‘The Starless Sea’ spoiler-free review!

Hi everyone! Today, I have the very difficult task of reviewing an incredible book by one of my favourite authors. I genuinely don’t know where to start. The Starless Sea was a complete joy from start to finish and I know I won’t be able to do it justice in this review – but if I can make it coherent, I’ll count that as a win!

the starless sea


synopsis

Far beneath the surface of the earth, upon the shores of the Starless Sea, there is a labyrinthine collection of tunnels and rooms filled with stories. The entryways that lead to this sanctuary are often hidden, sometimes on forest floors, sometimes in private homes, sometimes in plain sight. But those who seek will find. Their doors have been waiting for them.

Zachary Ezra Rawlins is searching for his door, though he does not know it. He follows a silent siren song, an inexplicable knowledge that he is meant for another place. When he discovers a mysterious book in the stacks of his campus library he begins to read, entranced by tales of lovelorn prisoners, lost cities, and nameless acolytes. Suddenly a turn of the page brings Zachary to a story from his own childhood impossibly written in this book that is older than he is.

A bee, a key, and a sword emblazoned on the book lead Zachary to two people who will change the course of his life: Mirabel, a fierce, pink-haired painter, and Dorian, a handsome, barefoot man with shifting alliances. These strangers guide Zachary through masquerade party dances and whispered back room stories to the headquarters of a secret society where doorknobs hang from ribbons, and finally through a door conjured from paint to the place he has always yearned for. Amid twisting tunnels filled with books, gilded ballrooms, and wine-dark shores Zachary falls into an intoxicating world soaked in romance and mystery. But a battle is raging over the fate of this place and though there are those who would willingly sacrifice everything to protect it, there are just as many intent on its destruction. As Zachary, Mirabel, and Dorian venture deeper into the space and its histories and myths, searching for answers and each other, a timeless love story unspools, casting a spell of pirates, painters, lovers, liars, and ships that sail upon a Starless Sea.


my thoughts

“We are all stardust and stories…”

The Starless Sea is not just a book. It is an experience. Morgenstern is not afraid to divert away from her main plot and it felt wonderful as a reader to get lost in the conglomeration of stories she presented and to try and figure out how everything connected. Upon finishing, there were still things I was unsure of but the beauty is that this is a book which will only improve upon rereading; clues and connections that were missed the first time will fall into place and things will become even clearer.

I’ve never made a secret of the fact that I adore Morgenstern’s writing. The Night Circus is one of my favourite books and for years I thought it was going to be the only offering Morgenstern would bless us with. So you can imagine my excitement and soaring expectations when I heard about The Starless Sea. I can totally see why it won’t work for all readers; it’s flowery and perhaps a bit pretentious at times. It jumps around from one thing to another with seemingly no connection. But if you stick with it, you will be rewarded. The Starless Sea is a love letter to words and language, and the magic of stories. And when you realise how everything connects, it is nothing short of wondrous.

Morgenstern’s world building was exactly as I have come to expect: pure magic. I will take all of the purple prose, thank you, when this is the way it is used. I was enthralled while reading, ready to pack my bags and go off in search of a door to that wonderful underground library. I think any book lover will feel a connection to this story, even if they don’t necessarily gel with its style or execution.

Just like The Ten Thousand Doors of January which I read recently, this book filled me with that nostalgic feeling of childhood wonder, where you believe anything is possible and magic may be just around any corner. And that is all I ever want in a book. I cannot accurately convey how exquisite this book is and I hope you will all go and experience it for yourselves if you haven’t already!

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Have you read The Starless Sea yet? Is it on your list? Let me know in the comments! xsignature (2)

 

‘Pine’ spoiler-free review!

Hi lovelies! It’s time for my first review of the year! And I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Pine, the debut novel by Francine Toon. If you’re a fan of the Gothic, you’re going to want to read this one…

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synopsis

They are driving home from the search party when they see her. The trees are coarse and tall in the winter light, standing like men.

