Review: The Truth and Lies of Ella Black

The Truth and Lies of Ella Black The Truth and Lies of Ella Black by Emily Barr
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

2.5 stars.

Thanks to Penguin for sending me a copy of this book for review.

The One Memory of Flora Banks was one of the first books I read in 2017, and I really enjoyed it, so I was looking forward to picking up The Truth and Lies of Ella Black. Unfortunately, it didn't quite reach my expectations.

I thought this book was going to be a psychological thriller, and from reading the synopsis, I thought there was going to be some aspects of mental health. I wouldn't call it a thriller; there were aspects of mystery throughout the course of the story, but when the mysteries were "uncovered", I felt quite underwhelmed. As for the mental health part, the main character has another "side" to her... a bad side. I would've loved to see this developed more throughout the book, and I think if this was the focus of the story, then it would've had a lot of potential. However, it's kind of brushed over. No one else ever finds out about it. Her bad side kind of just gets forgotten.

I didn't love the romance in this book, and to be honest, it was probably one of the worst cases of insta-love I've ever read. They meet one morning, and that night they're at a bar kissing, and then the next morning she says to herself that she has a boyfriend now, and all of a sudden she's in love with him?!?! I probably could've forgiven this if we found out more about Christian, but that's all we know about him, and we see very little of him after that.

Also, the whole "40 days until she dies" thing that is written as a countdown at the beginning of every chapter was kind of odd... and maybe unnecessary. I felt like that was going to be another mystery that would be uncovered in "40 days" or whatever... but when it happened it was kind of underwhelming.

Also, there's an unnecessary scene with animal abuse that didn't add to the story whatsoever and made me feel a bit sick...

I read the book in a day, and a main part of that is because it wasn't a boring story. It's readable, and maybe some people might really enjoy it; the potential is there, but it just wasn't for me.

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Thanks to Penguin for sending me a copy to review. I read 'All the Bright Places' by Jennifer Niven last year and loved it, and so I couldn't wait to read this new release. Here is what I thought;

'Everyone thinks they know Libby Strout, the girl once dubbed “America’s Fattest Teen.” But no one’s taken the time to look past her weight to get to know who she really is. Following her mom’s death, she’s been picking up the pieces in the privacy of her home, dealing with her heartbroken father and her own grief. Now, Libby’s ready: for high school, for new friends, for love, and for every possibility life has to offer. In that moment, I know the part I want to play here at MVB High. I want to be the girl who can do anything. 

Everyone thinks they know Jack Masselin, too. Yes, he’s got swagger, but he’s also mastered the impossible art of giving people what they want, of fitting in. What no one knows is that Jack has a newly acquired secret: he can’t recognize faces. Even his own brothers are strangers to him. He’s the guy who can re-engineer and rebuild anything, but he can’t understand what’s going on with the inner workings of his brain. So he tells himself to play it cool: Be charming. Be hilarious. Don’t get too close to anyone.

Until he meets Libby. When the two get tangled up in a cruel high school game—which lands them in group counseling and community service—Libby and Jack are both pissed, and then surprised. Because the more time they spend together, the less alone they feel. Because sometimes when you meet someone, it changes the world, theirs and yours.
 ' - Goodreads

CHARACTERS: Niven is always able to write her characters with such creativity and each of them are always so differently. Libby has had an eventful life, and when she goes back to school, this only gets worse. Libby's character development from the beginning to the end of the book was noticeable and I think Niven did a great job at that. Libby starts of insecure and shy, however when as time goes on she makes friends and learns to love herself.
Jack also develops a lot throughout the book, but in a different way to Libby. Jack starts off as a complete douche who has no respect for other people, including Libby. However, by the end of the book Jack has not only learnt more about himself and Libby, but others around him as well. Jack also grows the courage to tell his parents and friends the truth, and learns not to care what others think of him.

