‘NVK’ spoiler-free review!

Hello everyone! Before we get into this review, I want to send you all a massive virtual hug – we are living in scary times right now and anxieties are running high. My mental health is certainly suffering due to all the panic that’s going on. And working in a care setting is not helping! I’ve never once had any regrets about taking on a job in the caring profession but it’s testing my strength right now, I can tell you!

Anyway. Let’s try to maintain some semblance of normality around here, shall we? Lose ourselves in those books and the blogging community ❤

Today, I’m recommending one for you if you fancy a bit of Gothic fiction during your self-isolation 😉 Today (March 17th) sees the release of NVK by Temple Drake, which was very kindly sent to me by Titan Books! Keep reading to find out more about it…

nvk


synopsis

One night in 2012, Zhang Guo Xing takes a group of European clients to a fashionable high-end nightclub in Shanghai. While there, he meets a strikingly beautiful young Finnish woman called Naemi Vieno Kuusela. The physical attraction between them proves irresistible, and they embark on an intoxicating affair. But Naemi is not what she appears to be…

To Zhang’s surprise, she veers between passion and wariness, conducting the relationship entirely on her own terms. He feels compelled to find out more about her, and is swiftly drawn into a web of intrigue, mystery, and horror. Is she a ghost? A demon? Do the living dead walk the streets of twenty-first century Shanghai?


my thoughts

First of all, this book has one of the most captivating opening chapters I have read in a long long time. I knew right away that I was going to be gripped from start to finish.

One of the things I loved most about this book was the scene-setting. The majority of the book is set in the bustling city streets of Shanghai and the descriptions were so vivid, despite not being flowery. I could totally imagine the sights, sounds and even smells of each scene – and you all know how much I love that sensory information 😉 There are also some flashback scenes set in northern Finland and the contrast was utterly perfect.

Everything about this book flowed so seamlessly. Scene changes, introduction of characters – there was just a sense of ease to everything. It’s difficult for me to describe as it’s not something I’ve ever been consciously aware of until recently. I just found this book so fantastically easy to read and before I knew it, I was finished.

At the heart of the novel is a mystery, though it’s unlike any mystery I have read before. The stakes are raised continuously, another reason for why I could not stop reading.

My one slight complaint is that the ending is left slightly unresolved and you as a reader have to make what you will of the situation. I didn’t feel hugely satisfied with this and wanted definitive answers to certain questions.

As far as I am aware, this book is a standalone (always a bonus!) However, I was highly impressed by it and would certainly be willing to read more about the mysterious NVK! I think the potential is definitely there for Temple Drake to continue this story. But equally, it stands so well on its own. So I guess I don’t know which I’d prefer haha. I know, I’m so helpful. All I know is that you should definitely give it a read… 😉

nvk


Are you intrigued by this one? Leave me a comment and let me know! x

 

Down The TBR Hole [#4]

Hello lovelies! It’s time for another round of clearing out my online bookshelves! I had some tricky decisions to make this time so I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments 😀

down the tbr hole.png

‘Down The TBR Hole’ is a meme created by Lia @ Lost in a Story, though she now blogs @ Sunflowers and Wonder!

Here are the rules:-

  1. Go to your Goodreads want-to-read shelf.
  2. Order on ascending date added.
  3. Take the first 5 (or 10 (or even more!) if youre feeling adventurous) books. 
  4. Read the synopses of the books
  5. Decide: keep it or should it go?
  6. Keep track of where you left off so you can pick up there next time!

The Giver by Lois Lowry

the giver lois lowry

Twelve-year-old Jonas lives in a seemingly ideal world. Not until he is given his life assignment as the Receiver does he begin to understand the dark secrets behind this fragile community.

This is one of those books that I feel I should have read long ago. I feel like everyone read this as a teenager but for some reason, it was never on my radar? I did find a copy in a charity shop a while ago so I’d like to see what it’s about at some point.

Verdict: Keep


The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

hitchhikers guide to the galaxy

Seconds before the Earth is demolished to make way for a galactic freeway, Arthur Dent is plucked off the planet by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher for the revised edition of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy who, for the last fifteen years, has been posing as an out-of-work actor.

