‘Shatter City’ – Scott Westerfeld

Sometimes the second book in a series doesn’t really capture your imagination, though it sets things in place. I honestly didn’t feel that – as there’s a lot of distractions here to flesh characters out and start to develop the bigger picture.

Having willingly chosen to remain behind, Frey now has to convince everyone she is her sister. She puts in place a plan to marry Col and seems to be in support of her father. The menace coming from this guy cannot be underestimated – when he tells Frey the plans he has to maintain power over the city of Paz, it made my heart sink somewhat.

To cut a long story short, Frey finds herself outside the protection of all she’s loved as she tries to find her sister and save a city. There’s a lot of events that take place to keep you entertained, yet they all seem to fit within the bigger picture of what is to come.

Clear parts to this keep the story moving nicely, and there’s plenty of hints about characters/events that really have me quite excited about what’s to come.


‘The Chosen’ -Taran Matharu



An intriguing idea, and a bit of an odd one – though I can see this Maze Runner-style scenario going down well with certain readers. Thanks to NetGalley for allowing me to read this prior to publication.

This is one of those books that may not appeal to everyone, but it certainly entertains.

Our main character, Cade, is in trouble when he is accused of stealing laptops and trying to sell them at school. He’s encouraged to plead guilty, and is given the opportunity to attend an alternative place for his punishment. Along with a number of other boys who are accused of crimes they didn’t commit, Cade is resigned to a rather odd existence.

One day – for reasons I am still unclear about – Cade finds himself in an unfamiliar scenario being attacked by strange creatures (what he refers to as piranha chimps). Along with others from his ‘school’ he learns he’s been plunged into a game. Nobody knows who’s in charge or what they’ll win for playing, but it seems their lives depend on it.

At this point things get very odd. They learn they’re facing death and encounter creatures that haven’t existed for millions of years.

Although there’s lots of action, we’re never sure what’s at the root of this or able to see the characters develop particularly. The ending came about very quickly and once we learn what’s behind this situation it does rather require us to suspend our disbelief.

‘Children of Virtue and Vengeance’ – Tomi Adeyemi


After battling the impossible, Zélie and Amari have finally succeeded in bringing magic back to the land of Orïsha. But the ritual was more powerful than they could’ve imagined, reigniting the powers of not only the maji, but of nobles with magic ancestry, too.

Now, Zélie struggles to unite the maji in an Orïsha where the enemy is just as powerful as they are. But when the monarchy and military unite to keep control of Orïsha, Zélie must fight to secure Amari’s right to the throne and protect the new maji from the monarchy’s wrath.

With civil war looming on the horizon, Zélie finds herself at a breaking point: she must discover a way to bring the kingdom together or watch as Orïsha tears itself apart.

Unfortunately, for me, this felt slow – and it took me a long time to really engage with this part. Overall, it seems to fit nicely into the series but this felt like a second-book setting pieces in play and preparing us for what comes next.
Splitting perspectives between Zelie, Amari and Inan I couldn’t help but feel as if so many scenes were repeated. Each seemed to get frustrated by someone else’s behaviour, then do something they knew would cause a problem but find a way to justify it to themselves.
There are growing issues with magic being used and this felt like the focus was on the political machinations of the monarchy.
A pleasant enough side-story with Zelie and Rouen, but it didn’t really seem to fit what had been set up in the first novel.
By the time we got to the end I can’t say I was surprised. Disappointed in Inan, and maybe there’s something we haven’t been told. The final scene suggests we’re going into some symbolic representation of slavery. I want to know how this develops but I’m not as desperate to read the next part as I was hoping I would be.

‘This Cruel Design’ by Emily Suvada

Unashamedly delights in its scientific premise, and definitely pushes the boundaries of what we believe makes us human.

Cat has been left in a difficult situation. Able to genetically alter, and code in a way not known by many, she is seen as the answer to so many problems. Unfortunately these skills also make her a target for others with their own agenda.

