2018 WRAP UP | Top reads and top releases of the year

Wrap up time! If you follow me on instagram, you’ll have seen my top 2018 books already but here’s your not-very-concise summary of my favourite books of the year, plus a statistical round up of what I’ve read (because who doesn’t love some stats and charts)!

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REVIEW | Illuminae (Illuminae Files #1) by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

9781780748375_11Name: Illuminae (Illuminae Files #1)
Author: Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Genres: Young Adult, Sci Fi
Publisher: Rock the Boat
Format: Paperback
Source: Waterstones, Taunton
Rating: ★★★★★
GOODREADS | BUY

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do. This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.

BRIEFING NOTE: Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

KEY WORDS: Outerspace apocalypse, Non-prose, IMs, Computer geek girls(!!).

This review is long overdue, having read this book over a month ago, but the Christmas period has been a busy one at work and I’ve had little time to actually rest. But I’m back! And now you’ve had two reviews in a week! I’m hoping to catch up with all the books I’ve missed but we’ll see how that goes.

Illuminae was so different from anything I’ve read before. You’ll understand what I mean if you’ve ever flicked through it, and if you haven’t I recommend going to a bookshop just to see. As the synopsis says, the story is told through “a dossier of hacked documents including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more” and that is truly what it is. There is no prose in the way you would expect, even other diary-style, IM-style novels have some form of narrative prose, but this is purely a dossier of information as found in a manila folder in a security company’s filing cabinet. I LOVED that. It was so different and interesting and like nothing else I’ve read before.

Kady is a fantastic protagonist, geek-girl and badass woman intent on saving the universe, or maybe just her ex-boyfriend. Sounds cliche and maybe a little adolescent, but honestly, it was heartwarming and emotional.

AIDAN as a villain was also brilliant. If you have any interest in AI, then this book is something you should experience, and it is an experience more than a read, because AIDAN makes everything so much more intriguing. You question everything and can never believe what is being said by anyone.

A short review, but in truth that’s all I need to say. One of the most original concepts I have experienced and I look forward to Gemina.

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Have you read Illuminae? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!


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SHELVED | Ringer (Replica #2) by Lauren Oliver

I can’t bring myself to DNF a book. It’s incredibly rare for me to stop reading one so it’s never normally too much of an issue but due to my awful reading slump, I’ve had to admit defeat with regards to Ringer. I really hope I can pick it up again one day because I adored Replica but I just don’t think I’m in the right frame of mind to read it. It has, therefore, been shelved. Instead of DNF’ing books, I just leave them on my ‘Currently Reading’ shelf indefinitely. It joins a unique collection of books, all of whom probably don’t deserve to be there. Sometimes I go back and read a chapter or two, other times I’ll forget them for a year or more.

Here are the shelved books Ringer joins:

Ice Like Fire by Sara Raasch | Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen | Where Rainbows End by Cecelia Ahern | This Restless House by Zinnie Harris

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Do you DNF a lot of books? Which ones? Tell me in the comments!


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WUNDERKIDS BLOG TOUR | A Chat with Jacky Silvester

When I read Wunderkids last month, there were certain aspects of it that stood out to me and resonated with my childhood. One of the things I found particularly interesting was that the author, Jacqueline Silvester, had based Wildwood Academy on a school she herself had attended. She travelled a lot throughout her childhood and so when the opportunity arose to speak to Jacky about this time in her life, I took it.


Jacky: Wildwood Academy was inspired by a boarding school that I attended.  Although I’m keeping the name secret for now, it’s real and it is located in the mountains in California; it’s very beautiful, secluded and strict. I always knew I would turn that year of my life into a book someday, simply because if you combine ‘talented teens,’ with seclusion and strict rules… weird things begin to happen! Some of the weirder parts of the book are based on my real life experiences. 

Imi: Now I really want to know which bits! Can you message me the details? So, much like the protagonist, Nikka, you moved around a lot from place to place when you were younger. You must have been to some pretty cool places, can you tell me some more about them?

