The Existence Of Amy

Author: Lana Grace Riva
Released Date: August 2nd 2019
Pages: 247
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Format: Paperback Book

Buy the book now! —————

•talk of mental health, OCD, Depression•

Synopsis

Amy has a normal life. That is if you were to go by a definition of ‘no immediate obvious indicators of peculiarity’, and you didn’t know her very well. She has good friends, a good job, a nice enough home. This normality, however, is precariously plastered on top of a different life. A life that is Amy’s real life. The only one her brain will let her lead.

Why I Love This Book

“There is no break from my brain”

I was kindly sent ‘The Existence Of Amy’ by Lana Grace Riva in exchange for an honest review. First of all, I can’t put into words how much I love this book. It’s such an easy to follow plot, but it has so much meaning behind it, making you understand the challenges of what some people have to go through on a daily basis.

This book has proudly joined the one-sitter club, taking just over half a day to finish it. It was really refreshing to read a book where the reader doesn’t rely on plot twists to stay engaged. Allowing the reader to genuinely get to know and connect with Amy, the protagonist.

The Story

“Being in my current existence hurts.”

Amy’s journey throughout the book is not easy and sounds immensely exhausting to live. Although we aren’t directly told if Amy is diagnosed with any mental health issues in the beginning, it is clear that she is struggling with something heavier than everyday problems. We see her attempt to battle mundane activities such as leaving the house, catching the bus and socializing with friends. Buy this way of living her brain has created is slowly destroying her life.

I have never suffered from OCD or depression myself, but I know people that do and I believe this is an accurate representation of some of the symptoms that can occur. Even though the book is blunt and straight to the point, it provides a lot of useful information that could help anyone who struggles with mental health themselves.

The Characters

“Sometimes I feel like running. Running fast and never stopping”

I really enjoyed the connection between Amy and all her work colleagues. Each one of them brought a different personality and level of friendship to the surface. Revealing more information about what Amy has to deal with on a day to day basis. She is truly an inspiring character to root for. We see her flourish as the story goes on, pushing herself to do things that she never thought she would be able to do again. Sending an extremely positive message to anyone reading.

As well as Amy struggling with mental health, we start to see how it affects the relationships around her. Her friends/work colleagues play a huge role in her life. Sometimes even being the last thing in her life to keep her going. I love all of the characters in this book because you can see them all individual growing and changing to the people they want to become, not just Amy.

Overall Thoughts

“Look at the joy on their faces. Will I ever experience that again?”

Overall, ‘The Existence Of Amy’ is definitely near the top of my favourite books of 2020 so far. The author writes about mental health in an abrupt way to help readers understand the conflict they have with themselves all the time. I can’t recommend this book enough. If you’re looking for a nice easy read, with a powerful message behind the story, this is the book for you.

Rating: 4.5/5

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

If your an author who needs an honest review for your book, fill out my contact form here

Buy the book now! —————

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The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

Original image to show cover design for The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.
Book Cover Design for ‘The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes’

Author: Suzanne Collins
Released Date: May 19th 2020
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Pages: 540
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Format: Hardback Book

Buy the book now! —————

Synopsis

It is the morning of the reaping that will kick off the 10th annual Hunger Games. In the Capitol, 18-year-old Coriolanus Snow is preparing for his one shot at glory as a mentor in the Games. The once-mighty house of Snow has fallen on hard times, its fate hanging on the slender chance that Coriolanus will be able to out charm, outwit, and outmanoeuvre his fellow students to mentor the winning tribute.

The odds are against him. He’s been given the humiliating assignment of mentoring the female tribute from District 12, the lowest of the low. Their fates are now completely intertwined – every choice Coriolanus makes could lead to favour or failure, triumph or ruin. Inside the arena, it will be a fight to the death. Outside the arena, Coriolanus starts to feel for his doomed tribute… and must weigh his need to follow the rules against his desire to survive no matter what it takes.

