• Book Review

    Good Girls Don’t Die by Christina Henry | Book Review

    Good Girls Don’t Die by Christina Henry | Book ReviewGood Girls Don't Die by Christina Henry
    Published by Penguin Publishing Group on 14th November 2023
    Genres: Fiction / Horror
    Pages: 336
    Format: eBook

    A sharp-edged, supremely twisty thriller about three women who find themselves trapped inside stories they know aren’t their own, from the author of Alice and Near the Bone.

    Celia wakes up in a house that’s supposed to be hers. There’s a little girl who claims to be her daughter and a man who claims to be her husband, but Celia knows this family—and this life—is not hers…

    Allie is supposed to be on a fun weekend trip—but then her friend’s boyfriend unexpectedly invites the group to a remote cabin in the woods. No one else believes Allie, but she is sure that something about this trip is very, very wrong…

    Maggie just wants to be home with her daughter, but she’s in a dangerous situation and she doesn’t know who put her there or why. She’ll have to fight with everything she has to survive…

    Three women. Three stories. Only one way out. This captivating novel will keep readers guessing until the very end.

    Good Girls Don’t Die was such a let down! I’ve read a book by Christina Henry before and I didn’t like that one either, but I thought I would get her work another go because the premise sounded so good and her books tend to get really good reviews. Unfortunately, I’m not keen on short stories, and this is what this book felt like even though it wasn’t necessarily supposed to. The stories all do come together in the end but by that point I just didn’t care because I found the switches jarring. I ended up getting very attached to the main character in the first story, so I was disappointed to leave her behind! This one wasn’t for me.

  • Book Review

    The Last Word by Taylor Adams | Book Review

    The Last Word by Taylor Adams | Book ReviewThe Last Word by Taylor Adams
    Published by HarperCollins on April 25, 2023
    Genres: Fiction / Thrillers / Psychological
    Pages: 352
    Format: eBook

    After posting a negative review of a horror novel, a woman staying at an isolated beach house begins to wonder if the author is a little touchy—or very, very dangerous—in this pulse-pounding novel of psychological suspense and terror from the critically acclaimed author of No Exit and Hairpin Bridge.

    Emma Carpenter lives in isolation with her golden retriever Laika, house-sitting an old beachfront home on the rainy Washington coast. Her only human contact is her enigmatic old neighbor, Deek, and (via text) the house’s owner, Jules.

    One day, she reads a poorly written—but gruesome—horror novel by the author H. G. Kane, and posts a one-star review that drags her into an online argument with none other than the author himself. Soon after, disturbing incidents start to occur at night. To Emma, this can’t just be a coincidence. It was strange enough for this author to bicker with her online about a lousy review; could he be stalking her, too?

    As Emma digs into Kane’s life and work, she learns he has published sixteen other novels, all similarly sadistic tales of stalking and murder. But who is he? How did he find her? And what else is he capable of?

    I really enjoyed The Last Word! I requested it initially because I have witnessed authors doing terrible things to reviewers in the past and I wanted to see how this author depicted it. The story wasn’t exactly what I was expecting, as the main character isn’t a book blogger or reviewer, she just left the odd review on Amazon instead and that was enough for the author to come after her.

    This felt like a campy horror/slasher in an isolated setting, which was very enjoyable and made for a fun, fast paced read. I spent most of the book worrying about the dog because I didn’t care too much about the main character and whether she lived or died, but I was definitely having a good time!

  • Book Review

    The Villa by Rachel Hawkins | Book Review

    The Villa by Rachel Hawkins | Book ReviewThe Villa by Rachel Hawkins
    Published by St. Martin's Publishing Group on January 3, 2023
    Genres: Fiction / Gothic
    Pages: 288
    Format: eBook

    As kids, Emily and Chess were inseparable. But by their 30s, their bond has been strained by the demands of their adult lives. So when Chess suggests a girls trip to Italy, Emily jumps at the chance to reconnect with her best friend.

    Villa Aestas in Orvieto is a high-end holiday home now, but in 1974, it was known as Villa Rosato, and rented for the summer by a notorious rock star, Noel Gordon. In an attempt to reignite his creative spark, Noel invites up-and-coming musician, Pierce Sheldon to join him, as well as Pierce’s girlfriend, Mari, and her stepsister, Lara. But he also sets in motion a chain of events that leads to Mari writing one of the greatest horror novels of all time, Lara composing a platinum album––and ends in Pierce’s brutal murder.

