Blog Tour: After the Green Withered by Kristin Ward

Genre: Dystopian, YA

Similar to: It had something of a Hunger Games feel

Could be enjoyed by: Fans of environmental disaster dystopias

Publication date: 13th May 2018


Book Riot Read Harder Challenge #3 Read a book by a woman and/or author of colour that won a literary award in 2018


“They tell me the country looked different back then.

They talk of open borders and flowing rivers.

They say the world was green.

But drought swept across the globe and the United States of the past disappeared under a burning sky.”


After The Green Withered begins like a hellish version of Silent Spring by Rachel Carson – except instead of warning about the potential devastation of our planet, the worst has already happened. Enora lives in a world post-climate change; a world where the relentless heat has caused desertification of the land and salinization of the oceans. Water is now the global currency and is severely rationed by the shady controllers of this fundamental resource – the DMC. Enora is shocked when she’s picked to join their elite ranks but when the true nature of her “Pathfinder” role becomes clear, she is forced to confront a painful reality. Who are the DMC? What are their true aims? And why do they need Enora?

I have to begin by saying that I’m so glad that I actually enjoyed this book. I am notorious for moaning about how much I don’t like YA fiction but I’m pleased to say that although the characters in the novel were teenagers, the overall tone was fairly grown up. There were some scenes later on in the novel that were quite upsetting so it’s definitely not a book for younger readers.

I loved how the scene was set in the first chapter regarding the state that the world was in. Yes, it was a bit of an info-dump but it was a powerful summary of everything that could (and probably will) go wrong if we continue to ignore climate change. The fact that the world-building was rooted in actual science made it hit home even harder.

The writing was good, even though I felt like the pacing was a little off in places. Some parts were a tiny bit slow, whereas others were heart-in-your-mouth exhilarating. However, I did like how easily I was able to visualise even the most complex, technical parts of the novel, such as Enora’s Pathfinder display or the kit that she used.

I liked Enora as a character but felt a little ambivalent towards some of her male counterparts – a couple of them popped up so infrequently that I struggled to emotionally connect with them. There’s clearly something fishy going on with every single one of them, so hopefully the next book will allow readers to get to know them better.

The book finishes on a total cliff-hanger and I have SOOOO many theories as to what happens next but I’ll keep them to myself for now. I’m absolutely dying to know though!

Overall, I thought that After the Green Withered was a good debut – really thought-provoking and engaging. I had a few issues with pacing and character development but I think that it’s a great set up for the second book in the series. I liked the overall theme of climate change and I hope that it might make people think more seriously about what action we need to take right now to prevent this awful world from becoming our future.


Three and a half  “OMG I think I know what happens next!?!”s out of five.

Well written and scarily prescient. A good debut with a fantastic message!



Kristin Ward is on Twitter and has a website – click to follow the links.

After the Green Withered can be purchased from Amazon and Books 2 Read

Day Five B


Please note that I read this book for free in exchange for an honest review courtesy of  The Write Reads blog tour. Thank you to Kirsten for giving me a copy of her novel and to Dave for putting the tour together!


Review: Lucky Star by Holly Curtis




Genre: Young Adult

Similar to: Like a mixture of a grittier Ferris Bueller and a tamer Kidulthood

Could be enjoyed by: I think adults aged 35+ would appreciate the nostalgia

Publication date: 25th April 2018

Book Riot Read Harder Challenge #23 Read a self-published book

Finally – FINALLY – someone has written a realistic portrayal of how teenagers ACTUALLY talk to each other and what they ACTUALLY get up to i.e. drinking, hanging around on street corners, shoplifting and driving too fast in crappy cars. Ahhh, memories.

Lucky Star is the coming-of-age story of Ben, set on the South Coast of England during the 1980’s. Like a lot of teens, Ben has to cope with a number of problems, from raging hormones to peer pressure and an inability to converse with the opposite sex. He also discovers a dark secret from his past regarding the death of his parents that he struggles to come to terms with. Living in Thatcher’s Britain affords Ben and his aunt with few opportunities for money, so he has to make a choice – stand out as a loser or fit in with the cool kids and obtain decent threads by the only method available to him – shoplifting.

