S.T.A.G.S by M. A. Bennett


S.T.A.G.S by M. A. Bennett

Expected Publication: August 10th 2017 by Hot Key Books

Nine students. Three bloodsports. One deadly weekend.

A twisting thriller for fans of Looking for Alaska and The Hunger Games

It is the autumn term and Greer MacDonald is struggling to settle into the sixth form at the exclusive St. Aidan the Great boarding school, known to its privileged pupils as S.T.A.G.S. Just when she despairs of making friends Greer receives a mysterious invitation with three words embossed upon on it: huntin’ shootin’ fishin’. When Greer learns that the invitation is to spend the half term weekend at the country manor of Henry de Warlencourt, the most popular and wealthy boy at S.T.A.G.S., she is as surprised as she is flattered.

But when Greer joins the other chosen few at the ancient and sprawling Longcross Hall, she realises that Henry’s parents are not at home; the only adults present are a cohort of eerily compliant servants. The students are at the mercy of their capricious host, and, over the next three days, as the three bloodsports – hunting, shooting and fishing – become increasingly dark and twisted, Greer comes to the horrifying realisation that those being hunted are not wild game, but the very misfits Henry has brought with him from school…

Note: I received an ARC copy of this book from Hot Key Books via Netgalley. This in no way influences my opinion.

When I saw this book on Netgalley and read what it was about, I just had to request it. The blurb instantly drew me in and I love reading these twisty cat and mouse kind of books. However, whilst I was expecting to love it, I just didn’t. I feel like this book fell short in a lot of areas and I just did not enjoy myself as much as I thought I would reading this.

From the very first pages, we already know what is going to have happened by the end of the book, to who it is going to happen and who did the doing. This completely took away from the mystery surrounding the book and the blood sports and the people who we were meeting because I already knew what was going to happen. As soon as I got to know the characters a little more, the book became completely predictable and I really struggled to actually continue reading at times.

I also really struggled to like out MC, Greer. She won a scholarship to a prestigious, private school (there is only one scholarship given out per year to a student from a normal school) and I feel like she acted really really stupid throughout the whole book. Like, I literally wanted to reach into the book and smack some sense into her because there were some really obvious signs of stuff going on that she just completely missed. We are told about how intelligent she is etc. but I just wanted to shake her throughout most of the book. Even when she knew what was going on, she still questioned everything after a few words from Henry because he was “Oh so chamring” (this vibe about Henry not coming over to the reader at all). Again with the shaking.

The “Medievals” also all really bugged me. I don’t feel like any of their voices stood out and I wasn’t getting the vibe that I was supposed to be getting from Henry. I also feel like the ending didn’t fit with anything that we were told about them. I feel like they would have done other things or maybe sorted out the issue a different way.

A huge issue I had with this book was the ending. There was a new aspect added to the book about 85% of the way in that I feel wasn’t really explained very well and should have been introduced much earlier so that we could have gotten used to it being part of the story a bit earlier. The ending and the solution was pretty rushed and it was also left open in a way that could mean a book 2 is coming – but it was also ended in a way that I can’t see another book coming because of the ages of our MC’s. So, I’m confused, really.

I think the only aspect I really liked about this book was Shafeen – he was the smartest person there and thank goodness he was there because I probably would have DNFed this book without him. He was a no nonsense, save the day kind of guy, who wouldn’t have even been there if Greer hadn’t gone. Hey ho. I would have liked to have seen more of the ship that was setting sail in this book, because I don’t feel like I saw enough of them and the relationship/the way it grew to actually ship them, but it is a cute concept.

All in all, I was pretty disappointed with this book. I was expecting so much more, but I was left annoyed with the MC and wishing that the certain aspects of the plot had been revealed either later or earlier. I gave this book 2/5 stars.

With Malice by Eileen Cook


With Malice by Eileen Cook

Published: June 7th 2016 by HMH Books for Young Readers

It was the perfect trip…until it wasn’t.

Eighteen-year-old Jill Charron wakes up in a hospital room, leg in a cast, stitches in her face and a big blank canvas where the last six weeks should be. She discovers she was involved in a fatal car accident while on a school trip in Italy. A trip she doesn’t even remember taking. She was jetted home by her affluent father in order to receive quality care. Care that includes a lawyer. And a press team. Because maybe the accident…wasn’t an accident.

As the accident makes national headlines, Jill finds herself at the center of a murder investigation. It doesn’t help that the media is portraying her as a sociopath who killed her bubbly best friend, Simone, in a jealous rage. With the evidence mounting against her, there’s only one thing Jill knows for sure: She would never hurt Simone. But what really happened? Questioning who she can trust and what she’s capable of, Jill desperately tries to piece together the events of the past six weeks before she loses her thin hold on her once-perfect life.

Ok, so, I have had this book on my TBR for ages now. I was so stoked to finally get a copy because I was so excited to finally see what was going on with this premise. I had seen reviews about it being too much like Dangerous Girls, but I decided to give it a shot anyway. They were right. I should have listened! Whilst I did enjoy the book to some extent, there were a lot of things that were similar to Dangerous Girls, which was a major disappointment for me! I wanted unique! Anyway, here are some lists!


  • The beginning. Right from the very beginning, we are thrown into the events of what happened, with no actual knowledge of it. We know as much as the MC does and how much the MC family decides to disclose. The mystery of it all was what kept me hooked at the beginning.
  • I liked the fact that the MC didn’t know anything that was happening because of the injuries she sustained. It was realistically done and this kind of thing does actually happen on a day to day basis.
  • The use of Social media and the media in general was also pretty good. When something like this hits the news, people do tend to flock to social media to talk about what happened, whether it is good or bad. People also tend to be swayed pretty heavily by media itself, so whether they are spinning a good or bad light on the person involved, is generally the direction that comments on social media will take!
  • The way in which it was written with interviews, news reports etc, interspersed between chapters was pretty interesting. We have the view from the MC and what she is hearing and getting on a day to day life basis and then we have it from the other side of people hitting social media, the media themselves and the police force and the people they are interviewing. It gave an extra insight into the characters from the opinions of the people who are supposed to know them because they taught them or they went to school with them etc. The extra insight helped to really get into the minds of the characters.


  • It was TOO much like Dangerous Girls. I don’t want to say too much… but the news reports, the way in which it happened in a country that is not the MC’s own, the doubt from people  around them, the way in which the case itself was built against the MC… even the ending was pretty similar! I was holding out hope that it would be something completely different, but it wasn’t… which was a shame! I don’t want a Dangerous Girls part two, I want something unique!
  • The ending felt rushed. The explanation and the way in which it ended all happened way too fast. I think it could have may been stretched out from earlier on so that the build up was a little better. I felt like the build up toward to explanation was lacking and then I was info dumped by what had actually happened.
  • Some of characters were really irritating! Like, the lawyer. Lawyers wouldn’t usually act like that (or so I would hope) so it felt a little unrealistic to me. HE was the kind of guy that constantly gets under your skin and you just want to punch him in the face. AS well as the father!
  • It sometimes felt a little slow plot wise. I don’t know whether this was just me, but some parts were a little dry and I had to push myself through it!
  • I wanted to see more from and about Nico! He was a majorly suspicious character for me and could have easily swinger around to him. I disliked him from the get go, but I still wanted more from him!

All in all, whilst I vaguely enjoyed this book, it was too much like Dangerous Girls for me to actually fully enjoy it. I was getting a watered down version of an amazing book where I wanted something unique and with its own story! I gave this book 2.5/5.

Have you read this book? What did you think?

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