ROAM by C.H. Armstrong

Seventeen year-old Abby Lunde and her family are living on the streets. They had a normal life back in Omaha, but thanks to her mother’s awful mistake, they had to leave what little they had behind for a new start in Rochester. Abby tries to be an average teenager—fitting into school, buoyed by dreams of a boyfriend, college, and a career in music. But Minnesota winters are unforgiving, and so are many teenagers.

Her stepdad promises to put a roof over their heads, but times are tough for everyone and Abby is doing everything she can to keep her shameful secret from her new friends. The divide between rich and poor in high school is painfully obvious, and the stress of never knowing where they’re sleeping or where they’ll find their next meal is taking its toll on the whole family.

As secrets are exposed and the hope for a home fades, Abby knows she must trust those around her to help. But will her friends let her down the same way they did back home, or will they rise to the challenge to help them find a normal life?


Title : Roam
Author : C.H. Armstrong
Format : Paperback
Page Count : 303
Genre : YA Contemporary
Publisher : Central Avenue Publishing
Release Date : February 5, 2019

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5


Micky’s 3.5 star review

This was our January bookclub pick and I am to thank for this month’s read. ROAM was a sweet and gentle contemporary YA exploring the experiences of a homeless family through the eyes of seventeen year old Abby.

This was a read that immediately sparked compassion for the family’s situation but there was an underlying conflict in the family that made their situation even more discomforting. Abby’s family were living in a van, in a Walmart car park, in winter. Meanwhile, Abby was conveying the appearance of a normal teen at school when life was anything but normal.

What I liked was the narrative about homeless life. I felt emotion over the difficulties this family was experiencing. There was Abby’s younger sister, her step father’s love, shame and difficulty over their situation and then there was the difficult relationship between mother and daughter; that was just a hot mess. I liked learning and reading about life eating at soup kitchens, relying on charity and trying to keep things quiet. The storyline of illness was a bumpy ride and had me feeling the stress.

Things I wasn’t so keen on was the teen life in high school, it was a little predictable and cliche at times. I was glad that Abby had Zach and some good friends on her side but sometimes it came with a slice of seeming to be unrealistic.

ROAM was a generally enjoyable and sweet read. I appreciated a book tackling these themes and we’re off to discuss at bookclub this weekend. There are some discussion questions in the back of the book, so that’s super handy.

THE SKY IS MINE by Amy Beashel – Blog Tour

No one has ever asked Izzy what she wants. She’s about to change all that…

In a house adept at sweeping problems under the carpet, seventeen-year-old Izzy feels silenced. As her safety grows uncertain, Izzy know three things for sure. She knows not to tell her mother that Jacob Mansfield has been threatening to spread those kinds of photos around college. She knows to quiet the grief that she’s been abandoned by her best friend Grace. And, seeing her mother conceal the truth of her stepdad’s control, Izzy also knows not to mention how her heart splinters and her stomach churns whenever he enters a room.

When the flimsy fabric of their life starts to unravel, Izzy and her mum must find their way out of the silence and use the power in their voices to rediscover their worth.

For fans of Sara Barnard, Louise O’Neill and E. Lockhart, The Sky is Mine is a powerful exploration of rape culture and domestic abuse, and a moving story of women learning to love themselves enough to demand to be heard.


Title : The Sky Is Mine
Author : Amy Beashel
Format : Paperback
Page Count : 304
Genre : YA Contemporary
Publisher : Rock the Boat
Release Date : February 6, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

See that bright, shiny cover? THE SKY IS MINE is a book that shines but not with cheery goodness. No, this isn’t a story to get comfortable with, it’s a story to get uncomfortable with but it’s really important. This is a spoiler-free review though, so expect a little vagueness.

Izzy was a young woman crushed. Crushed by her home life, crushed by manipulation and crushed by the demise of the most important friendship of her life. Izzy had lost her voice, herself and her perspective. This was a story of spiralling down and then the slow, long swim to the surface.

If things had been different, maybe I could have told Mum…
If things had been different, maybe my dad would have opened his door and his arms…
Things aren’t different though. Things are what they are.

The themes in this book couldn’t be more relevant than they are to contemporary times. The story explored how social media, something said or captured and tracking apps can all make life seemingly impossible. Izzy’s life was on overload but in so many ways. Her story was about trust, grief, finding her voice and her way back to relationships.

