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Friday, 10 July 2020

DARK BLUE RISING by Teri Terry

Tabby lives a transient life with her mum Cate, never sticking in one place long enough to make friends. 

Until one day, an accident changes everything. Cate is arrested and Tabby realises her life has been a lie: Cate is not her mother.

As she adjusts to her new life, Tabby finds herself drawn to the ocean - the only place she feels happy - and enrolls at a swimming summer school to help her heal. 

But all is not as it seems. She and her new friends are cut off from the outside world and she's plagued by a repeating symbol of interlocking circles that follows her everywhere. 

As Tabby begins to learn the truth about what the circles mean, and uncovers the terrible lies she's been told about her past, a final twist awaits her - a secret hidden in her DNA...


I've read enough Teri Terry books to know that she can tell amazing stories. Stories that pull the reader into the character's world and keeps them there the whole way.

So I wasn't surprised when I lost myself in this book instantly.

Tabby lives a simple life with her mother. They're always moving around, she doesn't go to school and doesn't have any friends. But she's happy because Cate loves her and teaches her everything she needs to know about the world. As long as the sea is nearby, Tabby doesn't care about anything else.

Until the day she makes a friend and catches the attention of other less friendly kids, which puts her in the path of a car.

After the accident, her life changes forever, as she slowly realises everything she thought was real turns out to be a lie...

Wow. Just wow. What an unexpected, exciting and totally breathtaking adventure.

I grabbed this book to get a feel for the first chapter, but couldn't put it down. It's SO engrossing, and told in such an emotionally-lyrical style that it's hard to put down.

Tabby is a character that's so easy to like. Her story starts in such a nice and serene place that doesn't take long to fall apart. Seriously, after she gets hit by a car her life spirals out of control so quickly I couldn't help but feel her devastation and confusion.

And when she finally gets to a place where things settle down, it's all so sad that it becomes overwhelming. In the best way possible. Because when a story is capable of hitting you right in the heart, you know it's worth investing time on every single page.

That's what this author does. Pulls you under so deeply that you have no choice but to take a breath before plunging into the deep end to let the characters drag you low, with a few highs sprinkled along the way.

Although everything that happens is very character driven because Tabby's voice is addictive, there's a LOT to love about this book. There's the mystery driving the reasons behind one woman's decision to destroy a family. There's the climate change disorder stirring in the background. There's the freaky secret organisation with a hidden motivation.

And then, there's the secret buried within Tabby herself. All of these factors make an incredible story, and the beginning of something really special.

Not to mention that the descriptions are so vivid I felt like I was on the beach and could feel the wind on my face and taste the salt in the air.

Dark Blue Rising is an intriguing thriller with a wondrous mystery that keeps you guessing. It's full of emotional turmoil that felt like being on a rollercoaster of sadness, confusion and the need to find answers. And at the centre of all this is a fantastic character you can't help but cheer for because she's so brave, determined and also happens to be an enigma.

I freaking loved this book. So much. Can't wait for the next installment because I have to know where Tabby's going to end up.

A huge thank you to Hachette Australia for sending me a copy!


Dark Blue Rising, July 2020, ISBN 9781444957105, Orchard Books

Thursday, 9 July 2020

THE SAFEST LIES by Megan Miranda

The Safest Lies
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was in a bit of a thriller mood, and this book certainly fit the bill. I read the first chapter to get a feel, but ended up reading the first eight chapters in one sitting. 😬

Kelsey's a good student. She also lives a very quiet and private life with her mother behind the tall gates, cameras and tight security in their home.

The night she has a serious car accident that almost kills her, the privacy her mother's concealed them behind is destroyed. Paving the way for a huge threat from her mother's past...

Ooooooooh. I loved this very intense book.

The concept of this story is so intriguing. A teenage girl is trying to live a normal life while her mother insists on top-notch security and minimal interaction with the outside world to keep then safe. But when she becomes the focus of the media because of an accident and the guy who helped save her, she finally understands her mother's desperate need to stay under the radar.

I really liked Kelsey, who happens to be very clever, loyal and brave. I also thought Ryan was a great character. These two were so cute together. Their awkward interactions were as fun to read as their easygoing conversations, as well as the dangerous situations they share.

The way this story unravels is perfect. The pace and tone, the mysterious outcomes--it all comes together seamlessly. And the twists and turns are awesome. But my favourite thing was how the paranoia of being watched leapt off the pages. I felt the shadows closing in as much as Kelsey.

I seriously couldn't put this down because I really wanted to find out what the mystery at the heart of the story was. And it didn't disappoint.

This is one twisty thriller with great characters, lots of danger lurking behind every shadow, and a house that's more like a cage. It's also a great allegory for what happens when someone fabricates a tapestry of lies to try to outrun their violent past. And how this always ends up hurting the one you're trying to protect the most.


Wednesday, 8 July 2020

THE MERCILESS II by Danielle Vega

Merciless I & II, The
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


After reading the first book a few weeks ago and loving it, hubby ordered this collection for me. And because I really wanted to find out what was going to happen next, I decided to get stuck into it sooner than planned.

After Sofia's traumatic and very violent experience, she's jumpy, scared and feels very much alone. She also sees Brooklyn everywhere and is imagining a bunch of other weird things too. But at least she's got her mother.

Until something awful happens and she ends up in a Catholic boarding school...

Wow! I fell back into Sofia's unstable and twisted world as soon as I started.

