Tag: netgalley

REVIEW: Game Changer by Neal Shusterman

REVIEW: Game Changer by Neal Shusterman

First things first I’d like to say a huge thank you to Walker Books, who accepted my request to read Game Changer via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. I have been so excited about reading a new Neal Shusterman novel. Having 

Book review: Heartless by Marissa Meyer

Book review: Heartless by Marissa Meyer

First things first: I’d like to say a huge thank you to Macmillan Children’s Books for accepting my request to read this book via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. I don’t understand how we’re in 2021 and I’ve just read my 

BLOGTOBER Day 31: #10in20 review challenge #2

For today’s Blogtober post, I’ve decided to challenge myself to another round of #10in20. In this challenge, you write 10 books in 20 minutes, meaning you have only two minutes to write as much as you can about each book you review. This was a success last time, but will this round go as well?

All of these books are ones that I’ve read via NetGalley and just haven’t had a chance to review yet. Huge thanks to each of the publishers for granting me access to their titles, and sorry for sleeping on them for so long!

And The Stars Were Burning Brightly by Danielle Jawando – 4 stars



And The Stars Were Burning Brightly is a heartbreaking novel following a boy whose brother Al dies by suicide. Nathan is determined to get to the bottom of why Al decided to end his life, making this a bit of a mystery novel; Nathan knows there’s much more going on than meets the eye, but the people he asks refuse to get involved.

Meanwhile, we also follow Megan, one of Al’s closest friends, who starts to look inside herself and decide to be true to who she is. She feels guilt for pretending her and Al weren’t as close as they were in an attempt to fit in with her popular friends, and realises that it’s far more important to be happy than popular.

This is an inspiring novel with a hopeful twist, even though it did make me bawl my eyes out at the end. With a huge focus on art, the star and the universe, you’re bound to learn something, and Danielle Jawando’s writing is both lyrical and frank – an impressive combination to perfect in a debut.




Mayhem by Estelle Laure – 3 stars
Mayhem by Estelle Laure



I took part in the blog tour for Mayhem earlier in the summer and I thought I was really going to love it, but unfortunately that wasn’t the case.

Following a girl called Mayhem as her and her mother flee her abusive step-dad to return to her mum’s childhood home, Mayhem starts off intriguing but quickly becomes bland and boring.

Considering there’s a serial killer in this novel, there are no chapters that make your pulse race or make your heart sit in your throat. It’s very one level.

There is an interesting magic system, but it’s not very well-crafted. In fact it’s bloody difficult to work out what’s going on most of the times! I guess the Brayburn family are some kind of vampiric mermaids, but considering a lot of people were lauding this as a The Lost Boys retelling – a book which I know is about vampires – none of it made much sense to me.

Three stars because it didn’t make me feel much of anything, but the writing was unique.



Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo – 5 stars



This book cements Elizabeth Acevedo as one of the strongest YA verse writers around.

Following two girls, Camino and Yahaira, as they discover that their father recently deceased had been hiding a secret family from them, this is a beautiful portrayal of grief and the way that loss impacts not just the individual but also the community around them.

The dual narrative brings so much to the novel, as we see how both girls react to the discovery that their father was not what they thought he was. We also get to see the stark contrast between New York and the Dominican Republic, and the difference between the two locations is written impeccably.

I loved The Poet X and didn’t think that I’d enjoy Clap When You Land as much because I always struggle to love verse novels, but if anything I enjoyed this book much, much more. I can’t wait to see where Elizabeth Acevedo goes from here.



Unscripted by Nicole Kronzer – 3 stars



It’s been a few months since I read Unscripted, and in hindsight I am surprised I didn’t rate it more harshly.

I loved what this book was trying to do – attempting to tackle sexism at an improv camp and the stereotype that girls aren’t funny – but my issue was that none of jokes in this book are funny. I didn’t even crack a simple or let out a simple chuckle. Nothing about this screamed ‘funny book about unfunny things’ and that’s what I was hoping for, so I was really let down by this debut novel.

