Review: This is How You Lose the Time War

This Is How You Lose the Time War
This Is How You Lose the Time War
by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone did not make for the easiest reading but there is certainly something very engaging about it. I loved the creativity and imagination that went into it. It’s a very unique story and one I think I’ll be re reading at some point.


Among the ashes of a dying world, an agent of the Commandant finds a letter. It reads: Burn before reading.

And thus begins an unlikely correspondence between two rival agents hellbent on securing the best possible future for their warring factions. Now, what began as a taunt, a battlefield boast, grows into something more.

Except discovery of their bond would be death for each of them. There’s still a war going on, after all. And someone has to win that war. That’s how war works. Right?


I loved the originality in this story but while the writing was wonderfully descriptive and imaginative I must admit I did not find this the easiest book to read. This was in part my own fault as I picked absolutely the wrong time to read this, work was busy, I was tired, stressed and having difficulty focusing on anything for any length of time, but both the concepts and the language made this a feel like a challenge rather than a pleasure at times.

From the very start you’re thrown in to the deep end of this story, no explanation, no scene setting and very little in the way of background. It quickly becomes clear that there are two factions in a war across time (yes the clue is in the title). One faction is seeking to influence the timeline to promote technology and progress, the other is looking for a return to nature. Each employs agents who hop back and forward in time, trying to influence the various different strands of time to their own ends by whatever means available.

Two of these agents are Red and Blue from whose points of view the story is told. They operate for rival factions but begin a correspondence which begins with a sort of taunting, challenging tone but quickly becomes something more. Given they come from opposing sides of the war however can they really trust each other, is a relationship of any kind possible or is it doomed to end in tragedy?

I really loved the creativity and imagination that went into the story. I loved the very different ways Red and Blue found to correspond with each other in the different times and places they visit. I loved the contents of the letters themselves and how the tone of them changes over the course of the book as they start to realize their feelings for each other. I loved the relationship that develops between them, there’s something very Romeo and Juliet about two people from warring factions who develop a bond despite their differences.

I even loved the little snippets of what they’re doing to subtly alter the timeline to their own ends, one through sudden force and violence, the other through slower more invasive means. I’ve always been fascinated by the notion of time travel and the various theories surrounding (paradox theory, the multiverse etc) so I find pretty much every story featuring it intriguing. I just wish we’d gotten a little more of this. More of the background to these two factions, who are they, what are they and how do they do what they do? Over the course of the story there are more and more details revealed about the societies Red and Blue come from but it wasn’t enough and somehow seemed to raise more questions than it answered. Even by the end I couldn’t figure out what Red and Blue were, they certainly didn’t seem to be human. I spent a lot of the story just sort of going with it.

I also felt like the voices of the two leads were lacking distinctiveness, it sometimes took me a few pages to figure out whose story I was in. This was no doubt in part due to the complexity of the language used by both authors which took up most of my concentration. It’s very flowery and very deliberately plays with words and phrases, something I’m really not sure I liked. I could certainly appreciate it but I did feel like it took something away from the underlying story and I spent more time trying to understand the words used than the underlying meaning and emotion behind them. This was not helped by the occasional wandering off on tangents within the letters themselves as I found my concentration wandering off on a tangent all of it’s own.

As I say though I was very tired and having difficulty focusing on pretty much anything for any length of time when reading this. It is however a fairly short book at only 200 odd pages so it didn’t take me too long to read it. I was left with a slight feeling of confusion at the end though and I do think it’s one I may re read at some point (when I’m less tired) as I feel like I’ve missed some things that I’ll pick up on a second reading.

Overall therefore a wonderfully unique read that I’m glad I’ve read even if I found it a challenging read at times. I would recommend this to anyone but maybe wait till you can give it your full focus.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Review: Skyward by Brandon Sanderson

Skyward by Brandon Sanderson
Wow, just wow!!! I absolutely loved this book. It may not be the most original of stories and it’s certainly not perfect but Sanderson is such an incredible storyteller you can’t help but become invested. It’s a wonderful start to the series and I can’t wait for what comes next.


Defeated, crushed, and driven almost to extinction, the remnants of the human race are trapped on a planet that is constantly attacked by mysterious alien starfighters. Spensa, a teenage girl living among them, longs to be a pilot. When she discovers the wreckage of an ancient ship, she realizes this dream might be possible—assuming she can repair the ship, navigate flight school, and (perhaps most importantly) persuade the strange machine to help her. Because this ship, uniquely, appears to have a soul.


