Lost Boy: The True Story of Captain Hook by Christina Henry

It has taken me a long time to get my hands on this book but I am so glad I did! I love everything about Peter Pan and I knew that this novel would be perfect for me, just by reading the premise. It reminded me of The Child Thief by Brom, which was also a really cool twist on the original Peter Pan story. Anyways, enough of my rambling, here is my review:

There is one version of my story that everyone knows. And then there is the truth. This is how it happened. How I went from being Peter Pan’s first—and favorite—lost boy to his greatest enemy.

Peter brought me to his island because there were no rules and no grownups tHe brought boys from the Other Place to join in the fun, but Peter’s idea of fun is sharper than a pirate’s sword. Because it’s never been all fun and games on the island. Our neighbors are pirates and monsters. Our toys are knife and stick and rock—the kinds of playthings that bite.

Peter promised we would all be young and happy forever.

Peter lied.

I think the premise is pretty clear on what the story is about. But it definitely doesn’t give you enough of an idea of how GOOD this novel is! I devoured it in one sitting and found myself thoroughly creeped out (in a good way, of course)! This novel is a very dark retelling, with plenty of violence and manipulation to keep the reader interested. It is very easy to believe in this dark and twisted Peter Pan, and the author does a fantastic job of sticking to this personality and developing it as the story goes along. The story is told from the perspective of Jamie, the first Lost Boy. Jamie has always loved Peter but now, he sees that things aren’t right, that Peter is not who he thought he was. The author does an amazing job of showing this gradual deterioration in the relationship between Jamie and Peter; with this deterioration comes an increase in tension and an intensity in the violence and brutality on the island. There were many points in time when I was holding in my breath, waiting for the tension to abate. There are a lot of heart-breaking moments in this novel; the author really knew how to get the reader invested in the fates of the characters! In a way, this novel reminded me a lot of Lord of the Flies; there is this loss of innocence and complete breakdown of law and order, which is what leads to the disastrous and inevitable conclusion of the story. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves dark retellings!

Happy reading ~

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Last Star Burning by Caitlin Sangster

I received this novel as an advance copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The premise of this novel got to me right away. It’s not that it is so very unusual, but I just felt like there was a lot of potential to the story and I wanted to get the chance to see where the author would go with it. Here is my review:

Sev’s mother made a traitorous decision 10 years ago by betraying her nation – and Sev was punished for it. Sev was branded with the mark of a criminal: a star burned into her hand. Now, her mother’s body is displayed above Traitor’s Arch, kept in a half-sleep state by the same plague that destroyed the rest of the world. As further punishment, Sev is made to do hard labour for the rest of her life. When the government blames Sev for a horrific bombing, she has no choice but to escape the city. However, it is a dangerous world outside the city walls, and Sev’s only chance of survival rests on the most unlikely person – the chairman’s son, Howl. Sev knows that she shouldn’t blindly trust Howl, no matter how friendly or helpful he is.  But in a hostile world, trust is a luxury. Especially when people will do anything to survive.

This novel may have been branded as a fantasy story, but it is more of a science fiction one. Normally, I find most YA fiction stories to all be the same. However, I really enjoyed this one. There were a lot of things that the author did that made this novel work. For one thing, Sev is pretty smart. Unlike most protagonists, she doesn’t just let her heart take over; she understands the consequences of certain actions and is smart enough to make logical decisions. I really liked all of the characters that the author created for this story; they were all unique and had their specific part to play. Sev’s interactions with all of them were very interesting and the author did a great job of creating a tense atmosphere whenever Sev was deciding if someone could be trusted or not. The premise of the novel was also very interesting; I liked that the sickness in the novel was based off of a real disorder, and I thought that the author had really thought through the various twists and turns that were introduced. Overall, this was an enjoyable read and I’m looking forward to the second book in the series!

Happy reading ~

The Burning Girl by Claire Messud

This book has been making its rounds in the reading circles, and I’ve been seeing it on every shelf in bookstores and in libraries. It’s been in high demand, and I just really wanted to give it a chance, to see what it was all about. Now that I’ve read it … well … here is my review:

Julia and Cassie have been friends since they were little. They have been a part of each other’s lives and shared every experience together. They’ve talked about their secret desires, including leaving their stifling town Royston. But as the two girls begin their journey into adolescence, their paths diverge and Cassie sets out on a journey that will put her life in danger.

