ARC Review – ‘Blood & Honey’ by Shelby Mahurin

TITLE: Blood & Honey
AUTHOR: Shelby Mahurin
GENRE: YA Fantasy
WORD/PAGE COUNT: 432 pages
PUBLICATION DETAILS: by Harper Collins Australia on September 1st, 2020
RRP: $19.99 AUD (paperback)


Blurb from Goodreads:

After narrowly escaping death at the hands of the Dames Blanches, Lou, Reid, Coco, and Ansel are on the run from coven, kingdom, and church—fugitives with nowhere to hide.

To elude the scores of witches and throngs of chasseurs at their heels, Lou and Reid need allies. Strong ones. But protection comes at a price, and the group is forced to embark on separate quests to build their forces. As Lou and Reid try to close the widening rift between them, the dastardly Morgane baits them in a lethal game of cat and mouse that threatens to destroy something worth more than any coven.

The hotly anticipated sequel to the New York Times and IndieBound bestseller Serpent & Dove—packed with even steamier romance and darker magic—is perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas.

In case you missed the news, 𝘚𝘦𝘳𝘱𝘦𝘯𝘵 & 𝘋𝘰𝘷𝘦 was originally a duology and has been extended to a trilogy, so note that there is still another book to come after 𝘉𝘭𝘰𝘰𝘥 & 𝘏𝘰𝘯𝘦𝘺 and the story isn’t fully resolved in this instalment!

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ARC Review – ‘The Reckless Afterlife of Harriet Stoker’ by Lauren James

TITLE: The Reckless Afterlife of Harriet Stoker
AUTHOR: Lauren James
GENRE: YA Paranormal Fantasy/Horror
WORD/PAGE COUNT: 432 pages
PUBLICATION DETAILS: by Walker Books Australia on September 2nd, 2020
RRP: $18.99 AUD (paperback)


Blurb from Goodreads:

“Congratulations, new kid. Welcome to the afterlife.”

What if death is only the beginning?

When Harriet Stoker dies after falling from a balcony in a long-abandoned building, she discovers a group of ghosts, each with a special power.

Felix, Kasper, Rima and Leah welcome Harriet into their world, eager to make friends with the new arrival after decades alone. 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.

Lauren James is an author better known for her YA sci-fi novels, but with The Reckless Afterlife of Harriet Stoker, she ventures into a new YA genre of paranormal fantasy with light horror elements. Pitched as a ‘horror-rom com’, this book features a villain protagonist with Harriet Stoker creating havoc in the previously quiet and relatively uneventful premises of Mulcture Hall. Despite being long abandoned and fallen into dangerous disrepair, Harriet disregards all the warning signs and breaks in to take photos for her class, little knowing that she would never walk out alive.

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Book Review – ‘If I Can’t Have You’ by Charlotte Levin

TITLE: If I Can’t Have You
AUTHOR: Charlotte Levin
GENRE: Thriller/Suspense
WORD/PAGE COUNT: 416 pages
PUBLICATION DETAILS: by Pan Macmillan Australia on July 14th, 2020
RRP: $32.99 AUD (paperback)


Blurb from Goodreads:

Samuel, the day we met I knew I’d finally found what I’ve been waiting for.


Happiness, at last.

Then you left me.

And now I am alone.

Everyone I love leaves in the end.

But not this time.

I’m not giving up on us.

I’m not giving up on you.

When you love someone, you never let them go.

That’s why for me, this is just beginning.

Isn’t that blurb just chilling? You know right away that the speaker is unhealthily obsessed and on the verge of making some really bad decisions! This is the type of character who is usually portrayed as the psycho ex-girlfriend or some sort of scorned vengeful rival, someone to be pitied and despised, a villain we root for the hero to overcome. And yet in this book, that character is the protagonist! Told from a first person perspective, the masterful debut novel If I Can’t Have You takes us down the rabbit hole of infatuation, betrayal and revenge…and makes us mostly sympathize with the damaged lead in the process.

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Book Review – The Omte Origins: Books 1 & 2 by Amanda Hocking

TITLES: The Lost City & The Morning Flower
AUTHOR: Amanda Hocking
GENRE: YA Fantasy
WORD/PAGE COUNT: 384 pages & 416 pages
PUBLICATION DETAILS: by Pan Macmillan Australia on July 14thAugust 11th, 2020
RRP: $17.99 AUD (The Lost City)$17.99 AUD (The Morning Flower)


I’ve never read a book by Amanda Hocking before, but I’ve heard her name enough times through bookstagram where she’s well-known for her beloved Trylle universe. So after the publisher sent me the first two books in her new trilogy set in the same universe and which are meant to be accessible to newcomers, I decided to start reading over the weekend and see what all the fuss is about.

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ARC Review – ‘Harrow Lake’ by Kat Ellis

TITLE: Harrow Lake
AUTHOR: Kat Ellis
GENRE: YA Horror
WORD/PAGE COUNT: 320 pages
PUBLICATION DETAILS: by Penguin Australia on August 18th, 2020
RRP: $16.99 AUD (paperback)


Blurb from Goodreads:

Lola Nox is the daughter of a celebrated horror filmmaker – she thinks nothing can scare her. But when her father is brutally attacked in their New York apartment, she’s swiftly packed off to live with a grandmother she’s never met in Harrow Lake, the eerie town where her father’s most iconic horror movie was shot.

