Blog Tour: Girl, 11 – Amy Suiter Clarke

Blog Tour: Girl, 11 – Amy Suiter Clarke


Release Date:
June 3rd 2021
Publisher: Pushkin Press
Pages: 352
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis

The countdown has begun…

True-crime podcaster Elle Castillo has been obsessed with The Countdown Killer for decades. Twenty years ago, he established a gruesome pattern of taking and murdering three girls over seven days, each a year younger than the last. No one’s ever known why he followed this pattern, or why they stopped abruptly after the eleventh victim. Most believe him to be dead. Elle knows he is not and is hellbent on serving historic justice.

When the kidnappings start up once again, Elle must confront her responsibility in forcing the killer out of hiding. She needs to stop the deadly countdown and convince both the authorities and her podcast audience before the Countdown Killer can claim his next victim.

Review

Girl, 11 is a dark and twisty thriller that follows Elle Castillo – a true-crime podcaster from the hit show Justice Delayed. After several successful seasons of the show, Elle focuses on The Countdown Killer, a case that she has been obsessed with for decades. With no leads, the case has gone cold and the killer’s pattern of murdering three girls over seven days has stumped investigators. Everyone believes The Countdown Killer must be dead, but Elle is determined to uncover the truth and get justice for the families of the victims. When the kidnappings start again, Elle knows she’s in a race against time to uncover the truth before he strikes again.

Girl, 11 is one of those books where you sit down to read a chapter or two and find yourself still completely absorbed in the story hours later. For me, I made the mistake of starting this book before bed and got so hooked that I kept reading until the wee hours of the morning. This was such a well-crafted story, with plenty of twists and turns I did not see coming. I loved the podcast angle of the story and the way Suiter Clarke weaved in the transcripts from the show. This definitely made the story feel more real and kept me turning pages faster and faster as the story progressed.

From the beginning, the story sets quite a quick pace and towards the end, the tense atmosphere had me on the edge of my seat. There were more than a few surprise moments I didn’t see coming and I felt that the podcast focus brought a fresh take to the serial killer story. Elle was quite an interesting protagonist and I enjoyed seeing her work with the police in an attempt to uncover the truth. Girl, 11 is an impressive debut and I cannot wait to see what Amy Suiter Clarke writes next. If you’re looking for a thriller that will keep you engrossed from the very first page, Girl, 11 is definitely one to check out – just don’t do what I did and start it before bed, because you’re sure to be sleep deprived the next day.

Book Review: Wicked Little Deeds – Kat Ellis

Book Review: Wicked Little Deeds – Kat Ellis


Release Date:
5th August 2021
Publisher: Penguin Books
Pages: 400
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I received an E-ARC to review via The Write Reads
Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Synopsis

From its creepy town mascot to the story of its cursed waterfall, Burden Falls is a small town dripping with superstition. Ava Thorn knows this well – since the horrific accident she witnessed a year ago, she’s been plagued by nightmares.

But when someone close to her is brutally murdered and Ava is the primary suspect, she starts to wonder if the legends surrounding the town are more fact than fiction.

Whatever secrets Burden Falls is hiding, there’s a killer on the loose, and they have a vendetta against the Thorns…

Review

Wicked Little Deeds is the new book from horror writer Kat Ellis. The story follows Ava Thorn, a resident of the small, superstitious town of Burden Falls. Ava is plagued by nightmares since witnessing a horrific accident a year ago, but when someone close to her is murdered, Ava is the prime suspect. Burden Falls is a town full of secrets and whoever is behind the murder has a grudge against Ava’s family.

Harrow Lake was one of my favourite reads of last year so when I heard Kat Ellis was releasing a new creepy horror book full of family secrets and a creepy small town, I was absolutely desperate to read it. The story had me hooked from the very first page and it was just as addictive as Harrow Lake. I ended up reading this book in a single day because I just couldn’t look away and I had to know how it was going to end. The story is full of twists and turns and there were lots of moments I didn’t see coming.

