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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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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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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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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Insanity – Cameron Jace

SYNOPSIS

After accidentally killing everyone in her class, Alice Wonder is now a patient in the Radcliffe Lunatic Asylum. No one doubts her insanity. Only a hookah-smoking professor believes otherwise; that he can prove her sanity by decoding Lewis Carroll’s paintings, photographs, and find Wonderland’s real whereabouts. Professor Caterpillar persuades the asylum that Alice can save lives and catch the wonderland monsters now reincarnated in modern day criminals. In order to do so, Alice leads a double life: an Oxford university student by day, a mad girl in an asylum by night. The line between sanity and insanity thins when she meets Jack Diamond, an arrogant college student who believes that nonsense is an actual science.

REVIEW

Insanity by Cameron Jace is both an amazing book and also a confusing one. On one hand I thought that the plot was incredibly interesting and well crafted but on the other hand the characters confused me and seemed to be random.

The relationship between the Pillar and Alice was great and very comical. The history behind the Cheshire was great and I really enjoyed the twists in the book.

I can’t seem to understand Jack Diamonds role in this book. He honestly seemed like a really random character and completely useless. Perhaps he is spoken about more in the later book, but I don’t think I’ll be reading them to find out.

Alice’s backstory is still unclear which is interesting and I loved how all the Wonderland characters were human characters that reflected their true selves.

Overall I would give this book 3,5 stars!

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Goodreads – Katerina Turner

Asking For It – Louise O’Neill

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Synopsis 

It’s the beginning of the summer in a small town in Ireland. Emma O’Donovan is eighteen years old, beautiful, happy, confident. One night, there’s a party. Everyone is there. All eyes are on Emma.

The next morning, she wakes on the front porch of her house. She can’t remember what happened, she doesn’t know how she got there. She doesn’t know why she’s in pain. But everyone else does.

Photographs taken at the party show, in explicit detail, what happened to Emma that night. But sometimes people don’t want to believe what is right in front of them, especially when the truth concerns the town’s heroes…

Goodreads Rating –   4.09/5 stars

Review 

I reviewed Louise O’Neill’s Only Ever Yours in August and put Asking For It straight on the top of my TBR. I knew it was going to be difficult, powerful and much-needed even before I started. It’s the perfect choice for my book club because we’re all sure to have a lot to say.

Asking For It is about what happens to eighteen-year-old student Emma O’Donovan after she is raped at a party by a group of boys on the school football team. She doesn’t understand what’s happened to her, until photos of that night are shared on Facebook. I thought Asking For It was going to be straightforward, but Louise O’Neill makes Emma an unlikeable character. She’s vain, self-centred, hurtful and judgemental. She’s not someone you would want to know, let alone be friends with. Most – sadly, not all – people would be outraged to discover that a boy had attacked an ‘innocent’ young girl on her way home, especially if she was in a private school uniform; if she was covered up. But what if she was wearing a short dress? What if she was drunk? What if she was over 18? What if she made a move first? Would we say she was asking for it? This is what Louise O’Neill wants to fight against.

I knew Asking For It was going to be a difficult read, but I also knew that it was extremely important that I read it. Asking For It addresses so many aspects of our lives that are often left unquestioned. It tackles how awful and judgemental people can be towards each other, even when we as readers can see who’s in the right and feel it should be evident. How people struggle to understand consent and what exactly constitutes rape, especially as Emma herself doesn’t realise she’s been raped until the teacher suggests it. I thought it was interesting to see the portrayal of social media and traditional media, both shown as a tool for abuse and as a tool to give people a voice. Support for rape victims on social media seems wonderful and essential. But if you’re the victim, it can be intrusive having people tell your story for you, and this isn’t something that had ever occurred to me. Would Iwant everyone talking about me, even if what they were saying was supportive?

Asking For It will make you angry, and rightly so. Louise O’Neill doesn’t shy away from reality and, as with Only Ever Yours, doesn’t tie up Asking For Itwith a happily ever after. Perhaps, instead of arguing about which classics should be taught in schools, we should be arguing that Asking For It should be taught alongside them. Even after so many years of education – from school to college to university – I have never within education participated in a conversation about rape. This must change. Let’s talk.

Rating –  5/5 Stars 

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Popular books I am yet to read…

1. Carry On – Rainbow Rowell

Everyone has been going on about how amazing this book is but I’ve put off reading because I didn’t enjoy Fangirl. That being said I did enjoy Elenor and Park. I don’t think I like her writing style but perhaps I’ll give it a go sometime.

2. An Ember In The Ashes – Sabaa Tahir

I honestly don’t know why I haven’t read this yet because it sounds amazing and everyone has told me to read it! It’s just always been put to the back of my bookshelf and forgotten about as new books have come out.

3. A Court of Thorns and Roses – Sarah J. Maas

If any of you have read my reviews for the Throne of Glass series ( albeit I’ve only read the first 3), then you’ll know how much I loved the series! So I truly cannot answer or understand why I have not read this book yet… but hopefully I’ll get round to it soon enough!

Do any of you struggle with this? Do you buy books and then never get round to reading them even though they seem incredibly good!

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Goodreads – Katerina Turner

The Seduction Expert – Saya Lopez Ortega

SYNOPSIS

She’s cold, narcissistic, conceited and she has no redeeming qualities. 

She doesn’t care, she’s gifted. 

She doesn’t care, she’s the seduction expert.

Women contact her to take over their love lives. She steps in when they’re lost, she’s supposed to succeed where they failed. She handles their single status, their relationships, their breakups, and very often their partners’ affairs. Her job is a life priority, she spends most of her time at the office or between two flights in business class and the fact of having a sports car that can reach one hundred kilometers in less than six seconds often make her feel like a superheroine in service to women.