This was my first book by Sanderson and I have to confess that despite being lucky enough to get a copy from Netgalley I put off reading it for ages, a combination of fear that yet again I would be that one person who didn’t like his writing and also my general wariness of all things sci fi.

When I finally picked it up though I found myself instantly hooked. I knew from pretty much the first page that this was a book I was going to love and I was 100% right. Yes, I can look back at it objectively and say it’s maybe a little longer than it needs to be, some of the characters are underdeveloped and it’s not the most original of stories but while I was reading it I was completely swept away by it.

There’s something about it that just feels epic sci fi. Something that made me nostalgic for those classic sci fi films I loved when I was young. It has that brilliant combination of alien attacks and school setting kind of like Enders Game or Top Gun (OK I need to think of better comparisons) and there is something about the writing which made it all feel very familiar and comfortable (despite having never read the author before). It’s hard to put into words but I just instantly knew that I could trust him to tell a story I’d love.

The characters do veer a little into the classic stereotypes, the hot headed, fiercely independent and determined heroine on a journey of discovery, the grumpy but good hearted mentor/teacher, the nerdy, genius best friend, and the seemingly aloof, priveledged nemesis/love interest but it didn’t matter. I loved main character Spensa and the journey she goes on. She’s just so determined and I love a character who’s proactive, who makes mistakes and who learns.

I loved the emotion in the story too, there is a lot of humour and many, many funny conversations between Spensa and a certain ship AI but there’s a lot of heart there too. There are some wonderful friendships which develop between the characters and for YA it’s nice to see these rather than a romance take centre stage.

The story and the world building are very well done too. There is plenty of action and lots of conflict to keep the story moving on, and the reader hooked. Yes it does get a little repetitive in places, one battle against aliens after another does become a little same old, same old but there’s enough going on with the characters to keep you glued to the page and rooting for them. I should also add here that I often get lost in big action sequences and struggle to visualise or keep up, but that was never an issue. I was seriously impressed with how Sanderson made it all so easy.

There are a few unexpected turns in the story and while parts are predictable (and a smidge tropey) it still surprised me. The ending in particular was epic in scale and left plenty of loose ends for the next book.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Thanks to the publisher for providing me with an advance copy via NetGalley. This has in no way influenced my review

Review: The Towering Sky (The Thousandth Floor #3) by Katherine McGee

The Towering Sky (The Thousandth Floor, Book 3)
The Towering Sky
by Katharine McGee

A fantastic conclusion to what has truly been an addictive and exciting read. I loved the futuristic New York setting and the characters so much I would not be averse to another book set in this world.

Spoiler Alert: As this is book three there may be some spoilers for the first two (although not for this one) from this point on. You can however go read my review of the first book here.


Welcome back to New York, 2119. A skyscraper city, fueled by impossible dreams, where the lives of five teenagers have become intertwined in ways that no one could have imagined.

Leda just wants to move on from what happened in Dubai. Until a new investigation forces her to seek help—from the person she’s spent all year trying to forget.

Rylin is back in her old life, reunited with an old flame. But when she starts seeing Cord again, she finds herself torn: between two worlds, and two very different boys.

Calliope feels trapped, playing a long con that costs more than she bargained for. What happens when all her lies catch up with her?

Watt is still desperately in love with Leda. He’ll do anything to win her back—even dig up secrets that are better left buried.

And now that Avery is home from England—with a new boyfriend, Max—her life seems more picture-perfect than ever. So why does she feel like she would rather be anything but perfect?

In this breathtaking finale to The Thousandth Floor trilogy, Katharine McGee returns to her vision of 22nd-century New York: a world of startling glamour, dazzling technology, and unthinkable secrets. After all, when you have everything… you have everything to lose.


The Towering Sky is the third and final book in Katherine McGee’s completely addictive Thousandth Floor trilogy. Set in a futuristic New York, it follows a group of teens from different backgrounds who live in a skyscraper with (you guessed it) a thousand floors. For me this series is very YA soap opera in the best possible way, reminding me of the OC or Revenge (it’s also compared to Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars but I haven’t seen or read either). There are secrets, lies, forbidden love, a rags to riches story, drug addiction, blackmail, kidnapping, murder, celebrity and even a bit of politics this time around (ya know all the good stuff). It is definitely not a trilogy you can just jump into anywhere (well maybe but why would you).

