Book Review: The River Has Teeth – Erica Waters

Book Review: The River Has Teeth – Erica Waters


Release Date:
July 27th 2021
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 400
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

Her car was found abandoned on the edge of a local nature preserve known as the Bend, but as the case goes cold, Natasha’s loss turns to burning anger.

She’ll do anything to find answers.

Della’s family has channeled magic from the Bend for generations, providing spells for the desperate. But when Natasha appears on her doorstep, Della knows it will take more than simple potions to help her.

But Della has her own secrets to hide.

Because Della thinks she knows the beast who’s responsible for the disappearance — her own mother, who was turned into a terrible monster by magic gone wrong.

Natasha is angry. Della has little to lose.

They are each other’s only hope.

Review

The River Has Teeth is a dark fantasy story that follows Natasha, a young girl whose sister is missing. Natasha will do anything to discover what has happened to her. Della lives near the place where her sister was last seen and her family have harnessed the magic of the area for generations, but the magic is acting strangely and Della has secrets of her own. Will the two girls be able to overcome their differences and discover what’s really happening on the bend?

This is one of those books that had so much potential but just didn’t really work for me. The story felt a bit messy at times and I wanted more of an explanation around the magic. I liked the alternating viewpoints of the two main characters because it was interesting seeing the story from different perspectives but I found Natasha to be a bit on the irritating side.

This is my first book from Erica Waters and I did like her writing style. The story had lots of atmosphere and an interesting setting, but the story just didn’t grab me the way I was expecting. There were a few twists and turns but the reveal at the end was a bit on the predictable side and I saw it coming quite early on. I would have loved to learn more about Della’s family and the magic they create rather than Natasha trying to find out what happened to her sister. I did think the romance was well done and fit well within the story. Overall this book just wasn’t a hit for me, but if you’re looking for an atmospheric mystery story with lots of atmosphere, this could be just the book for you.

Book Review: Monstrous Heart – Claire McKenna

Book Review: Monstrous Heart – Claire McKenna


Series:
Monstrous Heart Trilogy #2
Release Date: April 2nd 2020
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Pages: 400
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 3/5 stars

Synopsis

When Arden Beacon is sent to the lighthouse, she is simply a woman with a job to do. She neither seeks, nor expects, distraction. After years tainted by disappointment, Arden is finally taking up her family’s profession. She must prove herself worthy of her name, for she has nothing else.

But the coast she has been tasked with lighting is far from the world she knows – the salt-swept, backwater town of Vigil is battered by a sea teeming with colossal, ancient beasts. It is a place of secrets, rumours and tight-lipped expectations of a woman’s place.

More than anyone, the folk of Vigil whisper about Arden’s new neighbour, Jonah Riven, hunter of leviathans. He murdered his wife, they whisper – a perfect, golden girl, full of charm and potential. So very different to Arden Beacon.

They say he is as much a monster as his prey, but Arden cannot get this dark stranger out of her head.

A sensational debut novel perfect for fans of Outlander and The Binding. This is gothic, epic, romantic fantasy at it’s very best; a tale of magic, intrigue on dangerous waters.

Review

Monstrous Heart is the beautifully written story of lighthouse keeper Arden Beacon. Finally taking up the profession she has always wanted, Arden travels to the coastal town of Vigil to take up her post, but things are not all that they seem – townspeople whisper that Arden’s neighbour Jonah murdered his wife, but can Arden discover the truth?

I generally love books that are set on and around the sea so I was completely fascinated by the premise of this story. McKenna has a really gorgeous and lyrical writing style, one that catapults the reader into this unique world. I was most intrigued by the magic and the sea creatures though I did at times feel there wasn’t enough world building to really explain how it works. I did feel a bit lost in parts which pulled me out of the story.

Arden is a great main character, she’s complex and stubborn, determined to do what she thinks is right and uncover the mysteries surrounding Jonah Riven. The romance was a central part of the story but I was more interested in the other things that were going on. The story is an intriguing one and fans of books such as Outlander will absolutely love this one. Whilst I did get a bit lost I overall enjoyed the story and am intrigued to find out where things will go in book two.

