What happens when your worst enemy is yourself?

Today’s review: The In-Between

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Cover of Barbara Stewart’s The In-Between

Author: Barbara Stewart

Publisher: St Martin’s Griffin

Released: 2013
Number of pages: 256
Genre: Young Adult/ Contemporary/ Fantasy/ Paranormal/ Thriller
Series: Standalone

When Elanor’s near-death experience opens a door to a world inhabited by bold, beautiful Madeline, she finds her life quickly spiraling out of control.

Fourteen-year-old Elanor Moss has always been an outcast who fails at everything she tries—she’s even got the fine, white scars to prove it. Moving was supposed to be a chance at a fresh start, a way to leave behind all the pain and ugliness of her old life. But, when a terrible car accident changes her life forever, her near-death experience opens a door to a world inhabited by Madeline Torus . . . Madeline is everything Elanor isn’t: beautiful, bold, brave. She is exactly what Elanor has always wanted in a best friend and more—their connection runs deeper than friendship. But Madeline is not like other girls, and Elanor has to keep her new friend a secret or risk being labeled “crazy.” Soon, though, even Elanor starts to doubt her own sanity. Madeline is her entire life, and that life is drastically spinning out of control. Elanor knows what happens when your best friend becomes your worst enemy. But what happens when your worst enemy is yourself?

With her debut novel, The In-Between, Barbara Stewart presents a bold new voice in teen fiction.

Goodreads.com

Ellie Moss thought that moving house would give her a fresh start at life. Old Ellie was depressed, overweight, and suicidal. Her best friend had dropped her as soon as she found someone better. A razor blade to her wrist was the only way Old Ellie could ever feel anything. But the move was going to change everything. New Ellie would be smart, confident, in-shape. New Ellie would make loads of friends at her new school in her new life. But then came the car crash, and with it, Ellie’s new life crumbled around her. With a severe brain injury and the loss of a parent hanging over her, Ellie soon finds herself withdrawing back into the old shell that she was so desperate to escape.

But then came Madeline Torus. Moving into a new home with one parent in an urn on the study desk is enough to have Ellie’s fingers edging towards a razor blade again. But then, seemingly out of the blue, appears Madeline; the girl of Ellie’s dreams. Madeline is beautiful, intelligent, and best of all, she understand Ellie like no one ever has. She too is running from a dark past that is slowly catching up. Ellie’s life becomes more and more dependent on Madeline; she is her rock, her only source of comfort, and ironically, her only source of sanity. But soon, Ellie finds that the longer she spends with Madeline, the less control she has over her own life. Ellie begins to say and do things without control of her actions, and the deeper she is pushed into her friendship with Madeline, Ellie begins to realise the dangers of love, loneliness and obsession beyond control.

This was officially my first book for 2015, and it really started on a high! It is a little bit hard to review this book, due to the many crucial plot points that I will try to avoid, lest I spoil the book, but I will do my best!
Set in a quiet town where the nearest little big city is half an hour away, The In-Between is immediately effective in setting the quiet, eerie scenes of the book’s events. Isolation is a major theme of this book and whilst protagonist Ellie Moss is isolated within herself, the remoteness of the setting adequately reinforces this. I do have a soft spot for quiet little towns and forest settings, which I suppose made me enjoy it more, but I did think that the reclusive setting was very appropriate for the book’s story and themes.

I felt that the story moved at a good pace, the events and the narration moving just fast enough to keep it engaging, but not so slow as it dragged along. I was always motivated to keep reading, and I did, sometimes late into the night which was a nice feeling- I haven’t done that with a book in a while! As the plot marched along, the tension began to increase significantly. The book has you asking a lot of questions at the start, but don’t let that put you off, everything is explained in good time, and as the pieces of the puzzle began to come together, I found myself racing through the book, reading as fast as I could to find the answers. The book focused primarily on Ellie’s obsession with Madeline and the world of the “in-between”, and although Ellie did gain a love interest at one point, it didn’t distract from the tension and gravity of the main plot, for which I thanked my lucky stars.

I really liked Ellie as the narrator. She was observant, sincere, and honest. The book, written like a journal, has her recounting her days’ events, recording the events happening in the moment, and documenting all her thoughts and feelings about Madeline and her life. The book is rich in emotion, but it’s not so terribly angsty that it becomes boring to read. The reader also maintains a level of curiosity about Ellie throughout the duration of the book. For almost the entirety of the story, it’s unclear to the reader whether Ellie is mentally ill, still suffering from the car crash, or if there truly is something paranormal happening around her. As Ellie delves deeper into her complex relationship with Madeline, it becomes clear that there is a certain other-worldliness about the events that occur around them.

Barbara Stewart’s The In-Between is a dark, twisted story of love and obsession. The writing is smart, poetic and insightful. The story is rich in imagery, the characters diverse, and the plot engaging and suspenseful. I would definitely recommend this book to lovers of YA fiction, and anyone with a taste for the thrills of the paranormal. This was a fun, if rather dark, read, and I’ll count it as a good start to my year in reading!

