Tag Archive | review

Review: Between the Lives

Between the Lives

Between the Lives by Jessica Shirvington

Book description (from Goodreads) –

Above all else, though I try not to think about it, I know which life I prefer. And every night when I Cinderella myself from one life to the next a very small, but definite, piece of me dies. The hardest part is that nothing about my situation has ever changed. There is no loophole.

Until now, that is…

For as long as she can remember, Sabine has lived two lives. Every 24 hours she Shifts to her ′other′ life – a life where she is exactly the same, but absolutely everything else is different: different family, different friends, different social expectations. In one life she has a sister, in the other she does not. In one life she′s a straight-A student with the perfect boyfriend, in the other she′s considered a reckless delinquent. Nothing about her situation has ever changed, until the day when she discovers a glitch: the arm she breaks in one life is perfectly fine in the other.

With this new knowledge, Sabine begins a series of increasingly risky experiments which bring her dangerously close to the life she′s always wanted… But just what – and who – is she really risking?

ARC Review

Between the Lives is the first novel by Jessica Shirvington that I have read, and I loved it.  I read the entire novel in one sitting because I was so engrossed in the story that there was no way I could stop reading.

Between the Lives has a very interesting and unique storyline.  Main character Sabine has two lives – two different families, two different social groups, two different lifestyles.  The only things that are common to Sabine’s two lives are her name, her memories, and her physicality.  Sabine experiences each day twice: once in the town of Roxbury, where she lives with her parents and younger sister, Maddie, and once in the town of Wellesley, where she lives with her mother and has two older brother’s, Ryan and Lucas.

Every night at midnight Sabine Shifts from one life to the next, and when she Shifts lives, that life will pick up right where it left off – like no time has passed.  Living two lives has never been easy for Sabine but she does manage; however everything changes when Sabine breaks her arm.  Usually if Sabine is sick or injured in one life it will transfer to her other life…except this time it hasn’t.  As Sabine wonders what has changed, she also begins to wonder if she can finally have one life – that maybe, somehow, she could choose her Roxbury life or her Wellesley life.  But if it is possible, which life will she choose?  As Sabine beings to test her theory that she may be able to choose one life, everything begins to unravel.

In her Wellesley life, Sabine has a boyfriend, Dex, and while things are far from perfect between them, she feels that Dex is right for her – at least in her Wellesley life.  In Roxbury, Sabine meets Ethan and begins to develop feelings for him.  Sabine does not want two relationships and having feelings for two men is adding to her already stressful lives.

I was most definitely Team Ethan.  I thought he was so kind and compassionate.  He was a great influence on Sabine.  I disliked Dex; I thought he was selfish and an all-round jerk.  I did not like the way he treated Sabine.  Sabine is a complex character with many layers.  While she is essentially herself in both her lives, there are some differences in her personality, in terms of how she interacts with people in one life compared to the other – which is only natural considering that she does have two lives.  I instantly liked Sabine in her Roxbury life, although it did take me a little while to warm up to her in her Wellesley life.  I think the reason for this is that I felt she was a little more relatable in her Roxbury life.  In Wellesley, I couldn’t understand some of her decisions.  I kept thinking: why are you with Dex, Sabine?

I very much enjoyed Jessica Shirvington’s writing style.  She explains the Shifts from one life to the other that Sabine experiences so well.  It’s very easy to understand what is happening, there is no confusion.  I experienced so many emotions while reading Between the Lives.  It was heart-breaking and heart-warming.  I found myself reaching for the tissues.  After I read Sabine’s story, I found myself still thinking about it days after.

Emotionally raw and intense, Between the Lives emphasises the power and hope of love and highlights just how precious life is.  Unforgettable.

5/5

*Thank you to Harper Collins Australia for providing me with a copy of Between the Lives to review.

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Published by:  Harper Collins Australia
Release date:  1st May 2013

Review: The Farm

the farm

The Farm (The Farm #1) by Emily McKay

Book description (from Goodreads) –

For Lily and her twin sister, Mel, there is only the Farm . . .

It’s a prison, a blood bank, a death camp – where fear and paranoia rule. But it’s also home, of sorts. Because beyond the electric fence awaits a fate much, much worse.