Together this dynamic pair begin a journey through space aided by quotes from The Hitchhiker’s Guide (“A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have”) and a galaxy-full of fellow travelers: Zaphod Beeblebrox—the two-headed, three-armed ex-hippie and totally out-to-lunch president of the galaxy; Trillian, Zaphod’s girlfriend (formally Tricia McMillan), whom Arthur tried to pick up at a cocktail party once upon a time zone; Marvin, a paranoid, brilliant, and chronically depressed robot; Veet Voojagig, a former graduate student who is obsessed with the disappearance of all the ballpoint pens he bought over the years.

Sci-fi scares me but I did enjoy the Martin Freeman movie adaptation of this one. And again, I do own a copy so it would be silly to not give it a try at some point. I just don’t know when that will be haha.

Verdict: Keep


Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

geisha

A literary sensation and runaway bestseller, this brilliant debut novel presents with seamless authenticity and exquisite lyricism the true confessions of one of Japan’s most celebrated geisha.

In Memoirs of a Geisha, we enter a world where appearances are paramount; where a girl’s virginity is auctioned to the highest bidder; where women are trained to beguile the most powerful men; and where love is scorned as illusion. It is a unique and triumphant work of fiction – at once romantic, erotic, suspenseful – and completely unforgettable.

I’m really torn about this one because I have literally owned it for years and never once felt inclined to pick it up. I need advice if you’ve read this one! I’ll keep it for now but it’s in serious danger of being unhauled.

Verdict: Keep


The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

grapes of wrath

First published in 1939, Steinbeck’s Pulitzer Prize-winning epic of the Great Depression chronicles the Dust Bowl migration of the 1930s and tells the story of one Oklahoma farm family, the Joads—driven from their homestead and forced to travel west to the promised land of California. Out of their trials and their repeated collisions against the hard realities of an America divided into Haves and Have-Nots evolves a drama that is intensely human yet majestic in its scale and moral vision, elemental yet plainspoken, tragic but ultimately stirring in its human dignity. A portrait of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless, of one man’s fierce reaction to injustice, and of one woman’s stoical strength, the novel captures the horrors of the Great Depression and probes into the very nature of equality and justice in America. At once a naturalistic epic, captivity narrative, road novel, and transcendental gospel, Steinbeck’s powerful landmark novel is perhaps the most American of American Classics.

l have loved the Steinbeck books I’ve read and definitely want to read this one at some point. Plus (again), I own a copy. Are you sensing a theme?

Verdict: Keep


Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

enders game

Andrew “Ender” Wiggin thinks he is playing computer simulated war games; he is, in fact, engaged in something far more desperate. The result of genetic experimentation, Ender may be the military genius Earth desperately needs in a war against an alien enemy seeking to destroy all human life. The only way to find out is to throw Ender into ever harsher training, to chip away and find the diamond inside, or destroy him utterly. Ender Wiggin is six years old when it begins. He will grow up fast.

But Ender is not the only result of the experiment. The war with the Buggers has been raging for a hundred years, and the quest for the perfect general has been underway almost as long. Ender’s two older siblings, Peter and Valentine, are every bit as unusual as he is, but in very different ways. While Peter was too uncontrollably violent, Valentine very nearly lacks the capability for violence altogether. Neither was found suitable for the military’s purpose. But they are driven by their jealousy of Ender, and by their inbred drive for power. Peter seeks to control the political process, to become a ruler. Valentine’s abilities turn more toward the subtle control of the beliefs of commoner and elite alike, through powerfully convincing essays. Hiding their youth and identities behind the anonymity of the computer networks, these two begin working together to shape the destiny of Earth-an Earth that has no future at all if their brother Ender fails.

This does have potential but it leans a bit too far towards the sci-fi side for my tastes. And I don’t own this one! Yay!

Verdict: Remove


A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

a thousand splendid suns

A Thousand Splendid Suns is a breathtaking story set against the volatile events of Afghanistan’s last thirty years—from the Soviet invasion to the reign of the Taliban to post-Taliban rebuilding—that puts the violence, fear, hope, and faith of this country in intimate, human terms. It is a tale of two generations of characters brought jarringly together by the tragic sweep of war, where personal lives—the struggle to survive, raise a family, find happiness—are inextricable from the history playing out around them.

Propelled by the same storytelling instinct that made The Kite Runner a beloved classic, A Thousand Splendid Suns is at once a remarkable chronicle of three decades of Afghan history and a deeply moving account of family and friendship. It is a striking, heart-wrenching novel of an unforgiving time, an unlikely friendship, and an indestructible love—a stunning accomplishment.