Kat Ellis has a really brilliant writing style, and I found myself completely captivated by this story. I won’t say too much about the plot as it’s definitely one of those books where you should go in knowing as little as possible. Ellis really knows how to give a scene that chilling atmosphere and there was definitely a few moments that sent a shiver up my spine. Wicked Little Deeds is a fast paced story – one you might not want to read with the lights off.

Wicked Little Deeds has some really fascinating characters and I really liked our protagonist Ava – she’s still dealing with the loss of her parents as well as the pain of knowing her Uncle Ty has sold the family home to their enemies. Ava is a complex character, one that felt realistic and well developed. She’s the prime suspect in a murder and she’ll do anything to find out who’s really behind it. One of the things that I enjoyed most about this story was the urban legend of Dead Eyed Sadie, it made for some very spooky moments that had me on the edge of my seat. Wicked Little Deeds is a brilliant read, one that blends mystery and horror (and even has a bit of romance too!). If you’re looking for a chilling story that will keep you hooked right till the very last page, this is absolutely what you’re looking for. I enjoyed every second of Wicked Little Deeds and I can’t wait to see what Kat Ellis writes next! 

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Blog Tour: The Gauntlet and the First Beneath – Ian Green

Blog Tour: The Gauntlet and the First Beneath – Ian Green


Release Date:
August 5th 2021
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Pages: 432
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis

Fight the Storm.

Protect your people.
The endless rotstorm rages over the ruins of the Ferron Empire. Floré would never let the slavers of the Empire rise again. As a warrior of the Stormguard Commandos, she wrought horrors in the rotstorm to protect her people. She did her duty and left the bloodshed behind.

Fight for your family.
Floré’s peace is shattered when blazing orbs of light cut through the night sky and descend on her village. Her daughter is abducted and Floré is forced into a chase across a land of twisted monsters and ancient gods. She must pursue the mysterious orbs, whose presence could herald the return of the Empire she spent her entire life fighting.

Destroy your enemies.
Now, Floré must take up the role she had sworn to put aside and become the weapon the Stormguard trained her to be, to save not only her daughter, but her people…

Review

The Gauntlet and the First Beneath is the first in an all-new fantasy series from Ian Green. The story follows Floré, who was once a great warrior of the stormguard. She has left all that behind her to be with her daughter until one night there are mysterious orbs in the sky and her daughter is abducted, forcing  Floré to embark on a quest to get her daughter back and ensure the Empire she once fought against is not returning to power. This was such a unique and fascinating fantasy story. One that hooked me from the very beginning. The story drops you into the action straight away and there tons of brilliantly plotted fighting scenes in this story. 

The Gauntlet and the Fist Beneath is a well paced story and Green gives the reader a chance to learn about Floré’s life and the world around her. I thought the world building was well done and the magic system and gods were all well explained. I felt like Green did a brilliant job of explaining the world without dumping all the info in at the start of the story, it’s woven into the plot throughout. I also enjoyed learning the history of the world and the fight against the Empire. This made the story really intriguing and I can’t wait to see more of this world as the series develops. I was particularly hooked during the last hundred pages of the book, and I cannot wait to see where Green takes the story next.

Floré is a really interesting main character, a woman who is desperate to get her daughter back. The story does have multiple points of view but she was definitely the character I was most interested in. The Gauntlet and the Fist Beneath is a really impressive debut, one I think lots of fantasy fans will fall in love with. It has fascinating and complex characters, fast paced action scenes and a unique world. If you’re looking for a captivating fantasy read to keep you engrossed on a long summer evening, The Gauntlet and the Fist Beneath should definitely be on your wish list. 
4 Stars

Book Review: A Narrow Door – Joanne Harris

Book Review: A Narrow Door – Joanne Harris


Release Date:
4th August 2021
Publisher: Orion Books
Pages: 448
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 5/5 stars

Synopsis

Now I’m in charge, the gates are my gates. The rules are my rules.

It’s an incendiary moment for St Oswald’s school. For the first time in its history, a headmistress is in power, the gates opening to girls.