Perhaps it’s because improv is a pretty American thing – it’s not something which gets much airtime in the UK, particularly not compared to stand-up comedy – so I probably wasn’t the right audience for this book. I think that’s why I decided to go with a middle-of-the-road rating; because this will do really important things for some people, I’m just not one of them.

I enjoyed the camp setting, but that’s because I’m always a sucker for summer camp stories, but this just wasn’t the book for me.



What Stars Are Made Of by Sarah Allen – 4 stars





This book reminds me quite a bit of Wonder by R.J. Palacio. Following a little girl with Turner Syndrome as she tries to get her favourite astronomer’s achievements recognised, this is an empowering middle-grade novel which will appeal to fans of The Infinite Lives of Maisie Day by Christopher Edge.

It’s always great to encourage girls to get into STEM subjects, and this book not only sparks an interest in STEM but also educates readers on some big achievements from female scientists – achievements which have often been attributed to their male colleagues! – and shows how women have quite literally changed the way we view the world.





Read To Your Toddler Every Day by Lucy Brownridge – 3 stars



I read Read To Your Toddler Every Day to Zophia a few months ago. Although I enjoyed these simplified folktales – a lot of which I had no prior knowledge of – she was rather restless while we were reading it.

Although the illustrations are beautiful throughout, there are a lot of small words on each page, which made it hard for her to concentrate. She’s a big fan of books which have a sentence or two on each page and a lot more illustrations!

I think this is a good book to read to your toddlers to teach them a variety of tales from across the globe, as it’s a good early introduction to more cultures. However, this isn’t the kind of book that will get your toddler reading along with you, so it might be worth reading it when they’re a little bit older (possibly in their first few years at school).

The Legend of the Light Keeper by Kelly Hall – 1 star



This book is very Cassandra Clare-esque, in that the synopsis references a ‘forbidden love’, which is actually the main character falling in love with her soon-to-be step-brother Talon. (Scoff, Talon, what a name). Not only that, she is then non-consensually kissed by a boy who ends up being her cousin, so there’s a lot of vaguely incestuous behaviour going on in The Legend of the Light Keeper.

Although the mystery aspects of this story is intriguing – there’s a random light which keeps turning up and leaving black smudges everywhere, and Lily is the only person who is able to see that the light is a person – there is far too much focus on the romance. The plot is neglected. Although the setting is well-crafted, there is no adrenaline and the writing is bland. Even though the characters were scared, my heart wasn’t racing, and I was reading this book each night before bed to send myself to sleep.



All About Us by Tom Ellen – 4 stars



All About Us is a romantic retelling of A Christmas Carol. Tom and Daphne have been having problems in their relationship, and he begins to wonder whether life would have been better if he’d pursued a relationship with Alice from uni. When he gets the chance to go back and live life differently, he realises how much he loves Daphne and how desperate he is to fix everything before it’s too late.

This is a heartwarming tale which is the perfect Christmas read. If you’ve been experiencing relationship stress due to this hellish year, it might be worth picking up All About Us, because it reminds you to remember why you fell in love with your significant other in the first place, and does a great job of revitalising a relationship that has grown a bit stale.



Three Perfect Liars by Heidi Perks – 3 stars




Unfortunately Three Perfect Liars ended up being perfectly predictable.

The concept of this one is great – there’s an office building which is burnt to the ground, and the story jumps backwards and forwards between the weeks leading up to the fire and the police interviews on the morning after the fire – but I saw the twist coming from a mile away which is a major disappointment.

However, I loved the discourse that Heidi Perks writes around the expectations placed on working mothers and the inherent discrimination that they experience when returning to work. Even though it might not be something that could be pursued in a court of law, the treatment that Laura experiences filled me with rage: if I’d been treated like her when I returned from maternity leave then I would have hit the roof! I can’t think of another thriller which discusses a subject such as this, which made this stand out from the pack.


Santa Jaws by Mark Sperring and Sophie Corrigan – 5 stars





I wanted this #10in20 to be a NetGalley special, and the only other NetGalley book that I’ve read recently was Santa Jaws, so I’m finishing this off with a picture book review.

This is a lovely story about a squid who gets tricked into thinking he’s meeting Santa Claus, and how he reacts when he discovers Santa Claus is actually a shark in a Santa costume!