This story doesn't waste any time. Things get serious right away, and Sofia finds herself in a devastating situation that throws her life into a new sort of chaos. An unimaginable situation that made me sad for her.

Lost and alone, she ends up in the one place where she starts to think she might find some salvation: in a Catholic school. And even though she makes new friends right away, this school has its own secrets and her past is never far behind.

I felt so bad for Sofia because she tries really hard to be good. She wants to belong and be a normal girl and actually makes friends easily, but it doesn't take long for her own thoughts to betray her. And even less to find she's fallen headfirst into another nightmare. This poor girl just can't catch a break. 😣

This book is as addictive as the first. I couldn't put it down. The tension builds quickly and the torture scenes were totally brutal, but fresh. So unexpected. Not to mention that the new cast of characters added a whole new dimension to everything. Whether they were good, bad or something else altogether, everything about this story kept me hooked from start to finish.

Oh, and the surprises don't stop coming until the very end. Yikes! That ending was something else. Seriously. 😳

The sequel turned out to be as unpredictable, sick and depraved as the first one. I loved every creepy minute of it. I'm a sucker for possession stories and this one does NOT disappoint. It's familiar enough to hit all of my favourite tropes, yet has its own unique quality that satisfied me at every step.

Danielle Vega sure knows how to write a wicked awesome horror tale that keeps the reader guessing until the last second.

I'm loving this series SO MUCH that hubby already ordered the next two books for me. I can't wait to find out what happens next...


Sunday, 5 July 2020

DOROTHY MUST DIE by Danielle Paige

Dorothy Must Die (Dorothy Must Die, #1)
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've had this book for a long time and decided to get stuck into it this week. As soon as I started Amy's story, I liked her so much I couldn't wait to read all about her adventures in Oz.

Amy's considered trash at school and doesn't have any friends. The only girl who pays any attention to her is a bully. Amy's mother changed after the accident and when she's not catatonic on the couch, she's out and about at the bar.

The day a tornado comes, Amy gets blown into the sky and lands in Oz. Just like another girl from Kansas did long before. But Dorothy is no longer a hero, she's become the villain...

Wow. This book gets off to a great start instantly. I love The Wizard of Oz, so it was great to read a new take on the classic. A sort of continuation that puts Dorothy in the complete opposite role she played in the beloved original.

And if you think that's a stretch, think about it. Dorothy wasn't happy in Kansas, then when she gets to Oz all she wants to do is go back to Kansas... Yeah, she doesn't know what she wants. So it's not hard to believe that once she gets a taste for power and magic, she would turn into a tyrant.

She's certainly a bitch in this story. Seriously, I hated her every single time she was on the page. And don't get me started on her friends because this Tin Idiot, Gross Lion and Demented Scarecrow are the things of nightmares. Yikes!

I loved how the Wicked and Good concept gets flipped. But not totally, because as Amy finds out (the hard way) nothing is as it seems and no one can be fully trusted. Everyone has secrets. Everyone has an agenda. But at least they can all agree on one thing: Dorothy must die!

Another awesome thing about this is how much fun it is. How colourful the world is. How cool the characters are. And how terrifying Oz has become. 😳

My favourite character was definitely Amy. She's such a cool hero, the best kind of hero. She hasn't had the best life and no one's ever valued her like they do now, but she never lets this turn to arrogance. She keeps her wits about her, is willing to learn and has such a great heart. To be honest, she's the one who possesses the real heart, brains and courage.

Also, Star was an awesome addition to Oz. I really liked her and the connection she has with Amy.

Well, I loved the first installment in this adventure, but there's still a lot more to experience. I look forward to getting back on that Yellow Brick Road soon...


Saturday, 4 July 2020

THE WALLS AROUND US by Nova Ren Suma

The Walls Around Us
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is another book I've had on my Paperwhite for quite a while and thought it was time to get stuck into it. The story is so strange and so interesting that before I realised it, I'd hit 20% and didn't want to stop.

Amber is in a correctional facility for girls under the age of eighteen. Violet is a gifted ballerina on her way to Juilliard. Ori is the one who connects these two via secrets, lies and violence...

Yikes! I didn't expect all of that! 😳

As soon as I started reading, I fell into the lyrical writing style because it's hypnotic and so beautiful it hooked me in to the point where I couldn't wait to find out more about these girls and their many (many) problems.

At the beginning, there's virtually no dialogue. Something that usually pushes me out of the story. But not here, because the thoughts and actions of these characters was so engaging.

It's also a very strange tale, because just when you get comfortable with each personal story all that familiarity gets pulled out from under you until you start asking yourself: what's really going on here? It's such a unique ghost story that slowly peels back the layers by thrusting a bunch of characters at you.

The more you read, the more the pieces fall into place and start revealing the very twisted puzzle beneath. These narrators aren't exactly reliable, which is why it takes a while for the reader to find their groove. And once you do, it's too late because you're already hooked.

I enjoyed the multiple POVs, but Violet is a special kind of menace. Talk about a sugary exterior concealing a rotten core. I can't say more about her because it would be too easy to slip into spoiler territory, but I can definitely say that I didn't like her. At all.

Asides from the lovely writing and the captivating way everything the unreliable narrators reveal unravels, I loved how the story turned out. I didn't expect that ending, but it made everything so worthwhile.

This is such an intriguing tale about friendship rotting through the years, obsessive ambition bordering on psychotic, innocence stolen away from girls via violence, and ultimate redemption.

I'm so glad I finally read this haunting book because I loved it.


 
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