Pretty Girls Dancing by Kylie Brant

 

Pretty Girls Dancing

Pretty Girls Dancing by Kylie Brant

 

Pretty Girls Dancing is a mystery thriller with the emphasis on mystery and told in the third-person from the viewpoint of the multiple characters.

Anguish and disbelief revived their inner war, threatening to tear her apart.

While its a decent read, the pacing is slow and I would have liked to see more of the thriller aspect.

Panic still pounded through her veins, but her thoughts were scattered.

The characters are rather undeveloped and I don’t know them well enough to have a vested in their individual stories. Actually, I feel as though the book is more a superficial overview of a story with so much potential.

Her pulse went to ice.

There are some surprises, but for the most part, the plot is quite predictable and I suspect the book may prove to be forgettable.

A hot ball of dread twisted in his belly.

A very compelling cover and abstract promised a dark, twisted thriller but didn’t quite deliver.3 Star

 

 

 

Title: Pretty Girls Dancing

Author: Kylie Brant

Publication Date: 1 January 2018

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Source: Review copy

 

 

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Years ago, in the town of Saxon Falls, young Kelsey Willard disappeared and was presumed dead. The tragedy left her family with a fractured life—a mother out to numb the pain, a father losing a battle with his own private demons, and a sister desperate for closure. But now another teenage girl has gone missing. It’s ripping open old wounds for the Willards, dragging them back into a painful past, and leaving them unprepared for where it will take them next.

Bureau of Criminal Investigation agent Mark Foster has stumbled on uncanny parallels in the lives of the two missing girls that could unlock clues to a serial killer’s identity. That means breaking down the walls of the Willards’ long-guarded secrets and getting to a truth that is darker than he bargained for. Now, to rescue one missing girl, he must first solve the riddles that disappeared with another: Kelsey Willard herself. Dead or alive, she is his last hope— Abstract from Goodreads.com

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

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

If I Die Before I Wake by Emily Koch

If I Die Before I Wake

If  Die Before I Wake by Emily Koch

 

If I Die Before I Wake was the first 2018 release I picked up and I really hope that this is not indicative of the rest of the year… Although highly anticipated, I included a couple of misgivings on the possible duplication of plot and cover of another January 2018 book in my  Adding to TBR January 2018 post. I can’t comment on this yet as I haven’t read the other book but as it turns out this story was disappointing enough all on its own.

As I drifted into awareness I heard voices, mid-conversation.

In a nutshell, the book is extremely slow and pretty boring. Narrated in the first person by the victim whose unusual unreliable point of view could have heightened the suspense but in reality, just didn’t work. I think the addition of a second narrator may have made a difference to the pacing and increased suspense.

The damp sheets started to cool and my skin itched.

Spoiler Alert!

 

Spoiler

Not only is the narrator in a coma, he slips in and out of sleep for the majority of the story and he relies only on his patchy memory and the murky overheard conversations of his hospital visitors.

[collapse]

They came in later that day, or maybe the day after, I can’t be sure.

I felt the narrator’s personality patronising and unlikable and his never-ending circular path of introspection doesn’t add anything positive to the story. I just wished he would shut up! To top it off the ending is a damp fizzle.

The last thing I remembered before I lost consciousness…

But, and here is the thing, I finished it. So there’s that. Which is why I’ve given it a second star.

2 Star

In the middle of the night, I woke up as I often did, disoriented and sweating. Where am I?

 

 

 

Title: If I Die Before I Wake

Author: Emily Koch

Publication Date: 11 January 2018

Publisher: Harvill Secker

Source: Review copy

 

 

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How Do You Solve Your Own Murder?

Everyone believes Alex is in a coma, unlikely to ever wake up. As his family debate withdrawing life support, and his friends talk about how his girlfriend Bea needs to move on, he can only listen.

But Alex soon begins to suspect that the accident that put him here wasn’t really an accident. Even worse, the perpetrator is still out there and Alex is not the only one in danger.