I hope you enjoyed this round of #10in20 reviews, and that you enjoyed the rest of my Blogtober posts too. I can’t believe I actually managed to do it – I was certain I was going to fail after the first week!

See you soon, and Happy Halloween,

Alyce

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My little girl loved the gorgeous background illustrations in this one – there are lots of other marine animals floating around in the background – and this certainly put us in the mood for Christmas, which is perfect because we read this this evening after getting home from our pumpkin trail trick-or-treating extravaganza!

BLOGTOBER Day 5: Dear Justyce (Dear Martin #2) by Nic Stone

BLOGTOBER Day 5: Dear Justyce (Dear Martin #2) by Nic Stone

After finishing Dear Martin back in July, I wondered why it was getting a sequel. Justyce’s story resolves neatly in the first book in this series, and I couldn’t for the life of me see where the story could go from there. Little did I 

BLOGTOBER Day 3: TBR Jar Round #8

BLOGTOBER Day 3: TBR Jar Round #8

In September I did things a little bit differently because it was Bookoplathon (hosted by Becca and the Books). I pulled five books out of my TBR jar as normal, but ended up pulling another two books out of the jar throughout the month when 

TBR Jar Round #6

TBR Jar Round #6

Typing that title has made me realise that it has been six months since I started my TBR Jar! How wild. I’m glad that I’ve stuck with it (even though it’s been getting progressively harder to motivate myself to pick up the titles I pick out because I keep getting such huge disappointments) and I’m looking forward to carrying on with the jar for many months to come.

As always I picked out five titles from my TBR bucket while filming my July TBR, but I ended up having to substitute one of them because it hadn’t sent across from NetGalley properly and was archived years ago (#fail). It then also took me a few days at the beginning of August to finish Permanent Record, which is why this post is coming to you a bit later than normal!

Surely my picks couldn’t be as bad as last month… Right?

Permanent Record by Mary H.K. Choi – 5 stars

Permanent Record is a book which I related to (and not because I’ve had a secret relationship with a Disney star!).

Pablo Neruda ‘Pab’ Rind doesn’t know what he’s doing with his life. An ill ventured attempt at attending NYU has left him with thousands of dollars worth of debt, made all the worse by the fact that his mother warned him against attending in the first place because of the high price tag. Working at the local bodega – sorry, health food store – Pab is stuck in a rut. Until he meets Leanna Smart.

Leanna Smart is the new Miley Cyrus/Demi Lovato/Selena Gomez. Guys want her, girls want to be her, she’s a household name across the globe… And for some reason she’s in Pab’s bodega in the middle of the night on Valentine’s Day.

The interesting thing about how much I loved Permanent Record is how little I cared about Pab and Leanna’s relationship. Having read Mary H.K. Choi’s debut, Emergency Contact, I was expecting this to be a dual perspective narrative, but without seeing inside Leanna’s head it’s hard to get a read on her. She’s driven and ambitious, with some insecurities, but she spends more time globetrotting than we spend getting to know her. If we had seen things from Leanna’s side I would have rated this even higher (which is impressive, considering I gave Permanent Record five stars even without it).

As it was, I found the scenes focused on Pab’s relationships with his family and flatmates to be far more compelling than any he shared with Leanna.

The reason I loved this book so much was because I read it at exactly the right time in my life.

‘I care about everything equally until I care about so many things I get overwhelmed and care about nothing at all.’

I don’t think I’ve ever found a quote which describes me so perfectly. It’s the reason I decided not to go to university in the first place; I had a notebook filled with huge lists of courses that I was interested in, and it was impossible to narrow it down so I… didn’t.

When you’re surrounded by YA books filled with characters who know what they want to study and how to get there, it’s refreshing to meet a character like Pab who does not have his shit together in the slightest. It’s inspiring, and it gave me a boost I didn’t even know I needed. It’s reminded me that you can’t rest on your laurels in life. It’s better to pick one thing, regret it and need to try something different later in life rather than do nothing.