Rebecca Buckfast has spilled blood to reach this position. Barely forty, she is just starting to reap the harvest of her ambition. As the new regime takes on the old guard, the ground shifts. And with it, the remains of a body are discovered.

But Rebecca is here to make her mark. She’ll bury the past so deep it will evade even her own memory, just like she has done before. After all…

You can’t keep a good woman down.

Review

A Narrow Door is the brand new novel by acclaimed author Joanne Harris. A return to the world of St Oswald’s the story follows Rebecca Buckfast – the first female headteacher of the school. She’s determined to take down the old regime and she’s doing it by allowing female students for the first time in the school’s history. As plans are made to create new state of the art facilities on the premises, human remains are uncovered in the construction work. As Rebecca works to protect everything she has built, secrets that have long stayed buried will soon be revealed.

Joanne Harris is one of my favourite authors so as soon as I heard about this I was incredibly excited to pick it up. Harris weaves a complex and exhilarating story, one that hooked me from the very first chapter. A Narrow Door is well crafted and I loved the prickling sense of unease that continued to build and build as the story progressed. Joanne Harris has such a beautiful writing style and the excellent descriptions of the hallowed halls of St Oswald’s and King Henry’s really came to life. The story was well-paced and I ended up reading the second half of the book in a single afternoon. There were some surprising moments that I definitely didn’t expect and while this is the third book set around St Oswald’s, it can absolutely be read as a standalone.

The thing that fascinated me most was the complex and multi-layered characters that Harris has created. Rebecca Price is a fascinating character and I really enjoyed reading the story of her life. She is a determined and ambitious woman and will do anything to succeed in the man’s world she finds herself in. She made for a really compelling protagonist, even more so as the story grew darker. A Narrow Door is an incredibly gripping and clever read, one you absolutely won’t want to put down.

Book Review: Of Princes and Promises – Sandhya Menon

Book Review: Of Princes and Promises – Sandhya Menon


Series:
St Rosetta’s Academy #2
Release Date: June 8th
Publisher: Hodder Books
Pages: 320
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 2.75/5 stars

Synopsis

Caterina LaValle is determined to show she’s still the queen of St. Rosetta’s Academy. Sure, her crown may be slightly askew after her ex-boyfriend, Alaric, cheated on her, but she’s a LaValle. She’ll find a way to march right back in there, her hands clutching the strings to the whole puppet show. This time, she’s going to be untouchable.

Rahul Chopra knows that moment he shared with Caterina LaValle at the winter formal meant something. Surely she feels it, too. He’s a little uncertain how someone like him (socially inept to a point way past “adorkable”) could fit into her world, but he’s loved Caterina for years. He knows they’ll find a way.

When Caterina finds out Alaric is taking a supermodel to the upcoming gala, she knows she cannot arrive without the perfect date. But the thought of taking another superficial St. R’s boy exhausts her. The solution? Sweet-but-clueless Rahul Chopra and a mysterious pot of hair gel with the power to alter the wearer into whatever his heart desires.

When Rahul tries it, he transforms instantly into RC—debonair, handsome, and charming. But transformation comes with a price: As Rahul enjoys his new social standing, the line between his two personas begins to blur. Will he give up everything, including Caterina, to remain RC? Or will this unlikely pair find their way back to each other?

Review

Of Princes and Promises is the second instalment in Sandhya Menon’s St Rosetta’s Academy series. I really enjoyed book one – Of Curses and Kisses – which I thought was a really fun YA story. I was really intrigued to see where Menon took the story in book two. Picking up after the events of book one, we now follow Caterina and Rahul, characters we met in Of Curses and Kisses. Caterina is out to prove that she’s still the queen of the school, despite breaking up with Alaric. When she discovers Alaric is taking a supermodel to the biggest event of the year, she knows she has to find the perfect date. Caterina hatches a plan to take Rahul and transform him into the perfect date with the help of some mysterious hair gel. As Rahul spends more and more time as the handsome and charming RC, Caterina wonders if she’s lost the sweet, clueless Rahul forever.

