Book Review: The Elite – Kiera Cass

Book Review: The Elite – Kiera Cass

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Series:
The Selection #2
Release Date: April 23rd 2013
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 336
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository.Waterstones.
Source: I was gifted a box set of these books for Christmas
Rating: 3/5 stars

Synopsis

The Selection began with thirty-five girls. Now with the group narrowed down to the six Elite, the competition to win Prince Maxon’s heart is fiercer than ever—and America is still struggling to decide where her heart truly lies. Is it with Maxon, who could make her life a fairy tale? Or with her first love, Aspen?

America is desperate for more time. But the rest of the Elite know exactly what they want—and America’s chance to choose is about to slip away.

Review

Copy of book cover (52)The Elite is the second book in The Selection series, and picks up straight after the events of book one. We continue to follow America Singer as she participates in the competition to be the wife of Prince Maxon. As the number of girls competing whittles down the stakes become higher, but so do the secrets.

I must admit that I picked up the first book in the series because I’ve had it on my TBR forever and I heard that a Netflix adaptation is coming. I had a fun time reading The Selection and I felt very much the same about The Elite. It was light, fluffy and fun and it has really made me want to keep reading.

The story is quite dramatic and contains quite a number of cheesy tropes and cliches – the love triangle especially is kind of irritating, but the story is certainly entertaining and will keep you turning pages. If ever there was a series that was perfect for binge reading it would be this one. I won’t say too much about the plot because this is the second book in the series but there are plenty of ups and downs as well as some fighting with the rebels and some diplomacy with foreign nations.

We are still following the same characters as the previous book and it’s enjoyable getting to see them develop. I did sometimes struggle a little with main character America as I found her a bit on the annoying side, but otherwise the characters felt well developed.

The Selection series is a fun and fast paced read, perfect for reading at the beach. The writing is so easy to get absorbed in and if you loved book one, The Elite is definitely worth checking out.
3 Stars (1)

Book Review: The Cold Is In Her Bones – Peternelle Van Arsdale

Book Review: The Cold Is In Her Bones – Peternelle Van Arsdale

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Release Date:
March 7th 2019
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Pages: 288
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 3/5 stars

Synopsis

One girl must uncover secrets of the past to save her friend from a terrible curse in this dark and mesmerizing story of love, revenge, and redemption inspired by the myth of Medusa.

Milla knows two things to be true: Demons are real, and fear will keep her safe.

Milla’s whole world is her family’s farm. She is never allowed to travel to the village and her only friend is her beloved older brother, Niklas. When a bright-eyed girl named Iris comes to stay, Milla hopes her loneliness might finally be coming to an end. But Iris has a secret she’s forbidden to share: The village is cursed by a demon who possesses girls at random, and the townspeople live in terror of who it will come for next.

Now, it seems, the demon has come for Iris. When Iris is captured and imprisoned with other possessed girls, Milla leaves home to rescue her and break the curse forever. Her only company on the journey is a terrible new secret of her own: Milla is changing, too, and may soon be a demon herself.

The Cold Is in Her Bones is a novel about the dark, reverberating power of pain, the yearning to be seen and understood, and the fragile optimism of love.

Review

Copy of book cover (29)The Cold is in Her Bones is the dark and compelling Medusa retelling you didn’t know you needed.

The story follows Milla a young girl who lives on a remote farm. She’s not allowed to go into the village and her whole world is her brother and parents. When a young girl named Iris comes to live on the farm as a potential match for her brother Milla learns about the demon who possesses the young girls in the village. When Iris is becomes possessed by the demon and taken to live in an asylum, Milla must use all her courage to rescue her friend and the town.

This is a beautifully told story, and I really enjoyed Arsdale’s writing style. It was dreamy and very fairy tale like. She creates some really fascinating and compelling characters, both Milla and Iris are fascinating and I was really intrigued by Hulda and her story. The story particularly focuses on relationships – Milla’s relationships with her mother, wiht Iris and with her brother. It was so interesting to see those relationships adjust as Milla continued to uncover the mysteries of the demon and why she possessed girls in the village. The characters all felt well fleshed out and it was easy to root for Milla as she fought to safe the village.

