• Book Review

    This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada | Book Review

    This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada
    Release Date: 7th November 2017
    Genre: YA, Science Fiction
    Source: Publisher, NetGalley
    Rating: ★★★

    When a lone soldier, Cole, arrives with news of Lachlan Agatta’s death, all hope seems lost for Catarina. Her father was the world’s leading geneticist, and humanity’s best hope of beating a devastating virus. Then, hidden beneath Cole’s genehacked enhancements she finds a message of hope: Lachlan created a vaccine.

    Only she can find and decrypt it, if she can unravel the clues he left for her. The closer she gets, the more she finds herself at risk from Cartaxus, a shadowy organization with a stranglehold on the world’s genetic tech. But it’s too late to turn back.

    There are three billion lives at stake, two people who can save them, and one final secret that Cat must unlock. A secret that will change everything.

    This Mortal Coil was a fun, action-packed YA story about a virus that makes people literally explode. It’s all a bit grim, and I don’t think the story would be for everyone following the Covid pandemic, but I had a lot of fun reading it. 

    I really liked the main character, Catarina. She was science-y and nerdy, but in a cool, sophisticated, l-knowwhat-I’m-doing kind of way. Not that nerds aren’t cool, but she was one of the coolest ones. 

    I found the concept to be very interesting, especially all the stuff about the virus. I get that it’s not for everyone right now, but I still really enjoy reading about viral outbreaks and how people could possibly deal with them. This virus was a little different as it was a bit of zombie, a bit exploding organs. Fun! 

    I think this is such a solid YA book, and while I’m personally not going to continue on with the trilogy – I didn’t quite care enough – I think younger readers would love it and get a lot out of it. There’s even a not-so-terrible love triangle too! 

  • Book Review

    The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones | Book Review

    The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones
    Release Date: 14th July 2020
    Genre: Adult, Horror
    Source: Publisher, NetGalley
    Rating: ★

    The creeping horror of Paul Tremblay meets Tommy Orange’s There There in a dark novel of revenge, cultural identity, and the cost of breaking from tradition in this latest novel from the Jordan Peele of horror literature, Stephen Graham Jones.

    Seamlessly blending classic horror and a dramatic narrative with sharp social commentary, The Only Good Indians follows four American Indian men after a disturbing event from their youth puts them in a desperate struggle for their lives. Tracked by an entity bent on revenge, these childhood friends are helpless as the culture and traditions they left behind catch up to them in a violent, vengeful way.

    Jesus Christ this book is badly written.

    I was intrigued initially by the concept of a slaughtered elk seeking revenge – I am a vegetarian after all – but nothing about this turned out well.

    My main issue with The Only Good Indians was the choppy writing style. It might have worked in first person or in a diary format, but in this context it just came across as unedited.

    The pacing was so off, too. It was incredibly unbalanced, with the first chapter acting as an intriguing prologue, the following chapters building up to something, and then dropping back down to a slower pace than last time.

    Historically, I don’t enjoy reading about sport in books. I hated it even more in this one given the context. What was with that basketball match? Was there some symbolism I was missing?!

    Honestly, I don’t think weird horror is for me. I am definitely the most picky about this fenre. Nothing about this book worked, from the revenge story to the sloppily written female characters. The female elk wasn’t even written well.

    I would give this one a miss, although it does work for some people so perhaps read some other more positive reviews before you decide.

    I’ve been intrigued by Stephen Graham Jones’s other books but if they’re all written like this I don’t think I will bother.

  • Book Review

    The Cove by Alice Clark-Platts | Book Review

    The Cove by Alice Clark-Platts
    Release Date: 1st March 2022
    Genre: Adult, Thriller
    Source: Publisher, NetGalley
    Rating: ★★

    Welcome to Turtle Cove.

    A luxury resort surrounded by pristine sea and the dense beauty of the jungle, it is the perfect escape from the stresses of life and work. For couples Lou and Adam, Eliza and Noah, a few days spent relaxing on the beach, while their kids are happily distracted, is exactly what they need.

    But appearances can be deceiving.

    There’s a strange tension brewing at the resort, with relations between the hotel and the locals threatening to spill over into violence. This is nothing though compared to the strained atmosphere between the two families. They haven’t been friends for long and they are starting to realise they don’t really know each other at all.

    Except for one of them. One of them knows another very well.

    And they have a score to settle.

    The Cove is told from four points of view, and every single one of them is pretentious and annoying. I’m not much of a fan of multiple POV thrillers because chances are if the author can’t make one character likeable, all the POV characters are going to be insufferable.

