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Review: Mossbelly MacFearsome and the Dwarves of Doom by Alex Gardiner

Review: Mossbelly MacFearsome and the Dwarves of Doom by Alex Gardiner

Mossbelly MacFearsome is a dwarf warrior on a mission. His nemesis, Leatherhead Barnstorm, has stolen the Doomstone Sword and is planning to use it to bring about the end of the human race. It’s up to Moss and his recently elected Destroyer, Roger – an […]

Top Ten Tuesday: Favourite couples

Top Ten Tuesday: Favourite couples

As it’s Valentine’s day in two days, this week’s Top Ten Tuesday is focused on the ten best couples in books. I couldn’t think of ten bookish couples which didn’t feature ones I’d already gushed about in the past, so I’ve decided to pick couples […]

Review: The Truth About Keeping Secrets by Savannah Brown

Review: The Truth About Keeping Secrets by Savannah Brown

‘I couldn’t look anywhere without seeing his silhouette; his ghost crawled from the sewer drains. But in a town covered in residue, how could there have been such a lack? Outrage. Sound. Where were the sirens? The panic? Benjamin Whitaker was dead! Dad was dead!

‘There should have been chaos in the streets. The town should have been engulfed in flames.’

When Sydney’s dad dies in a car accident, she knows someone must be to blame. There’s no way her dad could have just died for no reason, especially not in a car crash. He was a therapist: one of his patients must have cut his brakes or done something equally extreme.

Sydney is tempted to go through her dad’s patient files looking for answers, but she resists for two reasons.

  1. Because she can hear her dad in her head screeching “Patient confidentiality, Sydney!”
  2. Because of her burgeoning friendship with homecoming queen June Copeland, who appears at her dad’s funeral. Turns out the most popular girl in school was one of her dad’s patients, and Sydney would have had no idea if her dad hadn’t kicked the bucket.

June is captivating, and Sydney quickly becomes obsessed with her. Her favourite part of the day is the ten minute ride to and from school; a chunk of time when she’s alone with June, no longer vying for her attention. She even ditches her best and oldest friend, Olivia, for the chance to hang out with June at New Year’s.

It isn’t long before Sydney feels herself developing feelings towards her that feel a lot more than friendship. But June and her boyfriend, homecoming king Heath, have been a couple forever, so there’s no way she’ll ever return Sydney’s feelings… Right?

But relationship troubles aren’t the only thing plaguing Sydney. Someone is stalking her, sending her horrible text messages that seem to confirm her suspicion that her dad’s death was less than clear cut. Sydney has no idea who could have been involved or why they’re now out to get her, but she’s determined to find out.

My only issue with The Truth About Keeping Secrets is that it’s slow. I wouldn’t necessarily market it as a YA thriller, because one of the key aspects of a successful thriller is the ability to maintain a fast, gripping pace which makes it difficult to put the book down.

It might be more accurate to describe it as a mystery, because there are lots of questions sprinkled throughout, combined with elements of gothic literature that make this novel very psychological.

However, The Truth About Keeping Secrets features one of the most accurate portrayals of grief that I’ve ever encountered. Sydney becomes obsessed with a website called Time of Death, filled with videos of people dying in various horrific ways. Grief often causes people to act inexplicably out of character, and it was nice to see that represented. It’s also not a habit she finds easy to break, either: she doesn’t automatically stop as soon as someone calls her out on it, instead choosing to get riskier, watching the videos on her phone at school.

The foreshadowing is a little bit forced, so I wasn’t as surprised by the outcome of The Truth About Keeping Secrets as I’d hoped to be, but the actual reveal is gloriously melodramatic and feels ripped straight from the script of a cheesy horror film. That might sound like a bad thing, but that’s one of my favourite kind of reveals, so I was hooked from the moment Sydney heard that car pull up outside…

If you’re a fan of adult thrillers but want something you can savour, this is the perfect combination of slow-burn drama and intriguing mystery. I was looking for a more traditional thriller for the YA crowd, but I ended up being pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book.