Permanent Record isn’t perfect, but I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and it will stay with me. It deserves five stars for that if nothing else. I’m so glad I picked it out of the TBR jar this month, and I can’t wait to pick up more of Choi’s work in the future.

Not If I See You First by Eric Lindstrom – 5 stars

Not If I See You First was another five star for me. I put off reading it until the end of the month and ended up flying through it in a day, which was a pleasant surprise.

Not If I See You First follows a girl called Parker Grant, who is blind. Parker has a set of rules that people must follow if they want to be her friend, and if you break one of these rules you’re out. For good.

Parker’s ex-best friend Scott broke one of the rules when they were younger, and she hasn’t spoken to him since. This was helped by the fact that they went to different high schools, but now Scott’s back, and Parker begins wondering whether rules were made to be broken.

I enjoyed so many different aspects of Not If I See You First, but first and foremost I loved Parker. She is a pretty horrible person – snarky, sarcastic, straight-talking to the point of rudeness – but it makes her so interesting. I’m a huge fan of reading unlikable characters, and if Parker had been nice and sweet this would have been a much less compelling story. Parker claims that she’s honest because of her blindness – she can’t see the way people react to her comments, so why should she care? – which makes it interesting to experience things from her viewpoint. Not only does the reader not know how other character’s are reacting, but we only know what the character’s look like based off of Parker’s memories (and the bits of information the other character’s tell us about themselves) which makes for a unique reading experience.

There’s just so many different things that this book handles, and handles well.

Parker’s dad has just died, so there’s an exploration of grief. Parker thinks it’s healthy to bottle everything up and rewards herself with a gold star for getting through each day without crying. However, this doesn’t end up being the healthiest plan, and Eric Lindstrom makes a big point of showing that it’s okay to not know how to grieve, and you can grieve in multiple ways.

This also makes for some interesting dynamics between Parker and her aunt’s family, as they have to uproot their lives to move to her home after her father’s death. There is understandable animosity on both sides, and it was another aspect that was very realistic.

There’s also Parker’s running. Parker runs in the local park every morning, because she loved running before she lost her vision and she refuses to let her blindness take everything from her. This terrifies a lot of the able-bodied people around her, because they think it’s dangerous and it doesn’t fit with their preconceived notions of what a blind girl should be doing, but I think it’s a brilliant way of showing that individuals know their own capabilities and there shouldn’t be a one-size-fits-all approach to disability.

I thought the relationship between Parker and Scott was very realistic. I’m not a huge fan of miscommunication, and a lot of their issues could have been avoided if Parker had just listened to Scott in the first place, but she admits this herself! I also think it’s very easy to tell people to hear someone out, but when you’re in that situation and you’re feeling betrayed then it’s impossible to do it, especially at a young age.

Most YA contemporaries are hyper-focused on the look of the love interest, so it’s refreshing that this story focuses on Scott’s personality instead. That might be why I liked their relationship so much despite having some issues with it (one of which being the fact that Parker still thinks of Scott as her soulmate despite the fact that she’s hated him since she was 13!). Eric Lindstrom left their story open which I loved, but it’s also a very hopeful ending; it brought a tear to my eye, and I don’t often cry while reading.

I’ll admit, Not If I See You First isn’t perfect, but if a book is trying to address so many different things at once and is tackling all of them to a very high standard, I can’t give it lower than a five.

Follow Me Back by A.V. Geiger – 2.5 stars

I found Follow Me Back very conflicting. The concept is clever, the synopsis made this sound like it would be a new favourite, but the execution was meh.

Tessa has been suffering with agoraphobia after an incident occurred in New Orleans over the summer. Since Tessa has been unable to leave the house she’s gotten obsessed with singer/songwriter Eric Thorn, and she manages to get his attention after her racy fanfic #EricThornObsessed gets his name into the top trends.

Eric is disillusioned with fame and detests the fangirls who are only interested in him for his body. Has anyone even bothered listening to his latest single? Can the screaming girls at every show even hear his lyrics over the sounds of their adoration? He decides it’s time to take matters into his own hands and makes a fake Twitter account to destroy his reputation.

