Book Review: You’ll Be The Death Of Me by Karen M. McManus!

Book Review: You’ll Be The Death Of Me by Karen M. McManus!

Despite their popularity, I hadn’t read one of Karen McManus’ Young Adult thrillers before You’ll Be The Death Of Me! They were always the ones I’d see getting rave reviews and think… sure, one day I’ll read one of those. So when the opportunity to be on the blog tour came up, I jumped. So, how did I find it?

Ivy, Mateo, and Cal used to be close. Now all they have in common is Carlton High and the beginning of a very bad day.
Type A Ivy lost a student council election to the class clown, and now she has to face the school, humiliated. Heartthrob Mateo is burned out–he’s been working two jobs since his family’s business failed. And outsider Cal just got stood up…. again.
So when Cal pulls into campus late for class and runs into Ivy and Mateo, it seems like the perfect opportunity to turn a bad day around. They’ll ditch and go into the city. Just the three of them, like old times. Except they’ve barely left the parking lot before they run out of things to say…
Until they spot another Carlton High student skipping school–and follow him to the scene of his own murder. In one chance move, their day turns from dull to deadly. And it’s about to get worse.
It turns out Ivy, Mateo, and Cal still have some things in common. They all have a connection to the dead kid. And they’re all hiding something.
Now they’re all wondering–could it be that their chance reconnection wasn’t by chance after all?

I often wish I had the books that are being published today when I was a teen, and this is no exception. Younger Imogen who was reading adult thrillers about miserable detectives who hate their wives would’ve eaten up You’ll Be The Death Of Me. The plot was steadily paced with twists and turns galore that kept me on my toes, and I felt like the conclusion was a really nice wrap-up of all the threads that McManus had going through the whole book. I can see why these books are so popular based on the ability to tell a satisfying story alone.

That’s not the only thing about this book I liked though. I thought the characters were well-developed and pretty relatable from my own teen-years. Although I never found the dead body of a classmate, I definitely struggled with academic insecurity and had friends that I would’ve loved to have reconnected with after drifting apart. They felt very- teenage! I think they were just the right level of stubborn in their determination to figure out what happened themselves.

The writing is the kind that keeps the story moving at a good pace but doesn’t necessarily leave you thinking about it once the book is closed. This is fine, and absolutely what I expected, but I wish it had left me with more of an impression once I shut the pages. I’m not sure how much of the story I’ll remember when I look back in a couple of years.

But overall, I really liked the book. it’s not the kind of thing that I would re-read but I might dip my toes into Karen M. McManus’ backlist if I find myself in the mood for a YA mystery. She knows how to keep those pages turning.

The paperback is released tomorrow and is currently only £3.99 on Amazon! Don’t forget to check out my fellow blog tour hosts for their opinions on the book!

Blog Tour: Once Upon A Winter Anthology!

When I jumped on the blog tour for this folk and fairy tale anthology, I didn’t expect to spend the next week in bed with sinusitis. I couldn’t have asked for a better read though. Once Upon A Winter has been delightful company as I lay up in bed with hot tea.

A shape-shifting spirit haunts a family in England during the depths of winter. 

A woman must locate a snowflake for a magical trickster to save her frozen true love. 

A witch knocks upon a young man’s door to take his life on Christmas day. 

A small boy meets a faerie housed within a snow drop.

Once upon a time stories travelled from place to place on the tongues of merchants and thieves and kings alike. Under the blanket of night they were exchanged between children, and passed on to their children, and their children after them. Details were altered from one generation to the next until thousands of tales existed where once there were few.

In the spirit of these age-old stories comes Once Upon a Winter, a seasonal anthology of folk and fairy tales from 17 authors across the globe. It covers the Gothic, the romantic, the whimsical, the frightening and everything in-between, and features both intriguing twists on classic tales and exciting original stories.

The first of four planned seasonal anthologies from Macfarlane Lantern Publishing, Once Upon a Winter is sure to have a story for just about everyone. Grab your copy in time for Christmas today!

I really like that this anthology is seasonally focused. I love Winter but I do tend to view it as Christmas and done, which makes January and February lose their magic. Once Upon A Winter embraces all the chilly months and I can see it sitting on a bedside table, being dipped in and out of for months. Until the Spring anthology arrives!

