, and there were parts I didn’t think made that much sense about him.

Overall I really enjoyed this book. I loved the story but I also enjoyed that it was a diverse book that opened my eyes into how some things around undocumented immigrants are handled in the States and how unfair some of the cases can be. i also liked the brief forays in the Filipino traditions and food, etc that Jasmine’s family indulged in.

“I’ve come to think of America as an open window - open to new possibilities, to the new life promised to those who journey from far away to reach its shores."

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Book Review: Iron Cast by Destiny Soria

Read: September 7-8  Verdict: 4.5 Stars

I received a free digital copy from the author/publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest feedback. 

Ada and Corianne are living in Boston in 1919 and are extremely skilled hemopaths. Hemopathy is a form of magic where the people with the power of hemopathy can create illusions through art whether it be a wordsmith, a songsmith or an artist. The Hemopathy Protection Agency (HPA) is closing in on Ada and Corianne’s tails and they are at risk at being thrown into an asylum and losing everything and everyone they love.

I loved this - the setting, the AMAZING female friendships, the magic system. It was great. At the start of the book, I felt like as a reader i had been thrown into the quick of it and it took me a while to really gather the details of the story around me and get into it but soon it wasn’t long before I was devouring each chapter.

Ada and Corinne are amazing characters - strong in themselves, their powers, their opinions. They’ve been allowed blossom into amazing women by their protector Johnny Dervish who looks after them by running a club where hemopaths perform. The brief romances the girls have are very much in the background and the main relationship focused on in the book is the girl’s friendship which I loved.This book contains characters of colour and different sexuality and no fuss is made of either (except some of the racism Ada experiences as a black woman in 1919 America).

The story was engaging and really kept me on my toes as the girls showed more of their powers (I really loved their way of practising their illusions against each other as a game) and then as they tried to solve the mystery of the asylum’s basement. There were twists and turns, especially in the second half and it left me gasping and not knowing what would come next. 

And can I say how beautiful it is that at someone's last moments, Corianne has the power to send them anywhere in the world for their dying breath. So emotional and beautiful

I really loved the end, and I hope this isn’t the last of Ada and Corinne cause I'd love more.

Friday, 19 August 2016

Book Review: Burnt Paper Sky/What She Knew by Gilly MacMillan

Read: 18-29 August   Verdict: 5 Stars

I received a free digital copy from the author/publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest feedback.

Rachel’s 8-year-old son Ben is missing. One moment he was with her, the next he ran around the corner and vanished. Now Rachel is trying to hold it together while the police desperately try to find him before it’s too late. This has also been published under the title What She Knew.

This book was absolutely excellent and I just couldn’t put it down! I read the majority of it in more or less one sitting. I was immediately sucked into the story - the pain and anguish pouring out of the words from Rachel’s POV - was agonising yet addictive to read. I felt her pain as a mother who didn’t know where her son was was done really well - the range of emotions, the desperation, the media’s vilification of her for her reactions. All done great.

Burnt Paper Sky is highly descriptive and at first I thought it might be too much but then after a couple of chapters it began working really well. I feel like i got a good feel of Rachel and the other POV in the book - the detective James ‘Jim’ Clemo. Clemo’s chapters really wrapped up the police investigation for me, seeing how they were pursuing leads and filling in what Rachel couldn’t tell the readers. His back and forth storyline of how the case affected him was done very well and i think highlighted an important point that different cases can affect different police officers and it’s not just the parents or family who suffered from PTSD, depression or anxiety after such an incident (I think Clemo’s chapters with a therapist also highlight how important it is to talk about your feelings and thoughts as well.)

There was a great point in this book as well in how the media treated Rachel as a single mother who had lost her son. Within a day the media and public had turned on her because she didn’t act like the meek, crying woman they wanted her to be. She showed anger and appeared a bit unstable (all understandable really given the situation) and suddenly she was acting oddly while the crying father who had walked away from his wife and son for another woman was shown in a good light. I think it highlighted the gap in how media sometimes treats women versus men very well. And it also highlighted how social media today and comments under articles affect people in the middle of the story and how hard it is to get away from them.

I was a bit surprised by the outcome but not too surprised as it’s the type of story that really makes you suspect everyone! I was hooked and couldn’t put it down. Fantastic read.

Monday, 11 July 2016

Book Review and Author Q&A: The Salt Marsh by Clare Carson

Read:July 5-7    Verdict: 3 Stars

Sam Coyle’s father was an undercover cop and her whole life he taught her to be wary of everyone and everything. Now her father is dead and Sam is having a hard time getting over it. Then Sam’s boyfriend disappears, she gets strange messages on her answering machine and it appears like someone is after her. Sam ends up on a mission to find out what’s going on and just might end up leaving a trail of bodies in her wake.

This is a suspenseful mystery novel that manages to tie in the fear of nuclear disaster with family ties and legacy as one woman figures out who she is and if she really is her father’ daughter. Sam is a thoughtful, mature character who despite only being 20, seems to be able to look after herself and doesn’t hesitate to get things done. There were times she could be a bit hasty in going and leaving places but that was okay in the end. I enjoyed getting glimpses of her relationships with the men in her life - her dad, Luke, Dave and eventually even Sonny, and how they all ended up shaping her a little bit and helping her. This book definitely had me suspecting everyone all the time though I wasn’t that surprised at the conclusion.

The book’s plot around the nuclear power plants and protests went a bit over my head as it’s set in the 80s and I wasn’t even born yet so I don’t have a really clear idea of the time when people were protesting Sellafield and Chernobyl was still a clear memory for everyone. It was definitely interesting and it set the scene a lot. There were times I forgot the book was set in the 80s as it was a bit timeless like that and I’d only remember when she checked the answering machine at her house.

I really loved Sonny and thought he was a mysterious, anti-hero character. He was dark and handsome but he was also ruthless. Yet, he showed remorse for the things he’d done from crying after he finished ‘a job’, to his renewed faith and the crosses on his arms for his victims. I think I would have liked more flashbacks or something with Sam’s previous history with Sonny and how it all went down with her dad. I’m very surprised we didn’t get an actual flashback of that day.

