February 2020 Wrap-Up!

Hello everyone! I hope you’ve all enjoyed your extra day of the year and made good use of it to fit in some reading 😉

February was a strong reading month for me – I mostly enjoyed everything I read! Stay tuned for some brief thoughts on each of the books I got through! (Titles link to my full reviews.)

february 2020


Review Books

The Sisters Grimm by Menna van Praag

I have read some of van Praag’s books previously and enjoyed them, and I had a feeling this would be the best yet. I wasn’t wrong.

 

The Alibi Girl by C. J. Skuse

I requested this one having loved Sweet Pea and In Bloom by the same author. This was another success, featuring the great writing I’ve come to expect from Skuse.

 

Beast by Matt Wesolowski

This was my first taste of the Six Stories series but I definitely want to read the other books after enjoying this one so much! It was gloomy and atmospheric, and kept me guessing until the end.

Real Life by Adeline Dieudonné

Real Life defies categorisation but I found it a gritty and emotional read that left me breathless at times. Very dark but a worthwhile read if you can handle it.

 

The Aosawa Murders by Riku Onda

This was a unique read, structured as a series of monologues from various characters. While there was a sense of detachment that came with this, I found it so intriguing and couldn’t put it down!

The Dark Side of the Mind by Kerry Daynes

My first non-fiction of the year! And what a great choice it was. Written by a forensic psychologist, this was a fascinating exploration of the human mind in some of its darkest moments.

 

Rules of the Road by Ciara Geraghty

My final read of the month was a heart-warming road-trip story with an endearing cast of characters. A little sad at times but still hopeful, and a story which I enjoyed.


Books from my TBR

With The Fire On High by Elizabeth Acevedo

It took a long time for me to become interested in reading this book but I’m so glad I finally did as it was full of gorgeous sensory detail and fabulous characters! Hugely recommend this one.

 

The Price Guide to the Occult by Leslye Walton

This was my only real disappointment this month. From the prologue, I thought I was in for something special but it ended up being kind of dull, and I struggled to connect with the characters.


Rereads

I can’t believe I still haven’t reread any books in 2020! I’ve been so busy tackling my review pile hehe. But hopefully, I’ll get to some soon.


Stats

Total pages: 3166

Average pages per day: 109.2

Longest book: The Sisters Grimm (485 pages)

Shortest book: The Price Guide to the Occult (288 pages)

Favourite read of the month: The Sisters Grimm

Biggest disappointment of the month: The Price Guide to the Occult

Male authors: 1

Female authors: 8

Multiple authors: 0

february 2020 paperbackpiano reading wrapup


I find it so funny that my longest and shortest books of the month were my favourite and least favourite respectively! What was your favourite read of February? Let me know in the comments! xsignature (2)

‘Rules of the Road’ spoiler-free review and EXTRACT!

Hello lovelies! Today is the final day of the blog tour for Rules of the Road by Ciara Geraghty. And I’m delighted to be featuring an extract from the book alongside my review!

rules of the road


synopsis

When Iris Armstrong goes missing, her best friend Terry, wife, mother and all-round worrier, is convinced something bad has happened.

And when she finds her glamorous, feisty friend, she’s right: Iris is setting out on a journey that she plans to make her last.

The only way for Terry to stop Iris is to join her, on a road trip that will take her, Iris and Terry’s confused father Eugene onto a ferry, across the Irish sea and into an adventure that will change all of their lives.

Somehow what should be the worst six days of Terry’s life turn into the best.


my thoughts

When I read the synopsis for this one, I was immediately reminded of one of my favourite ever booksThe Universe Versus Alex Woods. So while I knew it would potentially be a difficult read at times, I also hoped that it would be worth it. And I’m pleased to say it was!

Rules of the Road is a heart-warming read, with a hugely endearing cast of characters. Terry’s father, who has a diagnosis of dementia and ends up being dragged along on an unexpected adventure, was a particular favourite of mine. I also loved all of the side characters that were introduced.

