““You are the most vexing and endearing box of contradictions I have ever seen. You fascinate me, Wendy.”” // Review of “Second Star” by J. M. Sullivan

Title: Second Star (Neverland Transmissions #1)
Author: J. M. Sullivan
Genre: Sci-fi
Intended audience: YA
Date Read: 10/02/19 – 15/02/19
Rating: ★★


I was totally on board with this book for probably the first half. I had a few quibbles up until then, but I was willing to overlook them. Unfortunately, the second half got confusing and frustrated me to the point where I was just waiting for the book to be over.

This is a Peter Pan re-telling set in the far future. I really enjoyed the little references to the original story. It was fun to spot them  all.

But while the characters are jumping through hyperspace and hanging out on foreign planets, the language they used and the society established felt woefully outdated. Even the main  insult several of the characters used – “codfish” – feels like something out of Dickens rather than Doctor Who. It actually felt like it could have been turned into a good steampunk quasi-historical story, but it didn’t go that way.

The characters also make Harry Potter references and one of them listens to Bob Marley… okay, maybe we will still be reading HP in 400 years  and maybe Bob gets to stick around as a master of the classical music of this period… but it didn’t immerse me in the time period.

I also assumed that  as the book went on, we would learn exactly why Hooke was the bad guy, rather than just having to take  Peter’s word for it… and we did, technically, but it never rang true to me. This might be because some of the worldbuilding about the Second Star and the ultimate Big Bad actually left me feeling a bit flummoxed, so Hooke’s place in the overall plan didn’t feel fully fleshed out.

The line I used in the title of this post is something Peter says to Wendy, and it’s lovely and romantic… but he has literally known her an afternoon when he says it. Maybe a full day. Good ol’ instalove. Wendy is nearly ready to sacrifice other members of her crew for Peter after only knowing him a couple of days.

There are more books to come in this series but I don’t feel inclined to follow the story any further. The one instalment was enough for me.

(Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review)

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Book Review: “In Another Life” by C. C. Hunter

Title: In Another Life
Author: C. C. Hunter
Genre: Contemporary
Target audience: YA
Date Read: 01/02/19 – 02/02/19


This book was engaging enough. I read it in a couple of sittings. I also want to add the disclaimer that I read the ARC and it’s possible some of my issues will be fixed in the final version. The formatting was a problem as there was no indication of a change in POV – and as there were several POV characters, this did frequently pull me out of the story.

I was intrigued by the premise of this book – I knew that illegal adoptions happened but didn’t really know anything about them. The idea of someone growing up in a happy adoptive family only to discover there is another family somewhere missing them and hoping they might one day return is a really great premise for a novel.

The way the book is structured meant that we knew more about the mystery than the characters did and in some ways, I felt that lessened the stakes too soon. We knew who the bad guys were and figured they would probably get their comeuppance, so there wasn’t as much mystery as there might have been.

I thought Chloe was a very well-written character. She’s got a lot goinig on – her parents’ divorce, her mother up and moving her to a different city, and now a strange guy claiming she’s trying to con his foster parents by pretending to be their long-lost daughter. I did think the romance betwee her and Cash happened a little fast, but I guess that could just be because I’m a sucker for a slow-burn. I did like the fact that when it was revealed that Chloe had been kidnapped, she still acknowledged her adoptive parents as mum and dad, even as that upset her birth parents.

Cash frustrated me a bit with his absolute refusal to accept any help from his foster parents. I got that he didn’t think he deserved it, but he just went on and on and there never seemed to be an arc there. There are several villains of the piece and to be honest, I got them all a bit confused.

All that being said, I did find this book an engaging read and I think it was a good break after I’d read a tonne of fantasy.

(Thank you to the publishers and NetGalley for a gratis copy of the book in exchange for an honest review)

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#WWW Wednesday – October 31, 2018

It’s time for WWW Wednesday! This blog hop is hosted by Sam over at A World Of Words. Link up with us by commenting on Sam’s post for this week, and just answer the three questions.

Has October dragged on for everyone else? It’s been three weeks since my last WWW Wednesday post, and the reason I wasn’t posting is because I felt like I hadn’t read anything. Which isn’t true, but I felt like I was in some kind of funk, even as I was getting through things. I’m not sure I’m making any sense whatsoever.

Anyway. Let’s get on with the questions!

What have you recently finished reading?

First of all, I finished my ARC of Unwritten by Tara Gilboy, and while I didn’t love it, I felt it was one that could be enjoyed by MG readers. You can read my review here.

Next I read Two Ways Strong: Jaz’s Story by the Deadly Mob from Concordia, Shallow in the Deep End by Tiwi College Alalinguwi Jarrakarlinga with Jared Thomas and Japarrika by Tiwi College Alalinguwi Jarrakarlinga with David Lawrence & Shelley Ware. These books came in a pack and were put out by the Indigenous Literacy Foundation. They were written by Indigenous Australian students with help from mentors and all the proceeds go back to ILF. I wasn’t really sure how to review these so I haven’t written anything yet and I’m not sure that I will.