Overall, this was tense and suspenseful with also a hint of the supernatural about it. Sam is a bit obsessed with witches and witchcraft and some of her interactions with people definitely left me feeling a bit spooked. Everything tied in nicely at the end and I enjoyed it.

Q&A with author Clare Carson

1. What inspired the idea of this book?

This is the second book I’ve written about Sam, the daughter of a police spy. Orkney Twilight, the first book dealt with Sam finding out about her father’s work. It was partly inspired by my own childhood – my dad was an undercover policeman - as well as my love of spy thrillers. The Salt Marsh comes from the same sources of inspiration – but in this book, Sam has to deal with the legacy of her father’s enemies.

2. Crime/mystery novels often have complex plots and a lot of little things that lead into big reveals. Did it take you long to map out how everything would come together?

I spent a week or so mapping out the plot – but I changed it as I went along. And then I changed things around again when other people read it and gave me helpful feedback. Working out what goes where and when to reveal details is one of the hardest things, I find, about writing a crime/mystery. I definitely need somebody else to read my draft with a fresh pair of eyes to help get it right.
3. The Salt Marsh is set in the backdrop of people protesting the nuclear power plants in the 80s. Was the small power movements around the nuclear power plants, such as the protests planned by Sam and Luke, something you wanted to educate your readers on?
I write about things that interest me and I like characters – particularly women - and plots that have one foot in relationships and one foot in politics. They are easier to find on TV than in contemporary crime/thriller fiction: the German TV show Deutschland 83 - about the son of a Stasi spy and German peace movements - was great. I also loved Grace, the police spy’s daughter, in Peaky Blinders. Sam is a similar character – the daughter of a police spy, she is pulled in different directions by her politics and her personal loyalties. The Salt Marsh is set in 1986. Protest movements around nuclear power and weapons were a big part of the eighties, so those issues were a good entry point for the story. I do think, though, that the people’s power politics of the eighties and the issues around nuclear power and safety have a lot of resonance with the politics of today – so I hope readers find it interesting and can relate to it.

4. There's a feel of the supernatural in this book with mentions of witches, light and dark magic and crow dancers. What made you decide to add this to the book and give Sam 'a witch's mark' in the form of her birth mark?

I like to weave mythology and magic in my plots because, as Sam discovers, in the world of spying it’s almost impossible to tell the difference between fact and fiction. The idea for the witch’s mark came from a book called Daemonologie which was written by King James 1 in 1597. He writes that you can tell a witch by her mark, and when you find the mark, burn the witch. Sam is worried that she has inherited her father’s sins and enemies – so the birthmark seemed like a good way of conveying those fears.

5. Sonny is an intriguing character. He's dark and handsome but also a killer. How was it developing his character and turning him into a partner in crime in a way for Sam.
I like difficult characters from tough backgrounds who are trying to make sense of their own history. They are interesting to write. During the eighties and early nineties I met quite a few men who were damaged by their part in the fight against the racist apartheid regime in South Africa: deserters from the brutal South African army who didn’t want to fight for apartheid, and African National Congress exiles who had been traumatized fighting against the apartheid government. The character of Sonny draws on these people in different ways. So it was interesting for me to build Sonny’s story, show both his strengths and his flaws, and explore his relationship with Sam.

Monday, 6 June 2016

Book Review: The Girls by Emma Cline

Read: June 4-6   Verdict:4 Stars
Published on: June 14th 2016

I received a free digital copy from the author/publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest feedback.

It's the summer of 1969 and 14-year-old Evie Boyd is about to go through a troublesome transition from teenage child to young woman. Dreading the introduction of boarding school, bored with her best friend, Evie becomes enamoured with a group of young women who seem confident and carefree. Soon Evie is sucked into their world and falls under the control of an older man called Russell. Based on the Charles Manson/Manson Family murders, this is a story of growing up, exploring yourself and the dangers of seduction.

I enjoyed this more than I thought I would. I found young Evie's voice very easy to read and I read the story a lot quicker than I thought I would. I really got sucked into Evie's tales of The Ranch and how she she was looked after by Russell and Suzanne. The storytelling was so vivid and I really felt like i was there with Evie through everything.Evie was going through a transition - noticing the older boys around her, exploring her own body with both sexual acts and drug use and realising what it was like to be a girl in the world. 

"That was part of being a girl - you were resigned to whatever feedback you'd get. If you get mad, you were crazy, and if you didn't react, you were a bitch. The only thing you could was smile from the corner they'd backed you into. Implicate yourself in the joke even if the joke was always on you."

This novel is loosely based on the Manson Family murders, which I believe also happened in 1969 and about a commune or family that were all under the control of a man called Charles Manson. I found Russell in this to be very scary but at the same time I could see how he could gather young girls into his arms and brainwash them into staying and cherishing him. His character was very well-developed and even though he didn't actually appear in a lot of scenes himself, it still felt like he was there.

"They didn't have very far to fall - I knew just being a girl in the world handicapped your ability to believe yourself."

Evie's sexuality and her foray into her sexuality was interesting to follow. I would come to the conclusion that she was bisexual considering her feelings towards Pete but then the stronger ones with Suzanne. But she also did live with a man afterwards though at times, I felt a sexual chemistry between older Evie and Sasha. There is a lot of drug use and some graphic sex scenes in this so warning to anyone who doesn't like this kind of stuff. I thought it was written well though and was vivid without being too vulgar.