Jacky: I’ve had a very up and down life, especially when it comes to where I’ve lived. I would be in a one-room apartment in NYC one day (literally one room, including the shower) and in a castle in France the next week, without much preamble. A lot of this is because my mom is very ‘free-spirited’ (she prefers the term artiste) and she would launch herself into opportunities and adventures head first, year after year.

That’s also how I ended up at the boarding school in California. I was living in some bizarre industrial loft in Downtown L.A, with my mom and her secretary, who also happened to be a backup dancer for Madonna, and I was googling boarding schools for talented teens (I’ve always been humble that way) in an effort to get away. Before I knew it, my mom was on the phone with them, and a week later I was starting school.

I’ve lived in a lot of places but until my move to London, I had never lived in one apartment for longer than a year.

Imi: Sounds like you’ve experienced a hell of a lot. What were the best places you lived and the best thing about moving around?

Jacky: I liked living in a castle, who wouldn’t? I also liked moving from the lame places to the cool ones (it’s the other way around that sucked slightly more.) My favourite move was when my mother and I were living in a hotel in NYC after she had lost her company, and she was headhunted to be the creative director of a Parisian fashion house (a very prestigious position.) In a mere week, we went from dodging the hotel concierge to living in our own five-bedroom apartment right off Champs-Élysées.

I also liked the act of moving; of being on the road with my mom, it was kind of us against the world- and I liked the actual act of leaving these lives, and these places, behind. I love the in-between bits: airport waiting areas in the early hours, and getting M&M’s at interstate gas stations at midnight. Back then you didn’t have social media, so if you left a place behind that was that your ties were cut. And there was something very beautiful and poetic in that totality.

Imi: My dad was in the forces, so for the first seven years of my life, I also moved around a lot until my mum had enough and settled with my brother and me while my dad would travel and often weekly commute. Sadly, I don’t remember a lot of the experiences of living in the US and Scotland because I was so young. Can you tell me the five best things about moving?

Jacky:

  1. Living in a hotel room for a month in San Francisco and ordering room service burgers every night.
  2. Learning new languages. I’m fluent in Russian, French and German because of all the moves.
  3. New life = new food. From an early age, I measured everything in food. Moving meant fast food on the road, it meant pizza on the floor of our new rentals, and it meant macarons from the La Duree after school. That’s still how my brain works- new place = NEW FOOOD.
  4. The novelty of a new place. New libraries, new cafes, new boys. I’m still addicted to that sense of novelty and have to talk myself out of dropping everything and escaping somewhere far.
  5. Unlimited writing material. Moving this much has given me a wide mental collection of places, people, situations and I use all of it in my writing.

Imi: It always seems like an adventure, but in reality, there are downsides of moving around so much. I think the worst thing for me was my relationship with my parents. My mum was always around so I think part of me resented her while my dad was away, whereas I romanticised my relationship with him. Now that I’ve left home, I realise that my mum is like my best friend whereas my dad and I aren’t as close because he was never around.

What were the five worst things about moving for you?

Jacky:

  1. Not having enough friends- friendships take time. I wasn’t able to build strong and lasting friendships because I moved every year. It was difficult for me, watching others with their best friends and their childhood friends.
  2. Being far away from my family. All of my loved ones (to this day) were/are at the other end of a phone call. That’s lonely and isolating, and of course, I envied people who had direct physical access to their entire families.
  3. Lack of stability. My grandparents and my father were an ocean away. And every graduation, every birthday and every school award ceremony, there was only one person looking back at me from the crowd. I’m grateful that I had my mom all those years but it was hard that I only had her. As much as it would have been nice to skip down the street to grandma’s house, I wasn’t meant for that life.  And neither was my heroine Nikka.
  4. Leaving crushes behind. Sounds pathetic in retrospect, but at the time I shed a lot of tears over crushes left behind. Even if I had never spoken to them, it felt like I was leaving all of these ‘possibilities’ behind.
  5. I was always ‘the new girl,’ maybe for once, it would have been nice to not be the new girl. To come back to a class and teachers who knew me, and to be able to focus on building something up rather than starting from scratch.