Lauren and her father Niall live alone in the Highlands, in a small village surrounded by pine forest. When a woman stumbles out onto the road one Halloween night, Niall drives her back to their house in his pickup. In the morning, she’s gone. In a community where daughters rebel, men quietly rage, and drinking is a means of forgetting, mysteries like these are not out of the ordinary. The trapper found hanging with the dead animals for two weeks. Locked doors and stone circles. The disappearance of Lauren’s mother a decade ago. Lauren looks for answers in her tarot cards, hoping she might one day be able to read her father’s turbulent mind. Neighbours know more than they let on, but when local teenager Ann-Marie goes missing it’s no longer clear who she can trust… 

In spare, haunting prose, Francine Toon creates an unshakeable atmosphere of desolation and dread. In a place that feels like the end of the world, she unites the gloom of the modern gothic with the pulse of a thriller. It is the perfect novel for our haunted times.


my thoughts

This was a very enjoyable debut! Pine is instantly atmospheric; Toon does a wonderful job of conjuring the eerie, isolated setting and making her reader feel immediately unnerved. I genuinely loved the setting. Spooky forests with a hint of the mythical are my jam. But what makes Toon’s setting work so well is the combination of this folkloric style with more modern references. The story is so well-grounded in reality that it makes it very easy to suspend your disbelief and accept the possibility of supernatural elements. And this made it all the more unsettling.

The fact that the book is set in Scotland was another huge plus for me. I feel like Scotland is a country that just lends itself so well to this type of story. Toon’s use of Scottish dialect was very well done and I greatly appreciated it. There’s nothing worse than reading a book set in a particular country where the author makes no effort to truly capture the sense of that place. No worries here on that front!

As someone who is used to only reading about children in middle grade books, I really enjoyed reading an adult book that gave us a child’s perspective. I thought this was a smart choice on Toon’s part. It made me feel incredibly invested as well as adding to the uncertainty regarding what is actually going on at times.

The only thing I wasn’t fully sold on with Pine was the ending. I feel like things wrapped up very abruptly and I didn’t really understand the motivations of a certain character. I’m not sure enough clues were laid throughout the story to lead us to that conclusion.

On the whole though, this was a great debut and one that will definitely please fans of Gothic fiction like myself! Huge thanks to Doubleday for providing me with a free ARC!

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Pine is out on January 23rd! Will you be reading it? Check out the other stops on the blog tour for more information and reviews!

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‘The Ten Thousand Doors of January’ spoiler-free review!

Hello my dears 🙂 Time for another review! I can’t believe the speed with which this year (and decade) is coming to an end!

Today, I’m reviewing The Ten Thousand Doors of January which I recently buddy read with the lovely Jenna @ Bookmark Your Thoughts. I’m fairly certain this book is going to make my best of the year list! Read on to find out why…

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synopsis

In a sprawling mansion filled with peculiar treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely ignored, and utterly out of place.

Then she finds a strange book. A book that carries the scent of other worlds, and tells a tale of secret doors, of love, adventure and danger. Each page turn reveals impossible truths about the world and January discovers a story increasingly entwined with her own.


my thoughts

The first thing that captured me about The Ten Thousand Doors of January was the writing. Every word feels expertly chosen to convey that gorgeous, magical feel. This book easily stands alongside some of my all-time favourites and it’s easy to see why readers are comparing Alix E. Harrow to the likes of Laini Taylor and Erin Morgenstern.

No matter what the author was writing about, I am sure I would have loved it; the word choice and sentence structure all had that effortless feel to them. However, I loved this book even more for its concept. The idea of magical doors to other worlds is one that will surely capture the imagination of any book lover and I was no exception. This is the kind of story I have always loved but one that was also incredibly unique and special in its own right.

I also loved the book-within-a-book device which was used (although I must admit to being slightly confused when it was first introduced because I was being incredibly slow on the uptake). There was never a chapter where I didn’t feel 100% invested in what was happening.