    I loved the idea behind The Cove, as I’m really getting into the trend of holiday thrillers – where have they been all my life? – but as a thriller this book fell massively flat. It splattered on the floor.

    In addition to having four boring characters and no one to root for, the mystery of this book took forever to kick in. I had to put myself through one hundred pages of whiny cheaters before there was even a whiff of mystery, and then when something was introduced it was anticlimactic.

    I’m severely disappointed in The Cove and I need to find a good island thriller to make up for it, ASAP.

  • Book Review

    Love on the Brain by Ali Hazelwood | Book Review

    Love on the Brain by Ali Hazelwood
    Release Date: 23rd August 2022
    Publisher: Sphere
    Genre: Adult, Romance
    Source: Bought
    Rating: ★★★★

    Bee Königswasser lives by a simple code: What would Marie Curie do? If NASA offered her the lead on a neuroengineering project – a literal dream come true – Marie would accept without hesitation. Duh. But the mother of modern physics never had to co-lead with Levi Ward.

    Sure, Levi is attractive in a tall, dark, and piercing-eyes kind of way. But Levi made his feelings toward Bee very clear in grad school – archenemies work best employed in their own galaxies far, far away.

    But when her equipment starts to go missing and the staff ignore her, Bee could swear she sees Levi softening into an ally, backing her plays, seconding her ideas… devouring her with those eyes. The possibilities have all her neurons firing.

    But when it comes time to actually make a move and put her heart on the line, there’s only one question that matters: What will Bee Königswasser do?

    I read The Love Hypothesis earlier this year, not really expecting much from it because hyped Booktok books had let me down before. Despite my initial hesitancy, I ended up really enjoying it, and I actually pre-ordered Love on the Brain because I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it (and the publisher declined my review request… it’s fine, it’s FINE). 

    I ended up loving Love on the Brain just as much as I enjoyed The Love Hypothesis. Sure, there were issues. I still don’t think Ali Hazelwood can write sex scenes well. The sex scenes in Love on the Brain weren’t just awkward this time, they were eye roll worthy and almost made me vom. I don’t need to keep hearing about how the love interest is just so big and how the main character is super duper tiny, thank you. 

    So I docked a star for the sex scenes, because Hazelwood can’t be trusted. 

    Otherwise, I thought this book was loads of fun! It was feminist (steminist?), intelligent, silly, and there were cats! | loved that Hazelwood brought a bit of her real European travels into this book, and I loved how she wrote the relationships between all the women. 

    I also really liked the love story, even if it was frustrating in the beginning because you knew exactly where it was going. Levi and Bee were cute, okay, and that’s all I needed. 

    There was also a bit of a twisty mystery in there too, that| wasn’t entirely expecting. The reveal was a bit ridiculous, but given the circumstances I was completely on board. 

    Honestly, I’m glad I read this a fairly long time after The Love Hypothesis because the two books are very, very similar. I get the impression that Hazelwood isn’t an author you necessarily want to marathon, as her characters and subject matters are pretty much the same. That said, the similarities didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the book at all because I thought they were good similarities. Hazelwood hasn’t done a Hoover, for example, and written terrible love interests into every one of her books. 

    I look forward to trying out more of Ali Hazelwood’s books in the future. I might give her novellas a go when I’m in the mood for more romance, because she’s at least a romance author who hasn’t yet let me down. I really enjoyed Love on the Brain and its quirkiness, and I will be picking up whatever Hazelwood brings out in the future. 

  • Book Review

    Nothing More to Tell by Karen M McManus | Book Review

    Nothing More to Tell by Karen M McManus
    Release Date: 30th August 2022
    Publisher: Delacorte Press
    Genre: YA, Thriller
    Source: Publisher
    Rating: ★★★★

    Four years ago, Brynn left Saint Ambrose School following the shocking murder of her favorite teacher—a story that made headlines after the teacher’s body was found by three Saint Ambrose students in the woods behind their school. The case was never solved. Now that Brynn is moving home and starting her dream internship at a true-crime show, she’s determined to find out what really happened.

    The kids who found Mr. Larkin are her way in, and her ex–best friend, Tripp Talbot, was one of them. Without his account of events, the other two kids might have gone down for Mr. Larkin’s murder. They’ve never forgotten what Tripp did for them that day. Just like he hasn’t forgotten that everything he told the police was a lie.

