ARC Review: The Twisted Tree by Rachel Burge

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Part ghost story, part Nordic thriller – this is a twisty, tense and spooky YA debut, perfect for fans of CORALINE and Michelle Paver.
Martha can tell things about a person just by touching their clothes, as if their emotions and memories have been absorbed into the material. It started the day she fell from the tree at her grandma’s cabin and became blind in one eye.
Determined to understand her strange ability, Martha sets off to visit her grandmother, Mormor – only to discover Mormor is dead, a peculiar boy is in her cabin and a terrifying creature is on the loose.
Then the spinning wheel starts creaking, books move around and terror creeps in . . .
Set in the remote snows of contemporary Norway, THE TWISTED TREE is a ghost story that twists and turns – and never takes you quite where you’d expect.
 

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Hot Key Books in exchange for an honest review. This has not changed my views in any way.

The Twisted Tree was the perfect book to read this week around Halloween! The story follows Martha, a girl who can read people by touching their clothes. She travels to Norway to visit her grandmother, who she later finds out has recently passed away. In her abandoned cabin, she finds an interesting boy hiding. Together, they will find themselves in the midst of some eventful, and creepy, times..

I really enjoyed this book and I’m so glad I read it in October. I found this read so interesting and unique, and I loved the Norse mythology and Norwegian setting. Both things are ones that I don’t often see in YA, and were great to read about.

“You write the story of you every day with your thoughts, words and deeds.”

I loved Martha as a main character, and the female power in this book! Martha talks a lot about her ancestors, and it was awesome to read about the strong link between Martha, her grandmother and her ancestors before then. Martha was perfect as the heroine of this story. She was scarred, struggling and dealing with so much. I loved her flaws, and it was so interesting (and felt realistic) to read about her struggles with having a visual impairment.

“You create yourself. You get to decide your story. No one else. You.”

This book is urban fantasy, set in the real world, and I found that just brilliant. It was awesome to feel the genuine struggle of Martha and Stig coping with their struggles in the real world. I also loved reading about Martha’s mum and the rest of her family. It added an extra depth to the story that was lovely to find out about.

So overall, this book was a really good read perfect for Halloween! Look out for it on January 10th!

★★★★
4 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

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When Griffin’s first love and ex-boyfriend, Theo, dies in a drowning accident, his universe implodes. Even though Theo had moved to California for college and started seeing Jackson, Griffin never doubted Theo would come back to him when the time was right. But now, the future he’s been imagining for himself has gone far off course. 
To make things worse, the only person who truly understands his heartache is Jackson. But no matter how much they open up to each other, Griffin’s downward spiral continues. He’s losing himself in his obsessive compulsions and destructive choices, and the secrets he’s been keeping are tearing him apart. 
If Griffin is ever to rebuild his future, he must first confront his history, every last heartbreaking piece in the puzzle of his life.

It’s rare that a book completely lives up to the hype, but this one really did. I went in with mixed expectations, having loved They Both Die at the End but had mixed feelings about More Happy Than Not. But this one is definitely up there, and even above my love for They Both Die at the End. It’s definitely been my favourite Silvera novel and I’m so excited for What if It’s Us!

“People are complicated puzzles, always trying to piece together a complete picture, but sometimes we get it wrong and sometimes we’re left unfinished.”

I found History is All You Left Me so raw and beautiful. It follows the story of Griffin, a boy who lost his first love and ex-boyfriend way too young. Griffin also suffers with OCD and I loved the way Silvera spoke about how he struggled through life with OCD. I found his disorder so believable and well written.

I began by having doubts about Jackson, but honestly I think that just shows how great the writing is, because I liked him more just as Griffin did, as they got to know each other throughout the book. I will openly admit I cried at least a couple of times throughout this story, and I closed the final page with tears in my eyes.

“Sometimes that’s for the best. Some pieces can’t be forced into a puzzle, or at least they shouldn’t be, because they won’t make sense.”

I also found the flashbacks really worked, and it definitely takes a talented author to write past and present like that! The plot also twisted and changed throughout, which isn’t too common in contemporary and it provided a reason to keep turning the pages. I really have to point out that I found this book perfect for reading in a couple of sittings. I usually have to have a break while I’m reading and I struggle to read in long sittings, but not with this book!

I just felt it would be very hard to get bored of the story, especially with the plot. I read most of the book on a long train journey and I finished it in 5 days! I honestly can’t find anything wrong with this book, and it’s going to have to be 5 stars. It’s beautifully written, emotional, honest and raw. What’s not to like?