As he goes over a series of clues from his past, Alex must use his remaining senses to solve the mystery of who tried to kill him, and try to protect those he loves, before they decide to let him go. — Abstract from Goodreads.com

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

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

Here, There, Everywhere by Julia Durango & Tyler Terrones

Here, There, Everywhere

Here, There, Everywhere by Julia Durango & Tyler Terrones


I’d been watching the ceiling fan spin all morning, listening to the clickity-clack of its off-kilter rotation.

Here, There, Everywhere is a sweet, feel-good wholesome read. It is also a slow and predictable read. A solid and safe read which I think will enhance its appeal to a wide audience. But it is also written without risk and includes a sprinkle of moral ‘preaching’.

As we continued down the hall, I could hear the piano. My heart skipped a beat and I felt a quick rush of adrenaline.

The characters are one-dimensional, stereotypical and forgettable, which is unfortunate as the story, having no plot, is very character driven.

It had been exactly forty-seven days since Mom had uprooted me and my little brother, Grub from our lifelong home in Chicago…

The themes, (which include adjusting and adapting to a new town, absent parent, following your dreams, first love, autism spectrum disorder, dementia, dealing with death) are touched on so briefly that they hardly make an impact.

Interesting fact about Grub: he only ate foods which were white or yellow.2 Star

 

 

Title: Here, There, Everywhere 

Author: Julia Durango & Tyler Terrones Here, There, Everywhere

Publication Date: 19 December 2017

Publisher: HarperTeen

Source: Review copy

 

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Zeus would rather be anywhere than here—Buffalo Falls—the tiny town his family moved to at the end of the school year. Having left all his friends back in Chicago and with nothing to look forward to except helping out at his mother’s café and biking around town with his weird little brother, Zeus is pretty sure this is destined to be the worst summer of his life.

But then he meets Rose—funny, beautiful, smart, and an incredible musician. 

Zeus can hardly believe that someone like her exists, let alone seems interested in being with him. However, while Zeus is counting down the minutes until he can see her next, Rose is counting down the days until she finds out whether she will be able to leave their small town to pursue her dreams. As the afternoons spent going on local adventures pass into nights discussing their deepest hopes, Zeus knows that he doesn’t have long to convince Rose that what they have is more than a summer fling…if only he’s brave enough to seize the chance. — Abstract from Goodreads.com

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

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

Adding to TBR January 2018

TBR January 2018

What to read this January

Hopefully, someone has spoilt you with a gift voucher over the festive season so you can preorder one (or all) of these titles. It’s going to be a busy month in the book world and I forsee toppling TBR’s (To Be Read piles) and extended bookshelves. There is something for everyone so dive right in!

 

Pretty Girls Dancing by Kylie Brant

Expected: 1 January 2018

We’re kicking off with a thriller and this one sounds mysterious. I love how the title and cover are at odds with each other.

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TBR January 2018

 

Years ago, in the town of Saxon Falls, young Kelsey Willard disappeared and was presumed dead. The tragedy left her family with a fractured life—a mother out to numb the pain, a father losing a battle with his own private demons, and a sister desperate for closure. But now another teenage girl has gone missing. It’s ripping open old wounds for the Willards, dragging them back into a painful past, and leaving them unprepared for where it will take them next.

Bureau of Criminal Investigation agent Mark Foster has stumbled on uncanny parallels in the lives of the two missing girls that could unlock clues to a serial killer’s identity. That means breaking down the walls of the Willards’ long-guarded secrets and getting to a truth that is darker than he bargained for. Now, to rescue one missing girl, he must first solve the riddles that disappeared with another: Kelsey Willard herself. Dead or alive, she is his last hope.  – Abstract from Goodreads

 

 

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

Expected: 2 January 2018

With excellent early reviews and ratings it’s lucky we don’t have to wait too long for this thriller.

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TBR January 2018

 

What did she see?
It’s been ten long months since Anna Fox last left her home. Ten months during which she has haunted the rooms of her old New York house like a ghost, lost in her memories, too terrified to step outside.