    As Emily digs into the villa’s complicated history, she begins to think there might be more to the story of that fateful summer in 1974. That perhaps Pierce’s murder wasn’t just a tale of sex, drugs, and rock & roll gone wrong, but that something more sinister might have occurred––and that there might be clues hidden in the now-iconic works that Mari and Lara left behind.

    Yet the closer that Emily gets to the truth, the more tension she feels developing between her and Chess. As secrets from the past come to light, equally dangerous betrayals from the present also emerge––and it begins to look like the villa will claim another victim before the summer ends.

    Inspired by Fleetwood Mac, the Manson murders, and the infamous summer Percy and Mary Shelley spent with Lord Byron at a Lake Geneva castle––the birthplace of Frankenstein––The Villa welcomes you into its deadly legacy.

    I’m not sure what happened here but I feel like the author was off her game with this one. I’ve really enjoyed most of Hawkins’ books in the past. I was a massive fan of her YA Hex Hall series back in the day, and was thrilled (ha) to see she was going to tackle the thriller genre next. I liked her previous thrillers. This one… not so much. It didn’t feel like a thriller at all, more of a domestic suspense, perhaps? I’m really struggling to categorise it.

    I found the whole thing to be very boring, and not only did it have flashbacks scenes that I just didn’t care about, it also had the dreaded “novel within a novel”, which I HATE. I’m disappointed in this one!

  • Book Review

    The Second Chance Year by Melissa Weisner | Book Review

    The Second Chance Year by Melissa Weisner | Book ReviewThe Second Chance Year by Melissa Wiesner
    Published by Hachette UK on December 5, 2023
    Genres: Fiction / Romance / General
    Pages: 336
    Format: eBook

    In one fell swoop, Sadie Thatcher managed to lose her job, her apartment, and her boyfriend. So when a fortune teller offers her one wish, Sadie longs to redo her awful year. More than a little sceptical, she makes her wish, opens her eyes, and . . . nothing has changed. And then, in perhaps her worst move yet, she kisses her brother's best friend, Jacob.

    When Sadie wakes up the next morning, she's in her former apartment with her former boyfriend, and her former boss is expecting her at work. She realises it's January 1 . . . of last year.

    As Sadie navigates her second-chance year, she begins to see the red flags she missed in both her relationship and her career. Plus, she keeps running into Jacob, and she can't stop thinking about their kiss . . . the one he has no idea ever happened. Suddenly, Sadie begins to wonder if her only mistake was wishing for a second chance.

    Okay, this was super cute. I always really enjoy time travel or parallel universe or time loop stories, especially holiday themed ones, which is why I picked up The Second Chance Year. The plot of this one was super fun, and I enjoyed following the main character as she realised her Very Bad Year may not have been the worst thing for her after all. I loved the romance between her and her brother’s best friend, especially because he had been in love with her for years and years. I love that trope.

    I do think I will mostly have forgotten about this book by this time next year, as it doesn’t seem to be very memorable to me, but it was a good while to read while I was in the mood for it.

    I did have a slight issue with the main character’s best friend trying to pressure her into calling out an abusive boss, the main character telling her best friend that she wasn’t comfortable, the best friend doing it anyway, and then getting annoyed with the main character for not backing her up. You absolutely cannot force women into that, and don’t put the blame on them when the abuser then retaliates – it’s entirely on him!

    Apart from that, this was a lovely read and perfect for the holidays.

  • Book Review

    The Changing Man by Tomi Oyemakinde | Book Review

    The Changing Man by Tomi Oyemakinde | Book ReviewThe Changing Man by Tomi Oyemakinde
    Published by Pan Macmillan on September 7, 2023
    Genres: Young Adult Fiction / Horror
    Pages: 400
    Format: eBook

    A teenage girl is pulled into investigating the truth behind her new boarding school’s decades-old legend, in this debut speculative mystery by Tomi Oyemakinde.

    Just because they let you in . . . it doesn't mean they'll let you out.

    When Ife joins Nithercott School through its prestigious Urban Achievers Program, she knows immediately that she doesn't fit. Wandering its echoing halls, she must fend off cruel taunts from the students and condescending attitudes from the teachers. When she finds herself thrown into detention for the foreseeable future, she strikes up an unlikely alliance with Ben, a troublemaker with an annoyingly cute smile. They've both got reasons to want to get out of Nithercott - Ben's brother is missing, and no one seems to be bothering to find him.

    For Ife, it's just another strange element of this school that doesn't care about its students. But as more and more people start going missing, including one of Ife's only friends, she starts to feel haunted.

    Who is the figure she's started seeing in the shadowy halls, who looks mysteriously like herself? And is there any truth in to the strange urban legend that travels the school like mist . . . the legend of the Changing Man?

