ARC REVIEW | The Truth About Keeping Secrets by Savannah Brown

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Title: THE TRUTH ABOUT KEEPING SECRETS

Author: SAVANNAH BROWN

Released: 7TH MARCH 2019 by PENGUIN

Genre: TEENS + YA CONTEMPORARY/MYSTERY & THRILLER

Rep: POC, LGBT+, MENTAL HEALTH | TWs: DEATH, GRIEF, DOMESTIC ABUSE, MENTION OF SUICIDE, NARCISSISTIC PERSONALITY

Savannah Brown has written a gorgeous debut novel with TTAKS (of course she’s a poet!). She explores some deep themes in death, grief, and learning to live with loss, and she does it beautifully and with the respect it deserves. Those of us who have gone through a loss, expected or not, will find solace in Sydney’s story. Grief is messy and variable because everyone experiences it differently, but damn is it hard! I absolutely cried reading this book…

The characters are realistic and unusual – I just loved them entirely. Brown has given us some real gems in this story. Just the right amount of flaw and validity, plus the intriguing storyline. I was hooked from the off! I nearly felt my heart was being dragged out of me with each chapter. Now, the ending I had an idea who did it, but the way she brings it all together is stunning!

My favourite side character has to be Leo, though. He’s just so funny and brings the perfect amount of levity to Sydney’s life exactly when it’s needed.

Totally had to be a FIVE STAR read for me. Have you picked it up yet?


A stunning coming-of-age tale from poet and writer Savannah Brown.

Sydney’s dad is the only psychiatrist for miles around in their small Ohio town.

He is also unexpectedly dead.

Sydney believes the crash was anything but an accident. And when the threatening texts begin, and June Copeland – homecoming queen and golden child – appears at his funeral out of nowhere, she’s sure of it.

But through Sydney’s newfound relationship with June, she’s given a glimpse of a life without the darkness of an unresolved grief and the chance, just maybe, of a fresh start.

Until it’s clear that the secrets won’t go away, and the truth might bring everything crashing down…

Imperfect friendships, the shadow of grief and the sweet pain of romance – this is a poetic, thrilling ode to being human.

Thank you so much to Savannah Brown, Penguin, and DeptCon4 for the ARC.


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The Boneless Mercies by April Genevieve Tucholke (ARC review)

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TITLE: The Boneless Mercies

AUTHOR: April Genevieve Tucholke

RELEASES: October 4th 2018 by Simon & Schuster UK

GENRE: Teens + YA Fantasy

A dark and gorgeously drawn standalone YA fantasy about a band of mercenary girls in search of female glory. Won in a major six-house auction!

Frey, Ovie, Juniper, and Runa are the Boneless Mercies—girls hired to kill quickly, quietly, and mercifully. But Frey is weary of the death trade and, having been raised on the heroic sagas of her people, dreams of a bigger life.

When she hears of an unstoppable monster ravaging a nearby town, Frey decides this is the Mercies’ one chance out. The fame and fortune of bringing down such a beast would ensure a new future for all the Mercies. In fact, her actions may change the story arc of women everywhere.

Full of fierce girls, bloodlust, tenuous alliances, and unapologetic quests for glory, this elegantly spun tale challenges the power of storytelling—and who gets to be the storyteller. Perfect for fans of Maggie Stiefvater, V.E. Schwab, and Heidi Heilig.

Wayfarers, this just might have made top reads of 2018 for me! It’s been marketed as a genderbent Beowulf in alternative Scandinavia. Now, having never read Beowulf, I can’t say how true that is or not. However, I can say this story delivers all the things I love: soft-hearted boys, strong-willed girls, and an epic adventure to save a village. DOES NOT DISAPPOINT!
Frey, Ovie, Juniper, and Runa are ferociously driven girls who give no fucks about what the world thinks of them, and I love it! They navigate their world with their own moral compass, staying true to each other and their own minds.

I also really loved Trigve. He’s so kind hearted and sweet. He really adds a certain element to the story. I did think his relationship with Frey was a bit odd, though.

Their journey brings them into contact with so many interesting characters. It’s a brilliant novel that is extremely well written. I’ll definitely be reading it again.

Thank you so much to Simon & Schuster UK for providing me with a proof copy. All quotes are taken from an ARC and may not match the final release.

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Fawkes by Nadine Brandes (eARC review)

TITLE: Fawkes

AUTHOR: Nadine Brandes

RELEASES: July 10th 2018 by Thomas Nelson

GENRE: Historical Fiction/Fantasy

“I breathed deep through my nose. No matter my answer, there was no going back. I was committing to either treason or cowardice. I’d been a coward once already that day.No longer.”

