Book Review: The Final Girls Support Group – Grady Hendrix

Book Review: The Final Girls Support Group – Grady Hendrix


Release Date:
July 13th 2021
Publisher: Titan Books
Pages: 384
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis

A fast-paced, thrilling horror novel that follows a group of heroines to die for, from the brilliant New York Times bestselling author of The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires.

In horror movies, the final girl is the one who’s left standing when the credits roll. The one who fought back, defeated the killer, and avenged her friends. The one who emerges bloodied but victorious. But after the sirens fade and the audience moves on, what happens to her?

Lynnette Tarkington is a real-life final girl who survived a massacre twenty-two years ago, and it has defined every day of her life since. And she’s not alone. For more than a decade she’s been meeting with five other actual final girls and their therapist in a support group for those who survived the unthinkable, putting their lives back together, piece by piece. That is until one of the women misses a meeting and Lynnette’s worst fears are realized–someone knows about the group and is determined to take their lives apart again, piece by piece.

But the thing about these final girls is that they have each other now, and no matter how bad the odds, how dark the night, how sharp the knife, they will never, ever give up.

Review

Grady Hendrix is fast becoming one of my favourite horror writers and I was incredibly intrigued about The Final Girls Support Group. The story follows Lynnette Tarkington – the survivor of a massacre twenty-two years ago. Being a final girl has defined her, but he’s not the only one. Over the last ten years, Lynette has been meeting with five other final girls and a therapist to discuss the horrific things that happened to them. When one of the girls doesn’t show up at the meeting, Lynette knows the worst has occurred and is knows only she can figure out what’s going on and save the other girls.

Much like the other Grady Hendrix books I’ve read, this is a fast-paced story that kicks off right from the very first chapter. I thought the premise of this book was really intrigued and the story well-executed. I didn’t want to put the book down and ended up racing through the last half of the book in one sitting. There were twists and turns I didn’t expect. I really liked the articles and reports at the end of each chapter that gave the reader more information about the murders or the horror movie franchises that were created off the back of them.

Lynette is a fascinating protagonist, she’s a very unreliable narrator and at times quite unlikeable but she felt like such a real person who had struggled through this awful event only to have it take over every moment of her life. The Final Girl Support Group is a gripping, page-turner of a book and another must-read from Grady Hendrix.

Book Review: For Your Own Good – Samantha Downing

Book Review: For Your Own Good – Samantha Downing


Release Date: August 19th 2021
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Pages: 400
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis

Teddy Crutcher won Teacher of the Year at the prestigious Belmont Academy. Everyone thinks he’s brilliant.
Only you know the truth.

They all smile when he tells us his wife couldn’t be more proud.
But no-one has seen her in a while.

They’re impressed when he doesn’t let anything distract him – even the tragic death of a school parent.
Even when the whispers start, saying it was murder.

You’re sure Teddy is hiding something about what happened that day.

You’re sure you can prove it.

But you didn’t stop to think that when it comes to catching a killer, there’s no place more dangerous than just one step behind . . .

Review

For Your Own Good is the latest novel from thriller writer Samantha Downing. I’ve always wanted to try a book by Samantha Downing but hadn’t had the chance to pick one up. This sounded like a really intriguing read and I ended up being hooked immediately. This is a fast-paced story, full of twists and turns. The short chapters had me turning pages faster and faster and I ended up reading late into the night to finish this in one sitting.

The story follows Teddy Crutcher. A teacher at Belmont Academy. Teddy has one teacher of the year and will let absolutely nothing distract him – not even the sudden death of one of the pupil’s parents on school grounds. Even when one of the pupils is arrested for murder. Is the pupil really responsible or does Teddy Crutcher know much more than he seems to?

This was such a fun book to read. It’s one of those stories that hooked you right from the very first page and I found myself squeezing in an extra chapter whenever I could. Teddy Crutcher is a fascinating character, he does what he thinks is best and absolutely no one will stand in his way. It was so compelling reading from his point of view and I had no idea what he was going to do next. I loved the setting of the elite school that really came to life in Downing’s writing. For Your Own Good is definitely one of those one-sitting kind of books and there are some incredibly well-crafted characters. If you’re looking for a thriller to keep you reading long into the night this Autumn, this should absolutely be your next read.

Book Review: That Night – Gillian McAllister

Book Review: That Night – Gillian McAllister


Release Date:
June 10th 2021
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Pages: 464
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent a copy of this book to review
Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis

What would you do to protect your family?

ANYTHING.

That night everything changed.

The night Frannie committed a murder, but she didn’t mean to…

That night we helped her bury the body, what else could we do?

One hot summers night in Italy, Joe and Cathy Plant receive a phone call that will change their lives forever.

Their sister Frannie has killed a man, and she needs their help.

They were always close, some might say too close, siblings who worked together, lived next door to each other

And now they’ve buried a body together…

But when they return to England, Frannie, Joe and Cathy become tangled in lies in they’ve been telling,

to the police, to their friends, to each other…

But if you can’t trust your family, who can you trust?

