First things first, I’d like to say a huge thank you to Walker Books, for accepting my request to read and review Twitch via NetGalley. Best known for being the author of The Battle of the Beetles series (and co-author of Adventures on Trains with …
First things first, I’d like to say a huge thank you to The Write Reads for organising this blog tour. Instructions for Dancing is Nicola Yoon’s third novel, and her first release in five years. Because it’s been such a long time since The Sun …
First things first, I’d like to say a huge thank you to Hodder & Stoughton, for accepting my request to read and review The Prison Healer via NetGalley.
The Prison Healer is a predictable yet gripping YA fantasy novel.
This book follows Kiva, the titular prison healer, as she volunteers to act as Champion for the Rebel Queen and undertakes four elemental trials in the attempt to win their freedom. That’s not all Kiva’s got going on, though; there’s also a debilitating stomach virus ravaging the prison, and unless she can find out what’s causing it the population of the prison is going to continue to plummet. Everyone’s lives are in Kiva’s hands – quite literally.
Let’s start off with the things which impressed me about this novel.
First of all, The Prison Healer is an extremely fast-paced read. Because Kiva is gearing up to face four different trials, there’s not a lot of downtime. The pages which do fall in between the trials is stuffed with investigations, experiments and theories as to what is causing the stomach virus, so there’s always something going on in this book.
The makes it very engaging, but it’s also easy to digest. Lynette Noni has a pleasant writing style which effortlessly weaves the exposition required to flesh out the world she’s created without it becoming info-dumpy, and I didn’t find myself getting fatigued by the history or the politics in this story.
I’m also a huge fan of these characters. Tipp is a particular favourite of mine. He’s Kiva’s assistant, and his earnest, eager to please attitude combined with his stutter just makes me want to do anything to protect him. I also really liked Jaren, whose dry sense of humour and witty banter with Kiva had me chuckling. Their relationship is very paint by numbers YA (we’re-not-quite-enemies-to-lovers, with a few ups and downs along the way) but I’m interested in seeing how it develops over the course of the trilogy. Naari is also very intriguing, as I had her motivations pegged from the beginning but there seems to be a lot more depth to her character. I’m keeping an eye on her…
However, there were a few things which bothered me about The Prison Healer, and that’s why it ended up being a three star for me.
First and foremost, the entire book is painfully predictable. There are a lot of tropes used in this book which I’ve seen done before. Although I haven’t necessarily seen them done better, they diminished the impact of the twists and reveals. I saw everything coming from a mile away. I’m normally good at working out the vague direction that a story is going to take, but when I’m making predictions which seem like they should be farfetched (because of a lack of foreshadowing in the plot) and they’re all spot on (because I’ve read books like The Queen of the Tearling, Red Queen and Shadow & Bone), it’s very disappointing. I tried not to let this impact my rating too much, because someone who hasn’t read a lot of YA fantasy and hasn’t encountered those tropes before will be genuinely surprised, but I’m a little bit too old to fall head over heels in love with this story.
The ending also dampened my enjoyment of the novel quite substantially. Yes, it’s made me excited to see what happens in book two – everything is up in the air, and everything I expected to see revealed throughout the course of the series has already been exposed, so I have no idea what’s going to happen next but I really want to find out! However, the way that a certain piece of information was revealed felt anti-climactic, and if I hadn’t felt so invested with these characters I wouldn’t be picking up The Gilded Cage.
That being said, The Prison Healer is a great look at the way that a book can be set in one very small location and can still give a great sense of the world. With Kiva reflecting on experiences from her childhood, nearby royalty coming to observe one of Kiva’s trials and rumours sneaking into the prison from outside the walls of Zalindov, Lynette Noni paints a great picture of the world outside of the prison while not letting her protagonist out of her confinement. This setting is very claustrophobic, which adds to the tension experienced throughout, and it’s certainly made for one of the most memorable settings I’ve read in a while.
All in all, The Prison Healer is a solid series starter, but it’s just not the book for me anymore. I’m going to carry on with the series and I’m expecting great things from it – especially as Lynette Noni isn’t afraid to explore the darker aspects of YA fantasy – but this isn’t a new favourite just yet.
Thank you for checking out my review of The Prison Healer. If you’ve read this book, please let me know your thoughts down below!
See you again soon,
First things first, I’d like to say a huge thank you to Hodder & Stoughton, for accepting my request to read and review this title via NetGalley. In the Ravenous Dark is an ambitious standalone fantasy novel focused on life, death and love. Rovan has …
First things first, I’d like to say a huge thank you to Wildfire for accepting my request to read and review this book via NetGalley. The best way to describe The Perfect Girlfriend is ‘a wild ride’. This adult thriller novel follows a woman called …
I’ve been struggling to review The Boy I Am since I read it because it’s hard to sum up how I feel about this book, but I’m going to give it one last try. I read The Boy I Am through NetGalley, so a huge thank you to Stripes for accepting my request to read and review this title.
The Boy I Am is an ambitious debut with the potential to become the first book in a longer series. Following a boy called Jude who is part of the House of Boys, K.L. Kettle’s dystopian world explores the idea of a society where boys are treated as commodities and women hold all of the positions of power.