While I enjoyed this story overall it is a slower paced story and I did feel it dragged a little in some parts. It is a very loose Medusa retelling, so if you’re looking for something close to the original tales this probably isn’t it. If you’re looking for a fair tale like tale, full of haunting imagery and lovely writing I’d definitely recommend giving this a go.
3 Stars (1)

Book Review: Magic For Liars – Sarah Gailey

Book Review: Magic For Liars – Sarah Gailey

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Release Date:
June 4th 2019
Publisher: Tor Books
Pages: 336
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 3/5 stars

Synopsis

Ivy Gamble has never wanted to be magic. She is perfectly happy with her life. She has an almost-sustainable career as a private investigator, and an empty apartment, and a slight drinking problem. It’s a great life and she doesn’t wish she was like her estranged sister, the magically gifted professor Tabitha.

But when Ivy is hired to investigate the gruesome murder of a faculty member at Tabitha’s private academy, the stalwart detective starts to lose herself in the case, the life she could have had, and the answer to the mystery that seems just out of her reach.

Review

Copy of book cover - 2020-03-30T175422.944Magic For Liars first caught my eye when I saw it described as ‘Veronica Mars at Hogwarts’ and while this is a murder mystery set at a magic school, the story was very different from what I expected. Dark and twisty, the story follows Private Investigator Ivy Gamble as she is asked to investigate the death of a teach at a secret magic school. A school where it just so happens her estranged twin sister Tabitha works. Struggling to uncover the truth when everyone around her has magic and she doesn’t, Ivy must face the truths of who she is, and use everything she’s got to uncover who carried out such a gruesome murder.

This book has pretty much everything I love in books, but for some reason I just felt like it fell a bit flat. The story was interesting and I enjoyed seeing Ivy work to uncover the murder but I struggled to connect with the characters. I liked Ivy well enough, but the story was quite slow so by the time things were happening I just wasn’t invested in the characters. The story focuses heavily on Ivy’s relationship with her sister, as well as a budding romance that I didn’t really care for either.

I enjoyed the magic school setting, and the murder mystery aspect did have me guessing until quite near the end. I liked the atmosphere that Gailey created – a rippling sense of unease surrounding this prestigious school and an incredibly horrible murder. I think this book might polarise people, with some people absolutely adoring it and others like myself finding it a bit unmemorable. This one might not be for everyone but I’m sure plenty of people will love it. If you enjoy twisty murder mysteries, magic school settings and sibling relationships, this is definitely one to try out.
3 Stars (1)

Book Review: Liquid Crystal Nightingale – Eeleen Lee

Book Review: Liquid Crystal Nightingale – Eeleen Lee

July 23, 2019 (30)
Release Date:
March 17th 2020
Publisher: Abaddon Books
Pages: 352
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 3/5 stars

Synopsis

A bold and clever political thriller science fiction debut

Go deeper, they said. Look closer.

Pleo Tanza is a survivor. Her father was broken by tragedy, her twin sister is dead—chewed up and spat out by the corruption and injustice of Chatoyance—but she’s going to make it, whatever it takes. She’s going to get off this rock.

But escape is for the rich or lucky. Pleo’s framed for the murder of a rival student—the daughter of one of the colony’s wealthy, squabbling clans—and goes on the run, setting off a chain events that could destroy the fragile balance of the old colony forever…

Review

Copy of book cover - 2020-04-14T133519.134Liquid Crystal Nightingale is the epic tale of Pleo Tanza a young woman living in a futuristic space colony named Chatoyance. Her father is struggling as the only survivor of an immense accident and her sister is dead, but Pleo is a survivor and to do that she is determined to escape her life. When she is unknowingly involved in the murder of one of her classmates Pleo must go on the run, but as secrets begin to unravel, life on Chatoyance might change forever.

Liquid Crystal Nightingale is a fast paced and exciting debut, set in a fascinating world. The world building is excellent, bringing the reader into a world full of futuristic technology on a far of mining colony. Everything felt well explained and it was easy to dive into the world. Despite the futuristic world it was fascinating to explore the familiar issues raised in this book such as class, wealth and grief. Lee’s writing style is vivid and enjoyable to read, giving you the full flavour of the world without taking away from the action packed plot.

