Friday 29 December 2023

Your House Will Pay by Steph Cha | Book Review

[This post contains affiliate links.]

Your House Will Pay by Steph Cha
My rating: 4/5
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Publication date: 15th October 2019

Blurb:
Grace Park and Shawn Mathews share a city, but seemingly little else. Coming from different generations and very different communities, their paths wouldn't normally cross at all. As Grace battles confusion over her elder sister's estrangement from their Korean-immigrant parents, Shawn tries to help his cousin Ray readjust to life on the outside after years spent in prison.

But something in their past links these two families. As the city around them threatens to spark into violence, echoing events from their past, the lives of Grace and Shawn are set to collide in ways which will change them all forever.

Review: 
In all honesty, when I first started this book, I was close to stopping and potentially going back again later as it was very slow at the beginning. I am so glad I kept going.

Your House Will Pay follows Shawn Matthews, a 45 year old Black man and Grace Park, a 27 year old Korean woman. In the early 90s, Shawn Matthews' older sister Ava was shot and killed in a convenience store by the Korean clerk. She was unarmed and just sixteen years old. 

Now, in 2019, Grace Park's elderly mother is shot whilst leaving her store. Both of their stories are interwoven together and it is a deep, moving and thoughtful read.

Race is a massive focus in this book. I have read a lot of books where the race issues have been between white people and Black people but this is the first I've read about Korean conflict with African Americans. Upon doing some research after the book, I learned that the plot of Ava Matthews being shot by a Korean clerk is reminiscent of a real life event where Latasha Harlins was fatally shot by Soon Ja Du in 1991.

As I mentioned it is a very slow paced book but well worth a read. It surprised me, the characters felt real and I especially loved Shawn's chapters. I could definitely see this made into a TV drama.

Friday 8 December 2023

The Rule Of Three by Sophie Snow | Book Review

The Rule Of Three by Sophie Snow
My rating: 5/5
Publication date: 24th October 2023

Blurb:
Her reputation has never been worse.
Their love fell apart and left them with a missing piece.
Can three broken hearts hold on to each other long enough to fight for their happy ending?

Recovering from a messy public breakup, lonely songwriter Tessa Reid flees the vicious British tabloids for New York. After sneaking out of a one-night stand, she discovers the tattooed man she left behind, and can’t get out of her head, is her new neighbor, River Sage.

Hopeless romantic, River, lives next door with his best friend, and the man who broke his heart, Cassian King. After years of avoiding confronting their feelings, Tessa shows up and makes them question everything.

Sparks fly as a friends-with-benefits arrangement between the three quickly evolves into something deeper, blurring the lines between friendship and more. Used to outrunning the ghosts from their pasts, can Cass, River, and Tessa stop running from each other and learn to stay?

Review:
I love love loved this. I am in love with the characters and just absolutely devoured it.

Tessa is a songwriter and has just split up from her abusive older rockstar boyfriend. She wrote most of his songs and following the break-up, she is lost. Whilst in a bookstore after just moving to New York, she bumps into River and they end up having a one night stand. Her life is upside down at the moment so she flees, but River can't stop thinking about her.

River, a romance author writing under a pen name, and Cass, a model, are in their late thirties and River has been in love with Cass for almost his whole life. Cass could never properly commit but they have remained best friends (with some no strings attached benefits). Soon they discover who their new neighbour is - Tessa.

The three of them navigate their feelings for each other and embark on a relationship. What I loved most about this book was following the journey that all three of them go through. I fell totally in love with them and cared massively. I felt their sadness, confusion and happiness.

I love the diversity of the characters and their backstories were fully fleshed. It is spicy but absolutely beautiful too. I can't wait to read more by Sophie Snow.


Monday 27 November 2023

Love Under Contract by Cassie Connor | Book Review

[This post contains affiliate links.]

Love Under Contract by Cassie Connor
My rating: 5/5
Publisher: One More Chapter 
Publication date: 8th December 2022

Blurb:
Hotshot lawyer Rebecca Madison is dreading the annual family Thanksgiving break where the question on everyone’s lips will be ‘why are you still single?’.