January is a plucky heroine and a new favourite character of mine. I loved how she faced the challenges presented to her with courage and dignity and how she never gave up despite being faced with numerous obstacles.

I want to give further praise to the author for writing one of the best depictions of grief I have ever read. There are passages near the beginning of the novel that feature some wonderfully powerful imagery and I felt genuinely moved.

I could sing this novel’s praises all day. It is slow-burning and magical and suffused with a real sense of hope. I love it when a book makes me feel that way. The Ten Thousand Doors of January hits so many of my buzzwords with its stunning execution and I can see myself returning to it many more times in the future. I will definitely be watching out for more from this author.

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Have you read this one? I’d love to discuss it with you! Or is it on your TBR list? Let me know in the comments! xsignature (2)

 

‘Dead Voices’ spoiler-free review!

Hello lovelies! I am back from my travels in Prague and ready to get down to some blogging once again 😀

Some of you may remember that Small Spaces was one of my favourite reads of 2018. So when I heard that Katherine Arden was writing not just one but THREE sequels, one for each season, I was delighted. And while Small Spaces still has my heart, Dead Voices was a fun follow-up!

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synopsis

Having survived sinister scarecrows and the malevolent smiling man in Small Spaces, newly minted best friends Ollie, Coco, and Brian are ready to spend a relaxing winter break skiing together with their parents at Mount Hemlock Resort. But when a snowstorm sets in, causing the power to flicker out and the cold to creep closer and closer, the three are forced to settle for hot chocolate and board games by the fire.

Ollie, Coco, and Brian are determined to make the best of being snowed in, but odd things keep happening. Coco is convinced she has seen a ghost, and Ollie is having nightmares about frostbitten girls pleading for help. Then Mr. Voland, a mysterious ghost hunter, arrives in the midst of the storm to investigate the hauntings at Hemlock Lodge. Ollie, Coco, and Brian want to trust him, but Ollie’s watch, which once saved them from the smiling man, has a new cautionary message: BEWARE.

With Mr. Voland’s help, Ollie, Coco, and Brian reach out to the dead voices at Mount Hemlock. Maybe the ghosts need their help–or maybe not all ghosts can or should be trusted…


my thoughts

Dead Voices was another fun middle grade read that continued to develop the characters I loved from Small Spaces. It was lovely to see Coco being given a bit more of the spotlight this time, though of course I’ll always be rooting for my girl Ollie having related to her so much in the first book. I enjoyed seeing Coco grow and the friendship between the three main characters strengthening. I look forward to more of the same in the next two instalments. Furthermore, I stand by the opinion that Ollie’s dad is one of the best fictional parents ever. 

It’s no secret that I love books with wintery settings and this one was no different. The isolated hotel reminded me majorly of The Shining and I loved the creepy-cosy vibes of being shut up inside while the wind howls and the snow builds up outside. I could 100% picture everyone huddling up next to the fire and eating all the yummy foods that Ollie’s dad made.

Arden once again delivered on the thrills and chills, creating some excellent spooky moments (which I always find surprising in middle grade for some reason – maybe I expect less? I don’t know.) I certainly wouldn’t want to be caught up in one of these stories!

I will say that I found things just the tiniest bit more predictable this time round; however, this in no way spoiled my enjoyment. I rated this one lower than Small Spaces simply because Autumn has my heart and because the first book surprised me with how much I related to it emotionally. But this is a wonderful continuation to the series and I can’t wait for the next book, set in the spring! Katherine Arden has definitely cemented herself as one of my favourite authors.

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Any other Katherine Arden fans out there? Have you read this one yet? Also, would any of you be interested in a post about my adventures in Prague? 😀 Let me know in the comments! xsignature (2)

 

‘We Are Lost & Found’ spoiler-free review!