This time round we follow Cat as she tries to sort out the virus threatening the world. Her attempts to spread the vaccine have failed, and now she has only three days before a major organisation threaten to eradicate people who pose a threat. Even though he has done awful things, Cat’s only hope seems to be to find Lachlan, but she may have to put her trust in others in order to manoeuvre into a stronger position.

This felt like a step towards something much bigger, but there were some quite surprising revelations that prevented this feeling like a filler. I was quite blown away by what we learned about Cat, and the plans for the future have me desperate for January 2020 when the final part of the trilogy is scheduled for release.


‘What Kind of Girl’ – Alyssa B. Sheinmel

Scheduled for publication in February 2020, this is a book to shout about and encourage people to read.

The action of the book takes place over just one week, and it is a pivotal week in the lives of the characters we encounter. It’s the kind of week that changes lives.

Initially I was unsure about the way this book started. Each chapter was titled something different – the girlfriend, the dropout etc – and I was under the impression there were a number of characters. The reality was quite different, but these different voices melded together well and learning how they all connected actually made the message more powerful.

The story is quite simple. Maya goes to school one Monday morning with a black eye. She tells her Principal that her boyfriend, school golden boy Mike, did it. For the remainder of that week she negotiates school as people talk about her admission and what it might mean.

Along the way she and her best friend, Junie, do a fair amount of soul-searching. We learn a little more of their backgrounds and the various issues they are trying to navigate. We learn about some of the pressures they – and many like them – will face. Both girls are portrayed honestly, and with sympathy. Readers may have nothing in common with them, or they may nod knowingly…however, they won’t be able to ignore them or the topics this book explores.

Thanks to NetGalley for allowing me to read this prior to publication. I really look forward to seeing how this fares.


‘Impostors’ – Scott Westerfeld

I cannot believe that Uglies was released so long ago (in 2005), but in the first of this new series we are taken back to the world. This time round, though, Tally and her rebellion have led to some difficult circumstances and the leading families are struggling to keep order.

Impostors is a story that kept its hardest punch until the bitter end.

Frey and Rafi are identical twins, and their father is one of the ruling first family leaders. However, few people know about Frey. She is hidden away and trained to kill. Her one job is to take Rafi’s place at any potentially dangerous scenario.

Once we’ve been introduced to the pair, we learn that Frey has been asked to pretend to be Rafi as she visits another leading family. Though it seems a positive step, we learn she’s going as a hostage – and, too late, we learn that Frey’s position is in no way secure.

As soon as the plan kicks in, Frey is left to live on her wits in a dangerous bid for survival. She is forced to trust those who seemed determined to kill her. To what extent this will work, nobody is sure.

Following Frey as she pursues this dangerous adventure means everything happens at breakneck speed. Once she returns home, we see the depths to which her father has plunged…and the closing scene/ideas had me gasping. I cannot wait to see how this pans out.


‘Wranglestone’ – Darren Charlton

A curious concept. Post-apocalyptic world and we don’t know what happened, but people are scared of those who are different.

Our focus is on a small community who live on a lake. They look out for those they call The Restless Ones, and the only time they truly fear is winter. Winter is when the ice comes, the lake freezes and the zombies can come.

Peter, our main character, has never felt as if he fits in. Interested in sewing and other activities unsuited to this outdoorsy life, Peter harbours a secret crush on his neighbour, Cooper, who is the original outdoor hero. Two seemingly polar opposites, but it’s okay – this love is definitely reciprocated and the story is about how the pair can use their feelings for each other to try and make a difference to their world.

When Peter fails to check ID of someone trying to come ashore, he sets in motion a quite unusual sequence of events. He comes to question everything he has been told since he was little. Nothing is quite as it seems, and the question is to what extent this can change people’s lives.

At its heart this is a romance, but there’s suggestions of a bigger story coming into play. I enjoyed it a lot more than I was expecting to, but I did feel the latter part of the story was a little frenetic. We don’t know exactly who certain characters are or how they just happen to turn up at the right time, but there’s certainly more to these scenarios than we’ve been told here.

