"I think being an experiement sounds way better than being sick, you know?" Oliver has a very unique condition; he is allergic to electricity and has l"I think being an experiement sounds way better than being sick, you know?" Oliver has a very unique condition; he is allergic to electricity and has lived his whole life in an isolated cabin. If he were to venture out of the woods he lives in, he would encounter electricity, begin to seize and possibly die. His mother and doctor decide it's a good idea for Ollie to get in touch with someone who has similar problems to him. And that is how Ollie begins writing to Moritz, a German teenager. Moritz is unique too – born without eyes, he uses unique techniques to view the world around him. And the two boys develop a connection so strong it spans continents. But there's one big problem: the two pen-pals can never meet. Because Moritz is kept alive by an electronic pump in his heart. And if Ollie were to get too close, he would seize. And if Moritz were to turn the pump off, he would die. I, like so many of us, am desperate to see more diversity in YA books. But whilst I want to see all diversity (sexuality, ethnicity, etc), seeing more characters with disabilities is really important to me. Why? Well, some of you might know I'm a wheelchair user – I have been since the age of about twelve. And therefore I am desperate for more characters in wheelchairs or with missing limbs or who have non-terminal medical conditions – anything. But I want books where these disabilities aren't The Issue and where there are all kinds of other diversities too (when I finally finish the book I'm writing, you'll see what I'm looking for). Due to my quest, I of course said yes please when Bloomsbury contacted me about Because You'll Never Meet Me. I was intrigued from the blurb and was desperate to check it out. And I was not disappointed. The lovely Katrina at Bloomsbury told me this book spans numerous genres, but is a book with true heart above all else, a book that deals with all kinds of diversity. And God was she right. Because You'll Never Meet Me is a beautiful, unique book that had me hooked from the very beginning. It might not be for everyone, but I adored it. Ollie killed me – he was just so brilliantly bizarre. He, like all teenagers, had his ups and downs, his strengths and his flaws. Maybe he was a little selfish, but he was also so sweet and loving and strong too – even when he couldn't leave his room. I got that – I've had those days; haven't we all? Moritz was definitely more mature than Ollie, the more sombre of the two. But I loved watching Oliver rub off on him, loved the way Moritz described the world he saw and loved seeing Moritz grow into himself. I also loved that neither of the boys – or any of the characters – were perfect. They all had flaws, all had their imperfections. They all felt real.
But what truly made this book wasn't the characters individually – but the two characters together as best friends. These two... they didn't get off to the best start (bless Ollie's overexcitement and Moritz's snarky, borderline-hostile (ok, not so borderline) response). And the friendship just got stronger, binding all these genres and elements together flawlessly. As those of you who've read a few of my reviews might know, I adore split POVs - they are my absolute favourite things ever. And I adored the way Because You'll Never Meet Me was told through letters the two boys sent to one another, showing how their friendship grew, how they struggled and blossomed. Sure, the plot wasn't an epic fantasy – wasn't some grand quest. I guess you could call it a coming of age story, with sci-fi aspects. You could call it a personal adventure of overcoming the darkest parts of yourself. You could call it an unconventional love-story between two super-humans. Or you could call it a very human, very touching and very inspiring story, with some amazing paranormal-sci-fi-esque plot threads. And however I describe it, I loved it all – loved how different the boys sounded, loved watching their individual but entwined stories. And most of all I loved the way the disabilities were handled in this book – especially I love how Moritz phrases this: "But I am not handicapped." Again, my impulses ae too fast, Oliver. I did not mean to refute being blind. I meant to express my loathing of the term handicapped. "Behindert," as it reads in German.' Well done, Mo! *straightens up (see, I'm in a wheelchair – but if I could stand I would) and gives Moritz a round of applause* And I adore the way Oliver approaches both of their unique conditions – like they have some kind of superpower! I