Of Princes and Promises is a really quick read and it’s a pretty fast-paced story. I really wanted to love this one as much as I did the first one but for me, this story felt a little flat. I think it maybe could have done with being a bit longer, the plot just felt a little bit too predictable and too convenient. I found I was less interested in the romance between Rahul and Caterina and more interested in what the mysterious Mia was up to. I thought there was lots of potential in this story but it just didn’t click with me.

The characters in the story are interesting and I liked Rahul, particularly as he delves more and more into being RC and has to come back to himself. I did find Caterina a bit on the irritating side and I would have loved to see a bit more of the characters from book one. Overall this was a quick book that I read in an afternoon, but one that felt kind of forgettable. If you’ve read book one I’d have a go with book two and if you love contemporary fairytale retellings this series is definitely one to check out.

Book Review: The Metal Heart – Carolina Lea

Book Review: The Metal Heart – Carolina Lea


Release Date:
April 29th 2021
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Pages: 464
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Synopsis

Orkney, 1940. On a remote island, a prisoner-of-war camp is constructed to house five hundred Italian soldiers. Upon arrival, a freezing Orkney winter and divided community greets them.

Orphaned sisters Dorothy and Constance volunteer to nurse the men. Dot is immediately drawn to Cesare, a young man fighting on the wrong side and broken by war and destruction.

The soldiers spend their days building a secret barricade between the islands. By night, however, they construct a reminder of their native land – an exquisite chapel.

As tensions between the islanders and outsiders grow, the sisters’ loyalty is tested. Will Dot choose love or family?

Review

The Metal Heart is a beautifully written historical fiction set in 1940s Orkney. It follows the story of two sisters – Dot and Con, who volunteer at the nursing station for the Italian prisoner of war camp. As the soldiers spend their days building a barricade against rivalships, Dot becomes drawn to Cesare, a prisoner and painter. As tensions grow between the prisoners and the islanders, Dot and Con have to fight for their very survival.

I must admit I don’t read much historical fiction set during the war. It’s not really my thing but I thought this sounded so intriguing and I couldn’t resist picking it up. It’s a fascinating story and led me to spend a fair bit of time googling the Italian chapel that was built in Orkney. Lea does a brilliant job bringing to life the harsh, remote landscape of Orkney and I became totally swept up in the story. It’s an emotional tale and I shed more than a few tears at the ending.

The story is quite a slow-paced one and gives the reader plenty of time to get to know the characters. Dot and Con are such fascinating protagonists and the story really highlights the hardships they have been through and how much they have done to survive. I thought the romance between Dot and Cesare was well crafted and I loved seeing their relationship develop. I similarly liked the way Lea portrayed the islanders, who are unhappy with the prisoners being brought to Orkney. Lea did a brilliant job of building that tension more and more as the story progressed.

The Metal Heart is a captivating tale and I read the last hundred pages in a single sitting. The book has an absolutely stunning cover, but it has an even more fascinating story inside. If you’re a fan of historical fiction, this book is a must-read.

Book Review: Vampires Never Get Old – Zoraida Cordova & Natalie C. Parker

Book Review: Vampires Never Get Old – Zoraida Cordova & Natalie C. Parker


Release Date:
May 25th 2021
Publisher: Titan Books
Pages: 293
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 4.25/5 stars

Synopsis

Eleven fresh vampire stories from young adult fiction’s leading voices!

In this delicious new collection, you’ll find stories about lurking vampires of social media, rebellious vampires hungry for more than just blood, eager vampires coming out―and going out for their first kill―and other bold, breathtaking, dangerous, dreamy, eerie, iconic, powerful creatures of the night.

Welcome to the evolution of the vampire―and a revolution on the page.

Vampires Never Get Old includes stories by authors both bestselling and acclaimed, including Samira Ahmed, Dhonielle Clayton, Zoraida Córdova and Natalie C. Parker, Tessa Gratton, Heidi Heilig, Julie Murphy, Mark Oshiro, Rebecca Roanhorse, Laura Ruby, Victoria “V. E.” Schwab, and Kayla Whaley.

