Review of The Outliers by Kimberly McCreight

Imagine if you could see inside the minds of everyone around you – your best friend, your boyfriend, your enemies…? Imagine how valuable you'd be… Imagine how much danger you'd be in… Imagine being an Outlier.

Wylie hasn't heard from her best friend, Cassie, since their fight. That doesn't matter when she gets a text from her, asking for help. But as Cassie's messages become increasingly strange, Wylie has a growing sense that something is REALLY wrong. What isn't Cassie telling her? And could finding her be just the beginning?


I was absolutely convinced that by the mid way point of this book, I would have thrown it in a corner, never to be read again. The amount of infodumping we have to go through for 150 pages with the plot moving at a snail's pace inbetween, was enough to make me want to scream. However, we suddenly hit a turning point of this book which made it go from a infodumping, poorly written slog to a heart pounding sci-fi novel novel that constantly kept me guessing. And it all started with this line:

"Boom, boom, boom, goes my heart as I push my hand one last time, deep into the center of the car seat. And inside, I do not find the warm body of a baby. But i do not find a cold baby either. Inside, I find nothing at all."

I really enjoyed the depiction of mental health. I lost my mother when I was Wylie's age, the same as Wylie and I know that it completely shifts the world around you and makes you do some pretty crazy things. I went with holing myself up in my room for months, not washing and binge watching Buffy over and over and over. Wylie did pretty much the same, only with a drastic hair cut.

This story is a little... fantastical but I'm always willing to give fiction a little more leeway in favour of a good story, especially one like this that kept me guessing. I can't even make a single guess about what will happen in the future books but I can't wait to read them - this one ended on cliffhanger.

The Whoops I Went To The Library Even Though My TBR Pile Is Drowning Me Edition

Someone buy me a straight jacket, I have no self control. On my Discord group, a few people were discussing trips to the library and my obsessed brain immediately went, 'ooh I could do that, I have a library'. I also have a TBR pile of over 100 books, so naturally I did the sensible thing and went to the library.

Well the library proved to be a treasure trove of YA books, with the YA books section being ALL. OF. THIS. I swear at once point I started picking up books and humming happily to myself.

I mean look at all that. And most of them are fairly recently releases from the last couple of years! I spent a good hour browsing and picking books and left with a very reasonable five books.

Not pictured: The Wind In The Wall. So this is a perfectly reasonable stack of books. 

And I've already read all of them except A Curse So Dark And Lonely.

Not A Problem At All.

So anyway I went back a week later and got these too.

(And yes I did make a blog post about how great I am now at managing stress let's just pretend that didn't happen)

Review of Night Owls by Jenn Bennett

Feeling alive is always worth the risk.

Meeting Jack on the Owl—San Francisco's night bus—turns Beatrix's world upside down. Jack is charming, wildly attractive...and possibly one of San Francisco's most notorious graffiti artists.

But Jack is hiding a piece of himself. On midnight rides and city rooftops, Beatrix begins to see who this enigmatic boy really is.


(In the US Night Owls is called The Anatomical Shape of a Heart)

I really liked the concept of Night Owls, enough for it to remain quite high on my wishlist or quite some time. However the execution was pretty poor. The blurb gives the impression of two people that meet on a midnight ride and perhaps fall in love over time, I had an idea in my head that most of the book would be on a bus, or they would meet night after night. However, Beatrix meets Jack on a five minute bus journey and they become pretty infatuated with each other very quickly, to the point where it almost felt like insta-love, a trope more often seen in fantasy YA.

The good parts about this was ALL THE ART. While Jack spends his time graffiti-ing Big Gold Words (view spoiler) on public property, Beatrix is an art prodigy with a focus on anatomy. She's going through her dark phase and has ditched all her coloured pencils in favour of structured, anatomical drawings with a goal of getting into a good medical school and making books or something.

However, I never understood Jack. He basically ditched her fairly early on without even a text, leaving her to then track him down and no matter what he says Bea just... simpers. When he straight up lied about a major event she practically shrugged and I still don't understand why he lied. Also they both have spectacularly shit parents and I couldn't understand why Bea's mother treated her 18 year old daughter, who had a job and her own bills, like she was a bratty 13 year old.

What killed this book for me was the gushing, cringing, crawling, in your face, up your arse, in your closet, romance. She thought about him constantly. She wanted to fuck him constantly, she thought about his stupid unwashed belt far too much and the whole thing made me want to vomit violently and excessively. I nearly DNFd the book with 50 pages to go.