Like the first two books in the series this one kicks off with a hell of a hook, Avery, one of our MC’s is standing on the roof of the tower (where one of her best friends fell to her death) preparing to give up on her life. She may have been genetically engineered to be perfect but she’s no longer willing to play the part. The big question is whether she’ll really go through with it and just what has driven her to such an extreme act and well…. you’ll have to read the book (which then flashes back to a few weeks previously) to find out. As you can guess it’s pretty addictive reading.

I absolutely loved being back in the world that McGee has created, it truly is something special, and the amount of detail around the technology of the future is incredible. What I loved even more however was being back with the characters, who despite a rather shaky start in the first book have really grown on me. It’s told from multiple pov’s, Avery, Leda, Watt, Rylin and newish character Calliope so I feel like I’ve really gotten to know and understand them and have somehow become invested in them (well most of them – more on this later).

The story picks up a few months after the dramatic conclusion of the previous book with the characters seemingly moving forward with their lives. Avery is in a new relationship, Leda is recovering from her drug addiction, Watt is okay-ish, Rylin is back with ex boyfriend Hiral and Calliope is settled in New York. Needless to say this progress is all put in jeopardy when the police begin investigating Mariel’s death and find links between Mariel and the others which could result in all of their secrets being revealed. There’s also the big question of who did kill Mariel and why…. and I think I’ll leave it there before I give anything away.

There’s a lot going on this book and the author contends with some big questions and issues, handling everything from teen drug use, our dependence on technology, the dangers of unregulated or illegal technological advances, the pressures of celebrity and the role of the press and also politics and image with great skill. It was only when I thought back over it that I realized just how much the author had snuck in there without me realizing (as I was too caught up in the story).

I do have to admit however that this is not a book without flaws, as there were a few things around that niggled at me. Firstly, this book is badly in need of a previously section or at least some character descriptions. Around the first 15% of the book is taken up with trying to fill in the backstory and there is so much to catch up on that it feels a tad forced and unnatural. It would have been far better in my opinion to have a few pages before the prologue to remind the reader, then the story could have focused on the now.

I also felt that this book was missing a lot of the mystery and the tension of the previous books. What I loved the most about the second book in particular was that it was packed full of shocking twists and turns and kept you guessing till literally the very last page. Not sure if it’s just that I guessed most of the ending pretty early on but there weren’t the shocks or surprises I expected.

And finally, Calliope. I’m sorry but I’ve never really understood her inclusion as an MC, particularly in this story. I don’t like her and other than a minor interaction with one of the others (which okay is important) her storyline never really crosses the others. I could accept her role in the second book but nope, she should have left early on.

This griping probably makes it sound like I didn’t enjoy this book but that’s truly not the case as I did find it to be yet another engaging and addictive read and I had to find out how it all would end. When it does come the ending is pretty much spot on. Rylin and Calliope’s stories are perhaps a little rushed but Watt, Leda and Avery’s are wrapped up nicely. I even found myself becoming a tiny bit emotional, something that never happened in the previous installments. I am a little devastated it’s all over and would not be averse to another book set in this world.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC. All views are my own.

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Review: Spare & Found Parts by Sarah Maria Griffin

Spare and Found PartsMy rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have to confess it took me a little while to get into it but I ended up falling a little in love with this modern reworking of Frankenstein. It was a little different to what I was expecting but it’s one of those books that I think will buzz around in my head for a while which is always a good sign.

The story is set in the future some time after some terrible event has devastated civilization and left the survivors missing parts (an arm, a leg, an ear) and with an aversion to any kind of technology. For main character Nell Crane however the part she’s missing is a heart. Her father, the scientist famed for creating realistic artificial parts to fill the gaps, gives her a clockwork heart. Feeling like an outsider and under pressure to do something amazing as her “contribution” to society Nell is inspired by a mannequin’s hand she finds on the beach to create a companion for herself. To do so though she’s going to have to break a lot of rules and possibly lose the one friend she has.

There’s something a little uncomfortable about this story, which I think is why I initially found it a bit of a struggle. I wasn’t entirely sure how I felt about Nell creating someone to understand and love her. I do have a lot of sympathy for her, she feels like an outsider, she’s ashamed of her clockwork heart, has an aversion to being touched and seems very alone but her solution of creating a person just feels selfish and reckless. I did love her determination and her passion but I found it frustrating how she separates herself from those around her and doesn’t really try.

