ARC Review: The Truth & Lies of Ella Black, by Emily Barr

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Author: Emily Barr

Publisher: Penguin

Release Date: January 11th 2018

Genre: YA Contemporary

Pages: 288


Ella Black seems to live the life most other seventeen-year-olds would kill for . . .

Until one day, telling her nothing, her parents whisk her off to Rio de Janeiro. Determined to find out why, Ella takes her chance and searches through their things.

And realises her life has been a lie.

Her mother and father aren’t hers at all. Unable to comprehend the truth, Ella runs away, to the one place they’ll never think to look – the favelas.

But there she learns a terrible secret – the truth about her real parents and their past. And the truth about a mother, desperate for a daughter taken from her seventeen years ago . . .


Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a digital ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review!

So I should be honest by saying that Barr’s previous novel, The One Memory of Flora Banks, didn’t do it for me. I mean, I liked it and I loved the idea of it but I just didn’t feel like there was anything…you know, spectacular about it. But her second YA novel knocked it out of the park for me. I really adored this one. It’s an intriguing, dark, twisty story of a girl who finds out her parents aren’t her real ones and discovers the horrific truth of her own birth parents.

What I loved most about this was the characters. I specifically really enjoyed reading Ella as a protaganist because she was often prone to making the worst, rash decisions and proving herself again and again to be an unreliable narrator.

I feel super lucky that I got to meet Barr at Deptcon3 and also managed to swipe one of the ARCs of this book.

If I had to pick something I didn’t enjoy about this, it was when Ella was in Rio and the insta-love happened. Like I was not expecting it at all and thought there would be a twist to the story but they supposedly fell in love within moments of knowing each other. I had to roll my eyes at that and every time the love interest had scenes in the book I started to care less and less. That was probably the reason why I’m bringing my star rating down by one. But don’t be discouraged by that one thing. This book is so great in so many ways and will keep you guessing until the very end.


Rating:

★★★★

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

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Author: Lauren James

Publisher: Walker

Release Date: 7th September 2017

Genre: YA Thriller

Pages: 290


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 . . .


I should start this review by saying that I’ve been a massive fan of Lauren James ever since I read The Last Beginning back for #LGBTQMonth. I was heavily anticipating this because it sounded so good and from all the reviews of readers and authors who got ARCs, it sounded like there were some big twists involved – and there certainly were.

I’m not going to go into them too much so I don’t end up spoiling anything, but this book was so tense and gripping from the first page to the last. I was barely able to put this book down. I had to know what happened. I needed to know how it ended and if Romy would survive.

Speaking of Romy Silvers, what an amazing and empowering character. It makes me super happy to think about all the girls who are going to read this and see the lead protaganist in a STEM job and realise their dreams are just as accomplishable.

Although I’m not a big fan of science, James’s use of it threaded through this book really made it work. I loved the whole mystery around J too and how we were so suspicious of him for the majority of the story. It’s been so long since I’ve read this – sorry, my review has been a long while coming – and I’ve probably forgotten some other things I adored about this book. OH! The fanfiction. Loch and Ness. That was a brilliant idea, it made me laugh so much if I’m honest.

Anyway, I’ll definitely be re-reading this book in the near future, especially to find that Alice Oseman easter egg I missed during the first time but also because it’s a really good book. Go read it!!


Rating: 

★★★★★

Deptcon3 Wrap-Up: Day 2!

Day 2 of Deptcon was probably my favourite of the two, only because I got a lot more goodies since I was first in line in the early morning. Also, I got to meet a lot more friends and authors on the Saturday too.

The final panel kicked off at 11am after the intense ARC grab – I swear it was worse than The Hunger Games! Anyways, in the first panel was C.L Taylor, N.D Gomes and Chloe Seager! I have an ARC of The Treatment by CL Taylor, and I’ve read Blackbird by ND Gomes from netgalley. I thought this panel was really informative as an aspiring author. I learned that CL Taylor uses a 3 or 4-act structure when writing her novels and tends to stay in a hotel for a weekend every now and again to really get the words out. When asked to give advice for aspiring authors like myself, here is what they came out with:

CL Taylor: Cut out the bits the reader skips and always be thinking what is it my main character wants? You want to fuel their journey but also give them a flaw.

ND Gomes: Create a writing routine and playlists etc can be helpful to get into the head of your main character.

Chloe Seager: Put it away for a long time before returning to it to redraft it (really helpful!)