The characters are interesting and well fleshed out too. I liked our protagonist Pleo and seeing the story unfold from her perspective. As the story developed I became more and more invested and was really rooting for her towards the end. The story is a mix of political and space thriller and as such has quite a bleak outlook. The murder mystery aspect was really fascinating, and there were a few surprise twists that I didn’t see coming. It does end on a bit of a cliffhanger so it has left open the possibility of a sequel which I would love to read. Liquid Crystal Nightingale is an impressive debut, and I look forward to reading more from Eeleen Lee.
3 Stars (1)

Book Review: Last Ones Left Alive – Sarah Davis-Goff

Book Review: Last Ones Left Alive – Sarah Davis-Goff

July 23, 2019 (21)
Release Date:
January 24th 2019
Publisher: Tinder Press
Pages: 280
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 3.25/5 stars

Synopsis

LAST ONES LEFT ALIVE is the story of Orpen, a young woman who must walk on foot across a ravaged Ireland in the desperate hope of saving herself, and her guardian Maeve, from the zombie-like menace known as the skrake. Sarah Davis-Goff’s strikingly original debut will appeal to readers of dystopian literary fiction such as STATION 11 or THE END WE START FROM.

Watch your six. Beware tall buildings. Always have your knives.

Growing up on a tiny island off the coast of a post-apocalyptic Ireland, Orpen’s life has revolved around physical training and necessity. After Mam died, it’s the only way she and her guardian Maeve have survived the ravenous skrake (zombies) who roam the wilds of the ravaged countryside, looking for prey.

When Maeve is bitten and infected, Orpen knows what she should do – sink a knife into her eye socket, and quickly. Instead, she tries to save Maeve, and following rumours of a distant city on the mainland, guarded by fierce banshees, she sets off, pushing Maeve in a wheelbarrow and accompanied by their little dog, Danger. It is a journey on which Orpen will need to fight repeatedly for her life, drawing on all of her training and instincts. In the course of it, she will learn more about the Emergency that destroyed her homeland, and the mythical Phoenix City – and discover a starting truth about her own identity.

Review

Copy of book cover - 2020-04-14T133251.983Last Ones Left Alive is a powerful and poignant debut that follows the story of Orpen, a young woman struggling to survive in a zombie infested Ireland. When her guardian Maeve becomes infected, Orpen knows the only outcome, but will she have the strength to survive what comes next?

I was intrigued about reading Last Ones Left Alive after seeing comparisons to The End We Start From by Megan Hunter, a book I absolutely fell in love with. The stories are completely different but they both focus on the themes of family and survival. Last Ones Left Alive is a really thought-provoking book and I really enjoyed reading it. The story is eerie and unsettling, with a very bleak outlook for the future. The skrake (zombies) are terrifying, zombies that are fast and deadly and it was fascinating learning about how a person changes once they become infected.

I really liked the writing style in this book, full of Irish vernacular and written in a really simple and raw way, it was so easy to get lost in the story. It’s not a very long book and I was so intrigued by Orpen and her tale that I read half the book in one sitting. The characters in this book are stunning. Maeve, Orpen and her Mam are fascinating, complex characters that are incredibly well developed. This story is fiercely feminist at its heart, with Orpen and her family surviving on their island without any help.

Last Ones Left Alive crams a lot into a short number of pages, and because of that it is quite a quick paced read. The timeline jumps back and forth between Orpen current day walking across Ireland in search of the illusive Phoenix City and the past when Orpen lived with her Mam and Maeve. It’s a fascinating read and if you love dystopian fiction this could be just what you’re looking for.

3 Stars (1)

Mini Reviews: In the Tall Grass & The Lodger

Mini Reviews: In the Tall Grass & The Lodger

July 23, 2019 (19)
I recently read two short stories that I wanted to do quick reviews for, so I thought instead of creating two short separate posts I would just combine them!

In the Tall Grass – Stephen King & Joe Hill

Synopsis

Mile 81 meets N. in this e-book collaboration between Stephen King and Joe Hill.

