Rating: 4 Stars!
How I got this book: Gift
Yadriel has summoned a ghost, and now he can't get rid of him.
When his traditional Latinx family has problems accepting his true gender, Yadriel becomes determined to prove himself a real brujo. With the help of his cousin and best friend Maritza, he performs the ritual himself, and then sets out to find the ghost of his murdered cousin and set it free.
However, the ghost he summons is actually Julian Diaz, the school's resident bad boy, and Julian is not about to go quietly into death. He's determined to find out what happened and tie off some loose ends before he leaves. Left with no choice, Yadriel agrees to help Julian, so that they can both get what they want. But the longer Yadriel spends with Julian, the less he wants to let him leave.
Ah, this book hit me right in the feels!
"You don't need anyone's permission to be you, Yads”
Cemetery Boys is the story of Yadriel, a young trans man who, after losing his mother, and his number one supporter, is fighting for recognition as a brujo in his very traditional community. With the help of his best-friend Maritza, he performs a ritual that sets a chain of events in motion that he never saw coming, accidentally summoning the wrong spirit and entwining their fate.
I loved the beginning of this book. Aiden paints a beautiful picture filled with Latinx culture. The imagery is beautiful and the interweaving of Spanish with English made this book a truly cultural experience and reignited my desire to learn Spanish.
The tension at the beginning of the book is perfect and builds into something palpable and almost dangerous as the book progresses and new dangers and obstacles arise.
“You know who you are, I know who you are, and our Lady does, too." She said with fierce conviction. "So screw the rest of them!" Maritza grinned at him. "Remember why we're doing this.”
I immediately loved the obvious love and friendship between Maritza and Yadriel as she helps him perform the ritual that will grant him the powers of the brujo, without getting caught. Maritza is supportive in all the right ways, without ever trying to force Yadriel into doing things he doesn't want to. She's a great person to have in your corner.
Yadriel is such a fantastic character to root for, made even more powerful because this book is own voices. His moving and emotional struggle to prove himself and then to accept who he is, despite what others think, is poignant and makes for an eye-opening read with a perfect fantasy twist.
"Queen folks are like wolves," Julian told him. "We travel in packs."
Then, we meet Julian, a riot of a character who has a tough, no-nonsense exterior at first, but proves himself to be a complete puppy with boundless energy, enthusiasm and acceptance for all. Julian is my favourite character in this book. He's perfect for Yadriel, complimenting Yadriel's reserve with plenty of daring and excitement. He's loving and delivers some of the deepest insight in this book, both for Yadriel and for the reader; while delivering what I felt was one of most powerful scenes in the entire book; full of raw, unguarded emotion.
Watching Yadriel and Julian grow closer and push each-other was the genuine delight of this book, and so enjoyable. Until finally we got an ending that fit the book perfectly.
“You ready?" Julian asked, a curious look on his devastatingly handsome face.
"No," Yadriel confessed, his voice tight.
Julian grinned. "Do it anyways.”
My only very slight issue was that the plot and the 'big twist' were really predictable BUT because the tension and the build-up between Yadriel and Julian built so beautifully, and the ever-looming deadline to their journey was constantly at the forefront of the story, it more than made up for it.
Overall, I loved the setting, the scenery, the culture, the language and the relationships, even the ones that weren't so great as they provided a brilliant contrast for the strong, healthy relationships. I also loved the magic and how it completely entwined with the everyday.
I'd highly recommend Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas to anyone looking for a truly diverse and powerful paranormal YA.
“Julian's chuckle was wet. "Valió ... la pena."
I recently saw a post on Twitter by one of my favourite UK YA authors, Simon James Green, about championing UK YA books.
So, inspired by this, I wanted to share a quick list of some of my favourite UK YA books and authors. I hope this list helps you add a few more books to your TBR!
Click the links to check out my review (if there is one) or to visit Goodreads.
If I've missed any, let me know in the comments!
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Genre: Contemporary YA
How I got this book: ARC via NetGalley and UCLan Publishing
When his dad moves out, Jamie tries to fill his shoes. He needs to become head of the household – right? With his mum dealing with the aftermath of toxic masculinity at its finest, and his little sister Bex struggling to understand what’s going on, Jamie has to navigate the choppy waters of what he thinks it means to be a man.