The only real problem I had with the book was older Evie's POV. I felt like it took away at times from the story. I would have preferred to stay in '69 rather than jump forward 20 years and see Evie look on at Julian and Sasha. I do feel like Cline was trying to show a parallel between Russell and his girls and the way Julian acted with Sasha - a casual control and an edge of cruelty. There wasn't a whole lot separating them yet Evie couldn't do anything to save Sasha, much like she couldn't do anything to save Suzanne from Russell's influence.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Book Review: Tales From the Kingdom by Sarah Pinborough

Read: May 24-26  Verdict: 4 Stars

Tales From the Kingdom is a set of three 200-300 page retellings of Snow White, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. Let’s just call it the overall idea of Disney, with a terrifying touch of Grimms Fairy Tales and the drama and spice of Once Upon a Time. i felt like all the stories had a really great mix of the idea of ‘happily ever after’ with the stark realities of real life and the idea of monsters hiding in the closet. There was some romance, lust, sex as well as friendship, danger and lunacy. 

I think my overall favourite of the three was Charm which was Cinderella’s retelling. Cinderella was a complex character with ideas above her station and she wasn’t a simpering, charming girl the way I always thought to be. She had unkind thoughts as well as kind and was a bit selfish in ways her step-sisters were not. That brings me to Cinderella’s family and the backstory of her family which was great. There was a real history there that I loved and I really liked that the step-mother and step-sister weren’t these ugly and wicked people like they’re always portrayed. Cinderella’s character development was the best out of all the characters in the tales (frankly I feel like the Prince learnt absolutely nothing but thank goodness he married someone who could give him the kick up the bum he would need now and again) and I really saw her grow from a selfish girl with selfish ideals into a young woman with a better idea of the world and that sometimes dreams should stay as dreams.

I really loved the inclusion of other fairytales within the three tales such as the mention of the gingerbread house, Hansel and Gretel, Red Riding Hood, Beauty and the Beast, Robin Hood and even Rapunzel. They were all wrapped up as part of the story really well and I enjoyed the subtle way they were connected.

I would definitely recommend reading the three tales one after another as they read as one big book with three different parts and they are all connected to each other in a way that may be confusing if you read them out of order. 

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Book Review: The Good Goodbye by Carla Buckley

Read: May 17-18   Verdict: 4 Stars

I received a free digital copy from the author/publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest feedback.

The Good Goodbye is a dramatic and suspenseful novel about two girls and a family full of secrets. Arden and Rory Falcone are cousins and best friends, born only four months apart. They have been together their whole lives but when a fire breaks out in their dorm room leaving the girls in critical condition and another student dead, Arden and Rory's parents end up with a lot of questions and wonder if they ever even knew their daughters at all.

This ended up being way better than I thought it would be. I wasn't expecting anything bad but I definitely got a lot more sucked in than I originally thought I would be. The family dynamic in this book alone is something that gripped me and figuring out how everyone was related and the history between everyone, the secrets, the romances. Arden and Rory are both complex characters who are hiding things and everything comes to light really slowly in a great way over the novel and through flashbacks. The girls were definitely not as perfect as they originally appeared to be, Rory not as pristine and Arden not quite as innocent and I really enjoyed reading along to figure out why they were the way they were.

I really love how little tidbits were given here and there among the story that really made me o "whatttt!" in shock and just really made it hard to put down the book. There's definitely a delightful amount of mystery in the book and I seriously suspected everyone from Arden, Rory, Hunter, DD, Gabrielle. No-one was safe!

The timeline could get confusing at times as there was no point where the reader was told we were heading into a flashback, we kind of had to figure it out but other than that the reading was easy, fast and gripping. I really enjoyed the ride.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Book Review: The Girl In 6E by A.R Torre

Read: May 16-17    Verdict: 4 Stars

The Girl in 6E is about a woman called Deanna, who is also known as Jessica by a plethora of online friends - mostly men. Deanna has locked herself into her apartment for three years...because she has an uncontrollable urge to kill people. She makes her money as a sex cam girl but when a little girl goes missing, Deanna believes one of her clients may be behind it and she goes out to save the day, and possibly kill while doing so.

This ended up being a pretty enjoyable book though I would say for anyone looking for really gory, disturbing scenes of murder or crime, there's not much in this one. Surprisingly for me, Deanna ended up being an extremely likable character. Despite her urges to kill people, she's actually a pretty decent human being. She goes out of her way to avoid being in situations where she could end up hurting others, she deals with disturbed individuals like 'Ralph' to make sure he doesn't transfer his fantasies to another living person who could get hurt and she strikes up genuine friendships with people like Mike and Paul. She also warns clients on different occasions about being taken advantage of by other sex cam girls. So yeah, I actually ended up warming a lot to her.

There's a lot of graphic sexual content in this book because of Deanna's job and her interaction with clients so if anyone doesn't like reading that kind of stuff, maybe stay clear of this one. I'm normally fine with reading such content but even I was blushing a bit at the start and attempting to hide my pages from other people on the train in case they saw what I was reading. I do think there may have been a few times where there was explicit content just to have it for shock value, rather than it benefiting the plot of the story.

In a way, Deanna really takes control of her situation and confronts her mental illness. She accepts that it's there and that she needs to take control of it, or at least make sure it doesn't control her. While locking herself up the way she does may not be the healthiest option in terms of mental health, the fact that she acknowledged the problem, rather than ignoring it was refreshing.

I do think there were some unrealistic bits when it came to Deanna's eventual showdown with you know who but overall, I was enjoying the book too much to care. This was a fast and thrilling read and I can't wait to pick up more.

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Book Review: The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman

Read: April 30 - May 1 Verdict: 4.5 Stars

The Museum of Extraordinary Things tells the dual tale of Coralie and Eddie. Coralie's father owns The Museum of Extraordinary Things, located near the historical Dreamland amusement park on Coney Island, Brooklyn, in 1911. Coralie was born with webbed fingers and has to pose as 'human mermaid' in the museum. Eddie is running away from an Orthodox Jewish lifestyle and is a photographer. Coralie and Eddie's lives become intertwined the same year as the Shirtwaist Factory Fire and the Dreamland Fire.