Review of The Nowhere Emporium by Ross MacKenzie

When the mysterious Nowhere Emporium arrives in Glasgow, orphan Daniel Holmes stumbles upon it quite by accident. Before long, the 'shop from nowhere' -- and its owner, Mr Silver -- draw Daniel into a breathtaking world of magic and enchantment. Recruited as Mr Silver's apprentice, Daniel learns the secrets of the Emporium's vast labyrinth of passageways and rooms -- rooms that contain wonders beyond anything Daniel has ever imagined. But when Mr Silver disappears, and a shadow from the past threatens everything, the Emporium and all its wonders begin to crumble. Can Daniel save his home, and his new friends, before the Nowhere Emporium is destroyed forever?

I may be twenty (mumble) years old but I am still as enchanted by magical books like The Nowhere Emporium, as I would have been at 7 years old. If I could go back in time to my younger self, I would arrive with the biggest stack of books and this would be among them, as I know this tale of a magical shop with doors to different worlds would be read until it fell apart.

This story has a good mix of magic, mortal peril, fun and more serious subjects that kids may relate to, using orphan Daniel Holmes as our storyteller. Family dynamics are quite cleverly explored here and it's only when I start thinking back that I realise just how much they come up, and I love the idea of choosing your own family. Dealing with the death of a parent in cruel circumstances, Thomas was a hero that I really enjoyed reading about.

Magic shows, a mysterious shop, a cruel villain, family secrets, mysterious and wonderful rooms with infinite possibilities, it's all explored here. It reminds me of a popular book from last year, Starless Sea, except aimed at a much younger audience of course. The sequel, which isn't currently attached to this one on Goodreads yet, is The Elsewhere Emporium, I'm intrigued to find out what Thomas gets up to next!

Review of Picnic At Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay

It was a cloudless summer day in the year nineteen hundred.

Everyone at Appleyard College for Young Ladies agreed it was just right for a picnic at Hanging Rock. After lunch, a group of three of the girls climbed into the blaze of the afternoon sun, pressing on through the scrub into the shadows of Hanging Rock. Further, higher, till at last they disappeared.

They never returned.

Picnic At Hanging Rock is a mystery classic, a surreal novel that takes place at a boarding school in Australia. When 4 people vanish, the town is ablaze with gossip about the fates of these three girls and their teacher. The book tells the stories of many of the people connected to the story and the aftermath of this devastating event.

The prose in this is quite lovely, it has a dreamlike quality that is perfect. However I did often get confused about whose viewpoint we'd just switched to and who was doing what, due to the book very rapidly switching people from paragraph to paragraph.

I loved the friendship between Albert and Mike. Polar opposites in that Mike is a wealthy toff and Albert grew up in an orphanage, his tattoos making him look 'rough', their two personalities compliment one another and I always felt at ease when in their presence.

I did find it strange that this entire story centers around a boarding school but after the girls and the teacher disappears, we hardly ever see the world from the girl's viewpoints, more often the teachers. It did make me realise that a book released last year, Wilder Girls, is shockingly similar to the point where I wonder if it was a retelling.

Many Covers Monday - The Jewel

The Jewel means wealth. The Jewel means beauty. The Jewel means royalty. But for girls like Violet, the Jewel means servitude. Not just any kind of servitude. Violet, born and raised in the Marsh, has been trained as a surrogate for the royalty—because in the Jewel the only thing more important than opulence is offspring.

Purchased at the surrogacy auction by the Duchess of the Lake and greeted with a slap to the face, Violet (now known only as #197) quickly learns of the brutal truths that lie beneath the Jewel’s glittering facade: the cruelty, backstabbing, and hidden violence that have become the royal way of life.

Violet must accept the ugly realities of her existence... and try to stay alive. But then a forbidden romance erupts between Violet and a handsome gentleman hired as a companion to the Duchess’s petulant niece. Though his presence makes life in the Jewel a bit brighter, the consequences of their illicit relationship will cost them both more than they bargained for.


I usually kick off with the US and UK covers, but today I'm starting with the US and German covers because they're identical but the German for me is so much nicer. The main character's name is Violet and that colour is made a big thing of through the book, so aside from being nicer to look at, the German cover just makes more sense to me.

The UK cover is so eye catching but I do have to pick holes in the dress - it was stated in the book that the dress was quite simple and a lighter violet cover, so the Romanan cover on the right gets much closer to the description. It's just a shame that the cover is so dark.

