Bitter by Akwaeke Emezie, a review (Pet #0.5)

Bitter by Akwaeke Emezie is the prequel to Pet, a dystopian (utopian?) YA novel that follows a mute transgender girl named Jam who discovers that her utopian city isn’t as perfect as she was lead to believe. Bitter follows Jam’s mother, Bitter, when she was a teen and shows us how the world came to be as it was in Pet.

Bitter b Akwaeke Emezi

This book doesn’t have to be read after Pet, but I personally think that’s the better choice as we meet some of the adults in Pet as children in Bitter.

I really enjoyed how this novel tackled the trauma of dealing with racism, and how activism and rallies and marching aren’t an option for everyone. But how those people are still valid in each and every way they help. I also adored Bitter’s friends, they’re such supportive people and although they’re human and they make mistakes they always come through in the end.

This book is darker than Pet. Pet reads as young YA or older Middle Grade. Bitter, however, is firmly within the YA bracket. There’s a fair amount of violence depicted, as well as the way that topics are discussed being more in depth. Something to be aware of going in, especially if giving this book to a younger reader.

The monsters present in this book are a little darker than in Pet, but I still enjoy how they are used to demonstrate how certain people and groups react. They’re an exaggeration (mostly) but show the possible consequences and how things can go too far. But also how going too far sometimes is the only option. Emezie is able to use them to add this nuance into the narrative without distracting from the intended message by introducing complex human choices into the mix.

On CAWPILE I rated this: Characters: 9, Writing: 8, Plot: 8, Intrigue: 8, Logic: 8, and Enjoyment: 8 for an average of 8.14 and a 4.5* rating.

Highlight here for content warnings: police brutality, violence, death, blood, panic attacks, self harm, gun violence, murder, war, racism, child abuse, death of parent, abandonment, classism, ableism, mental illness, emotional abuse, homophobia, bullying, medical trauma, lesbophobia.

This is a really fantastic prequel. It tells us a lot more about the history of the characters and the political and personal climate around them, whilst still remaining very close to the individual characters and their stories. If you’ve read and enjoyed Pet then this is a worthwhile novella that you’ll be so glad you picked up.

Have you read this or Pet? Did you love them too? Let me know!

Raging Star by Moira Young, a review (Dust Lands #3)

Raging Star by Moira Young is the third and final book in the Dust Lands trilogy, a YA dystopian series that first released back in 2011. And I’ve finally finished the trilogy! Took me long enough 🤣

Raging Star by Moira Young

Blood Red Road was a fantastic start to this trilogy, unfortunately this book? It was an abysmal ending to the trilogy. There was so much potential to this book, the plot that Young has created is fantastic but the execution was so poor that it all but nullifies the interest the plot generates.

The character development throughout the book was almost null, with a lot of the characters making nonsensical and quite frankly confusing decisions despite the events of the previous two books. No one seems to have learnt from the prior events at all and the same mistakes are repeated. Additionally, Young tries so hard to create a group dynamic that will engage the reader. Unfortunately this pretty much fails, with the group not getting on, even a little bit, and there being little to no chemistry present.

Honestly? If this hadn’t been the final book in a trilogy I would have DNF’d this book. It was a pretty big waste of my time, but I’m a completionist so I just needed to get it done! What a disappointment for the end of this series!

On CAWPILE I rated this: Characters: 5, Atmosphere: 4, Writing: 4, Plot: 6, Intrigue: 3, Logic: 2, and Enjoyment: 3 with an average of 3.86 and a 2.5* rating.

Highlight here for content warnings: graphic violence, birth, child taken, death.

I am so disappointed with this book, and so glad that the series is over. If you don’t have the completionist streak like I do then I highly recommend you don’t finish out the series! Save yourself the disappointment and read something else!

This Vicious Cure, a review

This Vicious Cure by Emily Suvada is the final book in the This Mortal Coil trilogy, and one that I’ve been wanting to pick up for a while, but I finally got around to it and boy is this trilogy just perfect for me!

If you want to you can check out my thoughts on This Mortal Coil and This Cruel Design. I probably should’ve done this before I read TVC because I really struggled to remember what was going on with this one. 100% my fault because I didn’t reread the series and first read the other books back in 2018/19! I tried to find a recap but none were forthcoming… maybe I should make one? Anyways!