It took me a while to get into this book but once I did it was beautiful. The story is told perfectly in between these two major historical fires in New York in the same year and I really love how the fires symbolised something big in the character's lives (the factory fire was the start of Eddie's journey finding Hannah and, in a way, coming back to himself. The Dreamland fire was an escape for both Eddie and Coralie.) There was a real sense of magic in the ordinary in this writing, and the imagery and words were just beautiful. I loved how Coralie and Eddie's story came together. I love how they were struck dumb with love by each other the moment they saw each other (at different times) and I think this story proves that the concept of insta-love is believable and enjoyable when it's done well.

There was a perfect sense of atmosphere in this book. The amusement park on and off seasons, the build up of Dreamland and the tensions it caused the Professor. I loved Eddie's descriptions of the Yiddish community he grew up in and how he wandered back from time to time. It was a 1900's New York I haven't seen a lot of before in books and I loved it. I think people who know and have grown up in New York would love this book and there is a sense of history that's really interesting, even for someone like me who has never been.

I think this book would be perfect for fans of The Night Circus. It doesn't have the real magic like The Night Circus but there's something about it that has the same spark and feeling.

Book Review: Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson

Read: April 28-30   Verdict: 5 Stars

Tiger Lily is a retelling of Peter Pan, told through the eyes of Tinkerbell but focusing on the life of Tiger Lily, the girl who knew Peter before Wendy. Tiger Lily is a strong, independent spirit and her tale is one that really strikes you in the heart.

"I am only a faerie. I don't have grand ideas, or grand dreams, or long for grand freedoms like people do. But I wanted to be part of their dreams too, even if I was only a flea riding on their tails."

I loved this. The imaginings of the different tribes on Neverland, Tick Tok and his beautiful hair and dress, Pine Sap and his bird calls, Tiger Lily and her spirit and Peter Pan and his Lost Boys. This was a great reimagining of Neverland as an unexplored island somewhere in the Atlantic, somewhere where everyone stops ageing at some point on their lives. I really loved Tinkerbell's voice throughout and how she was more tiger Lily's fairy that Peter's but that she loved Peter in her own special way.

"How can I describe Peter's face, the pieces of him that stick to my heart? Peter sometimes looked aloof and distant; sometimes his face was open and soft as a bruise."

There were some cute and lovely fairy moments from Tink, like the way she was stuck if she dropped in water, fairy bites being more painful than wasp stings and of course just general fairy thoughts.

"I was carrying a raindrop to keep in a little hole in the wood, so I could drink from it at my leisure. But each raindrop I lifted kept falling apart. Water is so delicate."

There was some beautiful moments in this book and at times the language and the style of writing blew me away, There were some mature moments in the book that oen wouldn't normally associate with Peter Pan, such as Smee's obsessions, Peter's kisses and Giant's stalking of Moon Eyes.

There were times that Peter was explained so Pan like, it was just magical and wonderful and so the Peter Pan we all love.

"Maybe the way he seemed to vibrate made her stillness seem less glaring, and Peter seemed calmer."

I always love the Lost Boys in stories. Boys who secretly want to be taken care of yet at the same time they're independent and wild, almost feral in their ferociousness to be themselves. Throughout Tiger Lily, there was a tinge of loneliness from every character. Peter, the Lost Boys, Tick Tok, even Captain Hook.

"Finally, Nibs took Tootles's hand and they slow-danced, each leaning against the other, like rag dolls. The twins soon did the same. It was proof of their loneliness for other people that they were willing to lean on each other so much."

There are some powerful moments in this book about Tick Tok in particular and, what I can only call, his gender fluidity and how it was so accepted at first but was then whispered about and shunned when a stranger came and began to make it bad thing. There was something about Tick Tok that really touched me and I think his story in particular is one of the strongest points in this book.

This just a beautiful book, filled with beautiful words. I highly recommend to anyone who loves a Peter Pan retelling, or anything to do with magic, belonging and finding someone to fit in with.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Book Review: Spelled by Betsy Schow

Read: April 26-27     Verdict: 3.75 Stars

I received a free digital copy from the author/publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest feedback.

Spelled is a whirlwind, fun and whimsical ride into the land of fairytales and fairytale princesses where the Emerald princess is Dorothea. Because of a curse laid upon her family a long time ago that threatens that an Emerald princess could turn evil, none of them are allowed to live their castle...ever. And Dorothea is sick of it. After a disastrous ball including a stalker magician, a weird munchkin girl and the announcement she's getting married to some handsome but annoying stranger, Dorothea makes a wish and it comes true. Now everything is upside down and Dorothea, her fiance-turned-hairy beast and a sulking servant girl have to try and fix it.

This was just a lot of fun. The kind of book that you can read really quickly and serves you up some quick bursts of laughter throughout. There were so many clever things put into this book that were reminiscent of our real life such as the Castle Shopping Network, the storage cloud (real clouds in the sky), ebooks (enchanted book) and the band Wrong Direction and their hit single 'My Spell's What Makes You Beautiful'. I'm a sucker for these clever and amusing pieces in fairytale retellings.

Dorothea is not a character you warm up to quickly. She's spoilt and stubborn and cares a lot more about her clothes and shoes than she does for people around her. She mistook her fiance as a gardener on the first occasion she met him and hardly knows any of her servants names. But there's something about her that you have to like. Overall she's plucky and her journey into damsel in distress to butt-kicking flame-haired (literally) princess is great to follow. I also enjoyed her relationship with Kato and how it developed.

I wish there hadn't been quite so much of characters stabbing her in the back but it all made for an interesting read and I can say that overall I was entertained by this book. If anyone loves a good fairytale retelling, give this one a go!

Saturday, 16 April 2016

Book Review: Your Voice Is All I Hear by Leah Scheier

Read: April 15-16   Verdict: 2.5 Stars

I received a free digital copy from the author/publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest feedback.

April is an introvert and her best and only friend just moved schools. April doesn't know what she's going to do until she meets the new boy Jonah. They immediately hit it off and become an item but before long April notices that Jonah is changing. Jonah is diagnosed with schizophrenia and enters a psychiatric facility, with April supporting him the whole time. 