★★★★★
5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Floored by Various Authors

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When they got in the lift, they were strangers (though didn’t that guy used to be on TV?): Sasha, who is desperately trying to deliver a parcel; Hugo, who knows he’s the best-looking guy in the lift and is eyeing up Velvet, who knows what that look means when you hear her name and it doesn’t match the way she looks, or the way she talks; Dawson, who was on TV, but isn’t as good-looking as he was a few years ago and is desperately hoping no one recognizes him; Kaitlyn, who’s losing her sight but won’t admit it, and who used to have a poster of Dawson on her bedroom wall, and Joe, who shouldn’t be here at all, but who wants to be here the most.
And one more person, who will bring them together again on the same day every year.

I read a preview of this book at YALC last year, and I loved it. This is genius. A mixture between the darkness of One of Us is Lying and the great hopefulness of The Breakfast Club. I knew, after reading that preview, that I would want to read more. So when I saw this book was out, I eventually picked this up.

I’m glad I picked this one up, but I’m not sure if it lived up to the preview for me. I enjoyed it, but I can’t help but feel a little disappointed.

“Maybe disappointment does lie in the gulf between what you would do for someone and what they will do for you,”

I just wish this was a mystery! If it wanted to be the lightness of The Breakfast Club, why did someone die? If you’re bringing so much darkness into the story, why not make it more interesting and bring a mystery element into it. Why not make us question why the guy died when they were all in the lift? Bringing that suspense would have worked so well with a book like this.

But I have to say, that was probably my only issue with this book. Other than that, I’m so impressed with how 6 different authors can come together and make such a compatible novel. It really worked, and the story flowed so well. I also loved that this book was set in the UK! It’s not often I read a contemporary set in my own country, and it was awesome. I’ve actually been to these places!

“but she knows then, in that moment, as she’s looking out of the rain-speckled window at the black, black sky, that she needs to stop focusing on what she’s willing to do for other people and start focusing on what she’s willing to do for herself.”

I also felt like having the 6 different characters worked well! Each of them had their own personalities (some more dominant than others) and I really liked them all. Overall, I have to say I did really enjoy reading this book. It’s quick and fun, and if that’s what you’re looking for then this book is definitely for you. But if you’re looking for something darker and more of a mystery, please go for One of Us is Lying instead!

★★★★
3.5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater

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Any visitor to Bicho Raro, Colorado is likely to find a landscape of dark saints, forbidden love, scientific dreams, miracle-mad owls, estranged affections, one or two orphans, and a sky full of watchful desert stars.
At the heart of this place you will find the Soria family, who all have the ability to perform unusual miracles. And at the heart of this family are three cousins longing to change its future: Beatriz, the girl without feelings, who wants only to be free to examine her thoughts; Daniel, the Saint of Bicho Raro, who performs miracles for everyone but himself; and Joaquin, who spends his nights running a renegade radio station under the name Diablo Diablo.
They are all looking for a miracle. But the miracles of Bicho Raro are never quite what you expect.

I honestly don’t know what to think of this book at all. It was so weird that I couldn’t relate it to anything else, therefore I couldn’t work out whether I really liked it or not! It’s like reading a very confusing classic – you don’t understand it but there’s just something…magic about it.

““Do you have darkness inside you?”
“Yes,” Tony said.
“And do you want to be rid of it?””

I unfortunately didn’t find any kind of pull or drive with this book, and that’s what I hated. It took me like a week to get through the whole thing? I think it’s because there was so many characters and unfortunately I didn’t feel necessarily close to any of them. I do love how this book was written in a lot of other ways, though. It had that very Stiefvater feel about it, and I couldn’t help but feel the words were laced with magic.

“This is a harder question to answer than one might think at first blush. Almost no one would think it’s correct to answer this question with a no, but the truth is that we men and women often hate to be rid of the familiar, and sometimes our darkness is the thing we know the best.”

And I would have to say the same about the locations! Stiefvater has this way with writing about locations that I’ve never seen before in YA. I was very torn between being very confused and feeling detached, then I would reach a beautifully written and fall a little bit in love.

As you can tell, I’m completely all over the place with this one. it has a kind of lovable factor about it, but I can’t put my finger on why.

★★★
3 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Where She Went by Gayle Forman

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The stunning sequel to Gayle Forman’s international best seller, If I Stay – Now a major film starring Chloe Grace Moretz. If you had a second chance at first love …would you take it? It’s been three years since Adam’s love saved Mia after the accident that annihilated life as she knew it …and three years since Mia walked out of Adam’s life forever. Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Julliard’s rising star and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. When Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again, for one last night. As they explore the city that has become Mia’s home, Adam and Mia revisit the past and open their hearts to the future – and each other. Told from Adam’s point of view in the spare, powerful prose that defined If I Stay, Where She Went explores the devastation of grief, the promise of new hope, and the flame of rekindled romance.

