When The Stars Go Dark, Paula McLain – Book Review

This is the first I’ve read of this author – I’ve had her hit historical fiction novel The Paris Wife waiting on my Kindle for years, and it will be getting bumped up the list now. McLain is an established writer who’s enjoyed success in a range of genres – even poetry – but this is her debut in crime fiction. And I adored it. You can tell reading this novel that this is a seasoned author, one who knows how to use words in a literary, almost lyrical way, but also how to craft a suspenseful, plot-driven story.

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Watch Her Fall, Erin Kelly – Book Review

Erin Kelly is one of those authors I’ve come to rely on for high-quality psychological thrillers, and I’m happy to say that this release is up there with the best of them. In Watch Her Fall, the author draws us into the cut-throat world of ballet, in a story pitched as Black Swan meets Killing Eve. A pretty irresistible combination, right?

The story opens with Ava, 30-year-old ballerina at the pinnacle of her career, who has just landed the coveted main role in Swan Lake at her father’s elite ballet school, London Russian Ballet. We meet Ava in the lead-up to opening night, and the atmosphere is tense from the outset.

“The spotlight was a shining cage, and it kept you safe or kept you lonely, depending on how you chose to look at it.”

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The Songbook of Benny Lament, Amy Harmon – Book Review

Benny is man who has always tried to make his own way in life. Despite his family’s mob connections, he’s forged a new path as a musician and songwriter in 1960s New York. He’s quite content with his lot, making a profit keeping behind the scenes, never letting anyone close and even keeping his own family at a distance. Until, his Pop takes him to a club to hear Esther Mine sing, and everything begins to unravel.

Suddenly he finds himself letting someone close for the first time, agreeing to manage Esther and her family’s band and falling for a woman of a different race with a complicated background, one that’s intertwined with his own family history. He even takes centre stage alongside Esther, as their natural bickering and chemistry makes for great watching and even better songwriting.

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You Love Me, Caroline Kepnes – Book Review

Our third dalliance with Joe Goldberg has just hit the shelves, and it’s peppered with his trademark dark cynicism, obsessive internal monologues and unique way of looking at the world.

This time, he’s a few years older and wiser, he’s spent time in prison following his exploits with his ex Love and the Quinn family, and he’s just looking for the quiet life. He moves to a small town on the coast and starts volunteering at the local library. But drama and obsession follow Joe, and it’s not long before there’s a new lady in his life.

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The Midnight Library, Matt Haig – Book Review

I got this book for Christmas (on request) and I’ve been saving it for a while. I just knew Matt Haig wouldn’t disappoint – and I was right. This book was the heart-warming, life-affirming breath of fresh air I needed in my life right now. This is a book I think I could turn to time after time when I’m not sure where my life is going, and it’d bring some comfort and inspiration. And that’s a pretty special book.

After attempting to end her life, protagonist Nora finds herself suspended between life and death. She enters the Midnight Library, a magical place where she’s given a chance to experience how her life could have been, to undo her regrets and answer all those ‘what ifs?’

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The Last House On Needless Street, Catriona Ward – Book Review

This book. I thought I was entering into familiar territory here – a psychological thriller, maybe a little sprinkle of horror. Nothing I can’t handle. I was wrong. This book threw me. It gave me nightmares (I don’t mean that metaphorically). It gave me a twist I never expected. And ultimately, after spending a while in a dark place, it gave me hope.

This is the story of a serial killer. A stolen child. Revenge. Death. And an ordinary house at the end of an ordinary street.

All these things are true. And yet they are all lies…

This description is a pretty standard blurb for this type of novel. But in this case, it’s really accurate. So much so, it’s a very difficult one to review as I have to step over the gaping spoiler that really brings the novel together and alters its entire theme and purpose.

But I’ll try.

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Top Ten Tuesday – Books on my Spring 2021 TBR

TTT is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl (it was originally created over at The Broke and the Bookish) and she provides great prompts week in and week out to get us talking about books! Today’s theme is pretty straightforward – it’s books on my Spring 2021 TBR. I’ll be including a mix of new ARCs in my collection, and older books I’m determined to get around to soon. And yes I snuck in a few more than ten – there are a lot more than ten books on my spring TBR…

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

I was very excited to get approved for this ARC. I’d read this solely based on how much I loved Daisy Jones and the Six, but luckily the synopsis of scandal at a glamorous party in 1980s Malibu sounds brilliant too.