Anna’s lifeline to the real world is her window, where she sits day after day, watching her neighbours. When the Russells move in, Anna is instantly drawn to them. A picture-perfect family of three, they are an echo of the life that was once hers.

But one evening, a frenzied scream rips across the silence, and Anna witnesses something no one was supposed to see. Now she must do everything she can to uncover the truth about what really happened. But even if she does, will anyone believe her? And can she even trust herself? – Abstract from Goodreads

 

 

You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone by Rachel Lynn Solomon

Expected: 2 January 2018

A sister relationship, a Russian Roulette chance of a dreaded disease and a stunning cover – this book has ‘pick me’ all over it.

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TBR January 2018

 

Eighteen-year-old twins Adina and Tovah have little in common besides their ambitious nature. Viola prodigy Adina yearns to become a soloist—and to convince her music teacher he wants her the way she wants him. Overachiever Tovah awaits her acceptance to Johns Hopkins, the first step on her path toward med school and a career as a surgeon. 

But one thing could wreck their carefully planned futures: a genetic test for Huntington’s, a rare degenerative disease that slowly steals control of the body and mind. It’s turned their Israeli mother into a near stranger and fractured the sisters’ own bond in ways they’ll never admit. While Tovah finds comfort in their Jewish religion, Adina rebels against its rules.

When the results come in, one twin tests negative for Huntington’s. The other tests positive.

These opposite outcomes push them farther apart as they wrestle with guilt, betrayal, and the unexpected thrill of first love. How can they repair their relationship, and is it even worth saving? – Abstract from Goodreads

 

The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air #1) by Holly Black 

Expected: 2 January 2018

Holly Black is back! (See my review of her creepy children’s book Doll Bones) This time with an edgy YA Fae fantasy which I am so excited to read. I love Faerie fantasy stories and it’s been a long time since I read a good one. If you’d like rec’s check out my reviews of my favourites in this genre. The Faerie Guardian and Wicked Lovely, both the first book of a series that will keep you spell-bound in a beautiful, dark and dangerous story world. – my favourite kind of escape!

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TBR January 2018

 

Of course, I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.

And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.

Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.

In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself. – Abstract from Goodreads

 

 

Just Between Us by Rebecca Drake

Expected: 9 January 2018

Nosy neighbours and dangerous secrets – an explosive combination!

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TBR January 2018

 

Four suburban mothers and friends conspire to cover up a deadly crime in this heart-stopping novel of suspense in the tradition of Lisa Scottoline and Lisa Unger.

Alison, Julie, Sarah, Heather. Four friends living the suburban ideal. Their jobs are steady, their kids are healthy. They’re as beautiful as their houses. But each of them has a dirty little secret, and hidden behind the veneer of their perfect lives is a crime and a mystery that will consume them all. 

Everything starts to unravel when Alison spots a nasty bruise on Heather’s wrist. She shares her suspicions with Julie and Sarah, compelling all three to investigate what looks like an increasingly violent marriage. As mysterious injuries and erratic behavior mount, Heather can no longer deny the abuse, but she refuses to leave her husband. Desperate to save her, Alison and the others dread the phone call telling them that she’s been killed. But when that call finally comes, it’s not Heather who’s dead. In a moment they’ll come to regret, the women must decide what lengths they’ll go to in order to help a friend.

Just Between Us is a thrilling glimpse into the underbelly of suburbia, where not all neighbors can be trusted, and even the closest friends keep dangerous secrets. You never really know what goes on in another person’s mind, or in their marriage. – Abstract from Goodreads

 

 

The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

Expected: 9 January 2018

As soon as I heard this book is about prophecies foretold by a travelling psychic I thought of Cersei Lannister and I knew I had to read it – even though it also reminds me of Adam Silvera’s They Both Die in the End which I didn’t like.

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TBR January 2018If you were told the date of your death, how would it shape your present?

It’s 1969 in New York City’s Lower East Side, and word has spread of the arrival of a mystical woman, a travelling psychic who claims to be able to tell anyone the day they will die. The Gold children—four adolescents on the cusp of self-awareness—sneak out to hear their fortunes.

