Book Review: The Way We Fall – Cassia Leo



From New York Times bestselling author Cassia Leo comes a twisted and passionate love story that pushes the boundaries of loyalty.

Maybe we shouldn’t have fallen so fast and so willingly.

Maybe we shouldn’t have moved in together before we went on our first date.

Maybe we should have given our wounds time to heal before we tore each other to shreds.

Maybe we should have never been together.

Houston has kept a devastating secret from Rory since the day he took her into his home. But the tragic circumstances that brought them together left wounds too deep to heal.

Five years after the breakup, Houston and Rory are thrust together by forces beyond their control. And all the resentments and passion return with more intensity than ever.

Once again, Houston is left with a choice between the truth and the only girl he’s ever loved.

I received a free copy of this novel courtesy of Gloss Publishing LLC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

This book was… complicated. And so are my feelings towards it.

For one, I honestly cannot remember for the life of me the majority of the plot… and it hasn’t even been remotely long since I’ve read it – which does bring up a few red flags in my mind already and deeper thought about the novel hadn’t even commenced.

The characters made this book difficult to read. Not because they were badly written, but honestly their character traits were far from favourable and I did come to the conclusion that I indeed pretty much hated Houston, and only felt bad for Rory because of her experiences and not because I genuinely cared about her. Houston was the typical douchebag of NA romances… full of himself, with some deeply-set issues (much unexplained) that he clearly wasn’t ready to let go of in order to get his shit together and treat the woman that really loved him right. I honestly had so many other issues with his character I could possibly write my own novel about them, but a lot of them would involve spoiling bits of the story and that isn’t the purpose of a review.

And Rory, well there was nothing particularly wrong with Rory as a person, just I found myself not caring about her as much as I possibly should have. I did think, however, that at points it would have been quite nice if she grew up a little and gotten her act together – and perhaps gotten over Houston. But at no point did that happen.

And so the book was a giant rollercoaster of their relationship and its ups and downs – although if we’re being honest, largely the down as there were only brief intermittent happy scenes scattered through the novel.

Their romance wasn’t developed enough, we really aren’t given much back story other than the whole “they got together as kids” thing – and even then that fact is glossed over so quickly my head was left spinning at the speed.

However, I did like the pacing and Leo’s writing style made the book quite a manageable reading experience. It wasn’t too long, nor too short – it felt just right (I feel like Goldilocks 2.0 after saying that) which helped it not to fall down into a 10-foot deep hole with no point of return.

Also, I quite liked the intensity of everything that was happening within the story. It was almost as though every single emotion that the characters were feeling was ramped up and amplified at least thrice, and I think that worked really well in the context of the story and conveyed the angst-filled, on-off relationship pretty well.

Furthermore, the supporting characters? Solid A grade effort for those – I actually have to say I preferred them to the protagonists and cared for them more too… which may not have been the point of the book??

The cliffhanger end killed me inside, though… it wasn’t a pleasing one and it left me largely disgruntled. To the point where I am willing to read the next book to see if the situation is resolved at all, or if I will continue to be as annoyed with the story as I was.

However, I do have to say that a lot of the problems that I came across whilst reading this novel were probably of my own making and I do realise that others may not experience the same problems and so definitely do encourage others to read it.

My Rating: 2.25/5 Stars 


ARC Review: Saint Death – Marcus Sedgwick


A potent, powerful and timely thriller about migrants, drug lords and gang warfare set on the US/Mexican border by prize-winning novelist, Marcus Sedgwick.

Anapra is one of the poorest neighbourhoods in the Mexican city of Juarez – twenty metres outside town lies a fence – and beyond it – America – the dangerous goal of many a migrant. Faustino is one such trying to escape from the gang he’s been working for. He’s dipped into a pile of dollars he was supposed to be hiding and now he’s on the run. He and his friend, Arturo, have only 36 hours to replace the missing money, or they’re as good as dead. Watching over them is Saint Death. Saint Death (or Santissima Muerte) – she of pure bone and charcoal-black eye, she of absolute loyalty and neutral morality, holy patron to rich and poor, to prostitute and narco-lord, criminal and police-chief. A folk saint, a rebel angel, a sinister guardian.