So, I had some expectations for this book and I can't say it met them all. The book's plot sounds really interesting and I've never read a book that focuses on schizophrenia so I was really interested to dive in. There were some emotional bits in this, and overall I think Jonah's struggle with his illness was well-documented, I had some problems with it as well.

1. Insta-love. Jonah and April's relationship seemed to happy VERY quickly. They went to 5-100 in a week and within two weeks she was telling her friend that she thought he loved her. You're fifteen and going out two weeks and haven't even kissed him, jeez!

2. Bullying. There was so much horrible bullying in the school, it was awful to read. At no point did it seem that teachers, even though the teachers were suppose to be excellent in this school, did anything to stop the bullying.

3. General reaction to mental health was really poor and disturbing from Jonah's mother's reaction to the doctor mentioning psychosis to Jonah's dad WHO IS A DOCTOR saying things like "counselling crap" and basically belittling all psychiatric help. Like the boy is talking about mental probes and government spying and you think there's nothing wrong with him and you're going to storm out of a doctor's office, okay then. His first psychiatrist is often treated like the villain as well. She may not have been the best match for Jonah but she was still only doing her job.

4. At one point, April and Jonah's teacher starts discussing Jonah's changes to April and weird things he said in his homework BEFORE discussing anything with Jonah's mother. I really don't think this would ever happen or be allowed. Discussing one student's mental or physical health with another, even if they're his girlfriend, before discussing it with the student's parent would be a big no no in my books.

5. April is really stupid for a lot of this book, lying to Jonah's parents, teachers and counsellors about his behaviour. She is the person he really trusts and talks to and yet she never speaks up about it so they can help him better. And despite knowing his diagnosis, she doesn't really do much research on it.

6. April's attitude towards her best friend is pretty despicable. As soon as Jonah was on the scene, she dropped her best friend like a hot potato and lost any interest in her life. Kris had moved away and made a huge effort to continue seeing April yet April ignored her for most of the time, even before Jonah got really sick. She pretty much broke all the rules of Girl Code.

I did like April's project at the end and the reality she showed her classmates, as well as the statistics. I also loved the fact that she mentioned how people with illnesses such as cancer get the support of the whole community but people with mental illness are often shunned because people are scared of them.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Book Review: The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom

Read: April 2-5  Verdict: 4.5 Stars

There's something about Mitch Albom's writing that is so beautiful and magical, I could just bathe in all the words.

Frankie Presto was once one of the greats and rubbed shoulders with Elvis, Hank Williams, Django Reinhardt and Darlene Love.He was born in the middle of Franco's dictatorship of Spain and found his way through America. The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto starts with the death of Frankie and we make our way to the start of his story, who he was, how he learned to play the guitar like he did and who gifted him the magic strings that turn blue when he changes someone's life with his music.

I think this is a must-read for anyone who loved The Book Thief. Instead of Germany in WW2, we have Spain in the late 1940s. Instead of book-loving Liesel, we have music-loving Francisco. And instead of being told by Death, Frankie's story is told by Music. Yeah, you read that right. Music is a being, an all-seeing entity in this book. It gives a piece of him to newborns to create music during their lives and when they die, it takes it back.

“All humans are musical.
Why else would the Lord give you a beating heart?”

I'm not huge into music but even I was fascinated the way Mitch Albom was able to place Frankie Presto into the time of Elvis and Johnny Cash and weave him into the lives of other famous musicians. Presto meets Django Reinhardt, Hank Williams, Elvis, Darlene Love, Roger McGuin, Lyle Lovett, Tony Bennett over the course of his life and we find out how he rose and fell in the limelight and why he stepped out of it altogether but was never forgotten by fellow artists and fans of great music.

This was such an amazing story of an amazing life, and you would almost believe Presto was a real person in this era. You're almost sad that he wasn't a real person! There were real heartbreaking moments in this one - Francisco looking for Baffa at the factory, when he meets his aunt and screeched 'momma', his lost moments at Woodstock, the last song he sings to Aurora...there are so many wonderful moments that really gripped me.

I'm taking away a .5 of a star just because near the end some of Frankie's actions annoyed me a bit and I was ready for the story to start winding up. But I thoroughly enjoyed this one for the most part and Mitch Albom has proven to be again that he can cast me under a spell with his words. Wonderful.

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Book Review: Tell the Wind and Fire by Sarah Rees Brennan

Read: April 1- 2   Verdict: 4 stars

I received a free digital copy from the author/publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest feedback.

New York City is split into two part. Light and Dark. Light magicians who create magic using light (duh!) and sparkling rings live in the Light section and reign over Dark magicians and Dark citizens who are treated as second-class citizens. Dark magicians receive power through blood and darkness. Lucie was born to in the Dark city but is a Light magician and through certain circumstances earned her freedom into the Light city. Lucie's boyfriend Ethan is the golden child of the city and when one night his life is threatened, Carwyn reveals himself - Ethan's doppelgänger, someone created through dark magic and thought as evil and soulless. As a revolution sparks and people on both sides of New York begin to have their life threatened, Ethan, Carwyn and Lucie have to work together to try and save everyone.

Sarah Rees Brennan is one my favourite authors and I have read The Lynburn Legacy trilogy and The Demon's Lexicon trilogy (and loved them), as well as some other stories she has written. So I knew I had to read this and that I would most likely love it because I love her writing, her plots and her characters. I will admit though, I was a bit apprehensive going into Tell The Wind And Fire, mainly because it's a retelling of A Tale of Two Cities, one of the very few books I have ever DNF'd. It was a classic I just didn't get on with, and a brief excerpt I had read of Tell the Wind and Fire that was shared by Brennan left me a bit confused re the magic system involving 'light' magic and rings.

