Author Archives: Michelle

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Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard – Early Glimpse


Beautiful Broken Things isn’t published until 28th Jan 2016, but I was lucky enough to be sent an early copy. I usually try to put reviews up closer to publication date, but I simply can’t keep quiet about this book!

Best friends Caddy and Rosie are inseparable. Their differences have brought them closer, but as she turns sixteen Caddy begins to wish she could be a bit more like Rosie – confident, funny and interesting. Then Suzanne comes into their lives: beautiful, damaged, exciting and mysterious, and things get a whole lot more complicated. As Suzanne’s past is revealed and her present begins to unravel, Caddy begins to see how much fun a little trouble can be. But the course of both friendship and recovery is rougher than either girl realizes, and Caddy is about to learn that downward spirals have a momentum of their own.

I want to talk about everything which happens in this book, but I also just want to shout ‘READ IT’ to everyone! The characters are so well written and developed.. I could relate to so many aspects of Caddy, even though I am now a long way from 16! She’s the quiet one, who wants something a little more from her life.. in particular she wants to experience a Significant Life Event… something special she can talk to people about.

Into her life steps Suzanne.. beautiful, confident, but also complicated and damaged by her past. Their developing friendship changes them both; as their lives, and Suzanne’s past, intertwine.

Rosie is also an important part of the book, as she watches two of her friendships change before her. She brings a different viewpoint, and the way she sticks by Caddy is lovely.

It’s so wonderful to see a YA book focusing on the amazing relationship which friendship can bring, with it’s highs, and it’s lows. The subjects raised within the book are beautifully handled, and events towards the end made me cry – and only one other book has ever done that!

It’s hard to believe that this is a debut book – it grabbed me from the moment I started reading, and didn’t let up at any point. Caddy, Rosie and Suzanne are characters who have a special place in my heart, and the story will most definitely stay with me. Please, pre-order it, then as soon as you have it, READ IT! :-D

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Lost Souls by Seth Patrick

lost souls

It’s always difficult to review a sequel. In most cases it’s going to be read only by those who have read the initial book, so a review needs to be for those people too. I’ve previously reviewed The Reviver here, and it’s remained one of my favourite reads. If you’ve already read it, and are wondering whether to read Lost Souls, my short answer is yes, you most certainly should. As I said in my review, I felt that The Reviver started more as a crime / thriller, with the supernatural aspect developing towards the end. In Lost Souls, that supernatural aspect is far more towards the forefront – and it works brilliantly.

For me, the main issue I have with a sequel is whether I can pick it up, a year after the first book, and get straight into it. I simply don’t have time for re-reading, and many good books have simply lost me early on in book two. Seth seems to have the balance just right here – he doesn’t spend ages going over the events of The Reviver, but there’s just enough to spark memories, and remind you what went before.

This is an ongoing story, and yet there’s no cliff hanger into the third book – and Seth has told me on twitter that yes, there will a third, and final book. Jonah is still the central character, and I’m glad Never plays a large part. He has to be one of my all time favourite characters – and some of his comments made me laugh, in the middle of a rather dark book!

I will go as far as to say that I found this a better book than the first. The Reviver spends some time laying the groundwork of reviving, and it’s place.. and the darker, scarier aspects come to the fore in this sequel. I’m so pleased it’s there’s a third book to come, but knowing how hard Seth can be on his characters, and he’s stated it’s the final book, I’m quite anxious about it!

Both The Reviver and Lost Souls are available now, and are highly recommended.. and you can wait alongside me for the final instalment!

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Magnus Chase and the Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan


Rick Riordan has already brought us Percy Jackson, The Kane Chronicles and Heroes of Olympus, covering Greek, Roman and Egyptian mythology. In his latest series, Riordan turns his attention to Norse mythology, with his usual enthusiasm and humour.