    Digging into the past is bound to shake up the present, and as Brynn begins to investigate what happened in the woods that day, she begins to uncover secrets that might change everything—about Saint Ambrose, about Mr. Larkin, and about her ex-best friend, Tripp Talbot.

    Four years ago someone got away with murder. The most terrifying part is that they never left.

    I was a little disappointed by McManus’s previous book that came out last year as I found it very boring compared to her usual YA thrillers, but I’m pleased to say that she is back on form with Nothing More to Tell! I didn’t find any of the issues that I previously had and I had the best time reading this one.

    I really enjoyed the dual point of view within this book. I think it worked really well with the mystery, as you have Brynn who is returning to town with an interest in true crime, and Tripp, someone who was possibly involved in a mystery. I loved watching the two of them keep things from one another and rekindling their friendship and then slowly opening up again. Their relationship was so cute, and that’s saying a lot as I’m over most YA romance nowadays.

    Tripp does have an issue with alcohol in this book, so I would be cautious if that it one of your triggers as you’re very much in his head as he struggles with that. It’s quite clear that he’s using alcohol to cope with PTSD and is very traumatised by his teacher dying and the lies surrounding it.

    I really enjoyed trying to figure out the mystery of this one, and with so many characters and twists and turns, I didn’t have a clue who really did what. There were layers and layers of mysteries, and I loved it.

  • Book Review

    I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy | Book Review

    I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy
    Release Date: 9th August 2022
    Publisher: Simon & Schuster
    Genre: Adult, Non-Fiction
    Source: Bought
    Rating: ★★★★

    Jennette McCurdy was six years old when she had her first acting audition. Her mother’s dream was for her only daughter to become a star, and Jennette would do anything to make her mother happy. So she went along with what Mom called “calorie restriction,” eating little and weighing herself five times a day. She endured extensive at-home makeovers while Mom chided, “Your eyelashes are invisible, okay? You think Dakota Fanning doesn’t tint hers?” She was even showered by Mom until age sixteen while sharing her diaries, email, and all her income.

    In I’m Glad My Mom Died, Jennette recounts all this in unflinching detail—just as she chronicles what happens when the dream finally comes true. Cast in a new Nickelodeon series called iCarly, she is thrust into fame. Though Mom is ecstatic, emailing fan club moderators and getting on a first-name basis with the paparazzi (“Hi Gale!”), Jennette is riddled with anxiety, shame, and self-loathing, which manifest into eating disorders, addiction, and a series of unhealthy relationships. These issues only get worse when, soon after taking the lead in the iCarly spinoff Sam & Cat alongside Ariana Grande, her mother dies of cancer. Finally, after discovering therapy and quitting acting, Jennette embarks on recovery and decides for the first time in her life what she really wants.

    I didn’t have access to Nickelodeon growing up, so I only really know who Jennette McCurdy is because I occasionally go on Oh No They Didn’t!… Yes, the Livejournal is still alive and well. I was intrigued by I’m Glad My Mom Died mostly because of the sudden traction it seemed to gain, and also by the title and cover, and then by the subject matter once I started to look into it more.

    I found I’m Glad My Mom Died to be entirely engaging and compelling. McCurdy goes into a lot of detail about her early years and how she was pushed into acting by her mother who was living vicariously through her. It was tough to read about, particularly because I found a lot of the emotional and mental abuse quite relatable. Even so, I powered through I’m Glad My Mom Died in less than a day because I just couldn’t put it down.

    I listened to I’m Glad My Mom died as an audiobook and, if you are able, I would encourage you to do the same. Jennette McCurdy narrates the book herself, and is able to tell her own story in her own voice. I thought it was brilliant.

    I’m Glad My Mom Died sent me into a bit of a spiral of looking into other Disney stars who had a tough time of it. Although I’m Glad My Mom Died is mostly about Jennette’s relationship with her mother, she also goes into a bit of detail about what it was like working on Nikelodeon, and I wanted to know more about other actors and actresses who were potentially affected by it.

    I think McCurdy is a great writer, and I have read that she is planning on releasing a novel sometime in the future. Her passion is apparently writing, rather than acting, after all. I look forward to reading that in the future, and I imagine it’ll be just as impactful as her memoir.

  • Book Review

    The Long Weekend by Gilly Macmillan | Book Review

    The Long Weekend by Gilly Macmillan
    Release Date: 3rd February 2022
    Publisher: Century
    Genre: Adult, Thriller
    Source: Publisher
    Rating: ★★.5

    By the time you read this, I’ll have killed one of your husbands.