like to think my wheelchair makes me a cyborg, so I totally get that. I also got the loneliness – sometimes, not being what society generally considers to be ‘normal’ can be so isolating and I just loved how these boys had one another to keep themselves sane – their friendship really was so beautiful. But the way Thomas represents disability, sexuality and all the other forms of diversity in Because You’ll Never Meet Me was perfect: despite the fantastical elements, it was never made light of, always treated with respect and despite being one of the main focus points, somehow managed not to make the disabilities The Issue – the whole reason for the book. No, as mentioned before, the unlikely relationship between Ollie and Moritz was the driving force, as was the mystery of their origins (sorry, couldn't resist that little superhero pun). I would've liked to see someone with a more physical disability (such as my own, for example) but I loved the way Ollie's complicated epilepsy and allergies and Moritz's blindness (well, eyeless-ness) was portrayed. Like all books out there, Because You'll Never Meet Me probably won't be for everyone. If you like your contemporaries without fantastical, sci-fi elements or your fantastical science-fiction without a contemporary setting, this might not be for you. But if, like me, you've been searching for a unique blend of realism, fantasy, sci-fi, mystery, romance, and a brilliant selection of diverse characters, pick up Because You'll Never Meet Me right this second. I absolutely cannot wait to see what Thomas writes next – because if this was her debut... Wow. I am ridiculously excited about her next book – I do kind of hope it's about Moritz and Ollie! I'm just not quite ready to let these two go yet!...more
4 Out of 5 'Despite both of them knowing how bad things are with the business, neither will let me do anything other than be an apprentice to my granda4¼ Out of 5 'Despite both of them knowing how bad things are with the business, neither will let me do anything other than be an apprentice to my grandad. Because when you have the Kemi gift, you have to use it.' In Samantha Kemi's world, you’re either ordinary or Talented – with or without magic. The Kemis are not Talented, but they were once prosperous – as master alchemists and potion makers, they were respected by everyone, the chosen ones of the Royal family. But now things have changed – synth potions are huge and natural alchemists are no longer needed. Until the Princess Evelyn mixes a natural love potion to give to her crush Zain Aster (the relative of the first synthetic potion maker and heir to the mega-wealthy ZoroAster Corp company) – and accidentally drinks the potion herself. And then falls in love. With herself. With the magic of Nova unbalanced, a Wilde Hunt is called – all alchemists, both natural and synth, are called to find a cure. A race that will lead them all over, searching for ingredients and battling to win – both the Royal's approval and a magical prize. But for Sam, it's a way to prove that the Kemis' way of potion-making is best and to restore her family's name. But with the gorgeous Zain also competing and the world watching their every move, can Sam pull it off? Can she save the princess, her land and her family? I began reading The Potion Diaries after finding out Amy Alward would be at YALC. And was instantly enchanted. I've already read the brilliant The Oathbreaker's Shadow by Amy - and whilst The Potion Diaries was seriously different it was equally amazing. I've not read anything quite so much fun for ages – I was barely two pages in before I fell totally in love. This is the kind of book I love to read! Magical adventures mixed up with an alternate modern reality with loads of friendship and family and romantic love added in too. Sam was awesome – clever, funny, brave, a bit quirky and totally devoted to her family. And she was also just so real – I mean, her fear of being anonymous, of never doing anything that makes an impact, isn't that something all teenagers feel? Sure, her problems are amplified by being non-magical in a magical world, of trying to live up to a family name long forgotten, but it was so real anyway. I loved how badass and clever Sam was and I can't wait to see more of her in the second Potion Diaries book! Zain was totally not what I was expecting when we were first introduced to him – actually, he tested my expectations a few times. But I loved it when he was being all sweet and shy and kinda totally adorable – that thing with the coffee? Heart-meltingly sweet! But yeah, I'm looking forward to seeing more of Zain. As for our supporting