I have to confess the relationships between Nell and those around her also confused me. I couldn’t quite figure out how I felt about them and possibly more importantly couldn’t work out how I was supposed to feel about them. Should I be rooting for a romance or upset at their lack of understanding? The characters are wonderfully complex and interesting and I suspect the author may have intentionally written it this way but I found myself moving from like to dislike and back again at a rapid pace.

Potential romantic interest (or sex pest) Oliver was particularly intriguing to me and I’m still not sure how I feel about him. He and Nell more or less grew up together and he’s actively pursuing her but it’s not clear what his motives are. Whether he’s truly interested in a romantic way or whether he’s more mercenary and simply looking for more access to her father. Certainly from her initial reactions Nell seems genuinely repulsed by him despite everyone trying to push them together. He comes on hard and refuses to take no for an answer. But, as the story progresses there’s something about him that grows on you (and Nell) and it seems like her feelings towards him may change.

Similarly best friend Ruby doesn’t always seem like much of a friend. She pushes Nell to do things that she doesn’t want to do, or that make her uncomfortable for selfish reasons. She keeps secrets, talks about her behind her back and is trying to force her into a relationship she doesn’t want. But, there are moments where you really see Ruby and she’s not a bad person, just not perfect, and a lot of the problems are due to Nell keeping her and everyone else at arms length.

It is great to watch how all of these relationships develop and shift over the course of the novel and my feelings did shift and change towards them. Something I’m not sure has ever happened quite so much with any other story.

The world building is also wonderfully done by the author. The aftermath and devastation of what seems to have been an apocalyptic event is all around them giving it a very sinister and gothic feel but the new society growing out of the ashes is also fascinating. There’s so much fear and control, but there’s also the suggestion of something better.

It really is a fascinating story that makes you question just what it means to be human and what it is that makes you a monster while also looking at the role of technology in society. I also have to praise the author for creating such a challenging and unique central character. I can’t wait to see what she writes next.


Nell Crane has always been an outsider. In a city devastated by an epidemic, where survivors are all missing parts—an arm, a leg, an eye—her father is the famed scientist who created the biomechanical limbs everyone now uses. But Nell is the only one whose mechanical piece is on the inside: her heart. Since the childhood operation, she has ticked. Like a clock, like a bomb. As her community rebuilds, everyone is expected to contribute to the society’s good . . . but how can Nell live up to her father’s revolutionary idea when she has none of her own?

Then she finds a mannequin hand while salvaging on the beach—the first boy’s hand she’s ever held—and inspiration strikes. Can Nell build her own companion in a world that fears advanced technology? The deeper she sinks into this plan, the more she learns about her city—and her father, who is hiding secret experiments of his own.

Review : Genesis (Project Nemesis #2) by Brendan Reichs

Genesis (Project Nemesis, #2)

I wasn’t sure Project Nemesis by Brendan Reichs was a series I wanted to continue with but I’m so glad I did as book 2, Genesis, is absolutely brilliant. Packed full of action from the very first page to the very last and with more than a few twists this is seriously addictive reading.

Note: as this is the second book in a series there will be spoilers for the first book from here on in.


Noah Livingston knows he is destined to survive.

The 64 members of Fire Lake’s sophomore class are trapped in a place where morals have no meaning, and zero rules apply. But Noah’s deaths have trained him–hardened him–to lead the strongest into the future . . . whatever that may be. And at any cost.

Min Wilder knows that survival alone isn’t enough.

Trapped in a violent world where brute force passes for leadership, it’s tempting to lay back and let everyone else fight it out. But Min’s instincts rebel against allowing others to decide who lives and who dies. She’s ready to fight for what she believes in. And against whomever might stand in her way.


My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When I finished the first book in this series I have to admit I wasn’t sure I wanted to continue. I loved the premise but didn’t connect to any of the characters and felt there was maybe too much going on. I couldn’t however resist Genesis when it popped up on NetGalley as I was just too curious about where the story would go.

It turned out this was a very good decision as this is a very enjoyable read. It picks up not long after the dramatic conclusion of the first book with a bang (literally) and the pace never lets up. I will admit that I’d forgotten some of what happened (and what was revealed) in Nemesis so was a little confused in the beginning but it didn’t take long for me to get back up to speed.