I'm really pleased that I ended up for the most part loving the tale, though obviously not surprised. Even though I'd read maybe 50% of A Tale of Two Cities (and okay, I skimmed the rest and then looked up the story cause I wanted to know what happened) I could easily see the parallels between the two stories and the parts that Brennan really received inspiration from Dickens' classic. Lucie as a character was pretty interesting as a whole. She's someone who's not so pushed, I guess, into changing things. She's aware of what's going and knows that people in the Dark are not being treated well. As much as it hurts, she's not willing to put herself out there and speak up for fear of her father and the people she loves. While there's a part of me that kind of wants to dislike Lucie and there's times she's a bit bland because of her stance on these things, there's another part of me that respects her as well as she's battling something very hard everyday in keeping control all the time.

There's one part where Lucie mentions how, as a little girl, she was viewed as pure and innocent and was used as a symbol of hope and the 'Golden Thread of the Dark' but then Lucie found her status changing slightly when she grew into a woman's body with womanly curves and her sexuality was suddenly viewed as seducing and a bit mistrustful. There was something about this that resonated with me and I just found it a powerful observation.

"I remembered my changed shape in the white dress. A child, a daughter, could be innocent in a way a woman - a woman with a man - could not be."

I freaking loved Carwyn. If anyone is a fan of the Grisha trilogy and had a bit of a thing for The Darkling, you might love Carwyn. He is something made from darkness, and plays the darkness up by acting as people believe like he has no feelings, no soul and no heart. But now and again, he shows glimpses of goodness. The first time he kissed Lucie, he went to say something before he was cut off. I feel like it could have been romantic. He waited for her outside the bathroom to make sure she was safe. And the concern he showed when Lucie rang him about 'the blood on the wall'. I feel like these are glimpses of something else Carwyn is other than a creature of darkness. 

"I know there is nothing between us and there never could be. But I would do whatever you asked. I would do anything you want. If I had anything worth giving to you, I would give it. If I had anything to sacrifice, I would sacrifice it for you."

Ethan felt rather flat and stale next to him to be honest. And a tad boring. He was just too good and I'm a sucker for a bad boy. I did like one way that Lucie described her feelings for Ethan and how he didn't save her, but he saved her dreams:

"I had never wanted Ethan to save me. But I had always been so grateful to him for saving my dreams, for bringing the hope in me back to life."

I think I would have liked a bit more building. Lucie explains that magic came to NYC and how it then split into two. But what about the rest of the world? Does magic exist there? Do light and dark magicians travel there? Do they live in co-existence with each other or are they also separated? I just had a few questions when it came to those sorts of things and wonderings.

The ending did disappoint me a bit. I feel like there wasn't a proper conclusion for the baddies. It's all fine and dandy for Lucie to say the new enemies would get their comedown but how's that okay for all the people who have already died and their families? And the people who are probably going to continue to die. As far as I can tell, this is a standalone? So, I just felt a bit like, "oh, that's it. They don't get a taste of their own medicine?" And of course, something else about the ending killed me a bit. Damn you Dickens and Brennan for breaking my heart :(

Friday, 1 April 2016

Book Review: Every Heart A Doorway by Seanan Mcguire

Read: April 1   Verdict: 5 Stars

I received a free digital copy from the author/publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest feedback.

Nancy is a teenage girl who is adjusting to having to live in a normal world again after she walked through a door in her cellar and found herself in a magical underworld land. Nancy's parents don't understand why she's different and send her to a special school for children like her. Nancy finds out that all of the students in her new school have been through portals and doors like hers and are trying to find their way back, including her teachers. Just as Nancy starts feeling less alone, disaster strikes and she has a mystery to solve.

I loved this! I knew from the get go that I had to read this short story. It was like an answer to everything I had always wondered. How did Wendy, Michael and John feel about having to live in normal old England without pirates and indians to fight, and fairy dust to help them fly? How did the Pevensies deal with having to grow up all over again, and stop being royalty? This story lets us know all the little things these other characters may have had to deal with in such cases.

This book starts off feeling quite magical but quickly turns into a dark and creepy murder mystery when the students start turning up dead with body parts missing. I definitely did the usual thing, suspecting everyone and fearing for my favourite characters. I did guess who it was in the end but I was totally okay with it. It was very intriguing to see how it all wrapped up.

I love how there were characters of different sexualities like Nancy who is asexual and Kabe who is transsexual. There was a beautiful acceptance among the characters and I loved Nancy's inner monologue about how she felt. It really gave me, as a heterosexual person, an insight into what a person who is asexual feels and must think about things when it comes to romance and relationships in a way I've never experienced before in other books.

This book is just chockablock full of beautiful observations and metaphors. It's magical, and creepy and poignant and a must-read.

Book Review: Stay the Distance by Mara Dabrishus

Read: March 31-April 1  Verdict: 4.5 Stars

I received a free digital copy from the author/publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest feedback.

July lives and breathes horses. She helps out her dad on a daily basis, who works as a trainer in a racing stables. The only problem is getting too attached to horses who may be sold on, and July is currently trying not to fall in love with a chestnut filly called Kali who wasn't made to be a racer. July is also dealing with an absent mom who she hasn't seen in 4 years after she walked out to chase her jockey dreams in another state. Plus, there's also the fact that the stables could be bankrupt and July will lose not just Kali, but all the horses.

I loved this! I would have read it in one sitting easily if I had started it a little bit earlier in the day but this was the perfect kind of horsey read for me to get my teeth into. I love books like this, Stories about people who simply love horses and it's a story that 100% invested in the world of horses and not just halfway there.

It's obvious Mara knows her stuff when it comes to racing but I found I was able to easily follow along with the different terms and races even though I'm not educated in the way of horse racing, and definitely not American horse racing which is seems to be all flat and no jumps. I loved the different people working in the stables but mostly all the horses and how Mara was able to give them all their own unique and beautiful personality - from gentle Diver, working Maggie, tenacious Lighter and the gifted-in-her-own-way Kali.

