Book Review: Aurora Burning – Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Book Review: Aurora Burning – Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

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Series:
Aurora Cycle #2 (Read my review of book one here!)
Release Date: May 5th 2020
Publisher: Rock the Boat
Pages: 512
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I pre-ordered this from Book Depository.
Rating: 5/5 stars

Synopsis

Our heroes are back… kind of. From the bestselling co-authors of the Illuminae Files comes the second book in the epic series about a squad of misfits, losers, and discipline cases who just might be the galaxy’s best hope for survival.

First, the bad news: an ancient evil—you know, your standard consume-all-life-in-the-galaxy deal—is about to be unleashed. The good news? Squad 312 is standing by to save the day. They’ve just got to take care of a few small distractions first.

Like the clan of gremps who’d like to rearrange their favorite faces.

And the cadre of illegit GIA agents with creepy flowers where their eyes used to be, who’ll stop at nothing to get their hands on Auri.

Then there’s Kal’s long-lost sister, who’s not exactly happy to see her baby brother, and has a Syldrathi army at her back. With half the known galaxy on their tails, Squad 312 has never felt so wanted.

When they learn the Hadfield has been found, it’s time to come out of hiding. Two centuries ago, the colony ship vanished, leaving Auri as its sole survivor. Now, its black box might be what saves them. But time is short, and if Auri can’t learn to master her powers as a Trigger, the squad and all their admirers are going to be deader than the Great Ultrasaur of Abraaxis IV.

Shocking revelations, bank heists, mysterious gifts, inappropriately tight bodysuits, and an epic firefight will determine the fate of the Aurora Legion’s most unforgettable heroes—and maybe the rest of the galaxy as well.

Review

Copy of book cover - 2020-04-20T121652.203Aurora Rising was one of my favourite books of 2019 so this second instalment in the series was highly anticipated. I was concerned that it wouldn’t live up to my expectations because I loved book one so much, but it was even more addictive than I thought it was going to be. Aurora Burning definitely lives up to the hype and I’m dying to get my hands on book three.

Aurora Burning picks up just after the events of book one. I won’t go into specifics because this is the second book but Squad 312 are still on the run and their escapades set them off on another daring adventure across the galaxy. The plot is fast paced, full of action and edge of your seat moments. There are plenty of epic space battle type moments so if you love big fighting scenes you’re in for a treat with this one.

Much like book one the story is told in alternating points of view from the different members of the squad. I’ve grown really attached to all the characters in the group so I really enjoying seeing the story from all of their different perspectives. There is a bit more of a focus on romance than their was in the previous book which is something I wasn’t as keen on. It’s still fascinating seeing the relationships between the group progress and if you enjoyed book one you’re definitely going to want to see how things develop in Aurora Burning.

Aurora Burning features more than a few surprise twists, a couple I saw coming and some I most definitely did not. It’s a fun and enjoyable read, the series is pure escapism and perfect entertainment for the summer. If you’ve been curious about this series I highly recommend picking it up, your only problem is going to be waiting till 2021 for book number three.
5 Stars

Book Review: All Your Twisted Secrets – Diana Urban

Book Review: All Your Twisted Secrets – Diana Urban

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Release Date:
March 17th 2020
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 400
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 2.25/5 stars

Synopsis

Welcome to dinner, and again, congratulations on being selected. Now you must do the selecting.

What do the queen bee, star athlete, valedictorian, stoner, loner, and music geek all have in common? They were all invited to a scholarship dinner, only to discover it’s a trap. Someone has locked them into a room with a bomb, a syringe filled with poison, and a note saying they have an hour to pick someone to kill … or else everyone dies.

Amber Prescott is determined to get her classmates and herself out of the room alive, but that might be easier said than done. No one knows how they’re all connected or who would want them dead. As they retrace the events over the past year that might have triggered their captor’s ultimatum, it becomes clear that everyone is hiding something. And with the clock ticking down, confusion turns into fear, and fear morphs into panic as they race to answer the biggest question: Who will they choose to die?

Review

Copy of book cover (20)Debut YA thriller All Your Twisted Secrets is a story that follows five teenagers who have been awarded scholarships for college. Invited to a celebratory dinner, the group find themselves locked in the restaurant where they discover a bomb and a syringe full of poison. The only note tells them they must pick someone to poison, or they will all die when the bomb goes off. The question is who do the choose, and who put locked them in in the first place?