The Kite Runner ripped my heart into a million pieces when I read it in school. I’ve been simultaneously intrigued and terrified by Khaled Hosseini’s books ever since. And I never seem to buy it even when I see it around. I’m not sure???!!! But I suppose I can always add it back on at a later date.

Verdict: Remove


The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

poisonwood bible

The Poisonwood Bible is a story told by the wife and four daughters of Nathan Price, a fierce, evangelical Baptist who takes his family and mission to the Belgian Congo in 1959. They carry with them everything they believe they will need from home, but soon find that all of it — from garden seeds to Scripture — is calamitously transformed on African soil. What follows is a suspenseful epic of one family’s tragic undoing and remarkable reconstruction over the course of three decades in postcolonial Africa.

My auntie recommended this one to me and did make it sound good. But unless someone gifted me a copy, I don’t feel like this is one I’m likely to buy myself.

Verdict: Remove


Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit

anna and the swallow man

Kraków, 1939. A million marching soldiers and a thousand barking dogs. This is no place to grow up. Anna Łania is just seven years old when the Germans take her father, a linguistics professor, during their purge of intellectuals in Poland. She’s alone.

And then Anna meets the Swallow Man. He is a mystery, strange and tall, a skilled deceiver with more than a little magic up his sleeve. And when the soldiers in the streets look at him, they see what he wants them to see.

The Swallow Man is not Anna’s father—she knows that very well—but she also knows that, like her father, he’s in danger of being taken, and like her father, he has a gift for languages: Polish, Russian, German, Yiddish, even Bird. When he summons a bright, beautiful swallow down to his hand to stop her from crying, Anna is entranced. She follows him into the wilderness.

Over the course of their travels together, Anna and the Swallow Man will dodge bombs, tame soldiers, and even, despite their better judgment, make a friend. But in a world gone mad, everything can prove dangerous. Even the Swallow Man.

Destined to become a classic, Gavriel Savit’s stunning debut reveals life’s hardest lessons while celebrating its miraculous possibilities.

This absolutely sounds like my kind of book. Plus a friend who has very similar bookish taste to me and whose opinion I trust describes this as one of her favourites. So it’s not going anywhere.

Verdict: Keep


Edna in the Desert by Maddy Lederman

edna in the desert

Can a Beverly Hills teen survive without a smart phone, Internet, and TV? Edna will find out.
Edna is thirteen, a precocious troublemaker wreaking havoc at her Beverly Hills school. Her therapist advocates medication, but her parents come up with an alternative cure: Edna will spend the summer in the desert with her grandparents. Their remote cabin is cut off from cell phone service, Internet and television. Edna’s determined to rebel until she meets an older local boy and falls in love for the first time. How can she get to know him from the edge of nowhere?

I was interested in this one at some point but not so much anymore. I feel like I’m maybe too old for it now?

Verdict: Remove


Fancies and Goodnights by John Collier

fancies and goodnights

John Collier’s edgy, sardonic tales are works of rare wit, curious insight, and scary implication. They stand out as one of the pinnacles in the critically neglected but perennially popular tradition of weird writing that includes E.T.A. Hoffmann and Charles Dickens as well as more recent masters like Jorge Luis Borges and Roald Dahl. With a cast of characters that ranges from man-eating flora to disgruntled devils and suburban salarymen (not that it’s always easy to tell one from another), Collier’s dazzling stories explore the implacable logic of lunacy, revealing a surreal landscape whose unstable surface is depth-charged with surprise.

I think this came up as a recommended book in my early Goodreads days and I added it due to the author comparisons it had. But I can’t genuinely say I want to read it.

Verdict: Remove


The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two by Catherynne M. Valente

the girl who soared over fairyland and cut the moon in tw

September misses Fairyland and her friends Ell, the Wyverary, and the boy Saturday. She longs to leave the routines of home, and embark on a new adventure. Little does she know that this time, she will be spirited away to the moon, reunited with her friends, and find herself faced with saving Fairyland from a moon-Yeti with great and mysterious powers.

Again, this was added in my early Goodreads days. And I’m now convinced that Goodreads never used to show you the position of a book in a series because this is apparently the third book and I don’t know why I would have just randomly added it without the first two? This has happened more than once now haha.