When it comes to her career, she’s the best of the best, hired for her take-no-prisoners approach and sharp instincts. But when it comes to her love life…well, she hasn’t found the loophole for happy ever after yet.

So when she has a one night stand with a gorgeous stranger she meets in a bar, Becca decides to do what she does best: make a deal with Mr One Night to be her Mr Right (just for the holidays).

With an iron-clad contract setting out the terms for their fake relationship, Becca has one important point. Clause 1.a. No kissing, no sex (as mind-blowing as it was), and absolutely no emotional attachment!

But five thousand miles from home and spending every waking moment in the company of a man who makes her feel things she’s never felt before, just how easy will it be for Becca to stick to her own rules…

Review:
I read this book after a few thrillers as I needed something a little more light-hearted but I didn't expect to love it so much! 

Rebecca Madison is a 33-year-old London-based contract lawyer and has just found out that her younger sister is engaged - to her ex-boyfriend. She meets 29-year-old furniture designer Hudson in a hotel lobby and after a one-night-stand she discovers he is in a bit of a predicament.

Rebecca is expected to attend a Thanksgiving/engagement party at her family's home in New York and, wanting to save face, draws up a contract inviting Hudson to act as her boyfriend on the trip and she will help him out with his issues. I do love the fake dating trope!

We all know where this is going and I have always said I don't like spicy scenes just for the sake of it (and this book has a lot of spice!) but it was there for a reason. We see massive character development with Rebecca and you could feel her cool and collected exterior chip away as she spent more time with Hudson and each of their families. A really lovely read! 




Wednesday 22 November 2023

Heaven by Mieko Kawakami | Book Review

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Heaven by Mieko Kawakami
My rating: 3/5
Publisher: Picador 
Publication date: 12th May 2022

Blurb:
In Heaven, a fourteen-year-old boy is tormented for having a lazy eye. Instead of resisting, he chooses to suffer in silence. The only person who understands what he is going through is a female classmate, Kojima, who experiences similar treatment at the hands of her bullies.

Providing each other with immeasurable consolation at a time in their lives when they need it most, the two young friends grow closer than ever. But what, ultimately, is the nature of a friendship when your shared bond is terror?

Review:
Our unnamed protagonist is a fourteen year old boy who is being bullied at school, mostly by two other teens; Nanomiya and Momose, because he has a lazy eye. He starts receiving letters from a girl called Kojima. She also gets bullied because she is dirty and unkempt and because they understand each other, she thinks they should be friends.

This was a hard read due to the descriptions of the bullying that both of the characters go through but there is also a philosophical aspect to the story and it makes us think about morals. It is beautifully written but very sad and raw.

Tuesday 21 November 2023

Butcher & Blackbird by Brynne Weaver | Book Review

[This post contains affiliate links.]

Butcher & Blackbird by Brynne Weaver
My rating: 5/5
Publisher: Piatkus
Publication date: 31st October 2023

Blurb:
Every serial killer needs a friend.
Every game must have a winner.

When a chance encounter sparks an unlikely bond between rival murderers Sloane and Rowan, the two find something elusive - the friendship of two like-minded, pitch-black souls who just happen to enjoy killing other serial killers.

Stalking across the country, the two hunters collide in an annual game of blood and suffering, one that pits them against the most dangerous monsters in the country.

But as their friendship develops into something deeper, the restless ghosts left in their wake are only a few steps behind, ready to claim more than just their new-found romance.

Can Rowan and Sloane dig themselves out of a game of graves? Or have they finally met their match?

My review:
Can I have more please, Brynne Weaver? 

I caught wind of Butcher & Blackbird on TikTok and as soon as I heard that Joe Arden was the narrator for the male main character, I knew I had to get an audiobook version. I was not expecting Joe Arden with an Irish accent. Hailing from the island of Ireland myself, this was a nice surprise.

Rowan Kane finds Sloane Sutherland in a cage next to a dead body. He soon realises that she is the Orb Weaver, a serial killer who he had admired from afar, with him being a serial killer too. Rowan becomes infatuated with Sloane and after releasing her from the cage, he suggests a game. Every year they will meet up for a friendly and competitive spot of killing. He is desperate for a reason to continue seeing her.

