A Torch Against The Night – Sabaa Tahir

SYNOPSIS

Elias and Laia are running for their lives. After the events of the Fourth Trial, Martial soldiers hunt the two fugitives as they flee the city of Serra and undertake a perilous journey through the heart of the Empire.

Laia is determined to break into Kauf—the Empire’s most secure and dangerous prison—to save her brother, who is the key to the Scholars’ survival. And Elias is determined to help Laia succeed, even if it means giving up his last chance at freedom.

But dark forces, human and otherworldly, work against Laia and Elias. The pair must fight every step of the way to outsmart their enemies: the bloodthirsty Emperor Marcus, the merciless Commandant, the sadistic Warden of Kauf, and, most heartbreaking of all, Helene—Elias’s former friend and the Empire’s newest Blood Shrike.

Bound to Marcus’s will, Helene faces a torturous mission of her own—one that might destroy her: find the traitor Elias Veturius and the Scholar slave who helped him escape…and kill them both.

REVIEW

BETTER THAN THE FIRST BOOK!

I enjoyed reading An Ember in the Ashes but I wasn’t completely blown away by it and I didn’t crave the sequel. That being said… this book blew my mind! It was so fast paced as it start off exactly where An Ember in the Ashes ends. Laia and Elias are on the run and they are headed North to free Laia’s brother!

Throughout this we meet so many new amazing characters! We learn more about characters from the previous book! There are some horrific deaths throughout this book that really rattled me. The so called ‘villains’ throughout this book were not as extreme as the in the previous book, however Marcus is quite a horrific emperor (not a spoiler… it was too be expected).

If you are like me and you hate love triangles, you will love this book. I felt like the romance between Laia, Keenan and Elias was really annoying but it’s barely mentioned in these books (and there is a massive shocking plot twist) because the focus is on survival.

I loved learning more about Helene Aquilla – Blood Shrike. From coming across as very cold hearted to now being someone who loves her family, friends and the Empire. She is such a brave badass female character!

I love the supernatural element of this series and I hope to find out more about it in the next book! I want to know more about Laia, Elias, Cook and Helene Aquilla.

4,5/5 stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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Goodreads – Katerina Turner

* I’m hosting a giveaway on my instagram! There is a chance to win a trilogy box set! This is an international giveaway that closes on the 1st September 🖤

If We Were Villains – M L Rio

SYNOPSIS

Oliver Marks has just served ten years in jail – for a murder he may or may not have committed. On the day he’s released, he’s greeted by the man who put him in prison. Detective Colborne is retiring, but before he does, he wants to know what really happened a decade ago.

As one of seven young actors studying Shakespeare at an elite arts college, Oliver and his friends play the same roles onstage and off: hero, villain, tyrant, temptress, ingenue, extra. But when the casting changes, and the secondary characters usurp the stars, the plays spill dangerously over into life, and one of them is found dead. The rest face their greatest acting challenge yet: convincing the police, and themselves, that they are blameless.

REVIEW

INCREDIBLE!

That’s only one word to describe this book. Some more would be: brilliant, spectacular, amazing, beautiful, etc; I could go on for a while! This book made me laugh and cry. It made my heart skip a beat and it made me want to throw the book to the other side of my room. But most importantly, it made me really think!

“Do you blame Shakespeare for any of it?”

The question is so unlikely, so nonsensical coming from such a sensible man that I can’t suppress a smile.

“ I blame him for all of it,” I say.

Our protagonist, Oliver, is an interesting character who initially comes across as the quiet and plain one of the group. However as time progresses and he explains the tragic events that led to his incarceration we learn that he is an absolute saint simply disguised as a wallflower. Although he doesn’t realise this himself either. Oliver is unlike anyone I’ve ever met or read about, yet I can relate to him. I felt every bit of his pain and frustration. I understood his confusion and his anger.

I loved that all of the characters were actors. The mentality that actors lose themselves as individuals is interesting. I ca understand how a playing a character or persona can hinder one’s own personality. It’s such an important thing to talk about because in modern day society individuals change to fit standards, sometimes forgetting themselves as individuals.

All of the characters were very different, therefore they all played a huge role in the book. Some very important and heavy topics are discussed within this book and all though there is a lot of romance… it is not a major part of the plot which I was pleased about.

If you love Shakespeare, Mystery, Crime and LGBTQA+ undertones then you will ravish this book! Even if all of that doesn’t sound like your usual cup of tea, give it a go because it’s such a relatable book and it really draws on human emotion. I can easily say without a doubt in my mind that this is possibly one of the best books I have ever read!

5/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️!!!