Their prophecies inform their next five decades. Golden-boy Simon escapes to the West Coast, searching for love in ’80s San Francisco; dreamy Klara becomes a Las Vegas magician, obsessed with blurring reality and fantasy; eldest son Daniel seeks security as an army doctor post-9/11, hoping to control fate; and bookish Varya throws herself into longevity research, where she tests the boundary between science and immortality. – Abstract from Goodreads

 

 

Asleep From Day by Margarita Montimore

Expected: 10 January 2018

I love the sound of this story and the title is so intriguing.

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TBR January 2018

 

Astrid can’t remember the best day of her life: yesterday.

A traumatic car accident erases Astrid’s memories of September 9th, the day she spent with an oddly charming stranger named Theo. Ever since, she’s haunted by surreal dreams and an urgent sense that she’s forgotten something important. One night, she gets a mysterious call from Oliver, who knows more about her than he should and claims he can help her remember. She accepts his help, even as she questions his motives and fights a strange attraction to him.

In order to find Theo and piece together that lost day in September, Astrid must navigate a maze of eccentric Boston nightlife, from the seedy corners of Chinatown to a drug-fueled Alice-in-Wonderland-themed party to a club where everyone dresses like the dead. In between headaches and nightmares, she struggles to differentiate between memory, fantasy, and reality, and starts to wonder if Theo really exists. Eventually, she’ll need to choose between continuing her search for him or following her growing feelings for Oliver. Astrid might go to extreme lengths to find what she’s lost . . . or might lose even more in her pursuit to remember (like her sanity).  – Abstract from Goodreads

 

 

If I Die Before I Wake by Emily Koch

Expected: 11 January 2018

Another gripping thriller. Told via the POV of the victim – who happens to be in a coma…

But… See my thoughts under ‘If You Knew Her’ below. 

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TBR January 2018

 

How Do You Solve Your Own Murder?

Everyone believes Alex is in a coma, unlikely to ever wake up. As his family debate withdrawing life support, and his friends talk about how his girlfriend Bea needs to move on, he can only listen.

But Alex soon begins to suspect that the accident that put him here wasn’t really an accident. Even worse, the perpetrator is still out there and Alex is not the only one in danger.

As he goes over a series of clues from his past, Alex must use his remaining senses to solve the mystery of who tried to kill him, and try to protect those he loves, before they decide to let him go. – Abstract from Goodreads

 

 

White Chrysanthemum by Mary Lynn Bracht

Expected: 18 January 2018

In Korea, under Japanese occupation in 1943, two sisters are separated by war. This is their story and I just know it is going to be heartbreaking.

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TBR January 2018‘Look for your sister after each dive. Never forget. If you see her, you are safe.’

Hana and her little sister Emi are part of an island community of haenyo, women who make their living from diving deep into the sea off the southernmost tip of Korea.

One day Hana sees a Japanese soldier heading for where Emi is guarding the day’s catch on the beach. Her mother has told her again and again never to be caught alone with one. Terrified for her sister, Hana swims as hard as she can for the shore.

So begins the story of two sisters suddenly and violently separated by war. Switch-backing between Hana in 1943 and Emi as an old woman today, White Chrysanthemum takes us into a dark and devastating corner of history. But pulling us back into the light are two women whose love for one another is strong enough to triumph over the evils of war.  –  Abstract from Goodreads

 

 

 

If You Knew Her by Emily Elgar

Expected: 23 January 2018

A psychological thriller from a debut author. It sounds very good and has been highly rated in early reviews on Goodreads.

But.. another thriller published in the same month featuring a victim in a coma? (See ‘If I Die Before I Wake’ above) Plus there is some type of copy-cat thing going on with the covers – books have very similar blue covers, large yellow capitalised font for the title and white for the author. Is it strange it this bothers me?

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TBR January 2018

 

A woman in a coma.

The man who could save her life—if only he could speak.