I really don't enjoy the Persian or Russian covers. The Persian giant woman is utterly bizarre and brings back memories of Attack On Titan, plus she looks more like the description of Violet's friend, Raven. The Russian cover is just a badly photoshopped mess that I don't fully understand and the ballroom scene makes little sense to the book.

Review of The Wind In The Wall by Sally Gardner

'I have no idea how long I have been incarcerated in these ancient walls . . . Let me explain how I find myself in this predicament . . .'

Set in the hot houses of a stately home in eighteenth century England, a gardener falls from grace when the Duke sets him the impossible task of growing prize pineapples fit to show off in high society.The gardener's star falls further when he is replaced by Mr Amicus, a pineapple 'specialist', whom he believes to be a charlatan and a trickster - but nevertheless miraculously produces fruit to delight the Duke. 

Determined to uncover Mr Amicus's tricks, the gardener sneaks into the pineapple house to uncover the mysterious shrouded birdcage Mr Amicus carries with him. And what he finds changes his life for ever...

A cautionary tale with echoes of myth and fairy tale, this bewitching fable will make you careful what you wish for.

I found this one at the library and seeing how short it was, decided to plonk myself down on a bean bag and read the whole thing. Growing up on Grimm and Andersen, I'm a sucker for stories like these, the creepier and more melancholic the better. The Wind In The Wall has that old feel of those stories, while creating something entirely new.

The story lends itself to surrealism with it's slightly bizarre tale of pineapple growing, a mysterious birdcage and an unhappy marriage. What I did take from this story was that men are stupid, and should not be left to their own devices because they can and will do stupid things.

I did rate this down a little due to major unanswered questions about pineapples, something which has never happened to me before. When our gardener cannot produce decent pineapples, someone finds someone else that does it better and the gardener can't understand how. Sneaking into the... pineapple keeping place... he discovers a big secret that doesn't help us understand the pineapple dilemma at all.

Many Covers Monday - The Forest Of Hands And Teeth

It has been SO LONG since I last did a Many Covers Monday so I'll explain how it works - typically every Monday I'll pick a book and showcase all the different International covers of it. I love seeing different countries interpretations of each book. Today we're going for a zombie novel about a girl who lives in a village in a huge forest, so expect many covers of girls looking staring longingly, surrounded by trees.


In Mary's world there are simple truths. The Sisterhood always knows best. The Guardians will protect and serve. The Unconsecrated will never relent. And you must always mind the fence that surrounds the village; the fence that protects the village from the Forest of Hands and Teeth. But, slowly, Mary’s truths are failing her. She’s learning things she never wanted to know about the Sisterhood and its secrets, and the Guardians and their power, and about the Unconsecrated and their relentlessness. When the fence is breached and her world is thrown into chaos, she must choose between her village and her future—between the one she loves and the one who loves her. And she must face the truth about the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Could there be life outside a world surrounded by so much death?


If I'm correct these are the three US covers, in order of release. Which starts off the theme of this post, MARY'S HAIR IS BLOODY BLACK. It's stated in the book.

Anyway, I love the third cover.


*stares at the flaming red hair* Yeah ok. The UK cover is unusual which I do like but I don't get what the red thing is actually supposed to be. Dutch.... ehhh. Women running around in impractical dresses is a tad overdone.

Bonus: de klauwen van het woud google translates to "the claws of the forest"


The first cover is pretty good - it has the fence and the staring girl is creepy. The second... MARY'S HAIR IS BLACK. Again with the big dress. The font is nice though! The Greek cover freaks me out because there looks like there's no noise and the mouth placement looks weird... it's an awful cover.

Bonus: la forêt des damnés google translates to "the forest of the damned" and wald der tausend augen to "forest of a thousand eyes"


HAIR. My biggest issue with the second cover (aside from the hair) is how much it doesn't look like a scary, post apocalyptic zombie novel. I like the contrast with the forest on one side and ocean on the other, with the third.

Bonus: La foresta degli amori perduti Google translates to "the forest of lost loves", which makes the cover even more confusing.

Russian/Spanish x2 

The Russian cover straight up looks like she's holding a baby. The first Spanish cover looks like she was wearing something else and someone used Microsoft paint to cover that up. It's weird. Despite not being fully black hair, I think the last Spanish cover killed it, it's really good.