Despite the confusion, it only took me around 20/30 pages to get back into the swing of things and then I was back into loving this book and series. We follow two POVs in this book, Jun Bei is a stubborn little shit and honestly, if she wasn’t one of the main characters it would get her killed! I disagreed with her actions 90% of the time, but I did understand why she made all of her choices.

Cat I vibed with more. She has developed so much over this trilogy and is such a fighter. Seeing her try to survive and to save others within her major limitations was so gripping and I couldn’t put her sections down! I did also enjoy seeing Cat and Jun Bei communicating together and actually working together, rather than against each other, for once.

The resolution for this was, for me at least, a really good one. But I won’t tell you anything about that because it’s major spoilers! I think it brings together all of the elements of the series in a satisfying way, and yet I’m still disappointed that we don’t have more in this series!

On CAWPILE I rated this: Characters: 8, Atmosphere: 9, Writing: 9, Plot: 8, Intrigue: 8, Logic: 9, and Enjoyment: 8 giving a score of 8.43 and a 4.5* rating.

Highlight here for trigger warnings: gore, gun violence, blood, medical content, medical trauma, violence, cannibalism ,death of parent, violence, discussions of confinement.

I am so glad that the novella These Precious Stars is still on my tbr, because I really don’t want my time in this world to end! Suvada uses genetic manipulation and a society hell-bent on doing what individuals think is right for everyone in a fascinating way, and although this was published in Jan 2020, and written even before that, I think recent events have shown that Suvada knew the human psyche well!

Have you read any of the books in the This Mortal Coil series or do you plan to? If you’re on the edge I highly recommend them, they’re a wonderful YA dystopian that I am ridiculously glad made its way into my hands.

Rebel Heart

Rebel Heart by Moira Young is the second book in the Dust Lands series. I first read Blood Red Road back in 2017 so this has taken me a ridiculous amount of time to get to, especially as I got this book later on in 2017!! But I’m reading it now and that’s what matters.

This book, and the whole series, does have a unique writing and speech style, I’d been a little worried from my memories of BRR but I was able to delve straight into the plot regardless. Just be aware that this is written in dialect and that speech doesn’t have speech marks around it to distinguish it from the rest of the text.

We do get to see a fair bit of PTSD representation in this book, from a fair few different people who are all coping differently. I found that incredibly interesting and I really liked that we saw different coping methods and how that impacted the people around them.

We do have the classic miscommunication and not-listening-to-the-person-with-knowledge issues, and in relation to that I was decently annoyed with Lugh a lot of the time in this book (the twin brother of our main character Saba). He is of course dealing with his own PTSD, but he’s also obtusely ignoring his sisters feelings and in certain cases aiming to harm her. I wonder if he’ll be redeemed at all in the final book.

Despite me saying I was annoyed at Lugh, I do have to admit that Saba is absolutely ridiculous in a fair number of her decisions in this and it was frustrating to watch. A lot were simply bad decisions but ones that I could understand, but why oh why is she running after a man she just met? *eyeroll*

And in terms of romantic relationships, I was getting a fair bit uncomfortable by the end of this book with just how many men were assuming control over her body. There were a fair few men throwing themselves at Saba, and that’s annoying but predictable when it comes to YA literature, but the control aspect is just so angering. I hope it’s addressed more in the final book.

I did adore the animal characters of Nero and Tracker, they added a lot of much needed levity and love in this book. And I also did very much enjoy a section right at the beginning of the book (roughly between page 50 and 80) where the vibes were really similar to The Singing by Alison Croggon (the last book in my favourite series). It was super interesting seeing how another author handled the same topic and if I’m honest I’m super disappointed that this didn’t go further down that path rather than the plotline Young chose.

On CAWPILE I rated it: Characters: 6, Atmosphere: 6, Writing: 6, Plot: 5, Intrigue: 6, Logic: 5, and Enjoyment: 6, giving an overall score of 5.71 and a 3* rating.

As you can tell, this wasn’t exactly a fantastic read. Nothing specifically awful, but there were issues with the motives utilised to move the characters, and peoples reactions to events. The men being absolutely ridiculous towards Saba and her sister just being uselessly stuck in the middle of it all. Despite this I was happy enough to keep reading each night, and so I’ll definitely be picking up the third and final book. It’s on my shelves already so there really isn’t any reason not to, I just hope that this was middle book syndrome and we get a great book for the finale!