Having learned that the best way to deal with feelings is to push them down as far as they’ll go, he finds help from an unlikely source. Drinking makes him feel invincible – Super Jim can take on anything – and anyone… But how long will it be before this particular well of wisdom runs dry? And what will it take for Jamie to realise that help was at hand all along?
From the author of the Geekhood series, the first of which was shortlisted for the Waterstones Children’s Book Award, comes Smashed by Andy Robb. Funny, touching, with a narrator readers’ will instantly love, Smashed is a rollercoaster exploration of young masculinity. The story would appeal to fans of Me Mam, Me Dad, Me and Noah Can’t Even.
TW: domestic violence, emotional abuse, manipulation, blackmail, kidnapping, depression, teen alcoholism, sexism.
The main reason I was drawn to this book was that it was recommended to fans of Noah Can't Even, which I adored.
It becomes very clear, very quickly, that this book centres around domestic violence. Jamie is struggling to cope after The Night Everything Went Weird when his mum got The Rainbow Eye and his dad started sleeping downstairs. He now finds himself as 'man' of the house, responsibilities stacking up as he has to mediate his mum and dad's relationship, take care of his younger sister and bear the 'Weight of Manhood'.
I really liked Jamie at first, he's a compelling character, with an inner voice that draws you in and makes you hope everything will work out for the best.
Just thinking of Bex saying those words is enough for the recently installed radiator in my throat to get hot and my eyes to blur with the sting of salty tears.
But, there came a point where his inner voice stopped being an almost 16-year-old boy and instead took the tone of a grown man trying far too hard to be funny and falling completely short (to put it simply, the voice of the author overtook Jamie's voice, and it wasn't enjoyable). When he describes his English teacher's breasts as 'pendulous milk tanks' I almost threw up, threw the book, and stopped reading.
The writing reeks of sexism, even though the supposed point is to make a stand against toxic masculinity.
So, I was at the point where I felt convinced I wouldn’t finish this book. The choice of language, the toxic masculinity and the blatant sexism annoyed and disgusted me, but something was compelling about Jamie and his plight that almost forced me to keep reading.
I blink twice, before smearing on the smile I rehearsed in the mirror. "Oh, you know me, Becky" I nod. "I'm fine."
Jamie finds that the 'Weight of Manhood' becomes harder and harder to carry, but he's got no choice. His mum needs him, his little sister needs him, and he doesn't know how he feels about his dad. Add to this a girlfriend he feels is smothering him, Jamie needs an escape, and his mum's drinks cabinet is right there...ready for the taking.
There were a few things in this book that made me cringe. If it hadn't been for the sexist language (I mean, for god's sake, he literally gives a girl the nickname 'nipples' at one point), the almost forgiveness for unforgivable acts and some really stupid decisions that would NEVER EVER HAPPEN.
At no point would you EVER freely allow your young child to go off with a man that a.) hit you, b.) stole from you, c.) basically kidnapped your child, d.) has previously used said child to manipulate/blackmail you and the child in question.
You'd literally call the police and keep the man as far away from your children as possible.
The secondary characters do add a lot to the story. Jamie's best friend is a great character, and I'd actually love for him to have his own story. His girlfriend is sweet and his little sister is both adorable and heart-breaking as she struggles to understand what's happening at home.
One thing I can say for Andy Robb is that he can write a villain with scary accuracy. I held my breath through the entirety of Chapter 30 and wanted nothing more than to see Jamie's dad behind bars.
The pacing also is fantastic. It keeps you on the edge of your seat, watching with wide eyes as Jamie's life crashes and burns around him.
Overall, Smashed is a heart-breaking journey of a young boy who spirals out of control as he attempts to deal with the aftermath of domestic violence and to come to terms with what it truly means to be a man.
I can't deny that it was compelling, but I think that some language choices and messages left a lot to be desired.
Rating: 3 Stars
Genre: YA/Fantasy/Clean Romance
Series/Standalone: When Wishes Bleed #1
How I got this book: Free on Amazon Prime
One Prince. One Witch. One Fate.
The upheaval in my life began the moment a prince stumbled into my house and asked me to read his fortune. Any other night, I might have made an excuse to get him to leave, but this was no normal visit. My fingers prickled to touch him. So, I granted his request by handing him a single wishbone. When he snapped it, the wish … bled.