Sure, I enjoyed this book. I’d go as far to say I liked it. But loved it? Eh. Unfortunately, this book felt so flat and unoriginal to me. I actually really liked the concept of If I Stay, just because it’s not very often we’ll see a book written from the perspective of a ghost girl. But I felt like I’d read Where She Went way too many times before.

“But I’d do it again. I know that now. I’d make that promise a thousand times over and lose her a thousand times over to have heard her play last night or to see her in the morning sunlight.”

I really liked reading this from Adam’s perspective – it shook the series up and really worked. But I have to say, I had some problems with both characters. I didn’t appreciate how Mia treated him and I didn’t appreciate Adam’s attitude to most things, to be honest. I know we’re all flawed, but if so then this should have been more realistic overall and less like a fairytale. I felt flickers of emotion and warmth towards the couple, and I am happy with how it ended, but in the end I could have probably put this book down and never picked it back up again. It was predictable, and I just didn’t feel invested in the story.

“Or even without that. Just to know that she’s somewhere out there. Alive.”

Having said all this, I did enjoy reading this book. It’s quick to read and heartfelt from both characters. I did connect and feel emotion for them in parts, but overall I just felt…mediocre.

★★★
2.5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: If I Stay by Gayle Forman

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Everybody has to make choices.
Some might break you.
For seventeen-year-old Mia, surrounded by a wonderful family, friends and a gorgeous boyfriend decisions might seem tough, but they’re all about a future full of music and love, a future that’s brimming with hope.
But life can change in an instant.
A cold February morning . . . a snowy road . . . and suddenly all of Mia’s choices are gone. Except one.
As alone as she’ll ever be, Mia must make the most difficult choice of all.

This book has been on my shelf for way too long, and I’m glad I finally picked it up. I actually really enjoyed this book, I found it so easy to read and ended up getting through it in a few short days.

“And that’s just it, isn’t it? That’s how we manage to survive the loss.”

I’ve never read a book quite like If I Stay. It switches between the MC being in a coma and ghost-like state, and flashbacks of how her life was before the accident. I actually really enjoyed the flashbacks, and it made the pages speed by! I found this book quite comforting in a way, and the flashbacks made me feel so close to Mia, her family and her friends.

The only criticism I have is that she didn’t seem very real? I know, I know, she is literally a ghost. But it wasn’t that that bothered me. I just found her dialogue/thoughts really strange for her age sometimes, especially in the flashbacks when she was still a child. I can’t remember an exact example, but one piece seemed so odd that I actually read it out to my boyfriend. Staying on this theme, the book was so cheesy that it came out with some really weird fantasies – including Mia playing her boyfriend like a cello, and even going as far to run her cello bow over his body. If anything, this made me feel so embarrassed and awkward?

“Because love, it never dies, it never goes away, it never fades, so long as you hang on to it.”

But my complaints are only small. I did enjoy this book, it just wasn’t perfect for me!

★★★★★
4 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

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On September 5th, a little after midnight, Death-Cast calls Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio to give them some bad news: they’re going to die today. Mateo and Rufus are total strangers, but for different reasosn, they’re both looking for a new friend on their End Day. The good news: there’s an app for that. It’s called the Last Friend, and through it, Rufus and Mateo are about to meet up for one last great adventure – to live a lifetime in a single day. 

All I could do while reading this book was compare it to More Happy Than Not. Because the difference is insane, and I loved loved loved this book! Firstly, it’s so unique, the way Silvera uses magical realism in his novels to change them up from being contemporary. It made They Both Die at the End so relatable and easy to read even though it wasn’t strictly real.

“But no matter what choices we make – solo or together – our finish line remains the same..”

I found the characters so much easier to relate to than in More Happy Than Not. Mateo and Rufus come from very different backgrounds but they share their deepest thoughts and feelings in this book. They’re both very tender and real. Nothing is hidden in this book, and it’s so pure that I ended up with tears rolling gently down my cheeks. I’d been told to prepare myself, but I hardly ever cry at books! This one just couldn’t be helped.

“..No matter how we choose to live, we both die at the end.”

The plot was so easy to follow and the pacing was so good, especially as this book is set over only 24 hours! I really admire authors who can fill a book with the events of just one or two days. I have to admit, I admire Silvera so much after reading this book. Knowing the main characters are going to die is so hard, because I’m sure some people have gone in with the ‘I don’t care what happens to them they die anyway’ attitude. But Silvera knocked this one out the park. He made two dying boys live.

★★★★
4.5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

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Life hasn’t been easy for sixteen-year-old Aaron Soto, but with the help of his girlfriend he’s slowly remembering what happiness might feel like. 
Then Thomas shows up …
Thomas is smart and funny, and before long Aaron is spending all his time with him. But as Aaron’s feelings for Thomas intensify, tensions with his other friends start to build.
Soon Aaron is faced with a choice – one that will make him question what it is he wants, and how far he’ll go to get it.
Why does happiness have to be so hard?