Weaver has developed such perfect characters and the slow burn was incredible. Lucy Rivers and Joe Arden brought them to life and I loved the fact that it is recorded as a duet. This was my first Lucy Rivers narrated book and she was wonderful! 

Never has a book caused me to have such a visceral reaction. I laughed out loud at some really great comedic prose, I giggled, I kicked my legs and flapped my arms.

This is a dark romance novel between two serial killers and the content warnings list is loooong. There are quite a few taboo subjects mentioned, such as cannibalism (I will never eat ice cream again) as well as some very explicit spicy scenes. I highly recommend listening to the audio version. I will however be purchasing the paperback copy when it's out in December because I am DESPERATE to get tabbing, highlighting and annotating.

If you like he falls first, "touch him/her and you die", this is for you. Perfect.


Friday 10 November 2023

Wildfire by Hannah Grace | Book Review

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Wildfire by Hannah Grace
My rating: 4/5
Publisher: Simon & Schuster 
Publication date: 3rd October 2023

Blurb:
When Russ and Aurora cross paths at a university party, a drinking game ends with them spending the night together. The next day, Aurora slips away before Russ learns her full name. 

This anonymity ends when they both turn up to their first day of work as camp counsellors. A job they had both chosen to escape Maple Hills for the summer. 

Given their history, there’s still an obvious tension between the two but the camp has a strict “no staff fraternizing” rule. Russ doesn’t want to risk heading home early but Aurora has never been one for rules.  

As things heat up, they'll have to resist or risk starting something they just can’t stop.   

Review:
As soon as I read Icebreaker, I instantly pre-ordered Wildfire. As it was the second in the Maple Hills series, I was excited for the crossover in characters.

Russ Callaghan is the goalie of the UCMH hockey team and meets Aurora Roberts. After the two have a one-night-stand at an end of year party, they are thrown together again when they realise that they are both volunteer counselors at a kids summer camp.

The majority of the story takes place throughout the course of the summer and focuses on their developing relationship. When I read Icebreaker, I said that the plot was thin but spice was fantastic. In Wildfire, I felt that the plot was better, with a little less (but still very good) spice. 

I really enjoyed the characters of Russ and Aurora, their familial issues and seeing Russ's confidence grow. I know everyone wants a Henry book but I feel like I want a JJ one because he is a fantastic friend!




Tuesday 7 November 2023

Mary; or the Birth of Frankenstein by Anne Eekhout | Blog Tour Book Review

[ad/gifted - I received a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]

Mary; or the Birth of Frankenstein by Anne Eekhout
My rating: 4/5
Publisher: Pushkin Press
Publication date: 2nd November 2023

Blurb:
There is a beast inside her, a monster. It wants to scream, it wants to tear things apart.

1816. Mary, eighteen years old, is staying in a villa on Lake Geneva with her lover Percy Shelley. She is tormented by his infidelities; haunted by the loss of her baby daughter.

Then one evening with friends, as storms rage outside and laudanum stirs their imaginations, Lord Byron challenges everyone to write a ghost story, and something fierce and wild awakens in Mary.

Memories surface of the long, strange summer she once spent with a family in Scotland, where she found herself falling in love with the enigmatic Isabella Baxter. She learned tales of mythical beasts, witches and spirits. And she encountered real monsters - both in the rocky wilds, and far, far closer to home...

Illuminating the past like a flash of lightning, this brilliant reimagining of the birth of Frankenstein takes us into a feverish world of waking dreams-where grief mingles with desire, and the veil between beauty and horror grows thin.

Review:
I very rarely read historical fiction but I always make an exception for books about Mary Shelley. I've read two others this year (Our Hideous Progeny by C. E. McGill and Reproduction by Louisa Hall) and I really enjoyed them so I was excited for this take.

Mary; or the Birth of Frankenstein is told from two timelines. In 1816, Mary, her husband Percy, their baby son and stepsister Claire, are at the residence of Lord Byron at Lake Geneva where there are fellow poets in attendance. They begin to exchange ghost stories. When challenged to write the best horror story, Mary remembers another time in her life, four years earlier in Dundee, Scotland where she joins the Baxter family, instantly having a rapport with Isabella, the daughter who is still in grieving after losing her mother.