This book also didn't fall into a trope I see a lot of in horse novels which is the snobby and pretentious horse owners. Too often, there's the snobby, rich horse owner who looks down their nose at the plebs working in the stables and don't own their own horse. They often only ride their horses for the prestige of ribbons and trophies and not the love of riding, or even the horse themselves. With Stay the Distance, we had Beck who obviously cared for Lighter but wasn't a horse-mad fanatic like July was. We also had Beck's dad Delaney and his mam who obviously genuinely cared for the animals they owned, and the staff that worked for them. Plus Beck had a relationship with July and Matt with Martina, so they obviously weren't snobs with dating either. I loved how Delaney handled July asking him about Kali. It was perfect and lovely.

Beck and July's relationship was another great thing about this story. They obviously already had a history from growing up together and they had chemistry. They were obviously a good match and it was a waft of fresh air that there was major dramas in their relationship.

I think I would have liked more explanation about July and Marina's mom throughout the book as I was left confused as to what had happened in that she wouldn't even shoot them an email or a phone call. Considering they were teenagers when she left, it seemed really odd that she wouldn't even send them a text to let them know what she was up to.

Overall, I loved this book and I would highly recommend to anyone who loves a horsey read. I can't wait to read more of Mara's writing. I've already bought her next book!

Thursday, 31 March 2016

Book Review: Ruin by John Gwynne

Read: March 27-31 Verdict: 4 Stars

WHATTT WAS THAT????? I think I need to sit in a dark room for a little while after that one.

This was, again like the other two books in the series, packed with action both thrilling and heart-breaking from start to finish. I always feel like I read this series with my heart in my mouth because I'm so afraid all the time for all of my favourite characters. Again, my favourite POVs were that of Corban, Veradis and Camlin, and I also really enjoyed Maquin's and Haelan's this time around too. I was a bit disappointed with Cywen's character arc in this story as I felt she became somewhat diminished with everything happening around her and in the other books I had really enjoyed her attitude.

One of the best things about this series in my opinion is the animals and the huge role they play. From Storm and Shield to Craf and Fech and then we also have Buddhai, Pots and Daria in this one, plus a few stinking bears and one horrible draig. They have all become really important to me and it hurts just as much when they get hurt as when a main human character gets hurt . ** (Spoilers regarding this topic below)

I really loved some of the sidekicks we saw in this book, from Camlin becoming Meg's favourite person (Camlin has such a heart of gold under his roguish exterior) and then I really enjoyed Haelan's hero-worship of Corban. I supposed get so confused about the ages of all our main characters now because we started off with Corban at quite a young age, it's almost hard to remember he's almost a fully-grown man now with stubble and bicep muscles.

The ending of this killed me. Everything was going so well and then it all went downhill so quickly I mean Meical? What are we going to do now!!!! I just can't...I hate some of the characters in this - Nathair, Lykos, Calidus and Jael so much it makes my blood boil and I really need their comeuppance in Wrath. I need Wrath like right now. RIGHT NOW!


Fech, why!! AND STORM! I refuse to believe Storm is dead, she can't be dead. But because she had her puppies, I think there's a chance she could be dead and Haelan could end up having a new version of Storm in his black-faced puppy. But I really want Storm to live. I just don't see how she can survive that spear to the chest :(

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Book Review: The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson

Read: March 21-23 Verdict: 4 Stars

Joel goes to a school that also caters to students studying to become rithamists - a type of magical warrior that can fight against 'wild chalklings' with their own drawings and measurements (yeah, it sounds weird but it's surprisingly easy enough to get the gist of). When rithmatist students start disappearing in strange circumstances, Joel becomes part of the investigation.

I surprisingly enjoyed this. I was expecting a good story cause I had heard great things about Brandon Sanderson's writing, but I wasn't expecting to be quite so sucked in. The build-up of the world was pretty good, though I thought it was a dystopia type world at first, I think it was actually more of an alternate reality to our world today. The explanations of the different types of circles and lines and defences used by the rithmatists did go a bit over my head. I just saw shapes and my math-hating brain shut off, basically.

Joel was a good protagonist and I really liked his growing relationship with Melody. They never deviated from what I expected of them so their personalities really held firm. I also liked the professors Fitch and Nalizar. I couldn't help but think of Professor Slughorn from Harry Potter when it came to Fitch, that bumbling type of teacher and Nalizar's story arc reminded me a lot of how Harry treated and suspected Snape in the Philosopher's Stone.

I'm really hope another book will come out soon as I really feel there's so much more to come with this story and Joel's story.

Book Review: Fractured Dream by K.M Randall

Read: March 25-27   Verdict: 3 Stars

I received a free digital copy from the author/publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest feedback.

Story Sparks is a dreamer. Or at least she was until one day, she suddenly stopped dreaming and appeared to lose all memories of her previous dreams. One day, Story and her two friends Elliot and Adam are sucked underwater into the In Between land where Story finds out she is The First Dreamer and must undertake a quest to bring the Real World and the In Between together again and save everyone.

This story incorporated the fairytale world in a way that I loved. Having places called Locksley and Sherwood and then a generation of women who are Little Red Riding Hoods who are legendary warriors against The Big Bad Wolves. Yes. I found the world-building pretty good, and I think if there was ever a map of this world it would be really pretty.

The insta-love was a bt much at times between Story and Nicholas (even when it was explained). There is only so many times I can stomach the mentions of swooning at his touch and the want to be swept off her feet and kissed passionately before I get a bit sick. There were times I felt like I was scrambling to keep up with Story's relationships with new characters. She would meet someone and there would be a reunion but then it felt like a while before it was explained who the character was and their relationship with Story. And then other things seemed sooo obvious like why both Brink and Nicholas felt so familiar looking to Story. Come on lady!

Overall, it was a pretty fun adventure with a great twist on fairytales and mythical creatures.

Saturday, 5 March 2016

Book Review: Edgewater by Courtney Sheinmel

Read: March 4-5   Verdict: 3.5 stars

I received a free digital copy from the author/publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest feedback.

