ARC Review – ‘We Were Promised Spotlights’ by Lindsay Sproul

Title: We Were Promised Spotlights
Author: Lindsay Sproul
Genre: YA Contemporary
Word/Page Count: 288 (kindle edition)
Publication Date: March 24th, 2020


Blurb from Goodreads:

The Miseducation of Cameron Post meets Everything Leads to You in this queer young adult novel.

Taylor Garland’s good looks have earned her the admiration of everyone in her small town. She’s homecoming queen, the life of every party, and she’s on every boy’s most-wanted list.

People think Taylor is living the dream, and assume she’ll stay in town and have kids with the homecoming king–maybe even be a dental hygienist if she’s super ambitious. But Taylor is actually desperate to leave home, and she hates the smell of dentists’ offices. Also? She’s completely in love with her best friend, Susan.

Senior year is almost over, and everything seems perfect. Now Taylor just has to figure out how to throw it all away.

Lindsay Sproul’s debut is full of compelling introspection and painfully honest commentary on what it’s like to be harnessed to a destiny you never wanted.

We Were Spotlights is an acquired taste and whether it works for you depends on what you look to get out of a reading experience. This book made me feel uncomfortable, and while that may not sound like a ringing endorsement, it’s actually a testament to the author’s skill at depicting the lows of teenage life in excruciating detail. So if you like to live vicariously through the protagonist of the book you’re reading, this won’t be the most enjoyable experience. But if you’re open to reading a subversive take on the Popular Mean Girl who is positioned as the anti-heroine of this book, it may be a more rewarding experience for you.

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Blog Tour – ‘Yes No Maybe So’ by Becky Albertalli & Aisha Saeed

Title: Yes No Maybe So
Author: Becky Albertalli & Aisha Saeed
Genre: YA Contemporary
Word/Page Count: 448 (paperback)
Publication Details: by Simon & Schuster Australia on February 4th, 2020
RRP: $17.99 AUD (paperback)


Blurb from Goodreads:

New York Times bestselling authors Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed have crafted a resonant, funny, and memorable story about the power of love and resistance.

Jamie Goldberg is cool with volunteering for his local state senate candidate—as long as he’s behind the scenes. When it comes to speaking to strangers (or, let’s face it, speaking at all to almost anyone), Jamie’s a choke artist. There’s no way he’d ever knock on doors to ask people for their votes…until he meets Maya.

Maya Rehman’s having the worst Ramadan ever. Her best friend is too busy to hang out, her summer trip is canceled, and now her parents are separating. Why her mother thinks the solution to her problems is political canvassing—with some awkward dude she hardly knows—is beyond her.

Going door to door isn’t exactly glamorous, but maybe it’s not the worst thing in the world. After all, the polls are getting closer—and so are Maya and Jamie. Mastering local activism is one thing. Navigating the cross-cultural romance of the century is another thing entirely.

Yes No Maybe So is a sweet, smart and diverse contemporary YA novel that is very firmly grounded in the turbulent political climate of modern day America. As the authors state, “our goal is to tell a story that doesn’t shy away from the complexities of our current reality, but nevertheless remains infused with joy and hope” and they accomplish this beautifully through the two teen protagonists who throw themselves into a small town electoral campaign.

Yes No Maybe So Blog Tour Tile

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Book Review – ‘Our Dark Secret’ by Jenny Quintana

Title: Our Dark Secret
Author: Jenny Quintana
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Mystery & Thriller
Word/Page Count: 320 (paperback)
Publication Details: February 11th, 2020 by Pan Macmillan Australia
RRP: $29.99 AUD (paperback)


Blurb from Goodreads:

From the author of The Missing Girl, Jenny Quintana’s gripping novel, Our Dark Secret, tells the story of two girls, two deaths and two decades of silence . . .

The crazy girls, they called them – or at least, Elizabeth liked to think they did. As a teenager in the late 1970s, she was clever, overweight and a perfect victim for the bullies. Then Rachel and her family arrived in town and, for Elizabeth, it was as if a light had been switched on. She was drawn to the bright and beautiful Rachel like a moth to a flame.

Rachel had her own reasons for wanting Elizabeth as a friend, and although their relationship was far from equal, Elizabeth would do anything for Rachel.

Then the first body was discovered.

Twenty years on, Elizabeth wants nothing more than to keep the secrets of her teenage years where they belong: in the past. But another body has been found, and she can’t keep running from what happened.

Can she?

2020 is the year of broadening my reading horizons and it’s really paying off! My preferred genre is YA contemporary, sci-fi and fantasy, but I’ve received a couple of ‘grown-up’ thrillers from the fabulous team at Pan Macmillan Australia and thought I should check them out. The result? WINNING. Just like ‘Big Lies In A Small Town‘, this is another addictive read with a compelling character-driven storyline.

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Book Review – ‘Break The Fall’ by Jennifer Iacopelli

Title: Break The Fall
Author: Jennifer Iacopelli
Genre: YA Contemporary
Word/Page Count: 400 (paperback)
Publication Details: February 11th, 2020 by Hachette Australia
RRP: $16.99 AUD (paperback)


Audrey Lee is going to the Olympics.

A year ago, she could barely do a push up as she recovered from a spine surgery, one that could have paralyzed her. And now? She’s made the United States’ gymnastics team with her best friend, Emma, just like they both dreamed about since they were kids. She’s on top of the world.

The pressure for perfection is higher than ever when horrifying news rips the team apart. Audrey is desperate to advocate for her teammate who has been hurt by the one person they trusted most–but not all the gymnasts are as supportive.

With the team on the verge of collapse, the one bright spot in training is Leo, her new coach’s ridiculously cute son. And while Audrey probably (okay, definitely) shouldn’t date him until after the games, would it really be the end of the world?