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The second panel of the day kicked off at 12:30. This included Estelle Maskame, Sara Barnard (fave!!), Meg Grehan (also fave!!) and Sheena Wilkinson. I haven’t unfortunately read anything by Sheena or Estelle yet but I do plan to! Sheena Wilkinson sounded so wise and described writing/publishing as a rollercoaster! From what I’ve encountered so far, I can totally agree…

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The next panel started at 2 and included Pooja Puri, Sally Nicholls and Lydia Ruffles. I have only read Things A Bright Girl Can Do (review here!!) and loved it. However on the panel, from the way Lydia Ruffles described A Taste of Blue Light, I practically ran to the bookshop before the signing because it sounds quite fab! (Note: My friend accidentally took it home with her so it won’t be in my haul photos). I really want to pick up Puji’s The Jungle soon too. I think I warmed up to Sally Nicholls almost immediately, especially when she said “can’t we have relationships not just about being gay, but relationships being about love?”. PREACH! Also, this was a really good panel for advice too…

Sally Nicholls: Make writing the most important thing in your life

Pooja Puri: Listen to the voice that tells you to keep going on a book or story you’re finding difficult

Lydia Ruffles: Read tons about how other people do it but then disregard what they say and do it your own way!

Also Deirdre Sullivan was yet again an amazing moderator!

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The 4th panel began at 3:30 with Hayley Barker, Emily Barr, Anna Day and Amy Alward. Hayley’s advice is to try and try and keep writing is what will will turn your ideas into books and Anna Day told us to grow a thick sin for the writing industry and don’t take criticism too personally.

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The second last panel of the day started at 5 and it was probably my favourite of the two days! I think I liked it especially because it had the theme of … wait for it… Secrets & Prosecco. On this panel was Melinda Salisbury, Dave Rudden, Moira Fowley-Doyle and Alice Broadway. This was chaired by Catherine Doyle who was an amazing moderator too, so hilarious! I had a book for everyone on this panel thankfully and I especially loved meeting Moira Fowley-Doyle, who took part in #LGBTQMonth back in July!

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The final panel (cry!) kicked off at 7:30. On it was Orlagh Collins, Patrice Lawrence and Juno Dawson and my absolute fave Sarah Crossan!! I loved meeting all these authors and thankfully I had a book by each of them to get signed too. I won The Language of Thorns in the raffle but since I’m not a big fan of Bardugo’s books (I know, it makes me so upset) I struck up a bargain with Megan and she bought me Margot & Me in exchange for it! During this panel we also found out that Orlagh Collins has Jamie Dornan’s phone number from working in the film industry.

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And finally, here is my haul of all the books I got!!

 

 

Firstly,

The samplers I got!

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Then next, the books I bought (not including The Taste of Blue Light!)

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Then, the two finished copies I received for free!

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And then, the amazing amount of ARCS i got from the super Dept51 team!

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Overall, I had an amazing time at DeptCon3 and am so grateful for all the ARCs I received. I loved meeting new friends and talking to some of my favourite authors. See you all next year, for sure!

 

 

 

 

 

Deptcon Wrap-Up: Day 1!

I’d like to start off this post by saying a HUGE thank you to the team at Easons who organise Deptcon every year without fail. It’s such an amazing event so they should all be proud of themselves.

For those of you who don’t know, Deptcon – or Deptcon3 as it was known this year – is a two-day event usually in October where Deptartment 51 from Easons organise a whole bunch of authors to come to this convention to do some panels and signings. It’s always great meeting the authors of whom I love and it’s especially nice to get to chat to them about their books. So in this post, I’m going to have a recap of the two days, show you everything I managed to get and also include some advice some of the authors gave.

The day kicked off at 3pm on Friday the 13th. I had to come from school so I just about made it before the first panel and luckily I had secured a seat in the front row of the theatre thanks to the friends I was going with. The first panel included my fave, Claire Hennessy, along with Maggie Harcourt, Sophie McKenzie and Sarah Carroll. I already had both of Claire’s books signed. The talk was really funny and I really warmed up to Maggie Harcourt. I went to get Sweetfreak, Girl Missing and Unconventional signed and it was so lovely meeting the authors. I have yet to buy or read Sarah Carroll’s The Girl in Between, but it does sound interesting!

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At 4:30pm, the second panel kicked off. With another of my faves (I have a lot) – Deirdre Sullivan, as well as Krystal Sutherland and Virgina Bergin (who I might add was the nicest human ever!!) This amazing panel was also moderated by Sarah Maria Griffin (author of Spare & Lost Found Parts who I had to hunt down to get her to sign since she wasn’t in the signing). I went to the signing to get Who Runs the World? signed.

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The third panel began at 6pm, with Phillip Reeve, M. A. Bennett and Will Hill. I own an ARC of After the Fire but haven’t unfortunately had the chance to read it yet, but I really do now. I read STAGS, however, and was so excited to meet Bennett. She did not disappoint and I even learned there will be more STAGS and perhaps even a STAGS movie!! I’m so excited.