The family exchange stories in a similar way, these can be fiction or non-fiction. Mary takes things that have happened on her adventures and embellishes them a little. The girls spend their time outdoors and eventually happen upon a monster of sorts and they debate what is true. The relationship grows deeper between Mary and Isabella but Isabella's brother-in-law Mr Booth, who Mary has her doubts about, has been watching them. This encourages Mary Shelley to write her famous Frankenstein novel.

This is translated from Dutch by Laura Watkinson and it is just absolutely gorgeous. I fell so quickly into the story and I actually had to keep reminding myself that it was fiction. In true gothic style, you have that sinister feeling right from the beginning and it flows beautifully. You feel a real change in Mary in just four short years, especially after losing a child rising. It is dark, moody and just stunning.

•••
A massive thank you to Pushkin Press for having me on the blog tour. You can find information about the other bloggers taking part in the tour in the graphic below.

Monday 23 October 2023

A Winter In New York by Josie Silver | Book Review

[ad/gifted - I received a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.]

A Winter In New York by Josie Silver
My rating: 4/5
Publisher: Viking Books 
Publication date: 12th October 2023

Blurb:
Where better to start again than New York?

Iris arrives in the city of dreams, intent on restarting her culinary career, and leaving her recent heartache behind.

Wandering the streets at a famous food festival, Iris feels like she's living in a movie. Then she stumbles upon a gelateria that looks strangely familiar. Inside, she meets Gio: a perfect leading man with an irresistible smile - and a crisis of his own.

As fate would have it, Iris is the one person with the answer to his problem. She just can't tell him that...

So, can Iris finally let go of the past - and let herself fall in love?

Review:
Josie Silver writes the most beautiful novels and the combination of the backdrop, plot and characters made this feel super special.

Iris is in her early thirties and after fleeing from her toxic ex-boyfriend in London, she moves to New York. It was her late mother Vivien's favourite place and as she misses her greatly, she wants to feel closer to her.

Iris stumbles across a gelateria in Mulberry Street and recognises the outside from one of her mother's photographs. After plucking up the courage to enter, she meets Gio Belotti and the two develop a relationship. We learn that Vivien and Gio's family go back a long way but are not aware. As time goes by, Iris holds onto this secret but knows it will get worse as time goes on and the deeper in love she and Gio fall.

This book is just gorgeous. I loved every single character and the found family aspect was done beautifully. Definitely one to read around the festive season!



Friday 20 October 2023

Supper For Six by Fiona Sherlock | Blog Tour Book Review

[ad/gifted - I received a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]

Supper For Six by Fiona Sherlock
My rating: 4/5
Publisher: Hodder 
Publication date: 19th October 2023

Blurb:
Supper for Six... but murder is on the menu.

The mystery of Bruton Square has never been solved. On that infamous night in 1977, six strangers were invited for dinner at Lady Sybil Anderson's Mayfair apartment. Only five made it out alive.

Welcome to Supper for Six, the true crime podcast. I'm your host, Felix.

Together, we'll uncover what really happened that night... Let's dig in.

Review:
I love crime fiction and mystery novels but I didn't know what to expect with Supper For Six.

Supper For Six is told as though it is a podcast and is split into episodes. In 1977, Sybil Anderson hosts a dinner party, inviting six specific people there, under the pretence that her husband, Lord Anthony Anderson, had disappeared. Whilst at the party, there are air raid sirens and the radio announces that everyone must stay inside but soon enough, one member of the party is dead. The killer must be amongst the guests.

It is now 2023 and Felix Caerphilly is looking back into the case on his podcast, Supper For Six.

I really enjoyed the format of this novel, the podcast aspect plus tape recording transcripts from an investigator who was in attendance at the dinner party. There were a lot of twists with everyone harbouring secrets. I did find a few bits unbelievable but they made for an entertaining read that had me glued until the very end.

•••
A massive thank you to Hodder for having my on the blog tour. You can find information about the other bloggers taking part in the tour in the graphic below.