    I mostly wanted to get my hands on The Changing Man because of the UK cover. I mean, look at that thing! It’s so creepy. I wanted a good creepy read for Halloween, and was super intrigued by this synopsis. Unfortunately I found that the book was too slow. The beginning focused too much on the private school drama and didn’t spend enough time on building the spooky atmosphere. This book would have benefitted from a change in pace to keep the reader interested after the strong start with a teenage boy disappearing.

  • Book Review

    People to Follow by Olivia Worley | Book Review

    People to Follow by Olivia Worley | Book ReviewPeople to Follow by Olivia Worley
    Published by St. Martin's Publishing Group on October 31, 2023
    Genres: Young Adult Fiction / Thrillers & Suspense / Psychological
    Pages: 352
    Format: eBook

    In Olivia Worley's pitch-perfect debut, People to Follow, ten teen influencers come to a remote island to star in a reality show, but when one of them winds up dead, they realize that this time, the price of getting “cancelled” could be their lives.

    A reality show on a remote Caribbean island. Ten teen influencers. One dead body.

    Welcome to “In Real Life,” the hot new reality show that forces social media’s reigning kings and queens to unplug for three weeks and “go live” without any filters. IRL is supposed to be the opportunity of a lifetime, watched closely by legions of loyal followers. But for these rising stars--including Elody, an Instagram model with an impulsive streak; Kira, a child star turned fitness influencer; Logan, a disgraced TikTok celeb with a secret; and Max, a YouTuber famous for exposés on his fellow creators--it’s about to turn into a nightmare.

    When the production crew fails to show up and one of their own meets a violent end, these social media moguls find themselves stranded with a dead body and no way to reach the outside world. When they start receiving messages from a mysterious Sponsor threatening to expose their darkest secrets, they realize that they’ve been lured into a deadly game...and one of them might be pulling the strings.

    With the body count rising and cameras tracking their every move, the creators must figure out who is trying to get them canceled--like, literally--before their #1 follower strikes again.

    People to Follow is a fun, fast paced thriller in which influencers are dropping dead left and right on a remote island. I had so much fun trying to figure out who was behind the murders, and this reminded me a lot of the vibe of Bodies Bodies Bodies (although less sarcastic and on the nose) with young people running around a mansion on a private island.

    There are multiple points of view in this book, which I feel was the only downside. I would have preferred to have focused on just one or two characters, but there were four POVs in total and it all got a bit much because they all sounded the same. I don’t think thrillers generally need more than two POVs.

    I read this book in pretty much one sitting and that’s how you can tell it’s a decent thriller book! I’ll be adding this one to my list of recommendations.

  • Book Review

    Finding Bear by Hannah Gold | Book Review

    Finding Bear by Hannah Gold | Book ReviewFinding Bear by Hannah Gold
    Published by HarperCollins UK on September 28, 2023
    Genres: Middle Grade / Contemporary
    Pages: 352
    Format: eBook

    The unmissable follow-up to the phenomenal bestselling and award-winning The Last Bear. Beautifully illustrated by Levi Pinfold and perfect for readers 8+

    April Wood has returned home from her adventure on Bear Island. But, over a year later, she can’t stop thinking about Bear.

    When April hears that a polar bear has been shot and injured in Svalbard, she’s convinced it’s her friend and persuades her dad to travel with her to the northernmost reaches of the Arctic. So begins an unforgettable journey across frozen tundra and icy glaciers.

    But along the way, she discovers much more than she bargained for – a tiny polar bear cub, desperately in need of her help. In freezing temperatures, April must navigate the dangerous Arctic terrain and face her deepest fears if she’s to save him.

    Beautifully illustrated by Levi Pinfold, Finding Bear is a stunning story of survival and a heartwarming tale of love that shows us how hope is born from the smallest of beginnings.

    ‘A beautifully written and illustrated story of determination, courage and hope’ The Sun

    ‘Magically inspiring’ Daily Mail

    I wasn’t expecting The Last Bear to get a sequel, but look what’s here! Finding Bear is the follow up to April’s first journey to the arctic. In this book, she follows Bear’s call and has to help save his cub.

    As always with Hannah Gold’s books, this one was full of heart and bravery, and I loved it a lot. I didn’t enjoy it as much as The Last Bear, admittedly, but I had the best time following April around the arctic again.

    I got super emotional at some points, especially when April was talking about climate change and how we can try to help the wildlife being impacted by human mistakes. It’s a topic that I’m very passionate about, and I always love when books include it in the narrative.

    Overall, Finding Bear is a lovely follow up to an already great story. You won’t regret picking it up!