The book has a little bit of everything! If you’re looking for an atmospheric read for a dark night when the wind is howling, The Biting Cold by Josie Jaffrey has you covered. If you want a story to read in front of the fire with a hot chocolate, You Can’t See Me by Kate Longstone will warm your heart. I’m probably bias in saying that my favourite so far is A Pea Ever After by Adie Hart, since I am friends with Adie, but two words: district witch. I would read a whole series of Elsie’s adventures.

If Once Upon A Winter sounds like your kind of thing, you can find it on Goodreads here, or buy it from Amazon or Waterstones! And don’t forget to check out my fellow blog tour hosts!

My #Hallowreadathon TBR!

My #Hallowreadathon TBR!

The Hallowreadathon really snuck up on me this year! It feels like just a couple of days ago that we were posting the announcement and challenges, and somehow the readathon is this weekend? I have no idea how it happened! So what am I planning to read?

For our Trick or Treat prompt, the book that has recently joined my lair (and one that I’ve been saving just for this weekend) is The Last Graduate by Naomi Novik. I loved A Deadly Education, the first book in this dark academia magic trilogy, and think that this is perfect spooky season reading. It’s been a real struggle not to read it! But it is a game of chance…

I’m not sure I totally thought through how I would do the book that’s been haunting my shelves the longest since I cleared out my Goodreads shelf in a moment of digital decluttering. Luckily, I have a blog! And with that comes years of talking about books, including this haul from 2015! It’s always a little cringey reading out posts but it did remind me that I have a very long boxset of Penguin Little Black classics. And I haven’t read any of them in a good while. So, I dusted them off and pulled out the one I felt was most halloween-y; The Yellow Wall-Paper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman.

Have no fear, the prompt is still to read a book with white on the cover. But when I pulled out a bunch of options, since I’m a bit of a mood-reader, a lot of the ones that had halloween vibes had purple covers with white so I went with it. Depending on if I get tricked or treated in prompt one, I’ll pick between longer reads like Welcome to Night Vale by Joseph Fink & Jeffrey Cranor and Broken by Kelley Armstrong. Or shorter reads like The Fell of the Dark by Caleb Roehrig and A Potion to Die For by Heather Blake.

There we go! I’m so excited to get reading. We start tomorrow, the 29th, and have a good read until Halloween, the 31st. Check out our Twitter for updates over the three days!

#Hallowreadathon 8!

#Hallowreadathon 8!

It’s that time again everyone! The leaves are changing, the weather is turning and all I want to do is bake cookies and curl up under a quilt. And, of course, read. So without further ado, the eighth Hallowreadathon! This year will run from Friday the 29th to Sunday the 31st (the big day!) and both I and my co-host Asha will be over on the Hallowreadathon twitter to cheer you on. We’ve also concocted a few prompts for you to fill, if you want to.

1. Trick or Treat!

Our first interactive prompt! We want you to toss a coin for this one; (pumpkin) heads means it’s time to pick up a book that has recently joined your lair, whereas (forked) tails means you have to dig up the unread book that’s been haunting your shelves the longest.

2. Read a book with white on the cover!

Nothing fills me with dread more than a white cover, as someone who tries to keep their books nice and clean. But we were also thinking of ghosts and ghouls, bare bones and the cool quiet moon on a cloudless night. Pick a book with a white cover, spooky or not, to fill this prompt.

3. Read two books!

Three days, two books, one weekend!

Will you be joining us? What will you be reading?

Book Review: The Plot is Murder by V. M. Burns!

Book Review: The Plot is Murder by V. M. Burns!

Cozy Mysteries are a genre that I am convinced I will love but honestly haven’t read a lot of beyond Charlaine Harris. I’ve somehow managed to collect quite a pile of them but the one that I wanted to start with, so much that I put is on my list of 27 books to read this year, was The Plot is Murder by V. M. Burns. It was a good decision!

The Plot is Murder by V. M. Burns

The small town of North Harbor on the shores of Lake Michigan is about to have a new mystery bookstore. But before the first customer can browse its shelves, the store’s owner is suspected of her own murder plot

The thing that made The Plot is Murder stand out to me was that there’s a book being written in the book. Its two mysteries for the price of one. I’ve never experienced this before, it’s been one of those things that just hasn’t crossed my orbit. But, our main character Samantha is writing a historical romance mystery while dealing with the body in her back garden and I found it fascinating. I found myself waiting for the next chapter of Samantha’s book while also wanting to know the whodunit in Samanthas life. Burns balances both really well and, at least in my opinion, manages to make the historical mystery feel like it was written by Samantha rather than by her. 