I did find myself questioning some of Terry’s decisions at times but I could also understand why she would be acting that way under pressure. The author definitely did a good job of creating realistically human characters in this sense.

I have always loved road-trip stories and this one is no exception, even if it does have sad undertones. I appreciated the author’s exploration of difficult topics and found that it was done sensitively but not in a morbid way.

I’m not going to spoil the ending; you’ll just have to read it for yourselves 😉 And if you can’t wait that long, you can read an exclusive extract from the book below!

rules of the road


For a taste of Geraghty’s writing, keep reading for an exclusive extract!

I drive to Iris’s cottage in Feltrim. The curtains are drawn across every window. It looks just the way it should; like the house of a woman who has gone away. I pull into the driveway that used to accommodate her ancient Jaguar. Her sight came back almost immediately after the accident, and the only damage was to the lamp post that Iris crashed into, but her consultant couldn’t guarantee that it wouldn’t happen again. Iris says she doesn’t miss the car, but she asked me if I would hand over the keys to the man who bought it off her. She said she had a meeting she couldn’t get out of.

‘It’s just a car,’ she said, ‘and the local taxi driver looks like Daniel Craig. And he doesn’t talk during sex, and knows every rat run in the city.’

‘I’ll just be a minute, Dad,’ I tell him, opening my car door.

‘Take your time, love,’ he says. He never used to call me love.

The grass in the front garden has benefitted from a recent mow. I stand at the front door, ring the bell. Nobody answers. I cast about the garden. It’s May. The cherry blossom, whose branches last week were swollen with buds, is now a riot of pale pink flowers. The delicacy of their beauty is disarming, but also sad, how soon the petals will be discarded, strewn across the grass in a week or so, like wet and muddy confetti in a church courtyard long after the bride and groom have left.

I rap on the door even though I’m almost positive Iris isn’t inside.

Where is she?

I ring the Alzheimer’s Society, ask to be put through to Iris’s office, but the receptionist tells me what I already know. That Iris is away on a week’s holiday.

‘Is that you, Terry?’ she asks and there is confusion in her voice; she is wondering why I don’t already know this.

‘Eh, yes Rita, sorry, don’t mind me, I forgot.’

Suddenly I am flooded with the notion that Iris is inside the house. She has fallen. That must be it. She has fallen and is unconscious at the foot of the stairs. She might have been there for ages. Days maybe. This worry is a galvanising one. Not all worries fall into this category. Some render me speechless. Or stationary. The wooden door at the entrance to the side passage is locked, so I haul the wheelie bin over, grip the sides of it, and hoist myself onto the lid. People think height is an advantage, but I have never found mine – five feet ten inches, or 1.778 metres, I should say – to be so. Imperial or metric, the fact is I am too tall to be kneeling on the lid of a wheelie bin. I am a myriad of arms and elbows and knees. It’s difficult to know where to put everything.

I grip the top of the door, sort of haul myself over the top, graze my knee against the wall, and hesitate, but only for a moment, before lowering myself down as far as I can before letting go, landing in a heap in the side passage. I should be fitter than this. The girls are always on at me to take up this or that. Swimming or running or pilates. Get you out of the house. Get you doing something.

The shed in Iris’s back garden has been treated to a clear-out; inside, garden tools hang on hooks along one wall, the hose coiled neatly in a corner and the half-empty paint tins – sealed shut with rust years ago – are gone. It’s true that I advised her to dispose of them – carefully – given the fire hazard they present. Still, I can’t believe that she actually went ahead and did it.

Even the small window on the gable wall of the shed is no longer a mesh of web. Through it, I see a square of pale-blue sky.

The spare key is in an upside-down plant pot in the shed, in spite of my concerns about the danger of lax security about the homestead.

I return to the driveway and check on Dad. He is still there, still in the front passenger seat, singing along to the Frank Sinatra CD I put on for him. Strangers in the Night.

I unlock the front door. The house feels empty. There is a stillness.

‘Iris?’ My voice is loud in the quiet, my breath catching the dust motes, so that they lift and swirl in the dead air.