But Lily has a plan.

She and Mel are going to escape – into the ravaged land outside, a place of freedom and chaos and horrors. Except Lily hasn’t reckoned on two things: first, her sister’s ability to control the horrors; and, secondly, on those out there who desperately want to find and control Mel.

Mel’s growing power might save the world, or utterly end it. But only Lily can protect Mel from what is to come . . .

The Farm takes you into a terrifying future where civilization has ended, and leaves you there – fearful, gasping and begging to escape.

Review

I loved this novel.  I could not put it down; I became addicted to it.  The Farm by Emily McKay is full of suspense, action, and horror, and I could not stop reading.  It was one of those novels where I wanted to know what happened, yet at the same time I didn’t want it to end because I was enjoying it so much.

In Emily McKay’s The Farm, the United States of America has changed; it has become overrun with Ticks.  Ticks are grotesque creatures, and the best way for me to describe them is that they are mutant humans who act like mutant vampires.  Everyone was lead to believe that Farms would be safe places for teenagers; a way to protect them from Ticks – who prefer the blood of teenagers.  The government told parents it would be safe.

However life on the Farm is not easy – you donate blood, which is given to the Ticks, you keep your head down and your contact with others to a minimum. You just don’t know who you can trust.  For main character Lily, she takes every precaution to avoid trouble.  If you get in to trouble on the Farm…you die.  Lily’s main reason for avoiding trouble is not just to protect herself, but also to protect her twin sister, Mel, who has autism.  Lily would do anything to protect Mel, and that means leaving the Farm – because once a teenager turns 18, they disappear from the Farm – never to be seen again.

Lily doesn’t know what happens to teenagers once they turn 18, but she suspects that they are thrown to the Ticks – and with Lily and Mel’s 18th birthday just around the corner, Lily is taking no chances.  She doesn’t know what life is like outside the walls of the Farm – how life has changed, if people are fighting back, who is still alive – but she can’t risk staying there any longer.  All she can think about is keeping Mel safe.

I loved Lily.  She is protective, loyal, stubborn, quick witted, and very self-less when it comes to Mel.  Lily does feel a huge responsibility to look after Mel and sometimes she resents it, but at the same time she would not have it any other way.  She loves her sister and is extremely protective of her.

While Lily is the main character and the story is told mostly in her point of view, there are also chapters in Mel’s point of view and that of another character – Carter.  I adored Mel; she has such a beautiful soul.  She is kind, caring, brave, and she deeply loves her sister, Lily.  I loved the chapters from her perspective.

As mentioned earlier, there are also chapters from Carter’s point of view.  Carter has arrived at the Farm with a mission: to rescue Lily and Mel.  He knew Lily in the Before (before the Ticks), when they went to school together.  Carter has his reasons for wanting to get Lily and Mel off the Farm, but he can’t tell Lily why – at least not straight away.  He is desperate for Lily to trust him, but she is hesitant.  She wants to, she would love to trust him, but she hasn’t kept herself and Mel safe on the Farm for the past 6 months by trusting people.  Lily needs Carter to prove that he is trustworthy.

Carter is one of those gorgeous male characters that you keep turning the pages for.  You want to read more about him.  He is strong, kind, loyal, and honourable.  He occasionally says the wrong things to Lily but he has the best of intentions.  He is keeping secrets from Lily but he does have his reasons.  He wants to keep Lily and Mel safe.  I do believe that Carter’s feelings for Lily are his own and not what he feels is being projected onto him.  I know that doesn’t make much sense, but it will after you have read the novel.  I don’t want to say too much, because I don’t want to spoil the story for anyone.

The Farm is an action packed dystopian novel but at its core it is a story of love.  The love Lily has for her sister, Mel; the love Mel has for Lily.  The love Carter feels for Lily; the feelings Lily has for Carter.  There are also two other characters that love each other (but again, no spoilers).

I experienced so many emotions while reading this novel, and I was left in shock by an event that occurred towards the end of the story.  I can’t wait to read the sequel.

The Farm by Emily McKay is absolute brilliance.  A must read.

5/5

*Thank you to Penguin Australia for providing me with a copy of The Farm to review.