Review

That Night is the newest dark and twisty thriller from Gillian McAllister and follows the Plant family. Whilst on holiday in Italy, Joe and Cathy receive a phone call – their sister Frannie has killed a man and needs their help. They decide to bury the body, pretend nothing ever happened. But as the police start asking questions, Joe, Cathy and Frannie must do everything they can to keep the truth from spilling out. But can you trust your family?

This was my first time reading a Gillian McAllister book and I absolutely raced through this one. The short, snappy chapters had me turning pages late into the night and there were so many tense, cliffhanger moments that I just had to keep reading. There is a brilliant atmosphere in the story, and I really enjoyed the way the tension climbed higher and higher as the story progressed. The story is pretty fast-paced and whilst I did guess a couple of the twists there were more than a few I didn’t see coming.

That Night has such an intriguing premise – how far would you go to protect your family? I thought it was fascinating seeing how one night could change so much for a group of siblings, particularly as the guilt and paranoia set in. I thought the characters were well crafted and I loved the way McAllister portrayed the sibling dynamic. That Night is a compelling read, one that physiological thriller fans are sure to devour. If you’re looking for something to keep you hooked right until the very last page, this one is a must-read.

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.

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 warrior of the stormguard alongside mage Janos. The two have left all of that behind them to raise their daughter in a peaceful village. When one mysterious orbs appear in the sky and Floré’s daughter is abducted, she embarks on a quest to save her. The Gauntlet and the First Beanth is such a unique and compelling fantasy story. The story is action-packed right from the very first chapter and will have you on the edge of your seat till the very end.

The story is well paced and Green gives the reader a chance to learn about the world as the story progresses. I thought the rot storm was such a unique concept and the history of the world was incredibly detailed. Throughout the story we are treated to chapters set in the past, which gives the reader a chance to learn about Floré and Jano’s past. The history and lore is woven well throughout the story and I am so intrigued to see where the story goes next. 

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. There are so many interesting elements in this story – there are gods and magic but there’s also a bit of a science fiction element too which was something I wasn’t expecting.

Floré is a really interesting main character, a woman who is desperate to get her daughter back. She is such a strong kick-ass main character and there is absolutely nothing she won’t do to get Marta back. I also really liked Yselda as well as Cuss and Petron. 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 an incredibly 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: 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.

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.

Blog Tour: Deepwater King – Claire McKenna

Blog Tour: Deepwater King – Claire McKenna


Series:
The Monstrous Heart Trilogy #2
Release Date: June 24th 2021
Publisher: HarperVoyager
Pages: 400
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis

Since losing her great love to the Queen of the Sainted Isles, Arden must fulfil an impossible promise before she can return home – she must complete the dangerous Rite that will return Jonah’s spirit to the abyssal Court of the Deepwater King.

This sets her off on a journey far out at sea to find believers of the old religion on the oil-slick and mysterious islands beyond the horizon. But such a responsibility will not come without sacrifice, for the Deepwater folk who worship the King require the most desperate payments the soul, and with one man Arden may have to pay the greatest price of all…

Astonishingly original, with world-building to rival the depths of the ocean, McKenna has drawn a rich tale of longing and courage – penning the perfect oceanic steampunk fantasy.

Review

Deepwater King is the second instalment in the beautiful Monstrous Heart trilogy by Claire McKenna. Monstrous Heart is a book that’s been on my radar for quite a while and I ended up reading both books back to back. Deepwater King picks up immediately after the events of Monstrous Heart and I found it so easy to get sucked back into the story. We are once again following Arden as she heads out on her journey to complete the rite and return Jonah’s spirit to the court of the deepwater king.

While I really enjoyed Monstrous Heart I enjoyed Deepwater King even more. The world is so unique and – it’s a Victorian-style world full of mysterious sea creatures and fascinating abilities. The blood magic was something that I was particularly intrigued by and the way McKenna incorporated that into the world. I liked that we got the opportunity to learn more about it as the series progressed. It took me a little while to get to grips with the world in book one so I found it much easier to understand what was going on in book two. McKenna has an absolutely beautiful writing style and the vivid writing really made the story come alive.

Arden is an interesting protagonist – she’s the light mistress and in this second instalment there is danger wherever she turns. She’s quite a strong-willed main character and she will do whatever she can to fulfil her promise. She has been on such a journey since the first book and I really enjoyed seeing the character development. I also liked Jonah who is much more than we first suspect in Monstrous Heart. Deepwater King is definitely a book I found myself thinking about when I wasn’t reading it and I was always desperate to get back to the story. I ended up reading the last hundred pages of the book in one sitting, and I am desperate to see how it all ends in the final instalment. If you’re looking for a captivating fantasy story with plenty of twists and turns, this is definitely one to check out.

Blog Tour: Black Water Sister – Zen Cho

Blog Tour: Black Water Sister – Zen Cho


Release Date:
June 10th
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Pages: 384
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis

A reluctant medium discovers the ties that bind can unleash a dangerous power in this compelling Malaysian-set contemporary fantasy.