I really enjoyed how realistic this novel was. Some of you may remember my previous post called “I Don’t Like YA, Please Don’t Hurt Me” where I bemoaned the fact that all teens in YA books were holier than thou middle class try-hards with money and cars and zero interest in smoking and drinking and sniffing glue. Fortunately,  Lucky Star does not fall into that trap.

I liked the colloquial phrases used throughout the dialogue and I loved the way that Holly Curtis captured the aimlessness of hanging around doing nothing and the weird way that teenage boys interact with each other (basically taking the piss and lightly thumping their friends as a way of expressing emotion). It gave me a real sense of nostalgia for my own teenage years, even though they occurred somewhat later on.

However, I did feel like the plot meandered quite a lot and I thought that there was some surplus fat that could have been trimmed down to make the focus of the novel sharper. For example, I really wanted to know more about the circumstances surrounding the death of Ben’s Mum and Dad and thought that a lot more tension could have been wrung out from those scenes, instead of reading about odd plotline offshoots like Ben going to a club with a random minor character.

Those issues aside, I enjoyed reading Lucky Star for the realistic portrayal of teenage life in the UK pre-2000 (good God – last century – that makes me feel so old!). With a little more revision this could easily go from being a good to a great read.

Three “YOU’RE GONNA GET CA…too late” out of five.

Realistic, good dialogue and characters but the novel’s structure needs some work.

Please note that I was sent a copy of this book for free directly from the author in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Holly for giving me the opportunity to read her work!

Review: The Never Dawn by R. E. Palmer


Genre: Dystopian sci-fi, YA

Similar to: The Hunger Games mixed with 1984

Could be enjoyed by: Fans of creepy dystopian fiction with a YA feel

Publication date: 5th August 2016

Book Riot Read Harder Challenge #9 Read a book published prior to 1st January 2019 with fewer than 100 reviews on Goodreads.

*Disclaimer: I was approached by the author who gave me a free e-copy of his novel in exchange for an honest review*

Noah lives on the Arc – but not that one. This Noah is stuck in some kind of Orwellian nightmare, where the Arc is actually some kind of vast underground bunker which houses both the factory where he works and his sleeping quarters. Noah has to spend his days in servitude to the omnipresent Mother, toiling away at his menial job in preperation for the promised New Dawn – the day that his people can walk free again upon the Earth. However, Noah begins to notice certain…inconsistencies with Mother’s doctrine. When he meets Rebekah, Noah learns that there’s more going on than he could have ever dreamed possible and together, they attempt to discover the full truth.

The Never Dawn is a very atmospheric book. The world of the Arc is depicted in minute detail and the daily tasks that the workers have to carry out are written about extremely thoroughly. The writing evokes the sheer level of drudgery that Noah and his friends have to go through every day – however, that’s at the expense of the pacing of the storyline. Some parts of the book are quite laborious to get through and I did get a bit bored in the earlier stages of the text.

There are obvious religious themes at play within the novel and I felt that this added to the creepiness and sense of unease that builds as the story goes along. There are quite a lot of odd things left unsaid for the reader to pick up on – the changing reports about the situation on the surface, the lack of adults, the degree of control that Mother had over the worker’s daily lives. As an innocent character, Noah was utterly naive to his surroundings which felt completely authentic and also gave me as a reader the ability to start to form my own opinions about what was really going on.

As the book went on, the tension built beautifully and I had some genuine heart-in-mouth moments where certain rules were being broken. I was utterly on Noah’s side and despite the book being set in a tiny microcosm I liked the way that this added to the sense of claustrophobia.

