Book Review

Mirage by Somaiya Daud

Mirage by Somaiya DaudMirage by Somaiya Daud
Series: Mirage #1
Genre: Science Fiction
Release Date: 28th August 2018
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: three-stars

In a star system dominated by the brutal Vathek empire, eighteen-year-old Amani is a dreamer. She dreams of what life was like before the occupation; she dreams of writing poetry like the old-world poems she adores; she dreams of receiving a sign from Dihya that one day, she, too, will have adventure, and travel beyond her isolated moon.

But when adventure comes for Amani, it is not what she expects: she is kidnapped by the regime and taken in secret to the royal palace, where she discovers that she is nearly identical to the cruel half-Vathek Princess Maram. The princess is so hated by her conquered people that she requires a body double, someone to appear in public as Maram, ready to die in her place.

As Amani is forced into her new role, she can’t help but enjoy the palace’s beauty—and her time with the princess’ fiancé, Idris. But the glitter of the royal court belies a world of violence and fear. If Amani ever wishes to see her family again, she must play the princess to perfection...because one wrong move could lead to her death.

Mirage has been getting a tonne of hype lately (“lately” meaning pre-release, but I know it’s now October by the time this post goes up) and I totally fell for it. I thought it sounded like everything I loved. Science fiction about a conquered galaxy, a revolution, and some kind of fantasy other than English. Unfortunately, it didn’t live up to my expectations.

Continue reading

Contagion by Erin Bowman

Contagion by Erin BowmanContagion by Erin Bowman
Series: Contagion #1
Genre: Science Fiction
Release Date: 24th July 2018
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: four-stars

It got in us

After receiving an urgent SOS from a work detail on a distant planet, a skeleton crew is dispatched to perform a standard search-and-rescue mission.

Most are dead.

But when the crew arrives, they find an abandoned site, littered with rotten food, discarded weapons…and dead bodies.

Don't set foot here again.

As they try to piece together who—or what—could have decimated an entire operation, they discover that some things are best left buried—and some monsters are only too ready to awaken.

Apologies for starting out this review on a negative note, but I just have to point out that I haaaaaated Bowman’s debut novel, Taken, and so I was very hesitant to read this book. But Taken came out years ago, so I decided to give the author another go in the hope that her writing had improved and that she had stopped writing abusive main characters. And she did! I ended up really enjoying Contagion, and I’m really looking forward to reading the sequel when it comes out (presumably) next year.

Continue reading

All of This is True by Lygia Day Penaflor

All of This is True by Lygia Day PenaflorAll of This is True by Lydia Day Penflor
Genre: Contemporary
Release Date: 31st May 2018
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: two-stars

Miri Tan loved the book Undertow like it was a living being. So when she and her friends went to a book signing to meet the author, Fatima Ro, they concocted a plan to get close to her, even if her friends won’t admit it now. As for Jonah, well—Miri knows none of that was Fatima’s fault.

Soleil Johnston wanted to be a writer herself one day. When she and her friends started hanging out with her favorite author, Fatima Ro, she couldn’t believe their luck—especially when Jonah Nicholls started hanging out with them, too. Now, looking back, Soleil can’t believe she let Fatima manipulate her and Jonah like that. She can’t believe that she got used for a book.

Penny Panzarella was more than the materialistic party girl everyone at the Graham School thought she was. She desperately wanted Fatima Ro to see that, and she saw her chance when Fatima asked the girls to be transparent with her. If only she’d known what would happen when Fatima learned Jonah’s secret. If only she’d known that the line between fiction and truth was more complicated than any of them imagined. . . .

Well, this was a massive letdown. Don’t you hate it when one of the most anticipated releases of the year turns out to be a poorly written snorefest? Especially when it’s marketed as a thrilling page-turner?

Firstly, I loved the idea of it being told in mixed media format. I think Illuminae kicked off an interesting trend here, and I always look forward to books that are told in a different format. That said, it really didn’t work with this story. I’m not really sure what the point was. It didn’t add to the story at all, and it feels like the author just wanted to try this format out, and perhaps it was easier to write than a normal novel.

Continue reading

All These Beautiful Strangers by Elizabeth Klehfoth

All These Beautiful Strangers by Elizabeth KlehfothAll These Beautiful Strangers by Elizabeth Klehfoth
Genre: Thriller
Release Date: 12th July 2018
Publisher: Penguin
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: four-stars

Charlie Calloway has a life most people would kill for - a tight-knit family, a loyal set of friends, and top grades a privileged boarding school. But Charlie's never been interested in what most people want. Like all Calloways, she's been taught that she's different, special - better. So when her school's super-exclusive secret society extends a mysterious invitation, Charlie's determination to get in is matched only by her conviction that she belongs there.

But their secrets go deeper than she knows.

Charlie finds herself thrust into the centre of a decades-old mystery - one that implicates her family in not one terrible crime, but two. Uncovering their past may destroy everything she knows - or give her the answer she's always craved: Who or what was behind her mother's disappearance ten years ago? 

All These Beautiful Strangers was a lot more thrilling than I was expecting! For a YA thriller, it reads fairly mature, and I would say that there’s a good amount of crossover for the target audience. The story alternates between the present day (told from the teenage Charlie’s point of view) and the past (told from her parents’ points of view). This was a really good move from the author, because it gave us a lot of backstory which added to the mystery, rather than having Charlie discover everything and tell us about it herself.

Continue reading

Hidden Pieces by Paula Stokes

Hidden Pieces by Paula StokesHidden Pieces by Paula Stokes
Genre: Thriller
Release Date: 28th August 2018
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: four-stars

Embry Woods has secrets. Small ones about her past. Bigger ones about her relationship with town hero Luke and her feelings for someone new. But the biggest secret she carries with her is about what happened that night at the Sea Cliff Inn. The fire. The homeless guy. Everyone thinks Embry is a hero, too, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Embry thinks she’ll have to take the secret to her grave, until she receives an anonymous note—someone else knows the truth. Next comes a series of threatening messages, asking Embry to make impossible choices, forcing her to put her loved ones at risk. Someone is playing a high stakes game where no one in Embry’s life is safe. And their last move...is murder.

I always enjoy Paula Stokes’ thrillers, and Hidden Pieces is no exception. Stokes is very talented when it comes to drawing you in and keeping you guessing, especially as she throws little hints into the story every now and then that you may or may not pick up on.

Continue reading