Book Review: Sorrowland – Rivers Solomon

Book Review: Sorrowland – Rivers Solomon


Release Date:
May 6th 2021
Publisher: Merky Books
Pages: 368
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 3/5 stars

Synopsis

Vern, a hunted woman alone in the woods, gives birth to twins and raises them away from the influence of the outside world. But something is wrong – not with them, but with her own body. It’s changing, it’s stronger, it’s not normal.

To understand her body’s metamorphosis, Vern must investigate the secluded religious compound from which she fled and the violent history of dehumanisation, medical experimentation and genocide that produced it. In the course of reclaiming her own darkness, Vern learns that monsters aren’t just individuals, but entire histories, systems and nations.

Rivers Solomon’s Sorrowland is a memorable work of Gothic fiction that wrestles with the tangled history of racism in America and the marginalisation of society’s undesirables. It is a searing, seminal book that marks the arrival of a bold, unignorable voice in American fiction.

Review

I read The Deep by Rivers Solomon last year and it was such a beautiful and haunting read that I was excited to try more from this author. The story follows Vern, a young woman fleeing the remote religious compound she has lived in all her life. She gives birth to two babies and tries to raise them without the influence of the compound or the outside world. As Vern and her babies fight for survival she soon learns something is wrong with her body. Not only is she experiencing hauntings, but her body is changing, making her more powerful than she ever thought possible. But the group she fled from will not let her go easily and for Vern to survive she must become more than she ever imagined.

Sorrowland is a dark and moving tale, one that definitely sticks with you long after you’ve finished reading. Vern’s story is a haunting one, that very much shines a light on the history of racism in America. It’s such a unique read, blending Gothic horror with science fiction and fantasy. Sorrowland is completely unlike anything I’ve read before – if you’re looking for a unique and compelling read this is definitely one to pick up.

I really liked Solomon’s writing and I particularly enjoyed the first half of the book. I found the last portion of the book a little muddied, and the ending took a different turn than I was expecting. Despite this Sorrowland is still a completely fascinating read, one that touches on a lot of important topics. It definitely isn’t a light or fun read but it’s absolutely a story worth reading. I was really fascinated by the idea of the hauntings, and this was something I was particularly intrigued by in the story. I was so intrigued to learn if they were real or a product of Vern’s imagination. I won’t say too much about the plot because this is definitely one of those books that’s best to go in blind. Sorrowland is a unique and engaging read, one that I think lots of people will be swept up in. If you’ve read other books by Rivers Solomon I’d definitely check this one out.

Book Review: The Heiress – Molly Greeley

Book Review: The Heiress – Molly Greeley


Release Date:
January 5th 2021
Publisher: William Morrow
Pages: 368
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 3/5 stars

Synopsis

In this gorgeously written and spellbinding historical novel based on Pride and Prejudice, the author of The Clergyman’s Wife combines the knowing eye of Jane Austen with the eroticism and Gothic intrigue of Sarah Waters to reimagine the life of the mysterious Anne de Bourgh.

As a fussy baby, Anne de Bourgh’s doctor prescribed laudanum to quiet her, and now the young woman must take the opium-heavy tincture every day. Growing up sheltered and confined, removed from sunshine and fresh air, the pale and overly slender Anne grew up with few companions except her cousins, including Fitzwilliam Darcy. Throughout their childhoods, it was understood that Darcy and Anne would marry and combine their vast estates of Pemberley and Rosings. But Darcy does not love Anne or want her.

After her father dies unexpectedly, leaving her his vast fortune, Anne has a moment of clarity: what if her life of fragility and illness isn’t truly real? What if she could free herself from the medicine that clouds her sharp mind and leaves her body weak and lethargic? Might there be a better life without the medicine she has been told she cannot live without?

