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Wilder Girls, Rory Power; Review

Wild is in the name and it is certainly fitting for this book about friendship, humanity, but ultimately survival. I was absolutely engrossed in each and every twisting page of Rory Power’s novel about a quarantined Boarding School that has been struck by an unnerving virus.


The book opens from the first person perspective of Hetty, and begins with everything already in motion; in that the virus, named The Tox, is already established and has already wrecked havoc within the school causing major illnesses and death. It becomes clear that the island that is home to the Boarding School has been abandoned and the girls are instructed to wait for a cure and must remain in quarantine. What I really loved about this was how matter of fact it seemed for the characters and how they just laid everything bare for the reader to see. Usually when there is a storyline about a virus; the outbreak is the big shocking event that the plot leads up to, whereas here it had already happened. The fact that Hetty spoke so offhandedly about it really vocalised how much the character’s have had to adapt to survive. The rest of the book really solidifies this and it really tests the girl’s to their limits to see how far they are willing to go in order to live.

That’s what really struck home about this book for me personally. It felt like the farther I got into the book the more wild I became; as if I truly were on this journey with them. The brutal imagery and even weirdly gross descriptions were shocking and unexpected for a YA but made it all the more intriguing. I could feel the need to survive, and to adapt. There were some moments where I felt like I didn’t get all the answers I craved (especially in regard to The Tox itself) but in retrospect I don’t think I needed them. I was left in the same boat as Hetty, Reese, and Byatt; uncertain and reeling. Hetty came to the conclusion that she didn’t really need to know how it had happened to them; just that it did and in some weird ways it brought them closer together. Similarly with Byatt who at times acted as though she didn’t want a cure, knew that this event had changed the girls not just physically. I was really intrigued by her and as it emerged she was more morally grey of a character I enjoyed her even more. I think its very easy to make characters seem nice and angelic when something bad happens to them so that the event seems undeserving, but in Byatt’s case it was all the more affirming that it could be anyone and despite her questionable attributes; Hetty and Reese would have done anything for her proving that friendship, and loyalty really drives this novel.

Another aspect of this novel that I truly loved was the fact that it was LGBTQ+ but also that it was done naturally. Having Reese as a queer character didn’t feel as though it was done to add diversity for the sake of diversity but to further the dynamics and layers created what this story aimed to tell; what people would or wouldn’t do for those they truly care for. I didn’t once feel like the romance was detracting from the narrative or the plot in any way, but that it just so happened to be a side plot that felt natural, empathetic, and truly representative. I think there are some key scenes that showcase this which include Reese’s father, boatshift, and the ending as a whole because it also demonstrates that YA romance isn’t always fluffy and easy but that its hard and that actions have consequences; especially in a world were survival is your priority.

Wilder Girls was truly unique. I particularly loved the descriptions (although sometimes quite graphic) about how the Tox changed these girls; the bloody sores, the second spine, the sealed eye, and the silver hand, were all nontypical and refreshingly different to read about. They weren’t pretty; they were brutal and honest. The only real issue I had with this book was sometimes the writing style, although done purposefully to reflect the characters not being coherent, was slightly stunting and awkward to read. I think this was primarily down to the fact that it was first person but once I got into the story I didn’t notice it all that much and was able to get past it.

This book was actually a buddy read with my wonderful friend Lauren, who you can find on Bookstragram as LittleBookishFairy. We actually demolished this book reading over half of it in one sitting while frantically messaging each other at 1am. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it with her and talking through all our theories together because it is a book that keeps you wondering why in the back of your mind. I would definitely recommend Wilder Girls for a feminist, well represented, and interesting read that is different to the norm. Its intriguing, fast paced, and really makes you think about survival and friendship.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

The Silent Patient, Alex Michaelides; Review

See no evil, hear no evil, but most definitely speak no evil. This psychological thriller explores the aftermath of a murder when the killer decides to never speak again and is institutionalised in a medial facility.

I saw quite a bit of buzz surrounding this novel and finally decided to take the plunge this October to read it. I did the typical bookworm thing where I envisioned spooky chapters but I’d still be safe with my lamp on and firmly snuggled within the cosy depths of my blanket. The premise really intrigued me because I adore a good mystery which is all the more tantalising when the character involved won’t tell what happened; the tension alone wants to drive you to the end. Alicia Berenson, despite having an idealistic life, comes home one evening to shoot her husband in the face five times and hasn’t uttered a word since. The novel follows two perspectives; mainly the voice of her psychotherapist Theo as he tries to uncover her mystery, and Alicia’s diary entries leading up to the bloody event.