Review

Vampires Never Get Old is a fun anthology containing eleven stories that all put a fresh spin on the vampire story. I’m a big fan of vampire novels so I was really intrigued by this, particularly as it contained stories from writers I’m a big fan of. It’s a relatively short book and I ended up racing through most of them in a single day. I loved the way these authors took the vampire story and turned it on its head, coming up with stories that felt unique and engaging.

As with all anthologies, there were some stories I really loved and some that I was less interested in. The one that stuck out most for me was the final one in the book – First Kill by V. E. Schwab. It’s a quick story and one that completely captured my attention. I turned the final page and couldn’t believe that was the end. I absolutely want more and I cannot wait to see what happens with the TV adaption.

I similarly really enjoyed The Boys From Blood River by Rebecca Roanhorse which was eerie and gave me serious Lost Boys vibes. The House of Black Sapphires was my other favourite and I definitely felt like I wanted more from both of them. If you’re a fan of vampire stories or you’re looking for a fun, quick anthology to dive into, Vampires Never Get Old is one to check out.

Book Review: Such Pretty Things – Lisa Heathfield

Book Review: Such Pretty Things – Lisa Heathfield


Release Date:
April 13th 2021
Publisher: Titan Books
Pages: 304
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 3.25/5 stars

Synopsis

A terrifying story of ghosts and grief, perfect for fans of Shirley Jackon’s The Haunting of Hill House and Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw, in award-winning author Lisa Heathfield’s first adult novel.

Clara and her younger brother Stephen are taken by their father to stay with their aunt and uncle in a remote house in the hills as their mother recovers from an accident. At first, they see it as a summer to explore. There’s the train set in the basement, the walled garden with its secret graves and beyond it all the silent loch, steady and waiting.

Auntie has wanted them for so long—real children with hair to brush and arms to slip into the clothes made just for them. All those hours washing, polishing, preparing beds and pickling fruit and now Clara and Stephen are here, like a miracle, on her doorstep.

But the reality of two children—their noise, their mess, their casual cruelties–begins to overwhelm Auntie. The children begin to uncover things Auntie had thought left buried, and Clara can feel her brother slipping away from her. This hastily created new family finds itself falling apart, with terrifying consequences for them all.

Such Pretty Things is a deeply chilling and haunting story about the slow shattering nature of grief, displacement, jealousy and an overwhelming desire to love and be loved.

Review

Such Pretty Things is the dark and chilling story of Clara and Stephen, two young children taken to stay with their aunt and uncle following their mother’s accident. Their aunt and uncle stay in a remote house and the children believe this will be a summer of exploration and play. Their Auntie has been hoping for children as long as she can remember, but when the children arrive with all their mess and bad behaviour, Auntie struggles to cope. As the children uncover secrets Auntie had long kept hidden it will rip apart their family forever.

Such Pretty Things caught my eye because of that brilliant, eerie cover and it fits so well with this creepy tale. It’s the sort of story that sends a shiver up your spine, full to the brim with tension and unease. Such Pretty Things will absolutely appeal to fans of Shirley Jackson and the story felt very reminiscent of The Turn of the Screw. I ended up reading the book pretty quickly as the strong sense of atmosphere kept me wanting to know more.

Such Pretty Things is quite a slow-paced tale and in some parts I found the story dragged a little. I kept expecting something more horrifying to occur, but it never really happened. There are plenty of sinister moments and Heathfield has a really vivid writing style, but I found myself waiting for something more to happen. Despite this I still really enjoyed the story, it was well executed and a really inventive read. If you’re in the mood for a sinister, creeping horror tale, Such Pretty Things is one for your wishlist.

Book Review: Tall Bones – Anna Bailey

Book Review: Tall Bones – Anna Bailey


Release Date:
April 1st 2021
Publisher: Doubleday
Pages: 352
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I received a copy of this book as part of the Tandem Collective readalong
Rating: 5/5 stars

Synopsis

When seventeen-year-old Emma leaves her best friend Abi at a party in the woods, she believes, like most girls her age, that their lives are just beginning. Many things will happen that night, but Emma will never see her friend again.