Verdict: Remove


365 Thank Yous: The Year A Simple Act of Daily Gratitude Changed My Life by John Kralik

365 thank yous

One recent December, at age 53, John Kralik found his life at a terrible, frightening low: his small law firm was failing; he was struggling through a painful second divorce; he had grown distant from his two older children and was afraid he might lose contact with his young daughter; he was living in a tiny apartment where he froze in the winter and baked in the summer; he was 40 pounds overweight; his girlfriend had just broken up with him; and overall, his dearest life dreams–including hopes of upholding idealistic legal principles and of becoming a judge–seemed to have slipped beyond his reach. Then, during a desperate walk in the hills on New Year’s Day, John was struck by the belief that his life might become at least tolerable if, instead of focusing on what he didn’t have, he could find some way to be grateful for what he had. Inspired by a beautiful, simple note his ex-girlfriend had sent to thank him for his Christmas gift, John imagined that he might find a way to feel grateful by writing thank-you notes. To keep himself going, he set himself a goal–come what may–of writing 365 thank-you notes in the coming year. One by one, day after day, he began to handwrite thank yous–for gifts or kindnesses he’d received from loved ones and coworkers, from past business associates and current foes, from college friends and doctors and store clerks and handymen and neighbors, and anyone, really, absolutely anyone, who’d done him a good turn, however large or small. Immediately after he’d sent his very first notes, significant and surprising benefits began to come John’s way–from financial gain to true friendship, from weight loss to inner peace. While John wrote his notes, the economy collapsed, the bank across the street from his office failed, but thank-you note by thank-you note, John’s whole life turned around. 365 Thank Yous is a rare memoir: its touching, immediately accessible message–and benefits–come to readers from the plainspoken storytelling of an ordinary man. Kralik sets a believable, doable example of how to live a miraculously good life. To read 365 Thank Yous is to be changed.

I’ve seen mixed reviews for this one and the negative things that have been said have kind of put me off.

Verdict: Remove


Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

wild cheryl strayed

At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State — and she would do it alone.
Told with suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild powerfully captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.

I’ve read a fictional story with a similar plot to this and I enjoyed it. I’m still very interested in reading Strayed’s experience.

Verdict: Keep


The 13 1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear by Walter Moers

the 13 lives of captain bluebear

Captain Bluebear tells the story of his first 13-1/2 lives spent on the mysterious continent of Zamonia, where intelligence is an infectious disease, water flows uphill, and dangers lie in wait for him around every corner.

“A bluebear has twenty-seven lives. I shall recount thirteen and a half of them in this book but keep quiet about the rest,” says the narrator of Walter Moers’s epic adventure. “What about the Minipirates? What about the Hobgoblins, the Spiderwitch, the Babbling Billows, the Troglotroll, the Mountain Maggot… Mine is a tale of mortal danger and eternal love, of hair’s breadth, last-minute escapes.” Welcome to the fantastic world of Zamonia, populated by all manner of extraordinary characters. It’s a land of imaginative lunacy and supreme adventure, wicked satire and epic fantasy, all mixed together, turned on its head, and lavishly illustrated by the author.

I might have enjoyed this when I was younger but sadly, I’m not Peter Pan and I think I’ve grown up too much for this one.

Verdict: Remove


The City of Dreaming Books by Walter Moers

the city of dreaming books

Optimus Yarnspinner, a young writer, inherits from his beloved godfather an unpublished short story by an unknown author. His search for the author’s identity takes him to Bookholm–the so-called City of Dreaming Books. On entering its streets, our hero feels as if he has opened the door of a gigantic second-hand bookshop. His nostrils are assailed by clouds of book dust, the stimulating scent of ancient leather, and the tang of printer’s ink.

Soon, though, Yarnspinner falls into the clutches of the city’s evil genius, Pfistomel Smyke, who treacherously maroons him in the labyrinthine catacombs underneath the city, where reading books can be genuinely dangerous…

I must have added this at the same time as the book above and I’m going to remove it again for the same reason I gave there.

Verdict: Remove


Mr Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

mr penumbras 24-hour bookstore

The Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon away from life as a San Francisco web-design drone and into the aisles of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, but after a few days on the job, Clay discovers that the store is more curious than either its name or its gnomic owner might suggest. The customers are few, and they never seem to buy anything; instead, they “check out” large, obscure volumes from strange corners of the store. Suspicious, Clay engineers an analysis of the clientele’s behavior, seeking help from his variously talented friends, but when they bring their findings to Mr. Penumbra, they discover the bookstore’s secrets extend far beyond its walls.

There seem to be a lot of books on the market about quaint little bookshops or book clubs or other similar themes. I’ve got a few on my shelves and it’s taking me forever to get round to them so I don’t think I need to worry about another one. But if this one is special, by all means try to convince me!

