The Hate U Give

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give is a raw, shocking account of a young girl who witnesses a brutal, unprovoked tragedy. Split between two opposing worlds her hands are tied and her voice unheard. Stepping up and speaking up could have devastating consequences, but keeping quiet brings its own set of problems and Starr is stuck in the middle.

I always said that if I saw it happen to somebody, I would have the loudest voice making sure the world knew what went down. Now I am that person, and I’m too afraid to speak.

Debut author, Angie Thomas, brings an unflinchingly realistic voice to YA and kicks open a door exposing one of humanity’s greatest failures. The unfair double standards, suspicion, fear and hate of fellow humans, neighbours, summed up in one word: racism.

He also leaves instructions for us – stay inside.

Riding the pages like a rollercoaster, this is a book will shock you, scare you and throw you headfirst into emotions you haven’t experienced before.

We open our eyes, Sekani flinches. I’m used to gunshots, but these are louder, faster.

I became so caught up in the story that I was taken by surprise when the pages ran out. I hope we have more from Angie Thomas in the near future.

We’re the ones who get the short end of the stick, but we’re the ones they fear the most.5 Star


Title: The Hate U GiveHate U Give
Author: Angie Thomas
Publication Date: 28 February 2017
Publisher: HarperCollins
Source: Review copy


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Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.     — Abstract from

The fact that I received a free advanced copy of this book does not influence my policy to write an honest review.

Disclaimer: The quotes appear in my advanced review copy and may not appear in the final version.

In the Hope of Memories

In the Hope of Memories starts without preamble dropping the reader straight into a story where grief and anger swirl and mix with (coincidentally?) hope.

Time won’t stop just because I beg it to, so I might as well spend it tangled up in Hope’s friends, instead of strung up alone with memories of everything I’ve ruined.

Hope (as in the noun and the verb) is the center of the story told via multiple PVO’s. The characters are eclectic, realistic, diverse and their different personalities clash as they race across town to complete  a scavenger hunt.  Of them all, Aiden is the one that I related to the most, although I can’t quite pinpoint why. His courage? His loyalty? His strength? Maybe all three…

His voice quivers like a plucked string on a broken guitar, and I get the feeling it’s the equivalent of me screaming at the top of my lungs. 

Gitty, sad and unexpectedly humorous in the best kind of way and I love that the diversity is natural and never comes across as forced.

. . .  it takes a full four seconds before he manages to get it off. Seconds we don’t have. Seconds that could kill. . .

Art forms a huge part of the story and I would have loved to see the art visually represented in the book.

I don’t really understand exactly what I am looking at, but it’s gorgeous. There’s a Chinese character inked to the front of the card, and it’s made up of a bunch of little ink feathers woven together, The entire thing is blood red, but the boldest splotches are the stars dotted over the feathers.

4 Star



Title: In the Hope of MemoriesIn the Hope of Memories
Author: Olivia Rivers
Publication Date: 21 March 2016
Publisher: Red Sparrow Press
Source: Review copy


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Hope Jackson has lived her short life to the fullest, but her four closest friends are dangling on the brink of disaster. Right before dying of a rare heart condition, Hope sets up a scavenger hunt across New York City using her graffiti art. The directions she leaves her friends are simple: Solve the clues hidden in her art, and they’ll solve the problems haunting their lives.

Two days after her heart fails, Hope’s friends are thrown together:
Aiden, her best friend, whose plans to attend college have been scattered by his OCD.
Kali, her foster sister, whose last ties to sanity are as razor-thin as her anorexic waistline.
Erik, her high school crush, whose success as an athlete is based on a lie with no end in sight.
And Sam, her online pen-pal, whose perfect life exploded into chaos in the aftermath of a school bombing.

Together, the four teens take to the streets of New York to complete Hope’s scavenger hunt and fulfill her dying wishes. But in order to unravel the clues hidden in Hope’s graffiti, her friends will need to confront their personal demons head on.  Hope is within reach.    — Abstract from

The fact that I received a free advanced copy of this book does not influence my policy to write an honest review.
Disclaimer: The quotes appear in my advanced review copy and may not appear in the final version.

Lessons in Falling

Lessons in Falling by Diana Gallagher

Lessons in Falling is about friendships, how they evolve and the dangers of losing yourself to a stronger character. It has a vital message regarding finding yourself and the negative effects of xenophobia, more relevant today than ever before.