PLOT/ STORY LINE: Overall, I really enjoyed the story line. I found it a bit slow at first as the first half of the book was dedicated to developing the story and the characters. However, the second half of the book was really entertaining and the plot began to take off. I liked how the story wasn't overly plot driven with multiple story lines and things happening all at once. I was able to focus on the two characters and how their separate stories intertwined. I was constantly intrigued in the story and managed to finish it in less than two days because I couldn't put it down. 
I also really enjoyed the diverse range of characters, and the different issues that were talked about in the book. We had different races, body images, mental health disorders, and health issues in general. I have read and heard a few different opinions about this, but I personally think that Niven did a great job at incorporating these into her story,

ENDING: I really enjoyed the ending and how the story was wrapped up nicely. I feel like this book would teach a lot to people about confidence and being true to yourself, and that's probably a lesson that everyone needs to learn at some point in their lives. Although the ending may have been to "perfect" to be realistic, I think that sometimes it's nice to read a book where everything ends up the way it should!

RATING: Overall, I decided to give this book 5 stars. I haven't given a 5 star rating to a book in a while, and although it isn't perfect, I felt that it was better than a 4.5. I recommend picking this up if you're a fan of Niven's writing or want to learn more about these diverse range of characters and disorders.


'WORLDWALKER' spoiler free series review - Josephine Angelini

Thanks to Pan Macmillan for sending me all three books in the series to read and review. The trilogy consists of Trial by Fire, Firewalker, and Witch's Pyre and I can say that I enjoyed all three books. I'm going to split this review up into three parts and I'll talk about each book separately. All reviews will be spoiler free.

"This world is trying to kill Lily Proctor. Her life-threatening allergies keep her from enjoying experiences that others in her hometown of Salem take for granted, which is why she is determined to enjoy her first high school party with her best friend and longtime crush, Tristan. But after a humiliating incident in front of half her graduating class, Lily wishes she could just disappear.
Suddenly, Lily is in a different Salem—one overrun with horrifying creatures and ruled by powerful women called Crucibles. Strongest and cruelest of them all is Lillian . . . Lily's other self in this alternate universe.
What makes Lily weak at home is what makes her extraordinary in New Salem. In this confusing world, Lily is torn between responsibilities she can't hope to shoulder alone and a love she never expected.
 " - Goodreads

I would have to say that this book was my favourite out of all three and I just felt the most intrigues in this story line. I loved getting to know the characters in both worlds; Lily and Lilliana, Tristian and Rowan and loved seeing how different they all are from each other. I read The Crucible play in high school, and this prior knowledge of Salem definitely helped me understand the witch world better. I haven't read many fantasy books about witch's before and so this was a new experience for me, and one that I really enjoyed.

'Lily Proctor has made it back to her own universe, and it's finally time for her and Rowan to be happy and relax. True, she almost died in the Pyre that fueled their escape, and they must hide her new magic for the safety of the world, but compared to fighting the monstrous Woven and leading armies in the alternate Salem, life is looking good.
'You think I'm a monster, but my choices, as ruthless as they seem, are justified.'
Unfortunately, Lillian, ruthless ruler of the 13 Cities, is not willing to let Lily go that easily. Lily is the closest version of herself she's ever seen in all her worldwalking, and Lillian's running out of time. If she can't persuade Lily and Rowan to return to her world, she'll have to find a way to make them come back.' - Goodreads

Although I didn't enjoy this book as much as the first one, I still really enjoyed it and thought that it was a great follow up. In the last book, we explored the other universe, and in Firewalker we learnt more about Lily's original universe (the normal world). I also liked how we learnt more about the characters, especially the original Tristian who would have to be my favourite character. The ending was emotional and tragic in this one, and left me wanting to pick the next one up straight away.

'Lily Proctor has come a long way from the weak, sickly girl she used to be. She has gained power as a witch and a leader, found her way home, chosen to face battle again, and (after losing her first love and being betrayed by her new love) she has learned more about loss and grief than she ever wanted to know.
Thrust once again into a society different from anything they have ever seen, Lily and her coven are determined to find answers―to find a new path to victory, a way to defeat the monstrous Woven without resorting to nuclear weapons or becoming a tyrannical mass murderer like her alternate self, Lillian. But sometimes winning requires sacrifices . . . and when the only clear path to victory lies at Lillian's side, what price will Lily be willing to pay?' - Goodreads

The final book to this amazing, action filled and dramatic series. One of my favourite aspects of this series is the amount of character growth and development that each of the characters went through. Lily especially, who started off as a regular teenager who suffered from seizures for no apparent reason, to one of the most powerful witches after discovering this alternate universe. Such a great ending to a great series.