Wednesday 18 October 2023

The Pumpkin Spice Cafe by Laurie Gilmore | Book Review

[This post contains affiliate links.]

The Pumpkin Spice Café by Laurie Gilmore
My rating: 4/5
Publisher: One More Chapter (HarperCollins)
Publication date: 31st August 2023

Blurb:
When Jeanie's aunt gifts her the beloved Pumpkin Spice Cafe in the small town of Dream Harbor, Jeanie jumps at the chance for a fresh start away from her very dull desk job.

Logan is a local farmer who avoids Dream Harbor's gossip at all costs. But Jeanie's arrival disrupts Logan's routine and he wants nothing to do with the irritatingly upbeat new girl, except that he finds himself inexplicably drawn to her. 

Will Jeanie's happy-go-lucky attitude win over the grumpy-but-gorgeous Logan, or has this city girl found the one person in town who won't fall for her charm, or her pumpkin spice lattes...

Review:
This book is just the absolute cutest and if you are a Gilmore Girls fan, this is for you. Jeanie has taken over The Pumpkin Spice Cafe, her aunt's cafe in the town of Dream Harbor. She has her own reasons for wanting to move from her fast-paced city job to a small town.

She instantly hits it off with farmer Logan but in this small town, everyone knows his past and they really look out for him after everything he has been through. I love the depth of the characters for a relatively short book and it has a good amount of spice too!

This is such a cosy romance and I'd recommend reading if you are into the "he falls first" and "grumpy x sunshine" tropes. I am excited to hear that there will be a second book in the series focusing on Hazel and Noah! 

Thursday 12 October 2023

Icebreaker by Hannah Grace | Book Review

[This post contains affiliate links.]

Icebreaker by Hannah Grace
My rating: 4/5
Publisher: Simon & Schuster 
Publication date: 19th January 2023

Blurb:
Anastasia Allen has worked her entire life for a shot at Team USA. It looks like everything is going according to plan when she gets a full scholarship to the University of California, Maple Hills and lands a place on their competitive figure skating team.
 
Nothing will stand in her way, not even the captain of the hockey team, Nate Hawkins.
 
Nate’s focus as team captain is on keeping his team on the ice. Which is tricky when a facilities mishap means they are forced to share a rink with the figure skating team—including Anastasia, who clearly can’t stand him. 
 
But when Anastasia’s skating partner faces an uncertain future, she may have to look to Nate to take her shot. 

Sparks fly, but Anastasia isn’t worried… because she could never like a hockey player, right?

Review: 
This was definitely a 'Booktok made me do it' read. When will I learn that cartoon covers are where the spice is at? 

Anastacia "Stassie" Allen is a figure skater and Nate Hawkins is a hockey player. Following damage to one of the ice rinks, both the skaters and hockey players need to share the one rink for practices and Stassie and Nate's relationship develops. 

I have said this a million times before, I don't mind a good amount of spice but what I don't like is gratuitous spice with no plot to keep it flowing. For me, the plot was pretty thin in this one with too much of a cutesy ending but there were also a whole lot of positives.

1. The spice in this book was top notch. Honestly, some of the best steamy scenes I've read. Page 76/77(?) in Nate's bedroom for the first time and the Uber scene. Sweet Jesus.

2. Henry was an absolute gem. Best supporting character ever. 

3. The miscommunication trope is one of my most hated so it was so refreshing to read about a relationship where communication is so open and free flowing.

4. Anastacia's character development with regards to her relationship with skating partner Aaron, her relationship with food and her planning was handled very well.

5. Nate Hawkins. Men written by women are just the best. If you're looking for a book boyfriend, he's the one.

Friday 6 October 2023

The Takedown by Carlie Walker | Blog Tour Book Review

[ad/gifted - I received a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]

The Takedown by Carlie Walker
My rating: 4/5
Publisher: Orion
Publication date: 3rd October 2023

Blurb:
Sydney's mission is simple:
1. Stop her little sister from marrying a notorious criminal
2. Seduce his bodyguard to gather intel for the FBI
3. Definitely do not fall in love...