After that, I finished Terra Nullius by Claire G. Coleman and reviewed it here. It was tricky to review without spoiling the twist, but it’s definitely a well-written book with lots of social commentary.

Next, I  finished The Cottingley Secret by Hazel Gaynor on audio. This was a sweet book and got me quite emotional in the end! I reviewed it here.

Next was Legendary by Stephanie Garber, which was better than Caraval in my very humble opinion. I thought the plot of this one was better developed, and the stakes were higher, but I ended up being a bit disappointed about the reveal of Legend’s identity. It just didn’t seem very epic after all the build-up. 

Last but not least was Ruby Moonlight by Ali Cobby Eckermann, which was a very short verse novel and… I had a lot of mixed feelings about it which I will try to explore in my review. 

I also posted my review of Only Human by Sylvain Neuvel for those who are interested.

What are you currently reading? 

What are you reading this week? 🙂

I’ve just started Sugar Spells by Lola Dodge today. This is the second book in the Spellwork Syndicate series (I reviewed the first one here). I’m only about 10% in at time of writing this post but I am remembering what came before and already into the story, so that’s a good sign. Also I love the descriptions of baking witchcraft. And the covers are so stunning, I love them! 

What do you think you’ll read next?      

Circus Hearts: All Aces by Ellie Marney comes out tomorrow so I assume she’ll be sending ARCs to her review team very soon. I’m looking forward to seeing how this series winds up. Say what you want about self-publishing but getting the installments in a trilogy only a month apart from each other been awesome. 😀 

What are you reading this week? 🙂

#WWW Wednesday – October 10, 2018

It’s time for WWW Wednesday! This blog hop is hosted by Sam over at A World Of Words. Link up with us by commenting on Sam’s post for this week, and just answer the three questions.

What have you recently finished reading?

circusheartsallfalldowncoverI finished All Fall Down, the second in Ellie Marney’s Circus Hearts series. I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as the first one, but I still gave it four stars. I did really like the love interest. He just really had it together. He was attractive and smart and had a good job and everything. I guess this is the nice thing about reading about 19 to 22-year-olds rather than 16-year-olds.

onlyhumancover Only Human by Sylvain Neuvel picked up enough in the last third that I gave it three stars rather than two, but I was still annoyed that a lot of it was quite lecturey. I am all for political books, but I prefer the politics to be woven into the story, rather than characters just having rants about the state of the world today.

After that, I read an ARC of Claw the System: Poems from the Cat Uprising by Francesco Marciuliano. I didn’t find this as funny as I had hoped, but there were still some laugh-out-loud moments and some very entertaining photos of cats throughout.

Click the titles to read my reviews of Caraval by Stephanie Garber, My Whole Truth by Mischa Thrace, All Fall Down by Ellie Marney and Claw the System by Francesco Marciuliano.

What are you currently reading? 

What are you reading this week? 🙂

I expect to finish my ARC of Unwritten by Tara Gilboy in the next couple of days. This wasn’t quite what I expected and to my adult reader brain, seems a bit heavy-handed in its message, but it would probably not be quite so to an actual MG-age reader. 

On audio, I am listening to The Cottingley Secret by Hazel Gaynor.  I have a really good feeling about this one. Eleven years ago, I based my Year 12 individual drama performance on the story of the Cottingley fairies, and I’ve had an interest in them ever since. And I think this book takes the “the photos might be fake but the fairies might still be real” angle, which is how I feel about it, too. 

I’m also about 100 pages into Terra Nullius by Claire G. Coleman, but I’ve put it on hold a little until I get through some more ARCs. 

What do you think you’ll read next?

I have an ARC of The Confectioner’s Guild by Claire Luana. I have a thing for baking witchcraft in urban fantasy. Possibly it’s the covers that are good enough to eat combined with drool-worthy descriptions. Also this one also has murder, which is always enjoyable in fiction form. 

What are you reading this week? 🙂

#WWW Wednesday – September 26, 2018


It’s time for WWW Wednesday! This blog hop is hosted by Sam over at A World Of Words. Link up with us by commenting on Sam’s post for this week, and just answer the three questions.

What have you recently finished reading?

This is the last two weeks’ of reading for me as I didn’t post last week.

I finished Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend, which was charming, but maybe a bit long. I persuaded someone at work to order a copy so fingers crossed she’ll read it soon and I’ll have someone to talk to about it. I reviewed it on Monday.

Then I finished Dear Martin by Nic Stone. I actually thought I had downloaded the audio book, but when it ended up being the ebook, I read it in a day. It was very engaging. Like The Hate U Give, it is partially inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement but it presents the issues in a different way. I posted my review on Monday.