I walk through the hallway, towards the kitchen. The walls are cluttered with black-and-white photographs in wooden frames. A face in each, mostly elderly. All of them have passed through the Alzheimer’s Society and when they do, Iris asks if she can take their photograph.

My father’s photograph hangs at the end of the hallway. There is a light in his eyes that might be the sunlight glancing through the front door. A trace of his handsome- ness still there across the fine bones of his face framed by the neat helmet of his white hair, thicker then.

He looks happy. No, it’s more than that. He looks present. ‘Iris?’

The kitchen door moans when I open it. A squirt of WD40 on the hinges would remedy that.

A chemical, lemon smell. If I didn’t know any better, I would suspect a cleaning product. The surfaces are clear. Bare. So too is the kitchen table, which is where Iris spreads her books, her piles of paperwork, sometimes the contents of her handbag when she is hunting for something. The table is solid oak. I have eaten here many times, and have rarely seen its surface. It would benefit from a sand and varnish.

In the sitting room, the curtains are drawn and the cushions on the couch look as though they’ve been plumped, a look which would be unremarkable in my house, but is immediately noticeable in Iris’s. Iris loves that couch. She sometimes sleeps on it. I know that because I called in once, early in the morning. She wasn’t expecting me. Iris is the only person in the world I would call into without ringing first. She put on the kettle when I arrived. Made a pot of strong coffee. It was the end of Dad’s first week in the home.

She said she’d fallen asleep on the couch, when she saw me looking at the blankets and pillows strewn across it. She said she’d fallen asleep watching The Exorcist.

But I don’t think that’s why she slept on the couch. I think it’s to do with the stairs. Sometimes I see her, at the Alzheimer’s offices, negotiating the stairs with her crutches. The sticks, she calls them. She hates waiting for the lift. And she makes it look easy, climbing the stairs. But it can’t be easy, can it?

Besides, who falls asleep watching The Exorcist?

‘Iris?’ I hear an edge of panic in my voice. It’s not that anything is wrong exactly. Or out of place.

Except that’s it. There’s nothing out of place. Everything has been put away.


As always, if you’re interested in finding out more about this book, check out the previous stops on the blog tour for more information and reviews, and maybe even a giveaway!

Rules of the Road BT Poster

‘The Dark Side of the Mind’ spoiler-free review!

Hello lovely people! Today, I’m rounding off the blog tour for The Dark Side of the Mind, an absolutely fascinating read by forensic psychologist Kerry Daynes. This one is an absolute must for anyone interested in true crime or the way human beings think and behave!

Copy of Copy of Copy of Marching to the Brand Beat


synopsis

Welcome to the world of the forensic psychologist, where the people you meet are wildly unpredictable and often frightening.

The job: to delve into the psyche of convicted men and women to try to understand what lies behind their often brutal actions.

Follow in the footsteps of Kerry Daynes, one of the most sought-after forensic psychologists in the business and consultant on major police investigations.

Kerry’s job has taken her to the cells of maximum-security prisons, police interview rooms, the wards of secure hospitals and the witness box of the court room.

Her work has helped solve a cold case, convict the guilty and prevent a vicious attack.

Spending every moment of your life staring into the darker side of life comes with a price. Kerry’s frank memoir gives an unforgettable insight into the personal and professional dangers in store for a female psychologist working with some of the most disturbing men and women.


my thoughts

The Dark Side of the Mind is an absolutely fascinating book. Part memoir, part true-crime non-fiction, it provides a gripping insight into the human mind in some of its darkest moments.

I have always been fascinated by how the mind works (I have a career in psychology and did consider specialising in the forensic field at one point). So I already had a good feeling about this book before I even opened it. But Daynes’ writing was superb so I loved it even more than I thought I would. I often struggle with non-fiction but had no such issue here thanks to Daynes’ conversational tone and use of humour. It really does feel like you’re listening to a friend tell you about her day at work.

I genuinely couldn’t get enough of the anecdotes that were shared throughout this book. Daynes took me through a whole range of emotions and kept me reading late into the night to see how she handled the different situations. I felt gripped by every single case she presented.