Highlight here for trigger warnings: death, murder, PTSD, violence, parental death (mentioned), graphic descriptions of a corpse, sexism, rape (mentioned), lack of consent.

Champion, a review

Champion by Marie Lu is the last book in the Legend trilogy (or at least the original trilogy, I think Lu has added more books to the series) which is a YA dystopian looking at the balances of power and corruption.

The blurb on the front of my copy says that the series “blows the socks off the Hunger Games” and I don’t quite agree with that, but it’s definitely a fun series and one that you should totally pick up if you’re in the YA age bracket. I would’ve loved this when I was a little younger and I still did enjoy it now.

It’s a really interesting take on dictators and capitalism that I didn’t expect from the series, there are a lot of nuanced discussions that delve into the intricacies of different political powers and the impacts of capitalism on a society. I enjoyed that the series didn’t simply go for the basic discussion, and this depth is really ramped up in this final book.

Because this is a YA novel there is, of course, relationship drama. It has its faults, but it’s not awful and I did actually really enjoy how the resolution came about. It wasn’t as unrealistic and fairy-tale like as a lot of other YA fiction. I think Lu should be given credit for how she utilises standard tropes and expectations and yet adds diversity to this representation.

On CAWPILE I rated this: Characters: 7, Atmosphere: 6, Writing: 6, Plot: 7, Intrigue: 7, Logic: 7, and Enjoyment: 7 which gives a score of 6.71 and a 3.5* rating.

It’s not the best book I’ve ever read, but it is a solid YA dystopian that I’d happily recommend to any teens. I don’t think I’ll be continuing with the extra books in the series however. The original trilogy is enough for me.

Highlight here for trigger warnings: death, violence, gun violence, medical content, grief, war, murder, terminal illness, medical trauma, child abuse, emotional abuse, physical abuse, torture, police brutality, colonisation, classism.

Have you read this series, or anything else by Marie Lu? What did you think? I’ve still got Warcross on my tbr, as well as the Young Elites trilogy!

Prodigy, a review

Prodigy by Marie Lu is the second book in the Legend trilogy. This is, in essence, your standard YA dystopian with a girl from the rich and privileged side of society meeting a boy from the downtrodden side and learning that things aren’t as they seem. But don’t get me wrong, it’s still enjoyable!


I do think that this book suffers a little from second book syndrome, where not a lot happens. However, I did like the worldbuilding that we got, and the very end of the book was fascinating. I’m excited for Champion and seeing where the story finishes!

On CAWPILE I gave this book 7 out of 10 across the board (for characters, atmosphere, writing, plot, intrigue, logic, and enjoyment) which gives me a 4 star rating. Higher than I had been expecting and looking back on this a few months after having read it I think it should probably be bumped down to a 3 star read.

I’m still excited for book three, however, and I hope it’ll be a good finale!

Checkmate, a review

Checkmate by Malorie Blackman is the third book in the Noughts & Crosses series. After book 2 (Knife Edge) I thought that this series was going to be a little less painful to read than I’d remembered. I was wrong.

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Of course I don’t want to spoil anything here for those who haven’t read the first book, but with such a big time jump from book 1 to book 2 that’s really hard! What I can tell you is that there is immense character development here from every single character we’ve met so far, and also within the book itself with the newer characters. It’s done so beautifully, and this is what ended up making me weep.

I was still living with my parents when I read this, and as I reached the end of this book I had to leave the living room and go finish up in my bedroom so that my dad wouldn’t see me cry! I ended up ugly sobbing, the tears streaming down my face. That’s what this series does to me, and that’s why I’ve been putting off reading it for so long! I love it, but it hurts.

For my CAWPILE ratings I gave this book: Characters: 9, Atmosphere: 10, Writing: 9, Plot: 9, Intrigue: 9, Logic: 10, and Enjoyment: 9, which gives this book an overall rating of 9.29 which to no ones surprise is a damn solid 5 star read.

I am so scared to read book 4 in this series, let alone if I decide to pick up the more recently published book 5! Double Cross (book 4) is actually on my tbr this month (Feb 22) so with me luck! I’m sure to cry again at this one.

Reckoning – a review

This was my tbr jar pick for March (leave me and my massively behind reviews alone) and without that I don’t know if or when I would’ve finally picked this book up. I got it from The Works in about 2016 and it’s been languishing on my shelves ever since. A YA dystopian set in a UK where war has ravaged the lands and the King who stopped the war is revered. But of course things aren’t as they seem.


