Worlds of Ink and Shadow by Lena Coakley

Charlotte, Branwell, Emily, and Anne. The Brontë siblings have always been inseparable. After all, nothing can bond four siblings quite like life in an isolated parsonage out on the moors. Their vivid imaginations lend them escape from their strict upbringing, actually transporting them into their created worlds: the glittering Verdopolis and the romantic and melancholy Gondal. But at what price? As Branwell begins to slip into madness and the sisters feel their real lives slipping away, they must weigh the cost of their powerful imaginations, even as their characters—the brooding Rogue and dashing Duke of Zamorna—refuse to let them go.

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This book, based on the juvenile writings of the Bronte’s is a sweeping and imagined world. Coakley has obviously committed to research and it pays off in a lovingly crafted story that draws you into the world of the Bronte’s as strong as the worlds of Verdopolis and Gondal.

I enjoyed every page of this beautiful book. Coakley has done such a wonderful job of bringing the moors and the world of the Bronte’s to life. Delicate yet dark and a number of references (and foreshadowing characters) to their adult works that made them famous.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys the Brontes, 19th Century literature, or speculative historical fiction.

5/5

 

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Linked by Susanne Valenti

27141878 Linked by Susanne Valenti is book two of the Cage of  Lies series. We rejoin Maya, Coal, Hunter, Taylor, Laurie and Alicia (and Kaloo!) where we left off, planning to return to the City and rescue Maya’s and Taylor’s parents.

This book focuses on Maya coming to terms with the new world around her. She is grappling a new family, new responsibilities and new love. Maya stands on the precipice between ‘childhood’ and adulthood and this novel follows that personal growth.

I really enjoyed the exploration of the new supporting characters. Hunter and Alicia are well thought out, well presented and jump off the page. Their personalities are real and their story lines engaging.

Coal is Coal. He is a striking main character and a typical YA love interest. Valenti’s use of restraint with this character especially during his exchanges with Taylor shows her growing skill as a writer of YA fiction.

Taylor is Coal’s solar opposite in this instalment of the series. He is petulant, childish at times, and unable to deal with the adult emotions that are being thrust on him. I found a couple of the exchanges with Taylor frustrating but that is obviously the intention of the story.

The action in this novel propels faster with each chapter to its intense conclusion. It is a gripping finale that will leave any reader wanting to find out what happens.

Valenti’s world building has gone from strength to strength with this novel. I was again impressed with this world that we discover with Maya. I am looking forward to reading the next instalment.

4/5

TV & Film Reviews at ‘I Enjoy a Good Show’

Hi all!

I have been so busy of late working and writing that I haven’t had a chance to do much blogging. I am almost finished my ARCs and those reviews will be up here as soon as possible.

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I’m also reviewing TV and film over on my mate’s blog I Enjoy a Good Show’. If you like TV and films head on over to the blog.

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This week I have reviewed Breaking Bad, now that I finally finished season five! And waded through all of Jesse Pinkman’s tears 🙂

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Rach

Chained (Cage of Lies #1) by Susanne Valenti

I was given a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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Chained by Susanne Valenti tells the story of Maya and her best friend Taylor who live in a post-apocalyptic world cut off from the contaminated world around them. The city is highly organised and built off the efforts of the many in the hopes of improving their standings and being rewarded with luxuries afforded to the rich families and politicians.

During a routine field trip into the outer limits, an accident occurs that irrevocably changes Maya and Taylor’s life. They encounter the brutality of the justice system, the violence without and discover that things may not be as they seem.

I enjoyed this story. For a first novel it is written very well. Valenti has obviously taken great care to ensure that the story flows without interruption or gaping holes. The action is cut and dried and keeps pace to its conclusion.

I really liked Maya. She was strong yet vulnerable, sweet but not naïve. I cared about what happened to her and enjoyed watching her evolve. The supporting cast was strong and I’m not ashamed to admit I fell in love with Kaloo. Read the book and you’ll see for yourself.

This is book one in the Cage of Lies series and it sets the story arc for the next offering. I nope tat the writing continues to gather the momentum it began in book one.

I found this novel reminiscent of Divergent and Maze Runner, with a little Wayward Pines to boot. If you enjoy YA dystopian fiction, check this story out.

3.75/5

Dead Ringer by Jessie Rosen

I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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From the moment Laura Rivers steps foot into Englewood High, she notices the stares—and they aren’t the typical once-overs every pretty new girl endures. The students seem confused and…spooked. Whispers echoing through the halls confirm that something is seriously off. “That new girl looks just like her,” they say.