In the Tall Grass begins with a sister and brother who pull off to the side of the road after hearing a young boy crying for help from beyond the tall grass. Within minutes they are disoriented, in deeper than seems possible, and they’ve lost one another. The boy’s cries are more and more desperate. What follows is a terrifying, entertaining, and masterfully told tale, as only Stephen King and Joe Hill can deliver.

Review

Copy of book cover - 2020-04-17T103153.030I had never heard of In the Tall Grass until I came across the Netflix adaptation one evening and ending up watching it. Strange and eerie, it was full of King’s trademark weirdness. I found that the novella that inspired the adaptation was available on the Esquire Magazine website and decided to give it a go. It’s a very short and quick read (around sixty pages) and follows a brother and sister who attempt to help a young boy trapped in a field of tall grass. After a few minutes they become lost and unable to find their way out – but they aren’t the only ones trapped there, and why has the grass trapped them?

The story is creepy and has plenty of ‘what is going on’ moments. It has lots of really atmospheric scenes with the grass rustling around the unsuspecting siblings. As it was so short you don’t get a chance to get to know the characters, but it’s a fun read. If you’re looking for a quick read with a touch of the sinister, this is definitely what you’re looking for.
3 Stars (1)

The Lodger – C. L. Taylor

Review

Copy of book cover - 2020-04-17T102957.498The Lodger is a short novella by C. L. Taylor available to those subscribed to the C. L. Taylor Book Club. The story follows a young woman struggling with the death of her partner. When a friend is looking for a place to stay she allows him to room with her, but will that put them in danger? Full of suspense, this short story has everything I love about C. L. Taylor’s writing. It was really short and I would have loved for it to be a bit longer, to get to know the characters a bit more and understand what was going on. There was still a surprising twist that I didn’t see coming, and it was an enjoyable read. If you’re a fan of C. L. Taylor’s reading this is the perfect quick read to tide you over until her next release.
3 Stars (1)

Book Review: Suicide Club – Rachel Heng

Book Review: Suicide Club – Rachel Heng

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Release Date:
March 21st 2019
Publisher: Sceptre
Pages: 372
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 3/5 stars

Synopsis

In this debut set in near future NYC—where lives last 300 years and the pursuit of immortality is all-consuming—Lea must choose between her estranged father and her chance to live forever.

Lea Kirino is a “Lifer,” which means that a roll of the genetic dice has given her the potential to live forever—if she does everything right. And Lea is an overachiever. She’s a successful trader on the New York exchange—where instead of stocks, human organs are now bought and sold—she has a beautiful apartment, and a fiancé who rivals her in genetic perfection. And with the right balance of HealthTech™, rigorous juicing, and low-impact exercise, she might never die.

But Lea’s perfect life is turned upside down when she spots her estranged father on a crowded sidewalk. His return marks the beginning of her downfall as she is drawn into his mysterious world of the Suicide Club, a network of powerful individuals and rebels who reject society’s pursuit of immortality, and instead chose to live—and die—on their own terms. In this future world, death is not only taboo; it’s also highly illegal. Soon Lea is forced to choose between a sanitized immortal existence and a short, bittersweet time with a man she has never really known, but who is the only family she has left in the world.

Review

book cover - 2019-04-28T204859.244Suicide Club is a really fascinating concept – with a world that has gone health mad, the ultimate goal is to live forever. With falling birth rates and the desire to live as long as possible, the city and its inhabitants are closely monitored for any signs of rebellion. When Lea’s father walks back into her perfect world her life begins to crumble around her. She soon becomes involved with the Suicide Club – a group of people who go against everything this new immortal world stands for.

I really loved the idea of this book. It was so unique and really made some fascinating comments on the way we live as a society, constantly obsessed with having the image of this perfect life. I enjoyed the sinister Big Brother-esque feel of the story, as Lea tries to prove that she isn’t trying to kill herself.

It was quite a slow burn book and it took a while for me to get into the story. There was quite a lot of technical information explaining the developments that allowed people to live longer and the ways that society had evolved. I struggled a little getting my head around all of this but once the story picked up the pace a little more I really enjoyed it.