Rating- 8.5/10

Fandom Friday: Armageddon Outta Here!

My copy of AOH *sobbing*

My copy of AOH *sobbing*

Guys guys guys guys guys!!! The new Skulduggery Pleasant book is out now!

I got it on Tuesday and I’ve already read through it twice hehe!

So this is Derek Landy’s second-to-last book in the Skulduggery Pleasant series and it’s a collection of short stories detailing events that occur in between the main stories. It contains 11 short stories, three of which were created in the wake of a series of competitions that Landy held on his blog wherein he asked for people to create their own Skulduggery Pleasant characters. The book also includes two novellas; a brand new one and the World Book Day novella, The End of the World, and an exclusive chapter from the final book.

The stories were absolutely amazing, and some had me in fits of laughter as I was reading. It was actually rather embarrassing. I was on the train and I started laughing during one of the stories and there were these two old ladies looking at me like I needed help. So yeah, moral of the story, don’t read Derek Landy’s books in public. You will frighten old ladies.

I am however, rather sad. Skulduggery Pleasant has been a part of my life for eight years now, and it saddens me knowing that it’s soon going to come to an end. But I am comforted however, by the thought that, as long as I keep coming back and reading each book again and again, the magic will never die.

Have any of you guys read the Skulduggery Pleasant series? What are your thoughts on the latest book? Let me know in the comments!

Christie xx 🙂

Chaos in the Shadows

Today’s review: Skulduggery Pleasant- Last Stand of Dead Men 

Front cover of LSODM. The beauty, I can't-

Front cover of LSODM. The beauty, I can’t-


Author: Derek Landy
Publisher: Harper Collins
Number of Pages: 604
Number of Chapters: 79 (holy moly)
Tagline: No one is safe 

For the magical community of present-day Ireland, tensions have risen and life teeters on the edge of chaos. This is it. This is what they’ve all been expecting, and long been dreading; war has finally come. This war however, is not a battle between the forces of good and evil, but a war between Sanctuaries. The responsibility of making it out of this mess alive falls, once again, into the hands of Skulduggery Pleasant and Valkyrie Cain who, along with the rest of the Dead Men, journey to all corners of the globe to try and prevent the outbreak of uncontrolled havoc. As if this wasn’t enough for them to deal with, another fight rages inside Valkyrie’s mind, as she slowly, but surely, crumbles under the power rising within her that is Darquesse.

Okay guys as you read this, I have literally just finished reading the book. It is currently 6:05 pm on Friday, 20th September and I now have no idea what I’m going to do with my life. For the past couple of days, my life has revolved around this book and now that I’m finished, I have literally nothing to live for.

This is the eighth instalment of Irish author Derek Landy’s Skulduggery Pleasant series and, as someone who has been reading these books for six years, I can tell you that they just keep getting better and better. LSODM is jam-packed with gory action scenes, astounding magic, and awesome characters. Characters who were merely subplots in previous books take on major roles in this latest novel, and it is fascinating to be able to relate to them, laugh with them, hurt with them, and feel for them. Landy’s constant use of imagery and his attention to detail, along with his not-too-formal style of writing are the perfect combination to enrapture audiences both young and old. His witty humour and the way he can manipulate the reader’s emotions make LSODM, along with all of his other novels, a roller-coaster ride of, as we fangirls say, ‘feels’.

It’s actually kind of hard to write a review for this, as there is so many crucial points in the book that have to remain unspoiled. I honestly wish I could write more but if I do, I’ll probably end up ruining it for any of you considering reading it.

If you haven’t considered reading it, then do.

Consider it.

Seriously, consider the hell out of it. You have no idea what you’re missing.

There are only two authors on this planet that have successfully made me laugh out loud, one of which is Derek Landy (the other is Nick Griffiths, author of Dalek, I Loved You. That book was hilarious). His characters, although witty and loveable, are also incredibly flawed. I feel that it is this fact that makes you relate to the characters and feel more empathetic towards them, even if you dislike them. To me, it’s what makes them even more human, and I love that.

Last Stand of Dead Men was the book that I have been waiting for all year and I can honestly tell you, I was not disappointed. Sure, tears were shed and I might have thrown my copy across the room screaming “NO! NO!!” at one point, but I thoroughly enjoyed every minute. At this point in time, I am torn between wanting to strangle Derek Landy and wanting to run into his arms, sobbing and wailing.

For me, a long-term fan of Skulduggery Pleasant, LSODM ticked all my boxes. It was everything I expected and more, and kept me on my seat for hours. Seriously, I almost missed the bus because I was so engrossed in it. I highly recommend reading it, but I would advise you, if you haven’t already, reading the series from the very beginning. As the story is ongoing, there are some key plot points in the previous books that need to be covered for the story to make sense. The first instalment is Skulduggery Pleasant or, as it was released in the US, Skulduggery Pleasant- Sceptre of the Ancients.  

Rating: 10/10