I really wanted to love this book. I thought it would be another One Of Us Is Lying, it sounded exactly like the kind of thing I would enjoy. However this one just fell a bit flat for me. For me it was just a bit too unrealistic, and the reveal at the end just didn’t work for me at all. The plot jumps around a lot between the current situation and the past and while I enjoyed seeing the secrets unravel and the characters trying to figure out which person to kill, it wound up feeling a bit on the repetitive side. I had expected a bit more tension, to be on the edge of my seat but the story just didn’t click for me in that way.

I liked the characters well enough, our main protagonist Amber is interesting but aside from them fulfilling their roles of ‘queen bee’ ‘athlete’ ‘band geek’ ‘stoner’ and ‘valedictorian’ there wasn’t all that much too them. I would have loved the chance to get to know the characters a bit better and then perhaps that would have made me more invested in the overall story.

That being said, Urban does have a really nice writing style and it was easy to keep turning the pages. I thought this book had a really fascinating premise and if you’re a fan of YA thrillers this could be one you’ll really love – it’s a fast paced read and has an ending you probably won’t see coming.
2 Stars

Blog Tour: The Girl From Widow Hills – Megan Miranda

Blog Tour: The Girl From Widow Hills – Megan Miranda

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Release Date:
July 2nd 2020
Publisher: Corvus
Pages: 304
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones
Source: I kindly received a copy of this book from the publisher via Random Things Tours
Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis

Everyone knows the story of “the girl from Widow Hills.”

Arden Maynor was just a child when she was swept away while sleepwalking during a terrifying rainstorm and went missing for days. Strangers and friends, neighbors and rescue workers, set up search parties and held vigils, praying for her safe return. Against all odds, she was found, alive, clinging to a storm drain. The girl from Widow Hills was a living miracle. Arden’s mother wrote a book. Fame followed. Fans and fan letters, creeps, and stalkers. And every year, the anniversary. It all became too much. As soon as she was old enough, Arden changed her name and disappeared from the public eye.

Now a young woman living hundreds of miles away, Arden goes by Olivia. She’s managed to stay off the radar for the last few years. But with the twentieth anniversary of her rescue approaching, the media will inevitably renew its interest in Arden. Where is she now? Soon Olivia feels like she’s being watched and begins sleepwalking again, like she did long ago, even waking outside her home. Until late one night she jolts awake in her yard. At her feet is the corpse of a man she knows—from her previous life, as Arden Maynor.

And now, the girl from Widow Hills is about to become the center of the story, once again, in this propulsive page-turner from suspense master Megan Miranda.

Review

Copy of book cover (38)The Girl From Widow Hills is the latest dark and enticing thriller from Megan Miranda, author of All the Missing Girls. The story follows Olivia Meyer, a young woman who has ran way from her past as Arden Maynor –  the girl who was swept away during a storm and survived three days in a storm drain. Haunted by her past Olivia does everything she can to forget about it. But when the body of a man from her past winds up in her yard, she knows things will not stay secret for long.

The Girl From Widow Hills is a fast paced and gripping psychological thriller, and one that grips you right from the outset. Miranda weaves a clever tale, getting the reader to root for Olivia whilst simultaneous also question if she killed the man in her yard. The story is peppered with transcripts from news reports at the time of her disappearance as a child, something that I found really interesting that also lent an air of authenticity to the story.

The story in this book unravels slowly, and has plenty of twists and turns. The ending was absolutely not what I saw coming and I ended up reading the last chunk of the book in one sitting. There are a number of really fascinating characters, and I really liked our main protagonist Olivia. She’s determined to escape her past, but her sleep walking and lack of memories surrounding the events in her childhood also give her an unreliable narrator feel.

The Girl From Widow Hills is a suspenseful mystery with a tense atmosphere that builds and builds towards the final reveal. If you’re a fan of gripping psychological thrillers this is definitely one to get reading.
4 Stars

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Book Review: Dispel Illusion – Mark Lawrence

Book Review: Dispel Illusion – Mark Lawrence

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Series:
Impossible Times (See reviews for One Word Kill & Limited Wish)
Release Date: November 14th 2019
Publisher: 47 North
Pages: 234
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I bought a copy of this from Book Depository
Rating: 5/5 stars

Synopsis

Sometimes being wrong is the right answer.

Nick Hayes’s genius is in wringing out the universe’s secrets. It’s a talent that’s allowed him to carve paths through time. But the worst part is that he knows how his story will end. He’s seen it with his own eyes. And every year that passes, every breakthrough he makes, brings him a step closer. Mia’s accident is waiting for them both in 2011. If it happens then he’s out of choices.

