Favourite audiobooks of 2018

Look, I know it’s 2019 but I got a little too busy and forgot to post this sooooo here it is!

I feel like audiobooks don’t get enough love. Having discovered audiobooks this (last) year, I’ve been blessed with a fantastic range of books I’ve prefered on audio over physically reading it. Here are my seven top picks for 2018 and if you haven’t listened to them, go and treat yourself.

Also, not all of these were released in 2018; they are the ones I listened to in 2018!

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Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel

This is no surprise (because yes, I did listen to it again). It’s a sci-fi mystery following Dr. Rose Franklin as she works with an interesting team of people to uncover the secrets behind a giant robot hand she fell in when she was a young girl. Told through interview transcripts with an anonmyous interviewer (whose voice is simply riveting) and a brilliant multiple voice cast (Vincent’s voice actor melts me), it is an out-of-this-world experience.

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Sadie by Courtney Summers

I freaking loved this and honestly, Courtney Summers can have my soul. Sadie is told in two forms: a true crime podcast following Sadie’s journey (it reminded me of The Teacher’s Pet and Serial), and Sadie’s own perspective as the events unfolded. The narrator for Sadie nails her stutter and the extra effects such as coffee cups in a diner, the soft coughs and murmurs, the phone ringing were the right touches to elevate the experience this audiobook gives; it’s atmospheric, mesmerising and definitely one of my favourites from this year.

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The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

The hype for this book is real. It’s an amazingly crafted narrative about a journalist, Monique Grant, who is requested by the aging and mysterious Hollywood star Evelyn Hugo to write her memoir with no filter. Having had seven husbands, a robust climb in Hollywood’s glamour, the sweetness of forbidden love and a scandalous life in the tabloids, it is a tale that will leave you breathless and heartbroken. This is probably why it’s such a fantastic audiobook. 

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Want by Cindy Pon

Narrated by Roger Yeh, this 9 hour audiobook swept me away. This thrilling sci-fi is set in a near-future Taipei plagued by pollution and polarised in wealth. It follows Jason Zhou who, with a mismatched group of teens, risk everything to bring down the wealthy and save their city. It’s a must-listen.

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American Gods by Neil Gaiman

This is loooooong audiobook (almost 20 hours, which isn’t that long compared to IT by Stephen King which I still haven’t read, but moving on). I did this in segments while commuting to work, and every time I listened I was enthralled by the story: a man named Shadow has just been released from prison after his wife and best friend die in an accident. He’s hired by Mr. Wednesday, an incarnation of Odin, as an errand boy, and follows him on his journey to employ the Old Gods for their battle against the New Gods, manifestations of modern life such as the Internet, television, etc. It’s an addictive read, rich with mythology and Americana. You can never go wrong with a story by Neil. Would highly recommend this! 

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Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

This is narrated by Rosamund Pike and yo, she can read classics to me any day of the week. 10/10.

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The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

Do I even have to explain myself? This story is absolutely heartbreaking and listening to it again broke me. 

You’ll find me crying in my corner.

Did you have any favourite audiobooks from 2018? Let me know in the comments!

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A Loving Ode to 2018

I’m quite honestly in shock we’re about to go into 2019. What did I do this year? What did I read, learn, and love? Sooooo much. 

When I think back to January, it was a cesspool of anxiety and humidity (thanks Australia). I was starting at the university magazine with a very divsere group of people who didn’t always see eye-to-eye. I was struggling to decide what I wanted to do with my career after I graduated (which didn’t happen, but I’ll get to that). Yet January kickstarted by passion for books. I travelled all the way to Melbourne for YA Day (and a conference on magazine editing), and come February, I had formed friendships with like-minded people who screamed about shitty characters with me, and other friends with whom I ate a lot of pad thai with. 

