Book Review: The Turnout – Megan Abbott

Book Review: The Turnout – Megan Abbott


Release Date:
August 3rd 2021
Publisher: Virago Press
Pages: 352
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Synopsis

After the sudden death of their parents, the Durant sisters, Dara and Marie, inherit a ballet school and take over running it with Dara’s husband Charlie. The sisters’ connection is intense, forged by a glamorous but troubled family history.

But after they hire Derek, a charismatic, possibly shady contractor to renovate the studio, Marie throws herself into an intense affair with him that threatens their tight bonds and brings forward family secrets until an act of violence overturns everything.

Review

The Turnout is one of those stories that completely captivates you and you continue to think about long after reading. The story follows sisters Dara and Marie who take over the running of their mother’s ballet school after the sudden death of their parents in a car accident. Alongside Dara’s husband Charlie, the three work to ensure the running of the infamous ballet studio. When they hire a contractor to renovate the studio, Marie falls into a relationship with him. As Marie spends more and more time with Derek the dynamics of the studio begin to change and long-buried family secrets slowly come to life.

This book was completely unlike anything I’ve read before. It was such a dark story, with a really tense, unsettling atmosphere that continued to build as the story progressed. This is my first book by Megan Abbott and it completely captured my attention. It was a well-executed story, with twists and turns I absolutely did not see coming. The story also really highlights the brutal things that the dancers put their bodies through and the intense rivalry between the dancers.

One of the most intriguing things about this book is the dynamics and the focus on the sister dynamics. The characters very much felt like real people and the way their relationship changed was really fascinating to see as the story unfolded. There were some quite shocking moments in the story that I didn’t expect. It is a dark and gritty read, one that will keep you hooked right until the very last page. If you’re looking for a compelling psychological thriller that will have you turning pages long into the night, The Turnout should definitely be on your to be read pile.

Book Review: The Last Girl – Goldy Moldavsky

Book Review: The Last Girl – Goldy Moldavsky


Release Date:
April 15th 2021
Publisher: Electric Monkey Books
Pages: 430
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 3.75/5 stars

Synopsis

When it comes to horror movies, the rules are clear:
– Avoid abandoned buildings, warehouses, and cabins at all times.
– Stay together: don’t split up, not even just to “check something out.…
– If there’s a murderer on the loose, do NOT make out with anyone …

New girl Rachel Chavez turns to horror movies for comfort, preferring them to the bored rich kids of her fancy New York High School. But then Rachel is recruited by the Mary Shelley Club, a mysterious student club that sets up terrifying Fear Tests; elaborate pranks inspired by urban legends and horror movies.

But when a sinister masked figure appears, Rachel realises that her past has caught up with her. It’s time for the ultimate prank to play out…

Review

I’m a big horror movie fan so when I heard about The Last Girl I was immediately intrigued. The story follows Rachel, a young girl that attends a fancy school full of rich kids. Rachel finds comfort in the horror movies she loves, but when she stumbles across the Mary Shelley Club – a group of students who carry out clever pranks designed to make their classmates scream. But Rachel soon learns everyone in the group has secrets, including her.

This was such a fun read and is absolutely perfect for getting swept up in over the Summer. I loved the premise of this book, the idea of a group of horror movie fanatics getting together to design these spine-tingling fear tests. The tests were probably the bit of the story I enjoyed most, seeing the way the group pull of the pranks and get away with it. I really enjoyed the writing style in this and I found some of the scenes really quite scary. It’s a fast-paced read and one that will have you reading past bedtime.

The characters in this were really fascinating and I was so intrigued to find out who the masked figure was. Pretty much everyone in the group is not what they seem and there were a couple of twists that I guessed and a few I definitely did not. The Last Girl is an entertaining and creepy read and if you love books like One Of Us Is Lying or Harrow Lake this will definitely be your cup of tea. This is my first book from Goldy Moldavsky and I will definitely be picking up more from them in the future.

Book Review: The Midnight Library – Matt Haig

Book Review: The Midnight Library – Matt Haig


Release Date:
August 13th 2020
Publisher: Canongate Books
Pages: 295
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I bought a copy of this book online
Rating: 3.75/5 stars

Synopsis

Between life and death there is a library.

When Nora Seed finds herself in the Midnight Library, she has a chance to make things right. Up until now, her life has been full of misery and regret. She feels she has let everyone down, including herself. But things are about to change.