    In an isolated retreat, deep in the Northumbria moors, three women arrive for a weekend getaway.

    Their husbands will be joining them in the morning. Or so they think.

    But when they get to Dark Fell Barn, the women find a devastating note that claims one of their husbands has been murdered. Their phones are out of range. There’s no internet. They’re stranded. And a storm’s coming in.

    Friendships fracture and the situation spins out of control as each wife tries to find out what’s going on, who is responsible and which husband has been targeted.

    This was a tight-knit group. They’ve survived a lot. But they won’t weather this. Because someone has decided that enough is enough.

    That it’s time for a reckoning.

    After reading The Long Weekend and one other book by Gilly Macmillan, I really don’t think she’s an
    author for me. The premise of this book sounded fantastic to me, as I really enjoy thrillers about groups
    of friends going away on holiday. It’s a niche I didn’t realise I loved until recently.

    Unfortunately, something I really don’t like in my thrillers is a plot line that is ridiculous, verging on nonsensical. I didn’t get much out of this book because I wasn’t made to care for any of the characters –
    apart from maybe Imogen – before they were thrown into the plot.

    I didn’t like the setting, either, because despite what the synopsis implies, it’s barely set during the weekend away trip in the farmland. It goes back and forth between what’s happening in the barn (not
    much), and what’s happening elsewhere (most of the plot).

    I certainly didn’t hate The Long Weekend, but it wasn’t what I was expecting at all. I feel really let down by it, and I think I might be done with this author.

  • Book Review

    You Have a Match by Emma Lord | Book Review

    You Have a Match by Emma Lord
    Release Date: 21st July 2022
    Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books
    Genre: YA, Contemporary
    Source: Publisher
    Rating: DNF

    When Abby signs up for a DNA service, it’s mainly to give her friend and secret love interest, Leo, a nudge. After all, she knows who she is already: Avid photographer. Injury-prone tree climber. Best friend to Leo and Connie … although ever since the B.E.I. (Big Embarrassing Incident) with Leo, things have been awkward on that front.

    But she didn’t know she’s a younger sister.

    When the DNA service reveals Abby has a secret sister, shimmery-haired Instagram star Savannah Tully, it’s hard to believe they’re from the same planet, never mind the same parents—especially considering Savannah, queen of green smoothies, is only a year and a half older than Abby herself.

    The logical course of action? Meet up at summer camp (obviously) and figure out why Abby’s parents gave Savvy up for adoption. But there are complications: Savvy is a rigid rule-follower and total narc. Leo is the camp’s co-chef, putting Abby’s growing feelings for him on blast. And her parents have a secret that threatens to unravel everything.

    But part of life is showing up, leaning in, and learning to fit all your awkward pieces together. Because sometimes, the hardest things can also be the best ones.

    I was one of the people go got completely caught up in the grilled cheese/Tweet Cute hype. I was very excited to read You Have a Match back when it came out in the US, but I didn’t get around to it because of all the other books I wanted to read. I wasn’t really in the YA contemporary zone at the time. But I saw that Emma Lord’s books are releasing in the UK, and I immediately swept them up.

    I unfortunately was mostly bored by You Have a Match. I was enticed by the subject matter of a teen girl taking a DNA test and finding a full blooded sister that she had never heard of. I am really into genealogy and it’s one of my favourite hobbies, and I even took a DNA test myself quite recently. This book was SO. BORING. though. It took forever to get going, and while I was initially excited by the summer camp setting, it ultimately ended up feeling a little pointless.

    I’m very upset. I’m still going to read Lord’s third book, mostly because I have it from NetGalley, but I am also really hoping that You Have a Match was just a bit of a blunder. more of an outlier than anything. I’m sad by how boring this one was, because I was ready for the drama, but maybe her third book will be better.

  • Book Review

    The Last to Vanish by Megan Miranda | Book Review

    The Last to Vanish by Megan Miranda
    Release Date: 28 July 2022
    Publisher: Atlantic Books
    Genre: Adult, Mystery
    Source: Publisher
    Rating: ★★★★★

    Ten years ago, Abigail Lovett fell into a job she loves, managing The Passage Inn, a cozy, upscale resort nestled in the North Carolina mountain town of Cutter’s Pass. Cutter’s Pass is best known for its outdoor offerings—rafting and hiking, with access to the Appalachian trail by way of a gorgeous waterfall—and its mysterious history. As the book begins, the string of unsolved disappearances that has haunted the town is once again thrust into the spotlight when journalist Landon West, who was staying at the inn to investigate the story of the vanishing trail, then disappears himself.

