August 26, 2020

Lauren James: "The Reckless Afterlife of Harriet Stoker" (ARC Review)

Title: The Reckless Afterlife of Harriet Stoker [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: None
Author: Lauren James [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Afterlife, Thriller/Mystery
Year: 2020
Age: 14+
Stars: 3.5/5
Pros: Imaginative take on ghosts. Lots of twists and turns. Solid characters.
Cons: Sometimes the writing gets in the way of our connecting with the characters. The anti-heroine might not sit well with everyone (though there are plenty of co-protagonists to love). 
WARNING! A sex scene (though not overly graphic). Some violence/gore.
Will appeal to: Those who like original afterlife scenarios and found families.

Blurb: When Harriet Stoker dies after falling from a balcony in a long-abandoned building, she discovers a world of ghosts with magical powers – shape-shifting, hypnosis, even the ability to possess the living. Felix, Kasper, Rima and Leah welcome her into their world, eager to make friends with the new arrival. Yet Harriet is more interested in unleashing her own power, even if it means destroying everyone around her. But when all of eternity is at stake, the afterlife can be a dangerous place to make an enemy. (Amazon excerpt)

Review: First off...DISCLAIMER: I requested this title on NetGalley. Thanks to Walker Books for providing a temporary ecopy. This didn't influence my review in any way.


As anyone who knows me is well-aware of by now, I have a fascination for books about dead characters (whether set in the actual afterlife or having ghosts as protagonists), so I can honestly deem myself an expert on the subject. Thus, believe me when I say TRAOHS is one of the most original takes on "what comes after" that I've ever read - and I'll leave it at that, because I don't want to spoil the fun for you. Since the blurb itself mentions ghostly powers though, yep, they are part of this book's charm - but not the only one, albeit the plot is largely driven by those powers, their use and/or misuse (or lack thereof) and the consequences that come with it. But it doesn't end here. This novel piles up twist after twist and reveal after reveal, and though some of them you start to smell out before they become manifest, there are still plenty that you won't see coming. Not to mention, there's a mystery narrator who kept me on my toes for a long time, and who ended up being NOT the person I thought they were... [...]

August 18, 2020

Andrea Contos: "Throwaway Girls" (ARC Review)

Title: Throwaway Girls [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: None
Author: Andrea Contos [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Thriller/Mystery, Contemporary
Year: 2020
Age: 14+
Stars: 3.5/5
Pros: Tense and intense. Doesn't employ the classic "mean girls" trope all too often included in the YA thriller package.
Cons: Requires some suspension of disbelief, especially when it comes to the lack of consequences for the final showdown (that doesn't seem to impact the characters much, by the way).
WARNING! Killings/dead characters. Underage drinking, smoking and drug use.
Will appeal to: Those who are looking for a fresh approach to teen thrillers.

Blurb: Caroline Lawson is three months away from graduation day. That's when she'll finally escape her rigid prep school and the parents who thought they could convert her to being straight. Until then, Caroline is keeping her head down, pretending to be the perfect student even though she is heartbroken over the girlfriend who left for California. But when her best friend Madison disappears, Caroline feels compelled to get involved in the investigation. Caroline has some uncomfortable secrets about the hours before Madison disappeared, but they're nothing compared to the secrets Madison has been hiding. And why does Mr. McCormack, their teacher, seem to know so much about them? It's only when Caroline discovers other missing girls that she begins to close in on the truth. Unlike Madison, the other girls are from the wrong side of the tracks. Unlike Madison's, their disappearances haven't received much attention. Caroline is determined to find out what happened to them and why no one seems to notice. But as every new discovery leads Caroline closer to the connection between these girls and Madison, she faces an unsettling truth. (Amazon excerpt)

Review: First off...DISCLAIMER: this title was up for grabs on NetGalley (in the Read Now section). Thanks to Kids Can Press for providing a temporary ecopy. This didn't influence my review in any way.