Hearing me suck in a shocked breath, he asked what it meant. Such an ominous omen could only mean one thing: his death was imminent. Fate revealed that he wouldn’t die of natural causes. Someone wanted him dead. Stunned by the revelation, the man I now knew as Prince Tauren disappeared into a night I feared he wouldn’t survive. The following day, I received an invitation to the castle. While it seemed the prince believed I could intervene and uncover who was plotting his death, his motives didn’t stop there. I was being summoned to join twelve other women in vying for the opportunity to be his wife and future queen.
Going could mean jeopardizing my plans to reclaim my heritage and resurrect the House of Fate. But staying would guarantee Tauren’s death, and the blood of his wish would be on my hands.
Review by Sophie
I’ve had this book on my TBR for quite some time as the reviews are pretty mixed, but I finally read it when Amazon added it as a Prime free read.
I think the author did a fantastic job of the world-building in this book. It’s set in a modern-ish time, where the world is split into districts. The detail surrounding the magic, and the House of Fate, in particular, is immersive and drew me in from the start.
First, we meet Sable, an outcast from District 13, who’s come to accept life alone after being shunned by all the other witches, with only the voice of Fate himself to keep her company, whispering in her ear and guiding her on what she must do. I felt really sorry for Sable, especially seeing how she’s treated, even by her own family, but I love how having Fate guiding her added so much mystery to her character. Oh, and did I mention she’s a badass?
Once a year, the townspeople from the different districts go to the 13th for the Equinox celebration. This year, we meet the ever so lovely Tauren, a young prince who stumbles (drunkenly) to Sable’s hut for a reading. The two form an instant connection, and their relationship grows quickly.
”Now that we’re bound, you’ll be my shield, but I will also be yours. We’ll keep each other safe - and alive.”
I was quite fond of Tauren, just because he was so sweet, which is an interesting portrayal of a prince in a fantasy novel. So, like Sable, I really didn’t want him to die!
As much as I liked Sable and Tauren’s character, there’s one I really couldn’t stand, and that was Bren, Sable’s one and only friend since childhood. I found him so annoying! His behaviour and how he acted when things didn’t go his way, or he didn’t get what he wanted was just petty and had me hating his character.
The first half of the book really captured me, and I fell into the mystery of it all. However, as I journeyed through the book, my love for it faded. I felt that the author had built up the ending so much and I was expecting it to be epic, but found it disappointing, with no fire or intensity. There are also too many unanswered questions about Sable’s mother and how she just accepted things from the people that had cast her out and been horrible to her, made little sense to me. There was so much speculation and hurt that I just don’t feel like the author expressed that enough.
So, yeah, I enjoyed this book, and I wanted to read on; especially after switching from the audiobook to eBook. I usually love audiobooks, but the narrator was really killing the story for me.
If you liked The Hunger Games, but crave a magical twist, I’d highly recommend When Wishes Bleed by Casey L. Bond.
Rating: 4 Stars
How I got this book: Bought
Everyone knows about the dare: Each week, Bryson Keller must date someone new--the first person to ask him out on Monday morning. Few think Bryson can do it. He may be the king of Fairvale Academy, but he's never really dated before.
Until a boy asks him out, and everything changes.
Kai Sheridan didn't expect Bryson to say yes. So when Bryson agrees to secretly go out with him, Kai is thrown for a loop. But as the days go by, he discovers there's more to Bryson beneath the surface, and dating him begins to feel less like an act and more like the real thing. Kai knows how the story of a gay boy liking someone straight ends. With his heart on the line, he's awkwardly trying to navigate senior year at school, at home, and in the closet, all while grappling with the fact that this "relationship" will last only five days. After all, Bryson Keller is popular, good-looking, and straight . . . right?
TW: Racism, homophobia (violence & religion)
This book grabbed me from page one.
I absolutely loved the "fake boyfriend" trope in a YA format, and I think the author did a fantastic job of making it both believable and realistic.
I adore the main characters in this book.
At first, Kai is a complete wallflower. He's shy and reserved as he struggles to keep his secret from the world, but all that changes when he angrily (you'll find out why) asks Bryson Keller, the most popular boy in school, out on a date.
It's so much fun to see Kai come out of his shell as he starts to feel comfortable with who he is.
“I’m not joking,” I say. “Date me, Bryson Keller!”
Bryson is just as sweet as Kai and takes Kai's request in his stride. After all, he can't lose his dare, even if he doesn't believe in relationships.