The ending was something that I struggled with, however. I really couldn’t visualise the situation that the character’s found themselves in – for once the descriptions of the scenery were somewhat lacking. It’s a shame because up until that point I’d been enjoying myself but I couldn’t quite immerse myself in the final scenes.

Despite this, I liked The Never Dawn and would be interested to see what happens in the next instalment.

Three and a half “Who built the Arc… NOAH, NOAH”s out of five.

Intriguing and exciting but with a few issues around pacing and world building.


Thank you once again to the author for giving me a free copy of The Never Dawn.


Mid-Month Mini Reviews!

Hello bookworms!

pile of covered books
Photo by Pixabay on

I seem to have created somewhat of a backlog of books to review recently and rather than drown in their vortex I’ve decided I’m going to try a few mini-reviews! This is something I’ve never done before and as someone who does like to waffle on a bit I’m not sure how well they’re going to turn out… but I’m giving them a go anyway.

This month, I’m focusing on three books that I’ve read for the 2019 Read Harder Challenge for Book Riot. They are:

#4 Read a Humour Book

Oh My God, What a Complete Aisling

Oh My God, What a Complete Aisling by Emer McLysaght and Sarah Breen

I wasn’t really looking forwards to this book – to be honest, I thought it would be frothy crap – but I was pleasantly surprised at much I enjoyed it. Aisling is a small town, sensible girl-next-door; the kind of woman with a french manicure, comfortable ballet flats and a swipe of brown mascara. She’s the dependable friend who plans the itinerary, books the tickets and packs a cardigan in her handbag “in case it turns chilly later”. Aisling has her whole life mapped out (steady job, marriage, kids, house, pension, retirement plot) but when her boyfriend refuses to fit in she shocks everyone by ditching him and building a new life for herself – one that’s totally off plan.

I loved seeing the character of Aisling develop and even though at times she was utterly clueless she always remained resolutely herself. I loved how Irish the text was too – the slightly unfamiliar words and cadence added a real authenticity to the characters.  The book reminded me a bit of Bridget Jones’ Diary – it had all the same humour and warmth and it was really good fun.

Four “what on earth are presses?” out of five.


#14 Read a cozy mystery


The Guggenheim Mystery by Robin Stevens and Siobhan Dowd

This was more of a middle grade mystery than a cozy mystery (which I hate with a passion) so again, I cheated a bit – whatcha gonna do? I really enjoyed this book with diverse representation, an autistic mc and some Mums who actually did stuff (even if that was getting arrested and disappearing for a large chunk of the book). The story follows Ted, a twelve year old boy with Aspergers who has to solve the mystery of a missing painting taken from The Guggenheim Museum on the day that he happens to be visiting. I loved how Ted (along with his sister and cousin) worked methodically through their list of suspects, piecing together information and drawing logical conclusions to arrive at the correct answer.

This book is a sequel to The London Eye Mystery (which I now really want to read) but worked fine as a stand-alone. It must have been really difficult for Robin Stevens to take Siobhan Dowd’s idea and turn it into a full novel but I thought she did a great job.

Four “how did I not see that?” out of five


#16 Read a historical romance by an author of colour


The Governess Affair by Courtney Milan

So I thought that OMG What a Complete Aisling was out of my comfort zone but The Governess Affair REALLY wasn’t something that I would ever pick up out of choice (hence why I cheated a tiny bit and chose a novella for this category). The story is somewhat predictable – an uptight, no-time-for-romance, I’ve-been-damaged-by-my-upbringing type falls in love with a headstrong woman and the usual enemies-to-lovers storyline plays out. Despite much eye-rolling from me the writing was actually very good and as a novella I quite enjoyed dipping into it for a bit of escapism. In fact, the only thing that I didn’t enjoy was the description of the tea that they drank. From a hip flask. Urgh. It reminded me of the time that I saw an American couple tip the milk into the teapot before pouring *shudders*. Sort it out Americans!