However, it backfires. No one’s going to take a Twitter troll seriously when they’re trying to take down one of the biggest pop stars on the planet. Eric changes tack and uses the account to attack Tessa, who replies civilly. He instantly realises she’s not like other fans and they strike up a friendship which develops into more.

I thought this story was going to be a thriller rather than a contemporary romance, but it’s definitely the latter. There are thrilling aspects towards the end of the story but they come out of nowhere with hardly any setup and it makes things wholly unsatisfying, although it does mean that the pacing in the last quarter is dramatically faster.

The more I think about this story the more it annoys me, because I did enjoy the beginning of the novel. The story is interspersed with excerpts from police interviews, so you know shit is going to go down… It just ends up being a bit of a cop out, which is a shame. Even Tessa’s agoraphobia doesn’t end up being tackled in a realistic way, so if you do suffer from agoraphobia I wouldn’t recommend picking this book up. I’m not a agoraphobic, but I found the way the plot ended up being resolved to be quite patronising and insulting (but if you have experience with agoraphobia and felt differently when you read this please let me know!).

I was impressed with the surprising, whiplash ending, which is a twist on a twist… Then discovered that there’s a sequel, which dampened the impact enormously. This doesn’t feel like a story which needs to be dragged out further, so it’s probably not a series I’ll continue.

Meanwhile, just because Tessa’s not like other ‘fans’ and not ‘girls’, it doesn’t mean I’m going to hate this trope any less. If Eric would get his head out of his ass and stop presuming all of his fans are rabid attach dogs waiting to bite, he’d soon learn that they’re all individuals, not cookie cutter ‘fans’. Definitely not the book for me.

Contagion by Teri Terry – 2.5 stars

I was hoping I was going to love Contagion because I’ve enjoyed all of the Teri Terry novels I’ve read so far, but unfortunately Contagion fell a little short for me.

Contagion is about – surprisingly enough – a virus that sweeps across Scotland and the north of England called the Aberdeen flu. When the novel starts we are rapidly counting down to time zero, jumping between the perspectives of two girls called Callie and Shay.

Callie has been missing for a year, and she’s trapped in an underground laboratory being experimented on for unknown reasons. Shay is the last person who saw Callie, but she doesn’t even know Callie is missing until the book begins, so she contacts Callie’s brother Kai and they begin searching for her and for answers regarding who took her and why.

Despite the fact that we’re in the midst of a global pandemic, I didn’t find the world that convincing which gave it a serious lack of tension. It’s hard to put my finger on exactly what it was that I didn’t click with, but part of it is that there are ‘surprising reveals’ towards the end of the book which I found obvious as soon as that aspect of the plot was introduced. I couldn’t believe that the characters involved weren’t able to see the pattern sooner.

Because this is YA there is a strong focus on the romance which develops between Shay and Kai, and although their relationship is quite cute it felt rushed. Within a day of them meeting each other Shay is getting butterflies when Kai texts her, and while I can believe that might happen I can’t believe it would be the priority during the outbreak of a pandemic which is killing huge swathes of the Scottish population.

I also struggled at times with the switching perspectives because Shay and Callie’s voices were quite similar. I found myself wishing we could follow Kai instead, because he was going off by himself and I was interested in what he was getting up to!

That being said, the scientific aspects were handled really well. The origins of the virus are realistic, and the way that Teri Terry explains some difficult concepts makes this easy to digest even if you don’t have a head for science.

I will be continuing on with the trilogy because this story has a lot of promise, but I’m feeling apprehensive. One of the characters has a mysterious identity and it seems obvious to me who will end up being unmasked. I hope I’m wrong because I don’t want all of the twists and turns in this story to be highly predictable, but I’m looking forward to seeing how the story resolves (and hoping I will like the next two installments a little bit more!).

The Summer of Us by Cecilia Vinesse – 4 stars

The Summer of Us was my substitute title, replacing Altar of Reality by Mara Valderran.

It’s ridiculously appropriate that I picked out The Summer of Us this month because it begins on July 1st. I ended up reading each chapter on the date that the events in it took place, which on the one hand was a great idea – it felt as though it was me exploring Europe with my friends and made me feel far more connected to the characters – but on the other hand meant it took me two weeks to read a book which I should have been able to read in one sitting. Oops.