Hello lovelies! I recently read We Are Lost and Found by Helene Dunbar and it became a new favourite! In fact, I’ve been in a major book hangover ever since. It’s taken me forever to get this review written. But I’ve finally managed to put something together, whatever quality it may be! Read on to find out what I loved about this story…

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synopsis

Michael is content to live in the shadow of his best friends, James, an enigmatic teen performance artist who everyone wants and no one can have and Becky, who calls things as she sees them, while doing all she can to protect those she loves. His brother, Connor, has already been kicked out of the house for being gay and laying low seems to be his only chance to avoid the same fate.

To pass the time before graduation, Michael hangs out at The Echo where he can dance and forget about his father’s angry words, the pressures of school, and the looming threat of AIDS, a disease that everyone is talking about, but no one understands.

Then he meets Gabriel, a boy who actually sees him. A boy who, unlike seemingly everyone else in New York City, is interested in him and not James. And Michael has to decide what he’s willing to risk to be himself.


my thoughts

This book, you guys. I was almost in tears just at the epigraph. I knew instantly that this story was going to worm its way into my heart and set up camp there permanently.

I want to talk first about the characters, because they are definitely what make the book. The trio gave me major The Perks of Being a Wallflower vibes and that was no bad thing because I adore that book. Michael is the softest cinnamon roll and I wanted to wrap him up and protect him. His best friends James and Becky were fabulous and there was a really great dynamic within their group.

The book also has one of the most awful villains I’ve come across in a book. I found it really painful to read how Michael’s father behaved towards him and his brother because of their sexuality. However, I did appreciate that the author took her story in that direction because I’m sure so many members of the LGBTQ+ community have that exact experience and it added a real level of believability to the book. It was raw and heart-wrenching.

I loved reading about a time in history that I wasn’t too familiar with. Obviously, I had some notions of how the AIDs epidemic started but this story really brought it home for me. It was exquisitely painful but it also made me want to read more about the topic; I’m always glad when an author can inspire me to go on and research more.

I have seen some reviewers complaining that this is not an #ownvoices novel and that it wasn’t Dunbar’s story to tell, but I feel that she handled the subject respectfully. And I very much appreciated the two afterwords which were #ownvoices.

It’s difficult to know what more to say on this one. It really is an oxymoron of a book; it is completely lovely but will shatter your heart at the same time. 100% recommend to anyone interested in the start of the AIDs crisis or just looking for a gorgeous story full of heart and friendship and learning to love yourself for who you are.

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Have you read this one? Or any other books about the AIDs epidemic? I have a weird fascination with the subject and would love some recommendations (fiction or non-fiction)! xsignature (2)

 

‘Wonderland: An Anthology’ spoiler-free review!

Hello lovelies! I’ve been in the weirdest book hangover/reading slump thing and I’m trying desperately to get my mojo back. I think I’ve just been so busy for so long and now that things have relaxed a bit, my brain has just ground to a halt, you know?! Also, how is there only a month left of this year? This decade?! Having a slight existential crisis over here haha.

Anyway, I have a review for you today! The lovely people at Titan Books sent me this anthology of stories inspired by Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and (even though it took me a while to get through due to life circumstances) I really enjoyed reading it! As with most anthologies, it was quite a mixed bag but taking the collection as a whole, it was a fun reading experience. I’m going to break down my thoughts on each story below.

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synopsis

Join Alice as she is thrown into the whirlwind of Wonderland, in an anthology that bends the traditional notions of Lewis Carroll’s classic novel. Contributors include the bestselling M.R. Carey, Genevieve Cogman, Catriona Ward, Rio Youers and L.L. McKinney.

Within these pages you’ll find myriad approaches to Alice, from horror to historical. There’s even a Wild West tale from Angela Slatter, poetry, and a story by Laura Mauro which presents us with a Japanese folklore-inspired Wonderland.