Verdict: Remove


The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler

jane austen book club

In California’s central valley, five women and one man join to discuss Jane Austen’s novels. Over the six months they get together, marriages are tested, affairs begin, unsuitable arrangements become suitable, and love happens. With her eye for the frailties of human behavior and her ear for the absurdities of social intercourse, Karen Joy Fowler has never been wittier nor her characters more appealing. The result is a delicious dissection of modern relationships.

Dedicated Austenites will delight in unearthing the echoes of Austen that run through the novel, but most readers will simply enjoy the vision and voice that, despite two centuries of separation, unite two great writers of brilliant social comedy.

What was I saying about books about books? This is one of those that’s already on my shelves so it can stay (for now).

Verdict: Keep


The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

175A

Jeannette Walls grew up with parents whose ideals and stubborn nonconformity were both their curse and their salvation. Rex and Rose Mary Walls had four children. In the beginning, they lived like nomads, moving among Southwest desert towns, camping in the mountains. Rex was a charismatic, brilliant man who, when sober, captured his children’s imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and above all, how to embrace life fearlessly. Rose Mary, who painted and wrote and couldn’t stand the responsibility of providing for her family, called herself an “excitement addict.” Cooking a meal that would be consumed in fifteen minutes had no appeal when she could make a painting that might last forever.

Later, when the money ran out, or the romance of the wandering life faded, the Walls retreated to the dismal West Virginia mining town — and the family — Rex Walls had done everything he could to escape. He drank. He stole the grocery money and disappeared for days. As the dysfunction of the family escalated, Jeannette and her brother and sisters had to fend for themselves, supporting one another as they weathered their parents’ betrayals and, finally, found the resources and will to leave home.

What is so astonishing about Jeannette Walls is not just that she had the guts and tenacity and intelligence to get out, but that she describes her parents with such deep affection and generosity. Hers is a story of triumph against all odds, but also a tender, moving tale of unconditional love in a family that despite its profound flaws gave her the fiery determination to carve out a successful life on her own terms.

For two decades, Jeannette Walls hid her roots. Now she tells her own story.

This is one of those books I’ve seen recommended in so many places. And I’m sure it’s a fascinating read. But I don’t tend to read memoirs from people I’ve not already got an interest in.

Verdict: Remove


From Here To Eternity by James Jones

from here to eternity

Diamond Head, Hawaii, 1941. Pvt. Robert E. Lee Prewitt is a champion welterweight and a fine bugler. But when he refuses to join the company’s boxing team, he gets “the treatment” that may break him or kill him.

First Sgt. Milton Anthony Warden knows how to soldier better than almost anyone, yet he’s risking his career to have an affair with the commanding officer’s wife.

Both Warden and Prewitt are bound by a common bond: the Army is their heart and blood… and, possibly, their death.

In this magnificent but brutal classic of a soldier’s life, James Jones portrays the courage, violence and passions of men and women who live by unspoken codes and with unutterable despair… in the most important American novel to come out of World War II, a masterpiece that captures as no other the honor and savagery of men.

I love the movie adaptation of From Here To Eternity and would be interested in reading the original. Though I’m slightly intimidated by how huge it is!

Verdict: Keep


The Healing by Jonathan Odell

the healing

Mississippi plantation mistress Amanda Satterfield loses her daughter to cholera after her husband refuses to treat her for what he considers to be a “slave disease.” Insane with grief, Amanda takes a newborn slave child as her own and names her Granada, much to the outrage of her husband and the amusement of their white neighbors. Troubled by his wife’s disturbing mental state and concerned about a mysterious plague sweeping through his slave population, Master Satterfield purchases Polly Shine, a slave reputed to be a healer. But Polly’s sharp tongue and troubling predictions cause unrest across the plantation. Complicating matters further, Polly recognizes “the gift” in Granada, the mistress’s pet, and a domestic battle of wills ensues.

Seventy-five years later, Granada, now known as Gran Gran, is still living on the plantation and must revive the buried memories of her past in order to heal a young girl abandoned to her care. Together they learn the power of story to heal the body, the spirit and the soul.

Rich in mood and atmosphere, The Healing is the kind of novel readers can’t put down—and can’t wait to recommend once they’ve finished.

I’ve never heard anyone talk about this book anywhere but it sounds amazing! Please tell me if you’ve read it.