Imi: Thank you so much for speaking to me about your childhood. It’s been really great to learn more about your incredibly interesting life!


Wunderkids Part 1: Wildwood Academy is out now, available to buy on Amazon and Jacky’s Website. See my spoiler-free ★★★★☆ review here!

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Jacky has very kindly sent me a copy of this wonderful first instalment to give away on Twitter and Instagram. Visit my profiles to enter!

SPACER

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Jacqueline has had a colourful and dual life thus far; she’s lived in a refugee camp in Sweden, a castle in France, a village in Germany, and spent her formative years in between Los Angeles, London and New York. As a result, she speaks four languages. In 4th grade she won her school’s poetry contest and she has not stopped writing since. She has written in many forms ranging from poetry to screenwriting, from prose to copywriting, and on one occasion a viral jingle.

Jacqueline has a Bachelors in English Literature from the University Of Massachusetts, and a Masters in Screenwriting from Royal Holloway, University Of London.  After graduating she wrote her first novel and began writing (and selling) cartoon screenplays. The two years she spent in an arts boarding school in the woods have inspired the particular world described in debut novel Wunderkids. She lives in London with her husband, her excessive YA collection and a hyper husky named Laika.

SPACER

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VISIT THE OTHER BLOGS

Amyjanealice | Golden Books Girl | This Booky Place | Books, Occupation… Magic! | Enchanted Little Me | Liv’s Wonderful Escape |Readable Life Blog | That Fiction Life | Violeta Nicola | Charlotte, Somewhere | Alyreads | Pop The Butterfly | Kat from Minas Morgul | Where The Reader Grows | BiblioBeautyBooks | Belle Library | Bibliophile Chronicles | No Safer Space | Fictional Fates | Tomes with Tea | A Page of Jenniely | Books and Skittles | Pursuit of Wonderland | Tales of Yesterday

 

CURRENTLY READING | Ringer (Replica #2) by Lauren Oliver

Genres: Young Adult, Sci Fi
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss

Like its ambitious companion novel, Replica, this far-reaching novel by powerhouse bestselling author Lauren Oliver digs deep into questions of how to be a human being in a world where humanity cannot be taken for granted.

In the world outside the Haven Institute, Lyra and Caelum are finding it hard to be human—and neither of them knows where they belong or who they can trust. When Caelum leaves without warning to pursue the dream of a place he belongs, Lyra follows him, convinced that together they will hunt down a cure for the illness that’s slowly consuming her mind. But what they uncover is a shocking connection to their past—even as their future seems in danger of collapsing.

After discovering the uncomfortable truth about her connection to the Haven Institute, Gemma struggles to return to her normal life. But when she learns that her controlling and powerful father has new plans for Lyra and Caelum, Gemma and her boyfriend, Pete, leave in the middle of the night to warn them of the danger they face. When an untimely accident derails them, they are mistaken for the escaped replicas and seized by strangers hired to capture them. The Haven Institute wasn’t destroyed after all, and now Gemma is the one behind the walls.

Lyra’s and Gemma’s stories can be read separately—with either story first—or in alternating chapters, but no matter which way you turn the book, the two distinct stories combine into one breathtaking experience for both heroines and readers alike.

GOODREADS | PRE-ORDER/BUY

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TOP TEN TUESDAY | Top Ten Books on My Autumn TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish and I love a good list so here goes!

I have so many books on my TBR that I actually have a spreadsheet detailing what I need to read and by when. It’s long and organised and mad but these ten books below are the ones I’m most looking forward to!