It was interesting to get an insight into the author’s personal life as well as her profession. I had thought that these moments might distract from the main focus of the book but this was not the case; instead, they added to my enjoyment.

The book did make me feel quite reflective about the short time I spent working in a secure mental health hospital (and the reasons why I subsequently left the post). Daynes’ descriptions did not match up with what I had experienced and it made me feel quite sad at what I saw certain patients go through. Thankfully, that particular place seems to be in the minority.

Overall, I enjoyed this book immensely and would highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys true crime or learning about the way the human mind works. I would certainly read more books by Kerry Daynes!

dark side of the mind forensic psychology


As always, if you’re interested in finding out more about this book, check out the previous stops on the blog tour for more information and reviews!

Dark Side of the Mind BT Poster

‘The Aosawa Murders’ spoiler-free review!

Hey everyone! Today is my day on the blog tour for The Aosawa Murders, published by Bitter Lemon Press! If you’re a fan of Japanese fiction, you’ll want to check this one out…

aosawa murders


synopsis

The novel starts in the 1960s when 17 people die of cyanide poisoning at a party given by the owners of a prominent clinic in a town on the coast of the Sea of Japan. The only surviving links to what might have happened are a cryptic verse that could be the killer’s, and the physician’s bewitching blind daughter, Hisako, the only person spared injury. The youth who emerges as the prime suspect commits suicide that October, effectively sealing his guilt while consigning his motives to mystery.

The police are convinced Hisako had a role in the crime, as are many in the town, including the author of a bestselling book about the murders written a decade after the incident, who was herself a childhood friend of Hisako’ and witness to the discovery of the killings. The truth is revealed through a skillful juggling of testimony by different voices: family members, witnesses and neighbors, police investigators and of course the mesmerizing Hisako herself.


my thoughts

This is one of the most unique books I’ve ever read! The structure of this one absolutely fascinated me; I found it so clever. The book is written as a series of monologues from various characters connected with the mass murder case, and this vast range of perspectives makes it so intriguing to read. As a reader, you are being given clues and snippets of information from different sources and trying to reach a conclusion as to what happened. And let me tell you, Riku Onda had me doubting myself a lot!

You would worry that in a book with so many perspectives, it would be difficult to distinguish between characters. However, I found that each one had a distinctive voice and I never once felt confused. There were some perspectives that I enjoyed more than others but I think that’s only natural when there are so many characters to contend with.

There is admittedly a certain level of detachment that comes from Onda’s unique monologue style. I did feel that I was being held at a distance for the duration of the book, but I feel it worked for this particular story and added to the intrigue of it all!

I will say that if you like clear answers at the end of a book, this one may not be the right choice for you. I was left a little confused at the end as things didn’t really resolve. Though I can see and appreciate that tying things up neatly was not the author’s intention. I’m still not sure I’ve reached a definite conclusion as to ‘whodunnit’ – and it might be that I never do. The constant switches in perspective made me feel so uncertain and like I was missing crucial details – but maybe that was the point? Can we ever truly understand the motives behind a crime like the one presented here?

Overall, this was an intriguing read that I would recommend to fans of Japanese fiction or those who like their murder mysteries a little bit different!

aosawa murders


If you’re interested in this one, check out the other stops on the blog tour for more information and reviews!

Aosawa Murders BT Poster

‘With The Fire On High’ spoiler-free review!

Hello lovelies! Today, I’m reviewing With The Fire On High by Elizabeth Acevedo, which I loved! I’ve started to enjoy contemporaries recently and this is one I would definitely recommend 😀

with the fire on high


synopsis

Ever since she got pregnant, seventeen-year-old Emoni’s life has been about making the tough decisions – doing what has to be done for her young daughter and her grandmother. Keeping her head down at school, trying not to get caught up with new boy Malachi. The one place she can let everything go is in the kitchen, where she has magical hands – whipping up extraordinary food beloved by everyone.