I love books based almost entirely on characterisations and was really looking forward to this promising story. While I did enjoy it, I didn’t get the feel of the characters and as a result, the story fell flat. The friendship between Savannah and Cassie was complicated, but despite the strength of her character, I didn’t get a sense of her and this meant her character’s impact was diluted.

The storyline was predictable and without strong characterisation Lessons in Falling didn’t get quite off the ground. Rather hovering around the ‘it’s okay’ line.  The exception (yes there is one character her who really stood out) was Marcos. While I loved the slow, slow burning romance, it was his easy friendships, protectiveness and his reactions to the racial encounters that kept me turning the pages. His spark grew during the story and I would love to hear his POV.

It was no surprise, reading further about the author, that she is a gymnast herself. This came through in her explanations and references on the sport, particularly the self-doubt and fear which can affect the performance.

3 Star


Recommended age: 12+

Title: Lessons in FallingLessons in Falling
Author:  Diana Gallagher
Publication Date: 7 February 2017
Publisher: Spencer Hill Press
Source: Review copy
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When Savannah Gregory blows out her knee –and her shot at a gymnastics scholarship – she decides she’s done with the sport forever. Without gymnastics, she has more time for her best friend, Cassie. She’s content to let her fun, impulsive best friend plan a memorable senior year.

That is, until Cassie tries to kill herself.

Savannah wants to understand what happened, but Cassie refuses to talk about it and for the first time, Savannah has to find her own way. The only person she can turn to is Marcos, the boy who saved Cassie’s life. Being with him makes her see who she could be and what she really wants: gymnastics.

But Cassie doesn’t approve of Marcos or of Savannah going back to gymnastics, and the tighter she tries to hold onto Savannah, the farther it pulls them apart. Without Cassie to call the shots, Savannah discovers how capable she is on her own—and that maybe her best friend’s been holding her back all along.   — Abstract from

The fact that I received a free advanced copy of this book does not influence my policy to write an honest review.

Things I Should Have Known

Things I Should Have Known by Claire LaZebnik

Ivy’s voice is quieter; I have to strain to hear her response.

Things I Should Have Known is a book that will probably lodge itself under your skin like it did to me. A conventional read? Yes. Original? No. But it is realistic, meaningful, really witty and supportive. The characters complex and feasible.

And there’s something innocent and vulnerable about her that makes me want to protect her. Something almost Ivy-like.

Well written with a substantial message. This is a book that should be in every high school library.

4 Star

Recommended age: 13+

Title: Things I Should Have Known
Author: Claire LaZebnik
Publication Date: 28 March 2017things-i-should-have-known-claire-lazebnik
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Source: Review copy


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From the author of Epic Fail comes the story of Chloe Mitchell, a Los Angeles girl on a quest to find love for her autistic sister, Ivy. Ethan, from Ivy’s class, seems like the perfect match. It’s unfortunate that his older brother, David, is one of Chloe’s least favorite people, but Chloe can deal, especially when she realizes that David is just as devoted to Ethan as she is to Ivy.

Uncommonly honest and refreshingly funny, this is a story about sisterhood, autism, and first love. Chloe, Ivy, David, and Ethan, who form a quirky and lovable circle, will steal readers’ hearts and remind us all that it’s okay to be a different kind of normal.     — Abstract from

The fact that I received a free advanced copy of this book does not influence my policy to write an honest review.

Disclaimer: The quotes appear in my advanced review copy and may not appear in the final version.

The Elusive 2016 Releases (Which I totally intend to find)

2016 came and went in a whirlwind and despite reading 147 books there are so many titles that I just didn’t get to, but HAVE TO READ this year. I need more time to read. #bookwormproblem1

Most of these have been on my TBR for ages and I wanted needed them as soon as I saw them on Goodreads. #bookwormproblem2 These are the ones I am going to hunt down and capture.

I know there are far more than the 10 I should have. But don’t panic. Not unless you hear am muffled sound that may or may not be me buried alive by TBR. #bookwormproblem3. Then rush to save me (and bring apple pie).