It was around March I started getting quite serious about books and wanting to be in publishing. It was also around this time I discovered amazing people on Twitter who I can now call some of my closest friends. Without these people, I don’t know if I ever would have left the shell I’d been hiding in for so long. I turned up to book launches and met lovely authors. I was offered to co-host an awesome fantasy and sci-fi book club with the sweetest and sassiest people I know. I got accepted as a publicity intern with Sydney Writers Festival and learned so much from the team. I stood in the presence of Tayari Jones and didn’t lose my mind. 

Cuddle your pets. It helps.

However, by April and May things were piling up and I was very quickly spiralling into a state where I was constantly stressed and anxious. I put on weight and started to loathe myself. I went for interviews for publicity jobs in publishing despite not having finished my degree. I got rejected. I was handling a student magazine in a rather toxic environment, managing an online publication, finishing an internship, working nights at a bar, studying, and maintaining a social life. I’m thinking back on it now and wondering how the heck I did it. I guess the answer is I sacrificed my health to keep going, and that isn’t healthy. Not by a long shot. But I didn’t feel like I could leave. That would make me a failure. 

Then something happened. I got a job in publishing – a full-time paid job. My friends and family were estatic and I almost melted down from how happy I was. It was like this pressure dissolved from my body and I could breathe again. I immediately quit the student magazine and deferred university; I would have graduated by now, but I placed a lot of faith in myself to focus on the huge learning curve my new job entailed (I’m still salty at all my friends posting graduation photos, I love you but pls). 


Here’s something no one tells you when it comes to full-time work. It drains you. I live quite far from the city so I commute roughly five hours a day (pleeeeenty of reading time). The shift from night work where I was working till 3am to getting up at 5:30am was difficult. I still slip into old habits by staying up till midnight on a Tuesday while watching Brooklyn Nine Nine. Full-time work at 22 meant I had to meal prep better, say bye bye to weekly pay (hello monthly!), schedule time for the gym, for friends, for the washing. Adulting is hard, and this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Pro tip: get eight hours sleep every night. Trust me. You need sleep. 

Disclaimer: working full-time in an industry I love didn’t make my mental health better. I had to work on it every day. There were days I couldn’t get up, days I wanted to be nothing more than a leaf in the wind. I thought I wasn’t worthy. I had to revisit methods of self-care and love daily so I wouldn’t slip. The thing with mental illness is it will always be there, and the road to recovery doesn’t have an end. It’s a constant journey. Despite this, I’m thankful for my friends for keeping tabs on me and selflessly helping me. Much love to you. 

I guess what I’m trying to do here is document what I’ve done this year and validate myself. For a while I thought I should give up. I thought it was too hard. I thought I was weak for not being able to work 38 hours a week, commute 25 hours a week, manage an online publication, go to the gym, eat healthy, see friends, make my family happy, love my partner, write blog posts and film videos, and most importantly, love myself

Friends, my advice is don’t put too much on your plate thinking you’ll disappoint others by not doing it. You know your capacity. Don’t go over it to please others. And have some ice cream along the way. Treat yourself. 

And here I am now, six months on from that one phone call that landed me a job in my dream industry. I’ve read over 100 books, learned some self-care, am getting a short story published next year, and went through the biggest learning curve of my life. I’m healthy, happy, have the best friends, a loving partner, a supportive family, and I’m so thankful. If you’re feeling down, lost or scared, know that I’m here if you ever want to talk, and it does get better. I promise.

I’m ready for 2019. There will be more reviews, videos and content. See you soon!

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5 Books That Gave Me A Spook

Where my witches at tonight? It’s all Hallow’s Eve and I’m feeling magic in the air.

I’m honestly quite sad October will be over soon. But it’s not midnight yet, so I’m here to indulge you with my favourite spine-chilling reads that kept me up at night.

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The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

This gothic classic is a ghost story. It’s also psychologically manipulating and terrifying. The small details like the corners of the house, the sheer panic you feel as the characters question everything and their pasts are slowly revealed to us, and the monstrosity of the house makes this tale one of the best I’ve read in the horror genre. And also, why the heck would you rent a haunted house? Ya’ll crazy.

P.S. The show is just as good, if not better. 