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Goodreads – Katerina Turner

Eliza and her Monsters – Francesca Zappia’s

SYNOPSIS

Her story is a phenomenon. Her life is a disaster.

In the real world, Eliza Mirk is shy, weird, and friendless. Online, she’s LadyConstellation, the anonymous creator of the wildly popular webcomic Monstrous Sea. Eliza can’t imagine enjoying the real world as much as she loves the online one, and she has no desire to try.

Then Wallace Warland, Monstrous Sea’s biggest fanfiction writer, transfers to her school. Wallace thinks Eliza is just another fan, and as he draws her out of her shell, she begins to wonder if a life offline might be worthwhile.

But when Eliza’s secret is accidentally shared with the world, everything she’s built—her story, her relationship with Wallace, and even her sanity—begins to fall apart.

REVIEW

I fell in with love Francesca Zappia’s writing when I read ‘Made you up’ so when I saw ‘Eliza and her monsters’ it was immediately added to my TBR.

I will say straight away that I made a mistake by listening to this as an audiobook as opposed to reading it as a physical book. The book has a lot of drawings and online text with usernames so as an audiobook it can get confusing.

Moving onto the actual plot itself… wow! It’s a powerful and very realistic book. Eliza is a very cool character and I would love to have her as a friend. If I read this a few years ago I would have been able to fully relate to Eliza because I was nerdy and also fought with my family and those around me who thought I was just lazy as opposed to realising there was more going on.

The writing is beautiful and I really enjoyed the plot. In a world where everyone has different personas online nowadays, I think that this book is so relevant and interesting! I’m glad that it portrayed ‘online friendships’ as being realistic whilst also pouting out the life is great in the physical world too. The family relationships that go up and down are stereotypical of a household with teenagers. Sensitive subjects are discussed with the right amount of information that allows readers to understand what is going on but without glorifying mental illness. There is an element of romance within this novel however it isn’t discussed in great detail which I enjoyed as I didn’t think it was important.

Overall an amazing book that I would highly recommend!

4,5/5 Stars ⭐️

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Goodreads – Katerina Turner

An Ember in the Ashes – Sabaa Tahir

SYNOPSIS

Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.
 
Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.
 
It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.
 
But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.
 
There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

REVIEW

This book sat on my TBR shelf for ages and for some reason I kept putting it off. I’m so glad I’ve finally read it because I truly enjoyed it and cannot wait to read the next book in the series!

I love the characters and the plot itself. The only thing that I did find a little irritating was the odd love triangles going on. One of them was understandable, but the other made no sense to me. It seemed awkward and forced.

The novel starts off straight by jumping into a really extreme and scary scenario which sets the pace of the book and the descriptions were great. The world building could have been a bit better but overall it was unique and interesting. I hope that throughout the series the authors goes into some of the characters backstories as it would be interesting to understand how certain characters became how they are in the book.

RATING – 4,5/5 STARS

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Goodreads – Katerina Turner

The Hospital – Barbara O’Hare

Synopsis

The Sunday Times top ten bestseller…

‘Nobody knew what was going on behind those doors. We were human toys. Just a piece of meat for someone to play with.’

Barbara O’Hare was just 12 when she was admitted to the psychiatric hospital, Aston Hall, in 1971. From a troubled home, she’d hoped she would find sanctuary there. But within hours, Barbara was tied down, drugged with sodium amytal – a truth-telling drug – and then abused by its head physician, Dr Kenneth Milner.

The terrifying drug experimentation and relentless abuse that lasted throughout her stay damaged her for life. But somehow, Barbara clung on to her inner strength and eventually found herself leading a campaign to demand answers for potentially hundreds of victims.

A shocking account of how vulnerable children were preyed upon by the doctor entrusted with their care, and why it must never happen again. 

Review

It’s not often that a book has made me cry, but the last few pages of this made me bawl my eyes out.

I have an enormous amount of respect for Barbara O’Hare for being strong enough not only to survive the horrific events that she did, but too also have the courage to share it with the world and stand up for all the others at Aston Hall that may have never been given a chance.

It makes me physically sick that the people responsible for such horrific abuse will never be brought to justice but I hope that everyone and anyone who suffered at Aston Hall can seek comfort in knowing that the world knows what happened. They were just children. They were innocent. They weren’t liars.

Everyone should read this book because it will open their eyes to a very real and very terrible crime that still occurs to this day, on a global scale. We see shocking news everyday and we’ve become desensitised to it but too read something that is so real, so raw and affected so many people… children, is well and truly eye opening.

5/5 STARS ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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Goodreads – Katerina Turner