Emoni wants to be a chef more than anything, but she knows it’s pointless to pursue the impossible. There are rules she has to play by. And yet, once she starts cooking, and gets that fire on high, she sees that her drive to feed will feed her soul and dreams too. And anything is possible.


my thoughts

This was my first experience of Elizabeth Acevedo’s writing but let me tell you, I will certainly be seeking out more! This book was so lyrical and poetic; I can only imagine how beautiful the author’s books in verse are if this is how she writes a novel!

One of the things I loved most about this book was the amount of sensory detail. I’ve talked previously about how this is something I love in stories so the foodie descriptions were a complete delight. This book should come with a warning: it will make you seriously hungry! Particularly towards the end of the book when the book features a different location, I was living for the gorgeous foodie details.

Another aspect of this book that I loved was the characters. Acevedo has created a fantastic protagonist in Emoni and I was rooting for her all the way. The author addresses the still-taboo subject of teen pregnancy with sensitivity and it was a real breath of fresh air.

The dynamics between the characters were also extremely well done. There are a number of different relationships in this book, from family to friendships to romantic partnerships, and each one was portrayed perfectly.

I had the opportunity to experience this book in audio format and it was a joy. The book is narrated by the author herself which I always think makes a book even more special. The narration was perfect and I was totally captured by this wonderful story of hope.

My one tiny quibble is that this book used that dreaded phrase “I let out a breath I didn’t know I was holding”. Once would have been bad enough but that sentence was used no less than THREE times in With The Fire On High. I’m sorry but it’s a pet peeve of mine. Thankfully though, I was able to overlook it and still enjoy the story!

I would definitely recommend this one to fans of contemporary YA!

with the fire on high


I know I’m slightly late to the game with this one so tell me – have you read it? Do you like books with sensory details? Let me know in the comments! xsignature (2)

 

Authors I discovered in 2019!

Hello lovelies 🙂 This post is going up a bit later than I had planned but I hope it will still be interesting to some of you hehe. I did a post like this about some of my favourite new-to-me authors in 2018 and thought it would be fun to do it again for 2019! I love discovering new authors who end up becoming favourites and it’s great to look back and see when you first read an author.

Obviously, this list is not exhaustive (because I read a LOT of new-to-me authors in 2019) but I’ve picked out a few who really stood out to me and who perhaps have a backlist of work waiting for me or who I know are bringing out more books soon!


Sophie Draper

I discovered Sophie Draper at the beginning of 2019 when Avon Books kindly sent me a copy of her debut, Cuckoo. I described Cuckoo as one of the best thrillers I’ve ever read and I stand by that statement, despite being somewhat disappointed by her sophomore novel Magpie. I’m hopeful that her next book will be more in keeping with the tone of her debut.

sophie draper


Meagan Spooner

I read both of Spooner’s fairytale retellings, Hunted and Sherwood, last year and enjoyed both. Hunted in particular was a refreshing take on a story which I feel has been overdone. I look forward to seeing what she does next!


Angie Thomas

I was significantly late to the party when it came to reading Angie Thomas’ hugely popular debut, The Hate U Give. I’ll be totally honest, I was intimidated by the hype. But I’m pleased to say that I waited until the time was right for me to read it and I really enjoyed it. I’m glad I didn’t give in to the pressure to read it when it first came out as I wouldn’t have been reading it for the right reasons. Thomas then had a tough job following up on her success but I think she did really well and I enjoyed her second book, On The Come Up, too.

on the come up


Anna-Marie McLemore

2019 was the year I finally read an Anna-Marie McLemore book! I went with When The Moons Was Ours and it did not disappoint. McLemore’s writing is gorgeously flowery and though I know it doesn’t work for everyone, I loved it. I definitely want to read more of this author’s books at some point.