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The Murders of Molly Southbourne by Tade Thompson

There’s only one rule Molly needs to follow: don’t bleed. When Molly bleeds, another Molly is born and this new Molly wants to erase the other. By a young age, Molly is well versed on how to kill herself. Despite being so short, this morbidly addictive story will have you rooting for the real Molly and leave you scared to bleed.

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Small Spaces by Sarah Epstein

It’s been a long time since I fell in love with an unrealiable and anxious narrator. Tash Carmody suffered a traumatic event as a child: she watched her best friend Mallory get taken by her terrifying imaginary friend, Sparrow. Years later, Mallory is mute and Tash’s disturbing childhood memories are resurfacing, asking her the question: was Sparrow real or did Tash do something to Mallory? I couldn’t put this down, absolutely hooked from page one as I tried to fill in the holes of Tash’s memory while doubting her own tale. Such a mind game of a book.

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Find You In The Dark by Nathan Ripley

We tend to sometimes boast about our love for true crime and serial killers. Unless you’re Martin Reese, who literally digs up murder victims and leaves anonymous messages to the police. It’s all fun and games until a serial killer starts hunting him, and a sharp detective catches his scent. A heart racing and chilling debut. 

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Dracul by Dacre Stoker and J.D Barker

A gothic prequel to the classic Dracula inspired by notes and texts left behind by Bram Stoker himself. Stuck in a tower facing a terrifying evil with only a rifle, holy water and a crucifix, Bram recollects how he got there, back to when he was mysteriously cured of a childhood ailment by his nanny Ellen, a woman who never seemed to age and disappeared in the middle of the night as strange murders started to surface. A truly spooky read. 

Let me know in the comments your favourite horror or thriller books. I’d love to read more!

On that note, have a happy Halloween!

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What the Heck Did I Read in September?

Welcome back to another one of my monthly wrap ups where I give tiny rants or gush over the books I read this month. 

September was a fabulous reading month, and I hope October is just as good.

Let’s get right into these heckin’ reviews.   

The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker: A retelling of the Illiad from the perspective of Breisis, the woman prized to Achilles. A powerful exploration of war, the treatment of women, and the simmering anger beneath the skin all from the female gaze.

What the Woods Keep by Katya de Beccera: A dark and twisted fantasy featuring witches, white ravens and cyrptic messages. Full review here. 

Sadie by Courtney Summers: A nail-biting thriller told through a podcast as a detective tries to find Sadie, who disappeared after her sister’s murder. I finished this with a deep breath of anger and amazement. Absolutely excellent and addictive as an audiobook with multiple cast members.

The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco: An immersive dark fantasy where the dead can be risen again, but for a price. The setting is gorgeous, the worldbuilding is great, and Tea is such a poignant protagonist it’s hard not to fall in love with her. Plot is rather slow and almost non-existent, but the beauty of this book makes up for it. 

There was a lot of rage in my books this month.

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor: I. LOVE. THIS. BOOK. ABSOLUTELY. GORGEOUS. I WANT TO READ THIS AGAIN. 

Dracul by Dacre Stoker and J.D Barker: The reimagined prequel to Dracula as the mysterious cure behind Bram Stoker’s childhood ailment may have come from their nanny Ellen, a woman who doesn’t eat and leaves in the middle of the night for the woods. A chilling and page-turning tale. Perfect for Halloween!

Reign of Mist by Helen Scheuerer: Yes, I re-read this. I don’t regret it.

The Boy at the Keyhole by Stephen Giles: A psychological thriller told from the perspective of a young boy named Smauel whose mother has been missing for 113 days and has been under the care of the housekeeper, Ruth. Except now Samuel is beginning is suspect Ruth of murdering his mother. Set in England in the 1960s, the almost gothic nature of this tale only adds to the whodunit. While somewhat anti-climatic and convoluted, it was an enjoyable read.   

What did you read in Sepetmber? Let me know your favs in the comments!