Lorrie lives in a dilapidated mansion with her aunt and sister. All Lorrie cares about in the world is making something of herself and her horse Orion but when money suddenly becomes tighter than usual, Lorrie has to start investigating matters and try to save everything in the process.

I enjoyed this for the most part. I liked Lorrie and her personality, and I definitely loved all the bits around horses and horse-riding. I teared up a lot when Lorrie was faced with having to let go of Orion. The story became a bit predictable at parts but I didn't really mind and i felt it played out well in the end. I do feel it took a while for the plot to unravel,there seemed to be a lot of build up around Lorrie and Charlie's relationship and money issues etc before she really started to look into some family matters. I also feel that Lorrie didn't really 'solve' anything, everything just kind of came together (or fell apart depending how you look at it). I also felt a huge amount of frustration during this book as well because of how Susannah and Gigi were so blasé about the money problems. I wanted to shake them a bit so job well done to the author.

Overall, a good read and I would recommend to people who liked We Were Liars. There's not so much a mysterious 'what the hell is going on' aura around Edgewater the way there is in WWL but there'a the rich community of people living privileged lives and dealing with stuff when shit hits the fan, basically.

Friday, 4 March 2016

Book Review: The Stellow Project by Shari Becker

Read: March 1-3    Verdict: 3.5 stars.

I received a free digital copy from the author/publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest feedback.

When weird weather suddenly breaks out across New York and climate change seems to come full force, Lilah is shocked when it appears her dad may have something to do with it. Hidden away in a family cottage with her younger sister and then taken into a top secret research facility, Lilah needs to find out what's going on and how to protect herself and your younger sister, and also how her health may be linked to her father's projects.

This book actually surprised me and I ended up quite enjoying it. It was fast-paced and informative for the most part and it really left me constantly wondering what characters I could trust, and who I didn't trust. I definitely got sucked into the story and Lilah had me running along right beside her most of the time.

One of the faults I had with this book was actually Lilah and Daniel's relationship. It was probably just me, and because I never really warmed to Daniel, but I found all of their interactions very forced and I just felt like there was no chemistry between them. It was really the case of Daniel being the only guy around so of course they'd end up in a relationship. I would have been happy enough with Daniel just being a friend. I also didn't like Meena who was a pretty crappy friend all round. Who leaves their friend in the middle of the woods, on their own, with their dad on the run and is just like "sorry, can't talk to you ever again" even though they've nothing to do what's going on. What a cow.

I really liked the revelations at the end, though I definitely guessed them or at least had a strong suspicion, and i would definitely read another book about the Stellow project if one came out.

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Book Review: The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin

Read: February 21   Verdict: 5 Stars

I received a free digital copy from the author/publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest feedback.

Suzy is 13 years old and dealing with the death of her best friend who drowned during the summer. When Suzy discovers the vast world of the jellyfish, she decides that a jellyfish sting must be why Franny died and sets out to prove it to the world.

I wasn't expecting to love this book as much as I did but I absolutely adored it. It was much faster-paced than I expected too. I think because I knew there were a lot of jellyfish facts in it, I thought i would get a bit bogged down in them and it would slow down my reading but nope. I finished this book in one sitting.

Ultimately this is a book about a girl who has just started her teenage years and discovering that the world is a much vaster and confusing place than she originally thought. And with Franny's death, Suzy has to confront the fact that dying is something that happens to young people, and that sometimes things like that just happen for no reason at all.

I really found myself identifying with Suzy. Particularly her issues with friends and everyone growing up that bit faster than her. Her confusion over the sudden gap between her and Franny and why she was suddenly left behind while the girls did their make-up and flirted with the boys. I think a lot of people could feel for Suzy in this one, as she's not the only person who's ever felt left behind.

I loved Suzy's relationships as well. Her family were all amazing. Yes, they did bring her to a therapist to talk about the not talking situation but they never pushed her, or grew frustrated with her. They were there waiting, ready for when she was ready to accept everything and be there for her when she did. Her brother and his boyfriend, yes. I love how there was no big deal about Aaron being gay. There was no in depth story about him coming out or any controversy in the family because of it. Her parents were divorced but still on talking terms, and seemed to still be on pretty good terms considering they were separated. I also loved Mrs Thurton and her quiet observations and suggestions. It's always great to see a good teacher/mentor-student relationship and a teacher really offering that safe haven for a student who just needs that time and space. Ans Justin was just lovely. I really loved his explanations of ADHD and how his medication helped.

This book was such a pleasant surprise and I would really urge everyone to read it, just to see if it will surprise you too.

Monday, 15 February 2016

Book Review: How Many Letters Are In Goodbye? by Yvonne Cassidy

Read: February 13-15   Verdict: 4 Stars

I received a free digital copy from the author/publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest feedback.

Rhea is 17 years old, only has one arm and is living homeless on the streets of New York. As a way of exploring her feelings and what's happening to her, Rhea begins to write letters to her dead mother.

This one was a hard one to rate for me. There was a lot going on in this book from themes of exploring sexuality and coming to terms with sexuality, living with a disability, homelessness, the young homeless, sexual assault, depression, suicide. It was certainly diverse in a lot of ways and the story was set in the 90s, so there was no mobile phones, email or instant messenger. Everything seemed that little bit more drawn out because Rhea was writing everything down.

I felt like we did get a real sense of Rhea. She didn't seem to know where she was going or even who she really was but I felt close to her during her struggles. I did get frustrated at her now and again as I felt she was a bit slow in accepting things, particularly in her talks with Jean, but overall I do feel like she's a character a lot of people could identify with.

I'm giving this four stars because the book felt just that little bit too long for me. I think the middle could be trimmed down a lot and it would make the story feel a lot less dragged out.

On a side note, I didn't know this story would have an Irish connection so I was so happy when I read that. And you know an author is either Irish or has spent a great deal of time in Ireland when they talk about 'fizzy orange' and 'Hunky Dorys' and also use the phrase 'I'm grand.'