And I really liked Samantha as a writer! She takes parts of her life and puts them in her fiction, big things and little things, like a character who knits a lot while she thinks much like her grandma’s friend. And at one point another character starts reading her book and she gets nervous and doesn’t want to know what they think, but does. I think a lot of readers who also write will see themselves in her.

Now, this book is only 250 pages and contains two mysteries. You don’t get a lot of time with our historical characters but I’m plot-driven as a reader generally and I liked that the time spent with Samantha was more based on her, her life and her murder, and the time spend in 1938 England was mostly about who killed a guy at a party with a dash of romance. In the next book, Samantha is writing a sequel with the same characters, as well as dealing with another murder, so there’s plenty of time to get to know the residents of Wickfield Lodge if you wanted.

Then there’s the old ladies in Samanthas life. I’m a sucker for a book that doesn’t act like life ends at 30 and everyone older than that is relegated to the role of mother or old man with wisdom to impart. Samantha’s Nana and her friends from the retirement home are a blast, think Golden Girls but if they were gossiping about who would kill a man. 

The only thing that made me pause was the brief mention of suicide and some negative opinions about it. But apart from that The Plot is Murder sticks to cozy mystery conventions with no graphic images of violence or sex. 

Am I going to keep reading this series? Probably! These books are hard to find in the UK and it’s my first real foray into cosy mysteries of this type so I’m going to prod around a little more and see what I can find, but I’m keeping an eye out for Samantha and V.M. Burns. You can find The Plot is Murder on Hive and Amazon*.

Strange how acute your hearing became when you were waiting to be murdered.

*This post contains affiliate links.

Books I Read during my Hiatus!

Books I Read during my Hiatus!

So, I took a slightly long hiatus as I finished up my last term of my degree. And now I’m finished and free! It’s very strange to think that such a big part of my life is over. But my trusty blog was still here waiting and I thought I would go over the books I read during my break and give some thoughts on the ones that I haven’t completely forgotten…

I started reading the Sherlock Holmes books way back in May 2017 when I said: “I’m not sure I like the books as much as I like the idea of the the characters”. I finally finished them with The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle and that stayed the general vibe of these books for me. I much preferred the short stories, but in the end they were neither new favourites or completely not worth reading. I like adaptations more!

Preferring the adaptation might be the theme of these next two reads too. I read A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, and I’ve never been a huge Dickens fan. I studied him and Bleak House for university and he simply isn’t my cup of tea but A Christmas Carol is a seasonal classic and I’m glad I read it, even though I’ll be sticking to the Muppets version in the future. Similarly, I loved the Netflix adaptation of The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson and totally expected it to be a new favourite but in the end, it didn’t work for me.

I re-read some comfort reads: The Hobbit and The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien, as well as The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath and loved them as much as I did the last time. I definitely need to finish the Lord of the Rings trilogy, it’s getting embarrassing at this point!

I also read two of the classics from my list of 27 books I want to read while I’m 27; Agnes Grey by Anne Brontë was a little bit of a disappointment after adoring The Tenant of Wildfell Hall but I don’t like a few of my favourite authors debuts so ah well. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, illustrated by Chris Riddell is a beautiful book and I can’t wait until my niece is old enough for me to read it to her with these incredible illustrations!

The less said about Three Men on the Bummel by Jerome K Jerome, the better. In my mind, Three Men on a Boat is the perfect stand-alone!

Kelley Armstrong Women of the Otherworld books

As part of Rosina’s Women of the Otherworldalong, I’ve been reading my way through the series. Unfortunately, I’m a little behind (five books behind, yikes) so I’ve only read Bitten, Stolen, Dime Store Magic, Industrial Magic by Kelley Armstrong so far! I’m adoring the series, I’ve just been in a real funk with the fifth book in the series. I’m feeling in an urban fantasy mood lately though so I’ll hopefully catch up soon!

Cozy Mysteries are my new love and I started by re-reading the ones that got me into the genre: Three Bedrooms, One Corpse, The Julius House, Dead over Heels, A Fool and his Honey, Last Scene Alive, Poppy Done to Death, Sleep Like a Baby and All The Little Liars by Charlaine Harris. And then I went on to try a bunch more.