My name is Magnus Chase. I’m orphaned and living rough on the streets of Boston. And things are about to get much worse. My day started out normally enough. I was sleeping under a bridge when some guy kicked me awake and said, ‘They’re after you.’ Next thing I know, I’m reunited with my obnoxious uncle, who casually informs me that my long-lost father is a Norse god. Nothing normal about that. And it turns out the gods of Asgard are preparing for war. Apparently, if I can’t find the sword my father lost two thousand years ago, there will be doom. Doomsday, to be precise. A fire giant attacking the city? Immortal warriors hacking each other to pieces? Unkillable wolves with glowing eyes? It’s all coming up. But first I’m going to die. This is the story of how my life goes downhill from there…

As with previous books, Riordan brings lots of memorable characters, in an exciting setting. Of course there are similarities with previous books.. there are normal people discovering they have links with gods, the main character finds new friends, grows as a person, and becomes the hero of the day. But, that really doesn’t matter, because this is what Riordan does best, and he yet again brings a fast paced, fun story.

Magnus is taken to Valhalla – the ‘hall of the fallen’ from mythology becomes a hotel, where the daily activity is a huge battle, which is to prepare the ‘guests’ for the final battle during Ragnarok – otherwise known as the end of days! From here, he travels between this world and his own, on a journey to find the Sword of Summer, and to prevent Ragnarok occurring.

Riordan brings a diverse range of new characters, including Sam, a muslim girl who lives an amazing double life as a Valkyrie, a fashion-loving dwarf, and a deaf elf. The various gods aren’t always what you expect, and there are lots of fun twists. My favourite relationship though, has to be between Magnus and his Sword – just how *do* you befriend a sword?!

My only slight negative is the fact that this is a long book, and it does get quite complex in places. It’s not the sort of book you want to read with big gaps, as it could be easy to forget a recent twist. However, from what I’ve seen, Riordan’s fans seem to devour his books, so that shouldn’t be a problem. Maybe a little complex for younger children though?

All in all, an excellent new offering from a proven author!

Oh – and I think the UK got the best cover! ;-)

Buy this book at Wordery

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Monster by C.J. Skuse


At sixteen Nash thought that the fight to become Head Girl of prestigious boarding school Bathory would be the biggest battle she’d face. Until her brother’s disappearance leads to Nash being trapped at the school over Christmas with Bathory’s assorted misfits.

As a blizzard rages outside, strange things are afoot in the school’s hallways, and legends of the mysterious Beast of Bathory – a big cat rumoured to room the moors outside the school – run wild.

Yet when the girls’ Matron goes missing it’s clear that something altogether darker is to blame – and that they’ll have to stick together if they hope to survive.

I’ve had books by C.J. Skuse on my wishlist for a while, so when I was offered a copy of Monster to try, I jumped at the chance. Her books seem to be have an unusual twist, something I like!

Monster is set in a boarding school, about to shut down for the Christmas break. I have no idea if boarding schools still exist here in the UK, but if they did, this is just as you would expect it to be.. if you grew up reading Enid Blyton! There’s even the strict housekeeper! However, this boarding school is brought up to date by it’s characters, as the author brings you some very modern teenagers.

As the book progresses, and the snow falls hard, the feel of the book changes. The girls are at great danger, but does this risk come from outside, or within? The depth to certain characters is revealed, and there are lots of twists and turns. I’ll be honest, I did guess the big twist quite early on, but then I’m an older reader, and I have a love of horror films and books, so I probably have a more twisted mind! lol

The first half of the book had a lot to offer, but it did feel slow in comparison to the rest.. it’s a slow build, getting to know the characters, and then a fast-paced ending, and I would have liked it a little more balanced. However, I did like the writing style, especially in the second half of the book, and the rest of the author’s books have gone up my wishlist a fair bit!

PS Pay attention to the chapter headings! :)

Published by MIRA Ink 24th Sept 2015

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Asking For It by Louise O’Neill


Emma is eighteen years old, she’s confident, she’s beautiful. One day she wakes up after a party, unable to remember much of what happened. There are photos, however – photos on snapchat and facebook, showing in explicit detail what happened. Emma has been raped – but the reactions this event brings are not what you expect.

Emma is a complex character, and to be honest, in the opening of the book she’s not very likeable. By the end though, my heart was breaking for her. Louise avoids the easier route, of focusing on the court case, or using different narrators – everything is seen through Emma’s eyes, and we feel everything she feels. I read some of the reactions, and realised I knew people who would probably think and say the same.