2016 books

The 2016 books that I actually own (This makes it even sadder that I haven’t read them yet…)


Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal SutherlandOur Chemical Hearts

John Green meets Rainbow Rowell in this irresistible story of first love, broken hearts, and the golden seams that put them back together again. –

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The Thousandth Floor

The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee

Welcome to Manhattan, 2118. A hundred years in the future, New York is a city of innovation and dreams. But people never change: everyone here wants something…and everyone has something to lose. –

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The Lost & Found The Lost & Found by Katrina Leno

Sometimes you have to get lost before you can be found. Setting off from opposite coasts, Frannie and Louis each embark on a road trip to Austin, Texas, looking for answers—and each other. Along the way, each one begins to find important things the other has lost. –

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With MaliceWith Malice by Eileen Cook

For fans of We Were Liars and The Girl on the Train comes a chilling, addictive psychological thriller about a teenage girl who cannot remember the last six weeks of her life. –

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You Know Me WellYou Know Me Well by Nina LaCour David Levithan

When Kate and Mark meet up, little do they know how important they will become to each other — and how, in a very short time, they will know each other better than any of the people who are supposed to know them more. –

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The 2016 books that I still need to get my grabby hands on


The Girl from EverywhereThe Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig

Nix has spent her entire life aboard her father’s ship, sailing across the centuries, across the world, across myth and imagination. But for the first time, she is entering unknown waters… –

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After the Woods by Kim SavageAfter the Woods by Kim Savage

Would you risk your life to save your best friend?  Julia did. When a paroled predator attacked Liv in the woods, Julia fought back and got caught. Liv ran, leaving Julia in the woods for a terrifying 48 hours that she remembers only in flashbacks… –

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this-is-our-storyThis Is Our Story by Ashley Elston

Five went in. Four came out. No one knows what happened that morning at River Point. Five boys went hunting. Four came back. The boys won’t say who fired the shot that killed their friend; the evidence shows it could have been any one of them.

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The Sun is Also a StarThe Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. –

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sister rosaMy Sister Rosa by Justine Larbalestier

What if the most terrifying person you’d ever met was your ten-year-old sister? A spine-chilling psychological thriller from one of Australia’s finest YA authors.

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Outrun the MoonOutrun the Moon by Stacey Lee

San Francisco, 1906: Fifteen-year-old Mercy Wong is determined to break from the poverty in Chinatown, and an education at St. Clare’s School for Girls is her best hope. Although St. Clare’s is off-limits to all but the wealthiest white girls, Mercy gains admittance through a mix of cunning and a little bribery, only to discover that getting in was the easiest part. –

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This Is Where It EndsThis Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

Told from four different perspectives over the span of fifty-four harrowing minutes, terror reigns as one student’s calculated revenge turns into the ultimate game of survival. –

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Walk the EdgeWalk the Edge by Katie McGarry

One moment of recklessness will change their worlds. –

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This Adventure EndsThis Adventure Ends by Emma Mills

Sloane isn’t expecting to fall in with a group of friends when she moves from New York to Florida—especially not a group of friends so intense, so in love, so all-consuming. Yet that’s exactly what happens. –

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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by John Tiffany (Adaptation), Jack Thorne, J.K. Rowling

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children. –

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This Savage SongThis Savage Song by Victoria Schwab 

There’s no such thing as safe. Kate Harker wants to be as ruthless as her father. August Flynn wants to be human. But he isn’t. He’s a monster, one that can steal souls with a song –

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Top Ten Tuesday


Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish.

First Read of the Year

Illuminae Will Be My First Read of 2017

Prompted by The Book Journey my first read of the year has been preplanned. I will be reading Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff.

This tag is actually good for me as although I own my own paperback copy, bought a couple of months ago on a trip to Singapore, I’ve put off reading it because of the scary, enormous hype surrounding it. #bookwormproblem1

I am so worried it will not live up to expectations and I will be left disappointed. By choosing it to read for this tag I am forcing myself to pick it up and stop its threatening stare from the TBR pile. #bookwormproblem2

I love the cover and orange & red are my favourite colours. I’ve used it a few times in my #bookstagram photos on Instagram.

Watch this space. I’ll let you know what I think.

Want to participate in The Book Journey’s First Book Of The Year 2017 tag? The link is on the image below.

1st book of the year tag

More about Illuminae via

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.

This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.


Puck by Kim Askew & Amy Helmes

Puck was an unexpected treat, I  initially passed it over because the cover is uninspiring (Yes I am that shallow! Covers are the first impression they play a huge part in my decision to add to already overwhelming TBR).  It also sounded like a summer-camp type story and I have yet to find one of those I like. Then title and main character Puck (aka Robin) hinted at a Shakespearean retelling and (hangs head in shame) Shakespeare and I are not the best of friends.

I’m very happy to be wrong!

I’m very happy to be wrong! I was totally sucked into this book.

A loose retelling of Midsummer’s Night Dream, Puck is gripping from start to finish. Its secrets are released slowly keeping the anticipation on a high. I couldn’t bear to put it down, needing to keep reading #DoNotDisturb.