I loved Forget Me Knot by Mary Marks with it’s Fibromyalgia representation as well as quilting inspiration. And I actually have a full review of The Plot is Murder by V.M. Burns coming soon! One Poison Pie by Lynn Cahoon was one of my most anticipated releases for 2021 and while I loved the witchcraft element, I hated the fat-shaming language used to describe one of the characters over-and-over-and-over again.

After reading The Murder at the Vicarage, I think I have to face that I’m just not an Agatha Christie girl? I liked And Then There were None back when I listened to the audiobook, but I hated The Man in the Brown Suit. And Miss Marple- just not for me. I’m giving up. Sorry Agatha! Similarly, I loved The Franchise Affair by Josephine Tey when I read it but didn’t think much of Brat Farrar, I’ll give her another go though.

A Lady’s Guide to Mischief and Mayhem by Manda Collins* was kindly sent to me and I think I can firmly say that historical newspaper-writer murder-mystery romances are just too many aspects in a book for me to enjoy it. I’m passing this on to a friend who will hopefully manage to keep all the different sides to this story clearer in their mind than I could!

This is my not-much-to-say and too-much-to-say pile. I have nothing to say about The Vanished Man by Jeffery Deaver, Dangerous Remedy by Kat Dunn, The Adventure Zone: Here There Be Gerblins by the McElroys and Before Mars by Emma Newman.

But I have too much to say about Raising Hell by Bryony Pearce*, What Big Teeth by Rose Szabo, Katherine Parr, the Sixth Wife by Alison Weir*, My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell and The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson to even try in this post! Expect reviews to slowly trickle in.

Phew! And this doesn’t even include the eBooks and audiobooks! I’m glad to be back though and will hopefully start posting on a semi-regular basis soon. Thank you for sticking with me!

27 Books I Want to Read while I am 27!

27 Books I Want to Read while I am 27!

It’s was my birthday this week! And to quote Charlotte Lucas from Pride & Prejudice (2005); I’m twenty-seven years old, I’ve no money and no prospects. I’m already a burden to my parents and I’m frightened. So why not write a list to take the edge off the existential panic? I generally read around 50-60 books a year so 27 hits right at that middle point. This will hopefully mean it’ll work with both my indecisiveness when faced with a hundred options, and my need to sometimes mood read outside of a set TBR.

Starting with the big chunk of the 27… I’m going to be reading the 2nd to the 13th book of the Women of the Otherworld series by Kelley Armstrong as part of the Otherworldalong I’m doing with Rosina from Lace and Dagger Books! Most of the group have read the books before but I’m going in fresh so that’s been really fun. If you want to join, we have a Discord that is separated into the different books of the series so you can avoid spoilers!

This series are all set in the same world with a few books for each different woman. There’s werewolves, witches, ghosts, vampires… all vaguely connected, I think! It’s the first time I’ve picked up an urban fantasy series and been immediately in love since my adored Sookie Stackhouse. So I’m really looking forward to continuing the series, one book a month, for the entire year.

So that leaves 15 books. Top of that list is some other books by authors I’ve read in the past couple years. Books like Brat Farrar by Josephine Tey; I loved The Franchise Affair when I read it last year so I’m excited for more Tey.

Then there are a lot of sequels; Maresi: Red Mantle by Maria Turtschaninoff (my review of the first book is here), Storm of Locusts by Rebecca Roanhorse, Prime Deceptions by Valerie Valdes, Haunting the Deep by Adriana Mather, Before Mars by Emma Newman and The Bitter Twins by Jen Williams* (my review of The Ninth Rain is here). All these had exceptional first books and I loved them deeply, so I’m confident that they’ll be amazing. I just have to get over my fear of sequels!

I started a lot of series in 2020, so I want to reign it back slightly? These are the firsts that I’m most excited for. Enough that I will willingly stress myself out about being in the middle of a hundred and one series, just to start them.

The Plot is Murder by V.M. Burns is one of many cosy mystery first-in-a-series books that I have. I seem to be collecting them- but this is the highest rated and I need to start somewhere!

The other two are books to replace my beloved series: Six Tudor Queens by Alison Weir, which concludes this year. Katherine, The Virgin Widow by Jean Plaidy is technically the second book in Plaidy’s Tudor series… but I’m really only interested in the Queens. I found her in The Book of Forgotten Authors by Christopher Fowler and finally managed to hunt down a copy of this one. I’m hoping it’ll give me a different view of the time.