I’m not going to say much about the plot but there are elements of Lord of the Flies, the Hunger Games & Battle Royale all mashed up with something quite unique and different. There are more than a few twists and turns and I loved how the dynamics of the various groups of characters changed and developed with each new reveal. I will admit I’m not wholly convinced by some of the science behind it but I was willing to go with it and it did answer a lot of the questions that I had from the first book.

There is a lot more action in this book and, I should warn, a lot more violence and death, some even I found shocking. It does however raise a lot of issues over how far you would go to survive or to gain power but also what you’d be willing to sacrifice for your beliefs and those you care about. I thought the way the author used a diverse mix of characters to demonstrate this was very well done.

Unfortunately though the number of characters in this book was also something I struggled with. There are various different groups and a lot of different names and changing allegiances to keep track of. I don’t have the best memory for names I’m afraid so I did get muddled on who was who from time to time before deciding it didn’t really matter and focusing on the main ones.

Like Nemesis, this book is told in alternating chapters from the povs of Min and Noah and they really are intriguing characters. Both have had similar experiences but react in different ways. Min is the steadier and more stable of the two and I loved how she held onto her morals and beliefs. Noah was however much more erratic and therefore interesting. It is so good to see a male lead who is so uncertain and anxious. He makes mistakes and deals with things badly but I still found myself rooting for him and hoping he’d come good.

I did feel some of the other characters were a little stereotyped and I would have loved to get to know them better but with so many characters and so much going on there just wasn’t time.

This is a seriously action packed and fast paced story and I pretty much read the whole thing in a day, I couldn’t put it down. It’s not perfect but it is a series I’d recommend. I’m hoping that there’s a book 3 as I want to know what happens next.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC. As always all views are my own.

Review: Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
Shatter Me
by Tahereh Mafi

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The first half of this book was easily a five star read, intriguing and addictive with a style that was truly unique. I felt like it lost focus in the second half but I still can’t wait to read the rest of this series.


Juliette hasn’t touched anyone in exactly 264 days.

The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal. As long as she doesn’t hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don’t fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war – and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she’s exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.


Okay, I know I am very possibly the last person on the planet to actually read this book and everyone is off reading Restore Me the first book in the new trilogy but for some reason I’ve never really been able to find it. It’s one of those series that everyone seems to go on about how much they either love or hate it but while I was really desperate to read it (so I could make up my own mind) it just wasn’t on Amazon (and okay I could have ordered it from somewhere else but I’m lazy).

Needless to say when it popped up on NetGalley I started hammering that request button like a request button hammering machine (these should totally exist) and hurrah my request was approved (thank you NetGalley gods). As you can probably guess I had to start reading it immediately, and from the very first few pages it blew me away.

The style of it is just so unusual but so absolutely brilliant, I loved it. There was a warning at the start from the publisher that there would be crossed out words, numbers and generally just jumbled sentences and repetition and that this was deliberate (I guess some people have complained) and this really intrigued me and I thought worked so well for the story. Main character Juliette has been locked away, completely alone for almost a year so I think having some slightly scatty thoughts should be expected. I’m not sure what this says about me but there was so much I could relate to in terms of how her mind worked. Becoming fixated on things, getting easily distracted by objects that catch your eye and counting when stressed are all things I have been known to do on occasion so for me this seemed, not quite normal but certainly understandable.

This also made me sympathetic towards Juliette from the very beginning and I have to say that as a character I did like her a lot. I felt incredibly sorry for her, the prison spell is just the latest in a long list of bad things that have happened to her, but for the most part I really admired her. It would be so easy for her to be angry or dark but she fights all of the time to be a good person and to not hurt anyone.

The beginning of this book was definitely the highlight for me and I felt certain this was going to be a five star read. I loved the confined setting and the way the relationship between Juliette and her new cell mate Adam develops, I loved the writing style and how stream of conscious-like it was and I loved how the author slowly introduced this dystopian world through Juliette’s memories and Adam’s updates. I even loved when Juliette was plucked from her confinement and given the option of freedom in exchange for working as a weapon for the Reestablishment.

Captor and potential savior Warner is an absolutely wonderful villain. There’s something about him that could most certainly turn you to the dark side even while he’s being completely evil. He can rationalize everything and almost convince you that he’s right. The scenes between him and Juliette were absolutely wonderful. He tempts and torments and somehow worms his way into her mind, promising everything she could ever want while showing her just how dark he is. I really wanted as much of him as possible.