Alice Oseman

In 2019, I discovered a real love of both contemporaries and graphic novels, so I’m so glad I discovered Alice Oseman! Radio Silence became a new all-time favourite and the Heartstopper series is seriously adorable. I’m slowly but surely working my way through her remaining books I haven’t read and I’m really looking forward to her 2020 release, Loveless!

radio silence


Lauren James

Lauren James was a surprise for me as I’m usually intimidated by science fiction. But The Quiet at the End of the World ended up on my favourites of 2019 list! I then received The Loneliest Girl in the Universe for Christmas and can’t wait to read it, plus I’m looking forward to another offering from her coming out this year! I know she also has some backlist books for me to read so hopefully I can pick those up at some point too.


Jay Kristoff

Well done Jay Kristoff for being the only male author to make it onto my list!! I really do read a lot of women haha. In 2019, I finally got round to reading the Nevernight trilogy and I thoroughly enjoyed it (more than I expected to if I’m honest. ) I’m definitely intrigued by some of Kristoff’s other books – though the aforementioned fear of sci-fi is a small issue when it comes to some of them.

nevernight mr kindly bath bomb


Alice Hoffman

Hoffman is an author I’ve been curious about for some time. I’m so glad that I got to buddy-read one of her books in 2019 with one of my closest bookish friends. I loved The Museum of Extraordinary Things and definitely want to read more of Hoffman’s magical historical fiction!


Miranda Asebedo

Miranda Asbedo just missed out on a spot on my favourites of 2019 list! But I genuinely loved The Deepest Roots and I have my eye on A Constellation of Roses. Who knows, maybe I’ll get it for my birthday 😉

the deepest roots


Katie Henry

And finally, another author who did make it onto my favourites of 2019 list! As I previously mentioned, I read a lot of great contemporaries last year which really made me appreciate the genre more, and one of these was Let’s Call It A Doomsday by Katie Henry. This book had some of the best anxiety rep I’ve ever read. I definitely want to get my hands on Heretics Anonymous as well as anything Henry might come out with this year.


So those are some of the new-to-me authors who stood out for me last year! I’m looking forward to reading more from some of these this year 🙂

Have you read any of these authors? Who were some authors you discovered for the first time in 2019? Let me know in the comments! x

‘Real Life’ spoiler-free review!

Hey everyone! Today is my day on the blog tour for Real Life, published by World Editions! Read on to find out more about this one…

real life


synopsis

At home there are four rooms: one for her, one for her brother, one for her parents…and one for the carcasses. The father is a big game hunter, a powerful predator; the mother is submissive to her violent husband’s demands. The young narrator spends the days with her brother, playing in the shells of cars dumped for scrap and listening out for the chimes of the ice-cream truck, until a brutal accident shatters their world.

The uncompromising pen of Adeline Dieudonné wields flashes of brilliance as she brings her characters to life in a world that is both dark and sensual. This breathtaking debut is a sharp and funny coming-of-age tale in which reality and illusion collide.


my thoughts

I was unsure what to expect from this book and I remain unsure as to how I would describe it. The book defies categorisation. But nonetheless, I was utterly gripped by it. Real Life was a strange reading experience but one which captivated me from start to finish.

The matter-of-fact tone of Dieudonné’s writing contrasts with some quite grisly imagery, and I was genuinely horrified at times. This book is certainly not for the faint of heart. There was one particular section of the novel where I felt I couldn’t get my breath. Any author who can evoke such a physical reaction in their reader is one of clear talent.

However, there were also moments that were poetic and starkly beautiful. I would disagree with the word “funny” in the blurb as there is nothing amusing about the author’s portrayal of domestic abuse. It is raw and unflinching. Nevertheless, there is something truly special about the events in this book.

This is a clever novel, unlike anything I have read before. It certainly won’t be for everyone but if you feel like you could stomach the graphic moments, it’s definitely worth the read. I feel like this one will stay with me for a long time.

real life


Check out the other stops on the blog tour for more information and reviews!

Real Life BT Poster

‘Beast’ spoiler-free review!

