Mini-reviews: Too many to name because I am an absentee blogger

OMG HI, HELLO.

Seriously, I am such a hypocrite. Not that long ago I wrote a pretty fun post about making my blogging better and more consistent in 2017 and here I am, nearly 6 months into this glorious year and I’ve barely blogged for the last eight weeks. Looks like I’m pretty rubbish at taking my own advice, right?

Anyway, I’ve got about ninety billion half-written book reviews lurking about in my drafts, so we better get going!


I Have No Secrets, Penny Joelson

*I received an advance review copy of this book via NetGalley. If you’d like to read my review policy, you can fill your boots here.*

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Jemma is fourteen years old. She loves reading crime novels, painting her nails and her favourite band: Glowlight. Jemma also has Cerebral Palsy, which makes it pretty difficult to communicate with her family, or anyone else around her. Even when things get dangerous, which all of a sudden, they have.

Because of her disability, people around Jemma find her to be a pretty good listener, often confiding their secrets and innermost thoughts in her, which must get both pretty irritating and extremely boring. One day her carer’s boyfriend, Dan, confides something in Jemma that leaves her reeling: he says he’s committed a shocking and violent crime. How can Jemma warn the people that she loves that Dan is not the man everyone thinks he is, and how can she possibly protect herself from Dan in a world where she doesn’t have a voice?

A solid blend of contemporary and mystery, I Have No Secrets is a clever and eye-opening book. With the current political and social landscape as bleak as it is for people living with disabilities in the UK, this book provides an insight into the day-to-day struggles of living with a disability, as well as commentary on the way that able-bodied people can often view disabilities. I don’t identify as disabled, so I can’t speak from an own voices point of view, but I felt as if the representation was realistic without being bleak, and uplifting without being saccharine.

Although it was pretty obvious who had done the deed from the beginning of the book, Jemma’s voice and her journey to being able to communicate are what makes the book compelling. I felt like the book leaned a little more towards the lower end of the young adult spectrum in terms of age suitability (possibly even middle grade in some places), but ultimately, this is a well-written mystery with a strong narrative voice and an uplifting and hopeful story line.

In Summary…

  • Rating: 3.5/5 stars.
  • Publisher: Electric Monkey
  • Pages: 336

Luckiest Girl Alive, Jessica Knoll

Cast as a kind of Manhattan Gone Girl (aren’t all thrillers with a female protagonist,

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now?), Luckiest Girl Alive tries so hard to match the bone-sharp writing and sly characterisation of Gillian Flynn’s modern classic but falls flat on its perfectly made-up face at nearly every hurdle.

TiffAni Fanelli (really?!) is not a likable character with flaws, but a truly unlikable character because of her flaws. In fact, no one in this book is likable, and I felt like the author spent far too long trying to make everyone seem as if they had hidden depths and sharp societal observations to make that it ended up being a caricature of itself.

The pacing is OK, but the writing isn’t pretty. You can tell that Knoll is desperately trying to recreate that famous Amy Dunne’s ‘Cool Girl’ speech with nearly everything Tiff says, but the prose and dialogue is heavy-handed and pithy. Luckiest Girl lacks all of Flynn’s finesse and unsettling insight into 21st century women. Unfortunately, for me, Luckiest Girl Alive misses both the boat and the point.

In Summary…

  • Rating: 2/5 stars.
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Pages: 352

Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1), Amie Kaufmann and Jay Kristoff

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Saving the best until last, Illuminae is one of only two five-star reads that I’ve come across for quite some time (Lord of Shadows is the other one, in case you were wondering. More on that another time, promise!).

The rumours are true: you do not, I repeat, do not, need to be a fully fledged sci-fi fan to fall for this one. This is the kind of clever, witty little book that proves that sci-fi can be poignant and emotional as well as action-packed and futuristic.

The mixed media elements of this book are a kind of love/hate thing, and I personally have planted myself firmly in the ‘love’ camp. The interview transcripts, illustrations and words scattered like galaxies and shooting stars over pages really lent themselves to the pace of the story and complexity of the plot, adding a layer of both intrigue and depth that took this from a fun book to a special book.

I loved the characters: Kady’s sharp mind and sarcastic nature made her an engaging and spunky heroine, and Ezra’s self-deprecating sense of humour and soft jellybaby heart made him the perfect antidote. The writing is tip-top, building suspense and factoring in great doses of humour just when you think everything is getting too dark.

A sweeping, intergalactic romp through the stars featuring teen angst, conspiracy theories, fighter pilots, airborne zombie diseases and Shakespeare references. I am in love.

In Summary…

  • Rating: 5/5 stars.
  • Publisher: Allen & Unwin
  • Pages: 599

That’s all for now, folks! What have you all been keeping yourselves busy reading recently? Catch me up in the comments! ❤

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14 thoughts on “Mini-reviews: Too many to name because I am an absentee blogger

  1. I understand where you’re coming from. Blogging is so time-consuming and life gets busy, etc. But these mini reviews are great! Sometimes short and sweet is perfect. 🙂

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    • It really is! I blogged so much when things weren’t so great for me and it was the best thing I could have done for myself at that time, but now that things are better and life is busier it has fallen by the wayside for a little bit which is kind of sad but also one of those things! Thank you so much, I’m glad you think so! 🙂

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  2. Yay!! So glad you loved Illuminae- I adored that books- everything about it was amazing- and I’m only recently getting into sci fi 🙂 Also, love the mini reviews- don’t worry about infrequent blogging- it happens to all of us!!

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  3. Great reviews Sammie! I wasn’t sure whether to read Illuminae but I think you may have just persuaded me! Also if you like the mixed media concept, check out Night Film by Marisha Pessl – I think you’d enjoy it! Looking forward to seeing your Lord of Shadows review – I just started reading it last night 😊😊

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  4. I loved reading your mini-reviews Sammie! And hopefully you’ll be able to start blogging more, but even if not it takes a lot of time to blog and keep up with WordPress at times. I can totally understand how it can be too much of a struggle at times. 🙂
    The only one of these I’ve read is Illuminae and I definitely agree you left the best to last in this post! 😀 I am also a huge fan of the mixed media format of the book. It took a little getting used to but it still managed to tell the story really well, and it made Illuminae one of the most gorgeous books currently sitting on my bookshelves!
    Again great reviews Sammie! 😀

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  5. I can relate on the blogging front. I was going strong for the year until this past month and now I’ve been completely failing at keeping up. Sometimes it can be hard to keep up with it all that’s for sure. Anyway! I really enjoyed reading your mini-reviews. I need to get around to reading Illuminae soon. I’ve been putting that one off for a long time but I keep hearing great things. Hopefully sometime soon! Great reviews, Sammie!! 😊

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