Lea is an interesting protagonist but I found myself more interested in some of the secondary characters. I would really have loved the opportunity to get to know some of them a bit more. I found Lea to be a bit bland, and that was my main reason for not rating the book higher.

Overall for me Suicide Club is a fantastic concept that falls down a little in execution. I would definitely be interested to read more of Heng’s work, and if you’re a fan of speculative fiction this will definitely appeal to you.
3 stars

Book Review: Stepsister – Jennifer Donnelly

Book Review: Stepsister – Jennifer Donnelly

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Release Date:
May 14th 2019
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Pages: 352
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 3/5 stars

Synopsis

Isabelle should be blissfully happy – she’s about to win the handsome prince. Except Isabelle isn’t the beautiful girl who lost the glass slipper and captured the prince’s heart. She’s the ugly stepsister who’s cut off her toes to fit into Cinderella’s shoe … which is now filling with blood.

When the prince discovers Isabelle’s deception, she is turned away in shame. It’s no more than she deserves: she is a plain girl in a world that values beauty; a feisty girl in a world that wants her to be pliant.

Isabelle has tried to fit in. To live up to her mother’s expectations. To be like her stepsister. To be sweet. To be pretty. One by one, she has cut away pieces of herself in order to survive a world that doesn’t appreciate a girl like her. And that has made her mean, jealous, and hollow.

Until she gets a chance to alter her destiny and prove what ugly stepsisters have always known: it takes more than heartache to break a girl.

Review

book cover - 2019-03-11T210836.240The story of Cinderella and the story of the ugly stepsisters has been told in a million different ways, so to find one that takes the story in a completely different direction was something I immediately wanted to read. Stepsister follows Isabelle, one of the ugly stepsisters to the newly crowned Ella, Queen of France. Reviled for the way she treated her stepsister, Isabelle and her sister Octavia are left with little options – they have tried to be sweet, pretty girls and find husbands but they never live up to their perfect stepsister. With war brewing and no way to protect themselves, Isabelle and Octavia must stand up and fight, proving that girls are a lot more than pretty possessions.

I am completely torn about how to rate this book. It took me quite a while to get into the story, I particularly found the early chapters quite slow, however once I got further into the story I really started to fall in love with these Isabelle and her sisters. They’re brave, intelligent, brilliant girls and I was rooting for them the entire time. The message of this story is so powerful and so important – that you don’t have to be what everyone expects you to be, that you should follow that dream no matter if others think you won’t succeed.

The story provided a really interesting take on this tale, and I loved the vivid world of France at war. I also liked the additional stories of Fate and Chance, two beings waging a bet over Isabelle’s life. It added a fascinating perspective to the tale and one I really enjoyed. One of the things that did put me off this book is the incredibly short chapters. Most were only a few pages long and for me it was a little off putting, it felt like as soon as I got back into the swing of the story I was at the end of the chapter again. The crazy amount of chapters (over 130) also put me off a little.

This is an emotional and inspiring story and if you’re a fan of retellings this is absolutely a must read. Stepsister is an exciting, feminist take on the ugly stepsister trope and I hope this trend of feminist retellings continues because I am fast becoming obsessed with them. If you love all things fairytales, you’re definitely going to love this one.
3 stars

Book Review: Summer Bird Blue – Akemi Dawn Bowman

Book Review: Summer Bird Blue – Akemi Dawn Bowman

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Release Date:
April 4th 2019
Publisher: Ink Road
Pages: 375
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I bought a copy of this at NYALitFest
Rating: 3/5 stars

Synopsis

Rumi Seto spends a lot of time worrying she doesn’t have the answers to everything. What to eat, where to go, whom to love. But there is one thing she is absolutely sure of—she wants to spend the rest of her life writing music with her younger sister, Lea.

Then Lea dies in a car accident, and her mother sends her away to live with her aunt in Hawaii while she deals with her own grief. Now thousands of miles from home, Rumi struggles to navigate the loss of her sister, being abandoned by her mother, and the absence of music in her life. With the help of the “boys next door”—a teenage surfer named Kai, who smiles too much and doesn’t take anything seriously, and an eighty-year-old named George Watanabe, who succumbed to his own grief years ago—Rumi attempts to find her way back to her music, to write the song she and Lea never had the chance to finish.