Hi lovelies! Today, I’m on the blog tour for Beast by Matt Wesolowski, the latest instalment in the Six Stories series. I haven’t read the previous books but this one totally worked as a standalone and I’m sure the others would too. But I’m definitely interested in going back now and reading the earlier instalments after how much I enjoyed this one!

beast


synopsis

In the wake of the ‘Beast from the East’ cold snap that ravaged the UK in 2018, a grisly discovery was made in a ruin on the Northumbrian coast. Twenty-four-year-old vlogger, Elizabeth Barton, had been barricaded inside what locals refer to as ‘The Vampire Tower’, where she was later found frozen to death.

Three young men, part of an alleged ‘cult’, were convicted of this terrible crime, which they described as a ‘prank gone wrong’. However, in the small town of Ergarth, questions have been raised about the nature of Elizabeth Barton’s death and whether the three convicted youths were even responsible.

Elusive online journalist Scott King speaks to six witnesses – people who knew both the victim and the three killers – to peer beneath the surface of the case. He uncovers whispers of a shocking online craze that held the young of Ergarth in its thrall and drove them to escalate a series of pranks in the name of internet fame. He hears of an abattoir on the edge of town, which held more than simple slaughter behind its walls, the tragic and chilling legend of the ‘Ergarth Vampire’…


my thoughts

First of all, it was delightful to read about the North East of England, where I grew up! It’s always a weirdly awesome feeling, reading about somewhere you know – or is that just me? Not only that but having lived through the ‘Beast from the East’, there was a great sense of reality to this book. It made me feel even more invested.

This sense of place is one of Beast‘s biggest strengths. Wesolowski really captures the bleakness of the rugged coastal village of Ergarth and it worked so perfectly for the story he was telling. I could visualise everything so clearly and could almost feel the biting cold of that snowstorm all over again.

Beast has a fantastic conversational tone, being written in the format of podcast episodes. I thought this was a really clever framing device to keep the reader hooked.  You can’t possibly put the book down in the middle of an episode! The style makes for a fast-paced read with great flow. I think it would translate so well to audiobook!

I really enjoyed all the different perspectives that were presented and the slow piecing together of what happened. As a reader, you begin to question things and doubt what you thought you knew until the ending totally blows you away.

Overall, I thought this was a unique thriller that kept me gripped from start to finish. Beast takes an important look at society’s obsession with social media and the need to be ‘liked’, and I’m sure it will make many readers uncomfortable at times. But I highly recommend it!

beast


 Have you read any of the Six Stories books? Do you like the sound of this one? Check out the other stops on the blog tour for more information and reviews!

FINAL Beast BT Poster

‘The Alibi Girl’ spoiler-free review!

Hello everyone! Today, I’m reviewing The Alibi Girl which released in the UK on February 6th! This book was very kindly sent to me by HQ; I was delighted to receive an ARC of this one because it is written by the author of Sweet Pea/In Bloom which were some of the most original and hilarious thrillers I read last year! While this book was slightly different in tone, I enjoyed it just as much and would definitely recommend it. Read on to find out why… 😀

alibi girl


synopsis

Joanne Haynes has a secret: that is not her real name.

And there’s more. Her flat’s not hers. Her cats aren’t hers. Even her hair isn’t really hers.

Nor is she any of the other women she pretends to be. Not the bestselling romance novelist who gets her morning snack from the doughnut van on the seafront. Nor the pregnant woman in the dental surgery. Nor the chemo patient in the supermarket for whom the cashier feels ever so sorry. They’re all just alibis.

In fact, the only thing that’s real about Joanne is that nobody can know who she really is.

But someone has got too close. It looks like her alibis have begun to run out….


my thoughts

The Alibi Girl had the same great writing style as the previous books I’ve read by C. J. Skuse. I always feel bad saying a book is ‘easy’ to read as it almost seems to diminish the effort that went into writing it, but that’s really the best word I have for it. There’s just a supremely readable quality to Skuse’s books, a sense of flow and effortlessness that make them difficult to put down.

And I genuinely was gripped from start to finish. Although this book is quite different from the Sweet Pea series, there are hints at the same sense of humour and the author behind the work. I love when you can catch glimpses of an author’s personality and recognise a book as distinctly theirs.