It turns out Laura has a doppelgänger, and it isn’t just anyone—it’s Sarah Castro-Tanner, the girl who killed herself by jumping into the Navasink River one year ago.

Laura is determined not to let the gossip ruin her chances of making a fresh start. Thanks to her charming personality and California tan, she catches the eye of Englewood’s undisputed golden boy, Charlie Sanders, and it’s only a matter of time before they make their relationship official.

But something is making Charlie and his friends paranoid—and Laura soon discovers it has to do with Sarah Castro-Tanner.

What really happened to Sarah? Why is Charlie unraveling? And how does Laura Rivers fit into it all?

After all, she’s the dead ringer for a dead girl.

Dead Ringer by Jessie Rosen is an exciting and suspenseful read. A YA cosy mystery, we follow the story from multiple points of view. There is no confusing jump around and each past tense story shines a light on the death of Sarah Castro-Tanner.

An intriguing and refreshing story, I felt engaged with these characters. It was suspenseful and the author kept us along for the slow reveals throughout the novel. I loved that there were no outright good or bad characters. Each person is well rounded and flawed. They are human and relatable.

The story is interesting and deals with the subject matter in a different way. It does not preach and it does not attempt to be a guide in how to think or act. The story is presented and it is up to the reader to decide how they feel about what has occurred and if it changes their perspective or actions.

4/5

Last Light Falling: The Covenant by J E Plemons

I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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If your fate has already been chosen for you, would you change it? Fifteen-year-old Arena Power blindly accepts her destiny in a world filled with tragedy, chaos, and a lingering wickedness that will tempt every man’s soul until the last days on Earth. Set in the United States in the year 2053, America, like most of the world, has undergone catastrophic earthquakes, famine, and an economic collapse, which has rendered the nation hopeless. It has turned to other nations, like Russia and China, to help restore what was once a world power. Unfortunately, the new America has grossly caused civil unrest that will eventually be the precursor to a much bigger war of biblical proportions.

Last Light Falling was a book I was intrigued with from the cover and the blurb. I have been reading and enjoying a lot of dystopian novels of late, so I was keen to get my hands on a copy.

Reading this, for me, was hard work.

I found the narrative to be more telling rather than showing. Our main character is 15 years old and I just didn’t believe half of the things she said, or said she felt. Supporting characters were, at times, cardboard cut outs of cliched characters.

World-building had promise but I was always left asking more questions. Parts of the dialogue didn’t sound like the characters compared to other sections of the book. Additionally, phrasing and word usage sometimes didn’t match the characters.

Going in, I really wanted to like this book. But I found it derivative and unpolished. I won’t be reading any more of the series.

2/5

Black-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin

I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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I am the star of screaming headlines and campfire ghost stories.

I am one of the four Black-Eyed Susans.

The lucky one.

As a sixteen-year-old, Tessa Cartwright was found in a Texas field, barely alive amid a scattering of bones, with only fragments of memory as to how she got there. Ever since, the press has pursued her as the lone surviving “Black-Eyed Susan,” the nickname given to the murder victims because of the yellow carpet of wildflowers that flourished above their shared grave.

Shocking, intense, and utterly original, Black-Eyed Susans is a dazzling psychological thriller, seamlessly weaving past and present in a searing tale of a young woman whose harrowing memories remain in a field of flowers—as a killer makes a chilling return to his garden.

An engaging, suspenseful story, Black-Eyed Susans follows the story of Tessa Cartwright, the sole survivor of a serial killer. We join the story as a group of lawyers attempt to free the convicted murderer from death row. They come to Tessa for help. Tessa, now an artist and single mother trying to leave her past behind her, reluctantly agrees to revisit her past.

I was captivated by this book. Such an engaging story line that weaves two timelines, Tessa in 1995 when she was found in the open grave, and present day Tessa. Suspects are everywhere and plot twists litter the narrative.

Tessa is a broken woman but a strong character. There is an immediate empathy as you follow this dark path into her past. If you enjoy a compelling mystery that is New Adult/Adult as opposed to Young Adult, you will enjoy this book. The language is accessible and the action demanding (in a good way!).

Supporting characters are strong and believable. Heaberlin has successfully amassed a wealth of research of a scientific nature and implemented it into her story in a way that is easy to understand. Her scientists are real and accessible. The reader never feels like they are talked down to.

A special mention to Tessa’s neighbour Effie who provides at times a comforting comic relief and always affection.

4/5