Until next time, 

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Author Interview and Review | What The Woods Keep by Katya De Becerra

29748448What The Woods Keep by Katya De Becerra

Publisher: Allen & Unwin 

Pub Date: 18 September 2018

Genre: Young Adult/Speculative Fiction

Synopsis: On her eighteenth birthday, Hayden inherits her childhood home—on the condition that she uncover its dark secrets.

Hayden tried to put the past behind her, and it worked. She’s getting ready for college, living in a Brooklyn apartment, and hanging out with her best friend and roommate Del. But now it’s all catching up with her: her mother’s mysterious disappearance a decade before, her father’s outlandish theories about a lost supernatural race, and Hayden’s own dark dreams of strange symbols and rituals in the Colorado woods where she grew up.

As soon as Hayden arrives at her hometown, her friend Del in tow, it begins: Neighbors whisper secrets about Hayden’s mother; the boy next door is now all grown-up in a very distracting way; and Hayden feels the trees calling to her. And among them, deep in the woods, Hayden will discover something incredible—something that threatens reality itself.

GOODREADS | BOOKTOPIA | BOOK DEPO

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What the Heck Did I Read in August?

This is late and I have no excuse other than I’m late so. 

Please excuse me and let’s get into this month’s heckin’ fantastic wrap up. 

The Lucky Ones by Ashley Chegwyn 

Thank you Ashley for the review copy of your book. The Lucky Ones explores a young relationship where one suffers from mental illness. It addresses a common factor in young relationships and deals with the anxieties of being young, in love, and unwell. While this is simply one interpretation of what it means to be mentally unwell and in love, Ashley writes Emery and Colton’s voices in an authentic manner that will resonate with young adults. This is a sweet and contemporary story I would recommend for a weekend read.

Clean by Juno Dawson

A snarky and witty young adult story about Lexi and her battle to kick her heroin addiction. Filled with crass humour, a mismatched crew of patients, and an authentic representation of therapy and recovery, Clean is, for lack of a better word, an addictive pageturner that handles very real issues that young adults may face.

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

Picked as the August book for Name of the Book club. This is a wonderfully immersive and atmospheric loose fairytale retelling of Rumpelstilskin. Featuring a wide range of perspectives and interweaving plot lines, Novik is excellent at crafting something quite magical from rather ordinary things. The pacing is very slow, yet I liked this for a change, and the female characters, especially Miryem and Irina, are brilliant. Might not reread for a while though. 

Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli

I listened to this on Audible and oh my Lord, Shannon Purser is the best Leah Burke. I think the audiobook is so much better just because of her. She really brings Leah to life as she tries to figure out her final year of high school, her conflicting feelings for Abby Suso, and her own place in between everything. It’s a heartwarming and witty coming-of-age tale with brilliant bisexual representation, healthy relationships, and friendships to die for.

The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh

A psychological dystopia where three young women have grown up on a deserted island with Mother and Father. They’re taught that women’s bodies are to be purged of the toxins of the world and men are dangerous to them. Lyrical, visercial and haunting

Reign of Mist by Helen Scheuerer

The sequel to one of my favourite YA fantasy series The Oremere Chronicles. It didn’t disappoint. You can read my full review and author interview here, but honestly, just read this series. Just do it. 

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

A brilliant and well-crafted collection of reaccounting the Norse myths by one of the best writers around. A very nice and easy read on audio while commuting to work. Gaiman does a great job at narrating and I loved how intimately you got to know the Norse Gods. 

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince by J.K Rowling

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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K Rowling

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And that’s it for me! What was August like for you? Let me know some of your favourite reads from August below.

Until next time,

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Author Interview and Review | Reign of Mist by Helen Scheuerer

About the Book

Book cover (Reign of Mist)

TitleReign of Mist

Author: Helen Scheuerer

Publisher: Talem Press

Release date: 13 September 2018

Synopsis: The realm’s darkest secret is out.

The cruelty of the capital and the power-hungry King Arden have scattered Bleak and her companions across the continents.

On the run in a foreign land, Bleak finds herself tied to some unexpected strangers. When the answers she yearns for are finally within reach, she must face the hard truths of her past, and take her fate into her own hands before it’s too late.