I receieved an eARC edition of this novel courtesy of Hachette Children’s Group/Orion Children’s Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I don’t know what to think of this book, it was honestly strange, the story felt disjointed and I really didn’t know whether to continue reading at a few points but I guess I’m glad I did ?

I think the story definitely got better as the book progressed, I even felt for the main character at the end and nearly shed a few tears.

 But I did also find him annoyingly irresponsible, he knew fully well what was going to happen and the fluctuation between him berating himself for the stupid things he was doing (and about to do) and him doing the things anyway for some godforsaken reason, multiple times. I mean I’d understand if he made the same mistake once, maybe twice, but multiple times in the same night? That’s just pushing it a little. Although in saying that, I do realise that that is the sort of vibe Sedgwick had wanted the character to have, so I guess kudos for achieving that?

I found the concept of Santa Muerte being such a huge part of Mexican culture incredibly interesting, I felt as though without it, the book wouldn’t have been as interesting. The blind faith that the MC had in her was eerie to read about, mainly because I just can’t imagine putting so much trust into something that technically wasn’t real (although, it seemed like in a lot of cases they treated her as a real entity), enough trust to literally gamble away your life; the book brought the “sinister guardian” part of the synopsis to life and took it beyond that… The concept of that was slightly crazy and eluded me a little, but it was an interesting thing to read about nonetheless.

I also thought that Sedgwick did the right thing in showing the dark reality faced by Mexicans through their eyes, it made a change from what the media usually presents them as, especially in current American political standings in the current elections.

I did really like the fact that the book introduced me to a completely different culture, despite it being a disturbing one, it was well researched and well written, and only lost me because I did not really know much about Santa Muerte herself to begin with (I’d say it’s a good idea to read up on her a wee bit before beginning to read the story) and also that I just couldn’t for some odd reason, connect with the MC on the level at which it should have been possible. Although overall, I’d definitely say that this book is still very much worth the read.

My Rating: 2.5/5 stars

On the top of the hill Christ himself stands with his arms outstretched, facing both Juarez, and, on the other side of the river, El Paso, in a gesture of brotherly love. It’s a misleading gesture. His arms are outstretched because he is nailed to a cross.”

Book Review: Blue Waters – India R. Adams

Synopsis:blue waters cover.jpg

“The blue water I sank through was angelic, quiet, peaceful…”

Whitney is a vivacious, highly spirited 17-year-old girl. Her motto, “Live life to the fullest” is derailed when the young man, who’s captured her attention, turns out to be the son of a drug tycoon- the same that provided the drugs that killed her brother. Whitney believes she simply need to heal from her first heartache, not knowing she is a part of a devious trade, one against human rights, and she has been… since the day age was born.

Blue Waters is the first Novella in a Tainted Waters, and begins a story of deception, corruption, self-discovery, and love with all that it demands you sacrifice…

“There was a beauty in dying that day…”

I received a copy of this novella courtesy of India’s Productions via NetGalley  in exchange for an honest review.

Honestly, if someone told me I would fall completely and utterly in love with a person’s writing and characters in a mere 112 pages, I would have laughed in their face and told them it was impossible… this novella proved me wrong.

In one hundred and twelve incredible pages India R. Adams weaved a complete masterpiece, from her descriptions, to the way in which the beginning related to the end (I honestly love books which seamlessly achieve that) and the characters were so wonderfully thought out I had no complaints.

Can we just talk about the phenomenal quality of the writing, this particularly unsettling quote is still stuck in my head to this day whenever I think of the novella: “There was a beauty in dying that day…”.I just think that it has such an eerie effect and it was honestly perfectly chosen for the scene in which it was written.

Whitney and Crash had undeniable chemistry, but what pleased me the most was the character-fricking-development that they both went through. Honestly, for such a short novella, Adams achieved much much more than some authors could in 500 pages. There was no insta-love (unless one counts as an undeniable attraction as insta-love, but I did find that the relationship actually developed instead of going straight to “oh I love you so much and I can’t imagine my life without you despite meeting you, oh – about five seconds ago”), there was no love triangle, the “star-crossed lovers” thing actually worked for once in my life. Even the supporting characters were developed past empty husks of names, I mean, one of the Russian mafia men made me laugh a ridiculous amount – honestly, what more could I ask for.