And The Drowned City by K.J. Maitland* was sent to me by the same person in publicity who originally sent me the first Six Tudor Queens book so I have high hopes! Set at the beginning of the Stuart period (the monarchy after the Tudors), its focus is the aftermath of the Gunpowder plot!

And then there are some classics that I’m almost certain that I’m going to love. I studied both The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot and The Good Soldier by Ford Maddox Ford for my degree so I want to read some of their other works too. Middlemarch by George Eliot and Parade’s End by Ford Maddox Ford are said to be both authors best, so onto the list they go.

I didn’t study The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë, I read it while procrastinating on Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë, which I actually was studying, but it was incredible. If I’m going to keep defending Anne as the best Brontë, I need to actually read her only other novel, Agnes Grey.

Then there’s The Master & Margarita by the same author as A Young Doctor’s Notebook, Mikhail Bulgakov. And finally, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, which doesn’t quite fit with the others because I read it as a child. Except, I’ve read Chris Riddell before (lots!) and he illustrates this incredibly beautiful new edition.

What do you think of my picks? Have you read any of these?

My Most Anticipated 2021 Book Releases!

My Most Anticipated 2021 Book Releases!

It’s a new year! And that means new books to preorder and look forward to! I’ve tried to keep my list pretty small as it can be overwhelming when there are so many books coming out. I read around a book a week, so these 12 are three months worth of reading- but they all sound wonderful and hopefully, you’ll find something you like the sound of.

So… in order of release!

One Poison Pie by Lynn Cahoon

What’s a kitchen witch to do when her almost-fiancé leaves her suddenly single and unemployed? For Mia Malone, the answer’s simple: move to her grandmother’s quirky Idaho hometown, where magic is an open secret and witches and warlocks are (mostly) welcome. With a new gourmet dinner delivery business—and a touch of magic in her recipes—Mia’s hopes are high.
But her first catering job takes a distasteful turn when her client’s body is found, stabbed and stuffed under the head table. She’ll have to find out which of the town’s eccentric residents has an appetite for murder…before this fresh start comes to a sticky end

I pre-ordered this as soon as I read the blurb because it sounds such fun! Small town witches? Murder? Meddling grandma? Cosy crime has been such a balm these days. Normally these kinds of series have 100 books out before I find out about them so I’m really looking forward to reading book one on release day!

26th January

What Big Teeth by Rose Szabo

Eleanor Zarrin has been estranged from her wild family for years. When she flees boarding school after a horrifying incident, she goes to the only place she thinks is safe: the home she left behind. But when she gets there, she struggles to fit in with her monstrous relatives, who prowl the woods around the family estate and read fortunes in the guts of birds.

I found this while looking for blurbs for the rest of this list online and couldn’t resist clicking on that cover. I knew I needed it immediately. This weird, eerie, gothic debut is going to be quite a shake-up to my usual choice of genre but I’m excited to spread my wings. I know they say don’t judge a book by its cover – but yikes! Look at that!

2nd February

All Our Hidden Gifts by Caroline O’Donoghue

Maeve Chambers doesn’t have much going for her. Not only does she feel like the sole idiot in a family of geniuses, she managed to drive away her best friend Lily a year ago. But when she finds a pack of dusty old tarot cards at school, and begins to give scarily accurate readings to the girls in her class, she realizes she’s found her gift at last. Things are looking up – until she discovers a strange card in the deck that definitely shouldn’t be there. And two days after she convinces her ex-best friend to have a reading, Lily disappears.

I adore Tarot so any book featuring it immediately has my attention, but I’m also intrigued by the relationships that are laid out in the blurb of this one. Feeling out of place in her family, struggling with friendships, I think Maeve is going to be really relatable for a lot of readers.

4th February

The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner

One cold February evening in 1791, at the back of a dark London alley in a hidden apothecary shop, Nella awaits her newest customer. Once a respected healer, Nella now uses her knowledge for a darker purpose—selling well-disguised poisons to desperate women who would kill to be free of the men in their lives.
In present-day London, aspiring historian Caroline Parcewell spends her tenth wedding anniversary alone, reeling from the discovery of her husband’s infidelity. When she finds an old apothecary vial near the river Thames, she can’t resist investigating, only to realize she’s found a link to the unsolved “apothecary murders” that haunted London over two centuries ago. As she deepens her search, Caroline’s life collides with Nella’s in a stunning twist of fate—and not everyone will survive.