Ringer (Replica #2) by Lauren Oliver
Release:
3rd October 2017

I was lucky enough to receive an eARC of Replica this time last year and absolutely adored it, so when Ringer was released on Edelweiss, I snapped it up! It’s next on my TBR once I finish Tower of Dawn!

The Replica series tells the story of two girls, Lyra and Gemma, when their lives become intertwined after Lyra and a boy known only as 72 escape the Haven Institute, a clandestine research facility where thousands of replicas, or human models, are born, raised, and observed.

GOODREADS | PRE-ORDER/BUY

The Fandom by Anna Day
Release:
5th October 2017

I somehow managed to get this beautiful paperback ARC at YALC, moments after I walked into the convention hall. I am really intrigued by the concept and will definitely be reading this one soon.

A YA fantasy, set within a YA fantasy. Cosplayers go to comic-con and, after a freak accident, find themselves trapped within the fantasy world from their favourite fandom.

GOODREADS | PRE-ORDER/BUY

A Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo
Release:
26th September 2017

I am unbelievably excited to be transported back into the incredible Grishaverse. Leigh Bardugo is one of the best world-builders out there right now and I have loved everything she has written. Give me more.

Six short stories set within the Grishaverse which explore familiar lands and new, inspired by myth, fairytale and folklore.

GOODREADS | PRE-ORDER/BUY

Without Merit by Colleen Hoover
Release:
3rd October 2017

I have read every CoHo book, some more than once, and her books mean so much to me. They tear me apart and stitch me back together. I cry a lot. They are my catharsis and I’ve heard lots of good things about her next novel, her first YA since Losing Hope.

Without Merit explores family dynamics and the layers of lies that tie a family together through the eyes of the imperfect daughter, Merit Voss. 

GOODREADS | PRE-ORDER/BUY

Bad Mommy by Tarryn Fisher

Much like Colleen, I love Tarryn’s writing. Plus, sometimes it hard to like one and not the other considering what a double act Hoover/Fisher are. Bad Mommy is one of the few that I haven’t yet read along with the new release Athiests Who Kneel and Pray. Both are on my bookshelf begging to be read.

When Fig Coxbury buys a house on West Barrett Street, it’s not because she likes the neighbourhood, or even because she likes the house. It’s because everything she desires is next door: The husband, the child, and the life that belongs to someone else.

GOODREADS | BUY

Illuminae series by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

My friends kept going on and on at me telling me I would love this series so I decided to buy them and now they’ve been sat on my shelves a month or so, waiting to be read. I guess I’d better get on with it!

Kady’s planet has been invaded and she and her ex-boyfriend need to work together to fight their way to an evacuating fleet. Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews and more.

GOODREADS | BUY

False Hearts by Laura Lam

Having read the Micah Grey trilogy and fallen in love, I figured I should add Laura Lam’s other novels to my TBR. I’m sure I’ll love this adventure just as much as the last.

Two formerly conjoined sisters are ensnared in a murderous plot involving psychoactive drugs, shared dreaming, organized crime, and a sinister cult. 

GOODREADS | BUY

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Top of the NY Times bestseller list since its release, The Hate U Give, has been widely recognised as the book to read in 2017… so I read it I must!

A young, black girl, trapped between the two worlds of her poor neighbourhood and surburban preparatory school, has her life turned upside down after she witnesses the fatal shooting of her unarmed, childhood best friend by a police officer.

GOODREADS | BUY

And I Darken by Kiersten White

I purchased this and its sequel, Now I Rise, at YALC having had it on a long list of books I should get for a while. Yet, since its purchase, I have had more pressing things to read. It sounds just like my kind of book so I would love to get around to this soon.

A gender-swapped, historcal YA retelling the story of the Prince of Wallachia, also knowsn as Vlad the Impaler. Political and historical with a ruthless heroine, stabbing, murder and volatility.

GOODREADS | BUY

One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

Another novel that I haven’t stopped hearing about since it’s release so I feel the need to see what all the fuss is about. Especially with the tv series going ahead, I want to read it before that comes out.