Filled with snark and sarcasm, this  book seemed as though it would turn out to be a rather light read. wrong wrong wrong.gif

Yeah, no. By the end, I had probably cried enough tears to fill a bathtub, the story tugged at my tearducts in the same way that it played with my heartstrings, which was to be quite frank, a lot.

Adams kept the intrigue of the plot up with numerous plot twists I had not seen coming, I thought those added immensely to the entire effect that the book had on me and definitely engaged me greatly throughout.

Honestly, the only negative thing about the book was the fact that it inevitably came to a close, however I am going to read Black Waters (the sequel) in the very near future, as I am irrevocably in love with India’s work and cannot wait to return to the world of this novella, I’m also particularly excited about it as I have heard that any minor plot-holes in this novella were perfectly filled in in the next one.

I would not hesitate to say that this book was the best novella I had ever had the chance to read, and I’m hoping that Black Waters either tops this, or comes a close second.

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

“There was a beauty in dying that day…”

ARC Review: Unrivalled – Alison Noël

Synopsis: unrivalled-cover

EVERYONE wants to be someone.

Layla Harrison wants to be a reporter.
Aster Amirpour wants to be an actress.
Tommy Phillips wants to be a guitar hero.
But Madison Brooks took destiny and made it her own a long time ago.

She’s Hollywood’s hottest starlet, and the things she did to become the name on everyone’s lips are merely a stain on the pavement, ground beneath her Louboutin heel.

That is, until Layla, Aster, and Tommy find themselves with a VIP invite to the world of Los Angeles’s nightlife and are lured into a competition. The prize, or rather the target? Madison Brooks.

Just as their hopes begin to gleam like stars through the California smog, Madison Brooks goes missing. . . . And all of their hopes are blacked out in the haze of their lies.

I received an eARC edition of this book courtesy of Harlequin (UK) Limited via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

Whilst this book wasn’t quite the thriller we were promised by the various synopses, it was rather interesting in terms of what actually happened within it, I think the competition was a great topic to write the book about- it definitely showed a lot of Hollywood’s reality with the way in which some of the characters acted.

Their manners and behaviour towards other people were outright atrocious at times.
I found that through this Noel aptly commented on the competitive nature of human beings and how harmful the effects of this competition may be. The utter selfishness that shone through literally all of the characters at one point or another (some more than others I must admit) was disgusting to see, but I do realise that that is very much the reality in which we live nowadays.

The way that some of their relationships worked was saddening, from blackmail to being set up by their publicity team, the characters’ interactions were completely new to me (I could not believe what I was reading for a large portion of time), but yet again; I think Noël took a very honest approach in her description of Hollywood life.
In other words this novel made me think.

On the contrary the plot, while actually somewhat interesting could have benefited from less than the 4 POVs it had. I think that because of it, the writing wasn’t as developed as it could have been, just as I was catching onto one of the ‘voices’, the story plunged into another and I do admit I found it hard to differentiate between POVs throughout reading it, so much so that I really did not see any character development in any of them… In saying that, I did think that having 4 POVs gave a completely different dimension to the book which made me want to read on, it made me disorientated enough to not guess the endgame, which I guess was commendable despite maybe not being the aim of it in the first place.

Also, I felt that the book was largely cut rather short, despite being an incredibly slow read of 400 pages, the moment things got interesting – there was only about 20% to go. Which was disappointing, I really felt that the author could have gotten away with writing less at the beginning and instead focused on the ending which was the only thing I found remotely interesting and “thrillery” about this book. sigh gif.gif

Am I disappointed? Yes. Would I still recommend the book? Also, yes. I think that the aforementioned things are largely me being rather a picky reader who focuses too much on the genre which the book is published under and because of the fact that I generally don’t like books with multiple POVs, I do encourage you to read it to establish your own opinion on this particular novel.