Alison Littlewood, Cavan Scott and Catriona Ward make the more outlandish elements their own, while James Lovegrove instead draws on the supernatural. Cat Rambo takes us to a part of Wonderland we haven’t seen before and Lilith Saintcrow gives the legend a science-fiction spin. The nightmarish reaches of the imagination are the breeding ground for M.R. Carey’s visions, while Robert Shearman, George Mann, Rio Youers and Mark Chadbourn’s tales have a deep-seated emotional core which will shock, surprise and tug on the heart-strings.

So, it’s time now to go down the rabbit hole, or through the looking-glass or… But no, wait. By picking up this book and starting to read it you’re already there, can’t you see?


my thoughts

Wonders Never Cease by Robert Shearman

This was an interesting opening story that initially felt quite true to the spirit of the original Alice story. I liked the dry wit but there were some genuinely awful images that I wasn’t sure how to take. I guess this story is quite open to interpretation which I appreciate but ultimately it was a bit too weird for my taste.

 

There Were No Birds To Fly by M. R. Carey

This story was slightly confusing at first as it kind of just throws you into the middle of the action. I found it to be an interesting horror concept but I didn’t really connect with it and the Alice connection was very tenuous.

 

The White Queen’s Pawn by Genevieve Cogman

Hooray, this was the first story in the collection that I really liked! It was creepy and unsettling, and the perfect length. I’m interested in reading more of Cogman’s work now.

 

Dream Girl by Cavan Scott

This was another excellent offering. The story was ticking along quite nicely, I didn’t really have any strong feelings or think it was anything special and then BAM – plot twist! The ending definitely made this one.

 

Good Dog, Alice! by Juliet Marillier

I enjoyed Marillier’s writing style and would be interested in reading more from her. This was a horror story of a much more human nature; I found the resolution incredibly satisfying.

 

The Hunting of the Jabberwock by Jonathan Green

I liked that this story focused on a different angle than those previously but something about the writing style didn’t click for me. The second half was mildly better but it never felt very high-stakes; I found it fairly dull and unoriginal in the end.

 

About Time by George Mann

This was a surprisingly sweet story about monsters and magic. I really enjoyed it, though it felt a bit jarring in comparison to those that had come before. Maybe just because I wasn’t expecting it?

 

Smoke ‘Em If You Got ‘Em by Angela Slatter

I didn’t completely love the Western vibe of this one but the horror spin was interesting. I don’t know, it felt a little incomplete?

 

Vanished Summer Glory by Rio Youers

After being introduced to Youers’ writing earlier in the year, I was excited to see what he would do here. And I wasn’t disappointed. This was one of the most unique stories in the anthology. I loved the psychiatry angle.

 

Black Kitty by Catriona Ward

I don’t have a lot to say on this one, other than that it was weird and I didn’t like it very much. Oops.

 

The Night Parade by Laura Mauro

This was one of my favourite stories in the anthology. I really liked the writing and thought the whole thing was so atmospheric. I would happily read more stories or a longer novel set in this world!

 

What Makes A Monster by L. L. McKinney

I liked the opening of this one; it reminded me of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I also liked the Jack the Ripper connection that was made. However, the time jumps between paragraphs were sometimes confusing and the Alice link was almost non-existent. I’m not sure it was a good idea to include a story set in an already-existing literary world.

 

The White Queen’s Dictum by James Lovegrove

This story had more of an Alice connection than the previous one which I appreciated. It was decent! Though I did guess VERY quickly where it was going.

 

Temp Work by Lilith Saintcrow

This was the only story in the anthology that I couldn’t finish. I wasn’t a fan of the sci-fi concept (the genre is hit and miss for me anyway) and I found the writing convoluted.

 

Eat Me, Drink Me by Alison Littlewood

Honestly? I pretty much forgot this one as soon as it finished. I have no real thoughts to share; it just didn’t make much of an impact on me.

 

How I Comes To Be The Treacle Queen by Cat Rambo

This was another slightly weird story and sadly, another one I didn’t connect much with due to the style.