It is however around this point that I felt the book began to lose its way and what began as an intriguing dystopian turned into more of a romance. I do like a good romance and was definitely on board with that ship but it seemed to take over the whole story and was focused on at the most inappropriate of times. Yes, they may be on the run, seriously injured, possibly dying but let’s just have a big long conversation about our feelings, rather than ya know running, getting help. Added to this the wonderful style used in the beginning was gradually phased out as Juliette became used to being around other people. I do understand this, it makes sense with the story but combined with the focus on the relationship it became a little bit average (sorry).

It is for the most part an intriguing and exciting story and had the focus not shifted this would have received the full five stars from me but unfortunately the second half was a little too heavy on the romance (and I read a lot of romance). I am however very excited about reading the rest of the books in the series and pre ordered the lot. I’m keeping everything crossed it returns to form, I really think it will.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book. As always this has not influenced my review.

Review: The Boy On The Bridge by M.R. Carey

The Boy on the Bridge (The Girl With All the Gifts #2)
The Boy on the Bridge
by M.R. Carey

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Wow, Carey has done it again. The Boy on the Bridge is incredibly clever with some wonderfully complex characters and an ending that will leave your jaw on the floor.

Warning: There may be some spoilers for The Girl with All the Gifts, so go read it before reading this review (or watch the movie). It’s really good.


Once upon a time, in a land blighted by terror, there was a very clever boy.

The people thought the boy could save them, so they opened their gates and sent him out into the world.

To where the monsters lived.


The Girl with all the Gifts turned out to be an unexpectedly brilliant read and while I had high hopes for sequel/prequel The Boy on the Bridge I will confess I also had some doubts. Did we really need another book, could it ever be as good? The answers to both of those questions is a very definite YES!!!

This has all of the elements that made The Girl with all the Gifts so wonderful (and is fairly similar in terms of plot) but, if like me the first book left you with a lot of questions, this is the story with the answers… well some of them.

It’s very much a character driven story as it follows a team of scientists and their military escort as they set out on an expedition in an armored lab on wheels (with a very familiar name) to try and find something that will help them fight the infection that has destroyed the world. This is a long trip with not a lot of personal space for the crew so as you may expect tensions rise. Add to that the split between the civilian scientists and the military, different beliefs and a mixture of personalities and there is almost more conflict amongst themselves than with the hungries.

The story is told from the point of view of the various members of the team giving different perspectives on the same events but also giving a real insight into the reasons for their actions. In the beginning I did struggle to remember who was who (my feeble brain struggles with lots of names even with the handily provided list) but I soon came to recognize each of the individual voices.

Some characters and personalities do feel a little familiar but the youngest member of the team Stephen Greaves is truly unique and absolutely fascinating to read. His brain doesn’t work the way everyone else’s does making him a bit of an outcast from the others and the one who’s either going to save everyone or get them all killed. He could be a genius or he could just be a very troubled and traumatized child and he’s ostracized by almost all of the crew who view him as the latter.

Unsurprisingly given the mission of the team and the number of scientists there is a lot more science in this story. It’s incredibly detailed and well thought out, explaining how the infection began and it’s effects on the host but I have to confess it became a little too heavy for me at times and lost me. It is interesting to learn more about the hungries and their behavior, and I’m sure those more knowledgeable about biology and chemistry will find it fascinating, but it was a little too much for me and I may have skimmed a little.

Even with this focus on the science and the characters, there is enough action to keep the story moving forward and the reader on their toes. There are moments of extreme violence (some which made me squirm), they’re generally sudden, unexpected and over quickly but have a lot of impact. There are all of the best zombie story tropes and it raises those intriguing ethical dilemmas around sacrificing for the greater good and following orders which will leave you pondering whether the characters actions are right or wrong and just what you would do in that situation.

I wouldn’t necessarily say it was a fast paced story, it’s a little slow in places but there is a gradual build in tension throughout and the ending when it comes is absolutely jaw dropping. Those characters who I wasn’t too fussed about had somehow snuck their way in and I was truly invested in what happened to them and without spoilers, it was horrifying, heartbreaking and absolutely wonderful. And, I kinda want more….