In a frenzy of desperation, Anne discards her laudanum and flees to the London home of her cousin, Colonel John Fitzwilliam, who helps her through her painful recovery. Yet once she returns to health, new challenges await. Shy and utterly inexperienced, the wealthy heiress must forge a new identity for herself, learning to navigate a “season” in society and the complexities of love and passion. The once wan, passive Anne gives way to a braver woman with a keen edge—leading to a powerful reckoning with the domineering mother determined to control Anne’s fortune . . . and her life.

An extraordinary tale of one woman’s liberation, The Heiress reveals both the darkness and light in Austen’s world, with wit, sensuality, and a deeply compassionate understanding of the human heart.

Review

The Heiress is a beautiful historical fiction tale that follows Anne de Bourgh, a side character from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Anne is the heir to her father’s estate and has spent much of her child under the influence of laudanum. From a young age she has been promised to her cousin Fitzwilliam Darcy. When Darcy’s engagement to Ms Elizabeth Bennett is announced Anne is cast aside and wonders what will become of her future. In order to escape the control of her mother Anne flees to London and takes up residence with her cousin John. Whilst there she shakes off the influence of her ‘medicine’ and takes her first steps into London society but will that be enough to allow her to take up the mantle of mistress of Rosings Park?

The Heiress is a really gorgeously written story, and one I was really intrigued by. I love the idea of following a side character from a well known story and I was eager to see where Greeley would take the story. The Heiress very much focuses on addiction and how Anne spends much of her life under the influence of laudanum. It was a really interesting subject but I felt the pacing was a little off in this story. We spend a large portion of the story following Anne in childhood where she lives in a cloudy haze. Her decision to stop taking the laudanum and subsequent withdrawal symptoms appeared to be over relatively quickly in comparison.

The story took me a little while to get into but I found myself particularly intrigued as Anne steps into society and begins to learn more about the world around her. I liked the relationship between Anne and Eliza, though the story did become a bit more romance focused that I was expecting. The ending of the story was really satisfying and I really liked the way that Molly Greeley wrapped everything up.

This well written tale is my first by Molly Greeley and while it wasn’t an absolute favourite I would be eager to try more from this author.

Book Review: Good Morning, Midnight – Lily Brooks-Dalton

Book Review: Good Morning, Midnight – Lily Brooks-Dalton


Release Date:
10th December 2020
Publisher: Orion Books
Pages: 284
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 3 stars

Synopsis

Augustine, a brilliant, aging astronomer, is consumed by the stars. For years he has lived in remote outposts, studying the sky for evidence of how the universe began. At his latest posting, in a research center in the Arctic, news of a catastrophic event arrives. The scientists are forced to evacuate, but Augustine stubbornly refuses to abandon his work. Shortly after the others have gone, Augustine discovers a mysterious child, Iris, and realizes the airwaves have gone silent. They are alone.

At the same time, Mission Specialist Sullivan is aboard the Aether on its return flight from Jupiter. The astronauts are the first human beings to delve this deep into space, and Sully has made peace with the sacrifices required of her: a daughter left behind, a marriage ended. So far the journey has been a success, but when Mission Control falls inexplicably silent, Sully and her crew mates are forced to wonder if they will ever get home.

As Augustine and Sully each face an uncertain future against forbidding yet beautiful landscapes, their stories gradually intertwine in a profound and unexpected conclusion. In crystalline prose, Good Morning, Midnight poses the most important questions: What endures at the end of the world? How do we make sense of our lives?

Review

Good Morning, Midnight is an end of the world story following two different characters as they attempt to survive. Augustine is an astronomer living in a remote research facility who refused to evacuate with the rest of the scientists. Left alone he soon discovers a child named Iris who has been left behind. All alone Augustine must learn to care for the child and ensure their survival. Sully is a Mission Specialist onboard the ship Aether as it returns from a research mission on Jupiter. With no contact with Earth below them, they question what has happen on Earth and if the team will ever get home.