Review

book cover - 2019-04-03T110806.863Last year I read Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman and completely fell in love with the characters and the beautifully written tale. When I heard Summer Bird Blue was going to be published in the UK I snapped up a copy straight away. The story follows Rumi, a young girl who loses her sister in a car crash. Her mother, consumed with grief sends her to live with her aunt in Hawaii over the summer and there Rumi has to learn to cope with her grief and find the music that was so important to her and her sister.

This is such a unique, beautifully told story about family, friendship and grief. The story very much focuses in on Rumi as she tries to figure out how to live her life without her sister. It was well executed and I enjoyed seeing Rumi make friends with next door neighbour Kai and find a way back to the music that she loves so much.

Starfish was a five star read for me and part of the reason for that was the realistic characters. The characters in Summer Bird Blue are very realistic and well fleshed out, but I didn’t connect with them in the same way I did with Starfish. I really enjoyed the story, but it didn’t take my breath away like the previous book.

The story is incredibly emotional and I love the beautiful Hawaiian setting. I also loved that Bowman could so easily have introduced a romance between Rumi and Kai and instead have them remain friends. The story touches on a lot of incredibly important issues – not just grief but finding yourself, relationships and what it means to be a family. It isn’t a particularly light book, the story is quite a heavy one, but it’s executed extremely well.

While I really enjoyed it this book just didn’t blow me away, but I know Akemi Dawn Bowman fans will be overjoyed to read another gorgeous book from her. If you’re looking for a story that will keep you turning the pages but will also give you a lump in your throat, you should definitely pick up Summer Bird Blue.

3 stars

Book Review: Release – Patrick Ness

Book Review: Release – Patrick Ness

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Release Date:
May 4th 2017
Publisher: Walker Books
Pages: 287
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I bought a copy of this while on holiday
Rating: 3/5 stars

Synopsis

Inspired by Mrs Dalloway and Judy Blume’s Forever, Release is one day in the life of Adam Thorn, 17. It’s a big day. Things go wrong. It’s intense, and all the while, weirdness approaches…

Adam Thorn is having what will turn out to be the most unsettling, difficult day of his life, with relationships fracturing, a harrowing incident at work, and a showdown between this gay teen and his preacher father that changes everything. It’s a day of confrontation, running, sex, love, heartbreak, and maybe, just maybe, hope. He won’t come out of it unchanged. And all the while, lurking at the edges of the story, something extraordinary and unsettling is on a collision course.

Review

31194576A while ago I read A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness and thought it was absolutely brilliant, so when I came across Release on the shelf in my local bookshop I was really intrigued and immediately snapped it up. The story follows Adam Thorn, a young high school student over the course of a single day as he prepares to attend the leaving party of the ex-boyfriend he still has feelings for. Enzo’s leaving party is not the only thing happening, unbeknownst to the party goers, the end of the world is near.

I’m honestly so conflicted about this book. I really liked the characters in this story – Adam is a really fascinating protagonist and it was a really interesting story as Adam deals with his religious family, harassment at work and tries to work through his feeling for Enzo. I grew quite attached to Adam and his friends and I definitely found myself rooting for them. They were well fleshed out and they felt very realistic.

Adam’s story is not the only part of the book and that’s where my problems with this book lie. A young woman who was murdered in the same area returns as a ghost/queen with a faun helper to understand what happened to her and seek revenge on the people involved in her murder. This fantastical element for me didn’t fit the story at all and I found myself quite confused about what was going on with the ghost and what she was doing. It almost felt like I was reading two different stories at the same time, and this really had an effect on my overall enjoyment of the story.

Release is a strange and unique tale, one that combines a coming of age story with a hint of supernatural. Patrick Ness has some a really beautiful writing style and if you’re a fan of his work I’d recommend checking this one out. It’s quite a short read at less than 300 pages so if you’re looking for something that little bit different, I’d definitely give this one a go.

3 stars