MY THOUGHTS: Like many other MCs, Thomas Fawkes is an idealist, albeit an extremely honest with himself idealist. He admits to being a coward and many other things besides. This honesty made me like him all the more; although, he’s definitely no hero. If he had tried to hide it, I would have scoffed and the story would have lost a little something for me. As it was, the story was slow moving and pretty boring in my view. Keepers and Igniters are similar to modern-day religion with opposing views that are irreconcilable. Catholics versus Protestants many years ago is what comes to mind. This society had one way of thinking versus the other, which is pretty normal in most storylines, but this particular one was dangerous. If you were a Keeper, you had a death wish. 


“The very topic of White Light has caused Igniters to hunt down and murder Keepers. Wouldn’t you be wary if you weren’t an Igniter?”


Thomas doesn’t have strong family ties as his mother died when he was young and his father was away working on some plot. Now, Thomas is looking for answers to his Keeper background and upbringing after being raised and schooled among Igniters. Why is White Light so taboo among Keepers, while, for Igniters, it brings freedom of power and allows more power than Keepers seem to be comfortable with? White Light is the source of all power, so Keepers believe it must be locked down and ignored. Does speaking to White Light really make people power hungry or is that simply a personal trait that is not really correlated with being an Igniter? Do Keepers, or anyone really, fully understand White Light? Or is White Light truly bad? These are all questions Thomas sets out to answer for himself.


Then Emma, a girl from Thomas’ school, turns up in London and kind of throws a spanner into his plans. She pushes him to ask more questions and a colleague of the plot demands they ‘seek the source’. She’s an Igniter, but has something she’s hiding. He doesn’t know whether he can trust her or not, but still allows himself to get close to her, as it allows him access to information necessary to the plot.

“My culture had affected my way of thinking without my consent,How many other things had it shaped without my knowing it? It made me want to examine things – to seek the heart of matters. Of skin color, of Keepers, of Igniters, of White Light, of all my assumptions.”

If you’re involved in a plot that will change the way your society works in the long run, do you still stand up for what you know to be right in your day to day life? Or do you let that go so as not to draw attention to yourself and keep yourself free for the bigger picture?

A few times throughout the novel, Thomas enacts some heroic act – usually in relation to Emma. But I want to know – is he doing it to impress her or rather because her conviction give him the strength to be less than cowardly? I feel like it’s a bit of both, really. He’s like any young boy, wanting the attention of the pretty girl from school, but being also involved in such a huge plot, he has other things on his mind, as well. He wants to be brave and stand up for what he believes, the trouble is he’s a coward who doesn’t know what to believe yet.

“The resignation in my voice sickened me, but I clung to my knowledge of the Gunpowder Plot. It would change this. I would change this.”

All in all, I struggled to finish this book. I very nearly DNF’ed it, but was so close to the end that I forced myself on. The last 10% got better and then had a terrible ending. I wouldn’t recommend this to very many people simply because I found it boring. The historical aspect was slightly interesting, but the characters that made up the story ruined the plot for me entirely. I didn’t find them relatable or interesting, so I just could not get into the story. I found myself avoiding the book at quite a few points. 

AMAZON * GOODREADS * BOOKDEPOSITORY

BLURB: Thomas Fawkes is turning to stone, and the only cure to the Stone Plague is to join his father’s plot to assassinate the king of England.

Silent wars leave the most carnage. The wars that are never declared, but are carried out in dark alleys with masks and hidden knives. Wars where color power alters the natural rhythm of 17th century London. And when the king calls for peace, no one listens until he finally calls for death.

But what if death finds him first?

Keepers think the Igniters caused the plague. Igniters think the Keepers did it. But all Thomas knows is that the Stone Plague infecting his eye is spreading. And if he doesn’t do something soon, he’ll be a lifeless statue. So when his Keeper father, Guy Fawkes, invites him to join the Gunpowder Plot—claiming it will put an end to the plague—Thomas is in.

The plan: use 36 barrels of gunpowder to blow up the Igniter King.

The problem: Doing so will destroy the family of the girl Thomas loves. But backing out of the plot will send his father and the other plotters to the gallows. To save one, Thomas will lose the other.

No matter Thomas’s choice, one thing is clear: once the decision is made and the color masks have been put on, there’s no turning back.

“..blowing up three hundred Parliament members and the king of England wasn’t restoration. It was death with no phoenix to rise out of it.”


All quotes are taken from an ARC and may not match the final product. Thank you so much to Thomas Nelson for providing me with this ARC via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review!

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