Three “that sounds like cold tea and a spam sandwich” out of five


So, how do you like the mini-review format? Have you read any of these books? Are you doing Read Harder 2019? Let me know in the comments!


Review: The Kite Runner (Graphic Novel) by Khaled Hosseini

Genre: Graphic novel

Similar to: Persepolis

Could be enjoyed by: Fans of graphic novels who want their stories to be a bit darker, more diverse and emotional

Publication date: 6th September 2011

Wowzers. I’d already read The Kite Runner when it first came out and although I remember thinking at the time what a good book it was, it didn’t really make a huge impact on me. However, reading the graphic novel was a completely different experience. Maybe it’s because I read it all in one go, maybe it’s because the pictures added an emotional depth and connection that I didn’t get as much of from the book or maybe it’s because it was basically a re-read but the result was that I LOVED IT.  

In case you don’t know, The Kite Runner is the story of Amir, who lives in wealthy Kabul in the 1970’s. He and his best friend Hassan dream of winning the local kite flying championship but a shocking and violent event leaves Amir with a difficult choice – whether to intervene to save his friend and possibly put himself in danger, or whether to walk away. Amir’s choice has major repecussions but due to the ever changing fortunes of the country that he loves, he is offered the opportunity of redemption. 

As I said, I really engaged with the graphic novel version of this story far more than the book. I loved the illustrations and the limited pallet used was immediately evocative of the Middle East. I liked how the story had been condensed but without leaving out any important bits – in fact, the pictures and narrative together gave me a much clearer idea of the story and really brought it to life. I thought this worked particularly well for the more violent parts of the storyline – you can describe a rape scene using the most graphic language that you want but to see a depiction of the look on the victim’s face and the blood on the back of his jeans is an image that will stay with me for a long time. 

It was this visceral imagery that really made me connect with the characters. You can completely understand the motivations of Amir and Hassan (they are only children after all) and although the events which take place are heartbreaking, it was the portrayal of their friendship that I felt so deeply moved by.  

I loved how the tension that was such a central part of the original book was retained in the graphic novel format and how the emotional storyline was portrayed. The Kite Runner is a really gripping book and I enjoyed reading about a totally different lifestyle and culture, despite the horrific events that were also depicted. I didn’t expect to be so moved by the graphic novel version of the story but the combination of great writing and beautiful illustrations really worked well for me. I actually think that I preferred it to the original book (or perhaps the combination of knowing the full story and then reading the graphic novel is what worked) as the more straightforward storyline was easier to follow and connect with.

This led me to think: have I just opened up to a whole new genre of graphic novels that I wasn’t previously aware of? Have I finally managed to strike a balance with re-reading, as a graphic novel version of a book that I’ve already read still feels like a new book (so no so-many-books-so-little-time guilt) but retains that familiarity of a story that you already know? Is this why you lot all love fairy story re-tellings?

Who knows. All I’m sure of is that I’ll definitely be looking up more of these types of graphic novels in the future – and I’ll definitely be recommending The Kite Runner graphic novel to everyone I know.

Rating: Four and a half heartbreaking Hassan quotes out of five.

Evocative, engaging and deeply emotional, The Kite Runner graphic novel is an unexpected treasure. 

Please note that I read this book for free via Netgalley in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks Netgalley! I also read this novel as part of the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge 2018 #8 Read a comic written or illustrated by a person of colour.  

Review: Farenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury


I read this book as part of the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge 2016 – #21 Read a book about politics, in your country or another (fiction or non-fiction).

Fahrenheit 451 is about a dystopian future where books have been banned by the state. People are controlled through a combination of drugs and the mass media. The zombiefied state of the general populace gives the government ultimate control, as without written accounts they can literally make up their own history and present any message that they wish to convey as fact. As such, “firemen” are employed to start fires in homes where books have been found, regardless of the cost to human life. This terrifying world is home to the   main character, a fireman who suddenly starts to view the world differently as he realises the extent to which he is being manipulated.