Then a chance 1992 discovery reveals that this seeker of truth has been lying to himself. But why? It’s a question that haunts him for years. A straw he clings to as his long-awaited fate draws near.

Time travel turns out not to be the biggest problem Nick has to work on. He needs to find out how he can stay on his path but change the destination. Failure has never been an option, and neither has survival. But Nick’s hoping to roll the dice one more time. And this new truth begins with a lie.

Review

Copy of book cover - 2020-04-16T162339.436Dispel Illusion is the third and final book in Mark Lawrence’s Impossible Times trilogy. In this stunning conclusion Lawrence drops us straight back into the action – and this time the stakes are even higher. As each year passes, Nick knows how things are going to end for him. If Mia’s accident occurs in 2011 he will have to return to the past – but that might not be his biggest problem.

I honestly loved this book. It’s a clever tale that’s incredibly well executed. The story comes full circle as Nick discovers time travel and does everything he can to save Mia. For such a small book there is a lot going on in this action packed tale and I ended up staying up way past my bedtime because I just had to keep reading. I won’t say too much more about the plot because it’s the third in a series but Dispel Illusion is intense, gripping and difficult to put down.

In Dispel Illusion we continue to follow the same characters as One Word Kill and Dispel Illusion. The reader grows quite attached to Nick and the gang over the course of the three books and it’s fascinating seeing how their lives turn out after school and University. They are a fun cast of characters and I loved seeing them still playing Dungeons and Dragons all those years later. The story contains quite a few time jumps allowing us the chance to see how things have changed for the gang throughout their lives.

The Impossible Times trilogy is a brilliant read, full of mind boggling time travel and action packed drama. It’s also a story about friendship and I’m sad to be saying goodbye to such a wonderful cast of characters. Lawrence brings the story to a perfect conclusion and solidifies this series as one of my favourites. I adored every book in this series, and can’t recommend it highly enough.
5 Stars

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)

Blog Tour: Call Me Joe – Martin Van Es & Andrew Crofts

Blog Tour: Call Me Joe – Martin Van Es & Andrew Crofts

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Release Date:
June 4th 2020
Publisher: Red Door Press
Pages: 320
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis

The world is on the brink of disaster.
The environment, society and mankind itself are facing extreme challenges in a world that is both more connected, and yet more divided than ever before. Fear and confusion seep into all parts of everyday life now, more than ever, the world needs one voice, one guide…

One day the Earth is plunged into darkness and when light appears again so does a man – call him Joe – claiming to be the son of God.

Can Joe bring the world’s most creative thinkers and leaders together to tackle the ills of mankind?

Can he convince us all to follow him before it’s too late?

In this compelling and prescient novel, Martin van Es and Andrew Crofts highlight the key concerns of our time and imagines a future where we, at last, all work together to ensure the future of our world and all the life that calls it home.

Review

Copy of book cover (5)Call Me Joe is the moving tale of a world that suddenly goes dark. With no light people begin to panic and question what is happening to the world. When the light returns so does a man who claims to be the son of god. Working with some of the best minds in the world can he tackle the greed and corruption that is destroying the world before it’s too late?

Call Me Joe is a powerful story with a well executed plot and brilliant writing. It was an easy story to sink into, and be gripped by the action. It’s a well paced story, and I found myself thinking about it even when I wasn’t reading it. I thought the premise was such a fascinating idea – what if Jesus returned today? How would people react? I’m not a religious person but I found this a really interesting subject. The story also tackles a number of prevalent issues in society from climate change to corrupt leadership.

One of the things I liked most about this book are the characters. We are treated to multiple points of view, which gives the reader an opportunity to see things from different perspectives. I really liked Sophie, she’s a school teacher and every day person and it was fascinating seeing her reactions to Joe, questioning his identity and watching as that relationship develops and changes. It’s a compelling read and one I did not want to put down.

Call Me Joe is an brilliantly thought-provoking read. It’s incredibly relevant to our time and a book you do not want to miss.
4 Stars
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Book Review: In Plain Sight – Marion Todd

Book Review: In Plain Sight – Marion Todd

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Series:
Detective Clare Mackay #2
Release Date: February 20th 2020
Publisher: Canelo
Pages: 311
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Synopsis

A child’s life is at stake. Which of the residents of St Andrews is hiding something – and why?