Together, Kai and Bryson are adorable. They form a strong friendship, and support and care for each other through the hardships they each face.
"He breaks then. Whoever says that boys don’t cry—or shouldn’t cry—needs to walk off a very short pier into a shark-infested ocean."
The first half of this book is great. Kai's friends and family seem brilliant and supportive, and there's the strong feeling that all will work out in the end.
This book is definitely one for fans of Becky Abertalli's, Simon vs The Homo Sapien's Agenda, but one thing I adored about this book that I hated about Love Simon, are the best friends! They're so damn supportive and just brilliant, something that was truly lacking in Simon vs.
Sadly, the book takes a darker turn during the second half, and there's a lot of pain for both Kai and Bryson to deal with. I almost hate the author's choice to include this drama as it feels like too much on too many fronts, and the story would have been so damn sweet and beautiful without it.
I get that it's a coming-out story, and coming out is tough. Hell, I'm almost 30, and I'm still only open with a few select people in my life. But, for once, I'd love a sweet LGBT YA without all the pain and drama from a-holes who should never be forgiven for the crap they pull.
"Gay means happy, too, you know."
But saying all that, going through what they do does make the relationship stronger and drives the reader's compassion and need for everything to work out in the end.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book, my first by this author, and I'm really looking forward to reading what they do next.
Just be prepared, if you cry easily, as I do, you'll definitely want to have some tissues to hand towards the end of the book.
"As my world burns down around me. This, right here, is enough."
Rating: 4.5 STARS!
Series/Standalone: The Extraordinaries #1
How I got this book: Bought
In Nova City, there are people capable of feats that defy the imagination. They're called Extraordinaries.
There is Shadow Star: a protector who can manipulate darkness in his quest to protect those who cannot protect themselves.
His arch-nemesis is Pyro Storm: an Extraordinary capable of controlling fire who is bent on bringing Nova City to its knees.
And then there's sixteen-year-old Nicholas Bell: who isn't Extraordinary in the slightest.
He's Shadow Star's number one fan, writing fan fiction of their adventures together and dreaming of a day where he too dons a costume and fights crime. Too bad ADHD isn't a superpower, otherwise Nick would be golden.
Instead of stopping villains and their convoluted schemes of global domination, Nick must contend with starting his junior year, a father who doesn't trust him, and a best friend named Seth, who may or may not be the love of Nick's short, uneventful life. It should be enough.
And it is...until a fateful encounter with Shadow Star forces Nick to realize his true destiny. He's tired of being ordinary, and he'll do whatever it takes to become something more.
I want this book to become a TV series!
This book was our third Turn The Page book club selection.
I loved this book. It was so fantastic to see, as always, the brilliant representation that you can almost guarantee from a TJ Klune book.
Nick is just a brilliant character; he's smart, funny and adorably clueless about what's going on. At the same time, he's struggling with the grief of losing his mum while feeling at odds with his dad, who he thinks wishes he were normal.
Nick is neurodivergent, and it was so refreshing to read a fun, sci-fi fantasy with a disabled hero.
“For the most part, he'd accepted that some people were born to be Extraordinaries, and some people were born to be medicated so they didn't spin out of control. Fair? Not really, but Nick was learning that his brain could do things that others couldn't. In a way, he had his own superpower, even if it was called a disorder.”
I really enjoyed following Nick's story as it takes unusual turns that are, for the most part, very funny, but sometimes much darker.
Surprisingly, the action sequences in this book were also really great, and it's those, interspersed with Nick's inner monologue, his awkward banter with Seth, his annoyance with Owen, and his hilarious friends, that I feel would make a fantastic tv show.
But, I did have a few issues with some aspects of the book. Nick's dad, I did not get on with. I just don't feel that he's a great parent. Yes, he worries about Nick, but he's also one of the main reasons that Nick feels so insecure about himself, and it's clear through much of what happens (no spoilers!) that he's lied to Nick a lot.
Then there's the issue with the glorification of the police force to a certain extent. I understand that this wasn't intentional and that the book was written, I think, before the recent light that's been shone on police brutality in America. However, the simple fact that Nick's dad is forgiven for doing punching someone in his position of power just doesn't sit well. That being said, the author did address this in his own blog post, so you're welcome to read that here and form your own opinion.