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Published by: Penguin Australia
Release date: 21st November 2012

Review: The Secret Life of Sparrow Delaney

Sparrow Delaney

The Secret Life of Sparrow Delaney by Suzanne Harper

Book description (from Goodreads) –

In high school, the last thing you want is for people to think you talk to ghosts.

When Sparrow begins tenth grade at a huge new school full of strangers, she thinks her dreams of anonymity and a fresh start are finally coming true. No more following in her six older sisters’ footsteps. No more going to class with kids who’ve seen her grandma doing jujitsu in the front yard next to the headstones of her four dead husbands. And no more worrying about keeping her deep, dark secret hidden.

Sparrow makes a new best friend and has her eye on an irritatingly appealing guy in her history class. She feels like she’s well on her way to a normal life. But it’s another boy–a dead one–who wants Sparrow’s attention, and he won’t let her be till she’s helped him Move On.

You see, Sparrow Delaney’s secret is that she’s a psychic. And there’s one very persistent ghost who won’t let her forget it.

Review

When I saw this book at my local library, I was instantly intrigued by the title and the cover.  The tarot cards that feature on the cover piqued my curiosity, and after I read the book description, I knew that this was a book that I definitely wanted to read.

The Secret Life of Sparrow Delaney centres around main character Sparrow, who has been able to see and talk to ghosts since the age of five.  She has kept these abilities a secret from her mother, grandmother, and sisters.  She doesn’t want the life that her family has; she doesn’t want to talk to ghosts, she doesn’t want to read tarot cards, and she certainly doesn’t want to perform spiritual readings like her mother, grandmother, and sisters.  Sparrow just wants to be normal – to not be considered a ‘freak’ by her peers.

I really liked Sparrow.  It was easy to understand why she wanted to keep her abilities a secret.  She doesn’t want people to look at her like she is from some strange planet, and she thinks that if she reveals her abilities that that is exactly what will happen. She’s scared.  She sees her abilities as a curse not a gift.

Helping Sparrow, and trying to get her to embrace her talents, are her three spirit guides – Professor Timble, Prajeet, and Floyd.  I loved them; I loved the humour and lightness that they added to the story.

Sparrows feels that there is nothing that will make her reveal her abilites, but she begins to feel torn when she meets a ghost who desperately needs her help – Luke.  I loved, loved, loved Luke.  He is the kind of character that you just want to give a big hug to.  He is funny, kind, and stubborn (in a hilarious way).  Some of the things he did brought a huge smile to my face.

As the story progresses, Sparrow learns more about Luke – they begin to form a friendship.  But is it enough to make Sparrow reveal her abilities?  Sparrow also begins to form a friendship with Jack, the quiet, brooding, classmate with a sarcastic wit.  They become research partners for their history project, and as they spend more and more time together, Sparrow learns why Jack is so quiet – why he keeps to himself.  He is suffering from a terrible heart-break.

Just as I loved Luke, I also loved Jack.  Jack has, in a way, built a protective wall around himself, but he begins to let Sparrow in.  Jack doesn’t believe in psychics or mediums, and Sparrow is desperate to keep her family and her abilities a secret from Jack.  There is a reason why Jack doesn’t believe in people having the ability to see ghosts, but if anyone can change his mind, it’s Sparrow.  But will she?

I just loved the story that Suzanne Harper created.  It was a delight to read.  The Secret Life of Sparrow Delaney is a story of love and loss, family and friendship, hope, and embracing who you are.

5/5

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Published by: Greenwillow Books (Harper Collins USA)
Release date: July 2007

Review: When it Happens

when it happensWhen it Happens by Susane Colasanti

Book description –

It’s the final year of high-school and Sara wants two things: to get into a top university – and to find true love.

Tobey also wants two things: to win the Battle of the Bands – and to make Sara fall in love with him.

One year.

One boy.

One girl.

One very real love.

Review.

I had always wanted to read a novel written by Susane Colasanti, so I was eagerly anticipating just what I would discover between the pages of When it Happens.  The story sounded so interesting, so romantic: a boy and girl, both in their senior year, both looking for something real – true love.  But after I turned the final page, I felt disappointed.  When it Happens just didn’t meet my expectations.