The characters are brilliant. Realistic and so relatable, I just want more of them (hoping there is a sequel). I would love to know what happens at the next camp.

Go and pick it up today

I’m so glad I took a chance on this read. Don’t let the cover put you off. Go and pick it up today so it can weave its spell on you.

4 Star


Recommended age: 12+

Title: Puck
Series: Twisted Lit
Kim Askew & Amy HelmesPuck
Publication Date:
15 November 2016
Source: Review copy


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Life isn’t always fair, and no one knows that better than fifteen-year-old Puck. When she’s unceremoniously booted from yet another foster home, this city kid lands at DreamRoads, a rehabilitation wilderness camp. Her fellow juvenile delinquents include a famous pop star with a diva attitude, a geeky, “fish out of water” math whiz, and a surly gang-banger with a chip on his shoulder. The program’s steely director aims to break Puck, but she knows that every adult has a breaking point, too. Determined to defy this realm of agonizing nature hikes and soul-sucking psychobabble — even if that means manipulating four lovestruck camp counselors and the director’s dim-witted second-in-command — Puck ultimately gets much more than she bargains for in this “wondrous strange” outdoor odyssey inspired by Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” — Abstract from

The fact that I received a free advanced copy of this book does not influence my policy to write an honest review.

Holding up the Universe

Holding Up The Universe … where do I start? I am probably going to rain on everyone’s parade because this is my biggest disappointment of 2016.  I must be the only person in the world who hasn’t gone crazy over this book. I just don’t get the fuss and hype.

Is it good? Well, it’s not awful, but I didn’t find anything special about it. No spark. No fizz. It’s sweet, in a cheesy, patronising happily-ever-after, rainbow filled, unicorn dancing kind of way.

Realistic? Not even a little drop of realism there. It may have fared better as a fantasy. How can I judge? I’ve been there. Overweight teen, bullied… I have been there. I am there.

The clichés and miracle type coincidences

Clichés and miracle type coincidences in spades. They just kept on coming.

Spoiler box alerts ahead

The clichés & coincidences

Two extreme, diverse cases of ill-health in one town… in one street. They are in the same school. They have a past. They help each other. They fall in love


Then to top it all there is one HUGE omission and some confusing times…

The omission

Jack’s family ignore his 18th birthday. Nothing. He pretends to be sick and no one cares. Hello. It’s his birthday! Yes, there was some dysfunction in his family, but nowhere near as extreme to be an excuse to forget his birthday.


Things that had me confused

No one knew?

I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that none of Jack’s family realised he had a disability. It would have been more believable if at least one of them, possibly his little brother who was so close to him, to be in on his secret.

The confession

Then there is the sudden desire to confess to Libby. Why here, why now? He has acted like a jerk many times before while trying to hide in plain sight.

Weight loss without commitment

Being so overweight that a crane is required to leave the house is rare. This is not just obese and it’s not easy to lose that weight. Although there are many mentions of how hard it was, Libby appears to miraculously keep the weight off and has no worries about stretch marks or lose skin. Other than a little dancing in her bedroom she apparently has no regular exercise, no gym, dance classes… This makes the weight loss message come across as patronising to all those who are trying to lose weight. Anyone who has had to lose a considerable amount of  weight would have a regular exercise routine in place. It’s hard work.


I so wanted to love this book.  I wanted to join in on all the fangirling. But alas I am sitting alone wondering what is wrong with me #bookwormproblems2 Star

Recommended age: 12+

Title: Holding Up The Universe holding-up-the-universe-1
Author: Jennifer Niven
Publication Date: 6 October 2016
Publisher: Penguin
Source: Purchased
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Everyone thinks they know Libby Strout, the girl once dubbed ‘America’s Fattest Teen’. But no one’s taken the time to look past her weight to get to see who she really is. Since her mum’s death, she’s been picking up the pieces in the privacy of her home, dealing with her heartbroken father and her own grief. Now, Libby’s ready: for high school, for new friends, for love, and for EVERY POSSIBILITY LIFE HAS TO OFFER. I know the part I want to play here at MVB High. I want to be the girl who can do anything.

Everyone thinks they know Jack Masselin too. Yes, he’s got swagger, but he’s also mastered the art of fitting in. What no one knows is that Jack has a secret: he can’t recognize faces. Even his own brothers are strangers to him. He’s the guy who can re-engineer and rebuild anything, but he can’t understand what’s going on with the inner workings of his own brain. So he tells himself to play it cool: Be charming. Be hilarious. Don’t get too close to anyone.