My other issue was that the plot twists were really predictable. But, saying that, I wonder if it was intentional because, while they're clear to the ready, they are not at all clear to Nick who's in the dark, meandering in all directions until he figures it out, which was actually a lot of fun to read. There were so many times where I just wanted to step into the book and help Nick, to tell him what was going on, but his cluelessness led to funny and heartbreaking scenarios that made his story all the more compelling.
Overall, I really enjoyed TJ's first YA novel. Having read a lot of his adult novels, I wasn't too sure what to expect, but I was really surprised. No, this book didn't affect me the way that The House in the Cerulean Sea did, but it's a very different book; it's harsher, and it has more grit to it.
But, I'd still highly recommend The Extraodinaries, and I can't wait to find out what happens to Nick and the gang in book two.
“Be gay. Do crimes.”
Rating: 5 STARS!
How I got this book: Bought
Faking the best summer ever is a lot harder than it looks...
At the start of summer, Jack and Nate find themselves dumped as their respective exes, Dylan and Tariq, start up a new relationship together. Not only that, their exes start posting pics on social media, showing the whole world how fabulous their new life together is!
Jack and Nate are reeling. Not to be outdone, they decide to create their own 'highlights reel' and show their exes that they're having an even better time.
But between the depressing motorway service station motels, damp campsites, and an ultimate showdown with the exes, something epic really is happening: Jack and Nate are learning to get over their heartache and open themselves up to new possibilities for love.
I have been trying to write the review for this book ever since I finished it last week and I'm really struggling...because I loved it so much!!
It's so much easier to write about something that has faults and flaws, which is why this entire review should basically just be the following four words:
GO READ THIS BOOK!
But that probably wouldn't be very interesting, so I'll keep trying.
First of all, I just want to say that, as a 29-year-old, how jealous I am of the teens who get to read this book. This is probably the only book I've ever read that made me wish that I could go back to high school *shudders* so that I could do things differently. If I had this book as a teen I might not have felt so alone and unseen, I might have had the courage to be more me, and I can only thank authors like Simon James Green for writing books like this for kids like me who were too shy and insecure to say, "Hey, this is me! Deal with it."
"I want them all to see it, Dylan. I want everyone who made my life hell for the last three years to see they haven't won. I'm here. And I'm gonna shine so bright I'll blind the fuckers."
So, first impressions, Jack is literally my hero. He's incredible. He's an absolute sweetheart, instantly likeable and hilariously funny.
I love Simon James Green's writing and his impeccable British humour that's always had the ability to transport me back to a 90's childhood.
I admit that upon first introduction to Dylan, I thought he was okay, but no, Dylan is trash who gets worse and Jack deserved so much better!
Nate is a gloomy little cinnamon roll who I wanted to put in my pocket...and also slap a few times for getting 'swept up in the moment and ALMOST RUINING EVERYTHING DAMMIT!'
I absolutely love Jack and Nate together, their clashing personalities and dry humour are the perfect combination and, along with the ridiculous things that happen on their journey, help to keep a fast, interesting pace throughout the whole book.
The secondary characters are also fantastic, Nate's parents are brilliant and Elliot needs to have his own story (pretty please!)
As a bonus, this book was made even more perfect for me as the characters took a detour to my hometown with hilarious results.
Heartbreak Boys, just like Alex in Wonderland, made me instantly want to take a holiday and is definitely the perfect summer read!
If you're looking for a book that will have you laughing out loud and holding your breath at every almost, you should definitely read this book!
Rating: 4 Stars
Genre: Contemporary YA
How I got this book: NetGalley ARC
'It's not my body that's holding me back. I think it's more of a problem that people tell me my body should hold me back.'
Meet Emily Daly, a stylish, cute, intelligent and hilarious seventeen-year-old about to start her last year at school. Emily is also fat. She likes herself and her body. When she meets Joe at a house party, he instantly becomes The Crush of Her Life. Everything changes. At first he seems perfect. But as they spend more time together, doubts start to creep in.
With her mum trying new fad diets every week, and increasing pressure to change, Emily faces a constant battle to stay strong, be her true self and not change for anyone.
A warm, funny inspiring debut YA novel from Bethany Rutter: influencer, editor and a fierce UK voice in the debate around body positivity.
I have severely mixed feelings about this book.
Have you ever read a book that made you feel as though you were looking directly back at your own life?
That pretty much sums up how I felt reading No Big Deal.