Original image to show The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes on my bookcase.
Why I Like This Book

“Well, as they said, it’s not over until the mockingjay sings.”

I was filled with nervous excitement to start reading The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. I love The Hunger Games trilogy, but throughout the reader is persuaded to hate President Snow, which I do. So, why would I want to read a prequel all about him? The curiosity to find out what happened during the war and uprisings in Panem, and how it affected Snow made me actually pick this book up and start reading it. I wanted to know what happened for him to carry the games on for 75 years and predominately turn evil. The nostalgia of The Hunger Games is probably what I enjoy most, rather than reading about Snow’s life. So, if you were a fan of The Hunger Games, I would recommend reading this as the whole story revolving around the 10th Hunger Games is very interesting and captivating.

The Story

“The strain of being a full-fledged adult every day had grown tiresome.”

The build-up to the 10th anniversary of the Hunger Games is quite fast-paced. Almost immediately in Collins’ fourth instalment, we are introduced to new information, tributes and fresh ideas to make the games more fun for the viewers. In the book, a new perspective on the games is revealed. We get to sit back and join the voyeurs in the Capital, as opposed to seeing the hunger games we already know.

We follow Snow on his journey through District 12. What seems to be a story about romance and love quickly takes a turn. Murder, destruction and the inner battles Snow struggles with, take up a huge part of the book towards the end. We see the conflict of him wanting to be a good person and wanting to change the failure that his life has become.

The Characters

“Nothing you can take from me was ever worth keeping.”

Who likes Snow? I’ll admit he is a very good villain throughout The Hunger Games trilogy and I’m sure a lot of people are curious about him and how he ended up being so corrupt. Collins’ intention wasn’t to make you feel sorry for Snow, and if it was, I really didn’t. His actions and intentions frustrated me and I almost didn’t want to read on, because I knew he would only make bad decisions. However, I’m glad his character is so consistent and carried on making these bad decisions. Collins wasn’t trying to make him a new person, or coax us into liking him. I really started appreciating his character and understood what made him be the man that he was in The Hunger Games trilogy.

Lucy Gray Baird has to be my favourite character, maybe a lot of you will agree once you’ve read it? She has numerous similarities to Katniss Everdeen and not just the fact that she is the tribute from District 12, extremely clever, and family motivated. The romance that commences during the book is cute but necessary to show us Snow’s true character and abilities.

I got a little spark of joy whenever I read a name I recognised from the original books. Again, it was the nostalgia of seeing some of these characters or their relatives again that made me love reading this book.

The Design

“We’ll get new dreams out there…”

I always take the paper cover off of my hardback books. It looks neater and they always end up falling off for me anyway. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is one of the nicest designs I have seen. The cover is so simple and bright, it is the first book your eyes get drawn to, especially on my bookcase. As well as the cover, the artwork continues throughout the book with the beautiful illustrations of snakes.

Original photo to show page art work of The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.
Page Artwork
Overall Thoughts

“Snow lands on top”

There are a lot of different views on The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes and I didn’t know how I to feel while reading it or after I finished. Even writing this now I am still debating which rating to give. I have always said I’d love to read/watch more Hunger Games from previous years, and I was so excited to think this is what Collins’ was giving us. Although this was not the case.

Overall, I loved reading this book, although it did start to drag a bit towards the end. This book is not written in the same story structure as The Hunger Games. I wouldn’t recommend if that is what you’re looking for. However, if you are interested and curious to see Snow back in his prime, how the uprising in Panem truly affected The Capitol and the Districts and how the games were early on, I would highly recommend you read this book.

Rating: 4/5

Rating: 4 out of 5.
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Good Girl, Bad Blood

Book Cover Design for ‘Good Girl, Bad Blood’

Author: Holly Jackson
Released Date: April 30th 2020
Publisher: Electric Monkey
Pages: 432
Genre: Young Adult Crime Fiction
Format: Paperback Book

Buy the book now! —————

Synopsis

Pip Fitz-Amobi is not a detective any more.