Overall, I really enjoyed this series and loved getting into the universe and discovering more about Salem and witches. I decided to give this trilogy 4 stars out of 5. If you like fantasy books, or want to read more about witches, I highly recommend picking this series up!

FRIDAY FAVOURITES; Books That Cover Mental Health

Diversity is something that needs to be talked about a lot more in the book community, specifically in YA novels. Today, for my first Friday Favourites, I wanted to talk about some of my favourite books that talk about mental health. Be sure to check these books out if they interest you in any way, and comment below if you can recommend any to me.

Perks of Being a Wallflower - Stephen Chbosky
Charlie is a socially awkward freshman who has never really had any friend. But when he meets Sam and Patrick, this all turns around. Charlie is learning what it's like to love, get through the last years of school, and what it's like to be a good friend, brother and son. As the story continues to unfold, we learn more about Charlie and his troubled past, and how it's affecting him still today.
I read this book when I was in the middle of high school which I think was the perfect time and it definitely reassured me about a lot of things. I thought Charlie's story was a perfect representation of what it's like to be going through a really hard time in your life, and not knowing whether to live it or run from it.

I Was Here - Gayle Forman
This story follows the story of Cody months after her life-long best friend's suicide. As Cody tries to figure out the reason why Meg would end her life, she realises that she may not have known much about her best friend after all. Along the road, Cody finds out more about herself, love, loss and the sad issue of suicide and self-harm.
This book sounds hard to read, and at times it was, but I really liked the way that Forman covered the topic. She talked about it in an honest, yet unique way that I haven't read depression about in any other novel. I also loved how the story was told by the friend of a suicidal teen, rather than the teen herself as we are given a different perspective.

The Pause - John Larkin
Declan appears to have the perfect life, yet know one knows what he's really feeling deep inside. One day, when it all gets too much, Declan decides to end it all. He jumps in front of a train, and just before the train is about to hit him, a version of Declan's life is revealed showing what would have happened if he didn't jump in front of that train.
This is an Australian book that I won in a competition and had been sitting un-read on my shelf for about a year before I decided to pick it up, and as soon as I started the first chapter I wished that I had picked it up sooner. I was emotional the whole book knowing that even though everything was going well, it was only a pigment of Declan's imagination and that this book would have a tragic ending.

The Sky is Everywhere - Jandy Nelson
When Lennie's sister suddenly dies, she doesn't know who she is anymore after spending her whole life in her sister's shadow. Struck with grief, Lennie finds herself falling for two guys; Toby, her dead sister's boyfriend, and Joe, the new kid at school. Along with this, Lennie is pushing away the only family she has left as she struggles with the loss of her best friend.
I read this book the first time in high school from the library, and then picked it up from the book store and read it again last year. Although the mental health in this book isn't as "heavy" as the others I'm talking about, it still touched me in a way that no other book has. TSIE remains one of the best books I've ever read, and one of the few that have made me bawl my eyes out.

All the Bright Places - Jennifer Niven
Theodore is constantly thinking about death, but every time he is close to killing himself, something or someone is there to stop him. Violet has been through a lot recently and wants nothing more than to graduate school and escape her home and her grief. This is the story of how two sad teens save each other and discover more about themselves through their journey together.
I read this last year around the same time that I read 'I Was Here' and I didn't know that either books would be this deep and raw. I cannot explain the feelings I had when reading this book, and how raw they were. It made me smile, cry, and really think about what we don't know about others.

Girl Online - Zoe Sugg
Penny is a teenage blogger who goes under the alias of Girl Online. She talks about school drama, boys, friends and her crazy family. When she is whisked away with her family to New York where she meets Noah who makes her feel like no one has made her feel before. Who is Noah? And who is Penny?
Although the main focus of this book isn't on mental health, something that we discover about Penny when reading Girl Online is that she suffers from anxiety and panic attacks. I haven't read many books that talk about anxiety, and I loved how even though this book is a contemporary set for younger readers, it was still able to talk about a serious topic. Zoe Sugg has suffered from panic attacks throughout her life which made Penny's story even more raw.