Alyce

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Review: The Colour of Shadows by Phyllida Shrimpton

Review: The Colour of Shadows by Phyllida Shrimpton

When Saffron discovers a briefcase in the attic of her family home, she discovers that her father has lied to her. Ten years ago, he told her that her mother was dead, but she’s alive and out there somewhere and Saffron is determined to find […]

Blog tour: The Lost Man by Jane Harper

Blog tour: The Lost Man by Jane Harper

Hello, and welcome to my stop on The Lost Man blog tour. I’ve taken part in the blog tours for both The Dry and Force of Nature, so I jumped at the chance to read and review another of Jane Harper’s novels. My excitement grew when I learnt that this […]

Top Ten Tuesday: Releases I’m on the fence about

Top Ten Tuesday: Releases I’m on the fence about

The prompt for this week specifies that we’re supposed to be talking about upcoming releases, but I’ve been absent from the blogging community for the best part of the last six months so most of the releases on the horizon have completely slipped under my radar.

However, I have seen a lot of people talking about books which have been released recently that I’m still not sure whether I should pick up or not.

So I’m asking for your help: if you’ve read any of these ten books, would you recommend them or should I stay far away?

10) Give Me Your Hand by Megan Abbott

I have a love/hate relationship with Megan Abbott. I’ve really enjoyed some of her novels, but more often than not I’ve found myself exasperated and felt as though I’m reading the same story over and over (and over) again. Give Me Your Hand is Abbott’s latest release and one of her only releases that I’m yet to read, but I just don’t want to be disappointed again.

9) A Curse so Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

Fairytale retellings are hit-and-miss at the best of times, but when they’re as long as this one it normally leans towards the latter. However, I’ve seen a lot of people raving about how good Brigid Kemmerer’s other novels are, so I’m feeling cautiously optimistic about this story.

8) The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

The Woman in the Window was one of the most talked about thrillers released in 2018, but when I learnt that it was 450 pages I put it to the bottom of my TBR. I normally work out what’s going to happen in thrillers that are only 300 pages in length, so with an extra 150 pages I’m feeling certain that I’m not only going to solve the mystery but also find myself getting very bored.

7) Glass Town Wars by Celia Rees

I borrowed Glass Town Wars from my library via their eBook app, read the first chapter and swiftly returned it because I wasn’t in the mood to read that kind of book. If any of you have read it and can let me know what you thought, please do – it sounded very intriguing, but the writing style will take a lot of mental energy to adjust to and I don’t know if I can be bothered!

6) The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

When I first heard the title The Gilded Wolves, I didn’t expect it to be a book set in France in the late 1800s. I don’t normally read historical fiction but this book was in one of my subscription boxes last month, so this one will take me out of my comfort zone.

5) Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus

I’ve been avoiding One of Us is Lying because of the hype surrounding it, so of course I’m also scared of reading the second novel by such an adored debut author. The design of the book is so beautiful, though – it’s been hard to resist purchasing it even though I’ve got no intention of reading it just yet.

4) All The Lonely People by David Owen

I’d heard amazing things about David Owen’s debut novel, Panther, but when I read it I was disappointed. I’ve heard amazing things about Owen’s latest release, but I’m scared of picking it up without knowing more about it.

3) On the Come Up by Angie Thomas

I’m rapidly approaching the end of The Hate U Give and loving every page, although it’s making me feel heartbroken and incensed in equal measure. It’s not going to be easy to live up to the success of this debut novel, and I’m now beginning to dread the release of On the Come Up in case it makes Angie Thomas seem like a one-hit wonder.

2) Evermore by Sara Holland

I gave Everless four stars when I read it last January, and I added Evermore to my TBR straight away. In my review I said I was probably going to reread Everless before the sequel hit the shelves, and I wish I’d found the time to do that because I hardly remember anything that happened in the first book. If you’ve read the sequel, is this duology worth finishing?