I saw a lot of good in this book, but I’m not sure if it was quite for me to be completely honest! I haven’t read contemporary for a few months now, which is a long time for me, and although this wasn’t strictly contemporary I still found it difficult to get back into another genre.

I’m not quite sure what didn’t click for me, so let’s go through everything.

“Everyone plays a purpose, even fathers who lie to you or leave you behind.”

I actually really liked the concept of this book. It was very clever and original but just so sad? I ended up leaving this book feeling hopeful, but still so depressed. And I found the plot so slow to start with! Something massive happened around halfway through Aaron’s story and I couldn’t stop reading after that thing, but I do believe it should have happened earlier.

I found this book relatable to very specific people. As Silvera writes in his authors note, many readers who have been through an awful life-changing situations will relate and empathise with Aaron. There was also so much detail surrounding Aaron’s neighbourhood/the people/lifestyle that I felt more and more detached with every new detail.

“Time takes care of all that pain so if someone derails you, it’ll be okay eventually.”

I also had a little problem with Aaron, even though I completely understand why he was the way he was. He just seemed to keep making mistakes, but I guess that’s what makes him human.

So as you can probably tell, my opinions of this book are very mixed up and confused. Considering how much I’m enjoying They Both Die at the End, I think I just wish I’d felt more included and enveloped in this one.

★★★
3 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Unravel Me (#2) by Tahereh Mafi

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It should have taken Juliette a single touch to kill Warner. But his mysterious immunity to her deadly power has left her shaken, wondering why her ultimate defense mechanism failed against the person she most needs protection from.
She and Adam were able to escape Warner’s clutches and join up with a group of rebels, many of whom have powers of their own. Juliette will finally be able to actively fight against The Reestablishment and try to fix her broken world. And perhaps these new allies can help her shed light on the secret behind Adam’s—and Warner’s—immunity to her killer skin.

Before I start – this review will include spoilers! I just don’t think I can include all of my thoughts about this book without talking a bit about what happened, so be warned.

I want to say that I don’t actually dislike love triangles. I wouldn’t say I have an opinion on them either way, because it is possible that they can be done well. But in this book, no. Just no. I feel like I let my own feelings really seep into my opinion of this book, but it just felt so wrong. Juliette and Adam are perfect for each other. Warner is a murderer. I am determined to not let that get out of my head. There is just so much wrong with his character. He keeps making advances on Juliette without her permission. He touches her without her permission. He invades her personal diary without her permission. And as much as I understand he is persuasive and it makes Juliette confused, it’s just wrong.

I just can’t help but think that if anyone acted as Warner did in these books in real life, it would be morally wrong and she could easily press charges. He would be seen as a stalker and a creep. But because he’s so hot and so good with words, she’s suddenly confused. What the hell is wrong with her?

“The books…”

But as much as I absolutely despised the love triangle, I can’t help but say I still really enjoyed reading this. I can’t even begin to describe how talented Tahereh Mafi is. Her writing is beautiful, and thank God, she has discovered how to use a freaking comma. I really felt like the writing flowed more in this book, and I loveee the short chapters! I’ve had a busy week but I’m sure that if I’d had more time I’d have finished this in just a few short days!

“they helped keep me from losing my mind altogether.”

So I’m definitely going to carry on with this series, but I feel like it was a major disappointment compared to the first book. I really enjoyed the first one, but even thinking about what I’ve just read makes me feel angry. Mafi is talented enough with her writing to make me want to continue, but I won’t be holding my breath.

★★★
2.5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling

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It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.
While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.

I have to start by saying I can completely understand and sympathise with the anger surrounding this book. I can’t imagine being part of the Harry Potter fandom your whole life, find out she’s releasing another book….and it’s a play. Whoop.

But I’m very fortunate to say I never saw it that way. I knew this book would be a play. I treated it very much like a novella. And I loved it.

“Those we love never truly leave us, Harry.”

This book gives Harry Potter fans something fresh and new. It’s a long time since the last of the series came out, and this is a great way to cast our minds back and feel the nostalgia. I loved reading about the group as adults, as well as having a touch of the cast as they were young but in a different mindset. I found the dialogue entrancing and the play format very easy to read, a very different experience to reading Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

“There are things that death cannot touch.”

It only took me a couple of days to read this, and I felt the magic and anticipation just as I did when I read the original series. For Harry Potter fans like me, reading this will make you feel comforted. It’s definitely something to go into with a different mindset, and if you can it’s definitely best to read this with a clean slate in mind, and no expectations.

I went in feeling like that, and it made reading this script feel like coming home.

★★★★★
5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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