Meanwhile, secrets and magic unravel as a dark power corrupts the realm. Bleak’s friends are forced to decide where their loyalties lie, and who, if anyone, they can trust.

But one thing is certain: war is coming, and they must all be ready when it does.

GOODREADS | AMAZON | HELEN’S WEBSITE

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Review | Grace and Fury by Tracy Banghart

What is this? A book review? Has hell frozen over and the souls of the damned come to take me home? 

No, I just managed to find some time to review a new favourite of 2018. 

First off, thank you Hachette Australia for the review copy. In no way does it impact my opinion! 

Let’s get into this review. Also, happy book birthday to this beauty!


From the glittering court filled with Graces to the gritty and turbulent landscape of an all-female prison on a volcano, (yes, a volcano), Grace & Fury exceeded my expectations. It promised me a blend of The Handmaid’s Tale (which is an all-time favourite) and The Hunger Games (a teen Sofia’s favourite) – and it’s safe to say it delivered. 

At its core, Grace & Fury is a sister story.

It’s told from the perspectives of Serina and Nomi; Serina has been raised to be a Grace, revered for her beauty to become a token, a possession of the King, while Nomi has been trained to be Serina’s handmaiden. Both are thrown into unexpected situations and what I loved about them was they both refused to stay beaten. They fought against the boundaries placed upon them, and it made this story so much more intriguing. And ultimately, despite their circumstances, they wanted to make sure the other is safe, and that’s honestly just goals. 

This is a tale focused on the empowerment of complex women. 

In this society, women are stripped of their rights to choose their own lives (they can’t even read without being punished). From the beginning the reader is bombarded with how wrong this world is and you immediately question why. What I loved about this book is how complex the female characters are. They’re cunning, they’re soft, they’re intelligent, they’re filled with schemes and secrets. From the head Grace to the starving prisoners, every single one has a story adds something to this tale, and every single one plays a role in lifting women up.

The twists were unexpected and scheming and I loved it.

While there were a couple of plot issues, the overarching story is one surprise to the next. It keeps you on your toes and desperate for more. I want more from these two sisters now please. 

Rating

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Have you read Grace & Fury? What were your thoughts? Let me know in the comments!

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Mini reviews, the winter blues, and where I have been

Soooooo it’s been a while since I’ve posted something on here and it’s safe to say I’m alive and well. Winter in Australia is nowhere near as cold as other countries, but I’m still a baby and I hate it so send me some warm vibes, friends!

EXCITING NEWS!! As some of you might already know, I’ve recently started a job in publicity with Penguin Random House Australia. I’m super excited about this, yet that means I have a smaller amount of time to blog, review, and take photos. Despite this, I love my job and I can’t wait to see where it takes me. 

With that being said, I’ve got some steaming hot mini reviews for you.

Jade City by Fonda Lee 

This is literally one of the best fantasy books I have read in forever. In the city of Kekon, jade rules everything. It’s the most precious substance you can aquire, and the struggle for power rests in the hands of two clans. It’s about honour, blood and jade. Jade City is bloody ambitious, has a very distinct urban fantasy atmosphere, and blends together the law and gangster drama with a touch of wuxia. It’s politically charged, gritty, damn emotional and incredibly written. Fonda is killing me, folks.  

Not Your Sidekick by C.B. Lee

Lee delivers a superhero MG novel where Sky High meets post-WW3. In the city of Andover, Jessica is struggling to cope with the fact she doesn’t have powers – not even C-grade, which is a minute as changing your hair colour. Her parents are superheroes, her sister is in the League of Heroes, and her brother is science genius. She’s living the medicore life But the plot takes an interesting turn when she ends up working for her parents’ rivals at their tech company, and she discovers some things that were meant to stay hidden. This novel explores themes such as family, friendship, what it means to be a hero, and has some authentic representation of bisexuality and meaningful relationships. 

Found by Fleur Ferris

Thank you Penguin Random House for the review copy. 