When young, beautiful Cassie Jensen arrives unconscious to the intensive care ward at St. Catherine’s hospital after being struck in a hit-and-run while out walking her dog, chief nurse Alice Marlowe thinks she looks familiar. She starts digging deeper into Cassie’s relationships, only to discover something about her patient that she’d been keeping secret from everyone, including her devoted husband and family. Soon Alice finds herself obsessed with her patient’s past and future, even willing to put her own career on the line in her single-minded search for answers. 

Frank, a patient on the same ward who has locked-in syndrome, can hear and see everything around him but cannot speak. Soon he comes to understand that Cassie’s life is still in danger. While the police continue to look for clues, only Frank holds the truth, but he’s unable to communicate it. 

As the novel flashes between points of view, the reader will get closer and closer to the truth of who Cassie Jensen was, and why she was out on the road that fateful night . . . – Abstract from Goodreads

 

Need to Know by Karen Cleveland 

Expected: 23 January 2018

It’s been a while since I read a CIA thriller and I am missing Homeland, a favourite TV series, so I am really looking forward to Need to Know.

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TBR January 2018

 

In pursuit of a Russian sleeper cell on American soil, a CIA analyst uncovers a dangerous secret that will test her loyalty to the agency—and to her family.

What do you do when everything you trust might be a lie?

Vivian Miller is a dedicated CIA counterintelligence analyst assigned to uncover the leaders of Russian sleeper cells in the United States. On track for a much-needed promotion, she’s developed a system for identifying Russian agents, seemingly normal people living in plain sight.

After accessing the computer of a potential Russian operative, Vivian stumbles on a secret dossier of deep-cover agents within America’s borders. A few clicks later, everything that matters to her—her job, her husband, even her four children—are threatened.

Vivian has vowed to defend her country against all enemies, foreign and domestic. But now she’s facing impossible choices. Torn between loyalty and betrayal, allegiance and treason, love and suspicion, who can she trust? – Abstract from Goodreads

 

Reign of the Fallen (Reign of the Fallen #1) by Sarah Glenn Marsh

Expected: 23 January 2018

This one is on the outer reaches of my prefered genres so it’s an unusual pick for me, but it does sound dark and it’s been highly recommended by fellow book bloggers…

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TBR January 2018

 

Odessa is one of Karthia’s master necromancers, catering to the kingdom’s ruling Dead. Whenever a noble dies, it’s Odessa’s job to raise them by retrieving their souls from a dreamy and dangerous shadow world called the Deadlands. But there is a cost to being raised–the Dead must remain shrouded, or risk transforming into zombie-like monsters known as Shades. If even a hint of flesh is exposed, the grotesque transformation will begin.

A dramatic uptick in Shade attacks raises suspicions and fears among Odessa’s necromancer community. Soon a crushing loss of one of their own reveals a disturbing conspiracy: someone is intentionally creating Shades by tearing shrouds from the Dead–and training them to attack. Odessa is faced with a terrifying question: What if her necromancer’s magic is the weapon that brings Karthia to its knees? – Abstract from Goodreads

 

 

The Dangerous Art of Blending In by Angelo Surmelis

Expected: 30 January 2018

I love the sound of this YA book with a dysfunctional family and a character who finds love in his best friend.

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TBR January 2018

 

Seventeen-year-old Evan Panos doesn’t know where he fits in. His strict Greek mother refuses to see him as anything but a disappointment. His quiet, workaholic father is a staunch believer in avoiding any kind of conflict. And his best friend Henry has somehow become distractingly attractive over the summer.

Tired, isolated, scared—Evan’s only escape is drawing in an abandoned church that feels as lonely as he is. And, yes, he kissed one guy over the summer. But it’s his best friend Henry who’s now proving to be irresistible. It’s Henry who suddenly seems interested in being more than friends. And it’s Henry who makes him believe that he’s more than his mother’s harsh words and terrifying abuse. But as things with Henry heat up, and his mother’s abuse escalates, Evan has to decide how to find his voice in a world where he has survived so long by avoiding attention at all costs. – Abstract from Goodreads

 

 

Say You’ll Remember Me by Katie McGarry

Expected: 30 January 2018

One of my favourite YA contemporary authors, Katie McGarry is famous for her edgy, gritty realistic characters (like Noah and Echo in Pushing the Limits) and her richly layered stories.