cast, Kirsty was so butt-kickingly amazing! Being a Finder sounds awesome and I loved Kirsty's whip-sharp sense of humour. Eve was obviously very clever, but what we saw of her... Well, we saw her in love with her reflection. So... But I look forward to seeing more of the non-magically-obsessively-in-love, not-so-crazy-and-out-of-control Evelyn. And I loved Sam's crazy family – they were brilliant! And really made the story for me: I loved the kookiness of them all, loved how much they loved each other. Sam's little sister was so brave and adorable, her parents a little frazzled but so loving, her grandfather quiet and a little grumpy with so many secrets – I can't wait until he reveals more of them! But I loved the angle the family thing lent to the story – and the friends too. Anita and Arjun, Sam's friends, were brilliant – Anita was such a good friend, always there to help Sam, no matter what. Loved it all. Personally, I'm a huge fan of split POVs – and I loved reading from both Sam and Eve's perspectives; I especially enjoyed seeing Evelyn going from a confident princess with a crush to a magic-crazed, obsessive, dangerously in love super-witch. Why? Because it was fascinating. And kind of terrifying. And then the plot... it was so fast-paced and exciting! A quest – a real quest! – but broadcast over social media! It was just so cool! And the way Sam was always moving, always thinking, always getting that next ingredient... Loved it. I also loved the way Sam and Zain's relationship developed – it felt really natural and sweet, even though the Kemis and Asters were basically sworn enemies at the time (long story - read The Potion Diaries and find out all about it). This world – God, I wanna live here! Action, adventure, magic, potions, social media... It literally sounds like my dream world. I mean, can you imagine going by mirror to see a unicorn and posting about it on Twitter? That would literally be the coolest thing ever. And all the alchemy, the various mythologies around the world, the Talenteds and ordinary people and then the awesome Kemi potion brewing skill... I was blown away by the depth of this world – and also by how seamlessly I just kind of... fit in. You know? The mythology was so easy to pick up and it was so much fun to explore the world alongside Sam. Oh, and also the Royal family! Can you imagine if the Queen had magic? How cool would that be! Am I the only one with this dream? Perhaps... So yes, I had a lot of fun reading The Potion Diaries. It was such an awesome, exciting, easy and enjoyable read – I was so sad to leave the world after I put the book down! I have to wait until July for book two people! How am I meant to live without my magical social media hit? I just don't know anymore! Seriously though, if you love urban fantasies that are more fun than they are angst-ridden, with a mythology that explores the whole world and also takes elements from all over our world, The Potion Diaries is definitely for you. Ok, I can't resist it anymore. I'm gonna do the potion ingredients of The Potion Diaries. How can I not, guy? Here goes... 1 cup of coffee beans for the adrenaline of adventure 1 strand of hair from a unicorn's tail for magic 5 drops of your blood for the sense of family 2 rose petals for romance 1 slither of metal from a broken blade for a successful quest The crushed powder of one dried, poisonous scorpion for danger 3 spoonfuls of chocolate for pure awesomeness Allow to simmer, strain and then enjoy. Ok, if you guys can think of something better tell me – I think this isn't my best work! But there is a lot of adventures, magic, family, romance, quests and awesomeness in The Potion Diaries, so... Yeah, I stand by my potion. Until I or one of you lovely people think of something better. An alchemist, I clearly am not…...more
I read The Dead House in a single sitting. It blew my mind. Totally. Completely. Irreversibly. I literally cannot believe how amazing this book was –I read The Dead House in a single sitting. It blew my mind. Totally. Completely. Irreversibly. I literally cannot believe how amazing this book was – especially for someone's debut novel! I just... wow. I am seriously struggling to find the words. It's so hard... The Dead House is so freaking unique and it blew my goddamn mind. Ah, I need the words... Here goes… 'I AM NOT A SICKNESS!' Carly and Kaitlyn Johnson are unique: two sisters, two people, who share one body. Carly has the day. Kaitlyn belongs to the night. People think they are crazy. Are they? Naida Chounan-Dupré, a practitioner of Mala, doesn't think so. And then one night, twenty-five years ago, the school the girls attended burnt