Until he meets Libby. When the two get tangled up in a cruel high school game which lands them in group counseling, Libby and Jack are both angry, and then surprised. Because the more time they spend together, the less alone they feel. Because sometimes when you meet someone, it changes the world – theirs and yours. — Abstract from

Through the Lens by Shannon Dermott

Through the Lens by Shannon Dermott

A wannabe-thriller or contemporary?

Through the Lens is a YA wannabe-thriller but reads as contemporary. Slow and descriptive the story focuses chiefly on angst and the love triangle that is (or isn’t?) there.

The characters

I liked the two main characters and was rooting for them from the beginning, the other characters coming and going as they brushed up against the couple. Sometimes playing a large role in the story only to fade away before coming back into focus again. I would have liked to have had the chance to get to know Jessa’s siblings better.

The thriller side and finale

I only wish the thriller, suspense side of the story had been more dominant. At times I felt like everyone had conveniently forgotten Carly, she only came up in passing. The ending was weak and disappointing and having read the preview of the second book I am not sure whether I will pick it up. The characters in the first few chapters of book 2, which starts only weeks after book 1, show two very different people – could they have changed so much so quickly?

If you’ve read further in the series let me know what you think.3 Star

Recommended age: 12+

Title: Through the Lens  
Series: Through the Lens #1Through the Lens by Shannon Dermott
Author: Shannon Dermott
Publication Date: 25 August 2015
(first published 22 November 2012)
Publisher: CreateSpace
Source: Review copy
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Being a twin isn’t all that bad, nor is it all that good. Being the fat twin makes things a little worse. Seventeen year old, Jessa Shelby has been all but ignored. Trimmed down, but not skinny like her sister, she has decided to make her mark in her final year in high school.

Things begin anew the summer before her senior year when she makes friends with Ethan Hart, a boy with a twisted past, and Allie, his near celebrity status girlfriend, while taking pictures with her new prized possession. Hanging out with them opened her eyes to a lot of new possibilities including Josh Macon, whom she’s secretly crushed on all through high school. No longer the ‘fat girl’, Josh now seems interested in her too.

Long before the day comes to graduate, Jessa finds herself gasping for air. With her vision clouded from tears born of pain as the straps from her precious camera tighten around her throat, clarity sets in. They say that just before you die your life flashes before your eyes. And on the threshold of death claiming her, she finds that partially true. Her flash begins as if to explain just how she ended up on Death’s door. With mere moments left, she has to wonder if trust had come at a very high price.   — Abstract from

The fact that I received a free advanced copy of this book does not influence my policy to write an honest review.

But then I came back

But Then I Came Back by Estelle Laure

One glance at him, and it’s nerves upon nerves eating nerves and spitting them out again, then consuming more nerves.

But Then I Came Back almost didn’t get read. The story started off disjointed, with the writing almost stumbling. I felt as though I had come into a story that had started before and I was perpetually on the back foot. And then all of a sudden the murky confusion lifted, and I got it. I got Eden. Identifying with her in a powerful flash. It was only afterward I realised, although a standalone, it features characters from This Raging Light which I haven’t read yet.

“What about you? You got a guy?” he asks.
I unzip my jacket. “Please,” I say. “Have you seen me? I’m patchy.”

Still feeling in a parallel universe where the story unfolds in skips and plops. It’s not smooth, but it is unique. Good, extraordinary… Addictive. My eyes glued, my heart stopping as the words washed over me. It’s sad. Melancholy perhaps. But also funny and ultimately hopeful. I loved it.

Flint taps against the granite in me, and before I can tamp it down, there is a spark. 4 Star

Recommended age: 13+

Title: But Then I Came Back
Author: Estelle LaureBut Then I Came Back
Publication Date: 4 April 2017
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Source: Review copy

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Eden Jones, a 17-year-old girl, feels lost after surviving a near fatal accident. Unable to connect with her family and friends, Eden forms an unlikely relationship with Joe, a boy who comes to the hospital to visit Jasmine, a friend who may soon be gone forever. Eden is the only person who can get through to Jasmine, but is she brave enough to face a world that’s bigger and more magical than she ever would have allowed— Abstract from

The fact that I received a free advanced copy of this book does not influence my policy to write an honest review.

Disclaimer: The quotes appear in my advanced review copy and may not appear in the final version.