A murder mystery surrounding five high school students who have detention together, but only four come out alive. Everyone is a suspect, and everyone has something to hide.

GOODREADS | BUY

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What’s on your Autumn TBR? Have you read any on my list that I should read sooner? Let me know in the comments or link me to your TTT for me to check out!


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REVIEW | Invictus by Ryan Graudin

9781510102866Name: Invictus
Author: Ryan Graudin
Genres: Young Adult, Sci Fi
Publisher: Little Brown
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Release: 26th September 2017
Rating: ★★★★☆
GOODREADS | PRE-ORDER/BUY

Time flies when you’re plundering history.

Farway Gaius McCarthy was born outside of time. The son of a time-traveling Recorder from 2354 AD and a gladiator living in Rome in 95 AD, Far’s birth defies the laws of nature. Exploring history himself is all he’s ever wanted, and after failing his final time-traveling exam, Far takes a position commanding a ship with a crew of his friends as part of a black market operation to steal valuables from the past.

But during a heist on the sinking Titanic, Far meets a mysterious girl who always seems to be one step ahead of him. Armed with knowledge that will bring Far’s very existence into question, she will lead Far and his team on a race through time to discover a frightening truth: History is not as steady as it seems.

I received an eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

KEY WORDS: Time Travel, Futuristic AND Ancient Rome, SPACE HEISTS.

A time travel super adventure, starting with a prologue set in Ancient Rome and taking you through time and space to Futuristic Rome with various famous times and places along the way. Written in my old favourite, third person past, Graudin draws you straight into the action with her intriguing prologue informing the reader of how exactly it is possible for Farway McCarthy to be born outside of time.

Now, anyone who knows me knows that if you put classical civilisations into a novel I am right there with you. Ancient Rome got a huge tick, as did the Library of Alexandria. But Graudin went above and beyond to get a huge happy Imi smile.

There was a main character.

Called.

Imogen.

IMOGEN. This never happens. Okay, if your name is like Jess, or Alice, or Amy, or Katie, or Charlotte, there have probably been a few characters, minor and major, who have shared your name over the years. I’ve read quite a lot of books in my time and this is only the second Imogen (the first being one of the witches of the Thirteen in the Throne of Glass series but she’s only mentioned like twice). Apart from my namesake, Imogen of Shakespeare’s Cymbeline, I have never encountered a character called Imogen who features in the main part of a novel. It made me infinitesimally happy.

Beyond her name, the character of Imogen was an absolute gem. She’s the kooky sidekick/best friend character and I love every minute of her. From her brightly coloured, ever-changing hair to her mischievous red panda, Saffron, she made every moment onboard the Invictus enjoyable.

I adored this novel. The plot was intelligent and well thought out from start to finish – you could tell with all the different time loops that Graudin must have spent months planning everything out to the minute details. Every twist and turn kept me on the edge of my seat and I wasn’t putting that book down for anything! The characters were well rounded, interesting and likeable, making you wish you could spend your life travelling with them all through space and time.

Even though Graudin has confirmed this is a standalone and there will not be a sequel, I’m dying to find out more about their adventures onboard the Invictus and craving more. This is the first book I’ve read by Ryan Graudin and I will definitely be picking up her others sometime soon.

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Kickass Heists

  • Six of Crows duology by Leigh Bardugo ★★★★★
  • Gentleman Bastard series by Scott Lynch

Classical Civilisations

  • The Great Library series by Rachel Caine ★★★★☆
  • An Ember in the Ashes series by Sabaa Tahir ★★★★☆

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Have you pre-ordered Invictus? Have you read any other books with characters called Imogen? Let me know in the comments!


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CURRENTLY READING | Invictus by Ryan Graudin

Genres: Young Adult, Sci-Fi
Publisher: Little Brown
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Release: 26th September 2017

Time flies when you’re plundering history.