Agent Sydney Swift is going home for the holidays. She's just discovered that her younger sister, Calla, is engaged to Johnny Jones - the heir to the nation's most notorious crime dynasty - and she's determined to stop their perfect winter wedding at any cost.

But gathering incriminating evidence on Johnny isn't as easy as she'd hoped, especially as her biggest obstacle is Nick, his infuriatingly handsome and charming bodyguard!

As Sydney spends more time with Nick, lines begin to blur, and while seducing him to gather intel was bad enough, falling for him is even worse.

Soon Sydney is faced with a difficult decision - one that certainly wasn't covered in her training...

Review:
This was a fun little book that really surprised me!

The Takedown is the authors first adult novel, having previously written children's and young adult novels and I absolutely loved it.

Sydney is in the CIA but her family is unaware. The FBI seek her out to gather intel on a crime lord, the reason she has been chosen? Johnny Jones is engaged to Sydney's sister and will be at their home for the Christmas holidays. When tasked to get the lowdown by seducing his bodyguard Nick, she tells herself she absolutely must not fall for him.

I know the plot sounds ridiculously cheesy and clichĂ© but it was cute, had the festive vibes and even threw a few twists in there too. The characters were well developed and you really got a feel for their family dynamics. I loved Grandma Ruby! 

As a reader who loves both crime fiction and romance, it felt like the perfect mix of both. Oh, and the little bit of spice made it even better.

Highly recommended if you want a fun, Christmassy read! 

•••

A massive thank you to Orion for having me on the blog tour. You can find information about the other bloggers taking part in the tour in the graphic below.

Tuesday 26 September 2023

Just Like Mother by Anne Heltzel | Blog Tour Book Review

[ad/gifted - I received an ebook copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.]

Just Like Mother by Anne Heltzel
My rating: 4/5
Publisher: Verve
Publication date: 26th September 2023

Blurb:
For the past two decades, Maeve has worked hard to build a normal life in New York City, where she keeps everything - and everyone - at a safe distance. 

When Andrea suddenly reappears, Maeve regains the only true friend she's ever had. Soon she's spending more time at Andrea's remote Catskills estate than in her own cramped apartment. Maeve doesn't even mind that her cousin's wealthy work friends clearly disapprove of her single lifestyle. After all, Andrea has made her fortune in the fertility industry - baby fever comes with the territory. 

What worries Maeve is that the more she immerses herself in Andrea's world, the more her long-buried memories flood to the surface. But confronting the terrors of her childhood may be the only way for Maeve to transcend the nightmare still to come...

Review:
I never really read books about cults and after reading this I am seriously questioning why because this was fantastic.

The story is told in the present and past. As a child, Maeve was part of a cult called The Mother Collective. After the children there were rescued and put into care, Maeve lost contact with her cousin and best friend Andrea. Twenty years later, Maeve is now in her mid-thirties, they find each other but although Andrea is married with a high-flying job, not everything is as it seems.

This book was seriously creepy and unsettling. It's "women are put on this earth to be mothers otherwise, what's the point?"/anti-patriarchy but taken to the extreme. It had me on edge, I knew what was going to happen and was desperate for Maeve to realise. My mouth was curled up in disgust at some points. It is just fabulously written and I was so surprised to read that this was the author's debut adult novel! The ending was just perfectly sinister.


Thursday 31 August 2023

The Confession Room by Lia Middleton | Book Review

[ad/gifted - I received a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.]

The Confession Room by Lia Middleton
My rating: 5/5
Publisher: Penguin Michael Joseph
Publication date: 31st August 2023

Blurb:
WELCOME TO THE CONFESSION ROOM.
An online forum for admitting your sins.

Some people confess to affairs, others to stealing. Some admit deep, dark wishes. And former police officer Emilia Haines, reading strangers' secrets is the perfect distraction from the past.

But one day, Emilia stumbles on the darkest confession yet:

MURDER.

At first, it seems like a hoax. But when a body is found, then another victim is named, Emilia can't look away.

How are the victims linked? Who is confessing to murder to publicly?

And how do you catch a serial killer who is hiding in plain sight?