down. Three were killed. One vanished – Carly Johnson. Ever since, this event has become known as the Johnson Incident – but very little was actually known about it. Until a journal was found among the wreckage – a diary that belonged to Kaitlyn. Along with police interviews, Naida's video footage and psychiatry sessions, the diary finally sheds a light upon the mystery that happened all those years ago. What happened that night? Who set the fire? And who is Kaitlyn Johnson? I received The Dead House in the mail. It came with a post-it note on it, reading ‘I curse anyone who reads this book’. Also with it, an admissions form for the psychiatric hospital Carly and Kaitlyn were sent to. The moment I saw these intriguing little extras, I began to read. And just... whoa. I have never, ever read anything like The Dead House. It's going to be so hard to write this review – partly because I really don't want to write any spoilers, partly because it's so hard to describe everything this book made me feel, everything this book is. I just... God, I still don't have the words – not to do The Dead House justice. All of the characters were just... so amazingly made and so complex. I can't say much about them – I don't want to give anything away about this mind-blowing plot. But all of them just blew me away, because I never knew what to do with any of them. Kaitlyn was the most intriguing character. Broken, dark, scared, so lonely. And the biggest question, one everyone has to ask, is she even real? Is she crazy? Whatever you believe, you can't deny she's one of the most interesting characters in any YA paranormal thriller. Carly – we didn't see a lot of Carly. But we saw some of the notes the girls pass to one another – they are so close, so loving, it's so sweet... The first time Ari entered the story was hilarious – with the bowler hat and the "I have excellent taste. It'd be gay if I wasn't so straight." And their IM chats... killed me! Naida was another intriguing character – she was into Mala, a kind of magic. The whole thing was so fascinating, actually – and freaking terrifying! Enough with the characters! No spoilers, guys! I utterly adored Dawn's writing – it was phenomenal. The mix of diary entries, interviews, film footage and notes was pure genius and so brilliantly compelling. I was so addicted to every single word that Dawn wrote – every. single. damn. word. It was like a spell had been cast over me. If you know me, you know I love a good thriller. I've watched and read many – horrors and mysteries too. But I have never read a plotline quite like that of The Dead House. It was... whoa. I still can't get my head around it – still can't believe this brilliantly crafted, utterly terrifying, bloody brilliant story line. It is just... bloody hell. I seriously don't have the words! I never knew what to expect, was left desperate for more answers, left stunned, mind blown, and utterly lost for words. I just... bloody hell. The other issues – was this insanity or Mala? – were utterly intriguing. I know which I'm leaning towards, but either way... whoa. The complexity of the Johnson split personality disorder was utterly intriguing – and towards the end the theory about why rang true... As for Naida's dual-soul and Olen-based beliefs, those were just as intriguing, oddly just as believable too. It was all just... whoa (never have I said whoa so much in one review). This review is random ramblings – I'm not even sure it makes sense and I apologise. It's just The Dead House was so freaking amazing. It was scary as hell, utterly addictive and pure damn magic. I'm not sure how to tell you guys how goddamned and bloody fantastic. You can't blame me – only about ten percent of my thought process is going towards this review. Sixty percent is silent, lost for words, blown away. The other thirty is still trying to figure everything out, still trying to desperately piece together the clues, my thoughts, my mind, my heart. I just... Ok, I seriously have no words. So I'm going to do you all a favour and stop and give you a piece of advice instead. Buy The Dead House. Buy it right freaking now. Read it. Read it right freaking now. It is one of the most intense, most suspenseful, most shocking and most breath-taking thrillers you will read this year – or ever, actually. I honestly just can't recommend this bloody amazing book enough. It is... phenomenal. Unique. Incredible. And we're back to adjectives. I'll stop now. Just read it yourself – render yourself as incoherent as me. If you'll excuse me, I now have to go rock in a corner, hugging this book to my chest. I should be better in a year or two. Maybe....more