Verdict: Keep



Books removed in this post: 11

Books removed in total: 35

Total books analysed: 82

Do you participate in ‘Down The TBR Hole’? What do you think of my decisions? Let me know your thoughts in the comments! xsignature (2)

March 2020 Anticipated Releases!

Hey everyone! It’s that time again 😀 I can’t quite believe how quickly February went by, it was an absolute blur! I hope you all had a great month and read some fantastic books.

March brings with it one of my most anticipated releases of the year – I’m sure you’ll have no trouble guessing but do let me know in the comments which one you think it is!

Also, this post was due to go up yesterday but I didn’t get it finished in time due to something very exciting happening 😀 I will be posting about that at some point soon!

[As always, all covers and synopses are taken from Goodreads, and I have used UK release dates that are correct as far as I’m aware. It always upsets me when I post these and then book releases get pushed back haha.]

March


Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey

Release date: March 1st

upright women wanted

Esther is a stowaway. She’s hidden herself away in the Librarian’s book wagon in an attempt to escape the marriage her father has arranged for her–a marriage to the man who was previously engaged to her best friend. Her best friend who she was in love with. Her best friend who was just executed for possession of resistance propaganda.

The future American Southwest is full of bandits, fascists, and queer librarian spies on horseback trying to do the right thing.

Why I’m interested: At some point last year, I featured Magic For Liars in an anticipated releases post. Literally no-one will be surprised that I haven’t read that one yet but this next offering from Sarah Gailey sounds awesome too. “Queer librarian spies on horseback” is a vibe.


The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu

Release date: March 3rd

kingdom of back

Two siblings. Two brilliant talents. But only one Mozart.

Born with a gift for music, Nannerl Mozart has just one wish—to be remembered forever. But even as she delights audiences with her masterful playing, she has little hope she’ll ever become the acclaimed composer she longs to be. She is a young woman in 18th century Europe, and that means composing is forbidden to her. She will perform only until she reaches a marriageable age—her tyrannical father has made that much clear.

And as Nannerl’s hope grows dimmer with each passing year, the talents of her beloved younger brother, Wolfgang, only seem to shine brighter. His brilliance begins to eclipse her own, until one day a mysterious stranger from a magical land appears with an irresistible offer. He has the power to make her wish come true—but his help may cost her everything.

In her first work of historical fiction, #1 New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu spins a lush, lyrically-told story of music, magic, and the unbreakable bond between a brother and sister.

Why I’m interested: This sounds like it will be utterly stunning. I’ve read some Marie Lu before but this sounds like it will be a book of my heart. I mean, it’s a magical Mozart story, for heaven’s sake.


The Midnight Lie by Marie Rutkoski

Release date: March 3rd

the midnight lie

Where Nirrim lives, crime abounds, a harsh tribunal rules, and society’s pleasures are reserved for the High Kith. Life in the Ward is grim and punishing. People of her low status are forbidden from sampling sweets or wearing colors. You either follow the rules, or pay a tithe and suffer the consequences.

Nirrim keeps her head down and a dangerous secret close to her chest.

But then she encounters Sid, a rakish traveler from far away who whispers rumors that the High Caste possesses magic. Sid tempts Nirrim to seek that magic for herself. But to do that, Nirrim must surrender her old life. She must place her trust in this sly stranger who asks, above all, not to be trusted.

Set in the world of the New York Times–bestselling Winner’s Trilogy, beloved author Marie Rutkoski returns with an epic LGBTQ romantic fantasy about learning to free ourselves from the lies others tell us—and the lies we tell ourselves.

Why I’m interested: I’ve not read The Winner’s Trilogy but I’m hoping that doesn’t matter for this? It sounds like just the kind of fantasy I enjoy.


The Vanishing Deep by Astrid Scholte

Release date: March 3rd

vanishing deep

Seventeen-year-old Tempe was born into a world of water. When the Great Waves destroyed her planet, its people had to learn to survive living on the water, but the ruins of the cities below still called. Tempe dives daily, scavenging the ruins of a bygone era, searching for anything of value to trade for Notes. It isn’t food or clothing that she wants to buy, but her dead sister’s life. For a price, the research facility on the island of Palindromena will revive the dearly departed for twenty-four hours before returning them to death. It isn’t a heartfelt reunion that Tempe is after; she wants answers. Elysea died keeping a terrible secret, one that has ignited an unquenchable fury in Tempe: Her beloved sister was responsible for the death of their parents. Tempe wants to know why.

