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Top Ten Tuesday: Standalones  that NEED a sequel

Top Ten Tuesday: Standalones that NEED a sequel

I’m forever getting to the end of a standalone and craving a sequel, so it feels like this week’s topic was made with me in mind. It’s been difficult to pick just ten books, because I can remember thinking this about so many of the […]

Review: Vote For Effie by Laura Wood

Review: Vote For Effie by Laura Wood

Effie Kostas is new at school and she’s struggling to fit in. She’s intelligent and confident, but she feels basically invisible until she gets into an argument with Aaron Davis – Student Council President – when he abuses his lunch pass privilege to buy the […]

Review: The Nowhere Child by Christian White

Review: The Nowhere Child by Christian White

Twenty years ago, Sammy Went was taken from her home in Manson, Kentucky. She’s now a photography teacher called Kim Leamy, living in Australia, completely unaware of her forgotten past until her long-lost brother Stuart tracks her down.

Flying back to America, Kim and Stuart try to get to the bottom of why she was kidnapped and how she ended up living on the other side of the world. Having lost her ‘mum’ years ago and unable to get the truth out of her stepfather, Kim has no choice but to dive into the deepest, darkest parts of Manson. Of particular interest a snake-obsessed cult called The Church of the Light Within, who seem to have brainwashed her mother shortly prior to her abduction…

When I first finished The Nowhere Child I gave it four stars, because it filled me with adrenaline. It has a hugely climactic ending that had me rushing to finish and a twist-filled resolution that I didn’t see coming, and it’s not often that thrillers surprise me!

However, after a couple of days reflection I’ve realised that one of the reasons I didn’t see the ending coming was because the red herrings placed throughout are done in an extremely unskillful manner, purposefully duping the reader and not making much sense to the wider plot.

The detective in charge of the case arranges a date with someone with the surname Leamy, making it impossible to believe it’s anyone other than Kim’s kidnapper – it’s a very unusual surname, after all – but she’s dropped in and then never revisited, so it’s not very satisfying to be misled in such an unsubtle way.

Then there’s the surname of the main family. A girl with the surname of Went gets kidnapped? Jeeeeeesus, that’s some heavy-handed naming. Cringe.

The plot of The Nowhere Child is intelligent, but these simple choices definitely detract from the impact of the book. It’s frustrating, because they’re such easy things to change, and I’m surprised that they weren’t altered during the editing process: if the red herrings had been gentle hints rather than forceful shoves in the wrong direction it would have been a far more enjoyable novel.

However, those aspects are only enough to get me to drop my rating down to three stars, because I still enjoyed the majority of The Nowhere Child. Bouncing from the present day back to when Sammy was taken, we get to learn more about the Went family and the people of Manson, and I found myself interested in all of their stories.

This book features a very strong cast of characters, from Sammy’s mother – struggling with post-natal depression and embraced by a cult – to Sammy’s father, who himself is struggling with his sexuality. Although I didn’t like some of the characters, I enjoyed reading about all of them, and I would have happily read this as a duology – one book taking place at the time when Sammy was taken, and one picking up the story twenty years later when Stuart managed to track Kim down.

I’m certainly going to be looking out for Christian White’s work in the future, because The Nowhere Child shows an author with a lot of potential. It’s not a surprise that it’s won the same award that The Dry by Jane Harper took home a few years ago (and you all know how much I love The Dry!) so hopefully I’ll enjoy Christian White’s future novels just as much as I adore Harper’s.

Alyce

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Review: Proud anthology

Review: Proud anthology

I was lucky to be invited to Stripes YA Afternoon Equali-tea back in January, where I picked up an early copy of Proud. Since Proud was announced last February, it’s been my most anticipated release of 2019, so I’m so excited to be able to […]

Blog tour: Trapped by Nick Louth

Blog tour: Trapped by Nick Louth

Hi there! Last week I took part in the blog blitz for Vivian Conroy’s A Testament to Murder and I told you that I had another exciting Canelo blog tour coming up, and today’s the day. As always, I’m going to give you a bit […]

Top Ten Tuesday: Characters I’d switch places with

Top Ten Tuesday: Characters I’d switch places with

Hiya! Welcome to another Top Ten Tuesday post. It feels like I’m writing one of these every other day at the moment – time is passing so quickly this year, and I can’t believe it’s already March.

This week’s topic is the ten characters that I would choose to swap places with. I don’t often find myself wanting to switch places with any characters – my life is pretty much perfect, so I have no reason to want to escape from it – so I’ve been thinking about this topic long and hard throughout the past week, but these are the ten that I’ve decided upon…

10) America Singer from The Selection by Kiera Cass

I was clutching at straws by the end of this list (this is the hardest topic this year so far!) but I decided I’d like to swap places with America for one reason: those big, beautiful dresses. I’d love to be able to justify wearing a luxurious, designer ballgown every single day of my life!

9) Georgie McCool from Landline by Rainbow Rowell

I didn’t love Landline all that much, but I adore the concept. Georgie’s landline allows her to phone back in time to talk to her husband when he was much younger – back before they started having problems in their marriage – and I would love to have the power to be able to phone people from my past.

8) Lazlo Strange from Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

Lazlo Strange dreams of exploring the city of Weep, and he gets to do that. I’d love to swap places with Lazlo, because not only does Weep sound absolutely beautiful (yet also scary), but he dreams of it his entire life and his dream comes true. I’ve dreamed of visiting many far off places and am yet to visit any of them – I was literally talking about the ten I want to visit the most last week – but hopefully I will eventually.

