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review 2018-01-03 21:02
Review: Breaking
Breaking - Danielle Rollins

I received a copy from Netgalley.


I initially requested this one because I liked the previous book I’d read by the same author. I had no idea it was actually a companion novel to Burning until I was half way through and looking up something else on Goodreads.


This was an interesting book, after reading the first two or three chapters slowly, I read the rest in a couple of hours one evening. I just couldn’t put it down. I wasn’t completely blown away with the book, I can’t even say I really liked all the characters that much. There was just something about the story and the way the plot unwound that made me want to keep reading and just had to know what was going on and how it all wound up together.


Trigger Warnings: Suicide.


The novel tells the story of teenager Charlotte, starting off when she’s a very young child, her mother who is some sort of doctor giving her genius tests (which Charlotte is not very good at) her mother has certain expectations of what sort of girl Charlotte should be.  You get the impression that Charlotte doesn’t really care about her mother’s expectations, even at a very young age. Skip ahead to a teenager in a posh prep school. Charlotte is in the principal’s office one of her best friends Devon, has recently committed suicide in a very short time since her other best friend Ariel also committed suicide. Both were bright, smart and popular.


Charlotte doesn’t seem to fit the bill with the other smart kids in the school. The kids in the school are all very smart to genius. She’s struggling in her classes and not making the grade. Her mom is a very prestigious (and very rich) alumni. She’s about to pull Charlotte from the school on the principal’s advice, failing grades and the sudden deaths of her two best friends very close together and Charlotte’s attitude seems to be very blasé about everything.


Whilst packing her stuff Charlotte finds a package left by one of her deceased friends containing a strange note and a tiny bottle saying “Drink me”. Charlotte realises there must be something more going on, she can’t stop thinking about the note. She realises she wants to find out what it means and will have to be at the school to do that. When almost overnight her physical appearance improves and her (really bitchy) mom notices too. She uses this and manages to convince her mom to let her stay at the school for the rest of the semester contingent on her grades rapidly improving.





Charlotte notices quickly that her grades are improving as well, she’s answering questions in class without studying, acing essays and vastly better at her fencing class than she’s ever been. And she’s not the only one who noticed. Her BFF Ariel’s former boyfriend Jack for one, when they start talking again over what happened it turns into more than talking and flirting. And a rival in Charlotte’s fencing class, Zoe, who is not happy at all when Charlotte kicks her ass in fencing.

(spoiler show)


The plot is fairly fast paced and there’s enough intrigue that kept me interested when Charlotte finds more notes and more clues left by Ariel and realises at one point that she found the notes and clues left for her in the wrong order. The mystery deepens, Charlotte’s relationship with Jack is getting more and more intense and she’s got the added irritation of fending off Zoe who seems determined to make things difficult for her.


The characters were kind of flat, I couldn’t really identify with Charlotte much, she was cold and aloof and had a sort of above it all vibe about her. There was an interesting morality grey area to the plot as it developed as well. It definitely takes a darker twist towards the end, and that’s where it ties in with the previous novel Burning. It can be read as a standalone, there’s very little that gives away anything to do with Burning’s actual plot but if you’ve read Burning there’s an “ahhh” moment when you realise the connection.


I also have issues with Charlotte and her two best friends, Ariel and Devon, the reader learns some pretty unsettling things about the two girls as Charlotte delves into the mystery as what caused them both to commit suicide within weeks of each other. These girls were supposed to have been the tight knit group that everyone wanted to be part of, yet there was a sense of underlying threat rather than close female friendship with Ariel as the ring leader and Devon following with Charlotte trailing behind. There was a sense of rivalry and tension that was supposed to be uncomfortable but more annoying than anything else.


There was an eye rolling side plot revolving around Ariel’s former boyfriend Jack who was close with Charlotte and Charlotte had always had a thing for but never did anything cause Ariel got there first even though it’s completely obvious Charlotte liked him. Jack is a typical nice guy, good looking with rich parents. His dad has an important job – senator or judge or something along those lines (can’t remember which) but Jack doesn’t seem interested in following those footsteps and like Charlotte doesn’t seem that interested in the classes at the prep school. He and Charlotte redevelop their friendship which of course develops into something more. She (of course) gets to see the side of him that no one else really gets to see.  Then Charlotte notices Jack starts rapidly improving in grades and stuff like she did. The romance angle was irritating.