    Abby has sometimes felt like an outsider within the community, but she’s come to view Cutter’s Pass as her home. When Landon’s brother Trey shows up looking for answers, Abby can’t help but feel the town closing ranks. And she’s still on the outside. When she finds incriminating evidence that may bring them closer to the truth, Abby soon discovers how little she knows about her coworkers, neighbors, and even those closest to her.

    I haven’t read a Megan Miranda book in years; not since her first foray into YA thrillers. I really wasn’t a
    fan back then, but ever since I have heard great things about her writing. The synopsis of The Last to
    Vanish caught my eye because I read that it was about hikers who go missing. As an avid hiker myself, I
    was immediately intrigued.

    The most notable aspect of The Last to Vanish is the overall atmosphere of the book. It’s set in a small,
    dreary town along the Appalachian Trail, which has a small and tight knit community. While reading I
    really felt like I was there, staying in one of the cabins and prepping for a hike into the mountains.
    Reading The Last to Vanish felt like being in nature, which was a feeling I loved.

    The main character feels like a complete outsider, and being from a small village myself I have met
    people who have felt like that before. She’s trying desperately to feel like part of the community that she
    has lived alongside for the past decade. I really enjoyed her journey, as she slowly came to realise that
    she was being accepted.

    I have to say, though, that the main character has absolutely no personality. I couldn’t tell you a thing
    about her other than she had some worries about where her place was in the town. The author mostly
    keeps her background a secret, and I think that contributed to her being the blandest thriller character.
    But you know what? I didn’t care, because I was too invested in the setting and the atmosphere to give a

    The revelations and resolutions of the plot were good enough. I had called one part of it, but the others
    bits of the story surprised me. I don’t think these “other bits” were particularly well fleshed out, but they
    didn’t come out of left field or anything.

    I’m mainly just here to gush about the atmosphere and the concept of hikers going missing in the
    mountains. More thrillers should cover this topic! Give me all of them! I’ve realised that this is perhaps my
    ideal niche, and now I can’t get enough.

  • Book Review

    Trial by Fire by Scott James | Book Review

    Trial by Fire by Scott James
    Release Date: 27th October 2020
    Publisher: St Martins Press
    Genre: Adult, Non-fiction
    Source: Publisher
    Rating: ★★★★★

    All it took for a hundred people to die during a show by the hair metal band Great White was a sudden burst from two giant sparklers that ignited the acoustical foam lining the Station nightclub. But who was at fault? And who would pay? This being Rhode Island, the two questions wouldn’t necessarily have the same answer.

    Within 24 hours the governor of Rhode Island and the local police commissioner were calling for criminal charges, although the investigation had barely begun, no real evidence had been gathered, and many of the victims hadn’t been identified. Though many parties could be held responsible, fingers pointed quickly at the two brothers who owned the club. But were they really to blame? Bestselling author and three-time Emmy Award-winning reporter Scott James investigates all the central figures, including the band’s manager and lead singer, the fire inspector, the maker of the acoustical foam, as well as the brothers. Drawing on firsthand accounts, interviews with many involved, and court documents, James explores the rush to judgment about what happened that left the victims and their families, whose stories he also tells, desperate for justice.

    A few years ago I watched the recording of the Station House Fire in Rhode Island. It is still to this day
    one of the most devastating things I have ever seen. In the recording, you can see the nightclub go up in
    flames within 90 seconds, and all the people who are trapped inside. I wouldn’t recommend looking it up,
    however on a personal level it really impacted me and I am now much more careful when in crowded
    venues and I always make sure I know where the fire exits are.

    I spotted Trial By Fire when it popped up on Netgalley and I knew I had to request it. The video
    fascinated me, and I wanted to know more about what happened in the days, months, and years
    following the tragedy.

    Trial By Fire does a fantastic job of covering what happened to various victims after the event, and it also
    goes on to cover the court cases of those responsible. I think the author covered all of this very
    respectfully. I found the entire book very engrossing, and I was never bored or thinking that I had heard
    all of this before. It was absolutely heart wrenching to read (or listen, in my case) about how the
    community was directly or indirectly affected by this tragedy, and also infuriating to hear about the steps
    that were skipped that led to this event happening.

    I would recommend this non-fiction book to everyone, if you think you can handle the tragic subject
    matter. I think it’s so, so important to remember the victims of the fire, and also to learn more about how
    the USA and Rhode Island handled fire safety, and how fire measures have since changed.