THE SKY IS MINE was incredibly discomforting to read but completely worth the journey. There was hope housed within the pages of this book and that made the journey a path that was doable. The narrative voice conveyed by Amy Beashel was compelling and absorbing, taking the difficult and making it readable without losing impact or power. I admired her ability to tackle the subjects in this book, it was a difficult task which she accomplished so well. I am excited to read more from her.

Thank you to Rock The Boat for the finished review copy.

THE MERCIES by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

Finnmark, Norway, 1617. Twenty-year-old Maren Magnusdatter stands on the craggy coast, watching the sea break into a sudden and reckless storm. Forty fishermen, including her brother and father, are drowned and left broken on the rocks below. With the menfolk wiped out, the women of the tiny Arctic town of Vardø must fend for themselves.

Three years later, a sinister figure arrives. Absalom Cornet comes from Scotland, where he burned witches in the northern isles. He brings with him his young Norwegian wife, Ursa, who is both heady with her husband’s authority and terrified by it. In Vardø, and in Maren, Ursa sees something she has never seen before: independent women. But Absalom sees only a place untouched by God, and flooded with a mighty evil.

As Maren and Ursa are drawn to one another in ways that surprise them both, the island begins to close in on them, with Absalom’s iron rule threatening Vardø’s very existence.

Inspired by the real events of the Vardø storm and the 1621 witch trials, The Mercies is a story of love, evil, and obsession, set at the edge of civilization. 


Title : The Mercies
Author : Kiran Millwood Hargrave
Format :
Page Count : 352
Genre : Historical Fiction
Publisher : Pan Macmillan
Release Date : February 6, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ .5


Micky’s 4.5 star review

THE MERCIES was all dark atmosphere, engaging story, conspiracies and foreboding. It required my total engagement from the first page and I gave it willingly. The writing was sublime and something special that it could take such a bleak context and turn it into such an exciting read.

Narrated from the POV of two very different young women, THE MERCIES told the story of a remote fishing village at the remotest tip of Norway. It started in the midst of a storm that wiped out the men on their boats, leaving the women of the village bereft, grieving and with a need to sustain themselves. The slow revealing of characters in the village was a strength to the storytelling, which was very much about trust and mistrust. Maren was a strong and vital young woman, caring for her family and village. They were Lutheran (I think) but they also kept some Sami traditions and rituals.

Time passed and with it, it brought a man tothe village. His purpose was to herald structure and Christian godliness back in the village, with him came his wife, Ursa, the second protagonist. She was weak and unused to hardship but she had character growth that was a great part of the story.

Remember the mistrust? What started as a rumble, became a full blown witch hunt in literal terms. The patriachy was in full throttle and the pack behaviour of some of the women had me wanting to disassociate myself with my gender. That said, I had all sorts of feelings and inner monologue about women knowing only patriarchy and how that affected them when all the men had gone. It was a mess, it was unsettling and then it was hideous.

Suffice it to say that this read gave me all the feelings, some good, many not. Some of the best reads are unsettling, make you feel extreme emotions and drop you at the end. I felt winded and rewarded. What a read, what a writer Kiran Millwood Hargrave is and please can I devour all her books now?

WHAT KIND OF GIRL by Alyssa B Sheinmel

The girls at North Bay Academy are taking sides. It all started when Mike Parker’s girlfriend showed up with a bruise on her face. Or, more specifically, when she walked into the principal’s office and said Mike hit her. But the students have questions: Why did she go to the principal and not the police? Why did she stay so long if he was hurting her? Obviously, if it’s true, Mike should be expelled. But is it true? Some girls want to rally for his expulsion – and some want to rally around Mike. The only thing that the entire student body can agree on? Someone is lying. And the truth has to come out. 


Title : What Kind of Girl
Author : Alyssa B Sheinmel
Format : Paperback Arc
Page Count : 366
Genre : YA Contemporary
Publisher : Atom Books
Release Date : February 6, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

WHAT KIND OF GIRL was such an interesting read that addressed some relevant but less written-about themes in the context of physical abuse in a dating situation in YA. There are some additional trigger warnings at the beginning of the book for those who seek this out.