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TBR January 2018

 

When Drix was convicted of a crime–one he didn’t commit–he thought his life was over. But the opportunity came with the new Second Chance Program, the governor’s newest pet project to get delinquents off the streets, rehabilitated and back into society. Drix knows this is his chance to get his life back on track, even if it means being paraded in front of reporters for a while.

Elle knows she lives a life of privilege. As the governor’s daughter, she can open doors with her name alone. But the expectations and pressure to be someone she isn’t may be too much to handle. She wants to follow her own path, whatever that means.

When Drix and Elle meet, their connection is immediate, but so are their problems. Drix is not the type of boy Elle’s parents have in mind for her, and Elle is not the kind of girl who can understand Drix’s messy life.

But sometimes love can breach all barriers.

Fighting against a society that can’t imagine them together, Drix and Elle must push themselves–Drix to confront the truth of the robbery, and Elle to assert her independence–and each other to finally get what they deserve. – Abstract from Goodreads

A Map for Wrecked Girls by Jessica Taylor

A Map for Wrecked Girls

A Map for Wrecked Girls by Jessica Taylor

For the first time, I was afraid we’d die on this shore. 

A Map for Wrecked Girls navigates the tempestuous relationship between two sisters, Henri and Emma. Although there is a plot background this is more of a character driven story. The setting and disastrous events that occur take a back seat.

I won’t let you fall.

I hardly noticed that they weren’t physically in a safe place because the focus is all on the head games and emotions of the sisters and the unfortunate boy who happened to be trapped with them. I wonder what his POV would sound like and how different the story would be if we knew what he was really thinking! Was he really necessary to the story? Many bloggers have mentioned they think he was not, but I think an additional character was necessary. My reason is spoilery so come back and visit once you’ve read the book.

Spoiler Alert!

Why Alex is necessary for the story

Without Alex I don’t think Emma would have realised how manipulating and toxic her relationship with Henri was. An additional character was needed to provide perspective.

[collapse]

I didn’t know how to stay with her, and I didn’t know how to leave her behind.

Alternating between the past and the present, told only from the perspective of the younger sibling, the sister’s pretty toxic relationship is revealed. The flashbacks allow us to see how this relationship, exacerbated by family events, exploded out of all proportion.

I’d trusted Henri more than I’d trusted myself. Wherever she told me to go, I’d follow.

The growth of the sisters as characters and their relationship is what kept the story going. In particular, Emma (who I was rooting for) had the most to reflect on. I struggled with Henri as a character, feeling as though I couldn’t get a sense of her and what I did get I didn’t like.

We were no longer flesh and blood.

I don’t usually like survivor / deserted island storylines and was skeptical going in. But in this case, it is nothing more than a background which I find rather disturbing. The physical and emotional strain they endure as a result of the shipwreck came across as no worse than a week without pudding and the loss of an old, disliked T-shirt.

We sat at the edge of the ocean – my sister, Henri and I – inches apart but not touching at all.3 Star

 

 


Title:
A Map for Wrecked GirlsA Map for Wrecked Girls

Author: Jessica Taylor

Publication Date: 15 August 2017

Publisher: Dial Books

Source: Purchased

 

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A Map for Wrecked Girls

Instagram @crushingcinders

Emma had always orbited Henri, her fierce, magnetic queen bee of an older sister, and the two had always been best friends. Until something happened that wrecked them.

Then the unthinkable occurs—a watery nightmare off the dazzling coast. The girls wash up on shore, stranded. Their only companion is Alex, a troubled boy agonizing over his own secrets. Trapped in this gorgeous hell, Emma and Alex fall together as Emma and Henri fall catastrophically apart.

To find their way home, the sisters must find their way back to each other. But there’s no map for this—or anything. Can they survive the unearthing of the past and the upheaval of the present?  — Abstract from Goodreads.com

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