Fleur always writes something that will have your heart racing. In her latest work, Beth is living the quiet life in a small town in NSW. But as she’s about to break the news to her dad she has a boyfriend, he disappears before her eyes. This moment plumments Beth into a life-changing race against time to rescue her dad, come to terms with her hidden past, and figure out how to live knowing everything was a lie. The dual perspectives of Jonah, her boyfriend, and Beth herself, provided a unique approach to a thrilling tale of revenge, family and love. The whole book read like a movie, and it was an enjoyable ride. 

 

 

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang 

Step aside, Callum. I have a new boyfriend and his name is Michael Larsen. I haven’t read a contemprary romance in so long, and Helen really just set the bar for me. To summarise such a swoonworthy book, Stella Lane is an economist with Asperger’s  struggling to figure out love. She thinks French kissing feels like a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. She’s quirky and adorable, and she hires Michael, an escort, to teach her how to be a better lover and girlfriend. Michael, who has secrets of his own, agrees and it’s safe to say this book executes the fake relationship trope perfectly. The romance is adorable, the plot is lovely, and the consent is A+ I also listened to this on the train without realising it would get a little hot and heavy, and I made eye contact with someone and I almost died. I love this book a lot and I cannot wait for the rest of the series.  

Restore Me by Tahereh Mafi

I flew through the first three books in this series once I’d known there would be three more. It’d been on my TBR for ages, yet I didn’t see the appeal until recently. Restore Me is a strong continuation of the series, picking up right where Ignite Me left off. Juliette is struggling to come to terms with her new position of power and how to move forward with her revolution. She has a lot of growth in this book, much more than I expected, which I really enjoyed. However, Warner’s development was the most interesting as he suffers from PTSD and a ton of guilt from the previous books. A lot happens in this rather short book, and I’m excited to see where Mafi takes us with these beloved characters. 

Want by Cindy Pon

I’d like to thank my Audible fam for introducing me to my new fav. This urban fantasy weaves together the consequences of pollution, global warming, and population density into a YA story that follows a young man named Jason, who is trying to topple over the corrupt regime of the elite in Taipei. The elite where special suits that clean the air they breathe, whereas the less fortunate are left to suffer in the polluted smog that covers the city. The polarisation of wealth in the city plays a large role in character development and world building, particularly when Jason’s plans become complicated when the daughter of the corporation he’s trying to destroy finds her way into his life. This fast-paced YA tackles a lot of environmental issues as well as the morality of the rich. I loved it – go read it! 

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Also, before I disappear for another five years, I am open to commissions for editing and sensitivity reading. The things I do include: 

  • Manuscripts – YA, Fantasy, Romance, Sci-Fi
  • Short stories
  • Essays
  • Theses – this is a time sensitive commission, so the sooner the better
  • Feature articles 

Shoot me an email if you’re interested! Until next time!

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Book Review: ‘All Of This Is True’ Will Make You Second Guess Everything

35068735All Of This Is True by Lygia Day Peñaflor

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Synopsis: Miri Tan loved the book Undertow like it was a living being. So when she and her friends went to a book signing to meet the author, Fatima Ro, they concocted a plan to get close to her, even if her friends won’t admit it now. As for Jonah, well—Miri knows none of that was Fatima’s fault.

Soleil Johnston wanted to be a writer herself one day. When she and her friends started hanging out with her favorite author, Fatima Ro, she couldn’t believe their luck—especially when Jonah Nicholls started hanging out with them, too. Now, looking back, Soleil can’t believe she let Fatima manipulate her and Jonah like that. She can’t believe that she got used for a book.

Penny Panzarella was more than the materialistic party girl everyone at the Graham School thought she was. She desperately wanted Fatima Ro to see that, and she saw her chance when Fatima asked the girls to be transparent with her. If only she’d known what would happen when Fatima learned Jonah’s secret. If only she’d known that the line between fiction and truth was more complicated than any of them imagined. . .

GOODREADS | BOOKTOPIA| AMAZON

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