Bonus: Buscaré el Océano Google translates to "I will search the ocean". I don't know what she's searching the ocean for. Searching FOR the ocean, yes.


A tree and someone praying. I love the cover scheme but I think the second cover makes the story look a lot more religious than it is.

Bonus: De vassa tändernas skog Google translates to "the sharp teeth forest" and Rừng Răng - Tay to "tooth - hand forest"


Do you have a favourite cover? Let me know in the comments!

Review of The Dark And Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan

There are many things that Annah would like to forget: the look on her sister's face before Annah left her behind in the Forest of Hands and Teeth, her first glimpse of the Horde as they swarmed the Dark City, the sear of the barbed wire that would scar her for life. But most of all, Annah would like to forget the morning Elias left her for the Recruiters. Annah's world stopped that day, and she's been waiting for Elias to come home ever since. Somehow, without him, her life doesn't feel much different than the dead that roam the wasted city around her. Until she meets Catcher, and everything feels alive again.

But Catcher has his own secrets. Dark, terrifying truths that link him to a past Annah has longed to forget, and to a future too deadly to consider. And now it's up to Annah: can she continue to live in a world covered in the blood of the living? Or is death the only escape from the Return's destruction?

Honestly, this book made slogging through the first two worth it. While Mary and Annah's twin sister Gabry spend most of their time whining and letting everyone else fix things for them, Annah seemed much more independent after being left in the Dark City by Elias three years ago. She's by far my favourite character of the three girls and really made the read worthwhile, particularly towards the final pages.

Elias and Gabry did not come across as well however. There was one particularly memorable scene where Annah asks Gabry how she's okay with Elias essentially handing over people to be tortured to death and she's like... Yeah but the dick is really good *shrug* Plus Elias decided that fucking off and leaving a teenage girl in a city with no law enforcement and a fuck ton of zombies was actually an okay idea.

We spend most of our time on an island of soldiers trying not to get raped, which was just lovely. It did give some good bonding moments between Gabry and Annah, and Catcher and Annah which I did really enjoy. The first and last parts of the book were quite fast paced and binge worthy, but the middle did slog.

Review of The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan

Gabry lives a quiet life, secure in her town next to the sea and behind the Barrier. She's happy to let her friends dream of the Dark City up the coast. Home is all she's ever known, all she needs for happiness. But life after the Return is never safe and there are threats even the Barrier can't hold back.

It's the sequel to The Forest Of Hands And Teeth! Now with even more angst! Sigh. I was expecting this to be a continuation of Mary's story, so you can imagine my surprise when I read the blurb and saw the name "Gabry". My first guess was the Gabrielle we met in the first book but then I realised that this sequel is set a good 30 years after we met Mary, focusing instead on her daughter.

This should be quite an interesting book - it's set from the perspective of an outsider to The Forest, a girl who grew up in a village protected by the Protectorate, some sort of military types. Gabry lives in a lighthouse and every morning we go zombie bashing because they wash ashore. Bizarre but fun right? Somehow, no. This book dragged so, so much.

I may have sneaked a glance at the blurb for book three, so when something major went down at the funfair with Catcher, it was easy to guess where they were going with this. (view spoiler) Gabry runs away after the zombie attack at the fairground, leaving everyone to it and when they are caught and Catcher is missing, she goes to look for him. Of course, one missing boyfriend isn't quite enough angst, so cue Elias!

Elias is fecking annoying. Okay, so he does save her quite a few times but he sure as hell seems to fall in love with her quickly, despite it being plainly obvious that Catcher is her boyfriend or near as. And then when she doesn't reciprocate he gets irritated with her? What? Is this the behavior we really want to be displaying as normal in teen books? Of course he has a Tragic Backstory, all tied up with the Forest and Gabry because we need EVEN MORE ANGST.

One thing that could have saved this book but kind of fell apart was Catcher's sister, Gabry's best friend. With her sentence after the events at the fairground and believing her brother to be dead, it pushes her into depression to the point where she didn't want to live any more. However it devolved into a kinda sometimes she wanted to live sometimes she didn't situation and it didn't have the impact that it should have done.

This one does a little better at a plot twist but I didn't have that 'Woah' moment. It was just like... oh okay so that's a thing. I know our next character is Annah in the Dark City, a place that was frequently mentioned in this book. After going from village to other village, I'm really hoping the Dark City is just that - a city. It may just be interesting enough to make the series a complete disappointment.