 

Six Impossible Things by Mark Chadbourn

Thankfully, this was a stronger story to end the anthology. I enjoyed the ones which took this darker emotional slant.

 

The anthology was also book-ended by two poems by author Jane Yolen, both of which were very good.

I feel like the thoughts I’ve shared on these stories come across as quite negative but I really did have fun reading this anthology and would happily recommend it to fans of Lewis Carroll’s classic tale!

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Have any of you read this one? Are you a fan of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland? Let me know in the comments! x signature (2)

 

‘Through The Wall’ spoiler-free review!

Hello lovelies! Today I’m reviewing Through The Wall by Caroline Corcoran – thank you to Avon Books for sending me an ARC!

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synopsis

Lexie loves her home. She feels safe and secure in it – and loved, thanks to her boyfriend Tom.

But recently, something’s not been quite right. A book out of place. A wardrobe door left open. A set of keys going missing…

Tom thinks Lexie’s going mad – but then, he’s away more often than he’s at home nowadays, so he wouldn’t understand.

Because Lexie isn’t losing it. She knows there’s someone out there watching her. And, deep down, she knows there’s nothing she can do to make them stop…


my thoughts

This book takes a great look at the old familiar concept – “the grass is always greener on the other side”. Told from dual perspectives, Through The Wall takes an intimate look at the lives of two women living in adjacent flats. I found the dynamics between these two women to be very interesting to read about and I really liked seeing how things developed.

There were aspects of the book which were surprisingly moving. Lexie and Tom have fertility issues and the book explores a lot of the emotional consequences of this. I really appreciated this as it’s not a subject I’ve read about often. The author handled the issue of societal expectations of women very sensitively.

Unfortunately, the book didn’t really have a lasting impact on me. I found it quite slow and meandering – it was much more of a domestic story than a thriller – and I did kind of wonder where it was going and when it would get to the point. I feel like it could have been much harder hitting and instead it missed its opportunity at the end. Nothing ever really shocked me; I found it all very tame.

Overall, this was a decent read with some surprising emotional themes but one that didn’t quite hit its mark as a thriller.

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Does anyone else struggle to review books that were ok but didn’t blow you away? I always find it so much easier to write a review if I have strong feelings on the book!

Anyway, thanks for reading, everyone! I hope you’re all having a wonderful month and reading some great books 🙂 xsignature (2)

 

Autumn Mini Reviews: Pumpkinheads & The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein

Hello my lovelies! Some more mini reviews for you today – let’s get straight to it, shall we? 😀

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synopsis

Deja and Josiah are seasonal best friends.

Every autumn, all through high school, they’ve worked together at the best pumpkin patch in the whole wide world. (Not many people know that the best pumpkin patch in the whole wide world is in Omaha, Nebraska, but it definitely is.) They say good-bye every Halloween, and they’re reunited every September 1.

But this Halloween is different—Josiah and Deja are finally seniors, and this is their last season at the pumpkin patch. Their last shift together. Their last good-bye.

Josiah’s ready to spend the whole night feeling melancholy about it. Deja isn’t ready to let him. She’s got a plan: What if—instead of moping and the usual slinging lima beans down at the Succotash Hut—they went out with a bang? They could see all the sights! Taste all the snacks! And Josiah could finally talk to that cute girl he’s been mooning over for three years…


my thoughts

This was a super cute seasonal read! If you’re a fan of Autumn/Halloween, you need this book in your life. It is a pumpkin-lover’s dream! I don’t know if American pumpkin patches are actually like this, but if they are then I need to visit one!

I’ve said in the past that food in books ticks a big box for me, so all the amazing snacks mentioned in Pumpkinheads were definitely a highlight. If nothing else, this book will make you crave smores and pumpkin pie.

I loved the art style and the colour scheme was gorgeous. The characters were exactly what we’ve all come to expect from a Rainbow Rowell book; Deja was a particular favourite of mine. She came out with the best puns. And yay for curvy girls!