Review:
I absolutely FLEW through this one but I knew I would because Lia Middleton's books just have that effect on me.

Emilia Haines is a former police officer, leaving the force after blaming herself for her sister's death. If only she'd answered Sophie's worried phone calls, maybe she would still be alive. 

Of course, Emilia can't just forget about all the skills and abilities she had acquired as an officer and becomes obsessed with checking a forum called The Confession Room. It begins with people posting simple confessions such as them cheating on partners but it soon turns sinister. Someone is kidnapping forum users, two at a time, and uploading videos of them in a real life confession room. By the end, one of the two will be dead.

Emilia fully inserts herself into finding out what is going on, much to the chagrin of her ex-colleagues. There were so many times where I wanted to give her a shake and tell her to leave well alone. I was desperate to get to the end of this book to see how it would all pan out. My heart was racing and my eyes went wide by the ending. Fantastic! 



Monday 28 August 2023

The Silent Man by David Fennell | Blog Tour Book Review

[ad/gifted - I received an ebook copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]

The Silent Man by David Fennell
My rating: 5/5
Publisher: Zaffre
Publication date: 31st August 2023

Blurb:
A father is murdered in the dead of night in his London home, his head wrapped tightly in tape, a crude sad face penned over his facial features. But the victim's only child is left alive and unharmed at the scene.

Met Police detectives Grace Archer and Harry Quinn have more immediate concerns. Notorious gangster Frankie White has placed a target on Archer's back, and there's no one he won't harm to get to her.

Then a second family is murdered, leaving young Uma Whitmore as the only survivor.

With a serial killer at large, DI Archer and DS Quinn must stay alive long enough to find the connection between these seemingly random victims. Can they do it before another child is orphaned?

Review:
I gave The Art Of Death and See No Evil, Fennell's previous two novels in the DI Grace Archer & DS Harry Quinn series, both five stars and The Silent Man is an easy five star too.

If you haven't read any books in this series before, enough information is given to you to learn a bit about the backstory of Archer and Quinn, but I would highly recommend giving the other ones a read as they are so good.

In The Silent Man, Archer and Quinn are tasked searching for a serial killer whose MO is to taser their victims before wrapping their heads in tape and drawing an emoji style face on them. All of the victims seem to be parents too.

Alongside this, we have the story that runs across all three books, a crime family who are intent on harming Archer. They had previously been the reason for her father's death too.

The pacing is fantastic and I literally did not want to put this down. I just gel with Fennell's writing style and I like this chase. I have to say, as a Belfast native I cackled with laughter at Quinn's line "...my head's poundin' like an Orangeman's drum"! It has everything I want in a police procedural/thriller and a great, diverse host of characters too.

If you haven't read this series yet, you need to!

•••

A massive thank you to Compulsive Readers for having me on the tour and Zaffre for supplying me with a copy of the book. You can find information about the other bloggers taking part in the tour in the graphic below.


Monday 21 August 2023

What Lies Between Us by John Marrs | Book Review

[This post contains affiliate links.]

What Lies Between Us by John Marrs
My rating: 5/5
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Publication date: 15th May 2020

Blurb:
Nina can never forgive Maggie for what she did. And she can never let her leave.

They say every house has its secrets, and the house that Maggie and Nina have shared for so long is no different. Except that these secrets are not buried in the past.

Every other night, Maggie and Nina have dinner together. When they are finished, Nina helps Maggie back to her room in the attic, and into the heavy chain that keeps her there. Because Maggie has done things to Nina that can’t ever be forgiven, and now she is paying the price.

But there are many things about the past that Nina doesn’t know, and Maggie is going to keep it that way―even if it kills her.

Because in this house, the truth is more dangerous than lies.

Review: 
Oh my God. As someone who reads a lot of thrillers, I find that they can get a bit samey and I can guess what is coming. I was craving a five star thriller and this was it.

What Lies Between Us follows the story of 36-year-old Nina and her mother Maggie. We discover that Nina is keeping her mother chained up in the attic with her luxuries taken away but they do eat dinner together occasionally. 

