‘The Last Graduate’ – Naomi Novak

I feel it’s fitting to have closed the pages on this instalment with only a week or two left until book three comes…because I would be going mad if I had to wait ages to find out what on earth happens after that.

El is in her final year at The Scholomance, and from the outset it seems things are being made tough for her. The school has given her more classes than anyone else, she’s being taught in rooms susceptible to attack and she quickly comes to realise that her lack of planning for the future could be problematic.

Every student knows just how hard it is to graduate. With so many students killed every year, El starts to wonder whether there might be something behind the punishing schedule. Could the school be trying to ask for help?

There’s no doubt El has power that could be very dangerous. She seems to want to use it to benefit others, and I’m curious to see if this remains the case.

Her relationship with Orion seems an distraction, and I did wonder quite what the point was. However, by the time we get to the end – and I really didn’t see that coming – it sets up a very interesting dilemma for what El does next.

So, now the clock is ticking for book three…


‘Belladonna’ – Adalyn Grace

Belladonna is a story which works perfectly well on its own, though I’m intrigued by the prospect of a sequel.

The story opens with us being introduced to Signa, a young girl who has the ability to see Death. Throughout her early years she finds herself in increasingly difficult situations, facing death but never being taken. Guardian after guardian dies, leaving Signa in a vulnerable position, and though people fear her we are not sure why.

When another guardian dies, Signa is taken to live with the family of an aunt. She finds herself communing with Death, and trying to investigate the death of her aunt Lillian with the help of the mysterious Sylas. Happy to finally be somewhere she feels welcomed, Signa does what she can to work out who was responsible and who might want her cousin Blythe dead.

A strange relationship between Signa and Death, and I liked the way that Signa was given the opportunity to escape some of the expectations for a young woman in her position.

Thanks to NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to read this prior to publication in exchange for my honest review, and now to find out when part two can be expected.

‘Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow’ – Gabrielle Zevin


Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow is a book about gaming but it is also a book about friendship, and a rather unconventional love story.

Our key characters are Sadie Green and Sam Masur. Both reserved, they have a shared love of gaming. Their bond is almost obsessive, and from the moment they meet in hospital to the closing pages of the book, we see the role gaming has in their lives.

While in college they design a best-selling game…and with some help from Sam’s room-mate, Marx, game design becomes their world. A start-up created through shared passion, and though there were sections of the book where the gaming talk became a little much there was plenty to keep our interest.

While we’re immersed in the world of gaming, Zevin’s focus is also the dynamics between the key characters and the relationship shared by Sam and Sadie. Complicated, fragile and prone to over-reactions, these two seemed to have a closer relationship than most lovers. Marx’s role seemed to be to bridge the gaps between the two, and yet it seemed rather cruel to dispose of him in the way Zevin did.

This was a solid 3.5 star read for me, but I’ve rounded it up because there were some moments within the book that resonated. Of all the games mentioned within the book I’m surprised that they went with the Emily poetry one to help generate interest…

Thanks to NetGalley for giving me the chance to read and review this.

‘The Book Eaters’ – Sunyi Dean

The Book Eaters takes a fascinating premise – people who can survive by eating books, each with their own distinctive taste – and evolves it into a dark urban fantasy. We see the depths people will go to in order to protect those they love, and there’s no escaping the dangers inherent in people’s obsessive need for power over others.

Devon is a member of one of the old Book Eater families. Raised on a diet of fairy tales her life is, as she recognises, one of constraint. A princess, but one who cannot escape. Destined to be wed twice, for the sole purpose of creating and raising an heir, Devon hates how the expectations of others challenges her own primal bond.

The story opens by plunging us into a world that makes little sense. Devon is in Newcastle with her son, Cai, who needs to feed regularly to survive. No ordinary child, he needs to eat minds to live. She spends her days hunting for good people to let her son feed, and the talk of knights and dragons following them is confusing.

As the story unfolds we switch back to the past and so get the details that explain the current situation. Forced into a dangerous predicament, there’s no disguising Devon’s determination to get the best for those she loves. Necessity dictates that only one child is focused on during this time, but I like the fact that her daughter was still very much in her thoughts.

The mind-eating element of this story really was quite unpleasant. However, it was interesting to see how those who were regarded as different were treated by those in control. Challenges were made, and it clearly doesn’t offer much hope for change overnight, but I wonder whether this concept was meant to get us thinking about events/attitudes in our present.

Thanks to NetGalley for giving me the chance to read this before publication in exchange for my honest thoughts. I haven’t made mention of it yet, but that cover is a beauty!


‘Nothing More to Tell’ – Karen McManus

Another McManus hit in the making, with many of the features fans will recognise and love…and definite potential for a very interesting follow-up.

This time round we’re focusing on a crime that took place some years ago. The body of Mr Will Larkin, a popular teacher at St Ambrose School, was found by three students. Popular belief is that the crime was random, but many still believe there’s more to the story than has been shared.

Our prime character is Brynn, an ex-student who has to return to the school she left four years earlier. She was friends with Tripp, one of the three students who found the body, and she is convinced that there’s more to the story. While her curiosity is understandable, she’s helped hugely here in her investigations by the fact that she has an internship at Motive, a true-crime show, and has access to police reports and details that your average teenager wouldn’t.