Thanks to NetGalley for letting me read this in exchange for my review.


‘The Subjects’ – Sarah Hopkins


As we got closer I could see behind the sandstone a curved concrete building: a purpose-built structure. But still no fence, no wire. Not a bar in sight. For this, I’d been told that morning, I should be grateful. This was a ‘lifeline…a last chance’. That is what the judge said.
Daniel is a sixteen-year-old drug dealer and he’s going to jail.
Then, suddenly, he’s not.
A courtroom intervention. A long car ride to a big country house. Other ‘gifted delinquents’: the elusive, devastating Rachel, and Alex, so tightly wound he seems about to shatter.
So where are they? It’s not a school, despite the ‘lessons’ with the headsets and changing images. It’s not a psych unit—not if the absence of medication means anything. It’s not a jail, because Daniel’s free to leave. Or that’s what they tell him.
He knows he and the others are part of an experiment.
But he doesn’t know who’s running it or what they’re trying to prove. And he has no idea what they’re doing to him.

A fascinating concept, but one which left me with far more questions than it answered and which was – ultimately – rather frustrating.

Our story focuses on teenage Daniel. He manages to avoid jail for selling drugs by agreeing to enter a facility. Like Daniel, we learn about the facility and those inside as he experiences it. Ultimately, however, the intriguing idea of exploring social engineering and the behaviour of pharmaceutical companies didn’t fully pay off.

I’m grateful to NetGalley for granting me access to this and it was a fascinating idea. Unfortunately, we never really get the answers we want and the children themselves feel as if information is being withheld. Knowing that Daniel was an adult looking back on this incident meant we had a suspicion how things might go.


‘The Sight of You’ – Holly Miller

I was given access to this via Secret Readers…and I’m so pleased I chose this title. I’m pretty sure that upon its release (scheduled for June 2020) this will become a much talked-about read, and I’m pretty convinced it will be turned into a film before long.

The Sight of You is a romance of epic proportions, but not quite in the way you might expect.

Joel has always had startlingly accurate dreams about people he loves. As a result he has vowed never to fall in love, because the pressure of seeing something you cannot change is too much. Yet when he meets Callie, it seems inevitable they’ll end up together.

The initial stages of the book had me entranced, but in a mildly curious way as I wondered just where this would go. Their fledgling relationship is cute, and having both perspectives definitely took this out of the standard romance vein I was expecting.

However, once we see how things pan out and see the depth of Joel’s love for Callie I am not afraid to admit to being totally emotionally overcome by this. Much as it didn’t follow the path you might have thought you wanted it to, it ended on such a positively life-affirming tone.

A testimony to love, in its truest form.


‘Now Entering Addamsville’ – Francesca Zappia

Zora Novak is not the most likeable of characters. She is surly and definitely has a chip on her shoulder – but as we learn more about her, it’s easier to understand her.

One thing we are told very early on is that Zora is being framed.

We know that when the home of the local janitor burns down, Zora was the last to see him. He was telling her off – and in Addamsville that is reason enough to suspect Zora of wanting to burn his home down. This is, in part, because of events of a few years earlier which we learn about during the course of the novel.

Without giving away too many details, it’s important that we know Zora has a special skill. She can see the dead, and is (like her mother) responsible for keeping her town free of the entities they call firestarters. Unfortunately, her mother disappeared five years ago and since then Zora has been trying to keep her town safe without really knowing what she’s doing.

As if these events weren’t bad enough, a team of investigative journalists hunting ghosts have come to Addamsville determined to get a scoop. This seems a rather unnecessary plot side-line, but stick with it. It all matters.

Initially I was drawn to this having enjoyed Eliza and her Monsters. This is quite different, and it did take me a while to really start linking ideas/events. Personally, I’d have liked to see a little more focus on the paranormal elements of this. I’ve also got so many questions about her mother, Bach and just what on earth is going on with the town of Addamsville.