At first I wasn’t particularly keen on the narrative presented by Theo. In all honesty, I found him to be a little stiff and overly explanative in the beginning. A lot of the first chapters were heavy description which involved too much focus on the study of psychology to the point where it felt a little redundant. He was explaining things that I could have easily realised myself and because of the emphasis of description over plot or dialogue, it felt very much like the author was making sure the reader understood rather than it being a part of the story naturally. With that being said, it did start to ease off during the middle of the book when I was hooked by the story, not necessarily the characters.

I did really like the chapters that were of Alicia’s diary entries because it really enhanced the tension whilst adding just enough small clues to make me question everyone. I particularly liked the dynamic presented between Max (Alicia’s brother in law) and Alicia and thought that was an interesting exploration into sibling rivalry; but I would have loved to have further input from Max’s wife Tanya as I felt she could have introduced another layer with more complicated emotions and therefore intrigue. Similarly, I really enjoyed the small insight into Alicia’s cousin Paul and how he felt trapped to look after his mother. Although again, I feel as though this could have been explored further without the predicable gambling subplot. In all honesty, I had a few issues with the secondary characters not being explored thoroughly because they felt secondary. Plus, not to mention the blatant stereotypes, such as; the gossiping and materialist neighbour named Barbie, the Greek psychologist, and of course the French gallery owner, that all added to the sense that they were an afterthought.

The true star of this book however, is the ending. I can see why it had so many people talking, because the twist actually lives up to the shock that the premise promises. I will say that I didn’t expect it to go the way that it did and I was thoroughly thrown off my game as I had pointed my finger of blame in the completely wrong direction. The anticipation of waiting for Alicia to speak, in combination with the theories that the reader collects on the way make this a very intriguing read that can only be described as a page turner! I would like to explore this ending further so the next paragraph will include spoilers so here is your warning folks! If you do not want the twist to be revealed please stop here; but if you’re as nosy as I am, or you have read the book yourself then please continue.


Firstly and obviously, I was shocked to find that Theo himself was the driving character in implementing the murder, however unintended. When I had that revelation moment my jaw truly did hang open. I loved the way that Michaelides interweaves the past and the present based on the readers assumptions to only completely subvert them later. What a master of misdirection because I truly did not connect Alicia’s stalker to Theo. I remember reading those last few passages thinking that Theo was heading down a dark path and questioning how this was going to end for him only to find out it had already happened. The other thing that completely shocked me about this twist was Gabriel himself. During Alicia’s entries I was so sure that he adored her that I didn’t even question his infidelity; which was exactly what Michaelides wanted. I won’t lie to you either, it hurt me. The bit that sticks in my mind is when Gabriel asks Alicia if they could have children together because I truly believed he cared; so this really contributed to me being blind-sighted during the actual reveal. Alicia is the character that I empathised and connected with the most. I really felt for her and despite being confused with the Greek tragedy analogies at the beginning I learnt to appreciate its brilliance at the end. The final piece that connected it all when Theo made Gabriel choose between Alicia and himself and how it reverts back to her childhood was a remarkable plot point that was the perfect jigsaw piece to finish the puzzle.

Overall, The plot of this book was good enough for me to get past my dislike of the narrative Theo was written in. The twist was excellently thought out and made me pause to reevaluate everything I had previously believed and read. The psychology moments, despite sometimes feeling excessive, was an interesting exploration into the motivations of the characters and contributed to all my theories throughout the reading experience. It was a quick read as the novel is fairly short, and so it makes for very easy reading especially with the desire to know what truly happened. The twist is definitely one of those that sticks with you long after finishing the story and I would highly recommend for others to give this one a try. It wasn’t a scary read by any means (like I thought it may be prior to reading) but it is indeed a psychological thriller.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Story of Babushka, Catherine Flores: Review

It’s been a while since I have done a review and if I’m completely honest; I didn’t expect to be doing one on a children’s book any time soon. And yet here we are. When Catherine first messaged me about her book I knew I wanted in because of my affinity with Russian Nesting Dolls. I have loved them since I was a child after my Nana gifted me her very own. As Catherine describes;

“The doll has come to symbolise Russian folk culture, as well as the complex and beautiful layers of women.”

Her story really does solidify this meaning and truly showcases the depth of women and I’m very happy to have had the chance to read it. This book may primarily be a children’s book but by no means is it only for children. The flowing words, beautiful imagery, and insightful meaning will strike true for any reader.