With the help of Ravi Singh, she released a true-crime podcast about the murder case they solved together last year. The podcast has gone viral, yet Pip insists her investigating days are behind her.

But she will have to break that promise when someone she knows goes missing. Jamie Reynolds has disappeared but the police won’t do anything about it. And if they won’t look for Jamie then Pip will, uncovering more of her town’s dark secrets along the way… and this time EVERYONE is listening. But will she find him before it’s too late?

If you haven’t ready my review on ‘A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder’ Click here!

I bought Good Girl, Bad Blood (GGBB) a couple of weeks ago and didn’t pick it up until yesterday. I desperately wanted to read it, the thought of finishing it too quickly was stopping me from picking it up. But that is exactly what I did. I took just over a day because I was too enticed to put it down. If you haven’t read my review on Holly Jackson’s first book in the series ‘A Good Girls Guide To Murder’ (AGGGTM), go ahead and read that first!

Why I Love This Book!

“I can’t tell you what decision to make”

At the beginning of the book, we get a very simple recap from Pip of the events that transpired in the last book. It seems like more of a conclusion to the first book than a starting point for the second. AGGGTM is instantly fresh in your mind again and as your reading, you’re not subconsciously trying to remember what has happened, keeping you fully absorbed to the story at hand.

Time to grab the tissues because you are going to cry. Well, at least I did. Towards the beginning of the book unveils a very emotional memorial of Sal Singh and Andie Bell. The overlap of crimes is perfectly shown here. The ending of one is the start of another. Letting the reader know that trouble always finds Pip and this book isn’t any different.

One thing I especially love in this book is the Podcast. The idea of Pip turning her school project into a crime podcast, for everyone to hear the twisted tale of Andie Bell, is an exciting and simple way to make us feel and react as we would to any real crime case. It’s very refreshing to read the interview-style text, alongside crime scene photographs throughout the book. It moves away from the fact that a 17-year-old girl is solving the case, and therefore a bond is created with the reader for us to read on allowing her to solve the case, that she desperately desires to do.

The Crime

”I said I would never do this again, never play the detective, never again lose myself to the world of small-town secrets. It wasn’t me, not any more. I would have stuck to it too; I know I would’ve. But something’s happened and now I have to break that promise. Someone has gone missing. Someone I know.”

It’s with no surprise that in this book there are more complications in Pip’s life, preventing her from finding her best friend’s brother. Jamie Reynolds. As remarkable as Pip is at investigation, the want and need in her voice/actions to stay away from the obsession that consumes her in AGGGTM.

Of course, she couldn’t stay away. None of her school work or numerous sponsorships being offered to her is academically challenging enough to keep her satisfied. There were a few parts in the story that I foresaw, but I was instantly left in bewilderment as Jackson proved me wrong on my many theories. The way she highlights certain characters and evidence to make us question which ones are relevant to the story are done exceptionally well.

As well as the missing case of Jamie Reynolds, we also get to see the trial of Max Hastings play out. Letting us know the events from the prequel are far from over.

The Characters

“Words spliced, growing across the gaps like vines as her eyes unfocused until her handwriting was just one writhing blur. Pip was looking at the page, but she wasn’t really there. It was like that now; giant holes in her attention that she slipped right into.

Pip is a very strong-willed female character. She is the definition of a great female protagonist. And as much as everyone loves her in the first book, we see her character change due to the fame of her detective work. We start to see her faults, and how she begins to embrace these imperfections.

I would have liked to see more of Ravi. I feel he only begins to open up towards the end of AGGGTM, and now he has been pushed back as a side character. Stopping us from finding out more about him and his relationship with Pip. However, what we do see of Ravi I absolutely adore. He is the main source to deliver the information of the Max Hastings trial, to the podcast and therefore to the reader. Hopefully, we will see a lot more of Ravi in the rest of the series and see how his relationship with Pip evolves.