Historical fiction is very hit-or-miss for me so I’m a little nervous about this one. It sounds wonderful! But it’ll be all down to the writing style. I’m hoping the modern aspiring historian helps with that.

2nd March

Six Tudor Queens: Katherine Parr, The Sixth Wife by Alison Weir

A woman torn between love and duty.
Two husbands dead, a boy and a sick man. And now Katharine is free to make her own choice. 
The ageing King’s eye falls upon her. She cannot refuse him… or betray that she wanted another. 
She becomes the sixth wife – a queen and a friend. Henry loves and trusts her. But Katharine is hiding another secret in her heart, a deeply held faith that could see her burn…

I’ve been reading this series since book one and I can’t quite believe it’s nearly over! I remember seeing that it was going to take six years to publish, one book a year and thinking that would take so long.
I’m really looking forward to this one as we finally get to see Henry die and the wife be the survivor, and Katherine Parr was a really interesting woman! She was regent for a while, wrote books and is the most-married English Queen ever with her four marriages.

13th May

May The Best Man Win by ZR Ellor

Jeremy Harkiss, cheer captain and student body president, won’t let coming out as a transgender boy ruin his senior year. Instead of bowing to the bigots and outdated school administration, Jeremy decides to make some noise—and how better than by challenging his all-star ex-boyfriend, Lukas for the title of Homecoming King?
Lukas Rivers, football star and head of the Homecoming Committee, is just trying to find order in his life after his older brother’s funeral and the loss long-term girlfriend—who turned out to be a boy. But when Jeremy threatens to break his heart and steal his crown, Lukas kick starts a plot to sabotage Jeremy’s campaign.
When both boys take their rivalry too far, the dance is on the verge of being cancelled. To save Homecoming, they’ll have to face the hurt they’re both hiding—and the lingering butterflies they can’t deny.

Give me lovers-to-enemies-to-lovers. Give me competing for the same prize. Give me fighting their feelings. Give me this book straight into my brain. This sounds like it’s going to be such a cute romance with a trans MC at the centre, while also dealing with things like bullies, death in the family and high school garbage. I already want them to have a happy ending.

18th May

Tokyo Ever After by Emiko Jean

Izumi Tanaka has lived an uneventful seventeen years in her small, mostly white, northern California town, keenly aware of all the ways in which her family is different from most of her classmates’. But then Izumi discovers a clue to her previously unknown father’s identity . . . and he’s none other than the Crown Prince of Japan. Which means outspoken, irreverent, can-burp-the-alphabet Izzy is literally a princess. 

I loved Emiko Jean’s last novel; Empress of All Seasons, which was YA fantasy. So when I saw that she had a new book coming out, I was really surprised that it’s contemporary! Described as The Princess Diaries meets Crazy Rich Asians, I have really high hopes. I loved The Princess Diaries as a teen (and when I re-read them as an adult), so this was an easy pre-order.

27th May

Meet-Cute Diary by Emery Lee

Noah Ramirez thinks he’s an expert on romance. He has to be for his popular blog, the Meet Cute Diary, a collection of trans happily ever afters. There’s just one problem—all the stories are fake. What started as the fantasies of a trans boy afraid to step out of the closet has grown into a beacon of hope for trans readers across the globe.
When a troll exposes the blog as fiction, Noah’s world unravels. The only way to save the Diary is to convince everyone that the stories are true, but he doesn’t have any proof. Then Drew walks into Noah’s life, and the pieces fall into place: Drew is willing to fake-date Noah to save the Diary. But when Noah’s feelings grow beyond their staged romance, he realizes that dating in real life isn’t quite the same as finding love on the page.

Fake-dating! Is one of my favourite tropes! I can already tell that the troll exposé is going to stress me out but I will do anything to read a fake-dating-real-feelings traditionally published novel. Not to mention the five-star review by Aiden Thomas. June feels so long away.

10th June

The Murder of Graham Catton by Katie Lowe

Ten years ago, Hannah’s husband was brutally murdered in their home, and she (conveniently) doesn’t remember a thing about that night. But the police charged someone else—a stranger—and put him away for life. And Hannah packed up her six-year-old daughter and left London behind.
But now her hard-won countryside peace is threatened. Conviction, a viral true-crime podcast known for getting cases reopened and old verdicts overturned, has turned its attention to Hannah’s husband’s murder for its new season. They say police framed the man who was found guilty, and that Hannah has more suspicious secrets than just her memory loss.