But once revived, Elysea has other plans. She doesn’t want to spend her last day in a cold room accounting for a crime she insists she didn’t commit. Elysea wants her freedom and one final glimpse at the life that was stolen from her. She persuades Tempe to break her out of the facility, and they embark on a dangerous journey to discover the truth about their parents’ death and mend their broken bond. But they’re pursued every step of the way by two Palindromena employees desperate to find them before Elysea’s time is up–and before the secret behind the revival process and the true cost of restored life is revealed.

Why I’m interested: The water-world setting of this one sounds great but add in that sibling drama? Oh my goodness, this could be spectacular.


Anna K by Jenny Lee

Release date: March 5th

anna k

Meet Anna K. At seventeen, she is at the top of Manhattan and Greenwich society (even if she prefers the company of her horses and Newfoundland dogs); she has the perfect (if perfectly boring) boyfriend, Alexander W.; and she has always made her Korean-American father proud (even if he can be a little controlling). Meanwhile, Anna’s brother, Steven, and his girlfriend, Lolly, are trying to weather an sexting scandal; Lolly’s little sister, Kimmie, is struggling to recalibrate to normal life after an injury derails her ice dancing career; and Steven’s best friend, Dustin, is madly (and one-sidedly) in love with Kimmie.

As her friends struggle with the pitfalls of ordinary teenage life, Anna always seems to be able to sail gracefully above it all. That is…until the night she meets Alexia “Count” Vronsky at Grand Central. A notorious playboy who has bounced around boarding schools and who lives for his own pleasure, Alexia is everything Anna is not. But he has never been in love until he meets Anna, and maybe she hasn’t, either. As Alexia and Anna are pulled irresistibly together, she has to decide how much of her life she is willing to let go for the chance to be with him. And when a shocking revelation threatens to shatter their relationship, she is forced to question if she has ever known herself at all.

Why I’m interested: A friend of mine read this recently and really enjoyed it. And I’ve said it before, I’m living for contemporaries these days 😉 I really like the sound of this Anna Karenina retelling.


Hold Back The Tide by Melinda Salisbury

Release date: March 5th

hold back the tide

Everyone knows what happened to Alva’s mother, all those years ago. But when dark forces begin to stir in Ormscaula, Alva has to face a very different future – and question everything she thought she knew about her past…

Unsettling, sharply beautiful and thought-provoking, Hold Back The Tide is the new novel from Melinda Salisbury, bestselling author of The Sin Eater’s Daughter trilogy.

Why I’m interested: I have enjoyed Salisbury’s writing previously and I’m intrigued by this one. Mainly because the same friend who enjoyed Anna K recommended this one as well, because it’s not like I have a detailed blurb to go off!


The Love Hypothesis by Laura Steven

Release date: March 5th

love hypothesis

Physics genius Caro Kerber-Murphy knows she’s smart. With straight As and a college scholarship already in the bag, she’s meeting her two dads’ colossal expectations and then some. But there’s one test she’s never quite been able to ace: love. And when, in a particularly desperate moment, Caro discovers a (definitely questionable) scientific breakthrough that promises to make you irresistible to everyone around you, she wonders if this could be the key. What happens next will change everything Caro thought she knew chemistry – in the lab and in love.

Is her long-time crush Haruki with her of his own free will? Are her feelings for her best girl friend some sort of side-effect? Will her dog, Sirius, ever stop humping her leg?

 

Why I’m interested: Again, my heart is yearning for those contemporaries. I like the sound of the science slant on this one and feel like it could be quite funny.


Harley in the Sky by Akemi Dawn Bowman

Release date: March 12th

harley in the sky

Harley Milano has dreamed of being a trapeze artist for as long as she can remember. With parents who run a famous circus in Las Vegas, she spends almost every night in the big top watching their lead aerialist perform, wishing with all her soul that she could be up there herself one day.

After a huge fight with her parents, who continue to insist she go to school instead, Harley leaves home, betrays her family and joins the rival traveling circus Maison du Mystère. There, she is thrust into a world that is both brutal and beautiful, where she learns the value of hard work, passion and collaboration. But at the same time, Harley must come to terms with the truth of her family and her past—and reckon with the sacrifices she made and the people she hurt in order to follow her dreams.

Why I’m interested: I’ve been intrigued by Bowman’s books for a while but haven’t got round to them yet. That’s going to change because her newest book is about a circus and you all know how much I love those.