It was a fairly quick read and definitely interesting, not something I would call a favourite but definitely worth a go if you like prep school mysteries and are intrigued by unlikeable characters.


Thank you to Netgalley and Bloomsbury Publishing Plc (UK & ANZ) for approving my request to view the title.

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review 2016-06-25 00:00
Burning - Danielle Rollins The buzz surrounding Burning suggests it’s a cross between Orange is the New Black: Juvie Style and Firestarter, and there are elements of both of these to be sure, what with the girl who is connected to fire-related events, and all the inmate stories.

But, unfortunately, the story delivered doesn’t quite match up to what is promised in the blurb:
- For starters, the blurb begins with the line “After three years in juvie, Angela Davis is now months away from release” while the Angela of the book has been in juvie for just eighteen months.

- Angela was super gullible/ignorant and had to see things many many times and then have them spelled out for her by another character before she “worked out” what was going on. While the reader was able to figure it out by the second mention, if not the first.

- In terms of pacing, though Jessica arrived at the facility on page eleven, and though some events happened in between that hinted at a little something creepy, nothing really began to escalate until almost two thirds of the way through the story.

- At some point it stopped feeling like a prison story, and started feeling like a story set in a kind’ve strict boarding-school for only-a-little-bit-difficult girls.

- It wasn’t scary. Not even a little bit.

The girls in this prison had no street smarts, they didn’t look suspiciously at a situation that was too good to be true, and pretty much every single one of them fell easily into a cult-like study group. With the exception of a couple of fights or arguments, there was really nothing here to suggest that many of these girls grew up on the rough side of town or committed terrible crimes to end up here, though it is stated that they did.

The rest of this review can be found HERE!

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review 2016-06-09 21:39
Creeptastic and amazing
Burning - Danielle Rollins

***This review has also been posted on The Social Potato

When a book’s tagline is “Orange is the New Black with a twist,” one cannot help but be drawn to the book. When the book also has a creepy cover and a REALLY cool premise, one feels the need to get one’s hands on it as soon as possible.

One in this case is obviously me (and could also be you, IDK how you feel) and I was really excited about this book. The excitement paid off because Burning is a really fucking good book. It is deliciously creepy (pretty sure I’ve used this phrase before to describe a good horror-y book, I CANNOT HELP it okay, I am not that great with words) and it made my heart pitter patter. I’ve also admittedly be in a reviewing slump and Burning just made me feel better about everything. It was the kind of book that as soon as I finished it, I wanted to yell at the world and tell everyone that they needed it in their lives. Burning is the kind of book you really want everyone to know about in case it completely slipped their notice. IF IT SLIPPED YOURS, PLEASE GO ADD IT TO YOUR TBR.

Okay, I think I’ve done enough ‘vague’ fangirling and perhaps it’s time to actually mention what it is that I like about this book.

For starters, I absolutely love the world. The author does such a fantastic job with building dynamics between various groups in the novel. Most of these relationships are horrid, but within all the badness, there is some good. We have some fantastic friendships and an interesting budding romance (which I am not sure was needed, but the love interest was super cute SO YAY.)

Angela is also a great character. She makes mistakes, I did yell at her a bit, but she is so well rounded. It is easy to slip inside of her head and understand how her desperation to get out of the correction facility affects her decision making skills. Her backstory also comes to us in bits and pieces scattered throughout the novel. It makes it easy to sympathize with her and wish Angela could just get the fuck out of there.

The author also does a great job of including diversity in the novel. Given the setting of the novel, I think the diverse aspects are important and really help understand the various dynamics with groups and also help us better understand the power dynamics at play.

The best part about this book is its plot. There are twists but they aren’t surprising. I am not sure they are meant to be surprising either. They work in that they read like pieces of a puzzle coming together. You see the general picture but the little pieces help make the image clearer. As the novel progresses, we get more paranormal elements come out and play and add to the creeptastic atmosphere of the book. All the conspiracies floating around and the growing desperation of all the characters adds to the intensity of the book and everything comes to a conclusion with a big bang.

So the ending... For those of you who absolutely despise cliffhangers, this book has one. I also do not like cliffhangers but I don’t think there is any other way for this book to end. The book ends on a very high note and all I want right now is a sequel. *makes puppy dog eyes*

In conclusion, I highly recommend this book and think that everyone should read it. After all, monsters are more interesting ;)

Note that I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

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review 2016-04-02 18:53
Review: Burning
Burning - Danielle Rollins

I received a copy from Netgalley.