The books in the Midnight Library enable Nora to live as if she had done things differently. With the help of an old friend, she can now undo every one of her regrets as she tries to work out her perfect life. But things aren’t always what she imagined they’d be, and soon her choices place the library and herself in extreme danger.

Before time runs out, she must answer the ultimate question: what is the best way to live?

Review

The Midnight Library is the latest release from How to Stop Time author Matt Haig. This story has a really fascinating premise: Nora Seed is a young woman who is unhappy in her life. When she decides she can’t bear it anymore she finds herself in the midnight library, a place where Nora can revisit her past and do things differently, changing the things that she regrets. The goal is to find a life she will be happy to live, but will she manage it before the time runs out?

This is a pretty quick read, but it does quite a lot in a small amount of pages. This story is a really fascinating one and it was really interesting to see Nora as she lived the lives she felt she had missed out on. Nora ends up trying on so many different lives and so many different occupations. There is quite a lot of character growth as Nora begins to understand more about her life and the people around her.

This is a really beautifully written book and I think it will touch a lot of people. I don’t know if it was because there has been so much buzz about this book but it didn’t quite live up to the hype for me. I still really enjoyed it, but I was expecting something a little bit more. I think I am absolutely in the minority with this one though because so many people have named this as one of their favourite books of 2020.

The Midnight Library is a well crafted story and one that definitely sticks with you long after you’ve finished reading. If you’ve read other books from Matt Haig I’d recommend giving this a go because you’re sure to love it.

Blog Tour What Beauty There Is – Cory Anderson

Blog Tour What Beauty There Is – Cory Anderson


Release Date:
8th April 2021
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Pages: 368
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review

Synopsis

An exhilarating, emotionally powerful and superbly written thriller that’s Winter’s Bone meets The Road

Winter. The sky is dark. It is cold enough to crack bones.

Jack Morton has nothing left. Except his younger brother, Matty, who he’d do anything for. Even die for. Now with their mother gone, and their funds quickly dwindling, Jack needs to make a choice: lose his brother to foster care, or find the drug money that sent his father to prison. He chooses the money.

Ava Bardem lives in isolation, a life of silence. For seventeen years her father has controlled her fate. He has taught her to love no one. Trust no one. Now Victor Bardem is stalking the same money as Jack. When he picks up Jack’s trail, Ava must make her own wrenching choice: remain silent or help the brothers survive.

Choices. They come at a price.

Review

What Beauty There Is is a stunningly beautiful story that follows Jack Morton who will do anything to look after his brother Matty. With their mother gone and their father in Prison, Jack will do whatever he can to stop Matty being taken into foster care. Jack has only one choice: find the drug money that put his father in Jail. But Jack isn’t the only one looking for the money.

This book was completely not what I expected. Going in I thought this would be a quick mystery thriller but what I found was a really heart wrenching story of a boy fighting to protect his brother. It was an incredibly compelling story with really engaging prose. I raced through this story in a couple of hours because I was so completely wrapped up in the story of Jack and Ava.

Anderson has a lovely writing style that is really lovely and this multi-layered story is well crafted. Cory Anderson does a terrific job of creating a tense atmosphere as the story races to the end. It’s rare you find a book that breaks your heart and has you on the edge of your seat, but that’s definitely how I felt with What Beauty There Is.

The thing I liked most about this story was the fascinating characters. Jack is a really likeable protagonist and I was rooting for him so much. Ava was really interesting too and I loved seeing the characters get to know each other and grow. What Beauty There Is is a dark and enthralling read full of atmosphere and well crafted characters. I enjoyed this one a lot and this is definitely a book you will not want to miss out on.

Blog Tour: Dear Edward – Ann Napolitano

Blog Tour: Dear Edward – Ann Napolitano


Release Date:
4th February 2021
Publisher: Penguin
Pages: 352
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 3.75/5 stars

Synopsis

One summer morning, twelve-year-old Edward Adler, his beloved older brother, his parents, and 183 other passengers board a flight in Newark headed for Los Angeles. Among them is a Wall Street wunderkind, a young woman coming to terms with an unexpected pregnancy, an injured vet returning from Afghanistan, a septuagenarian business tycoon, and a free-spirited woman running away from her controlling husband. And then, tragically, the plane crashes. Edward is the sole survivor.