My Rating 2.5/5 Stars

“Everyone wants to be someone”

ARC Review: The Deviants – C.J. Skuse

Synopsis:the deviants cover

When you set out for revenge, dig two graves

Growing up in the sleepy English seaside town of Brynston, the fearless five – Ella, Max, Corey, Fallon and Zane – were always inseparable. Living up to their nickname, they were the adventurous, rowdy kids who lived for ghost stories and exploring the nearby islands off the coast. But when Max’s beloved older sister Jessica is killed, the friendship seems to die with her.

Now years later, only Max and Ella are in touch; still best friends and a couple since they were thirteen. Their lives are so intertwined Max’s dad even sponsors Ella’s training for the Commonwealth Games. But Ella is hiding things. Like why she hates going to Max’s house for Sunday dinner, and flinches whenever his family are near. Or the real reason she’s afraid to take their relationship to the next level.

When underdog Corey is bullied, the fearless five are brought back together again, teaming up to wreak havoc and revenge on those who have wronged them. But when the secrets they are keeping can no longer be kept quiet, will their fearlessness be enough to save them from themselves?

I received a proof copy of the novel courtesy of (then) Mira Ink / HQ Stories in exchange for an honest review. 

How do I even begin to describe this book? It was mind-blowingly remarkable. I’d easily place it in the best few books I have ever had the chance to read.

It was so broad in the topics which it covered, wrapped in so many plot-twists I had NOT  seen coming –  I honestly spent the whole book trying to figure out what was going to happen next, I don’t think I have come across a book which had me guessing for the entirety of it in a very long time. It covered a wide range of issues teenagers in present-day society face on a daily basis in an incredibly genuine way, the book was incredibly dark at parts,  so much so that my heartstrings still ache thinking about it, but it also had spells of happiness and metaphorical sunshine – and isn’t that a realistic representation of life?

The characters were absolutely perfectly written and fleshed-out, it felt like I was there with them the entire time; as though they were actual people I knew. Huge kudos to Skuse for getting the teenage voice to sound as authentic as it did; all the while making sure that the reader felt engaged with their lives and everything that happened within them. I also found that the friendships within this book were exceptionally realistic, Skuse showed both the ups and the downs of teenage relationships in a really beautiful and thought-provoking way.

I could not put it down, so of course I read it in pretty much one sitting and still cannot shake the feelings with which it left me. I was/am incredibly hung up on the ending, it was the PERFECT conclusion, and by now, most of you should realise that I do not take or say those words lightly. It concluded the story in a way that had me sitting there in complete shock (whilst crying, because multitasking of that sort is a thing that is possible apparently). If I were to choose an appropriate image to summarise my expression upon reading the last sentence it’d be this:

crying shock.gif

 It would be hard to describe the full impact of the ending without spoiling anything, but I would definitely say that it was as unpredictable as it was amazing.

I have no complaints about this book whatsoever and while this was my first read of Skuse’s novels, it is definitely not going to be the last for I am incredibly curious as to the quality of her other books  in comparison to this one, and man, did she set the bar high.

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

(I’d give it 6 if I could)

“What makes you a man is what you do when that storm comes.”

-The Count of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas. 

ARC Review: Stealing Snow – Danielle Page

Synopsis: stealing snow cover

Seventeen-year-old Snow has spent the majority of her life within the walls of the Whittaker Institute, a high security mental hospital in upstate New York. Deep down, she knows she’s not crazy and doesn’t belong there. When she meets a mysterious, handsome new orderly and dreams about a strange twisted tree she realizes she must escape and figure out who she really is.

Using her trusting friend Bale as a distraction, Snow breaks free and races into the nearby woods. Suddenly, everything isn’t what it seems, the line between reality and fantasy begins to blur, and she finds herself in icy Algid–her true home–with witches, thieves, and a strangely alluring boy named Kai, none of whom she’s sure she can trust. As secret after secret is revealed, Snow discovers that she is on the run from a royal lineage she’s destined to inherit, a father more powerful and ruthless than she could have imagined, and choices of the heart that could change the fate of everything…including Snow’s return to the world she once knew.

I received an eARC edition of this book courtesy of Bloomsbury Publishing Plc. via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Did I finish this book? Yes I did.

Did I enjoy it? No I didn’t, like at all.