Babushka is the name of the complete doll and each of the five bodies have their own name, traits, and decorations. The story follows each of these bodies as they leave the nest (pun intended) and go on their solo adventures. However, they each come to realise that they need to work and live together to be truly happy and complete. I love this story wholeheartedly as in my mind, it creates a simple discourse surrounding the societal ideas of women that is easily comprehensible. For instance, in the case of Antonia (the most beautiful doll) she is only known for her beauty; Antonia needs the other bodies of the doll to be recognised as more. This simply isn’t the case for women. We want to be beautiful, wealthy, talented, wise, and give love.

The bodies of Babushka

Another thing I love about this story is the fact that each of the bodies go on their own journeys. I think it’s very telling about humans and their desire to be perfect at something; but the way this story presents itself reminds you that you don’t have to be just one thing. I can imagine this book being read to younger children in a way to encourage all of their passions and different aspects of their personalities. The Story of Babushka really is a celebration of the complexity of individuals.

I also have to mention here the illustrations that accompany this book. They are beautifully crafted to add to the fairytale setting and create a sense of whimsy that is just lovely. The only thing I would say that I doubted within this book was the similarity of the names for the talented and wise dolls. I think any parent who reads this aloud would have to really enunciate Paula and Viola; however the imagery does help distinguish the two and they have separate colours for readers to follow along. Overall, this book was a super quick but an absolute delight to read.

Here’s me with my very own Babushka

Top 5 underrated favourites

Hello fellow readers! Recently I have been moving my bookshelves around and began thinking whether I wanted to organise them by authors, colour, genre, or by favourites (we all know the struggle). Well, I may have decided to go with genre but a few reads stood out to me for how underrated they are and so here we are; a list of my top 5 underrated favourites.

Underrated #5

Don’t Look Back – Jennifer L. Armentrout

So if you have no clue what this book is about it follows Samantha, who has just emerged battered and bruised after being missing for four days with absolutely no memory of what happened. Now this at first may get your deja vu senses tingling BUT theres an extra layer that Armentrout has weaved into the fold; and that is although Samantha has been found, her best friend Cassie is still missing. This then makes the entire plot not only a contemporary – fit the jigsaw pieces together – mystery but also a thriller. Coupled with Armentrout’s engaging writing style I simply could not put this book down and raced through the pages. What I was particularly impressed with was how the book kept me guessing throughout and yet I still did not see the reveal coming- it took me by complete surprise and I loved it. Another surprise was the character of Samantha; often it’s easy for a main character to be ‘the golden girl’ but she most definitely has faults. It was actually rather heartwarming to see her admit them and try to better herself along the way.

Underrated #4

This is Where it Ends – Marieke Nijkamp

I will not lie this book is quite a marmite read (you either love it or you hate it) and the little comments I have read about it have been equally divided. This is Where it Ends is a first person, in the moment, telling of a school shooting and is ultimately an extremely heavy reading experience. Many other readers, who I am inclined to agree with, seem to have an issue with the antagonist (the shooter) in that his motives, reasoning, and overall development are extremely lack lustre and fall quite flat. However, I decided to include it on this list because there are some amazing qualities of this book that does make it underrated. Firstly, I love that the chapters are from multiple character perspectives; in a novel with a setting such as this I think it really adds to the personal factor when the reader can feel the weight and the consequences of everyone rather than just one individual. It makes it feel more real and the ultimate connectedness of the characters translates to the reader and really makes you question ideals of community and what matters to you. Another reason I feel this book is underrated is the inclusion of a lesbian relationship that is presented in a natural and wholesome way; it definitely feels LGBTQ inclusive as a means of representation and not of baiting the community.

If you do enjoy books that deal with settings and themes of this nature then I would also recommend Hate List by Jennifer Brown as an honorary mention. This book is interesting in the portrayal of guilt as an aftermath of the event and is definitely worth a read!

Underrated #3

I’ll Give You the Sun – Jandy Nelson

I first read this book as an advanced reading copy and it was the first time I read anything of Jandy Nelson. However, I enjoyed it so much I was then sent her first book The Sky is Everywhere so I could devour more of her words. Despite the wonderful flow of her writing style and the dynamic characters that I fell in love with, this book is on this list because of its unique structure. The novel follows twin siblings Noah and Jude and each chapter changes to the corresponding perspective. What’s different about this is Jude tells her side of the story from the perspective of the present day whereas her brother Noah’s chapters are from years previously. I found this really intriguing because the reader knows an event has happened that has separated them; we know the consequence because of Jude and we get all the anticipation and build up from Noah. Its such a uniquely fascinating way of keeping the reader guessing and sometimes feels like you get two stories in one. Another reason I personally adore this book is the chapter configuration feels almost symbolic of the characters coming together again; which I ultimately craved and loved because i’m a sucker for all things poetic.