This story asked the question, what kind of girl would let something like this happen and focused on the individuals but also very importantly, it focused on the reactions from friends, enemies, family and the school community. I can tell you it frustrated me and infuriated me at times with people’s reactions and turns of events but it was utterly compelling.

The way the story was told was innovative and clever. It was told from mulitple POVS (not too many, I hasten to add) but for the first part of the story, you don’t have names for the characters. This worked really well and there came a point where it was all woven together and the reveals came. Interestingly, this story was also told over one week and yet the level of depth to this story was impressive. I loved the style and structure, it felt fresh. There were moments where I felt in the dark but I enjoyed the veil of mystery until the reveals.

There were two key characters in this book and some strong supporting characters. I loved Maya, Hiram and Junie, although there were moments for each of these characters where I felt unsure about who they were, how loyal they would be and how true to themselves they could be. This is the kind of story that builds and builds and really, you don’t know the full story until the final page.

The writing was inviting in story-telling and mysterious voices. I couldn’t put the book down and read it in less than 24 hours. Alyssa B Sheinmel has a strong narrative YA voice that captured my attention with its themes and ability to immerse me in a situation.

Plenty of women never tell. They don’t come forward and say their boyfriends are hitting them. They find thicker cover-up and better cover stories. They opened a cabinet and a mug fell on their faces. They walked into a doorknob in the middle of the night. Sure, it’s completely implausible-why would anyone be eye-level with a doorknob?-but that’s what women in the movies say. They cover for the men in their lives, at least at first. Eventually the woman stands up for herself and says: Enough.

Thank you to Atom books for the early proof copy in return for an honest review.

GROWN UPS by Marian Keyes

They’re a glamorous family, the Caseys.

Johnny Casey, his two brothers Ed and Liam, their beautiful, talented wives and all their kids spend a lot of time together – birthday parties, anniversary celebrations, weekends away. And they’re a happy family. Johnny’s wife, Jessie – who has the most money – insists on it.

Under the surface, though, conditions are murkier. While some people clash, other people like each other far too much . . .

Everything stays under control until Ed’s wife Cara, gets concussion and can’t keep her thoughts to herself. One careless remark at Johnny’s birthday party, with the entire family present, starts Cara spilling out all their secrets.

In the subsequent unravelling, every one of the adults finds themselves wondering if it’s time – finally – to grow up?


Title : Grown Ups
Author : Maria n Keyes
Format : eARC
Page Count : 656
Genre : Women’s Fiction
Publisher : Michael Joseph
Release Date : February 6, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ .5


Micky’s 2.5 star review

GROWN UPS as you might guess, really showed what a mess grown ups can be. This was a family saga of epic proportions both in length of book but also in depth of shambled relationships and lives. This was definitely a less funny offering from Marian Keyes, but I wouldn’t have minded the lack of humour if the story had worked better for me.

The story centred on three families, brothers, wives and children. The brothers weren’t particularly close but the other people around them included some particularly strong personalities in Jessica, Ferdia, Nell and Liam. The character I probably liked the most was Nell but like is too strong a word, the rest of them I disliked or felt ambivalent about. I didn’t make connections with the characters as I had hoped at all.

The pacing of this story is somewhat slow, every element of the story was told in great depth, usually from multiple perspectives. So you can imagine that it takes 650 pages. This was like observing a slow motion house of cards collapsing over time. At the end, I did not feel wowed in any way or particularly satisfied at any of the outcomes.

I’m sad about this book, having read most of Marian Keyes books but you can’t like them all, I guess.

Thank you to Michael Joseph for the early review copy.

THE STARS WE STEAL by Alexa Donne

Engagement season is in the air. Eighteen-year-old Princess Leonie “Leo” Kolburg, heir to a faded European spaceship, only has one thing on her mind: which lucky bachelor can save her family from financial ruin?

But when Leo’s childhood friend and first love Elliot returns as the captain of a successful whiskey ship, everything changes. Elliot was the one that got away, the boy Leo’s family deemed to be unsuitable for marriage. Now, he’s the biggest catch of the season and he seems determined to make Leo’s life miserable. But old habits die hard, and as Leo navigates the glittering balls of the Valg Season, she finds herself failing for her first love in a game of love, lies, and past regrets.