Overall, this was a very fast read that I enjoyed a lot. It was subtle as a brick but cute and fluffy, and sometimes that’s just what you need. I adored the setting and would happily read more stories in this world – or I’d totally be up for a Christmas themed sequel 😉


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synopsis

Elizabeth Lavenza hasn’t had a proper meal in weeks. Her thin arms are covered with bruises from her “caregiver,” and she is on the verge of being thrown into the streets… until she is brought to the home of Victor Frankenstein, an unsmiling, solitary boy who has everything–except a friend.

Victor is her escape from misery. Elizabeth does everything she can to make herself indispensable–and it works. She is taken in by the Frankenstein family and rewarded with a warm bed, delicious food, and dresses of the finest silk. Soon she and Victor are inseparable.

But her new life comes at a price. As the years pass, Elizabeth’s survival depends on managing Victor’s dangerous temper and entertaining his every whim, no matter how depraved. Behind her blue eyes and sweet smile lies the calculating heart of a girl determined to stay alive no matter the cost… as the world she knows is consumed by darkness.


my thoughts

It’s a special retelling that doesn’t just borrow from its source material but adds to it. It is clear that Kiersten White is a Frankenstein fangirl; she treats her source material with such respect. I really enjoyed her portrayal of Elizabeth’s side of the story and thought it was wonderful to get a feminist slant on this classic Gothic novel.

The tone was perfect. You know how sometimes a retelling will make the mistake of using modern language and completely losing the feel of the original? Well, that didn’t happen here. White’s writing harked back to Mary Shelley’s and felt so appropriate for the story, which was something I really appreciated.

If you’re a fan of Frankenstein, do yourself a favour and read this book! I think you could probably enjoy it even if you haven’t read the original (I mean, everyone knows the concept, right? But you’ll definitely get a lot out of it if you’re familiar with the classic.


Have you read either of these books? What did you think of them? Let me know in the comments! xsignature (2)

 

‘Violet’ spoiler-free review!

Hey everyone! Some of you may remember me reviewing The Lingering last year. So when I was offered a copy of the author’s newest book to read, I jumped at the chance!

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synopsis

Carrie’s best friend has an accident and can no longer make the round-the-world trip they’d planned together, so Carrie decides to go it alone.

Violet is also travelling alone, after splitting up with her boyfriend in Thailand. She is also desperate for a ticket on the Trans-Siberian Express, but there is nothing available.

When the two women meet in a Beijing Hotel, Carrie makes the impulsive decision to invite Violet to take her best friend’s place.

Thrown together in a strange country, and the cramped cabin of the train, the women soon form a bond. But as the journey continues, through Mongolia and into Russia, things start to unravel – because one of these women is not who she claims to be…

A tense and twisted psychological thriller about obsession, manipulation and toxic friendships, Violet also reminds us that there’s a reason why mother told us not to talk to strangers…


my thoughts

This book is a great look at obsession and toxic friendships! Dare I say it, I may have actually enjoyed this book more than The Lingering! I’d say this one is more slow burning, with a tension that simmers from the very beginning. I couldn’t put it down.

I was immediately captured by the opening of this story and I never felt bored for a second. I always enjoy reading about faraway places so I felt completely captivated by all the travel aspects of this book. I couldn’t help feeling swept away on this adventure with Carrie and Violet!

As with The Lingering, the short chapters make this a very fast and readable book; it was genuinely so easy to just keep turning the pages, in that desire to know what would happen next. While none of the characters were at all likeable, their choices and behaviours made for an extremely compelling read.

And speaking of The Lingering, I really appreciated the little Easter Egg that Holliday included for her readers. I always enjoy when authors make connections between their books so this definitely made me smile.

If you like you unique thrillers and don’t mind reading about awful characters, then definitely check out Violet!