There is a lot going on in The Summer of Us. Not only do we travel around Europe, exploring Paris, Prague and Rome (amongst many other locations) but we also explore the rocky terrain of the relationships in this friendship group of five.

Rae has been steadily falling in love with Clara, who she’s certain is straight, and can’t wait to move to Australia for college to get as far away from her feelings as she possibly can. Meanwhile Aubrey and Jonah have been together for years and have a Plan – they’re both going to college in New York and everyone thinks they’ll be together forever – so why did Aubrey risk messing everything up when she kissed Jonah’s best friend, Gabe, a couple of weeks ago?

I found the dynamics of the gang intriguing, and by the end of the novel they felt more like friends than characters. This might have been because of the length of time it took me to read it because it meant that the characters and the situations were on my mind a lot throughout my day: there were a few times when the days ended on rather surprising cliffhangers! However I think it’s more likely to be because Cecelia Vinesse crafts believable characters. They’re flawed, but it adds a realistic dimension that can be missing from YA contemporaries.

Some people won’t enjoy The Summer of Us because it does excuse cheating and I think that’s the only thing I wasn’t a huge fan of. Considering this group are all teenagers they’re bound to be making mistakes, and I saw a lot of my own teenage years reflected in the antics that the group got up to, but I found myself feeling sorry for Jonah. This was a perfect read for this time of the year though: the only thing that could have made it better would have been reading it on the beach!

Two five star reads? The jar really was kind to me in July! However, I’ve already picked out August’s books and… Well, let’s just say we are already over a week into August and I’m yet to attempt to pick any of them up.

Have you read any of these books? If so, leave your thoughts down in the comments!

See you soon,

Alyce

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Blog tour: The Ship of Shadows by Maria Kuzniar

Blog tour: The Ship of Shadows by Maria Kuzniar

Hey everyone! I am SO excited to be taking part in the blog tour for The Ship of Shadows, and I’d like to say a huge thank you to The Write Reads for having me on board. I first read the swashbuckling adventure back in 

Series review: Summoner by Taran Matharu

Series review: Summoner by Taran Matharu

Hey everyone! This is my first series review, so please bear with me as I figure out the best way to do this. I’m going to share my thoughts on each of the books in the Summoner series – including the prequel, The Outcast – 

Blog tour: What Unbreakable Looks Like by Kate McLaughlin

Blog tour: What Unbreakable Looks Like by Kate McLaughlin

Hello, and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Kate McLaughlin’s What Unbreakable Looks Like.

First things first, I’d like to say a huge thank you to Meghan from Wednesday Books for reaching out and inviting me to take part in this blog tour. Although this is a hard read which contains some difficult content it educated me on a topic I didn’t know much about, and I feel as though I learnt a lot during the course of this story.

Lex was taken – trafficked – and now she’s Poppy. Kept in a hotel with other girls, her old life is a distant memory. But when the girls are rescued, she doesn’t quite know how to be Lex again.

After she moves in with her aunt and uncle, for the first time in a long time, she knows what it is to feel truly safe. Except, she doesn’t trust it. Doesn’t trust her new home. Doesn’t trust her new friend. Doesn’t trust her new life. Instead she trusts what she shouldn’t because that’s what feels right. She doesn’t deserve good things.

But when she is sexually assaulted by her so-called boyfriend and his friends, Lex is forced to reckon with what happened to her and that just because she is used to it, doesn’t mean it is okay. She’s thrust into the limelight and realizes she has the power to help others. But first she’ll have to confront the monsters of her past with the help of her family, friends, and a new love.

Kate McLaughlin’s What Unbreakable Looks Like is a gritty, ultimately hopeful novel about human trafficking through the lens of a girl who has escaped the life and learned to trust, not only others, but in herself.

‘You can sell a pill once. You can sell a girl many times before she’s all used up.’

What Unbreakable Looks Like starts with a bang. We meet Poppy at the motel where she is being kept and sold by Mitch, the man who made her think he loved her and showered her with gifts so she felt as though she was in his debt. When the police raid the motel and find the girls they are taken to the hospital, where Poppy is reunited with her aunt Krys.