This book is a difficult one to review because in all honesty I wanted to love it. The prose is absolutely beautiful and I really liked the messages and themes of the story but overall it just didn’t quite hit the mark for me. Good Morning, Midnight is a very quiet novel, there isn’t a whole lot of plot as the story is very much focused on Augustine and Sully as they attempt to understand what has happened to Earth and reflect on the mistakes they have made in life.

The ending of the book is very vague and I think that’s part of the reason I didn’t give this one a higher rating. It is a very unique take on the post-apocalyptic story but I was waiting for something more to happen. I really liked the two drastically different situations and reading about the harsh realities of life in the Arctic versus life in space. The stand out for me would be the complex characters Brooks-Dalton has created. It was fascinating seeing them reflect on the lives they have led and understand what will become of them.

If you’re looking for a beautifully written, character driven story this could be just the thing you’re looking for. There’s also a recent Netflix adaption that I can’t wait to watch!

Book Review: The Canary Keeper – Clare Carson

Book Review: The Canary Keeper – Clare Carson


Release Date:
February 6th 2020
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Pages: 384
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy to review
Rating: 3/5 stars

Synopsis

“In the grey mist of the early morning a body is dumped on the shore of the Thames by a boatman in a metal canoe. The city is soon alive with talk of the savage Esquimaux stalking Victorian London and an eye witness who claims the killer had an accomplice: a tall woman dressed in widow’s weeds, with the telltale look of the degenerate Irish.

Branna ‘Birdie’ Quinn had no good reason to be by the river that morning, but she did not kill the man. She’d seen him first the day before, desperate to give her a message she refused to hear. And now the Filth will see her hang for his murder, just like her father.

To save her life, Birdie must trace the dead man’s footsteps. Back onto the ship that carried him to his death, back to cold isles of Orkney that sheltered him, and up to the far north, a harsh and lawless land which holds more answers than she looks to find…

Review

The Canary Keeper is the dark and compelling story of set in Victorian London. When a body is discovered on the banks of the the Thames an eye witness claims that the killer’s accomplice is a young Irish woman living London. Her father was hanged for murder and soon she becomes caught up in the murder, with the police accusing her of being the killer’s accomplice. In order to clear her name Birdie has to flee for her life and to trace the footsteps of the man she is accused of killing. Her search takes her to the remote town of Orkney where she begins to find that there is more to this murder than she could possibly have realised.

The Canary Keeper was a really interesting story, with plenty of twists I didn’t guess. It kept me guessing right till the very end – I didn’t figure out who was behind the mysteries until they were revealed. Carson creates a really strong sense of atmosphere and I really loved the two contrasting settings – the murky, dark banks of the Thames and the wild harsh landscape of Orkney.

While I enjoyed the mystery I did find the book quite slow paced and particularly around the middle I found the story dragging a little. I wanted to know who was behind the mystery and unravelled a bit slowly for my liking. Despite this I still found the book a really fascinating one and really liked the strong female characters that Carson brought to life in this story.

The Canary Keeper is an atmospheric and enjoyable read, particularly for a dark winter evening. If you’re a fan of historical mystery/thrillers this would definitely be one to pick up.

Book Review: The Elite – Kiera Cass

Book Review: The Elite – Kiera Cass

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Series:
The Selection #2
Release Date: April 23rd 2013
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 336
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository.Waterstones.
Source: I was gifted a box set of these books for Christmas
Rating: 3/5 stars

Synopsis

The Selection began with thirty-five girls. Now with the group narrowed down to the six Elite, the competition to win Prince Maxon’s heart is fiercer than ever—and America is still struggling to decide where her heart truly lies. Is it with Maxon, who could make her life a fairy tale? Or with her first love, Aspen?

America is desperate for more time. But the rest of the Elite know exactly what they want—and America’s chance to choose is about to slip away.

Review

Copy of book cover (52)The Elite is the second book in The Selection series, and picks up straight after the events of book one. We continue to follow America Singer as she participates in the competition to be the wife of Prince Maxon. As the number of girls competing whittles down the stakes become higher, but so do the secrets.