Connor Reynolds, one of Pip’s best friends, is featured a lot more in GGBB. To some extent, he becomes Pip’s sidekick by helping to solve the case. But quickly loses himself in the emotions of his brother being missing. Connor and his Mum, Johanna, play a big role when it comes to finding Jamie. They both manage to find the will-power to carry on looking for their missing family member, despite all the obstacles in their way.

Overall Thoughts

Overall, I highly recommend this book if you are a fan of the first one. You can clearly see the thought and planning that Jackson goes through when it comes to writing both books in the series. I have to applaud her for throwing the reader off with many suspicious characters and events that happen from start to finish. It’s not an ending you see coming, making it a fantastic read for anyone who loves a bit of mystery to their books.

Rating 5/5

Rating: 5 out of 5.
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One Of Us Is Lying

Book cover for ‘One of us is Lying’

Author: Karen M. McManus
Released Date: May 30th, 2017
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Pages: 361
Genre: Young Adult Crime Fiction
Format: Paperback Book

Buy the book now! —————>

*talk about mental health*

Synopsis

On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.
Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.
Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.
Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.
Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.
Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.


Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention, Simon’s dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?
Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.

Why I Love This Book!

“Things will get worse before they get better.”

As a new fan of mystery, crime and thrillers, I haven’t read many books of these genres. However, I was enthralled by each of the books including this one. When I first started reading I subconsciously compared this book to ‘A Good Girls Guide To Murder’ By Holly Jackson but soon realised they are 2 very different books but both amazing in their own way. I found myself gripped by the story from the very beginning, itching to solve the mystery before anything big is revealed. There were times when this book went beyond other YA/Teen thriller books in terms of character development and the feeling of being able to relate to a character. As I started reading I knew it would live up to its expectations of being a traditional take on ‘The Breakfast Club’

All the characters have their good and bad qualities, nevertheless, I still found myself rooting for all of them, hoping none of them did it. McManus’ ability to fool the reader and turn it into a ‘he did it, she did it’ scenario, keeps the reader guessing and hooked till the end when the killer is finally revealed.

Despite how much I did enjoy the book, there were a few points in the book that disappointed me a bit which I will get to later on. But now, let’s carry on!

The Crime

“It concerns me you’re avoiding a promise not to murder me.”

McManus main goal for this book is to keep the reader, guessing and make them suspicious of every character and event that takes place. Every chapter reveals another character’s point of view, disclosing information either about themselves or the crime that has taken place. And with the talk of secrets between all the characters, it makes you wonder if they did have something to do with it.

Surely one of them is lying? Well everyone is innocent until proven guilty. By creating their own secret detective group with all detention members, they push through all the obstacles in their way to find out who really killed Simon Kelleher?

The Characters

“Some people are too toxic to live. They just are.”

Picking up the book for the first time, I did think it might be another stereotypical teen drama book based on the well… stereotypical descriptions of the characters on the cover! I was pleasantly surprised to find it is definitely way more than that with these characters. I loved some and liked others less. But with so many characters telling their own story, you don’t have to like them all.

Now, we all love the guy gets the girl storyline, don’t we? Including me. However a book like this already tackling mental health issues, toxic relationships and let’s not forget the murder, it felt a bit forced too early on in the story before fully understanding the characters first.

Time to meet Addy! If I’m being honest, I didn’t like Addy at first. Like I said earlier, I thought she would be this cliché popular girl that every school has. But as the story went on, I started to warm up to her personality and saw her change through the situation, making a fantastic strong female lead. After overcoming toxic relationships through her family and boyfriend, she finds a way to bounce back stronger and learn from the issues she has had to defeat to get to where she is.

*Other Views*

It’s always hard to create content involving mental illness. Finding the best way to go around it without offending anyone, but also getting the point across that you want the reader or viewer to take away. In this book, I feel like Simon’s character who is diagnosed with depression could have been written with a bit more sensitivity. The way McManus amplifies Simon’s evil motives and wicked way of thinking would suggest there is more to Simon’s depression than what we are shown. The lack of further background detail raises questions to why he would jump to these extreme measures.