This book wasn’t what I had expected when I first picked it up. I was particularly surprised when the point of view changed halfway through; it threw me for a loop and I wasn’t sure where things were going to go. But I ended up loving the direction the story took. Skuse is great at writing characters who have flaws but who you can’t help liking, and I felt genuinely invested in the protagonist’s story.

I also appreciated the way snippets of truth were slowly revealed. The childhood flashback scenes were particularly effective and enjoyable to read; Skuse brilliantly captured that sense of magic you feel in the school holidays and it made me so nostalgic.

Overall, this was another success from C. J. Skuse! If you haven’t read any of her books yet, you are missing out!

alibi girl


Have you read any of this author’s books? What books make you feel nostalgic about your childhood? Let me know in the comments! xsignature (2)

‘The Sisters Grimm’ spoiler-free review!

Hi lovelies! Today, I’m wishing the happiest of book birthdays to Menna van Praag and The Sisters Grimm ❤ I’ve been a fan of Menna’s books since my very early bookstagram days so I was thrilled to be sent an ARC of her newest book – and I’m thrilled to say, I loved this one as well!

sisters grimm


synopsis

As children, Goldie, Liyana, Scarlet, and Bea dreamed of a strange otherworld: a nightscape of mists and fog, perpetually falling leaves and hungry ivy, lit by an unwavering moon. Here, in this shadowland of Everwhere, the four girls, half-sisters connected by blood and magic, began to nurture their elemental powers together. But at thirteen, the sisters were ripped from Everwhere and separated. Now, five years later, they search for one another and yearn to rediscover their unique and supernatural strengths. Goldie (earth) manipulates plants and gives life. Liyana (water) controls rivers and rain. Scarlet (fire) has electricity at her fingertips. Bea (air) can fly.

To realize their full potential, the blood sisters must return to the land of their childhood dreams. But Everwhere can only be accessed through certain gates at 3:33 A.M. on the night of a new moon. As Goldie, Liyana, Scarlet, and Bea are beset with the challenges of their earthly lives, they must prepare for a battle that lies ahead. On their eighteenth birthday, they will be subjected to a gladiatorial fight with their father’s soldiers. If they survive, they will face their father who will let them live only if they turn dark. Which would be fair, if only the sisters knew what was coming.

So, they have thirty-three days to discover who they truly are and what they can truly do, before they must fight to save themselves and those they love.


my thoughts

I’ve been reading a lot of books about magical doors and alternative worlds recently and I’m loving each and every one. This one had the added bonus of being grounded in the very real world of Cambridge, which is a fabulous setting in itself. But add in magical gates that only open at a certain time on a certain day each month, and I was captivated.

Right from the prologue, I had a feeling this book would be something special. And I was not wrong. I loved the entire concept – of four sisters, each with a different elemental magic, who need to find their way back to each other. It felt so unique.

And van Praag’s writing was superb. It was a perfect fit for this sumptuous, magical story she was telling, with that lyrical quality I always love in books. I felt totally transported by this book and whenever I wasn’t reading it, I wanted to be.

The book is written from a number of different perspectives and I have to say, these are done SO well. Each narrative voice was so distinctive and made each character stand out so strongly in my mind. Sometimes, when I read books with multiple perspectives, it can take me a moment after switching to catch up and remember which character I’m reading about. I had no such issues here; the switches in perspective were seamless and I never once got confused. I think this is a real testament to van Praag’s skill as a writer.

Naturally, there were some characters I preferred over others but I think that’s only natural in a book with so many perspectives. The important thing is that I still felt invested in each character’s individual story as well as the overarching plot. And just like the original Grimm fairytales, this book could be DARK in places. These girls face very real issues and I loved seeing how they coped with everything.

I’m saying nothing more – just go read this one! And try not to do what I did and keep saying “Neverwhere” instead of “Everwhere” 😉

sisters grimm


Are you a fan of magical realism? I know it’s not for everyone but I love it! Let me know in the comments if you have any favourites! xsignature (2)