I think a book about last winter’s snow melting would have been more exciting a read than this. Don’t get me wrong, the author did try, there were attempts at action which sort of gripped my attention for about 2 mins at a time…. but I probably could not recall much of it even if my entire existence depended on it.

I’m largely disappointed, tremendously so even. The concept of The Snow Queen retelling had soooooo much potential I was furious that it wasn’t better executed. The only thing I can actually say I appreciated was the concept of the powers and how magic was weaved into the story in a way that actually moved the story along somewhat, I was curious to find out what else the world beyond the tree had to hold.

Only to find out that the plot was literally going to meander back and forth between “oh, look, A MALE , let’s just fall in love with him, like – Right. Now” and a bunch of other clichés…

I mean, there was a love SQUARE. Yes, you read that right – not a normal couple, .not even a love triangle, a bloody love square, with each of its corners completed by insta-love itself. What a lovely combination this book was.

And the other part of the book seemed to be “oh, I have powers, let me not know how to use them correctly and/or forget to use them entirely….”. There was no world building, I didn’t feel particularly attached to the characters, nor can I say that I felt anything at all, not even a smidgen of positive emotions. AND ISN’T THAT SOMETHING TO LOOK FOR IN A BOOK… 

Because quite frankly  no, it isn’t.

Another thing that irked me beyond comfortable point of irkedness (because yes, that is a word now) was the fact that the writing seemed rather disjointed, maybe it was the fact that I had only read the ARC of the book, maybe this issue would be fixed in the future editions of the book, but in mine I just couldn’t get past that.

Also, why the frickety-frick-frack was there even a mental asylum involved, like what sort of significance did that have in the story apart from acting as a pretense for “world-building”, and it was only there for like the first 3 chapters of the book before our naive heroine decided it’d be a great idea to listen to and follow a random guy she just met (because not creepy at all… nope, best idea anyone’s ever had, that’s why there is a whole film franchise about the dangers of said situation….)

My Rating: 1/5 Stars (and only because I fought through this novel) 

ARC Review: If I Should Remember – K.D. Van Brunt


Memories make us human. Are we still alive if we can’t remember?

Seventeen-year-old Zoe Laleigh has accepted that sometimes the only way to survive today is to wipe away the past. That’s what her loving parents and dedicated psychiatrist are helping her do—forget. What, she’s not entirely sure. All she knows is when an entire year of recollections goes missing, there’s definitely something wrong.
Sometimes the past isn’t so easily forgotten…
Through a flood of dreams, Zoe realizes something happened. Something terrible and tragic. Her lost year is a monster hiding in the shadow of her nightmares, taunting her, but unwilling to reveal itself. When her family relocates, she hopes a new town and new school will help her regain a sense of normalcy. If only it were that easy.

Strangely enough, only her dog, Rin, seems to understand her… (cont. on Goodreads)

I received an eARC edition of this book via NetGalley courtesy of Limitless Publishing in exchange for an honest review. 
I felt like this whole book was rushed when it came to its execution. Whilst it had potential plot wise – the love story/triangle/mess that began on the second page just ruined it for me to the point where I wasn’t buying the story at all….

I didn’t buy it further on in the book either because things just got rather messy plot wise, so much happened and yet none of it was particularly gripping or exciting. Let’s just say the endgame  was predictable from the start…

And even then, the execution of the final few chapters could have been better and perhaps drawn out a bit more. I feel as though so much happened and yet I got very little information on it at all. It would have been nice to see the story develop a bit more instead of being snapped closed without much actual closure.

The only reason I’m giving this 2 stars is because of the plot twist. Whilst I knew Zoe wasn’t completely okay mentally…. I didn’t realise how bad her situation was until the only interesting bit of the novel happened – aka the one and only big reveal.

There were attempts at more of these, with some past experiences of the boys being revealed, but none of them, simply put – managed to shock me. For me, they were easily predictable and believable, nothing out of the ordinary and nothing new.

Another perk of this book was the fact that it didn’t take long to read at all. I started and finished it in one day. Which was a commendable effort on my part. But also, I think that it only happened because this was quite a light read despite aiming for a darker effect.

My Rating: 2/5 Stars.

He knows stuff about me, but he won’t share it with me.”