This book? It’s just fine unfortunately. It’s a perfectly fine YA dystopian. I didn’t dislike it, don’t get me wrong. I was interested in the story and where it was going. I wanted to know how they would discover the information and how they would escape. But it was also pretty predictable.

This is a very well fleshed out blueprint of a standard dystopian, and I do think that the actual target audience would enjoy it. The cheesiness that is present wouldn’t be quite so grating for them, and they would be able to relate to the characters. And I love that it’s in the UK rather than the US! So that’s a big bonus!

I have, however, since unhauled this book and the second one in the trilogy without reading it. The final nail in the coffin for me was a line in book 2’s synopsis “the girl with the silver streak in her hair”. I managed to mostly forget about that whilst reading, but our main character, called Silver, does indeed have a silver streak in her hair. It was what tipped me over the edge, just too cheesy and too young for me! So it’s gone now. Hopefully someone in the right age bracket will enjoy it!

On my CAWPILE spreadsheet I rated this book:

Characters: 6

Atmosphere: 6

Writing: 6

Plot: 6

Intrigue: 7

Logic: 7

Enjoyment: 7

Which gave me an average of 6.43 which is the higher end of the 3 star bracket. Not atrocious but not amazing, pretty much like this book.

Despite this being a “cheesy” YA dystopian book there are still trigger warnings. Not many, but I would recommend heeding them.

Highlight here for the trigger warnings: sexual assault (heavily implied), violence, abuse

Let me know if you’ve read this series and how you feel about reading YA as an adult (or MG as a teen if you’re not an adult yet!)

Eve of Man by Giovanna and Tom Fletcher| A Review

Eve of Man is a book I had barely heard about, which was kind of surprising. The authors are a married couple and Tom Fletcher is one of the member of McFly so I expected more promotion for this YA book! But thankfully for me my wonderful parents sent me a package down to uni whilst I was doing my postgrad in Portsmouth and they put this book in the box for me!

Sadly, if it wasn’t obvious, I didn’t end up reading the book for quite a while after they sent it to me. In face my MSc thesis was submitted over one year ago now (it was the 4th of October, I remember it well!) and I did that from my parents place so it’s definitely been a long time. But at least I finally got around to it! Now. Onto the book itself.


Eve is the only human female who has been born in the last 50(ish) years. All the other babies were male. And humanity freaked the hell out. When they found out that there was a girl in the womb organisations did all that they could to get her out into the world safe. And once she was born she was placed into a protective bubble, high up away from the rest of the population, and given an in depth education with the only interaction she had being from older women charged with looking after her, guards, and a virtual projection of a friend.

She’s supposed to be paired with a boy who has been selected for her. She gets a choice of three. With him they will restart the human race. But then Eve meets Bram, when she never should have, and now she doesn’t want to follow blindly anymore.

This book is a lot of fun. It is most definitely a stereotypical YA dystopian, it hits all of the beats and it does skip over some complications in order to make the story run smoothly. But I do have to say, despite this. Despite immediately gaining people’s trust, despite this being the highest security building on the planet, despite lots of little niggles that I found with this… It was so enjoyable!

I was totally sucked into this book, it was so fun, I adored the concept and also it ran at a pace which kept me inside of the story and really made me wanna keep reading. I now actually want to carry on with this series and I need to pick up The Eve Illusion which was published April of 2020. I’m looking forward to it!

Have you read this book? Have you even heard of it? Let me know!!

Finishing the Divergent Series!


My third pick for the Buzzwordathon was Four by Veronica Roth, which I bought not too long ago this year. I was so excited to find this cover as it matches the covers I already had for the main series and I honestly loved being back in this world.

I do think that I’m “growing out of” younger YA, this sort of romance heavy literature aimed at younger teenagers, which is a pity because omg they can be so addictive! But I still did love this read as it was nostalgic and I really enjoyed seeing events from Four’s point of view. I had already assumed a lot about his character which turned out to be true, but it was nice to see it written down and to confirm his actions in the first book and what had lead up to them.

If you enjoyed the Divergent series, excluding the ending obviously, then I definitely recommend picking up this little set of short stories and delving back into the beginning of the story of this world and enjoying yourself! I gave Four 4*s!