I must admit that I picked up the first book in the series because I’ve had it on my TBR forever and I heard that a Netflix adaptation is coming. I had a fun time reading The Selection and I felt very much the same about The Elite. It was light, fluffy and fun and it has really made me want to keep reading.

The story is quite dramatic and contains quite a number of cheesy tropes and cliches – the love triangle especially is kind of irritating, but the story is certainly entertaining and will keep you turning pages. If ever there was a series that was perfect for binge reading it would be this one. I won’t say too much about the plot because this is the second book in the series but there are plenty of ups and downs as well as some fighting with the rebels and some diplomacy with foreign nations.

We are still following the same characters as the previous book and it’s enjoyable getting to see them develop. I did sometimes struggle a little with main character America as I found her a bit on the annoying side, but otherwise the characters felt well developed.

The Selection series is a fun and fast paced read, perfect for reading at the beach. The writing is so easy to get absorbed in and if you loved book one, The Elite is definitely worth checking out.
3 Stars (1)

Book Review: The Cold Is In Her Bones – Peternelle Van Arsdale

Book Review: The Cold Is In Her Bones – Peternelle Van Arsdale

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Release Date:
March 7th 2019
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Pages: 288
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 3/5 stars

Synopsis

One girl must uncover secrets of the past to save her friend from a terrible curse in this dark and mesmerizing story of love, revenge, and redemption inspired by the myth of Medusa.

Milla knows two things to be true: Demons are real, and fear will keep her safe.

Milla’s whole world is her family’s farm. She is never allowed to travel to the village and her only friend is her beloved older brother, Niklas. When a bright-eyed girl named Iris comes to stay, Milla hopes her loneliness might finally be coming to an end. But Iris has a secret she’s forbidden to share: The village is cursed by a demon who possesses girls at random, and the townspeople live in terror of who it will come for next.

Now, it seems, the demon has come for Iris. When Iris is captured and imprisoned with other possessed girls, Milla leaves home to rescue her and break the curse forever. Her only company on the journey is a terrible new secret of her own: Milla is changing, too, and may soon be a demon herself.

The Cold Is in Her Bones is a novel about the dark, reverberating power of pain, the yearning to be seen and understood, and the fragile optimism of love.

Review

Copy of book cover (29)The Cold is in Her Bones is the dark and compelling Medusa retelling you didn’t know you needed.

The story follows Milla a young girl who lives on a remote farm. She’s not allowed to go into the village and her whole world is her brother and parents. When a young girl named Iris comes to live on the farm as a potential match for her brother Milla learns about the demon who possesses the young girls in the village. When Iris is becomes possessed by the demon and taken to live in an asylum, Milla must use all her courage to rescue her friend and the town.

This is a beautifully told story, and I really enjoyed Arsdale’s writing style. It was dreamy and very fairy tale like. She creates some really fascinating and compelling characters, both Milla and Iris are fascinating and I was really intrigued by Hulda and her story. The story particularly focuses on relationships – Milla’s relationships with her mother, wiht Iris and with her brother. It was so interesting to see those relationships adjust as Milla continued to uncover the mysteries of the demon and why she possessed girls in the village. The characters all felt well fleshed out and it was easy to root for Milla as she fought to safe the village.

While I enjoyed this story overall it is a slower paced story and I did feel it dragged a little in some parts. It is a very loose Medusa retelling, so if you’re looking for something close to the original tales this probably isn’t it. If you’re looking for a fair tale like tale, full of haunting imagery and lovely writing I’d definitely recommend giving this a go.
3 Stars (1)

Book Review: Magic For Liars – Sarah Gailey

Book Review: Magic For Liars – Sarah Gailey

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Release Date:
June 4th 2019
Publisher: Tor Books
Pages: 336
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 3/5 stars

Synopsis

Ivy Gamble has never wanted to be magic. She is perfectly happy with her life. She has an almost-sustainable career as a private investigator, and an empty apartment, and a slight drinking problem. It’s a great life and she doesn’t wish she was like her estranged sister, the magically gifted professor Tabitha.