Anyway, take her card.

You’ll see, it’s much better than spending holidays in St Barts.

REVIEW

***I received this ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review***

I did not know what to expect with this book. I scoured a few reviews that mentioned ‘ A Devil Wears Prada’ so I thought The Seduction Expert would have a bit of lighthearted humour and some uptight female characters.

However whilst reading it I realised that the main character, Baroness, was just simply rude, arrogant, selfish and frankly incredibly annoying to read about. The dialogue made me cringe because it was so cliché and rude. This book just irritated me and I could not understand the purpose of it.

The next thing that irritated me was the amount of spelling and grammar mistakes within this book. For example:

“That’s why I meet our wedding planner today”.

The book just seemed unprofessional. The only good thing I can say about it is that the author seems to have truly researched into different tactics of stalking people. It was a good way to create tension throughout the plot, however it did not make up for all the flaws.

2/5 ⭐️’s

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Goodreads – Katerina Turner

Kiatana’s Journey – Natalie Erin

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Synopsis – 

Dragons fly, animals can speak and fairies rule over all in the realm they call the Lands, a place that is both beautiful and dangerous. Only one myth remains…Changers, beasts who can morph into any creature at will, and their Accompanies, the mysterious riders who command them. Chaos begins when a Changer called Ionan and his Accompany Keota crash down from the sky. They are found by two orphan wolf pups searching for their mother, and the fairy Kiatana, owner of the Verinian Forest. Kiatana refuses to trust the handsome stranger, or believe the story about his troubled past, but she soon finds she has bigger problems as a plague begins to spread throughout her land, killing all in sight. With no option Kiatana heads out on a quest with Keota, Ionan, the two wolves and her trusty Pegasus to find a cure before the forest is destroyed forever. But danger has a way of finding her, and Kiatana isn’t sure if she’ll survive the road ahead… 

Goodreads Rating – 4.11/5 Stars 

My Review – 

**Disclaimer: I received this book from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review**

Upon reading the blurb of this book I was very interested in the plot. Unfortunately, the first half of the book simply confused and bored me. The main protagonist, Kiatana,didn’t seem to have a personality because her character had so little development from the start of the book. She is supposed to take care of the animals and be a ‘Snow White persona’, however her compassion towards animals seems to be patchy. She acts like a typical teen girl, which is why some of the events that occur throughout the book surprised me a little, but more on that later. 

The Changer/Acompany relationship reminded me of ‘The Golden Compass’.  A human and an animal counterpart are bound to each other from birth. It’s actually an interesting relationship and could have been expanded and explained in more detail, which is was… but only in the last 100 pages of the book.

The plot is actually really interesting. I enjoyed the characters fighting battles, meeting new characters and saving ‘the world’. My main issue with this book… and I will admit that I am incredibly picky in this regard, but the romance drove me mad. It came out of nowhere and everything happened so fast. It was very cliché… girl finds boy annoying and then by the end of the book they are together. However the execution of this was awkward and choppy. 

The second half of the book was really good though, so it raised my overall rating of this book. The characters finally became individuals with their own personalities, emotions and thoughts. I would recommend this book to younger readers. There are underlying themes of this book such as friendship, loyalty and forgiveness that are prominent and are always refreshing to see as they send a good message to the readers. 

Overall, It’s a decent quick read book. 

My rating – 3/5 Stars 

Goodreads – Katerina Turner 

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Hopeless – Colleen Hoover

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Synopsis – 

Sometimes discovering the truth can leave you more hopeless than believing the lies…

That’s what seventeen-year-old Sky realizes after she meets Dean Holder. A guy with a reputation that rivals her own and an uncanny ability to invoke feelings in her she’s never had before. He terrifies her and captivates her all in the span of just one encounter, and something about the way he makes her feel sparks buried memories from a past that she wishes could just stay buried.

Sky struggles to keep him at a distance knowing he’s nothing but trouble, but Holder insists on learning everything about her. After finally caving to his unwavering pursuit, Sky soon finds that Holder isn’t at all who he’s been claiming to be. When the secrets he’s been keeping are finally revealed, every single facet of Sky’s life will change forever.

Goodreads Rating – 4,36/5 stars

My Review – * Contains Spoilers*

This is my third Colleen Hoover book and I must say that I am yet too be disappointed because each book seems to be better than the last. I known that many people believe that Colleen Hoover’s books are just cheesy, over dramatised romance novels and I must admit that that too was my initial reaction, however now I can honestly say that each novel has taken me by surprise. 

Yes, they are cheesy in terms of the romances and Hoover likes to go to extreme lengths to describe any sexual moments between the characters, in fact her writing reminds me a little of Jennifer L. Armentrout’s in that sense, however she builds incredible stories surrounding those characters and is able to make her audience see past the stereotypically attractive teens and their mundane lives. 

As some of you may know if you’ve read my previous reviews, I recently read ‘All the Rage’ by Courtney Summers and loved it because it was raw and real. I was not expecting this book to have a similar topic when I started it, I was simply expecting some romance between the broody mysterious guy and the ‘perfect’ girl. 

Sky and Holder were very real and perhaps some may think that they were over dramatised but unless someone has gone through something that traumatic how are we too know what is classed as being overdramatic snd what isn’t… This book was refreshing because it wasn’t simply about the teen romance but the long lost friendship, the harsh reality of ones past, the secrets, the lies and most importantly the fact that whether you are an adult or child, you are still responsible for your actions and it takes great courage to face the people you have wronged and yourself. 

I am excited to read more of Colleen Hoover’s work and see if there are any novels that of hers that I don’t like or whether she is guaranteed a spot on my list of top 10 Authors. 

My Rating – 5/5 Stars

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