Much of the story focuses on Brynn’s attempts to uncover the truth. Of course, people are hiding things and the story behind Larkin’s murder is definitely not what people thought. The truth is almost crazier than anything you could dream up, but it does make sense.

Our narration is split between Brynn and Tripp. We also shift perspectives to the time of the crime, and this is well-constructed to keep us dangling. If I’m being honest, the ending felt rather rushed and the least credible of the strands we’d been given but to leave us with the teaser hinting at more to come from Brynn was a definite hit.

I’m grateful to NetGalley for giving me the chance to read and review this prior to publication, and I can’t wait to get my hands on my pre-ordered physical copy…and to see how students react once they’ve had the chance to read it.

‘This Book Kills’ – Ravena Guron

Scheduled for release in January 2023, thanks to NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to review this early…a debut influenced heavily by A Good Girl’s Guide and the Truly Devious series. Great fun, and definitely one to recommend.

Jess Choudhary is a scholarship student at an elite school. She’s used to feeling on the outskirts of things, but when one of the wealthiest and most popular boys in the school is found dead things get difficult. Though it’s hushed up, his murder was carried out almost word for word like the story Jess and another student wrote for a school assignment. When Jess receives a text thanking her for the inspiration, we know things are about to become difficult.

Impeded by the stipulation that their behaviour is exemplary, neither Jess nor Summer can take the risk of stirring up too much trouble. With a secret society stirring trouble for the ‘poors’, it’s apparent that someone is exploiting the institutional issues for their own gain.

With its dark undertones of institutionalised racism, and the very apparent exploitation of status for personal gain, this gave a rather derivative book a real bite. Jess and her attempts at investigation are well-meaning but rather inept…and she comes to depend on the very people who are so keen to ostracise her just a little too much for my liking.

While this didn’t exactly offer anything new, it is still a great read. I can’t wait to see how it fares when it’s let loose on the world.


‘The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea’ – Axie Oh

For centuries Mina’s homeland has been ravaged by storms. Every year a young woman is sent down to the bottom of the sea in order to become wife to the Sea God in an attempt to break the cycle. Nothing works. The consequences of the storms become more severe and people are losing hope that anything can help them.

Mina’s brother is in love with Shim Cheong, and when she is due to be sacrificed Mina cannot let her brother suffer so. She throws herself to the bottom of the sea, and though she does not believe herself worthy of the title of bride, she is brave enough to try and find out what needs to be done to save her people.

What follows has a fairytale quality. The prose in this was almost simplistic, but woven together in a way that kept me quite entranced.

Mina finds herself in a new land, taking on tough challenges but trying her best to do what she needs to in order to help those she loves.

Naturally, there’s more to this but it really is a story best discovered.


‘Husband Material’ – Alexis Hall

When you reach the age Luc and Oliver are in the book I appreciate that you are often caught up in the kind of situations they experience. Having got married at 21 I really don’t get the focus on weddings, but I appreciate that it can force you to feel certain responses.

Luc hasn’t moved on much – he would be exhausting to live with, and yet he brings a certain charm to his reactions. This time round we get to see them go through a number of weddings, some of which are more entertaining than others, and how it impacts their relationship.

Luc and Oliver continue to feel they have to behave a certain way, and I was pleased that they were given the opportunity to really have the chance to think about who they were/what was important to them. The scene following Oliver’s speech really did hurt – sometimes family are the ones who find it easiest to hurt you.

Thanks to NetGalley for giving me the chance to read this before publication.


‘Teen Killers Club’ – Lily Sparks

After being imprisoned for the murder of her best friend, Signal has had to deal with others getting the wrong impression of her. She’s survived so far, but when she’s given the chance to get out of prison she wants to take it…though it’s the most messed-up idea I’ve ever heard.

Signal is taken out of prison and finds herself joining a camp like no other. A camp for killers – those that have been convicted of murder, and who are categorised as Class A.

From her stunned arrival, it’s evident that Signal doesn’t really fit in. Her training experience was bizarre and I found myself fascinated by this group. Though they clearly have done some awful things, they were also capable of looking out for each other.

There’s friendship, romance and plotting that is quite audacious in its boldness.
Of course there’s more to this camp than we were first told. While trying to survive her mission, Signal is also determined to try and prove her innocence. The help she got along the way was unexpected. I’d second-guessed (wrongly) who was responsible, and can’t help but feel the end of this book sets up for a very dramatic second book.

I can’t wait to see where this goes next…


‘These Fleeting Shadows’ – Kate Alice Marshall

Due for release early August 2022, thanks to NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to read this prior to publication.

Touted as Knives Out meets The Haunting of Hill House, this was always likely to be a book that perplexed and entertained. With clear nods to the Gothic, this was a story that started oddly and just got stranger.

When her grandfather dies, Helen Vaughan goes with her mother to the ancestral home (known as Harrow). She learns that she is due to inherit millions and the property on the condition that she lives in the house for a year and is not rejected.

From start to finish we never know who to trust. Helen grows sick and starts to see things that make little sense. She is determined to get to the bottom of these visions, but we soon see that this could be a more dangerous scenario than envisioned.

I loved the fact this was based on a story that sounds even weirder and creepier than the one Marshall delivers. Deftly blending horror and mystery, this was a story that both puzzled and entertained.