Initially, I thought the story would be told from alternating perspectives. But no. It is told from Julia’s perspective only. This really bothered me because the story is really about Cassie. It’s about how Cassie’s life changes as the girls enter grade 7. Julia is really just an onlooker who only receives information about Cassie after the fact. I would much rather have read this story from Cassie’s perspective and seen her struggles through her eyes. I thought this would be a short read but it ended up dragging on for ages. Every time I thought that something important was going to happen, it didn’t. I kept reading and reading, waiting for that closure, for that monumental moment in the novel … but I got nothing. At the end, I wondered what was the point of this novel. Nothing really happens and we don’t even get the true story from the main character! Yes, it is a story that shows how friendships evolve, change, and break apart through various forces but it was nothing new, nothing that blew me away. To be brutally honest, it just felt like a waste of my time. Unfortunately, I’m going to have to give this a 1/5 stars.

Happy reading ~

The Empress by S. J. Kincaid – Diabolic #2

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I remember when I read The Diabolic that I didn’t enjoy it and wasn’t planning on reading the next installment in the series. Well guess who received an ARC for the sequel??? That’s right, it was me. In order to ensure I was giving this book a fair review, I put aside my past assumptions and read it with an open-mind. So here is my review:

The Empire is finally changing. Tyrus has ascended the throne as Emperor, with Nemesis by his side. Tyrus has declared his love for Nemesis and his intentions in making her his Empress. Their visions for the new world is a positive one – it will be a place where science and information is shared with everyone, and creatures like Nemesis will be treated like humans. But having power isn’t the same as keeping it. Many of the ruling class are not happy with Tyrus and Nemsis, and will stop at nothing to ruin their plans. Nemesis plans on protecting Tyrus at any cost; he is the love of her life. But she can no longer act like the killing machine she once was; she needs to prove her humanity to the entire Empire. But if proving her humanity means that she and Tyrus must commit inhuman crimes, is it even worth the fight?

Since I had read The Diabolic, I knew to expect the novel to be more centered around romance than science fiction. I think that’s why I enjoyed this novel more than its predecessor; I no longer felt tricked because I knew what I was getting into. That being said, this novel had a lot of political intrigue and romance angles to it. I still preferred the political conflicts over the romantic ones. I also thought that the author brought in some interesting points on what it means to be human and to have empathy; it was quite philosophical and I enjoyed seeing the author bring these issues up in a teen novel. There wasn’t as much action or gore and I wish Nemesis had been a bit more of a badass killing machine. My overall verdict is that this novel is better than its predecessor but only because I knew what to expect and it had good political intrigue and philosophical questions. My rating is 2.5/5 stars, rounded to 3.

Happy reading ~

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

I resisted for a long time before reading this novel. Why? Because it was getting super popular and it was getting televised, and I thought it was just all hype. It’s happened so many times where people get really excited about a book and then I read it with high expectations and get let down. Also, the story seemed to be a little on the fluff side, if you know what I mean, and I generally stay away from that. But I decided to get out of that mindset and give this novel a shot. I’m so glad I did.

When Madeline gets involved in something, she is a force to be reckoned with. She’s passionate and funny, and holds onto grudges. However, Madeline’s ex-husband and his hippie new wife have moved into Madeline’s beloved community – and their daughter is in the same kindergarten class as Madeline’s youngest. And to make matters worse, Madeline’s teenage daughter seems to be choosing Madeline’s ex-husband over her. How will she cope with all of this?!

Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare. She’s always flustered and in a dreamlike state … but who wouldn’t be with such active twin boys? Now that the boys are in school, Celeste and her husband seem to be the perfect fit as king and queen of the school parent body. However, royalty comes with a price, and Celeste doesn’t know if she can pay up.

Jane is a single mom who has just moved to this town. Sad beyond her years, she is harboring secret doubts about her son… but why? As Madeline and Celeste take Jane under their wing, none of them realizes how the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable little boy will affect them all.

After reading this novel, I cursed myself for waiting so long. It is such an amazing novel and I honestly don’t know where to start with this review.

First of all, I love the moms. They are so unique and amazing. They are funny, and have deep emotions and I was able to connect and understand each of them as they go through their individual struggles. I never felt like I liked one main character over the other; all 3 were equally important to me. I also loved the way they interacted with the other mothers and with their own children; it was such a realistic portrayal of how misunderstandings can bloom into full-out hatred. And both the creation and breakdown of relationships was described beautifully.

This novel was also beautifully written. I loved how there were moments in each chapter that read like a transcript from an interview. It kept me guessing as to what they were hinting at, and it also served to spice up the traditional writing style. I loved that the author spoke from multiple perspectives and managed to keep each one separate. There were perfect bursts of comedic relief thrown in during intense moments; this has got to be one of the only books that can intersperse humor in between serious scenes. And yet, the author still managed to highlight the importance of these issues; in no way did the humor take away from the seriousness of the situation at hand. I loved it.