The chapters alternate between the present and twenty-five years earlier when Nina was a teenager. We learn a lot about their relationship with one another and Nina's mental state. In all honesty it felt chaotic but it all makes perfect sense. It is amazingly written, fantastically paced and I did not want to stop reading. I would probably go as far as to say that it is a perfect thriller. 

I don't want to give any of the plot away because the less you know going in, the better, but there are a few trigger warnings for miscarriage, cancer, grooming. 

Tuesday 15 August 2023

Sad Girl Novel by Pip Finkemeyer | Blog Tour Book Review

[ad/gifted - I received a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]

Sad Girl Novel by Pip Finkemeyer
My rating: 4/5
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Publication date: 10th August 2023

Blurb:
An Australian expat in Berlin, Kim is jobless, rootless, and - as she's slowly discovering - somewhat useless.
That is until a chance encounter with Matthew, a hotshot New York literary agent, gives Kim the direction she's been craving. This year she will:

* Finally write her novel
* Decide what said novel is actually about
* Romantically pin down the increasingly flighty Matthew
* Be less jealous of best friend Bel's baby
* Convince her therapist that the amount of artichokes she eats doesn't classify as an eating disorder
* Stay sane in the process of achieving the above

Because Kim's story will not become a sad girl novel.
Definitely not.

Review:
I saw a creator on Tiktok (@bookrvws) recently talk about a genre that she calls Existential Millennial Malaise and this is exactly how I would describe this book.

Our main character, 27-year-old Kim, moves to Berlin in the hopes of writing a novel. She quickly becomes best friends with Bel, falls in love with a man named Matthew who seemingly doesn't love her back and all the while she is struggling to find herself and the confidence to write her novel. She essentially has an existential crisis, falls into drugs and partly loses her relationship with Bel who she has convinced to have a baby on her own.

Firstly, this was funny but not in the "belly laughing hilarious the whole way through" way. There are golden nuggets planted throughout that had me smiling or laughing out loud. She is super witty and I loved reading her thoughts. We aren't supposed to like Kim, I certainly didn't love her, but I couldn't help but feel everything she felt as I read. 

It is a gorgeous novel on exploration, finding yourself and comparing yourself to others. Very character-driven rather than plot but I really enjoyed this one! 

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Thank you so much Hodder & Stoughton for having me on the blog tour. You can find information on the other bloggers taking part in the tour in the graphic below.

Monday 14 August 2023

Just Another Missing Person by Gillian McAllister | Book Review

[ad/gifted - I received a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.]

Just Another Missing Person by Gillian McAllister
My rating: 5/5
Publisher: Penguin Michael Joseph 
Publication date: 3rd August 2023

Blurb:
OLIVIA.
22 years old.
Last seen on CCTV, entering a dead-end alley.
And not coming back out again.
Missing for one day and counting...

Julia is the detective heading up the case. She knows what to expect. A desperate family, a ticking clock, and long hours away from her husband and daughter. But Julia has no idea how close to home it's going to get.

Because there's a man out there. And his weapon isn't a gun, or a knife: it's a secret. Her worst one.

He tells her that her family's safety depends on one thing: Julia must NOT find out what happened to Olivia - and must frame somebody else for her murder...

What would you do?

Review:
Oh my God. OH MY GOD. I always know when I read a Gillian McAllister book that I am about to be blown away but, wow. Right from the very first chapter I knew I wouldn't want to put this down. Damn being an adult and having responsibilities because I definitely would have read this entire thing in one sitting if I didn't have a job to go to or children to keep alive. 

In Just Another Missing Person, DCI Julia Day is tasked with looking into the disappearance of Olivia Johnston. Julia has a teenage daughter and her marriage to her husband Art is at breaking point, with him sleeping with someone else. As much as she loves her family and will do her best for them, it plays second fiddle to her job as a police officer. But the lines are blurred when she is forced between her job that she is good at and protecting her family. 

I am not going to give too much away because you need to just read this book to really feel the impact. There are a lot of POV and time changes but it's so easy to follow along. On numerous occasions, the plot twists made me stare at the wall and say "what the F". 

If you liked the TV show 'Line Of Duty', I feel like you would love this! Bravo Gillian, you've done it again!