Overall, this is an incredibly well written and intelligent story with a focus very much on the characters. It’s a little heavier on the science than I would like but the ending more than makes up for any quibbles I may have had along the way. If you read and enjoyed The Girl with all the Gifts I’d really recommend you read this.

Thank you Netgalley and the publisher for giving me the opportunity to read this.

Review: They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera
They Both Die at the End
by Adam Silvera

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Unsurprisingly this was an emotional read but what impressed me the most was the incredible detail that went into the world building. I loved how this made me think and how when I finished I wanted to rush out and live my life. Absolutely brilliant.


When Mateo receives the dreaded call from Death-Cast, informing him that today will be his last, he doesn’t know where to begin. Quiet and shy, Mateo is devastated at the thought of leaving behind his hospitalised father, and his best friend and her baby girl. But he knows that he has to make the most of this day, it’s his last chance to get out there and make an impression.

Rufus is busy beating up his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend when he gets the call. Having lost his entire family, Rufus is no stranger to Death-Cast. Not that it makes it any easier. With bridges to mend, the police searching for him and the angry new boyfriend on his tail, it’s time to run.

Isolated and scared, the boys reach out to each other, and what follows is a day of living life to the full. Though neither of them had expected that this would involve falling in love…

Another beautiful, heartbreaking and life-affirming book from the brilliant Adam Silvera, author of More Happy Than Not and History Is All You Left Me.


Do you know what, I’m not sure that title was wise. This is an absolutely brilliant book but honestly I spent pretty much the whole time afraid to get too attached to Mateo or Rufus just in case they did in fact both die at the end. I kept hoping it wouldn’t happen, that they would be the exception, there was a mix up with the names and they received the call in error or that just by finding each other they’d save each other but just in case I kept myself that little bit detached. Consequently I think it lost that emotional punch I was expecting. It is still packed full of feels and some very touching moments but I was ready for out and out devastation.

It is an incredibly well written story and I really loved both Mateo and Rufus. Both are a little bit lost in the beginning but it was so wonderful to watch them develop over the course of the story. Mateo was probably the more relatable of the two, anxious and afraid to live (or leave his bedroom) in case he does something that results in the dreaded death cast call informing him he has less than 24 hours to live, I could see elements of myself in him. Wanting to go on adventures and be brave but just too scared and needing that little push. He was also just the nicest and sweetest guy. I really wanted him getting the call to be a mistake. Rufus took a little longer to warm up to, he’s beating someone up at the story, but you can’t help but grow to love him when he helps Mateo so much and starts becoming more like him.

The relationship between them is just so sweet and funny and wow. They begin the day as complete strangers and opposites but somehow they compliment and bring out the best in each other. Rufus encourages Mateo to be brave and break out and Mateo makes Rufus kinder and better…. oh god I’m gonna cry.

Anyway, moving swiftly on, I just loved their story but what made this even better was the little glimpses into the lives of others who cross their paths. The chapters more or less alternate between Mateo and Rufus’s povs but there are these other chapters thrown in from the pov of their friends, the people who make the calls to inform people they’re going to die that day, and others who have either received their call or just bump into Rufus or Mateo in some way. These gave such an insight into the world and raised so many questions I found it fascinating.

Actually the whole world just fascinated me. What would it be like to live in a world where everyone finds out between midnight and 3am whether they’re going to die that day? What would you do if you found out it was your day to die? Would you deny it, try to fight it? Would you accept it and try to make your last hours count? Take control and decide for yourself how you’re going to die? Or what if you don’t get the call? Does that mean you can’t die no matter what you do that day? Would you take more risks? It really makes you wonder about fate, self fulfilling prophecies and whether you have any control over your destiny.

The world the author creates and the way he presents all of these issues and questions was just brilliant. Such clever writing to create a world that’s so similar but so different in terms of attitudes to life and death. I think this is a story I’ll be thinking about for a long time.

Overall an absolutely brilliant but emotional read.

Review: My Side of the Diamond by Sally Gardner

My Side of the Diamond
My Side of the Diamond
by Sally Gardner

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

One of the most unusual stories I’ve ever read.


An extraordinary tale about the search for love from the acclaimed Costa and Carnegie winning novelist Sally Gardner.

Jazmin has been shunned ever since her best friend Becky disappeared. But Becky didn’t just disappear – she jumped off a tall building and seemingly never reached the ground. It was as if she simply vanished into thin air. Did Jazmin have something to do with her disappearance? Or was it more to do with Icarus, so beguiling and strangely ever youthful, with whom Becky became suddenly besotted . . .