Edward’s story captures the attention of the nation, but he struggles to find a place for himself in a world without his family. He continues to feel that a piece of him has been left in the sky, forever tied to the plane and all of his fellow passengers. But then he makes an unexpected discovery–one that will lead him to the answers of some of life’s most profound questions: When you’ve lost everything, how do find yourself? How do you discover your purpose? What does it mean not just to survive, but to truly live?

Review

Dear Edward is the heartbreaking and emotional story of Edward Adler, a twelve year old boy who is flying from New York to Los Angeles along with 183 other passengers. When the plane crashes, tragically Edward is the only one who survives. Told in two timelines of the moments leading up to the crash and Edward afterwards as he attempts to understand his purpose in life and how he will cope when he’s lost everything.

Dear Edward isn’t the kind of book I normally pick up but it sounded like a really compelling story and I was so intrigued. This book is a beautiful story, following Edward as he moves to live with his aunt and uncle, attempts to live a normal life as well as honour all those that died in the crash. The story is quite a slow paced one, it’s very much a character study of Edward and the people on the plane. I really liked Napolitano’s writing style and the characters were very well developed. Even though we only get snapshots of the people on the plane, they felt very real and relatable.

I was really surprised that some of the moments before the plane crash are taken from black box recordings of actual plane crashes and that Edward is inspired by a young boy who was the only survivor in a plane crash. It really added another layer to the story and left me thinking about this story longer after I’d finished turning the pages.

I really enjoyed seeing Edward grow up and I loved his relationship with his neighbour Shay. It was fascinating to see how the crash affected so many people even if they were direct family members of the victims. This is a thought-provoking read and despite it being at times quite a difficult read, it’s a story well worth reading.

Blog Tour: The Island – C. L. Taylor

Blog Tour: The Island – C. L. Taylor


Release Date: January 21st 2021
Publisher: HQ Stories
Pages: 384
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher sent me an E-ARC to review
Rating: 3.75/5 stars

Synopsis

Lost meets The Hunger Games in the thrilling new young adult novel from C.L. Taylor, the Sunday Times and million-copy bestselling author.

Welcome to The Island.
Where your worst fears are about to come true…

It was supposed to be the perfect holiday: a week-long trip for six teenage friends on a remote tropical island.

But when their guide dies of a stroke leaving them stranded, the trip of a lifetime quickly turns into a nightmare.

Because someone on the island knows each of the group’s worst fears. And one by one, they’re coming true.

Seven days in paradise. A deadly secret.

Who will make it off the island alive?

Review

The all new addictive YA thriller from C. L. Taylor, the story follows six families who holiday together every year. This time they’re in Thailand and the six teenagers are taking part in a week long survival trip on a remote island. When their guide dies suddenly the teenagers are stranded and the trip quickly takes a dark turn. As the group attempt to survive they quickly learn someone on the island knows their worst fears – but who is making them come true?

This was such a fast paced read and I raced through it in just over a day. I always love C. L. Taylor’s books and this one is no exception. Full of twists and turns, I didn’t guess the ending until it was revealed. Taylor has such a great writing style that it’s really easy to get absorbed in the story. I really adored the premise of this one – the idea of a once in a life time trip gone horribly wrong and the sinister notion of whether they are in fact the only people on the island.

The characters were well developed and I liked some of them and hated others. They made for a fascinating group and it was really interesting seeing the dynamics change as they fought to survive and grew suspicious of each other. Like the other C. L. Taylor books I’ve read there’s a tense, unsettling atmosphere that continues to climb right to the very last page.

If you’re a fan of C. L. Taylor or you love compelling YA thrillers, this is absolutely a must read. This is my fifth read by this author and I cannot wait to see what she does next.

Book Review: Wranglestone – Darren Charlton

Book Review: Wranglestone – Darren Charlton


Series:
Wranglestone #1
Release Date: February 6th 2020
Publisher: Stripes Books
Pages: 384
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book for a bookstagram tour.
Rating: 3.75/5 stars

Synopsis

Winter was the only season every Lake-Lander feared…

In a post-apocalyptic America, a community survives in a national park, surrounded by water that keeps the Dead at bay. But when winter comes, there’s nothing to stop them from crossing the ice.

Then homebody Peter puts the camp in danger by naively allowing a stranger to come ashore and he’s forced to leave the community of Wranglestone. Now he must help rancher Cooper, the boy he’s always watched from afar, herd the Dead from their shores before the lake freezes over.