I'm always on the lookout for a good YA thriller that doesn't employ the usual "all against all" or "you can't trust literally anybody" plot device, and even more than that, the old "mean girls" trope. For some reason, it seems that, in this genre, catty classmates and petty fights are a must - and of course, there's nothing wrong with them if you like that kind of narrative, but I don't enjoy it at all. Throwaway Girls sounded like the happy exception to the above rules, and I'm happy to report it delivered - though some late mistrust between friends ensued, and painful secrets were uncovered along the way...but without any of them, there would likely be no mystery at all 🤷‍♀️. It was refreshing how certain secondary and even minor characters were able to take on a real supporting role, though I'm not saying that none of them had ulterior motives. It was especially refreshing that girls were sticking for each other - at least some of them - and that, despite its focus being the disappearance of a privileged white girl, the story also brought to the forefront the "invisible ones" most people give up on (though, to be honest, at first they were mostly instrumental in finding Caroline's friend - but she ended up genuinely caring for them). [...]

August 10, 2020

'Nathan Burgoine: "Exit Plans for Teenage Freaks"

Title: Exit Plans for Teenage Freaks [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: None (or, none planned, though on Goodreads the author mentioned having "rough scratch notes" for one)
Author: 'Nathan Burgoine [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Paranormal, Contemporary
Year: 2018
Age: 14+
Stars: 3.5/5
Pros: Inclusive/intersectional, funny, with refreshingly wholesome family/friend dynamics.
Cons: The paranormal aspect is a bit underdeveloped. Not all the lead's friends get the same screen time.
Will appeal to: Those who are in for a queer romance/paranormal/action combo.

Blurb: Being the kid abducted by old Ms. Easton when he was four permanently set Cole’s status to freak. At seventeen, his exit plan is simple: make it through the last few weeks of high school with his grades up and his head down. When he pushes through the front door of the school and finds himself eighty kilometers away holding the door of a museum he was just thinking about, Cole faces facts: he’s either more deluded than old Ms. Easton, or he just teleported. Now every door is an accident waiting to happen -especially when Cole thinks about Malik, who, it turns out, has a glass door on his shower. When he starts seeing the same creepy people over his shoulder, no matter how far he’s gone, crushes become the least of his worries. They want him to stop, and they'll go to any length to make it happen. (Amazon excerpt)

Review: Karen @ For What It's Worth warned me this was more of a contemporary than a sci-fi (or, I'd rather say, paranormal) book, but I was intrigued, so I gave it a chance. It turns out I feel like she feels about this novel, but I don't regret reading it in the slightest - so please take my rating with a grain of salt, because there are so many things EPFTF does right, even if they aren't the ones I was looking for.


EPFTF is a funny and fresh adventure in teleporting, but to me, its strength lies in the sexual diversity and in the familial/friendly relationships. Cole (our lead) is gay, his love interest is bi (as one of his female friends is), and the whole Rainbow Club he's part of is brimming with representation, from ace members (or ex-members, but still friends with friends actually...) to both pan and non-binary ones. Also, Cole's love interest is not only bi, but also Black, and Cole's father is deaf. Exit Plans isn't a diversity textbook though: all the kids manage to feel like real teenagers, not necessarily perfect, coming in different degrees of woke, thinking of...well...the things teens are wont to think about 😂 - but having much more than those on their minds, and always sticking up for each other. Also, the parent rep in this book is AWESOME. Though Cole keeps his newfound teleporting ability from his mum and dad (which is a point), he's got a healthy relationship with them, and he's even thinking of following in his father's footsteps as an ASL interpreter. Plus, his parents are in love with each other, and always there for their son - an almost unheard-of thing in YA. [...]

August 04, 2020

A Leap of Faith

Hello sweeties,

so...this post wasn't on my schedule. Shocking, I know. But some stuff has come up lately (I'm not talking about the New Blogger averted disaster, which will probably call for its own post in the near future...for a couple of days, I was genuinely convinced I would lose half my contents 😱), and I've been pondering, and...I've come to a decision about such stuff.

You will probably have noticed that, while I'm posting an impromptu article, I skipped this month's installment of Tooting Your Trumpet, and for that I beg your pardon. My head has been all over the place for a few weeks now - not to mention, on July 1st I went back to my regular working hours, which resulted in reading/posting/commenting after dinner and during the weekend once again. For the record: I do have three reviews coming this month - a backlist book and two NetGalley ones - because I was ahead of my schedule, but now I think I finally managed to fit back into my old blogging habits, after 3 months of working only 2 days a week. (Ha! Who am I fooling - I'm still struggling to make things works and I always will). Anyway, here's the thing I've been racking my head about lately, and if I post it here I'm more likely to commit to it...

...I'm going to start studying for a public examination that will be hold two years from now (or maybe one), regarding a job at my town hall 😱.