Watch Her Fall by Erin Kelly

Another ARC I’m super excited for – Erin Kelly never disappoints, and this has been described as ‘Black Swan’ meets ‘Killing Eve’. I’m all in.

She Who Became The Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan

Mulan meets The Song of Achilles in this debut, apparently. Set in 1300s China, this literary fantasy novel is out this summer, and it looks like it could be something special.

The Giver Of Stars by Jojo Moyes

Jojo Moyes’ latest novel has been on my TBR a little while (since before its release in 2019) so I’m really hoping to get to it soon. It’s a change of pace from the Me Before You series, an epic historical fiction about a group of women and a travelling library in Depression-era America.

The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary

I don’t read many rom-coms, but this author has received a lot of hype, and I’m trying to make a conscious effort to read more feel-good stories, as a lot of the fiction I read is quite dark.

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

I have been meaning to try this author for years – she’s so so well-respected and loved. I picked this family drama up on a Kindle deal and I’m hoping to get to it soon.

The One by John Marrs

This is another one I’ve had for years but the Netflix series just dropped, so maybe I actually need to read it now! I enjoy this author’s thrillers, and this one about a match-making service using people’s DNA sounds intriguing.

Machines Like Me by Ian McEwan

I’ve had this book for a while, and after recently reading and loving Kazuo Ishiguro’s Klara and the Sun, I’m keen to read another literary take on AI.

The End Of Men by Christina Sweeney-Baird

Maybe reading about a mysterious virus breakout during a global pandemic is a little morbid, but this debut about a virus that only affects the male population has got me intrigued.

Utopia Avenue by David Mitchell

I previously read The Bone Clocks by this author and wasn’t quite sure I understood the hype around him, but I’m giving him another try with this latest release. It’s about a fictional band in the swinging sixties, so it sounds pretty fun.

The Songbook of Benny Lament by Amy Harmon

Another novel with a musical theme. I’ve never come across this author before but it seems like she has a lot of fans! This book has 1960s Motown, romance and mafia, and I’m here for it.

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

One of those books that was everywhere last year and I somehow didn’t get to, despite the fact that I love a bit of gothic horror. I really hope to get to it this spring.


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The Girls Are All So Nice Here, Laurie Elizabeth Flynn – Book Review

It’s hard sometimes to review a book which evokes a strong reaction in you, but not one you necessarily enjoy. I can recognise that the writer is talented to make me feel so much, yet I struggle at points to get through a book where the hatred, lies and betrayal is just dripping off the characters to the point where I’m frustrated with almost all of them. I’m not entirely sure I knew what I was letting myself in for with this one. Yes, I knew this was a ‘mean girls’ story. I just wasn’t prepared for quite how mean they could be.

Ambrosia Wellington – known as Amb – is our protagonist and (almost) sole narrator. She was a mean girl in college, but she’s over it now, settled down with a PR job in Manhattan, a small apartment and a decent husband. A man who’s kind, but perhaps ultimately lazy, and not deep enough to get under her skin and understand who she truly is and what she’s done. Until, an invitation arrives for her college reunion. Of course, the happy couple should go along – but neither of them really have an idea of how things might unfold…

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Top Ten Tuesday – Spring cleaning edition

TTT is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl (it was originally created over at The Broke and the Bookish) and she provides great prompts week in and week out to get us talking about books! 

Today’s edition is a ‘spring cleaning freebie’ and I’m going for cleaning out my TBR, selecting 10 books I own that have sat on my TBR for so long, that I’m no longer sure if I want to read them.

Now, there is a strange mix of genres here. My list features quite a lot of YA, contemporary and romance as it’s a genre I often get caught up in the hype of, but then don’t actually read that much of. It’s also quite an oversaturated genre and it can be difficult to determine what’ll be a gem and what’s more of a mediocre read. So, any advice would be appreciated!

There’s also some other titles, some that were big award-winners around their time but yet I still haven’t got a round to. Are they all worth keeping on the list?

My Name Is Leon by Kit De Waal

I picked up a hard copy of this a few years ago, when I happened to wander into a bookstore which had editions signed by the author. It’s a story of two young siblings growing up in 1980s Britain. It received a few accolades and awards at the time, and yet I still haven’t got around to it.