Abi’s disappearance cracks open the façade of the small town of Whistling Ridge, its intimate history of long-held grudges and resentment. Even within Abi’s family, there are questions to be asked – of Noah, the older brother whom Abi betrayed, of Jude, the shining younger sibling who hides his battle scars, of Dolly, her mother and Samuel, her father – both in thrall to the fire and brimstone preacher who holds the entire town in his grasp. Then there is Rat, the outsider, whose presence in the town both unsettles and excites those around him.

Anything could happen in Whistling Ridge, this tinder box of small-town rage, and all it will take is just one spark – the truth of what really happened that night out at the Tall Bones….

Review

Tall Bones is without a doubt my favourite mystery novel of 2021. This utterly unforgettable book follows the residents of Whistling Ridge as a young girl named Abi goes missing after a party in the woods. As the search to uncover what happened to Abi begins, questions and long-held resentments are brought to the surface. Will the truth of what really happened be revealed – and at what cost?

Tall Bones is the sort of book that you read in a single feverish sitting. The tense, uneasy atmosphere that fills this book is so well executed and I loved the way the tension continued to build as the story progressed. This is a completely enthralling read, one that really focuses in on life in small-town America. The story is really well-plotted, giving you the time to get to know the different characters. All the characters are well crafted and I loved how each one dealt with their grief of missing Abi in their own way. All the residents of Whistling Ridge have secrets and it was so fascinating to see the townspeople grow suspicious of each other as they attempt to uncover what happened to Abi. The characters felt very relatable and that made the story even more chilling. Tall Bones is definitely one of those books that you still think about months after turning the last page.

Tall Bones has had a lot of hype recently, and it is easy to see why. This is a captivating read, one I think mystery fans will absolutely love. Bailey has a really engrossing writing style and Tall Bones is a very impressive debut novel and I cannot wait to see what she writes next.

Blog Tour: Good Neighbours – Sarah Langan

Blog Tour: Good Neighbours – Sarah Langan

Release Date: July 13th 2021
Publisher: Titan Books
Pages: 388
Find it on: Goodreads. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis

Welcome to Maple Street, a picture-perfect slice of suburban Long Island, its residents bound by their children, their work, and their illusion of safety in a rapidly changing world.

But when the Wilde family moves in, they trigger their neighbours’ worst fears. Arlo and Gertie and their weird kids don’t fit with the ways Maple Street sees itself.

As tensions mount, a sinkhole opens in a nearby park, and neighbourhood Queen Bee Rhea’s daughter Shelly falls inside. The search for Shelly brings a shocking accusation against the Wildes. Suddenly, it is one mom’s word against the others in a court of public opinion that can end only in blood.

Review

Good Neighbours is the dark and sinister story of the residents of Maple Street, a suburban street that appears on the surface to be pretty perfect. When the Wildes move in the other residents quickly feel that the family don’t fit in and tensions begin to mount. When a sinkhole erupts in Sterling Park and one of the residents falls inside, it quickly brings accusations and secrets to the surface. As tensions climb higher it becomes one family against another – but will everyone survive unscathed?

Good Neighbours is the perfect book to read on a warm summer day. The creeping, uneasy atmosphere is brilliant and I loved the way the tension began to build slowly and then quicker and quicker as the story reached its end. I was completely fascinated by this tale – how a group of seemingly normal families can end up in this situation. Langan really brought to life the dynamics of the families and each character is well crafted. All the residents of Maple Street have their own motivations and secrets, I loved seeing how things changed as the story progressed. The families felt quite relatable and that made the story all the more creepy and unsettling.

One of the things I liked most about Good Neighbours is the addition of the articles and reports that are written after the events on Maple Street. It brought another side to the story and definitely had me turning pages more and more, I just had to find out how it was going to end.

The story focuses in on a number of topics include trauma, families and friendship. Good Neighbours is one of those books that’s quite a slow burn story but ends up being an incredibly quick read because you don’t want to put it down. This story had me completely hooked from the get-go. If you love thriller stories brimming with suspense, this is absolutely a must-read.