Balancing the tenuous relationship between her teammates with unparalleled expectations, Audrey doesn’t need any more distractions. No matter what it takes, she’s not going to let anyone bring them down. But with painful revelations, incredible odds, and the very real possibility of falling at every turn, will Audrey’s determination be enough?

I loved the concept of this book as I used to be addicted to the gymnastics series Make It or Break It, but I wasn’t sure if such a visual medium could be conveyed well in words. Rest assured, the writing effortlessly portrays the gymnastics routines taking place and more importantly, places you in the protagonist’s mindset so vividly that you feel the weight and importance of what’s unfolding in the different events. This is such an incredible rollercoaster ride of a book – I chuckled, I got teary and my heart pounded frantically through the highs and lows.

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ARC Review – ‘The Unspoken Name’ by A. K. Larkwood

Title: The Unspoken Name
Author: A. K. Larkwood
Genre: Fantasy, LGBT+
Word/Page Count: 464 (hardcover)
Publication Date: February 11th, 2020
RRP: $39.28 AUD (paperback)

The Unspoken Name

Blurb from Goodreads:

What if you knew how and when you will die?

Csorwe does — she will climb the mountain, enter the Shrine of the Unspoken, and gain the most honored title: sacrifice.

But on the day of her foretold death, a powerful mage offers her a new fate. Leave with him, and live. Turn away from her destiny and her god to become a thief, a spy, an assassin—the wizard’s loyal sword. Topple an empire, and help him reclaim his seat of power.

But Csorwe will soon learn – gods remember, and if you live long enough, all debts come due.

The Unspoken Name is an utterly captivating epic coming-of-age fantasy novel from a debut author who has immediately landed on my auto-buy list. The premise of an orc priestess destined to be her cult’s sacrifice who is instead swept away by a dashing ambitious wizard and trained to be his deadly right hand is bold and exciting, but I wasn’t prepared for how thoroughly this would enthrall me. It’s an early contender for my favorite read of 2020 and highly likely to top many other’s lists as well!

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ARC Review – ‘Jane In Love’ by Rachel Givney

Title: Jane In Love
Author: Rachel Givney
Genre: Romance, Historical
Word/Page Count: 416 pages (paperback)
Publication Details: by Penguin Australia on February 4th, 2020
RRP: $32.99 AUD (paperback)


Blurb from Goodreads:

‘If Jane Austen had the choice between the heart and the pen, what do you think she would do?’

At age twenty-eight, Jane Austen should be seeking a suitable husband, but all she wants to do is write. She is forced to take extreme measures in her quest to find true love – which lands her in the most extraordinary of circumstances.

Magically, she finds herself in modern-day England, where horseless steel carriages line the streets and people wear very little clothing. She forms a new best friend in fading film star Sofia Wentworth, and a genuine love interest in Sofia’s brother Fred, who has the audacity to be handsome, clever and kind-hearted.

She is also delighted to discover that she is now a famous writer, a published author of six novels and beloved around the globe. But as Jane’s romance with Fred blossoms, her presence in the literary world starts to waver. She must find a way to stop herself disappearing from history before it’s too late.

A modern-day reimagining of the life of one of the world’s most celebrated writers, this wonderfully witty romantic comedy offers a new side to Jane’s story, which sees her having to choose between true love in the present and her career as a writer in the past.

Whether you’re a Jane Austen fan or have yet to pick up a book of hers, ‘Jane In Love’ is sure to delight and amuse. I’ve never read a Jane Austen book in my life, but I loved reading this reimagining about Jane!

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Book Review – ‘The Sleeper and the Spindle’ by Neil Gaiman

Title: The Sleeper and the Spindle
Author: Neil Gaiman
Genre: Fantasy
Word/Page Count: 72 pages (paperback)
Publication Details: by Bloomsbury Australia on December 3rd, 2019
RRP: $16.99 AUD (paperback)


A thrillingly reimagined fairy tale from the truly magical combination of author Neil Gaiman and illustrator Chris Riddell – weaving together a sort-of Snow White and an almost Sleeping Beauty with a thread of dark magic, which will hold readers spellbound from start to finish.

On the eve of her wedding, a young queen sets out to rescue a princess from an enchantment. She casts aside her fine wedding clothes, takes her chain mail and her sword and follows her brave dwarf retainers into the tunnels under the mountain towards the sleeping kingdom. This queen will decide her own future – and the princess who needs rescuing is not quite what she seems. Twisting together the familiar and the new, this perfectly delicious, captivating and darkly funny tale shows its creators at the peak of their talents.

Lavishly produced, packed with glorious Chris Riddell illustrations enhanced with metallic ink, this is a spectacular and magical gift.

This is a clever and enchanting fairytale retelling and mash-up of Sleeping Beauty and Snow White with surprising twists and absolutely beautiful illustrations. I wouldn’t have picked this up myself as I don’t normally read children’s books or short stories, but as the publisher was kind enough to gift me with a copy, I had a flick through and enjoyed it for what it offered. I loved the creepy atmosphere and how effectively the author sent chills down my spine, I wasn’t expecting this to be as dark as it was and that was a fun surprise!

At 72 pages including the artwork, this is a very quick read that left me craving more – it’s a tasty morsel, but definitely feels like an entree that makes you eager for the main course and unfortunately it ended way too soon for my liking. There were loose threads left hanging and so much potential to be expanded into a longer story, but then it just ended.

However, I think it would be just right for the attention span of a younger audience and this would be a wonderful reading experience to share with a child. The story is delightfully whimsical, there’s a lot of discussion points that arise from the writing choices and so much fantastic detail in the illustrations to keep them captivated.

Personal Rating: 3 out of 5 kitties recommend this book.


Disclaimer: physical copy provided free from the publisher for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.