Farway Gaius McCarthy was born outside of time. The son of a time-traveling Recorder from 2354 AD and a gladiator living in Rome in 95 AD, Far’s birth defies the laws of nature. Exploring history himself is all he’s ever wanted, and after failing his final time-traveling exam, Far takes a position commanding a ship with a crew of his friends as part of a black market operation to steal valuables from the past.

But during a heist on the sinking Titanic, Far meets a mysterious girl who always seems to be one step ahead of him. Armed with knowledge that will bring Far’s very existence into question, she will lead Far and his team on a race through time to discover a frightening truth: History is not as steady as it seems.

GOODREADS | PRE-ORDER/BUY

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What are you reading right now? Are you enjoying it? Tell me in the comments!

REVIEW | Wunderkids Part 1: Wildwood Academy by Jacqueline Silvester

9781999734602.jpgName: Wunderkids Part 1: Wildwood Academy
Author: Jacqueline Silvester
Genres: Young Adult, Sci-Fi
Publisher: Self-Published
Format: Paperback
Source: Jacqueline Silvester, YALC
Rating: ★★★★☆
GOODREADS | PRE-ORDER/BUY

15-year-old Nikka is invited to attend Wildwood Academy, a prestigious but secret boarding school for talented youth located deep in the Californian mountains. Once there, Nikka quickly falls in love with her bizarre classes, the jaw-dropping scenery and… two very different boys.

However, Wildwood Academy has a dark and twisted secret, one that could cost Nikka the one thing she had never imagined she could lose, the one thing that money can’t buy. It is this very thing that Wildwood Academy was created to steal.

Nikka can stay and lose everything, or she can risk death and run.

 KEY WORDS: Adventure, boarding school, mystery.

I was very apprehensive about reading this because I wanted to like it and whenever I want to like something this badly it usually goes wrong. It also had a few red flags for me in terms of the ‘love triangle’ on the blurb and a few other minor points that had the possibility to irk me.

HOWEVER. I really loved this novel. I am an absolute sucker for boarding school/summer camp situations, especially if something funky is going on and so Wunderkids just kept on delivering. Also, the love triangle was not a cliché and as triangular as I thought it might be. There was back and forth and angst all round but it is 100% not a Twilight or Hunger Games situation.

The novel is written third person following Nikka as she heads to Wildwood Academy for Talented Youth. Each character is well rounded, though there are definitely some stereotypes dropped into most. Special mentions for my favourite characters go to Amber aka non-magical Luna Lovegood and an absolute angel, Izaya for A* brooding male and Sums for making me want to cuddle him every five seconds. On the flip side, Stella annoyed me almost all the way through the novel because she was vapid, vain and irritating. At one point I thought she was growing on me and then bleugh.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading it and the small things that I didn’t like were easy enough to overlook because of all the things I did like. I will definitely be looking out for the next installment when it releases in March 2018.

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Boarding Schools/Summer Camp

  • Shadow Falls series by C. C. Hunter ★★★★☆
  • Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead ★★★★★

Sci-Fi Mystery

  • Replica series by Lauren Oliver ★★★★★
  • Maze Runner series by James Dashner ★★★★☆

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Is Wunderkids on your TBR or have you already read it? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!

CURRENTLY READING | Wunderkids Part 1: Wildwood Academy by Jacqueline Silvester

Genres: Young Adult, Sci-Fi
Publisher: Self-Published

15-year-old Nikka is invited to attend Wildwood Academy, a prestigious but secret boarding school for talented youth located deep in the Californian mountains. Once there, Nikka quickly falls in love with her bizarre classes, the jaw-dropping scenery and… two very different boys.

However, Wildwood Academy has a dark and twisted secret, one that could cost Nikka the one thing she had never imagined she could lose, the one thing that money can’t buy. It is this very thing that Wildwood Academy was created to steal.

Nikka can stay and lose everything, or she can risk death and run.

GOODREADS | BUY