Title : The Stars We Steal
Author : Alexa Donne
Format : Paperback
Page Count : 400
Genre : YA Sci-fi/Retelling
Publisher : Titan Books
Release Date : February 4, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

THE STARS WE STEAL had the ingredients for Micky kryptonite with space, sci-fi and YA…that was before I even heard it was a retelling of Persuasion, so I was truly sold at that point. The execution didn’t let me down and won’t let fans of the original down if they have an open mind about the age of the characters and an in-the-future interpretation.

Leo was a likeable heroine from early on. She was a feisty, curvy feminist with a little more confidence than the original ‘Ann’. The premise for this world, included an ice-age on Earth, a huge fleet of ships and a royalty system. There was a context of haves and have-nots. I enjoyed the politics, corrupt as they were and nepotism was the flavour of the month. Leo navigated this world, the fleet of ships with quiet insight, courage and snark.

I was a commodity in a pretty dress, on display for all to see.

Captain-to-be Elliot Wentworth returned to Leo’s life in unexpected way and they were not fast friends. Old hurts, jealousies and feelings were a roller coaster for these two. I struggled to really like Elliot, there was nothing essentially wrong with him but he didn’t give me the feels that the character he’s based upon demanded. However, when they were together, the chemistry was catchy.

Great side characters, both good and downright nasty, aiding this book along. There were family, friends and acquaintences that offered a rich tapestry. I liked Daniel and Evgenia a lot but Leo’s close family were hard to fathom until they weren’t.

The fast-paced story that ensued had me glued to my book, I found it difficult to put down and there were some mysteries along the way. This was truly a cast of YA characters, so lovers of Persuasion have to be ready accept this different age range and some of the decisions and behaviours that come with that age. I loved the conceptualisation in space and in YA, I appreciated the fun that they had on their ships and I enjoyed the ‘vlag’ season.

I highly recommend this fun, dynamic retelling of a classic in space. I think readers will engage with the fun characters and setting.

Thank you to Titan books for the gorgeous finished copy for review.

YES NO MAYBE SO by Becky Albertalli & Aisha Saaed

Jamie Goldberg is cool with volunteering for his local state candidate – as long as he’s behind the scenes. There’s no way he’d ever knock on doors to ask people for their votes…until he meets Maya.

Maya Rehman’s having the worst Ramadan ever. Her best friend is too busy to hang out, her summer trip is cancelled, her parents are separating and now her mother thinks the solution to her problems is political canvassing – with some awkward guy she hardly knows …

Going door to door isn’t exactly glamorous, but maybe it’s not the worst thing in the world. After all, the polls are getting closer – and so are Maya and Jamie. Mastering local activism is one thing. Navigating the cross-cultural crush of the century is another thing entirely.


Title : Yes No Maybe So
Author : Becky Albertalli & Aisha Saaed
Format : Paperback ARC
Page Count : 368
Genre : Contemporary YA
Publisher : Simon & Schuster UK
Release Date : February 4, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5


Micky’s 3.5 star review

This is a gift of a contemporary book that bravely tackles the political climate we live in. On top of this, YES NO MAYBE SO is loaded with cuteness. In this way, it balances the serious themes with some lightness very well.

YES NO MAYBE SO had two quirky and endearing characters in Jamie a Jewish teen and Maya a Muslim teen. They were childhood friends but they hadn’t seen one another for a long time. Suddenly, they were coerced into canvasing for a political leader’s election together. Along the way were a bunch of humps in the road, the personal humps were sad but more impactful were the polarising political issues affecting their cultures and faith. The writing was approached in just the right way, it was compelling, it wasn’t preachy and it immersed you in the personal stories of racism, prejudice and ignorance. I can’t speak to the representation of faith or culture in this book but both authors are own voices, that said, please also search out own voices reviews.

There was the sweetest of slow-building connections with these two, it was cutely awkward, especially with Jamie’s knack for saying the wrong thing. There was a lot of cringey, fun moments that made me laugh. I liked that these two were not immediately drawn to one another, at least Maya wasn’t but friendship and camaraderie was a persuasive allure. I did like Maya and Jamie but I didn’t always connect to their wider stories and the side characters. The wider stories were relevant and I think I just wanted something more from the storytelling.

This was a cute, joyful read that didn’t evade real life and politics. There aren’t that many books embracing this kind of context and so I say bravo to Albertali and Saaed for this.

Thank you to Simon and Schuster UK for the review copy.