When a baby girl is snatched from the crowd of spectators at a fun run, the local police have a major investigation on their hands. DI Clare Mackay  and her team are in a race against the clock when they learn that the child has a potentially fatal medical condition.

As Clare investigates she realises this victim wasn’t selected at random. Someone knows who took the baby girl, and why. But will they reveal their secrets before it’s too late?

The second instalment from an exciting new Scottish detective series. Perfect for fans of Alex Gray, Rachel Amphlett and D. K. Hood. 

Review

Copy of book cover (21)In Plain Sight is the second instalment in the DI Clare Mackay series and this time around Clare and her team are called in after a child is snatched during a fun run. The child has a serious medical condition, and without her medication her life could be at stake. As the team investigates they learn it wasn’t just a random kidnapping, there is more going on beneath the surface. But will Clare and her team discover the truth before it’s too late?

Although this is the second book in the series this is my first time reading a DI Clare Mackay book. It can definitely be read as a standalone and I found this to be such a gripping read that I am definitely going to go back and pick up book one See Them Run. This police procedural is set in St Andrew’s in Scotland and having lived in Scotland all my life and visited St Andrew’s many times, it was fun seeing the city come to life within the pages.

Todd has a brilliant writing style and the book is well paced. I really liked our main protagonist Clare, who works hard to solve the crime as well as dealing with the politics and problems of life as a police officer. There are quite a few twists and turns in this story and I thought the ending was very well executed. As the deadline for finding the child gets closer and closer, I could feel the tension ramping up and I ended up reading the last half of the book in one sitting. In Plain Sight is certainly a page turner and it’s the perfect type of book to binge over a weekend. If you love enthralling police procedurals, I’d definitely recommend checking out this series.
4 Stars

Book Review: Shade’s Children – Garth Nix

Book Review: Shade’s Children – Garth Nix

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Release Date:
March 2nd 1997
Publisher: Harper Collins
Pages: 355
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I still have my childhood copy
Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Synopsis

In the brutal world of Shade’s Children, your 14th birthday is your last. Malevolent Overlords rule the earth, directing hideous, humanoid creatures to harvest the brains and muscles of teens for use in engineering foul beasts to fight senseless wars. Young Gold-Eye escapes this horrific fate, fleeing the dormitories before his Sad Birthday. He is rescued from certain doom by other refugees who live in an abandoned submarine and work for Shade, a strange, computer-generated adult. Shade provides food and shelter in exchange for information that the children gather on dangerous forays into Overlord territory. But what does Shade really want? He is a sworn enemy of the Overlords, but his use of the children to gain knowledge and power seems uncaring and ruthless. Finally, Gold-Eye and his new friends set out to destroy the Overlords–with or without the enigmatic, dangerous Shade. Garth Nix, author of Sabriel, blends suspense, action, and high emotion in this excellent, fast-moving science-fiction story.

Review

Copy of book cover (22)Shade’s Children was a book I read and loved as a child and I thought it would be fun to revisit it as an adult. It was just as bleak and terrifying as it was all those years ago, and I absolutely loved rereading this childhood favourite.

Shade’s Children is set in a world in which everyone above the age of fourteen has disappeared. Now when you turn fourteen you are taken to the meat factory to be harvested. The story follows Gold Eye, a young boy who escapes the dormitories before he can be taken to the factory. While fleeing the monstrous creatures who mean to return him, he teams up with a band of Shade’s Children, and together they fight to survive against Overlords.

I honestly just adored this book. It’s dark and gritty and absolutely stands the test of time. It was just as gripping and absorbing as the many times I read it as a child. The world is completely fascinating and I loved learning about this unique dystopian world that Nix has created. While everything isn’t necessarily explained, the world building is solid and the plot exciting. Despite this book being published over twenty years ago, it definitely still stands up as a brilliant YA story.

Shade’s Children is just over the three hundred page mark, but I absolutely raced through this. You’re dropped right into the action in this one and it’s an absolute roller coaster ride. This story has such a tense, eerie atmosphere as Gold Eye and the gang fight to survive. If you’re looking for a dystopian tale that will have you reading long into the night, you definitely need to check this one out.
5 Stars

Book Review: Hidden Oracle – Rick Riordan

Book Review: Hidden Oracle – Rick Riordan

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Series:
The Trials of Apollo #1
Release Date: May 3rd 2016
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Pages: 376
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I was sent an Ebook & audio copy from the publisher and then I purchased a paperback copy
Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Synopsis

How do you punish an immortal?