Overall, this was just a fantastic novel. The characters were great, the plot was great, the relationships and interactions between characters was beautifully written, the pacing was on point, and the writing style itself was golden. I cannot recommend this book enough because I guarantee it will take your preconceived notions and make you chuck them out the window! If you have been a fool like me and not read this novel, go read it now! If you haven’t already guessed, I’m giving this a 5/5 stars!

Happy reading ~

What The Hell Did I Just Read by David Wong

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This novel has taken me a long time to read. But not because it was bad. I’ve had so many interruptions in my life that I haven’t even been able to think about the word book. But I’ve slowly been chunking my time and getting in a chapter or two …. and it’s finally done! So here is my review:

Dave, John, and Amy have taken it upon themselves to get the story straight and tell a fairly simple tale of a shape-shifting creature from another dimension that has been stealing kids and brainwashing their parents. However, it soon becomes clear that everything being revealed is not the truth. Someone is lying, and that someone is the narrators. The novel itself is a cover-up, and the “true” story reveals itself through the cracks of this funny but depraved story with contradicting and convoluted narratives.

I didn’t know that this novel was part of a series. And it really didn’t matter because I was able to follow along fine without having had read anything before this one. This was one of the most entertaining reads I have ever had the opportunity to read. It was an absolutely perfect mix of horror and comedy, that is both a mess and a genius work at the same time. I loved all of the characters and their unique narratives and perspectives. The story is honestly so wild and bizarre, which at first took me by surprise, but I began to really love that style. Random characters are introduced, random events happen, and since these events are told from multiple perspectives, you never really know if what you are reading is true or false. It makes your head spin but it also keeps you hooked! I am so glad I took my time with this book because it just allowed me to savor it so much longer! I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for something unique, something dark and funny, and something that will drive you insane while also make you crave more! I am definitely going to go back and start the series from the beginning! 5/5 stars from me!

Happy reading ~

Once, in a Town Called Moth by Trilby Kent

I’ve been meaning to read this book for a while now, but I’ve been putting it off every time in lieu of some other urgent reading task. But I decided to make time for it now, so here is my review:

Ana grew up in a tiny Mennonite colongy in Bolivia. Her mother fled the colony when Ana was a young girl. Now, as a teenager, Ana and her father have also run away from the community, but Ana doesn’t know why. All she knows is that things were not right for her and her father and they needed to leave in a hurry. Now, they’ve arrived in Toronto and Ana must fend for herself in an alien country, completely disconnected from everything she knew. She has no idea where to begin with fitting in. But begin she does: she makes a friend, then two. She goes to school and tries to understand the hierarchy that is present and all the unspoken rules and codes that govern teenage life. She goes to the library, the mall, and even parties. And all the while, she is desperate to find her mother who left her so long ago, and understand her father who has always been a stranger to her.

This is definitely a character-driven story, and it is quite well done at that. The story is told from Ana’s perspective, in third perspective when she is in Toronto and in first perspective when she is describing her past in the Mennonite colony. I really liked that the author made that differentiation, as I’ve never seen an author do that before and it added a unique touch to the story. I really liked Ana’s character and the author did a really great job in expressing the emotions she was going through; as a reader, I found it very easy to connect with and understand Ana. I didn’t know much about the Mennonite community before this novel, but it is clear that the author did due diligence in researching and presenting the information about this community in a non-judgemental way. This novel is definitely more of a slow-burner and it’s really just about how Ana adjusts to Toronto after leaving Colony Felicidad so if you are expecting something more fast-paced or with action, then this is not the novel for you. However, it is a well-written YA novel that is all about growing up, fitting in, and finding your identity. I’m giving this a 3/5 stars.

Happy reading ~

Red Sister by Mark Lawrence

I love fantasy fiction and when I heard that this is a brand new series coming out, I really wanted to get in on the action. It took me a while to get my hands on this book what with all the demand. But I finally did so here is my review:

At the Convent of Sweet Mercy, young girls are trained to be deadly killers. In some, there are signs of the old blood, giving these girls talents rarely seen since the tribes made their mark on Abeth. Sweet Mercy hones the skills of novices to deadly effect – it takes them 10 years to train a Red Sister in the ways of blade and fist. But no one truly understands what they are dealing with when 8-year-old Nona Grey is brought to their convent, bloodstained and accused of murder. While Nona has escaped from the noose, she has made powerful enemies. Despite the security of the convent, her secret and violent past will come back for her. Beneath a dying sun and a crumbling empire, Nona must come to terms with her demons and become a deadly assassin if she is to survive.