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And then there was an amazing Harry Potter Spelling Bee which was hilarious. I forgot to take any pictures but it was several authors on stage: Meg Grehan, Holly Bourne, Emily Barr, Melinda Salisbury, Anna James,, Moira Fowley-Doyle, Katherine Webber, Deirdre Sullivan, Sarah Maria Griffin and Sara Barnard. Highlight of that was Holly Bourne being knocked out in the first round because she misspelled DOBBY. Then the lovely Emily Barr took the title and won the spelling bee!

The last panel was definitely my favourite of the night. Of course that meant Holly Bourne and Lauren James were on it. Also Katherine Webber, who was absolutely hilarious and then Catherine Doyle, who I loved so much along with her stroy of her dead gnomes fetish that I just had to buy her book! After their signing, that marked the end of an unforgettable day one. I will be back soon to talk about the second and final day, along with my haul!

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Top Three Thursday #8: Favourite Villains!

Hello again! I’ve really grown to love doing Top Three Thursdays because they’re something different, but I’ve been doing less of them recently because I’m stuck for prompts. I’m going to turn to you guys and if you have any ideas of things I can turn to for Top Three Thursdays then let me know in the comments!!

For today’s one, however, I’m going to talk about my top three favourite villains! (A word of which I always spell wrong).

 

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Holland from the Shades of Magic series by V.E. Schwab!

He is one of my favourite ever villains because Schwab did an excellent job of adding so much depth to this character, and some points in the book you just can’t help but root for him.

 


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Queen Levana from The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer!

I adore Queen Levana because as well as Holland, she has the such depth to her. I always think the best villains are the ones who are able to justify themselves – the ones who believe they are the hero and everyone else around them is the villain. Not to mention poor Levana’s backstory is so heartbreakingly tragic. I loved this novella so much.

 


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Count Olaf from Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events!

How could Count Olaf not make this list? I love Lemony Snicket’s books (and am so excited for the show’s second season!) but I especially love how Count Olaf’s quirk was that he disguised himself as someone new each book. He actually kind of inspired one of my own villains.

 

 

So there you go! There’s my top three villains.

What about you? Who are your favourite villains? Let me know in the comments below!

ARC Review: Blackbird, by N. D. Gomes

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Author: ND Gomes

Publisher: HQ

Release Date: November 16th 2017

Genre: YA Mystery, Contemporary

Pages: 287


My name is Alex. I am fifteen years old, and I don’t know where my sister is. Or if she will ever come back.

On New Year’s Eve 5,000 blackbirds dropped dead. The same day Olivia McCarthy went missing from a small coastal village in Orkney.

Now Her younger sister Alex is on a mission to find out just what happened to Olivia. But does she really want to know all the answers?


Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for giving me a digital ARC in exchange for an honest review!

I have to start this review off by saying how beautiful the cover is, but I’m afraid the beauty on the outside does not entirely match the beauty on the inside.

I’m not saying that Blackbird was bad. Because it wasn’t. There was just nothing…amazing about it, you know?

The setting of the book is the idyllic island of Orkney, off the north coast of Scotland, and everything is normal until Alex’s, our protagonist, sister goes missing. It is also the night, coincidentally, that all the blackbirds seemingly died. I thought being the title and the tagline, the bird would play a more seminal role in this novel but that just wasn’t the case. I remember them being mentioned maybe three times.

Up until a certain point in the book, this reminded me so much – maybe too much – of If Birds Fly Back by Carlie Sorosiak. The main idea is that one sister goes missing and the other sister, who they were so close with, is left behind. The sister that disappears also tends to be the more popular of the two, so the one left behind really doesn’t know what to do with her life. I’m kind of getting tired of that trope.

Also, the reveal at the end about a certain thing that I can’t spoil was utterly predictable! I am terrible at guessing these kind of things but I ended up guessing correctly about 60% through the book.

However, some of the novel was written excellently. It was a tense, unputdownable kind of read. I always wanted to know what was going to happen next. The dialogue also was pulled off quite well too. It was witty and obvious what the chemistry was between each of the characters.

For me, I wasn’t expecting a lot from this because I’d never heard of it before, so it was just average. I’m going to give this book…

Rating:

★★★

October TBR!

I am SO excited for this month because with it not just brings Halloween, but also DEPTCON3!! I cannot wait for it, but at the same time I kind of can because the reading slump I’ve been in for the past few weeks has hit really hard and I haven’t read all of the books I wanted to.

I think my September TBR was way too ambitious, so I’m going to level it down for this month, even if I would ideally prefer to get LOTS OF THE BOOKS read. So without further ado, here is my…

October TBR!

So there you have it! I’m going to try get the five books done before Deptcon3 and I will finally be able to get around to reading They Both Die at the End as a treat after the two days filled with books, fun, magic and, from last year’s experience – exhaustion!