By making him human.

After angering his father Zeus, the god Apollo is cast down from Olympus. Weak and disorientated, he lands in New York City as a regular teenage boy. Now, without his godly powers, the four-thousand-year-old deity must learn to survive in the modern world until he can somehow find a way to regain Zeus’s favour.

But Apollo has many enemies – gods, monsters and mortals who would love to see the former Olympian permanently destroyed. Apollo needs help, and he can think of only one place to go . . . an enclave of modern demigods known as Camp Half-Blood.

Review

Copy of book cover (51)The Trials of Apollo is the first in a new series from Percy Jackson author Rick Riordan. This series follows God Apollo, as he is cast from Olympus and forced to live as a mortal teenager. When he makes it to Camp Half-Blood he discovers his enemies are plotting to bring down Olympus permanently.

This is such a fun and fast paced adventure. The reader is dropped right in the middle of the action and it doesn’t let up for the whole book. If you’re looking for a story that will sweep you along, this is definitely a series to try. The plot is a little on the predictable side, but the story is enjoyable and steeped in Greek and Roman mythology.

Apollo is a great protagonist, he’s self centred and vain – believing everything should revolve around him. He has a bit of a hard time of being mortal and it’s interesting seeing him grow as a person and learn what it means to be a human. I also really liked Meg, she’s a kick-ass character and I loved her little sidekick Peaches. This is actually my first time reading a Rick Riordan book and while I really enjoyed it I think I would have been better off starting with the Percy Jackson series, as it’s referenced all the way through this story. I think I would have been able to appreciate the story more if I’d known the previous stories.

I’ve been curious about these books for a long time and after reading this one I’m definitely going to pick up more from this author. If you love action packed stories with a dash of comedy, this is going to be just the series for you.
4 Stars

Book Review: Pine – Frances Toon

Book Review: Pine – Frances Toon

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Release Date:
January 23rd 2020
Publisher: Doubleday
Pages: 336
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I ordered a copy of this book online
Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis

They are driving home from the search party when they see her.

The trees are coarse and tall in the winter light, standing like men. Lauren and her father Niall live alone in the Highlands, in a small village surrounded by pine forest. When a woman stumbles out onto the road one Halloween night, Niall drives her back to their house in his pickup. In the morning, she’s gone.

In a community where daughters rebel, men quietly rage, and drinking is a means of forgetting, mysteries like these are not out of the ordinary. The trapper found hanging with the dead animals for two weeks. Locked doors and stone circles. The disappearance of Lauren’s mother a decade ago.

Lauren looks for answers in her tarot cards, hoping she might one day be able to read her father’s turbulent mind. Neighbours know more than they let on, but when local teenager Ann-Marie goes missing it’s no longer clear who she can trust.

In spare, haunting prose, Francine Toon creates an unshakeable atmosphere of desolation and dread. In a place that feels like the end of the world, she unites the gloom of the modern gothic with the pulse of a thriller. It is the perfect novel for our haunted times.

Review

Copy of book cover (5)Going into Pine I didn’t really know what to expect, I had seen some incredible reviews online and I was so intrigued by this beautiful Gothic sounding story. The novel is set in a remote part of the Scottish Highlands, following Lauren and her father Niall as they live life in a quiet little village. Despite everyone in the village knowing each other, the place is full of secrets – her mother’s disappearance, a young teenager goes missing and so much more. Trying to understand what’s going on in the village Lauren turns to her tarot cards, hoping to figure out just who she can really trust.

This quiet, beautifully written tale really sucked me in and I really did not want to put this one down. Toon is a brilliant storyteller, weaves layers that draw you deeper and deeper into the secrets surrounding this family. It’s a haunting tale, full of chilling imagery and an eerie isolated setting. It was a gripping read and I will certainly be on the lookout for more books from this author.

Pine is difficult book to categorise – it blends literary fiction with mystery and adds a touch of the supernatural. It’s a well executed story and is completely enthralling. Our main protagonist Lauren is a fascinating young girl, she’s clever and notices far more than most ten year olds. The story is quite a slow burn, it did take me a little while to get settled into the story, but after a few chapters I became completely invested in this story, with it’s vivid imagery of bleak forests and supernatural horror.

I don’t want to say too much about the actual plot of this story – it’s definitely one of those books that you should go into knowing as little as possible about the plot. If you love captivating tales full of mystery with a pinch of Gothic horror thrown in, this is absolutely a must read.
4 Stars