When We Collided - Emery Lord
Jonah and Vivi are both going through a rough patch in their lives. Jonah's dad has just passed away leaving his mum in a deep stage of depression, so he and his older siblings are left to look after the younger ones a long with looking after his dad's store. Vivi's story unfolds as the book goes on, but we know from the beginning that something just isn't right with her.
This book focused on a range of different mental health issues including depression, anxiety and grief, and they are experienced by a range of the characters. I loved how this book had a touch of mystery to it as Jonah and Vivi's stories are slowly uncovered as the book goes on.

Breathing Under Water - Sophie Hardcastle
Grace has grown up in her twin brother's shadow; Ben has always been one step ahead of her. Until one day when something happens that changes Grace's life forever. She has to learn to be her own person, and someone more than just Ben's sister.
This was such a deep and moving book for me, and I didn't realise how hard it was going to hit me. I literally could not put this book down once I started and finished it in a couple sittings in one day. The way that the characters were written and the things that they went through were hard to read, yet so accurate.

Running Like China - Sophie Hardcaste
From the same author as 'BUW', Sophie's first published book was her memoir where she talks about her struggle with anxiety and depressions from a young age. From a bubbly, talkative and overall happy child, to a moody and sad teenager, Sophie talks about the transitions she went through in her life, and the many ups and downs.
This book was really hard to read, however I think it is one of the best books I've ever read that covers mental illness. It was hard to read knowing that this is a memoir and realising that someone has been through this and that this is a real story. However, this book also inspire me to live the best life that I can. If Sophie could pick herself up, then anyone can.

Whisper to Me - Nick Lake
This book is told through a letter that Cassie is writing to the boy whose heart she broke. She tells the boy (who we never find out the name of) to tell him why she did and retells events from before she met him until now. As Cassie's emotional story is told, we find out the real reason of WHY.
This books is amazing and I really want to reread it again because I haven't been able to get it out of my head since I finished it. As we discover early on in the book, Cassie hears a voice in her head that's telling her to do crazy things and if she doesn't do it, then something bad will happen to someone she loves. This was hard for me to read, yet I was so intrigued in what was going to happen. I have never read a book that talks about Schizophrenia, and it was really interesting to learn more about.

Those were my ten favourite books that cover mental health. If you can suggest any more to me, comment below, because I would love to read more. And don't forget to check out the one's I mentioned if they interested you!

TAG TUESDAY: Do I actually have good taste in books?

I took a quiz on buzz feed the other day that asked a range of 'which would you rather' questions. Let me know if you agree or disagree with any of my answers in the comments below!

Paper Back (50%); Although hard back's are beautiful to look at and I love facing them forward on my shelf, 90% of the books I own are paper backs. They're cheaper, more comfortable to hold when reading, and I don't feel as stressed when reading in case I ruin the book. Plus, I can hardly ever find any hard back's at my local book stores.

Harry Potter (80%); I only read the Harry Potter series at the end of last year, but I fell in love with the books and the movies straight away. I haven't read Lord of the Rings or watched the movies, and to be honest they don't really interest me.

New Books (51%); I'm actually surprised that only 51% of people chose new books. I personally think the smell of old books is rank.

Stephen King (72%); I just finished reading Carrie for the first time and absolutely loved it. I've watched both adaptations of the movie multiple times and the book was just as good as the movies.

Fantasy (77%); I had to go with fantasy for this one since almost half of the books I own are fantasy. I've only read a few sci-fi books, but the one's I have read I've loved. So hopefully I will be able to pick a few more up soon.

Outdoors (31%); Although I read inside almost all the time (especially at the moment since it's still cold out) but I love the thought of reading outside. The warm weather is coming and I'm so excited to soak up the rays and read at the same time.

Twilight (72%); The Twilight series was one of the first YA book series I ever read, and I think it really got me into reading. I also love the movies just as much and really want to reread the books soon... when I get some time. I've seen the FSoG movie and will probably see the second one too since the first one ended on such a cliff hanger, but I have no interest in reading the books.

Local Book Shop (80%); I hardly ever shop online at all even though it's much easier, cheaper, and has a wider range of options. I just love making the trip into the city, walking into Dymocks, and raging the shelves for a new read. I'm not going to lie... it can be a bit embarrassing when I walk up to the counter balancing six books in my hand...

The Great Gatsby (68%); I read TGG the first time for year 11 english, and fell in love with Fitzgerald's writing and the story line. I have since reread the book, watched numerous film adaptations and rewatched the Baz Lerman film about a hundred times. It's my favourite classic of all time.