The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

Another one I got years ago – I think it may have been a Kindle freebie. I know this YA contemporary author has some loyal fans – but this book about a girl grieving the death of her sister just sounds a little depressing. Should I bite the bullet and give it a try?

Delirium by Lauren Oliver

When this book was everywhere I really wanted to get my hands on a copy. It’s probably a book that been on my TBR the longest, and I have actually read other books by this author since. But, I’m 10 years older than when it was released, and I’m just not sure the story still holds the same appeal. Maybe I’ll give it a try when I’m in the right mood.

The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton

A historical murder mystery with a hint of supernatural and a Booker Prize winner, this book really appeals to me. BUT, it’s super long – probably the most off-putting thing about any book for me.

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

This is another Booker Prize winner that I know I should read – I just haven’t quite got around to it yet.

A Thousand Pieces Of You by Claudia Grey

I think I was mainly attracted to this because of its gorgeous cover. It’s a YA offering about travelling between dimensions, which sounds super intriguing.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

Another YA with a lot of hype and the potential to be very depressing. I probably will give this a try at some point.

The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

This is a YA dystopian, the first in a series which seems to have received some mixed reviews. I think it’s another one where I got sucked in by an intriguing cover, but hopefully the story lives up to it.

The Tea Rose by Jennifer Donnelly

This series seems to have a bit of a cult following – as far as I can make out it’s a historical drama/romance set during the time of Jack the Ripper. It’s also quite long.

November 9 by Colleen Hoover

Colleen Hoover is an author who has such a loyal fan base, but I’ve still never read! I actually have two of her books on my Kindle – this and Maybe Someday. I’m rarely in the mood for this type of romance read, but I’m hoping the urge will take me at some point.

Have you read any of these? What are you spring cleaning from your shelves this month? Let me know in the comments!


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Every Last Fear, Alex Finlay – Book Review

I finished this book in just a few days last week. It’s a very clever, tightly-plotted and compulsively readable psychological thriller, and I really can’t fault the author’s writing and skills in suspense. The only issue for me writing this review now is it’s not the most memorable – the plot flies by at a fast pace in the blink of an eye, and there’s a host of colourful and complex characters, but because the narrative point of view changes frequently we don’t get to know them in a whole lot of depth.

But that’s a small niggle – one which is more an issue for me reviewing it a few days after, rather than affecting the enjoyment reading the story. This is a really strong debut, one that feels like a much more experienced author (probably because it is). It combines a new mystery – a family’s multiple homicide – with an old, small-town murder, blending past and present to lead to startling conclusion which gets to the bottom of both.

The link is the Pine family. They haven’t had a great time of it. Their oldest son Danny was imprisoned years before for the murder of his high school girlfriend Charlotte after a houseparty. The case was covered in a Netflix documentary which shot the Pine family and the town to a state of infamy, and made a compelling case for Danny’s innocence. Years later, the entire family are found dead on a spring break in Mexico. Except for the two older sons, Danny and Matt Pine.

“You have two choices when you’re confronted with your every last fear.

Give up or fight like hell.”

The story mainly follows Matt. He’s become a little estranged from his family due to tensions following the murder and documentary, and he’s been making his own life for himself at NYU. But family is family. He still cares for them deeply, and when he’s alerted of their untimely deaths he’s straight on a plane to Mexico to straighten things out.

So, we have multiple murders spanning years, buried secrets and a whole lot of unfinished business, on a journey through New York, the smalltown Mid-west to coastal Mexico. Matt is one of the main protagonists but we also hear from a fiery FBI agent Keller and multiple members of the Pine family leading up to their deaths. It’s action-packed and fast-moving, but you do get a sense of the Pine family, their love for each other and passion for justice for Danny.

I really enjoyed the younger sister Maggie and the Dad Evan and their ‘Holmes and Watson’ sleuthing skills. I also loved Matt and his friendship group and could read a whole other book about them. Like I said, there’s a great character cast and while we don’t get too much of a in depth exploration of them, I had a whole lot of fun following their journey and uncovering the truth in this truly gripping read.

I received Every Last Fear in exchange for an honest review. 4/5.

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