7) Denton Little from Denton Little’s Deathdate by Lance Rubin

On the one hand I’d hate to be Denton Little, because the day we meet him is his deathdate – the day that he’s going to die, the day that he’s always known he’s going to die on. So although I don’t want to be Denton specifically, I’d like to live in the world that Denton lives in: I think it would be nice to know when you’re going to go, because that means you won’t have any regrets at the end.

6) Effie Kostas from Vote For Effie by Laura Wood

Effie is at the forefront of my mind because I’ve only just finished Vote For Effie, but the entire time I was reading it I couldn’t stop myself from wishing that I’d been more like her when I was younger. I was very socially awkward and didn’t really give a shit about anything, so I wish I could go back in time and give past Alyce even a dash of Effie’s badassness.

5) Lara Jean Song Covey from To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

Okay, so getting my deepest, darkest feelings about boys posted to the boys themselves wouldn’t be great, but I think the way Lara Jean deals with the situation that she finds herself in is hugely admirable. I wish I could have even a dash of Lara Jean’s grace when it comes to dealing with adversity!

4) Schuyler van Alen from Blue Bloods by Melissa de la Cruz

It’s been a very long time since I read Blue Bloods, and I only ever got as far as the second book in the series, so I might be remembering how cool the world was incorrectly. However, as far as I can remember the Blue Bloods were the oldest of the vampires, living lives of absolute luxury in New York, with nothing getting in their way (well, apart from the odd vampire hunter).

3) Emika Chen from Warcross by Marie Lu

I’m only 100 pages into Warcross, so I might change my mind after I read a bit more, but at the moment it’s the kind of world I’d love to get transported into. A VR experience which is completely game-changing, and a game which is played by billions across the world – uniting countries the same way that the Olympics do – sounds extremely fun, and I’d love to get to try out Warcross.

2) Anna Oliphant from Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

I struggle to find anyone who hasn’t daydreamed about going to boarding school, so getting to go to boarding school in Paris would be wonderful. I know I’d get homesick, though, which is why being Anna wouldn’t be so bad – she’s only going to France for senior year, and then she gets to go home again.

1) Milly from SLAY by Kim Curran

Although becoming an orphan thanks to a demonic possession incident would suck, getting to console myself by going on tour – and slaying demons – with the hottest boyband in the world would be pretty fun.

That’s it for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday. I hope you enjoyed my list! Which character would you switch places with if you had the chance?

Alyce

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Review: This Lie Will Kill You by Chelsea Pitcher

Review: This Lie Will Kill You by Chelsea Pitcher

After Shane Ferrick dies in suspicious circumstances, rumours point the finger of blame in a few different directions. At the party where Shane was last seen alive, Juniper, Gavin and Brett all did terrible things to him, and everyone knows Parker hated Shane after he […]

Review: Whiteout by Gabriel Dylan

Review: Whiteout by Gabriel Dylan

A school ski trip turns deadly when a storm springs up out of nowhere, cutting the town where the group are staying off from the rest of the world. The ski lifts are out of action, the townsfolk seem to have evacuated and the teachers […]

Review: The Way Past Winter by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

Review: The Way Past Winter by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

‘It was a winter they would tell tales about. A winter that arrived so sudden and sharp it stuck birds to branches, and caught the rivers in such a frost their spray froze and scattered down like clouded crystals on stilled water. A winter that came, and never left.’

When Mila’s brother Oskar vanishes, her older sister Sanna is sure he has abandoned his family just like their Papa did years before.

But Mila knows Oskar wouldn’t do that, and she’s pretty sure it has something to do with the mystical man who stayed on their property the night before he disappeared.

A mystical man who didn’t sink into the snow.

A mystical man who knows their names.

Setting off on a journey across a land trapped in an eternal winter, Mila must enlist the help of a mage called Rune if she is to have any hope of finding her brother, let alone saving him.

There isn’t actually much to say about The Way Past Winter. I enjoyed it to start with, but the journey across the frozen lands quickly became stale and repetitive and stopped holding my attention. I found myself grateful for the book to be over, rather than dreading the story coming to an end.

I loved The Girl of Ink and Stars and hoped that The Way Past Winter was going to captivate me just as much, but this novel had less of a spark than Millwood Hargrave’s debut.

However, there were some aspects that were written brilliantly, and they’re the reason that I decided to write a full-length post.

The way Millwood Hargrave writes about grief is highly accurate. Mila’s Mama dies in childbirth and her Papa can’t handle it, so he walks out on the family and never returns. It’s not the best way of dealing with the situation, but that’s the thing about grief: it’s messy and personal and everyone copes in a different way.

I also loved the fact that the focus was entirely on family. Mila tries to leave her family behind when she goes looking for Oskar, but Pipa knows her well enough to know what she’s trying to do, and it isn’t long before Sanna follows her as well.

However, the characters didn’t feel all that well-developed, so I didn’t emotionally engage with any of them. This is particularly true about Rune, the mage who helps Mila on her journey, who we learn hardly anything about. I was so interested in his story, which made the focus on family both a blessing and a curse – if it doesn’t directly relate to Mila or her siblings, it’s hardly developed.

If you haven’t read any of Kiran Millwood Hargrave’s novels yet, I wouldn’t recommend starting with The Way Past Winter, but it is still a enjoyable and rather short story that you’d probably be able to read in one sitting.

Alyce

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YA Book Prize 2019 shortlist

YA Book Prize 2019 shortlist

In case you missed it, yesterday the YA Book Prize revealed this year’s #YA10. I put my predictions up on Wednesday, so today I’m going to share my thoughts on the shortlist: which inclusions surprised me, and which ones I feel stupid for not guessing! […]