You’ll find lots of detailed reviews out there, but all I’m going to say is that this should be recommended reading for every teenager – it’s a difficult book to read, but these issues of rape, blame and consent need to be highlighted and talked about.

This powerful, important book is published 3rd Sept 2015 by Quercus – read it!

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Early Glimpse: A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston


This is published near the end of October, but I was lucky enough to be offered an early copy, and it’s worth talking about now. The hardback looks as if it’s going to be rather beautiful, which reflects the writing inside.

Lo-Melkhiin killed three hundred girls before he came to my village, looking for a wife.

When Lo-Melkhiin – a formidable king – arrives at her desert home, she knows that he will take her beautiful sister for a wife. Desperate to save her sister from certain death, she makes the ultimate sacrifice – leaving home and family behind to live with a fearful man.

But it seems that a strange magic flows between her and Lo-Melkhiin, and night after night, she survives. Finding power in storytelling, the words she speaks are given strange life of their own. Little things, at first: a dress from home, a vision of her sister. But she dreams of bigger, more terrible magic: power enough to save a king . . . if only she can stop her heart from falling for a monster.

The story weaves magic and religion, romance, friendship and family, set against a harsh desert backdrop. It’s difficult to put down once you start, and I wish it had been longer. Worth putting on your wishlist, and looking out for!

Published by Pan Macmillan 22th Oct 2015

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The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich


I came across a cover reveal for this book some time ago, and immediately had to look it up. It sounded intriguing, so I started chatting on Dawn on twitter, and I knew this was a book I’d have to get hold of. I finally managed to get an early copy (thank you NIna!) and I managed to finish it just before YALC (YA Literature Convention). I took that proof copy with me for Dawn to sign, but as soon as I saw the finished version, I had to buy that as well – and apparently it sold out on the day!

So, what’s it about? Let’s have a look at the back cover…

I love the little bit at the top!

The book is written in a way which looks back at the Johnson Incident, and it explores it using diary entries, transcripts of videos, police interviews etc, along with little notes by the (unknown) author. This is a risky approach, but Dawn does it brilliantly, and there were many times that I believed I was reading about a real event, and I had to keep reminding myself that it was fiction!

As for the main character – well, Carly and Kaitlyn as two girls who share the same body, and it’s not clear whether this is a ‘multiple personality disorder’ as their psychiatrist believes, or two souls sharing the same body, as their friend Naida insists. Carly ‘exists’ during the day, and Kaitlyn at night.

The story is told from Kaitlyn’s point of view, with little glimpses into Carly’s world. As the information starts to come together, we start to discover more and more about Kaitlyn, the people who share her life, and the events leading up to the fire.

This book is beautifully written, and the layout brings out all of the nuances of each piece of information.It’s a study of mental illness, it’s a psychological thriller, it’s horror. It’s dark, it’s creepy, and extremely chilling.  Kaitlyn somehow gets into your head, and the story is so compelling. It’s published by Indigo on 6th August, and it’s going to be BIG.

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Darkmere by Helen Maslin


A castle. A curse. One dangerous holiday … Kate and her friends are spending the summer at Darkmere Castle in Devon which she thinks will be a perfect opportunity for her to get together with Leo. But instead, she s drawn into the dark story of an nineteenth-century girl who haunts the tunnels and towers of the house … and whose curse now hangs over them all.

Darkmere is described by the publisher as ‘Heart-stopping, gothic and dangerous’ and I would certainly agree. I was sent a review copy prior to YALC (YA Literature Convention) and by about halfway I was searching through amazon to find out what else the author had written. I was certainly surprised to find out that this is her first book!

I don’t want to give away much of the plot, but there are two cleverly intertwined stories. The first is a very modern one, with a group of teens taking a holiday in an inherited castle. The castle has been inherited by Leo, and he is very much in charge of the group. Kate has always felt an outsider, but hopes that being invited along by Leo will help her to finally fit in.

The other story is an historical one, telling the tale of Elinor, who’s also an outsider trying to fit in. She marries St Cloud, and becomes Mistress of Darkmere, but life there is not what she expected.