Fiction (88%); As much as I love reading non-fiction and biographies, I will always go for fiction. I do, however, want to expand on my non-fiction reading so I plan next year to try and read one non-fiction book a month.

Bookmarks (69%); How dare that other 31%?!?!?!?!?!

Roald Dahl (52%); This was a hard one for me since I love The Cat in the Hat, but I had to choose Dahl in the end. I was never a massive reader of either of these authors when I was younger.

E-Book (72%); I'm not a fan of either of these, but I don't understand how people can stay focused while listening to audio books. I've never tried listening to an audio book, but I don't plan on doing it anytime soon.

And that's it! Let me know down below if you've taken the quiz and how you went :)


I was disappointed with my reading efforts this month; I just felt like the month flew by without me even realising! Before I knew it the month was over and I only managed to read nine books. I know this sounds good, and usually I would be happy with this, but I had two weeks break from uni this month and planned to get so much reading done. Unfortunately I was sick during the first week and couldn't get myself to concentrate on anything that I was reading.

The books I read this month were mostly good and I'm happy with the quality of them. Out of the nine books, eight of then were YA with a mix of contemporary and fantasy, and one was an adult thriller which I counted as my classic for the month. Here's what I read;

A Monster Calls - Patrick Ness
Such a beautiful yet tragic story about childhood, family and grief. I had high expectations for this book since so many people talk about how amazing and emotional it is, and I did enjoy it. However, it wasn't as amazing as I thought it was going to be. I felt the emotion, yet I kind of saw the ending coming. Still an amazing story that everyone should read.
4 Stars

The Loose End's List - Carrie Firestone
Sent to me by the publisher for review. I absolutely loved this book and found the story idea so unique. There was emotion, laughter, love for both a boy and family, and grief. This book had so many levels to it which I loved.
4.5 Stars

My Life Next Door - Huntley Fitzpatrick
Perfect timing for reading this book because I didn't realise that I was in a mushy contemporary mood until I read it. The romance between the two main characters was so cute and I loved reading about them. I loved how this book also focused a lot on family as well and how the two characters' families were complete opposites. I will definitely be reading more of Fitzpatrick's books in the future.
4.5 Stars

Empire of Storms - Sarah J. Maas
Finally... probably the most talked about book this month. I wasn't a big fan of the last two books in the series, so I didn't have big expectations for this book. However, I actually really enjoyed it. I'm still not a massive fan of the series like every one else is, but Maas definitely did redeem herself in this book.
4 Stars

The Rest of Us Just Live Here - Patrick Ness
My second Ness book and I actually really enjoyed it. The book isn't about the usual 'main characters' who usually have a big story to tell. Instead, it's about the average people in the world and I found this a really unique idea. The story line was simple, but that was the whole point.
4 Stars

Trial by Fire - Josephine Angelini
I was asked to review this trilogy by MacMillan a while ago, and I've finally got around to working my way through it. I didn't think that I would love it since it's about witches, however I actually found myself really enjoying it. I read The Crucible in high school, and since this book is set in Salem, I was able to make the connections.
4 Stars

Our Chemical Hearts - Krystal Sutherland
Such a beautiful and realistic read about first love. I loved almost every part of this book include the characters, the story line, and especially the ending. I was meant to be meeting the author at an event at Dymock's last week, but there was a storm and the whole state was in a black out. The meeting was still on but it wasn't safe for me to make it into the city :(
4.5 Stars

Firewalker - Josephine Angelini
The second book in the Trial by Fire trilogy. I really enjoyed this book also; just as much as the first one. I can't wait to read the final book and see how this series is going to end. I will have a full series review up when I'm finished.
4 Stars

Carrie - Stephen King
I've seen the original Carrie movie once, and watched the 2013 version about three times! I absolutely loved it and randomly decided to pick the book up a few weeks ago on a whim. I loved the book just as much as the film, and I definitely want to read more of King's books soon. I also counted this as my classic for the month; it isn't your typical classic but I forgot to read one and technically it is one...
5 Stars

So that's my September Wrap Up. Let me know down below what books you read this month and what you think of the books I read. I also have reviews up for some of the books I mentioned so be sure to check them out as well!

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