The plot was interesting, but I felt that author Susane Colasanti didn’t delve deep enough into the story, into the emotions of the characters.  I often felt that I was told, not shown, what the characters were feeling.  I wanted more.

The main characters, Sara and Tobey, are likeable; although I did find myself getting angry with Tobey for his lying.  The secondary characters all had their own stories to tell, but again, I felt that their stories stayed on the surface.  I wanted to know more about them.

When it Happens was Susane Colasanti’s first novel, and she has written many novels since.  While When it Happens was not my cup of tea, I could see Colasanti’s potential as a story-teller, which is why I would read another of her novels; I’m particularly interested in her novel Keep Holding On.

I didn’t hate When it Happens, but I didn’t love it either.  I just wanted more.

2.5/5

*Thank you to Scholastic Australia for providing me with a copy of When it Happens to review.

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Published by: Scholastic UK
Release date: August 2012 (first published in the USA in 2006)

Review: Blood Storm

Blood Storm

Blood Storm by Rhiannon Hart (Lharmell #2)

Book description (from Goodreads) –

The rain wanted to be ocean; the ice in the mountain caps wanted freedom. I never knew that water held such longing. The clouds above my head rumbled like a growling wolf, impatient to release their burden. I held the rain there a moment longer. I turned to Renata, heard her gasp and knew my eyes glowed blue.

I spoke a single word. ‘Rain.’

In the Second Book of Lharmell, Zeraphina and Rodden must travel across the sea to find the elusive ingredients that will help them to win the coming battle against the Lharmellin – but shadows from Rodden’s dark past may come back to haunt him. And while she learns to harness her new abilities, Zeraphina still fights the hunger that makes her crave the north – not to mention avoiding her mother, who wants to see
her wayward daughter married to a prince at all costs.

Review

Wow, what an absolutely amazing novel.  I could not put Blood Storm down.  With every turn of the page I was drawn deeper into the story.  It’s the perfect sequel to Blood Song.

I think one of the reasons why this book is so captivating is because of the main character, Zeraphina.  She is such a likeable character.  Zeraphina is funny, kind-hearted, loyal, brave, and has a great sarcastic wit.  The banter between Zeraphina and Rodden continues in Blood Storm, and with Zeraphina’s sarcastic wit and Rodden’s at times frustrating manner, some of the conversations between them are quite funny.

I loved Rodden in this novel.  There is so much that Zeraphina does not know about him – how he became a harming; his past.  I was as keen as Zeraphina was to learn more about him. When Rodden’s past is revealed it is both heart-breaking and terrifying.  Learning about Rodden’s past gives the reader a clear insight as to why he acts the way he does, why he seems to, at times, keep Zeraphina at a distance.

Zeraphina and Rodden face many obstacles in Blood Storm.  The harmings are regrouping and Zeraphina’s mother, Queen Renata, wants Zeraphina married as soon as possible.  The queen has found a potential suitor for Zeraphina in Prince Folsum.  He is absolutely vile, an awful man, and I felt so sorry for Zeraphina.  The last thing she wants is to marry him.  He is causing all sorts of problems for Zeraphina with accusations as well as threats towards Rodden, and when Prince Folsum’s sister becomes involved in the matter things become even worse.

One of my very favourite parts of the Lharmell novels are when Zeraphina, Rodden, and Zeraphina’s animal companions, Leap and Griffin, are all travelling together.  They make such a fantastic team; they work so wonderfully together.  I just love reading about them.  There is something very special about the four of them together.

There is so much suspense and action in Blood Storm, as well as several twists and turns including a shocking cliff-hanger.  I was in disbelief.  I found myself thinking no, no, no.  I have so many questions.  Will Zeraphina have to marry Prince Folsum?  I also have another question, but I can’t tell you what it is because it will spoil the ending if I do.  I’m sure once you have read the ending that you will be able to guess what my question is.  I can’t wait to read the next book in the series to see what happens next.

Blood Storm is one of those books that pull you into the story completely and you find yourself eagerly turning the pages, desperate to know what will happen next and how the characters’ stories will unfold.

5/5

*Thank you to Random House Australia for providing me with a copy of Blood Storm to review.