The locals are weirdly obsessed with the film that put their town on the map – and there are strange disappearances, which the police seem determined to explain away.

And there’s someone – or something – stalking Lola’s every move.

The more she discovers about the town, the more terrifying it becomes. Because Lola’s got secrets of her own. And if she can’t find a way out of Harrow Lake, they might just be the death of her…

Harrow Lake is a fantastic YA horror/psychological thriller that successfully maintains a creepy, chilling atmosphere from start to finish, keeping us off balance with an unreliable narrator to create almost unbearable suspense about what is real or not.

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ARC Review – ‘The Hollow Places’ by T. Kingfisher

TITLE: The Hollow Places
AUTHOR: T. Kingfisher
GENRE: Horror, Fantasy
WORD/PAGE COUNT: 352 pages (ebook)
PUBLICATION DATE: October 6th, 2020

The Hollow Places

Blurb from Goodreads:

A young woman discovers a strange portal in her uncle’s house, leading to madness and terror in this gripping new novel from the author of the “innovative, unexpected, and absolutely chilling” (Mira Grant, Nebula Award–winning author) The Twisted Ones.

Pray they are hungry.

Kara finds the words in the mysterious bunker that she’s discovered behind a hole in the wall of her uncle’s house. Freshly divorced and living back at home, Kara now becomes obsessed with these cryptic words and starts exploring this peculiar area—only to discover that it holds portals to countless alternate realities. But these places are haunted by creatures that seem to hear thoughts…and the more one fears them, the stronger they become.

With her distinctive “delightfully fresh and subversive” (SF Bluestocking) prose and the strange, sinister wonder found in Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s LabyrinthThe Hollow Places is another compelling and white-knuckled horror novel that you won’t be able to put down.

The Hollow Places is the latest remixed horror offering by Ursula Vernon, noted children’s author and graphic novelist who writes as T. Kingfisher for older audiences. After reading her fantastic first horror novel, The Twisted Ones, which was inspired by Arthur Machen’s 1904 horror short story The White People, I fervently hoped she would return to that well and was delighted to discover she had a new horror release due out later in 2020.

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Release Day Review – ‘Loveless’ by Alice Oseman

TITLE: Loveless
AUTHOR: Alice Oseman
GENRE: YA Contemporary, LGBT+
WORD/PAGE COUNT: 448 pages
PUBLICATION DETAILS: by Harper Collins Australia on August 5th, 2020
RRP: $19.99 AUD (paperback)


Blurb from Goodreads:

The fourth novel from the phenomenally talented Alice Oseman – one of the most authentic and talked-about voices in contemporary YA.

It was all sinking in. I’d never had a crush on anyone. No boys, no girls, not a single person I had ever met. What did that mean?

Georgia has never been in love, never kissed anyone, never even had a crush – but as a fanfic-obsessed romantic she’s sure she’ll find her person one day.

As she starts university with her best friends, Pip and Jason, in a whole new town far from home, Georgia’s ready to find romance, and with her outgoing roommate on her side and a place in the Shakespeare Society, her ‘teenage dream’ is in sight.

But when her romance plan wreaks havoc amongst her friends, Georgia ends up in her own comedy of errors, and she starts to question why love seems so easy for other people but not for her. With new terms thrown at her – asexual, aromantic – Georgia is more uncertain about her feelings than ever.

Is she destined to remain loveless? Or has she been looking for the wrong thing all along?

This wise, warm and witty story of identity and self-acceptance sees Alice Oseman on towering form as Georgia and her friends discover that true love isn’t limited to romance.

There aren’t enough books with asexual protagonists, so my expectations were high, but thankfully Loveless lived up to them! ⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣ As a fellow ace, I related to a lot of Georgia’s feelings, I really could’ve used this book when I was in high school and thought there was something wrong with me for not being like my peers. My hope is that Loveless can help raise awareness for this largely invisible orientation so that asexual teens find some clarity through representation that matches their identity.

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Release Day Review – ‘The Erasure Initiative’ by Lili Wilkinson

TITLE: The Erasure Initiative
AUTHOR: Lili Wilkinson
GENRE: YA Thriller
WORD/PAGE COUNT: 336 pages
PUBLICATION DETAILS: by Allen & Unwin on August 4th, 2020
RRP: $19.99 AUD (paperback)


Blurb from Goodreads:

I wake up, and for a few precious seconds I don’t realise there’s anything wrong.

The rumble of tyres on bitumen, and the hiss of air conditioning. The murmur of voices. The smell of air freshener. The cool vibration of glass against my forehead.

A girl wakes up on a self-driving bus. She has no memory of how she got there or who she is. Her nametag reads CECILY. The six other people on the bus are just like her: no memories, only nametags. There’s a screen on each seatback that gives them instructions. A series of tests begin, with simulations projected onto the front window of the bus. The passengers must each choose an outcome; majority wins. But as the testing progresses, deadly secrets are revealed, and the stakes get higher and higher. Soon Cecily is no longer just fighting for her freedom – she’s fighting for her life.

The Erasure Initiative is a smart, tautly plotted YA thriller with a high-concept, scarily plausible premise where seven people wake up in a bus without their memories and must respond to questions exploring a series of moral dilemmas.

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