I thought that this was such an interesting book. It touches on so many themes and gives a really important message about the role of the state and the importance of freedom of speech. I would put it up there with 1984 and Brave New World as a modern day classic.

Despite the chilling tone I actually found this book very easy to read. It’s a relatively short story (especially for science fiction) at 227 pages and keeps up the suspense throughout.  Ultimately the book is uplifting and is a brilliant tale of people power and the tenacity of the human spirit. Highly recommended.

Overall rating: 8/10

Review: The Holy Woman by Qaisra Shahraz

I read this book as part of the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge 2016 – # 20 Read a book about religion (fiction or non-fiction).

The Holy Woman is the story of a beautiful young woman (Zarri Bano) growing up in modern day rural Pakistan. Unfortunate events transpire which result in Zarri Bano being pushed into (forced isn’t exactly the right word) becoming a holy woman, unable to marry and expected to devote her life to Islam. The book charts the life of Zarri Bano as well as members of her family and local villagers as they go about their daily lives. Despite the enforced celibacy that the role of holy woman demands, the book is essentially a love story between two main characters.

I have to say that I really didn’t enjoy this book – I struggled to get into it. I thought that the story had lots of filler with not much action, with a very predictable storyline. It was quite a long book and I think that cutting out a lot of the superfluous narrative would help to give the story more impact.

I got very annoyed at how hopeless the female character is portrayed – not in relation to they way that she is expected to obey her father and become a holy woman but that she falls so helplessly in love with someone she barely knows. I found the whole thing quite unbelievable and hugely over dramatic.

On a positive note, it was interesting to read a book from another culture. I knew nothing about the tradition of holy women so it was good to expand my knowledge in this area.

This is a long book with quite dull characters, petty squabbles and overblown gestures (lot of longing looks that pierce through to the soul etc.) If this is the kind of thing that you enjoy then this book offers a very different take on the usual boy-meets-girl story but it just wasn’t for me.

Overall rating: 4/10.

Review: 1Q84 (Part One) by Haruki Murakami


I read this book as part of the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge #16 – Read the First Book in a Series by a Person of Colour.

The world of Haruki Murakami is a very, very weird one. Literally no-one writes like he does. All of his books are set in quiet towns in Japan where people with ordinary lives have extraordinary, strange and bizzare things happen to them. His work defies categorisation – weird Japanese realistic fantasy is about as close as I can get. However, the stories are so brilliantly written and beautifully detailed that the fantasy elements feel totally natural to the overall narrative – to the point where you can describe an entire book and forget to mention that the main character can converse with cats.

Having already read most of Murakami’s back catalogue I was concerned that the 1Q84 series would be too drawn out, too heavy on mundane details to have any real drive and that I would lose interest. However, after reading the first part of the trilogy I was pleasantly surprised to be completely hooked.

The story itself centres around two main characters who each lead entirely separate lives. One is a self defense teacher by day and assassin by night who notices that the world that she lives in (Japan 1983) has subtly changed (hence 1Q83 – Q is the Japanese for 9). The other character is a teacher/writer who encounters a strange author with an unbelievable story to tell. By the end of 1Q83 part one we are still not sure exactly how these two stranger’s lives are relevant to each other but there are many clues which suggest a number of different ways that the story could progress.

Due to the way Murakami writes it’s hard to work out what is relevant and what isn’t but for me this only adds to the excitement of the book. Magical and dreamlike, this is one of Murakami’s best works and is a story like no other. I can’t wait to find out what happens next.

Overall rating: 9/10.

Review: So You Want to be a Wizard by Diane Duane


I read this book as part of the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge 2016 – #8 Read a book published in the year that you were born (1983).