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Have you read any unique thrillers recently? Or just unique books in general? Let me know in the comments! xsignature (2)

 

Autumn Mini Reviews: Tunnel of Bones & The Bone Garden

Hello my lovelies! The end is in sight – I’ve got just over a week until this year of my course is finished! So I shall definitely be catching up with you all then 🙂 Thank you for sticking around while my posting is so sporadic and while I’m seemingly ignoring your comments – I promise I’m not and it means the world that you are continuing to engage with me! ❤

Anyway. Today, I’ve got a couple of mini reviews for you! Both suitable for the time of year if you’re clinging on to Autumn and not acknowledging the C word 😉

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synopsis

Trouble is haunting Cassidy Blake… even more than usual.

She (plus her ghost best friend, Jacob, of course) are in Paris, where Cass’s parents are filming their TV show about the world’s most haunted cities. Sure, it’s fun eating croissants and seeing the Eiffel Tower, but there’s true ghostly danger lurking beneath Paris, in the creepy underground Catacombs.

When Cass accidentally awakens a frighteningly strong spirit, she must rely on her still-growing skills as a ghost-hunter — and turn to friends both old and new to help her unravel a mystery. But time is running out, and the spirit is only growing stronger.

And if Cass fails, the force she’s unleashed could haunt the city forever…


my thoughts

I’m delighted to say that, although I did like City of Ghosts, this sequel was much more enjoyable! Having recently reread the first book, I was reminded of everything that irritated me the first time round. Thankfully, there was much less of the spoon-feeding in book two and it felt much more natural.

I really love how each of the books in this series is set in a different spooky location and could honestly read so many of them. Schwab captured Paris perfectly in this book and I was totally feeling the Catacomb vibes. Also, YES to all the French pastries.

I enjoyed how the story progressed in this instalment and I am appreciating both Cass and Jacob’s character development (no mean feat considering one of those characters is a ghost!)

I also have to give a shoutout to Cassidy’s parents who are AWESOME. It’s so rare that we get to see great supportive parents in literature so I love the direction Schwab is taking with them.

Overall, I enjoyed this second book (even more than the first) and I look forward to the next instalment!


bone garden


synopsis

Made of dust and bone and imagination, Irréelle fears she’s not quite real. Only the finest magical thread tethers her to life—and to Miss Vesper. But for all her efforts to please her cruel creator, the thread is unraveling. Irréelle is forgetful as she gathers bone dust. She is slow returning from the dark passages beneath the cemetery. Worst of all, she is unmindful of her crooked bones.

When Irréelle makes one final, unforgivable mistake by destroying a frightful creature just brought to life, Miss Vesper threatens to imagine her away once and for all. Defying her creator for the very first time, Irréelle flees to the underside of the graveyard and embarks on an adventure to unearth the mysterious magic that breathes bones to life, even if it means she will return to dust and be no more.

With echoes of Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book, debut author Heather Kassner crafts a gorgeously written story humming with magic, mystery, and dark imaginings.


my thoughts

First of all, a big thank you to Titan Books for providing me with a free copy of The Bone Garden! 

This was a delightful read perfect for the run-up to Halloween and I definitely agree with the comparisons to Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book! There was a wonderful sense of atmosphere from the very beginning.

Some of this atmosphere did fade out a little as the book progressed; I found that the action began to take more of a focus. Something about the story made it feel more middle-grade in tone than the young adult it was billed as. Not that this was an issue, it just wasn’t quite what I was expecting. But the writing had a lovely flow to it and it was extremely easy to fly through. I loved following Irreelle’s sweet journey.

I wasn’t really struck with a lot of thoughts while reading this one as I was too busy being swept along by the plot. Therefore, I will just reiterate that this was a great book to read in the run-up to Halloween but I’m sure it would be delightful at any time of year. And I definitely recommend it to fans of The Graveyard Book!


Have you read either of these books? What did you think of them? Let me know in the comments! xsignature (2)