The thing which I loved about Helen’s writing is that the two main characters had such distinctive voices.. moving between the two times was an easy transition, as each told their own story in their own way. And yet, despite the different times and storylines, and the distinct voices, there were lots of similarities. At no point did one strand pull you away from the other, they complimented each other so well.

The two stories become more and more entwined, as Kate starts to question whether Darkmere is haunted. Helen writes scenes which create just the right level of unease.. it’s not a scary book as such, but certain parts are rather creepy. It builds to a tense, heart-stopping conclusion.

Darkmere is a dark YA novel, with lots to appeal to both teens and older readers. I loved the characters, the storylines, and the writing, and this is a well crafted novel. It also has a gorgeous cover! It’s out at the beginning of August, and I highly recommend it.

Published by Chicken House Books

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The Glass Demon by Helen Grant


The first death

Seventeen-year-old Lin Fox finds a body in an orchard. As she backs away in horror, she steps on broken glass.

The second death

Then blood appears on her doorstep – blood, and broken glass.

The third death

Something terrible is found in the cemetery. Shards of broken glass lie by a grave.

Who will be next?

As the attacks become more sinister, Lin doesn’t know who to trust. She’s getting closer to the truth behind these chilling discoveries, but with each move the danger deepens.

Because someone wants Lin gone – and won’t give up until he’s got rid of her and her family. Forever.

After a discussion about YA thrillers and horror, Helen kindly arranged for her publisher to send me out a copy of The Glass Demon to try. Helen seems to be classed as a YA writer, but this particular book would definitely appeal to all age groups (as do many YA books, of course).

It’s actually a difficult book to classify, as it’s unclear for most of the story whether this is a straightforward thriller, or if there’s a supernatural element. I felt this added just the right level of uneasiness, and I won’t spoil the story for anyone by revealing which it is.

The story revolves around a mysterious set of stained glass windows – most people deem them to no longer exist, and yet there are some who believe they are hidden away. Lin’s father is a historian, and the Allerheiligen Glass is his latest obsession. The Glass is also meant to be haunted by a demon, who can kill anyone who looks at him.

As people start to die around Lin, and strange things occur, she realises that her and her family are in danger, but she doesn’t know who from.

Add to this that she’s been taken by her father to Germany, and she’s trying to fit into a new school, and cope with the attention of their nearest neighbour, Michael!

As I said, there’s a really good level of threat and unease about this book – there’s lots of tension, which keeps you reading, there is danger, and yet it’s not too disturbing. I think this is the key to the wide range of audience.. I would recommend this to both teen readers, and older (like myself!). Oh, and I’ve added all of Helen’s books to my wishlist! :)


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The Territory by Sarah Govett


At this time of the year, there are many young people revising for, and taking exams, and we all know there’s a lot of pressure on them. However, imagine if a failure could mean being sent to your death…

Noa lives in a near-future where climate change and flooding have drastically reduced the amount of liveable land, now known as The Territory. To be allowed to stay, children at 15 must achieve a high pass on their exams. The rest are sent to the Wetlands, where conditions mean a life of misery, and often death.

If that isn’t difficult enough, the richest children have been equipped with a ‘node’, which allows them to download the information needed for their exams – exams which are based more on fact recall than application…

Sarah has managed to achieve a lot with this book. On one level it’s a compelling dystopian story, and her world building is so well done that this future world feels very real, and scarily close! The flooding which led to the Territory formation is explained, as is the technology available for the rich.

Running through the story however, are also thought-provoking issues, which will make you think a little more about our education system, rich and poor, politics, the climate etc.

Then added to this, is a very real day to day story of a teenager, as she deals with issues of friendship and relationships, school and study.

Despite all this going on, it’s a fast paced story, which kept me turning those pages to find out what would happen next. It has a satisfying conclusion, but is all set up for the rest of the trilogy, which I’m waiting impatiently for.

Firefly Press kindly sent me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review, and is my first experience of this new publisher. I will certainly checking out more of their books, and have already bought Lost On Mars.

Published by Firefly Press April 2015

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