The very first page starts off with a bang, and it got me super excited. The next chapter came along and it was just as cool. The author really knows how to capture the reader’s attention! The author also invests a lot of energy and time into world-building, which is greatly appreciated. Every time something new was described, it made me excited to see how the author would use that to develop the story. And then we got to the middle of the book. And I didn’t like it. While I’m a HUGE fan of Harry Potter, I don’t always like Harry Potter-like fiction. And this story started to show signs of becoming that way. For 75% of the novel, we watch Nona and her friends go to classes and train and learn things…. just like in Harry Potter. Granted there are episodes of action that are awesome, and Nona is a very interesting main character that is not at all like Harry Potter …. but the similarities were just too much. It kind of felt like a mash up between Harry Potter and Queen of Blood, both which I loved – as separate entities. In fact, I think I liked Queen of Bloods more than I liked this one. However, the story picked up near the end and the intrigue was back. I think what really made me like this book and stick through the boring bits was the fact that there were moments where I was on the edge of my seat and the amazing writing skills of the author. While this was not my favorite fantasy novel, I definitely liked it enough to keep an eye out for the sequel when it gets released.

Happy reading ~

Burntown by Jennifer McMahon

I love weird stories. The wackier, the better. It’s one of the reasons I love Joan Aiken’s Wolves Chronicles series. While I’ve never heard of this author before this book, I read that she had a reputation for coming up with wild stories. So I decided to get started with this one. Here is my review:

Eva grew up watching her father, Miles, invent strange and wonderful things in the small workshop behind their house on the river that runs through their old mill town. But the most important invention that Miles every made came from the mind of Thomas Edison: a machine that lets you talk to the dead. The bluepritns for this machine has been passed down to Miles and he’s been using it to protect his family. But one night, when a fierce storm is raging and there is the threat of a flood, the machine comes to life and delivers a single message: you’re in terrible danger. The next thing Eva knows, she is waking up by the river and only her mother is there. Her father and brother are dead, the house is gone, and there is an evil man out to get them. Eva changes her name to Necco and tries to forget about her past as she and her mother live life off the grid. But when her mother dies and her boyfriend is murdered, Necco is convinced that her past is catching up to her. What really happened that night? As Necco tries to discover the truth, she connects with 2 other women who are on their own desperate quests. And as the trio follow the clues, they discover that sometimes it’s the smallest towns that hold the strangest secrets.

Before this novel, I would never have thought that so many mismatched parts could come together to create a cohesive and interesting story. But they did. And I loved every minute of it. There is a paranormal aspect, with visions and psychic abilities and machines that let you communicate with the dead. There is a mystery element where people keep dying but you don’t know why. There’s a thriller aspect where the main character is being hunted by a man wearing a chicken skin mask. In all, it’s a crazy mess. But it worked on so many levels. There was not a single boring moment in this story. And the author managed to run so many different storylines at the same time! There are 3 main female characters and they each got their moment in the spotlight, which I really loved. The way it all got tied in was unexpected but it worked with the weirdness of the premise. I’m still shocked by how everything was put together … but I definitely enjoyed this read! This is not a traditional book in any way so I would recommend this to people who enjoy crazy stories with super interesting and zany plots! I can’t wait to read more by this author!

Hapyp reading ~

One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

I’m a sucker for murder mysteries of all kind. But this one had a unique premise. It’s been called a mashup of The Breakfast Club and Clue. After reading this book, I couldn’t agree more. Here is my review:

On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention. There’s Bronwyn, an intelligent and driven student whose only desire is to go to Yale; Addy, a pretty girl who is always considered an airhead; Nate, the delinquent who sells drugs; Cooper, the star athlete who everybody loves; and Simon, resident gossip blogger who is hated and feared by everyone. However, what begins as a typical time in detention soon ends up as the scene of a tragedy: Simon dies. And according to the police, his death wasn’t an accident. As the investigation begins, it is revealed that Simon was planning on revealing some juicy gossip about all 4 of his fellow detention buddies – which means they’re all suspects in his murder. Everyone has secrets…. but how far will you go to protect them?

The first page of this book reminded me of Gossip Girl, which is a guilty pleasure show of mine. As the story took off, I found myself loving the intrigue and the gossip. It felt like one of those teen shows like Degrassi … but more sinister. I loved it. It was interesting to read from each character’s perspective and I was itching to know each of their secrets. Some characters I liked more than others, but each one was unique and well created so I have no complaints there. The author also set up the story very nicely; there were plenty of clues and hints so that the reader could guess the ending, and there were quite a few moments where you really felt sympathy for the characters and what they were going through. I also liked that the ending was realistic; it’s not just puppies and rainbows with everything being perfect. I think this novel would be perfect for anyone who likes shows like Gossip Girl or Pretty Little Liars. It was a fun read that is addictive and I could totally see this made into a miniseries. If you like those shows and if you like teen drama and murder mysteries, you are going to love this novel as much as I did!

Happy reading ~