Underrated #2

My Sister Lives on the Mantlepiece – Annabel Pitcher

This was such a tough decision for me to place this book first or second because I nearly cry just thinking about it. Now don’t get me wrong this book is not a ball your eyes out, purposefully sad book, but theres such a sense of childhood innocence that translates so well it just warms my heart and makes me teary. This book is from the perspective of 10 year old Jamie (and wow does the author do a fantastic job of making this FEEL like the voice of a child). His elder sister died during the London bombing and her urn sits on the mantlepiece whilst the rest of his family struggles with the aftermath years later.

The themes in this book could have been represented so much darker and heavier if it weren’t for Jamie and ultimately the author Annabel Pitcher. This story isn’t about grief but about friendship, loyalty and essentially humanity. One of the biggest things I took from this book was Jamie’s friendship with Sunya as it showcases how people overcome and form their own opinions even at such a young age when we are said to be the most impressionable. Sunya is a muslim girl who wears a hijab and due to how Jamie’s sister’s died his father has begun to nurture islamophobic ideals and doesn’t want them to be friends. The reader really gets to see Jamie try to process what’s right and wrong, being a good friend, and a good son and the raw and honest portrayal is great to see. If you haven’t read this book I will not spoil things for you but please watch out for two things; The Superhero shirt and Rodger the cat (if you have read this book then you’ll know).

Underrated #1

Under Rose-tainted Skies – Louise Gornall

My number 1!! This book has an idealistic slow burn love story, a supportive mother daughter relationship, AND most importantly an accurate representation of mental health. It truly is refreshing to see. Under Rose-tainted Skies follows the life of Norah, who is agrophobic with OCD and anxiety, as she watches life from the safety of her window, until Luke arrives and changes her own perspective on self-care and mental health. I want to be really clear here, although the romance is quite fanciful it is most definitely NOT a relationship that sets out to fix Norah and her mental health, prior to meeting Luke she attends therapy and counselling and her dialogue about her conditions is as open at the start as it is at the end.

It’s this representation of MH that really makes this book shine; the author herself deals with the same conditions as Norah which just makes her character feel even more real. I may be biased in that I connected with Norah so heavily as I am also diagnosed OCD and anxiety. However, it wasn’t until reading this book that I realised some of the things I did or thought was apart of my personality, was actually an attribute of my conditions. I have been officially diagnosed with OCD for 5 years now and I can honestly say I have never read a more realistic interpretation that doesn’t fantasise MH than in Gornall’s novel. Despite it being just a heartwarming and enjoyable contemporary read, I will always recommend this book to anyone that would want to know what my brain feels like or just MH in general.

Caraval, Stephanie Garber: Review

I am no stranger to a fantasy novel, in fact I would go as far as saying that its my go to genre. So, its no surprising that Caraval found its way onto my ‘to be read’ pile. And it didn’t stay there long. Once I picked this book up I found it hard to put down and was racing through the chapters.

“It’s the closest you’ll ever find to magic in this world . . .”

The beginning of the novel I found particularly enticing as Stephanie Garber is a true mastermind in backstory. I instantly knew the main characters; Scarlett and Tella, and their personalities came through brightly. Scarlett was a character that I found much more appealing and someone I could root for. Whereas Tella was a little lacklustre for my personal taste and a character I found even annoying at times. However, it was Scarlett that took centre focus.

The action really begins when Scarlett arrives at Caraval; a spectacular treasure hunt style performance where the winner is granted a wish. This is where the questions really begin. Where’s Tella? Who’s a player? and most importantly is it real? The game no longer felt like a game, especially with her sister missing, and I was utterly invested. This is what I really liked about the novel. I enjoyed the suspense and mystery the game gave me, especially when it led to the darker aspects that I really wasn’t expecting. The seedy underground tunnels, the tortured past of experienced players and the reveal of a murder really made this novel stand out.

The ending to this book, although it was a real twist disappointed me. I was interested in the art of trickery that the plot presented and the understated magic than ran through it. I wanted more of a presence from the enigmatic Legend who created Caraval.

Overall however, this book was a true fantastical YA hit. It teased me with a budding romance, it warmed me with a sisterly relationship and it captured me with its magic. I would definitely recommend Garber’s Caraval, especially to those that perhaps wouldn’t pick it up because of its fantasy elements. This book is first and foremost a mystery and it is absolutely compelling.

Rating: 3 out of 5.