I have… complicated feelings about true-crime podcasts so I’m really looking forward to exploring them a little deeper with the help of this book. Truly a novel for the modern age of Serial, Dirty John and a hundred others. I can already tell I’m going to have to start this early in the morning, or risk being up all night reading.

10th June

Blood Like Magic by Liselle Sambury

A rich, dark urban fantasy debut following a teen witch who is given a horrifying task: sacrificing her first love to save her family’s magic. The problem is, she’s never been in love–she’ll have to find the perfect guy before she can kill him.

Urban fantasy. Witches. Black girl magic. Matchmaking service. Almost 500 pages. First in a series. Sign me up! It’s going to be a tough June for prioritising reads with so many promising books coming out but I might just plan a whole week off to be absolutely destroyed by this.

15th June

Dog Rose Dirt by Jen Williams

When prodigal daughter Heather Evans returns to her family home, it’s for an unhappy reason: her mother Colleen has killed herself, and Heather must pick up the pieces. Sorting through her mother’s belongings Heather makes an alarming discovery – carefully preserved letters from the notorious serial killer Michael Reave. The Red Wolf, as the press dubbed him, has been in prison for over twenty years, serving a life sentence for the gruesome and ritualistic murders of several women across the country, although he has always protested his innocence. The police have had no reason to listen, yet Heather isn’t the only one to suddenly have cause to re-examine the Red Wolf murders – the body of a young woman has been found, dismembered and placed inside a tree, the corpse planted with flowers. Just as the Red Wolf once did.

Jen Williams wrote my favourite fantasy, and I am a coward who hasn’t finished the series. It’s literally one of my 2021 goals. But now she’s written a thriller and I will follow her into any genre. She could start writing instructional manuals about road pothole repair and I would buy it. But luckily, she’s written a serial killer thriller. And it sounds incredible.

22nd July

Afterlove by Tanya Byrne

Car headlights.
The last thing Ash hears is the snap of breaking glass as the windscreen hits her and breaks into a million pieces like stars. 
But she made it, she’s still here. Or is she?
This New Year’s Eve, Ash is gets an RSVP from the afterlife she can’t decline: to join a clan of fierce girl reapers who take the souls of the city’s dead to await their fate. 
But Ash can’t forget her first love, Poppy, and she will do anything to see her again … even if it means they only get a few more days together. Dead or alive…

I’ve had this pre-ordered since June and was so sad when it got, understandably, postponed. When I finally get this sapphic YA paranormal romance in my hands, I will do a little dance.

22nd July

That’s all folks! What books are you looking forward to in 2021? Is there anything else I should be looking at?

Re-Read Review: The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins!

Re-Read Review: The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins!

When the news of the prequel, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, came out I knew I wanted to re-read the original Hunger Games trilogy. It’s been six years since I first read the trilogy and they were really important in my journey of becoming a reader again and book blogging! My original reviews were.. sparse, and very much about my emotional response which is perfectly valid, I just wanted to do a bit of a deep dive into what makes these books so dang good in my opinion. So!

Contexts of Reading

I remember reading this series for the first time really vividly. Not so much the actual story, because I definitely forgot most of the plot points in the past six years. But my life surrounding reading this. I even remember the song I was listening to on repeat at the time. And I think that it’s really interesting that in however many years until I read this again, I might remember things like being in lockdown, playing a lot of Animal Crossing and working really hard at my last university essay. I think only a special kind of book can effect me in this way. I’ve re-read books before and mostly it’s just remembering bits of the story.

The Writing Style

I’ve mentioned a couple times this year that I’ve been struggling to read lately because I’m so focused on the act of reading. However, Collins writing style is so unique and crafted to be bare-bones that it’s incredibly easy to read. There’s no info-dumping or huge chunks of thinking, you’re just in Katniss’s head and immediately in the action. The story is left open just enough that your own thoughts and feelings can fill the gap. I thought that the pacing on the second and third books was a little weird, but by Mockingjay, I was locked in and finished it incredibly quickly.

The Epilogue

I’m not a big fan of epilogues in general. As a reader and an attempting writer, I prefer it when the ending happens and what goes next is left to the imagination. If you want the main character to live happily ever after, you decide what that looks like. But I do like the epilogue in this case, because I think that considering how much she mentions not wanting kids because they’d have to play in the games, it was important to see Katniss no longer have that fear. Plus, Collins got to talk a little about how best to teach younger generations about bad things.