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Published by: Random House Australia
Release date: August 2012

Review: The Summer My Life Began (Blog Tour)

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Today, is the first of two Treasured Tales for Young Adults stops on the Summer My Life Began Blog Tour. Today, I will be sharing with you my review of The Summer My Life Began.  Stop by the blog tomorrow for an interview with author, Shannon Greenland.

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The Summer My Life Began by Shannon Greenland

Book description (from Goodreads) -

Elizabeth Margaret—better known as Em—has always known what life would contain: an internship at her father’s firm, a degree from Harvard and a career as a lawyer. The only problem is that it’s not what she wants. When she gets the opportunity to get away from it all and spend a month with the aunt she never knew, she jumps at the chance. While there, Em pursues her secret dream of being a chef, and she also learns that her family has kept some significant secrets from her, too. And then there’s Cade, the laid-back local surfer boy who seems to be everything Em isn’t. Naturally, she can’t resist him, and as their romance blossoms, Em feels she is living on her own terms for the first time.

Review

For as long as Em can remember her life has been planned, structured and controlled by her parents and grandmother; and Em has always gone along with it…until now.

Overwhelmed by her structured life, Em just wants the chance to breathe and enjoy life. For Em, enjoying life means following her secret passion for cooking by becoming a chef; but how can she become a chef when it will disappoint both her parents and grandmother?

Hope comes in the form of a graduation card from Em’s Aunt Tilly – an Aunt that Em has never heard of – inviting her to spend the summer at her bed and breakfast, the Pepper House, in the Outer Banks. This is just the escape that Em needs.

Curious as to why she has never heard of her Aunty Tilly, Em questions her parents, but only receives evasive answers. When Em heads to the Pepper House, the family secrets continue with Aunty Tilly being just as evasive as her parents. Em is determined to find out why Aunty Tilly has been kept a secret from her and her sister, Gwenny, for all these years.

While at the Pepper House, Em begins to spend time with Cade – the Pepper House’s young handy-man. He brings out Em’s impulsive side, but with Cade keeping his own secrets, can Em truly get to know him? And when Em discovers her family’s secret will she be ready for the consequences?

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I absolutely adored The Summer My Life Began. It was one of those novels where I didn’t want it to end because I was enjoying it so much. I just wanted to keep reading and reading.

One of the things that made me fall in love with this novel was the incorporation of cooking; I loved how when Em was cooking she would mention the ingredients she was using. I found myself thinking: “that sounds yummy, I could make that.”

Em was a very likeable character and I really enjoyed reading her story. She has such controlling parents and a very hard and emotionally cold grandmother, and Em feels that she has no control over the direction that her life is taking but she has no idea how to stop it. The only light in her family life is that of her sister, Gwenny.

I loved Em and Gwenny’s relationship; it was just beautiful. They are so close and have this unbreakable bond. They care so deeply for each other and would do anything for one another. They aren’t just sisters, they are also friends. The only person to have ever see the real Em is her sister, Gwenny, and while at the Pepper House, Em feels free for the first time in her life – she can just be herself one hundred per cent of the time. She can cook, laugh and not hide her true feelings. She can just be Em; and she loves it.

Being at the Pepper House opens up a whole new world to Em. It’s not just that Em is spending time with an Aunt and cousin that she never knew she had, she is learning about herself and how it is okay for her to follow her heart and her dreams. It’s just a matter of finding the courage to confront her parents.

Helping Em to find out what she truly wants is Cade, and I just loved him. He is, in a way, broken; he has his own family troubles and I loved how Em and Cade helped each other. It was beautiful to read. I just so very much enjoyed Em’s story. I loved seeing her gain more confidence in herself and her cooking.

Not only is The Summer My Life Began a romance novel, it is also a novel full of mystery and intrigue. I was turning the pages eagerly, desperately wanting to know what the family secret was – and wow, what a big secret.

The Summer My Life Began is a heart-felt, heart-warming, beautiful novel, making it the perfect summer time read.

5/5

*Thank you to Penguin Publishing, JKSCommunications and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of The Summer My Life Began to review.