Krys and her husband Jamal are hoping to take Poppy home with them, so that she can beginning living her life as Lex once more. But the journey will not be an easy one, and Lex will need to want to stay clean and truly believe that she deserves better than the life Mitch dragged her into.

“This is how you survive. You sit the fuck down and give them the respect they deserve, and you make a promise to yourself that they didn’t die for nothing. You get mad, and you keep going. That’s how girls like us get even, how we say fuck you to the people who did this to us. We live.”

Kate McLaughlin does a wonderful job of exploring all of the different treatment options available to someone who has been in a situation like Lex. Not only is she taken to a rehab facility, where she undergoes group therapy and one-on-one appointments with a psychiatrist, but Lex also takes medication to help with her anxiety. I’m always a huge fan of books which don’t attempt to prescribe a one-size-fits-all treatment: mental health issues often need a combination of different treatments, especially for someone who has been through something as awful as Lex.

At the treatment centre we are introduced to a range of different characters, and one of the only reasons that I didn’t give this book five stars was because I really wanted some of these characters to be fleshed out a little more. Because Kate McLaughlin focuses so intensely on Lex’s recovery and she moves on from the rehabilitation centre quite quickly it felt like some of the side characters that we were introduced to were unnecessary, but there are a lot of people introduced very quickly and it’s hard to keep track of them all.

However, we also get introduced to a few of the other girls who lived and worked in the motel with Lex while she was still Poppy, and I thought those girls – Daisy and Ivy in particular – were extremely well fleshed out. The different ways that they react to being in such a heinous situation are very realistic and believable: it’s likely that some of the girls would rebel against Mitch more than others, and the dynamics between the girls are authentic. The flashbacks to the motel are quite sparse, but they’re very emotional – it’s impossible not to feel like weeping whenever you see Lex go through another ordeal at the hands of one of Mitch’s ‘customers’.

The sexual assault referenced in the blurb doesn’t happen until almost halfway through the novel, so I did have a constant sick feeling of dread churning in the bottom of my stomach knowing that Lex’s fresh start wasn’t going to be as happy as she had hoped. Her reaction to the assault was devastating, but the fact that she had friends and family around her to teach her that it was not okay that she had been put through that gave the story a feeling of optimism and hope. There are good people out there, it’s just sometimes hard to remember that – especially when you’ve been shown the bad side of people over and over again.

A big focus of the novel is on Lex developing a romantic relationship and learning to love on her own terms. Although I thought aspects of this were rushed, the overall handling of the matter is done very well.

There’s also a focus on justice, and the way that victims of sexual assault often worry about coming forward for fear of victim blaming. I have seen this tackled in a few YA novels in the past but don’t think any have managed to do it quite as well: Kate McLaughlin balances a mixture of supportive and outraged reactions, which is very true to life.

It sounds wrong to say that I thoroughly enjoyed What Unbreakable Looks Like, because it’s hard to enjoy a book focusing on a subject such as this, but I thought it was written well, had great character development and a very satisfying conclusion.





Kate McLaughlin likes people, so much so that she spends her days making up her own. She likes writing about characters who are bent, but not broken – people who find their internal strength through friends, strife and sometimes humor. When she’s not writing, she likes studying people, both real and fictional. She also likes playing board games with friends, talking and discovering new music. A proud Nova Scotian, she’ll gladly tell you all about the highest tides in the world, the magical creation known as a donair, and people who have sofas in their kitchens. Currently, she lives in Connecticut with her husband and four cats. She’s the author of What Unbreakable Looks Like.

You can find Kate on Twitter.

Thanks again to Wednesday Books for having me on this blog tour, and thank you for checking out my stop.

Have a wonderful day!

Alyce

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Review: The Damned (The Beautiful #2) by Renée Ahdieh

Review: The Damned (The Beautiful #2) by Renée Ahdieh

When The Beautiful was announced, everyone I heard talking about it said it was a duology. Alas, after finishing The Damned I have realised that that is not the case – in fact, it’s rumoured that there are another two books to come in The