The Messages

The Hunger Games trilogy are political books. Oppressed people hating other oppressed people instead of their oppressor, revolutions galore, people being used as pawns in a game they don’t understand. I mean- very applicable to almost every age of humanity.

Marking my books

I like to keep my books pretty neat and unmarked in general. I use sticky notes to mark them up for reviews and bits of writing I like. But this time I decided to underline, in pen! Mainly because I know these books are going to stick around on my shelves. I don’t have any immediate plans to re-read them, maybe I’ll wait another six years, or more, but when I do- I’ll get a little snapshot into this read and what stood out to me, and I think that’s pretty neat.

Do you re-read a lot? What is your favourite book to re-read?

Books I Read in September & October!

Books I Read in September & October!

As the year wraps up, I’m determined to get on top of these wrap-ups! Today, I’m talking about the books I read in September & October. Including one that took over my life for a few days, one that infuriated me beyond belief, and one that I’ve actually been reading since Summer and finally sat down to finish…

The Stone Monkey by Jeffery Deaver

It’s been a good while since I read a Deaver! In fact, I traced it back to May 2018! Since it’s been a while, I kind of forgot how bloody masterful Deaver is at crafting a mystery. This book took me over for a few days while I flew through it. The twists, the turns, wherever you think you’re going, you’re not, whatever you think is happening, it isn’t. But it’s done in a way that you discover things at the same time as the characters, and everything makes sense.
It’s also really nice to have good disability representation, both in Rhyme being a quadriplegic and Amelia having severe arthritis. In this book there’s also talk of endometriosis and fertility issues.

A Bone to Pick by Charlaine Harris

This is a re-read for me that I started over Summer and finally got around to finishing. This series will pop up a lot in future wrap-ups because it took over my audiobook listening for a good couple months. I just love the series and this was always one of my favourites.

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

Ah, if only I knew. I read this because I knew that the TV show was coming to Netflix and I loved The Haunting of Hill House adaptation. But, I didn’t really enjoy the book and I only got through two episodes of the TV show. I can’t put my finger on why, it just didn’t meet my expectations. There were a few moments that had my skin crawling though!

An Armful of Babies and a Cup of Tea by Molly Corbally

This is a really charming and interesting memoir about 1950’s health visitors in the UK and her role in the community. I wanted to read something similar to the Call the Midwife series of books by Jennifer Worth and this was a great choice. The timing is similar and it delved into what happened to the babies after they were signed off from the midwives and onto the health visitor.
Molly is charming and headstrong, and it’s a real joy to read her experiences. I also really liked hearing about her partnership with Claire and the home they had together.
“People still wondered how it worked, especially the men, who couldn’t imagine how women exist, let alone be happy, without male company.”

Midwife on Call by Agnes Light

In comparison, Midwife on Call is a much more modern look at midwifery and maternity with the NHS as it looks at the 70s-00s. Agnes is outspoken in her opinions and her care for her patients which was really great to read, but it didn’t have the same cozy and soft vibe.
This is the one to read if you’re less squeamish and like a bit of humour with your memoir!
I started getting labour contractions in the middle of the night and my husband awoke to a vision of me performing contortions as I tried to examine myself internally to check if my cervix was dilating.

Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse

I started reading this all the way back in June and I ended up putting it down for a couple months because the pacing felt so strange. But I loved the world and the characters that I had to pick it up again and it ended up being a real blast to read. It’s great combination of urban fantasy and Wild West vibes, with a little dystopia in the mix. There’s been a climate apocalypse and now monsters and heroes and gods are all over the place. So much fun.
I’d recommend this to every urban fantasy fan as it’s so different from the usual vampires and werewolves, but scratches the same itch! I can’t wait to read the second book, and her new series.
“Everything you’ve done, your past, it’s all just a story you tell yourself. Some of it is true, but some of it is lies.”

The Code of the Woosters by P.G. Wodehouse

I’ve been listening to a lot of Jeeves audiobooks in 2020. They were easy listens, funny and charming, and my library had a lot available. But, I’ve hit my limit now. I will definitely be back to read more once I’ve had a bit of time to forget the formula though.

What have you been reading lately? Have you read any of these?