After that was Caraval by Stephanie Garber. This was… fine. It had a lot of potential that I don’t think it truly lived up to. Everything was just a bit underdeveloped. But I still kind of want to read the next book? I’ll have a review up on Friday.

I picked up The Word Made Flesh: Literary Tattoos from Bookworms Worldwide because it was on display at the library. It was fine but it was very US-centric for something claiming to be “worldwide” and it also was very literature-heavy. There was a bit of genre fiction and some childhood classics but it was very heavy on the James Joyce and Dostoevsky types.

Last but not least, this morning I finished My Whole Truth by Mischa Thrace. This was a good depiction of dealing with sexual assault and other related trauma but I did feel like it went around in circles a bit and there wasn’t a huge amount of character development. I’ll get my review up next week.

What are you currently reading? 

circusheartsallfalldowncoverI’m still in the first chapter of All Fall Down, the second in Ellie Marney’s Circus Hearts series because I only started it today. Say what you like about self-publishing, I love that I only have to wait a month between each book in this series rather than a year.

onlyhumancoverI have to be honest that Only Human by Sylvain Neuvel is a let down after the first two books in this series. It’s just one big lecture. I have a long drive tomorrow and will probably finish it during that, but it won’t rate as highly as the other two.

What do you think you’ll read next?

Since I’m in the middle of reading various ARCs, the next one I need to get through is Unwritten by Tara Gilboy. This is a middle-grade fantasy and sounds a bit like Nevermoor, which I read recently. So I’m looking forward to it.

What are you reading this week? 🙂

Book Review: “The Mesmerist” by Ronald J. Smith

Title: The Mesmerist
Author: Ronald J. Smith
  Historical fantasy
Date Read: 08/02/2017 – 13/02/2017
Rating: ★★☆


This is a book that I may very well have loved as a 10 or 12-year-old, so I’m willing to accept that the low rating I ultimately gave it as a 27-year-old is a case of “It’s not you, it’s me”.  While the premise of this book sounded cute, it ended up falling flat for me.

Jessamine Grace and her mother make a living as sham spiritualists in Victorian England, until one day Jess discovers that she actually can talk to ghosts. Subsequently, she is thrust into a world of demons, ghouls, necromancers, fairies and angels, and sets out to avenge the deaths of those she loves.

My main issue was Jess herself. She was just so prissy and annoying. The book is in first person present tense, which is not easy to pull off, and I feel that the author did not manage it. There were also constant reminders to English-ness, or to being English – it seemed odd; I don’t think a regular English person would constantly be thinking “I’ll do that – after all, I am English.”

I also felt that there was a bit too much going on, so none of the world-building ever really got enough attention. As you can see from my summary, there are lots of different supernatural elements and they really all only get a bit of a turn to shine. On top of that, the book tries covering some socio-political issues of the time, as well as introducing a plague into the city.

Having said that, I did find that plot picked up in the last 25% or so. Before that, a lot of the action tended to be off-screen, whereas at this point, the main characters were really part of it and coming into their own.

As I said before, I do feel that a younger Emily would have enjoyed this more, so I recommend not writing the book off based on my review, particularly if you are interested in it for a younger reader. It just wasn’t for me.

(Thank you to the publishers and NetGalley for providing me wi  th a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review)

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Book Review: Alternate (Omnibus Edition) by Ernie Luis

Title: Alternate (Omnibus Edition)
Author: Ernie Luis
Genre: Sci-fi
Date Read: 05/01/2016 – 06/01/2016
Rating: ★★★★


alternatecoverThanks to the author and Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for a review.

I have to admit, I wasn’t 100% how I’d like Alternate, as time travel always has the potential to do one’s head in if not done right. Fortunately, though, this one hit the mark!

In 2020, Greyson Tolbert’s eight-year-old daughter was killed in a hit-and-run accident. Ten years later, he is working for the Watchtower as a time travelling assassin, with the promise that after a set number of years’ service, he will be able to save his daughter. But when a colleague goes rogue and he is sent to apprehend her, everything he knows about the Watchtower begins to unravel.

For something with as much time travel as this book has (and it has a lot), the plot is extremely well-structured, and never really got confusing. Potential paradoxes are dealt with quite well, and it was always clear what time period we were in. Greyson’s POV is in third person, while the several other POV characters were all in third person, and this worked quite well. The narrative unfolds at a really good pace. There were lots of twists, but they never felt like they were there for shock value.

The reason it only gets four stars from me is because I wasn’t particularly invested in the characters. I definitely wanted to see how the story panned out, but I wasn’t going to be hugely bothered by who made it out and who didn’t. Which isn’t to say that the characters weren’t well-drawn, because they were, I think being as hardened as they were thanks to their various pasts made it difficult for me to get inside their heads.