‘You Have a Friend in 10A’ – Maggie Shipstead

Picked up a couple of times, but needed to wait until I was in the right mood…and I’m glad I did. Thanks to NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to read this, and while not every one caught my eye there were definitely more than a couple of great stories.

All very different, but I found a sense of wistfulness in all. The characters are often flawed, sometimes deeply so, and I couldn’t help but feel on a number of occasions that I was reading something intensely personal.

The one-night stand featuring the gymnast was unsettling in its honesty, and I found myself intrigued by the title story about the actress escaping a cult.
It has certainly made me more determined to get on with reading The Great Circle.


‘My Mechanical Romance’ – Alexene Faros Follmuth

My Mechanical Romance is a cute romance, immersing us in the world of robotics…and having been an avid watcher of Robot Wars when I was younger I could understand the appeal (even if the creation of these things was not in my sphere of interest).

Bel is reluctant to think too deeply about the future. She is a capable student but hasn’t considered her future, isn’t sure what she wants to do at college and hasn’t even thought about how to make herself an interesting potential student. Teo, on the other hand, has his future planned with precision. He’s single-minded in his pursuit of academic excellence and is scarily focused on his extra-curricular activities being tailored to give him maximum advantage. Each has their reasons for behaving like this, both of which are revealed as we read, and I couldn’t help but feel sorry for any young adult caught in this kind of academic pressure-cooker.

The focus on academia sounds heavy, but it is very much in the background. Our key interest is Bel’s involvement in the Robotic club and their preparations for National competition. It’s intense! There’s a couple of moments that had me rolling my eyes in frustration – the well-timed illness and the annoying sexist opponents- but these do offer something to the narrative.

I enjoyed the developing relationship between Teo and Bel, and it was certainly an interesting read to look at women in STEM and the institutionalised barriers that may impact on those wanting to get involved/feeling they can’t get involved.

For a YA romance this was a little more nuanced than I was expecting (and that was a good thing) and it has reminded me that I really need to get on with reading Atlas Six (penned by the author under another name)…

‘This Wicked Fate’ – Kalynn Bayron

While The Poison Heart was a good read I’m more than a little surprised by how this seemed to focus on quite a different story (and was quite a bit slower) to that I was expecting.

Briesis is caught up in a determined effort to do whatever she needs to in order to try and bring her mother back from the dead. It shouldn’t be possible, but with the support of Hecate Briesis is in line to get her wish.

Slow to get going, although it was a great idea. I liked the ongoing attempt to show the danger these people put themselves in to support others, but there was a lot we had to take for granted and I don’t feel all my questions were answered (particularly about the use of plants).

Once the quest got underway I felt a lot was relying on their personalities to carry events. There were some great moments, and yet I wanted to know more about the special talents Brie has.

Thanks to NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to read this in advance of publication.


‘Daughter of the Moon Goddess’ – Sue Lynn Tan

From start to finish we are immersed in a world rich with history and tradition. Some of this is explained, some is revealed as we read and yet I still feel there’s a lot to be told. This was a book I was unsure about before I started, but not far in I knew this was a book I’d want to return to so ordered my own copy.

Our tale focuses on Xingyin, the daughter of the moon goddess. Banished from the Celestial Empire for her actions, Xingyin’s mother has lived a half-life as she tries to protect her daughter from the wrath of the Immortal who took everything from her. Unfortunately, as she grows older her magic is harder to hide and Xingyin is forced to leave her home to try and remain safe.

Xingyin finds herself in the Emperor’s palace, companion to the young prince. She has to hide her true motivations, but we watch as Xingyin finds her skills growing.

While the situation felt unlikely, the friendship and respect between Xingyin and the prince was evident from the start. While events overtake them rather, their bond was obvious.

The different battles Xingyin experiences allow us to see her growth as a character, and her relationship with her training partner – who is not what he seems – lent a tension to the book that I hope will be developed in book two.

While the lyrical descriptions will not be to everyone’s taste, they helped me immerse myself in the world and lent a depth to it that I found hugely appealing.


‘They’re Watching You’ – Chelsea Ichaso

Due for release in January 2023, I was thrilled to get a copy of this via NetGalley. The cover and blurb had me tingling in anticipation…and now I’ve finished, I can’t wait to recommend this to others.

Ichaso strikes the right note here. At the outset, I was sucked in by Maren’s quest to find out what happened to her friend. She is gutsy, a little reckless, but it soon become obvious that someone was toying with her and that this game could be a lot more serious than she imagined.

What Maren learns is that Polly had become part of a secret society in their exclusive boarding school. Maren digs until she finds a way in…and then we started a curious cat and mouse game.

From the moment the Society is mentioned, Ichaso ramps up the tension. There’s a love triangle (of sorts) but it’s never clear who can be trusted, and Maren herself falls prey to this. Some of the challenges seemed rather childish…but it was evidently part of a much bigger plan. As we learn about the scope of the Society we start to see how serious this could be.

Once underway, this was a hard story to put down. It exploited the fears of the characters very well, and was written in a way that always left me with a niggling suspicion.

For a book about secret societies, deadly rituals and with potentially life-threatening scenarios this was great fun!