Frozen Beauty by Lexa Hillyer

Release date: March 17th

frozen beauty

Everyone in Devil’s Lake knows the three golden Malloy sisters—but one of them is keeping a secret that will turn their little world inside out….

No one knows exactly what happened to Kit in the woods that night—all they have are a constellation of facts: icy blue lips and fingers cold to the touch, a lacy bra, an abandoned pick-up truck with keys still in the ignition. Still, Tessa, even in her fog of grief, is certain that her sister’s killer wasn’t Boyd, the boy next door whom they’ve all loved in their own way. There are too many details that don’t add up, too many secrets still tucked away.

But no matter how fiercely she searches for answers, at the core of that complicated night is a truth that’s heartbreakingly simple.

Told in lush, haunting prose, Frozen Beauty is a story of the intoxicating power of first love, the deep bonds of sisterhood, and a shocking death that will forever change the living.

Why I’m interested: This sounds like a powerful story in the vein of Sadie or Summer of Salt. And I do love me some lush, haunting prose.


A Phoenix First Must Burn edited by Patrice Caldwell

Release date: March 19th

a phoenix first must burn

Sixteen tales by bestselling and award-winning authors that explore the Black experience through fantasy, science fiction, and magic.

Evoking Beyoncé’s Lemonade for a teen audience, these authors who are truly Octavia Butler’s heirs, have woven worlds to create a stunning narrative that centers Black women and gender nonconforming individuals. A Phoenix First Must Burn will take you on a journey from folktales retold to futuristic societies and everything in between. Filled with stories of love and betrayal, strength and resistance, this collection contains an array of complex and true-to-life characters in which you cannot help but see yourself reflected. Witches and scientists, sisters and lovers, priestesses and rebels: the heroines of A Phoenix First Must Burn shine brightly. You will never forget them.

Authors include Elizabeth Acevedo, Amerie, Dhonielle Clayton, Jalissa Corrie, Somaiya Daud, Charlotte Davis, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Justina Ireland, Danny Lore, L.L. McKinney, Danielle Paige, Rebecca Roanhorse, Karen Strong, Ashley Woodfolk, and Ibi Zoboi.

Why I’m interested: First of all, can we take a moment to appreciate that stunning cover? It’s exquisite. Secondly, I’ve gotten really into anthologies in recent years and this one features some incredible authors. It sounds like a fantastic collection.


Tigers, Not Daughters by Samantha Mabry

Release date: March 24th

tigers not daughters

The Torres sisters dream of escape. Escape from their needy and despotic widowed father, and from their San Antonio neighborhood, full of old San Antonio families and all the traditions and expectations that go along with them. In the summer after her senior year of high school, Ana, the oldest sister, falls to her death from her bedroom window. A year later, her three younger sisters, Jessica, Iridian, and Rosa, are still consumed by grief and haunted by their sister’s memory. Their dream of leaving Southtown now seems out of reach. But then strange things start happening around the house: mysterious laughter, mysterious shadows, mysterious writing on the walls. The sisters begin to wonder if Ana really is haunting them, trying to send them a message—and what exactly she’s trying to say.

In a stunning follow-up to her National Book Award–longlisted novel All the Wind in the World, Samantha Mabry weaves an aching, magical novel that is one part family drama, one part ghost story, and one part love story.

Why I’m interested: This actually sounds a little bit similar to Frozen Beauty but with a different aesthetic. I’m here for that magical realism though.


My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell

Release date: March 31st

my dark vanessa

Vanessa Wye was fifteen years old when she first had sex with her English teacher.

She is now thirty-two and in the storm of allegations against powerful men in 2017, the teacher, Jacob Strane, has just been accused of sexual abuse by another former student.

Vanessa is horrified by this news, because she is quite certain that the relationship she had with Strane wasn’t abuse. It was love. She’s sure of that.

Forced to rethink her past, to revisit everything that happened, Vanessa has to redefine the great love story of her life – her great sexual awakening – as rape. Now she must deal with the possibility that she might be a victim, and just one of many.

Nuanced, uncomfortable, bold and powerful, and as riveting as it is disturbing, My Dark Vanessa goes straight to the heart of some of the most complex issues our age is grappling with.

Why I’m interested: I’ve been hearing about this book for so long that I was actually surprised to realise it wasn’t already out. SO many people have been recommending this and maybe it’s the hype influencing me but I definitely want to see what it’s all about.



What books are you looking forward to this month? Are any of these on your radar? And did you guess which of these is my most anticipated? Let me know in the comments! xsignature (2)

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