The other fat girl in our group wasn't called Camilla, and my first real crush wasn't Joe. Everything else though, pretty much an exact match, and seeing it there on the page, reading Emily's story brought back so many old anxieties and so much pain that I thought or maybe hoped, I'd left behind.
"Eat too many of those and you'll always be Fatty Smith, never Patti Smith."
It got to the point where reading this book infuriated me as I drew parallels within my own life and my own insecurities.
But at the same time, I couldn't stop reading. The main character was relatable (or she would have been to teen me when I, for a brief period, cared that I was the only one without a boyfriend/girlfriend), almost too much so which is what made this such an uncomfortable read for me.
"Do not allow into your world someone who thinks you're second best, who thinks your body is a temporary "problem" that you're going to solve, who puts you down in any way."
The writing was easy to digest and the pace fast. I read the book in two short sittings but at the end felt a little unresolved.
Emily is funny, witty and down to earth but I did have a few problems, especially that she became too quickly obsessed with a boy she'd only just met and it takes her a while, too long in fact, to realise that all isn't as it should be. But, saying that, she is a teen and I can't deny that I had a LOT of obsessive moments when I was younger, and let's face it, I'm very obsessive over my books!
"Oh no. Too far, Emily. You can't just ask people why they like dickheads."
I do think the author does a good job of being open about teen sex, and it's refreshing to have sex just be a part of a YA without it being something taboo.
I hated some of the supporting characters in this book, but only because of how they made Emily feel, and the author did a great job of showing how, very often, it's the people closest to you who can fuel your anxieties.
"What's the goal in saying stuff like this to your child? It feels like she just sees an opportunity to make a mean comment and takes it."
I think Emily is a great body positive character, I just would have loved a different ending that wasn't so 'boy-focused'.
Rating: 5 STARS!
Genre: YA/Fantasy/Horror/Historical Fiction
How I got this book: Bought
Seventeen-year-old Aderyn ("Ryn") only cares about two things: her family, and her family's graveyard. And right now, both are in dire straits. Since the death of their parents, Ryn and her siblings have been scraping together a meager existence as gravediggers in the remote village of Colbren, which sits at the foot of a harsh and deadly mountain range that was once home to the fae. The problem with being a gravedigger in Colbren, though, is that the dead don't always stay dead.
The risen corpses are known as "bone houses," and legend says that they're the result of a decades-old curse. When Ellis, an apprentice mapmaker with a mysterious past, arrives in town, the bone houses attack with new ferocity. What is it that draws them near? And more importantly, how can they be stopped for good?
Together, Ellis and Ryn embark on a journey that will take them deep into the heart of the mountains, where they will have to face both the curse and the long-hidden truths about themselves.
Review by Sophie.
TW: Horror. Zombies. Death.
I’ve thought about how I’d write this review for quite some time now, and truthfully I’ve kept changing my mind every five minutes, so I’m just going to jump straight in…
I ABSOLUTELY LOVE THIS BOOK!!
The front cover gives you an idea of how utterly beautiful and atmospheric this dark fairy tale is, and I will point out that I picked this book up on a whim, as Zombies really aren’t my cup of tea. But, I can honestly say that Emily Lloyd-Jones quickly worked her magic when it came to me how much I treasured this book, which left me with tears in my eyes.
The book itself is, I think, classed as a horror, but it’s certainly not at all on the level of a Stephen King novel, and I’d say it's only mild. I love how the quirkiness of the main character eases some of the tension during the more suspenseful scenes.
“I suppose it could have been bandits or maybe one of his chickens got hold of a blade, but I don’t think so.”
This story is set in ancient Wales, and first, we meet Aderyn (Ryn). She’s protective and loyal, and I really loved her sarcastic wit and charm.
Oh, and did I mention, she is totally badass?!
“There was a young woman. She was a fearless creature – a girl who would chase death into the mountains. With only an axe for company…”
Ryn lives with her younger sister Cerri, her brother Garreth, (and their pet goat). After the loss of their mother and her father missing, presumed dead, Ryn sets out foraging in the woods, remembering her father's warnings, when she stumbles across Elis, a Mapmaker.
Elis is a strange boy surrounded by mystery, not really knowing who he is or where he came from, after being found alone when he was very young with an injury that still plagues him. I really like how the author constantly reminds you of the struggle Elis has when contending with his injury, and highlights the effects of having a disability without making the character seem weak or any less of a real person.