I read some of the reviews of this book before I bought it and immediately I kept coming across Harry Potter comparisons. However, if anyone is hoping that this is some kind of HP predecessor that J.K.Rowling somehow copied without anyone noticing then I’m afraid they’re going to be disappointed. This book is slow, not particularly coherent and not especially exciting. There is no character development – individuals are either good or bad and therefore quite one dimensional. Because the spells take a long time to cast the action is much slower paced and sometimes I struggled to follow the logic that the author had used for the characters to complete their quest. I can see how children would be able to enjoy the story more than adults (you need a very vivid imagination and an accepting nature to believe the concepts presented) but as an adult I really didn’t enjoy it.

If anyone else is looking for a book from 1983 then I would recommend The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett, which is excellent.

Overall rating: 5/10  

Review – Confessions of a Sociopath by M.E.Thomas


I read this book as part of the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge 2016 #24 Read a Book Where the Main Character Has a Mental Illness.

First off, I’d like to explain that, not knowing what sociopathy is, I chose this book because I believed that it fit into the category of ‘mental illness’. Since reading the novel, I’ve discovered that sociopathy is actually not a treatable ‘illness’ as such but a mental condition that is surprisingly common within the general populace. However, as I still read the book as part of the read harder challenge I’ve decided to review it as part of the mental illness category.

Before I read this book, I knew that I had certain personality traits which made me different to other people. I am very much a loner and really enjoy my own company. I get annoyed by people trying to arrange activities (even just meeting up for a coffee) with me. I have lost countless friends simply because I can’t be bothered to reply to their messages/phone calls. I don’t understand why people think that they “deserve” to have a good life/nice partner/great job etc. and I have no sympathy for them if their life doesn’t play out that way. I was aware that this made me a pretty horrible person sometimes so I learnt to modify my verbal opinions and forced myself to attend social gatherings that I really didn’t want to be at (although once there I could be the life and soul of the party). I would flirt with everyone to amuse myself and found it really easy to get a partner, but once I had them I would quickly get bored and dump them on a whim (then not understand why they would be upset).However, I was also aware that my “cold” personality could be a benefit – I could think clearly in a crisis, I’m extremely low maintenance as a friend/partner, I’m very resilient, I have a massively high pain threshold so even if I’m ill I can just get on with things. I don’t rely on anyone and if someone manages to hold my interest I can be a really loyal friend.

After reading this book, I was convinced that my quirky personality traits made me a sociopath. For that reason alone I think this may be one of the most important books that I’ve ever read. It has quite literally changed the way that I think about my life. It has explained so many things that I always knew were a bit different about me but never really had an explanation for. I’d previously suspected that I might be a ‘bit autistic’ but I was always quite good at talking to strangers, making eye contact, could deal well with large groups of people etc. (I’m aware that I’ve massively stereotyped a couple of autistic traits here but you get the general picture). I’ve also started looking for sociopathic traits in my friends and family (my mum is a definite) which has helped me to assess and understand my relationship with them in a new light. I’m a lot more settled now with my life and in particular my relationship, as I understand that I just don’t have the emotional capacity to fall hopelessly in love. I was always searching for someone to sweep me off my feet but now I know that won’t happen I can stop constantly looking for it. I found that really liberating.

If, unlike me, you are thinking of reading this book despite the fact that you don’t personally identify with the subject matter, I need to point out a few issues. I found it a little hard to follow because it is not written in a linear fashion (I seem to be saying this a lot. Is it just me?) and I was hoping for some shocking or juicy stories about how the author had, I don’t know, destroyed someone’s life but unfortunately I felt they (understandably) were trying to protect their identity too much to get specific details. I also found that the mix of theory in with the personal account was a little bit clumsy at times and could be a bit dry.

Overall, I found this book really hard to review because I found it gave me such an insight into my own life, but on the other hand it wasn’t the most engaging read. For anyone specifically looking to further their knowledge of socipopathy from a personal perspective I would recommend it but for anyone with less than a passing interest I don’t think there is enough to keep the average reader engaged.

Overall rating:
as a general interest novel 6/10.
as a book that may change your life if you think you’re a bit weird 10/10.