But as love blossoms, a dark discovery reveals the sanctuary’s secret past. One that forces the pair to question everything they’ve ever known.

Review

Wranglestone is the action packed, wintry tale of a world in which the Dead have taken over America. A small group of survives have created a community in a national park and they are kept safe from the zombies by the water that surrounds them. When the harsh winter draws in though, there’s nothing to stop the zombies crossing the ice. Peter is one of the youngest members of the community and when he accidentally allows a stranger to enter the community he learns a hard lesson. He’s forced to learn how to wrangle the zombies with Cooper, a boy he’s long had feelings for. But as winter draws closer Peter and Cooper soon learn that there’s more going on in Wranglestone that meets the eye.

I love stories with supernatural creatures and I haven’t read too many zombie stories so this was exactly the kind of book I was looking for. Wranglestone is a fast paced horror tale and one you absolutely cannot look away from. Charlton’s writing style is really easy to get absorbed in and I found myself absolutely racing through this one – particularly in the later half of the book when the action really picked up. I absolutely adored the beautiful setting of this story, the national park was really vivid and came to life in the descriptions. I loved the concept of a community free from the horrors of the dead until the winter freezes the river and they can cross over. It was something I’d never come across before and I’m so intrigued to see where the story goes next.

Wranglestone has some really interesting characters and I really liked our main protagonists Peter and Cooper. The romance is really sweet despite it being very quick to develop. I loved that the two characters were quite opposite – Peter prefers the comfort of his home and Cooper is always out in the wild – but that they fit together so well. There were a few twists in the story that I didn’t see coming and that made for a very exciting finale in this book.

Wranglestone is an exciting debut and one I really enjoyed reading. If you’re a fan of zombie books this is absolutely a must read and I’m definitely counting down the days until the release of book two.

Book Review: The Wolf and the Water – Josie Jaffrey

Book Review: The Wolf and the Water – Josie Jaffrey


Series:
Deluge #1
Release Date: October 6th 2020
Publisher: Silver Sun Books
Pages: 268
Find it on: Goodreads. Amazon.
Source: The author kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 3.75/5 stars

Synopsis

Some secrets are worth killing for.

The ancient city of Kepos sits in an isolated valley, cut off from the outside world by a towering wall. Behind it, the souls of the dead clamour for release. Or so the priesthood says.

Kala has never had any reason to doubt their word – until her father dies in suspicious circumstances that implicate the city’s high priest. She’s determined to investigate, but she has a more immediate problem: the laws of the city require her mother to remarry straight away.

Kala’s new stepfather is a monster, but his son Leon is something altogether more dangerous: kind.

With her family fractured and the investigation putting her life in danger, the last thing Kala needs is romance. She would rather ignore Leon entirely, however difficult he makes it. But when she learns the truth of what really clamours behind the wall at the end of the valley, she faces a choice: share what she knows and jeopardise her escape, or abandon him to his fate along with the rest of the city.

If she doesn’t move fast, then no one will make it out of the valley alive.

Review

The Wolf and the Water is the first in an all new series from Josie Jaffrey, set in the ancient city of Kepos. The story follows Kala, a young girl who loses her father in mysterious circumstances. Her mother is remarried to a cruel man looking to gain more power in his position as head of the household. As Kala attempts to investigate the death of her father she uncovers a secret long hidden in the city of Kepos and must do everything she can to keep herself and her loved ones alive.

I’ve previously read Josie Jaffrey’s Sovereign series so when I heard she had a new release coming out I was really intrigued. The Wolf and the Water is a fascinating tale and one I absolutely raced through. The story if full to the brim with mythology and the world building is well executed in the story. I was completely hooked on the story and the world that Jaffrey created. The story is a fast paced one and ends on a bit of a cliffhanger making me desperate to find out what’s in store in book two.

The thing that intrigued me most about The Wolf and the Water is the complex characters and their relationships in this story. I really liked our main protagonist Kala – she’s strong willed and determined to survive even if she is cast out from her family. I really liked seeing her relationship develop with Leon, and I really liked Lissa too. Nikos is a brilliant villain and is well depicted as the power hungry stepfather.

The story is full of mystery and it kept me hooked right till the very last page. If you’re looking for a fresh new fantasy with a unique setting and complex characters, this is definitely one to add to your wishlist.