K.L. Kettle throws you into her world without hesitation. When we meet Jude, he is in the middle of plotting to kill someone called the Chancellor, hoping to get revenge on her for something that happened in the past. Not knowing anything about the House of Boys, the structure of the world or even who the Chancellor is, the start of this novel is so fast that it feels as though it’s trying to give you whiplash.
That’s both a blessing and a curse. If you’re a reader who doesn’t like to be handled with kid gloves and wants to be completely immersed in the world of the story as quickly as possible, this will end up being a new favourite for you. If you’re more like me – someone who finds it much easier to get absorbed by the story once you’ve got the rules and the structure of the world worked out in your mind – The Boy I Am becomes a much more difficult book to read.
That being said, difficult doesn’t mean unenjoyable, and I still gave The Boy I Am four stars. By the end of the story I was wholly invested in Jude’s life and in the world that K.L. Kettle created, and I sincerely hope that she decides to write more books set in this world. As well as the House of Boys there are so many other houses mentioned, and it would be brilliant to be able to take a peek inside them.
Jude’s story feels resolved when the book ends, but there’s still so much to explore in this world. K.L. Kettle has obviously thought long and hard about all of the aspects of the society she’s created, and some of the things mentioned in passing piqued my interest. You can bet your bottom dollar that if this does end up being turned into a series I’ll be first in line to buy a copy of book two. I also think that if I do reread this book, I’ll end up giving it five stars. Even though I was completely bamboozled for the majority of the story, I felt such an emotional connection with Jude. Reading it again and having a prior comprehension of the rules of this world can only increase my enjoyment of this story.
The Boy I Am is K.L. Kettle’s debut novel, and it should be the start of a hugely successful writing career. If you like dystopian novels but want to read one which attempts something completely new and fresh, The Boy I Am is a must-read.
I hope you enjoyed this review, and thank you for visiting The Bumbling Blogger.
See you again soon,
I’ve finally finished Sword in the Stars, so I thought I’d share my thoughts on the two books in the Once & Future duology. I’ve already discussed Once & Future over on my Booktube channel, so make sure to check that out as well if …
First things first, I’d like to say a huge thank you to Smith Publicity for accepting my request to read and review this book via NetGalley.
Heaven Has No Regrets tells the story of cousins – and best friends – Makenzie and Faith. Jumping between the present (where one of the girls is dealing with the grief accompanying the death of the other) and the past (where Faith gets diagnosed with Crohn’s disease and Makenzie suffers from bulimia), this novel is part mystery, part contemporary and part guidebook to dealing with loss.
Unfortunately, no matter how heartless it makes me, I really didn’t like this book. I feel terrible for saying it, because it was based on a true story and it’s obvious that Tessa Shaffer poured her heart and soul into Makenzie and Faith’s story, but I had a lot of problems with it.
Primarily, my issue is with the choice to make the death of one of the cousins into a mystery. It would have been far more impactful and emotional if we had known which cousin died earlier in the novel, rather than leaving the reveal until one of the final few chapters. I’m sure Tessa Shaffer was attempting to make the character’s grief non-specific, so that readers could relate to it and put themselves into her shoes. Instead it felt like a ploy to get readers to keep turning the pages. If the characters had been fleshed out a bit better, readers would feel as though they wanted to carry on reading even without that non-chronological flash into the future. Instead, we’re left with two named characters and the rest of the characters described as ‘the boy with the motorcycle’ or ‘the boy with the mohawk’, not even given names. It was impossible to keep the background characters straight because they had no descriptions or defining characteristics, and the story suffered because of it.
My other major issue with this story is the triggering way that Makenzie’s eating disorder is discussed. There are graphic descriptions of the way she purges, and it was wholly unnecessary. These issues should be handled with sensitivity, but there was no gentle or careful way of talking about the subject, it was very blunt and felt very harmful. If these descriptions had occurred earlier in the novel I would have DNFed it, but because I was already over halfway through by the time they cropped up I forced myself through the story, to the detriment of my own mental health. If you’re someone who suffers with eating disorders or finds yourself triggered by graphic descriptions of bulimia, this is certainly one to avoid.
The first line of dialogue isn’t spoken until the 8% mark, which makes the beginning of the book a slog to get through. I found Faith’s Crohn’s diagnosis interesting, and would have liked it if that had been explored a bit more thoroughly, but the focus is very much on the way she feels before her diagnosis and the bitter attitude that she has towards the medication she requires to manage the symptoms of the disease. I can’t remember reading a novel featuring a character with Crohn’s before, and this book is not a very memorable exploration of it. I was also beyond disgusted by the emotional blackmail that Faith uses, threatening to stop taking her medication every time that Makenzie purges. The way to help a family member with an eating disorder is not to threaten them, and the fact that this isn’t addressed is extremely worrying.
The only reason that I’m giving this book two stars is because the ruminations on grief in between the chapters were very thought-provoking and insightful. If Tessa Shaffer had chosen to write a non-fiction book with these inspirational quotes, I think it would have been a bestseller. They really make you consider the way that you live your life and give you a newfound appreciation for the people around you. I’ve been holding my babies much closer and prioritising spending more quality time with them, and I’m grateful for that.
Thanks for reading,
I’d like to say a huge thank you to Muswell Press for accepting my request to review this title via NetGalley. Scent tells the story of Clémentine, a perfumer trapped in a failing marriage. Tensions between Clémentine’s son Bastien and his father Édouard have been …