With detailed and intriguing black and white illustrations throughout.


This is possibly one of the most bizarre and down right weird books I think I’ve ever come across and while that might put a lot of people off it’s actually the thing I loved the most about it. It took me a little while to figure out what the heck was going on but once I did I found it fascinating.

Where it went wrong for me was the form the story took. Rather than being in the moment it’s told through a series of interviews with the various characters involved in the events. This might have been okay except for the fact you never hear the questions asked, there are a lot of different narrators telling their stories and it jumps around in time. It is very cleverly done but this reflection on events which in some cases happened many years previously left me feeling distanced from them and from the characters. For me to love a book I need the closeness and the connection and that never happened.

I was curious about what had happened and very intrigued as to who the interviewer was and why he was looking into the story but I wasn’t emotionally invested. I didn’t particularly like or relate to any of the characters and I didn’t fully buy into the relationships between them. The romances are very sudden and I didn’t feel any connection or chemistry to make them seem believable.

There were elements that fascinated me, there were parts that confused the heck out of me and there was even the odd creepy moment but unfortunately as a whole I have to say it didn’t do it for me.

It hasn’t put me off Gardner’s writing, I love how unique her stories are, but this was a little disappointing.

I won a copy of this book from ReadersFirst. This has not influenced my review.

Review: Hold Back the Stars by Katie Khan

Hold Back The Stars by Katie Khan
Hold Back The Stars
by Katie Khan

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

More of a love story than a space adventure, this story may not be for everyone but I have to praise it for being so completely unique and yet so completely real.


Ninety minutes.

A few years from now, not too far in the future, two people meet.

It is a classic story of boy meets girl.

Except that it’s not.

When we find them, they have an hour and a half left.

Unless they can save themselves, they won’t survive.

The clock is ticking.


It seems to have taken me forever to come up with a review for this as my thoughts on it have been and, a few weeks later, remain rather muddled.

Firstly I want to say that I absolutely loved it for its originality. In fact, I was so drawn to the concept behind it that I somehow ended up both buying a copy and requesting it from NetGalley (I forgot I already owned it). There was something about the idea of a man and woman adrift in space with only 90 minutes of air left and almost no hope of salvation that really appealed to me. Space has always seemed so big and terrifying to me and the thought of being adrift…. wow.

However, if you’re expecting a tense and nail biting fight for survival similar to Gravity or The Martian I fear you will be disappointed. While there is some attempt to save themselves the majority of the story is spent with Max and Carys reflecting back on their relationship. Interspersed with the current time, and their rapidly diminishing air supply, we get flashbacks to their first meeting and all of the ups and downs of their romance, leading up to how they ended up in their current predicament.

The story of their time together does make for a fascinating story and combining that with some truly incredible world building really did engage me but given how little air they had remaining I couldn’t help but think, shouldn’t you be trying harder and focusing more on that?

I felt there should have been more tension. The portrayal of their relationship is wonderfully real and the story is truly heartbreaking at times but I found it difficult to reconcile this leisurely stroll through their past with the thought of their rapidly approaching deaths.

Added to this I have to admit that I didn’t particularly take to either Max or Carys. The characters are believable and well rounded but Carys was too insecure and needy and Max too committed to his beliefs and unwilling to compromise. They do balance each other out in many ways but I never really got behind them as a couple and I couldn’t help but wonder if it was worth it (although maybe I’m just too much of a cynic).

The biggest highlight of this story for me was probably the world the author created. Set in the future it’s so incredibly well thought out and believable. There’s no info dumping but rather all of the details around the state of the world, the political situation and belief systems are revealed gradually and in a very natural way. I liked this idea that their are no real nationalities or religion but rather everyone is encouraged to be an individual, although it did seem a tad lonely and a selfish way of existing.

The pacing of the story is a little bit on the slow side but the writing does make it very readable and it was yet another I found difficult to put down. The ending when it comes is like a lot of the book, a little confusing, a lot unique but ultimately felt right.

Overall I have to say I loved how unusual this book was and also how real it was. I just wish there had been a little more tension and passion to it. If you’re looking for a sci fi space type story I don’t think this will necessarily be for you but if you like unique love stories this may be perfect. I know I will definitely be looking out for more from this author.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC. As always all views are my own.