Book Review: Star Daughter – Shveta Thakrar

Book Review: Star Daughter – Shveta Thakrar


Release Date:
August 11th 2020
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 435
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 3.75/5 stars

Synopsis

If the night sky holds many secrets, it holds Sheetal Mistry’s secret the closest. A secret that explains why her hair is the silver of starlight, or why some nights the stars call Sheetal by name.

Stars like her mother, who returned to her place in the constellation Pushya years ago. Since that day, Sheetal has been forced to hide.

But as her seventeenth birthday draws near, the pull from the sky is growing stronger. So strong that Sheetal loses control, and a flare of starfire burns her human father—an injury only a full star’s blood can heal.

Sheetal has no choice but to answer the starsong and ascend to the sky. But her celestial family has summoned her for a reason: to act as their human champion in a competition to decide the next ruling house of heavens.

Desperate to save her father, Sheetal agrees. But nothing could have prepared Sheetal to face the stars’ dark history—or the forces that are working to shut the gate between the realms for good.

Review

Star Daughter is a beautifully written story inspired by Hindu mythology that follows Sheetal a young girl who is part star. When she is summoned to the celestial court Sheetal is forced to participate in a competition that decides who will be the next ruler of the heavens. With no choice but to agree, Sheetal participates in the competition, but as she learns more about the history of the celestial court she soon sees that all is not what it seems.

This was such a gorgeous, lyrical tale and honestly I didn’t want it to end. I really loved the writing style in this one and I actually had hoped there would be a sequel because the world Thakrar has created was absolutely fascinating. I loved learning about the celestial court and the families that ruled the heavens. Seeing Sheetal come into her star powers was all a really interesting part of the story.

A competition is one of my favourite YA tropes and it is executed incredibly well in this story. I loved seeing the different performances and competitors. I really liked the characters and in particular the strong focus on family and friendship. There is a romance element to the story, but I found myself less interested in this and more about Sheetal overcoming her feelings of guilt, making it through the competition and saving her father.

The story is really quick paced and it’s a really enjoyable read. It also has one of the most stunning covers I’ve ever seen. If you’re a fan of YA fantasy that’s full to the brim with mythology and really lovely writing, this one will be a must read.

Book Review: A Court of Lions – Somaiya Daud

Book Review: A Court of Lions – Somaiya Daud


Series:
Mirage #2 (See my review of book one here!)
Release Date: August 6th 2020
Publisher: Hodder Books
Pages: 336
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I bought a copy of this from Book Depository.
Rating: 3.75/5 stars

Synopsis

Two identical girls, one a princess, the other a rebel. Who will rule the empire?

After being swept up into the brutal Vathek court, Amani, the ordinary girl forced to serve as the half-Vathek princess’s body double, has been forced into complete isolation. The cruel but complex princess, Maram, with whom Amani had cultivated a tenuous friendship, discovered Amani’s connection to the rebellion and has forced her into silence, and if Amani crosses Maram once more, her identity – and her betrayal – will be revealed to everyone in the court.

Amani is desperate to continue helping the rebellion, to fight for her people’s freedom. But she must make a devastating decision: will she step aside, and watch her people suffer, or continue to aid them, and put herself and her family in mortal danger? And whatever she chooses, can she bear to remain separated, forever, from Maram’s fiancé, Idris?

Review

Court of Lions is the second book in the Mirage duology. The story picks up straight after the events of book one and we’re still following Amani as she is forced into life as Maram’s body double. Amani has a difficult decision to make as tensions continue to rise and the spark of rebellion is ignited. Is she willing to sacrifice everything to save her people and can she help Maram to become the Queen her country so desperately needs?

Mirage was one of my favourite reads of 2019. I flew through it in a single day and I absolutely fell in love with the characters. Court of Lions was one of my most anticipated releases of 2020 and while I did really enjoy it, it didn’t quite hit the mark for me. It’s a really solid book but I just didn’t connect with the story in the same way I did Mirage. In this second book it focuses much more on court politics, of Amani gathering followers and helping Maram to stand up for herself. Until the last few chapters the stakes didn’t feel as high – when the rebellion actually kicked off I couldn’t put the book down, but I struggled a little in the middle.

One of the stand out things about Mirage are the brilliant characters and the complex female relationships. I loved seeing Amani and Maram continue to grow and work together for the good of the country. I also really liked the romance that developed Maram and Aghraas. Court of Lions offered a satisfying conclusion to a really fascinating story and I’m keen to read more from Somaiya Daud in the future.