But when Ivy is hired to investigate the gruesome murder of a faculty member at Tabitha’s private academy, the stalwart detective starts to lose herself in the case, the life she could have had, and the answer to the mystery that seems just out of her reach.

Review

Copy of book cover - 2020-03-30T175422.944Magic For Liars first caught my eye when I saw it described as ‘Veronica Mars at Hogwarts’ and while this is a murder mystery set at a magic school, the story was very different from what I expected. Dark and twisty, the story follows Private Investigator Ivy Gamble as she is asked to investigate the death of a teach at a secret magic school. A school where it just so happens her estranged twin sister Tabitha works. Struggling to uncover the truth when everyone around her has magic and she doesn’t, Ivy must face the truths of who she is, and use everything she’s got to uncover who carried out such a gruesome murder.

This book has pretty much everything I love in books, but for some reason I just felt like it fell a bit flat. The story was interesting and I enjoyed seeing Ivy work to uncover the murder but I struggled to connect with the characters. I liked Ivy well enough, but the story was quite slow so by the time things were happening I just wasn’t invested in the characters. The story focuses heavily on Ivy’s relationship with her sister, as well as a budding romance that I didn’t really care for either.

I enjoyed the magic school setting, and the murder mystery aspect did have me guessing until quite near the end. I liked the atmosphere that Gailey created – a rippling sense of unease surrounding this prestigious school and an incredibly horrible murder. I think this book might polarise people, with some people absolutely adoring it and others like myself finding it a bit unmemorable. This one might not be for everyone but I’m sure plenty of people will love it. If you enjoy twisty murder mysteries, magic school settings and sibling relationships, this is definitely one to try out.
3 Stars (1)

Book Review: Liquid Crystal Nightingale – Eeleen Lee

Book Review: Liquid Crystal Nightingale – Eeleen Lee

July 23, 2019 (30)
Release Date:
March 17th 2020
Publisher: Abaddon Books
Pages: 352
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 3/5 stars

Synopsis

A bold and clever political thriller science fiction debut

Go deeper, they said. Look closer.

Pleo Tanza is a survivor. Her father was broken by tragedy, her twin sister is dead—chewed up and spat out by the corruption and injustice of Chatoyance—but she’s going to make it, whatever it takes. She’s going to get off this rock.

But escape is for the rich or lucky. Pleo’s framed for the murder of a rival student—the daughter of one of the colony’s wealthy, squabbling clans—and goes on the run, setting off a chain events that could destroy the fragile balance of the old colony forever…

Review

Copy of book cover - 2020-04-14T133519.134Liquid Crystal Nightingale is the epic tale of Pleo Tanza a young woman living in a futuristic space colony named Chatoyance. Her father is struggling as the only survivor of an immense accident and her sister is dead, but Pleo is a survivor and to do that she is determined to escape her life. When she is unknowingly involved in the murder of one of her classmates Pleo must go on the run, but as secrets begin to unravel, life on Chatoyance might change forever.

Liquid Crystal Nightingale is a fast paced and exciting debut, set in a fascinating world. The world building is excellent, bringing the reader into a world full of futuristic technology on a far of mining colony. Everything felt well explained and it was easy to dive into the world. Despite the futuristic world it was fascinating to explore the familiar issues raised in this book such as class, wealth and grief. Lee’s writing style is vivid and enjoyable to read, giving you the full flavour of the world without taking away from the action packed plot.

The characters are interesting and well fleshed out too. I liked our protagonist Pleo and seeing the story unfold from her perspective. As the story developed I became more and more invested and was really rooting for her towards the end. The story is a mix of political and space thriller and as such has quite a bleak outlook. The murder mystery aspect was really fascinating, and there were a few surprise twists that I didn’t see coming. It does end on a bit of a cliffhanger so it has left open the possibility of a sequel which I would love to read. Liquid Crystal Nightingale is an impressive debut, and I look forward to reading more from Eeleen Lee.
3 Stars (1)