Different and intriguing. My initial worry with this one was it would be too similar to Nova Ren Suma's The Walls Around Us which was also a paranormal mystery with a juvenile detention centre setting. Pleased to say this one was very very different. The story focuses on Angela who is counting down the days to her release from the detention centre when a strange new Doctor comes in with what appears to be a new opportunity for getting the girls into a science based programme. There's also a strange new inmate - a little girl named Jessica who appears to be very weird and dangerous. No one really knows anything other than rumours. Angela's brief encounter with the girl was not a pleasant one.

The new Doctor, Dr Gruen knows there is something off about Jessica and claims that her group SciGirls is in a position to help and if Angela can get close to Jessica, Dr Gruen can make things run more smoothly for her. Simple enough. Jessica is a very intriguing character. Clearly a very scared little girl and you want to know what she did - it's clear she has some abormal ability to do with fire. Is she as scary as everyone is making out?

The more Angela gets to know Jessica, the more things start changing in the prison facility. It's a hard one to go into detail for without being too spoilery. But everything revolves around Dr Gruen's SciGirls programme. Some changes appear to be good, others for lack of a better phrase - not so good. A lot of Dr Gruen pushing Angela in regards to finding out something from Jessica, the little girl.

It was certainly very atmospheric, very creepy and very compelling in its narrative even if the plot was getting weirder and more twistier by the second. Excellently written, though Jessica and Angela seemed to be the only ones with a lot of character depth. A couple of the side characters, Angela's two roommates and friends had some interesting background stories, but there seemed very little elaboration on anyone else. They were just there for the purposes of forwarding the plot. Though granted, even though it was a juvenile detention centre the main characters (apart from Dr Gruen) and Angela's friends were actually pretty likeable characters, even though they were criminals and bad girls. You want them to come out of the mess unscathed and okay.

The end was a bit weird and felt a bit rushed, that being said, the style of the storytelling was pretty consistent with the rest of the story.

Certainly a fun creepy read with an interesting take on a paranormal theme.

Thank you to Netgalley and Bloomsbury Publishing Plc (UK & ANZ) for approving my request to view the title.

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review 2016-04-01 17:25
Burning - Danielle Rollins

I loved the way the author set this novel up.   I knew there was something sinister about Jessica the minute that she was introduced but I just had to wait as I let the author slowly and meticulously let the novel run its course. Jessica seemed like a typical teen on the outside. It was the way that she was handled by others and how they treated her that made me suspicious. She appeared to be small and fragile amongst the other prisoners in this correctional facility as she was brought in and for that, I felt that she was hiding a secret that others knew nothing about. A secret, which landed her amongst these offenders that, would soon bring about havoc.  Placed inside isolation the minute upon her arrival, the other inmates had no chance to lay their claims on her or the opportunity to speak with her so, when Davis returns from bringing down her food tray with burns on her hands, the rumors begin. How could she suffer burns from delivering a food tray? Davis only has three months left on her sentence and it’s her brother that she misses the most while locked away.  These three months and this attachment become obstacles for Davis as the correctional facility is challenged by science.


A new doctor and her assistance arrive at the facility, reaching out to the immates; these ladies are looking for volunteers for the SciGirls program. This opportunity excites the inmates, giving them hope for a better future but they all must take a test to join. SciGirl program, they came to the facility the same time that Jessica was brought in – this seems too much of a coincidence to me. Life inside the facility is still typical of a correctional center, some girls abusing others, some just surviving and others trying to stay on top. Davis is asked to mentor Jessica as she is the only girl Jessica has taken an interest in. People have been avoiding Jessica as too many strange circumstances have been occurring around her and Davis is not sure about this new request. If she doesn’t accept this responsibility, the opportunity to see her brother is going to be cast off farther into the further. I enjoyed the sci-fi twist on this novel, I could see things unraveling before my eyes even read the text. I imaged different avenues this novel could have taken to heighten the dramatics of it but all-in-all, I enjoyed it. Davis made a great character portraying a great friend and someone who would go the extra mile for you.   I enjoyed the mystery elements of the novel and the intense moments, the author did a terrific job releasing portions of the novel bit-by-bit and not informing the reader of all the facts at once. It kept me on my toes and the pages of the novel turning.


I received a copy of this novel from NetGalley and Bloomsbury USA Children’s Books in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

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