As the story progresses, the relationship between the two grows beautifully, and I love how it felt natural rather than rushed, and that both characters, despite being having very different personalities, were very well suited.
“She reminded him of an ocean - beautiful, with enough salt to kill a man. He suspected it would take a knight or a hero of legend to impress one such as her.”
The writing style was intricate and beautiful, and the pace of the story kept the tale intriguing, with action, mystery and an unravelling romance throughout.
I think before I’d even finished the first chapter of the book, immediately I knew I was already being absorbed by it, and how the author describes the devastating heartache of loss and family bonds is truly heartbreaking but beautiful.
Another thing I really loved about The Bone Houses was the setting of the scenes and how easily the plot flowed. I loved the Welsh folklore, and the detail surrounding the mines, caverns, village and the mysterious woods; and how the imagery was effortlessly created in my mind.
Now, I must say I did struggle to choose my favourite character, as I found quite a few of them to be loveable. So, I’ve narrowed it down to Ryn, who, as I said before, is a total badass…with an axe!
“If I come across a problem, I take my axe to it. Or bury it. I'm good at burying things.”
But I must say, my all-time favourite character was the legendary bone goat! This strange creature shows true loyalty and is plain awesome. If there’s one reason to read this book, it's definitely the goat!
Rating: 5 STARS!
Series/Standalone: Scholomance #1
How I got this book: ARC from Cornerstone, Random House UK via NetGalley
Learning has never been this deadly
A Deadly Education is set at Scholomance, a school for the magically gifted where failure means certain death (for real) — until one girl, El, begins to unlock its many secrets. There are no teachers, no holidays, and no friendships, save strategic ones. Survival is more important than any letter grade, for the school won’t allow its students to leave until they graduate… or die! The rules are deceptively simple: Don’t walk the halls alone. And beware of the monsters who lurk everywhere. El is uniquely prepared for the school’s dangers. She may be without allies, but she possesses a dark power strong enough to level mountains and wipe out millions. It would be easy enough for El to defeat the monsters that prowl the school. The problem? Her powerful dark magic might also kill all the other students.
I'm giving 5 stars to my girl El because she deserves every single one of them!
"Yes, now I was worrying I'd be turned to the dark side by too much crochet."
I've started this review several times, always with, I love this book because...and then about ten things immediately spring to mind.
So, instead, I'm going to start at the beginning.
I loved the premise. The synopsis grabbed me instantly and I couldn't wait to dig in.
But, it took me a little while to get really into the book. I knew that I liked it, but I wasn't really sure why. Then, it did a complete one-eighty on me the more I got to know El.
I'll be honest, in terms of actual plot, not a great deal does happen BUT this is the first book in the series, and it's clear that there's a lot of setup going on AND we do get fantastic world building, character building and really great monsters.
El though is my new hero. I absolutely love her, and might also be a little in love with her. It's really not often that you're introduced to a morally good character that's also incredibly powerful, witty, stubborn and 100% interesting.
"I love having existential crises at bedtime, it's so restful."
It's El who makes this book worth reading, and I love the humour she brings while at the same time bringing a lot of heart to the book, making you really care for and root for her.
The premise is fantastic - it's a school that almost tries to kill you!
"The school has to be fed somehow."
I love that the traditional "hero" trope in this book is turned on its head and I just love the dynamic between El and Orion. Think Legolas and Gimli, but a little more frank.
"Lake, I hate you more than words can possibly express."
The secondary characters are also fantastic and add a lot of unexpected humour, tension and drama to the plot.
"Mom told me that all boys are carrying a secret pet mal in their underwear, and if you get alone with them they let it out."
As the tension and danger built throughout the book, I really wondered how it was going to end but it was great, with just enough tension to keep me hanging on for the next one.
Overall, a fantastic start to a new fantasy series! I can't wait for the next instalment!
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About Kayleigh (She/Her)
Book addict, film mad, music lover, business owner, writer and mum (not necessarily in that order), living in the UK.
About Sophie (She/Her)
Sophie loves books (obviously). She has a passion for photography and spotting wildlife, and is interested in anything made with passion and creativity.
THIS BLOG IS SPOILER FREE!
5 Stars - AMAZING!!
4.5 Stars - Almost perfect!
4 Stars - I really loved it
3.5 Stars - I liked it alot
3 Stars - I liked it
(I don't typically review books that I rate below 3 stars)
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