1) Whiteout by Gabriel Dylan

Whiteout featured on my recent TBR additions post last week, but with sudden snow falling across the UK throughout the past week I’ve found myself too scared to pick up this book. I love reading horror, but something about the horror combined with the cold – something I’m not a huge fan of – has Whiteout sending shivers down my spine before I’ve even started it.

I hope you enjoyed this Top Ten Tuesday. Which recent release are you the most apprehensive about actually picking up?

Alyce

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Stripes YA Afternoon Equali-tea

Stripes YA Afternoon Equali-tea

It’s hard to believe over a week has passed since I hopped on the bus to London and headed to Stripes YA Afternoon Equali-tea, but I couldn’t resist sharing my experience with you all anyway. Unfortunately, on the morning of the event I woke up […]

Review: At the Edge of the Universe by Shaun David Hutchinson

Review: At the Edge of the Universe by Shaun David Hutchinson

‘Even when there’d been a whole universe to explore, Cloud Lake and Tommy had been my everything. “So that’s it?” I said. “I’m just supposed to go on living my life no matter how much the universe takes from me or how small it gets?” Dr. Sayegh nodded. “It’s what the rest of us do, Ozzie.” Ozzie’s boyfriend, Tommy, has vanished. […]

Review: Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow

Review: Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow

‘I’m so unwhole. I don’t know where all the pieces of me are, how to fit them together, how to make them stick. Or if I even can.’

Self-harm is a sensitive subject, no matter what form it takes. Some people find reading about cutting triggering, while others find it makes them feel seen and understood for the first time in months or years. It’s difficult to write about, because it’s almost impossible to strike the balance right: no matter how hard you try to help, you may end up hurting someone.

That’s why I think it’s impressive that Girl in Pieces has such a straight-talking, no-holds-barred protagonist. Charlotte Davis openly and honestly discusses not only her own personal brand of self-destruction, but also divulges the methods used by the other patients in the Creeley Centre. I’ve read books about self-harm in the past that have been filled with allusions, which always seemed false to me: in my personal experience, people who self-harm are often the ones most able to talk about it frankly, refusing to shy away from the truth of what they’ve done or why. It’s a relief to finally see that represented on the page.

Even without reading the author’s note at the end, it’s obvious that Kathleen Glasgow is telling this story from the heart. The short, diary-esque chapters bring Charlie’s character to life, slowly revealing her history and the reasons for her self-harm. Although she’s irrational and obtuse at times, you can’t resist rooting for her throughout the story. I found myself mentally cheering her along as she left Creeley and began adjusting to life on her own, valiantly battling the constant temptation to relapse.

However, self-harm isn’t the only story here. Charlie moves to Arizona to live near her friend Mikey, believing that he wants her to move closer to him so that they can be together, but it isn’t until she arrives that she learns he’s in a long-term relationship. She finds a job at a local diner and throws herself into it, finding herself falling for disgraced rock star Riley West.

Riley has his own issues, and Charlie finds herself learning that love isn’t the great healer she expected it to be. It’s always annoyed me that there’s a tendency in YA to make a character’s problems disappear as soon as they are in a relationship, so I was glad that Riley and Charlie didn’t fix each other immediately (although I’m not going to share whether they fix each other by the end of the book – you’ll just have to read it to find out for yourself).

If you’re a fan of YA that doesn’t shy away from difficult subject matter, I’d highly recommend Girl in Pieces. If you find yourself easily triggered by discussion of self-harm, I’d suggest waiting to pick this up until you’re feeling a bit more stable: if I’d read this book when I was in a bad place, I’m not sure if it would have done more harm than good.

Look after yourself, first and foremost, and remember I’m always here if you need someone to talk to.

Alyce

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Top Ten Tuesday: Recent TBR additions

Top Ten Tuesday: Recent TBR additions

Another week has passed, and it’s already the last Tuesday in January! It feels like it’s been such a painfully long month, but at least February is shorter – the weather will be warmer and the days longer before we know it. These ten books […]