Jessamyn Teoh is closeted, broke and moving back to Malaysia, a country she left when she was a toddler. So when Jess starts hearing voices, she chalks it up to stress. But there’s only one voice in her head, and it claims to be the ghost of her estranged grandmother, Ah Ma. In life Ah Ma was a spirit medium, the avatar of a mysterious deity called the Black Water Sister. Now she’s determined to settle a score against a gang boss who has offended the god–and she’s decided Jess is going to help her do it.

Drawn into a world of gods, ghosts, and family secrets, Jess finds that making deals with capricious spirits is a dangerous business. As Jess fights for retribution for Ah Ma, she’ll also need to regain control of her body and destiny. If she fails, the Black Water Sister may finish her off for good.

Review

Black Water Sister first caught my eye when I heard the story described by the author as “A stressed zillennial lesbian fights gods, ghosts, gangsters & grandmas in 21st century Penang.” If that doesn’t intrigue you I don’t know what will! Black Water Sister is the engaging story of Jessamyn Teoh, a young woman moving from the US back to Malaysia with her parents. When she starts hearing a voice in her head she assumes it’s the stress of the move, but when the ghost admits to being her recently deceased grandmother, Jess ends up entangled in a plot to get revenge on a gang boss who has offended a god.

Black Water Sister is such a unique read and I got completely wrapped up in this magical story. The story is excellently plotted and well-paced, I found myself racing through the second half of the book because I wanted to know what was going to happen. This is my first book by Zen Cho and I enjoyed her writing style immensely, it was so easy to picture the sights and sounds of Malaysia. I love learning about the gods and the culture, especially as I don’t think I’ve read many books set there. Whilst this is my first book by the author it definitely won’t be my last and I will definitely be ordering Sorcerer to the Crown!

In this story, we meet some truly compelling characters and it was the incredible characters that really made this book for me. Jess is a brilliant protagonist – she’s trying to find herself, never having fit in in the US or in Malaysia. She’s trying to have a long-distance relationship with her girlfriend and her parents don’t know that she’s gay. There’s a lot going on, but Jess made for a really likeable character and I was rooting for her to succeed. I was similarly fascinated by Ah Ma, the snarky Grandma who is much more than she seems. I loved the way Cho mixed the magical mystery elements with typical family drama, it made for such a compelling and intriguing read.

Black Water Sister is a beautifully written, vivid tale of ghosts, mystery and family. If you’re looking for a fantasy read that’s completely unlike anything you’ve read before – this one is a must-read.

Blog Tour: The Maidens – Alex Michaelides

Blog Tour: The Maidens – Alex Michaelides


Release Date:
June 15th 2021
Publisher:  W&N
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

Edward Fosca is a murderer. Of this Mariana is certain. But Fosca is untouchable. A handsome and charismatic Greek Tragedy professor at Cambridge University, Fosca is adored by staff and students alike—particularly by the members of a secret society of female students known as The Maidens.

Mariana Andros is a brilliant but troubled group therapist who becomes fixated on The Maidens when one member, a friend of Mariana’s niece Zoe, is found murdered in Cambridge.

Mariana, who was once herself a student at the university, quickly suspects that behind the idyllic beauty of the spires and turrets, and beneath the ancient traditions, lies something sinister. And she becomes convinced that, despite his alibi, Edward Fosca is guilty of the murder. But why would the professor target one of his students? And why does he keep returning to the rites of Persephone, the maiden, and her journey to the underworld?

When another body is found, Mariana’s obsession with proving Fosca’s guilt spirals out of control, threatening to destroy her credibility as well as her closest relationships. But Mariana is determined to stop this killer, even if it costs her everything—including her own life.

Review

The Maidens is the all-new thriller by The Silent Patient author Alex Michaelides. The Silent Patient was one of my favourite thriller reads of 2019 and I was really excited to see what Michaelides did next. The story follows Mariana, a group therapist who becomes obsessed with the maidens when a friend of her niece is found murdered in Cambridge. Mariana knows for sure that even though he has an alibi, Edward Fosca is guilty of murder and she will do anything to prove it. As Mariana becomes more and more obsessed, she soon finds her credibility and her closest relationships falling away from her – but can she stop the killer?

Just like The Silent Patient, I found myself getting completely lost in this story and raced through it in a few gripping sittings. The story captivated me from the outset and Michaelides has such a brilliant writing style that I was completely swept away in this story. It’s fast-paced with pretty short chapters that kept me completely hooked. The story is full to the brim with twists and turns and given the surprises in his first book I knew anything was possible. Michaelides has such a great way of making you a bit suspicious of everyone and the final reveal definitely wasn’t what I expected.

The Maidens is a dark and compelling read, one I think thriller fans will completely adore. Mariana is an interesting protagonist she is someone dealing with grief who very quickly spirals into obsession. I really liked the Cambridge setting in the story, which definitely came to life in the vivid descriptions. If you’re a fan of gripping psychological thrillers you can’t look away from, The Maidens should definitely be your next read.