Perhaps the author did this deliberately, to show the reader that any situation can cause a catastrophic reaction.

Overall Thoughts

“We could be surrounded by walking dead in the zombie apocalypse and she’d look for the bright side.”

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and will be reading the rest of McManus’ novels. There is always something new happening in every chapter, keeping the reader engaged enough to read it in one sitting (guilty!). As well as the main characters having captivating storylines, I found to enjoy the side characters storylines just as much, keeping me wondering when they were going to show up again and questioning if they had any major links to the story. I highly recommend you read this if you enjoy a bit of crime-solving, strong character development and an easy read.

These are just my opinions and would love to hear your view on the story!

Rating 3.5/5

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
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A Good Girls Guide To Murder

Book Cover for ‘A Good Girls Guide to Murder’

Author: Holly Jackson,
Released Date: May 2nd, 2019,
Publisher: Electric Monkey,
Pages: 433,
Genre: Younge Adult Crime Fiction,
Format: Paperback book,

Buy the book now ——-

Synopsis
The case is closed. Five years ago, schoolgirl Andie Bell was murdered by Sal Singh. The police know he did it. Everyone in town knows he did it.

But having grown up in the same small town that was consumed by the murder, Pippa Fitz-Amobi isn’t so sure. When she chooses the case as the topic for her final year project, she starts to uncover secrets that someone in town desperately wants to stay hidden. And if the real killer is still out there, how far will they go to keep Pip from the truth?

Why I LOVED This Book!

“But sometimes remembering isn’t for yourself, sometimes you do it just to make someone else smile. Those lies were allowed.”

THIS BOOK IS AMAZING!! As soon as I picked it up, I wouldn’t put it down till I read all of it. Everyone, EVERYONE, has to go and buy this book right now and then come back and tell me how much you loved it!!

Every time I put this book down to either go to work, eat or any other human activity, my mind was so impatient and there was an itch to instantly pick it back up again. I can’t get over the exciting, page-turning events taking place throughout this book and now without a doubt, I will be buying plenty more young adult crime thrillers.

Our protagonist, Pippa Fitz-Amobi, is possibly the main reason that makes you keep reading. Her need for prying, searching, digging, her talent, intelligence, and social skills keep her 10 steps ahead of the reader, but it makes you wonder what is a 17-year-old going to find that the police didn’t find 5 years ago in Andie Bells case??

The Crime

“If a villain can be made, then he can be unmade.”

Sal Singh murdered Andie Bell.

Pip certainly doesn’t think so. She clearly went above and beyond to make the Police look like a fool. The persuasive and intelligent way she speaks to the people she needs to question gets them to open up, revealing secrets that the detectives couldn’t. She doesn’t know how far to go, but its not just her who desperately speaks the truth. Sal’s younger brother, Ravi does as well. Working together Ravi and Pippa begin to dig deeper, but she soon realizes she could be in danger.

The Cover

“The people you love weren’t algebra: to be calculated, subtracted, or held at arm’s length across a decimal point.”

The last thing I want to mention is the cover of the book. The beautiful illustration, so simple fits the storyline so well. The design even carried on into the inner pages, revealing characters of the book before you even start reading.

Overall Thoughts

“As if they think I don’t already know. I came out of the womb knowing how to do academic references.”

As well as reading this book and getting obsessed with ‘How To Get Away With Murder’ on Netflix, it makes me want to read and watch more things like this. I’ve been wanting to purchase these unsolved case files that look so cool to try and solve yourself. I also now want to go to a Court Hearing. If anyone has ever been let me know!!

Overall, this book is a must for any young adult book lovers. The twists and turns of the story keep it interesting. I wish I could forget what happens just so I can read it all over again.

Rating: 5/5

Rating: 5 out of 5.
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