Review: The Super Spies and the Cat Lady Killer

The Super Spies and the Cat Lady Killer by Lisa Orchard

Book description (from Goodreads) -

This book opens in a small town in Michigan where fifteen-year-old Sarah Cole is stuck spending the summer at her Aunt and Uncle’s with her sister, Lacey. She’s not happy with the situation until she befriends a girl named Jackie. The three girls stumble upon the ruthless murder of a reclusive neighborhood woman. One of the officers investigating the crime believes the girls are responsible for her death.

Fearing that this officer will frame them for the murder, the girls organize their own detective squad. They become the Super Spies and start their own fact-finding mission. The Super Spies can’t understand why anyone would want to murder the “Cat Lady” until they start digging into her past and discover a horrible crime that happened thirty years ago.

They uncover a connection between the two crimes and attempt to bring this information to the police, only to be reprimanded for meddling in the inquest. Not only are the girls upset by the admonition, but they also struggle with the fact that their exuberant investigating could provide a legal loophole allowing the killer to go free. To make matters worse, the police don’t even believe them. Frustrated by this turn of events, the Super Spies realize it’s up to them to snare the Cat Lady killer.

Review

Sarah’s expectations for her summer vacation are low. She and her sister, Lacey, are spending their summer in the small town of Harrisburg, at their Aunt and Uncle’s home.  Sarah is expecting a summer filled with long boring days, but she is about to discover just how wrong she is.

When Sarah meets local resident, Jackie, her expectations for the summer begins to rise – at least she will have someone the same age to spend her days with.  The two girls, along with Sarah’s sister, Lacey, play a game of ‘truth or dare’, which results in Sarah knocking on the door of Mrs Fedewa’s home – whom the local teen residents refer to as the weird ‘cat lady’.  The innocent game of truth or dare soon turns dangerous when Sarah discovers the dead body of the ‘cat lady’.

The girls are caught at the crime seen by the police, and one officer – Officer Klonsky – is determined to prove that the girls are responsible for the murder.  Sarah, Jackie and Lacey soon realize that if they want to clear their names and get justice for the ‘cat lady’ they will have to solve the murder themselves.

Calling themselves the Super Spies, the girls set out to find the real murderer, and what they uncover is both shocking and heart-breaking, and will put the girls’ lives in serious danger.  Will Sarah, Jackie and Lacey be able to clear their names and solve the mystery of who killed the ‘cat lady’, or will the killer find them first?

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One of the things that I really enjoyed about The Super Spies and the Cat Lady Killer was the suspense that filled the pages; I was on the edge of my seat wondering what was going to happen next.  I was unable to put the book down.  I was about 7/8 of the way through the book when a television show that I wanted to watch was about to start.  I actually missed the first fifteen minutes of the show because I wanted to finish the book; I had to know what happened.

Sarah, Jackie and Lacey are all likeable characters, and the friendship between Sarah and Jackie was something I loved.  Their friendship was effortless; it was like they had known each other their whole lives, not just a few weeks.  Also, by trying to unlock the mystery of who killed the ‘cat lady’, Sarah and her sister, Lacey, spend more time with each other, resulting in the girls becoming closer.  Sarah gets to learn more about her sister.  She realizes that they don’t have to be similar or like the same things to be close.

As the girls find themselves getting closer and closer to the truth of the crime, they discover just how tragic the ‘cat lady’s’ life had been.  Sarah showed so much compassion towards the ‘cat lady’ – she wanted so desperately to get justice for the ‘cat lady’, and as a reader I was touched by how deeply Sarah cared.

When I think of The Super Spies and the Cat Lady Killer, the first thing that comes to mind is how great this book would be at introducing the crime/thriller genre to a younger reader.  It’s filled with suspense, action, and friendship, and while the novel is about a murder it isn’t overly graphic.

The Super Spies and the Cat Lady Killer isn’t just a crime/thriller story, it’s also a story about friendship and life lessons, one that I thoroughly enjoyed.  I’m looking forward to seeing what adventures Sarah, Jackie and Lacey undertake next.

Taking the reader on a journey full of suspense, The Super Spies and the Cat Lady Killer, will have readers eagerly turning the pages – while their sitting on the edge of their seats – desperate to see how the story will unfold.

4/5

*Thank you to Lisa Orchard for providing me with a copy of The Super Spies and the Cat Lady Killer to review.