The Girlfriend by Sarah J. Naughton [eARC Review]

I received this novel as an advance copy from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

34929067Summary (Goodreads): After years of estrangement from her family, Mags receives a shocking phone call. Her rebellious brother, Abe, is in a coma, and the police suspect he tried to take his own life. But Mags isn’t so sure, and she begins to crack away at the life of the brother she once knew: the dark apartment building, the whispering tenants, and her brother’s mysterious girlfriend, the only witness to the incident, who raises more questions than answers. As Mags picks up where the police left off, she begins to unearth the secrets her brother left behind—and awakens her own talent for revenge.


Review: TW: There are mentions of abuse in this story, so please be aware. It isn’t described in too much detail but there is enough to make some readers uncomfortable.

This was an interesting novel, for sure. It just wasn’t my favourite.

I think that the story was unique in that it was told primarily from the perspective of 3 female characters. I liked that each one was different and had their own personality. I don’t think I necessarily loved any of the characters but they added for an interesting element to the story.

I thought the story itself was interesting … but it didn’t hold my interest constantly. The author definitely tried to incorporate quite a few twists into the story – and they did. But it was a bit underwhelming in its delivery. Perhaps this was because once the twist was delivered, the author also spent some time explaining it, which lost the effect of showing the reader something new and it just felt like I was being told what was happening.

I also was surprised by the legal turn the story took. I wasn’t expecting it, and I don’t think it really worked for me. It ended up slowing down the pacing of the story, when I would have preferred for it to be fast.

Overall, this wasn’t a bad thriller. It just wasn’t the type of thriller I was looking for. While there were moments that were interesting, I started to lose my focus closer to the end. I would give this a 3/5 stars.

Happy reading ~

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The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw

I received this novel as an advance copy from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

I’m going to start with a confession: when I heard about this book I was nervous that it was going to be just hype and not live up to my expectations. NEVER HAVE I BEEN SO HAPPY TO BE WRONG!

35297394Summary (Goodreads): Welcome to the cursed town of Sparrow…

Where, two centuries ago, three sisters were sentenced to death for witchery. Stones were tied to their ankles and they were drowned in the deep waters surrounding the town.

Now, for a brief time each summer, the sisters return, stealing the bodies of three weak-hearted girls so that they may seek their revenge, luring boys into the harbor and pulling them under.

Like many locals, seventeen-year-old Penny Talbot has accepted the fate of the town. But this year, on the eve of the sisters’ return, a boy named Bo Carter arrives; unaware of the danger he has just stumbled into.

Mistrust and lies spread quickly through the salty, rain-soaked streets. The townspeople turn against one another. Penny and Bo suspect each other of hiding secrets. And death comes swiftly to those who cannot resist the call of the sisters.

But only Penny sees what others cannot. And she will be forced to choose: save Bo, or save herself.


Review: This is hands-down one of my favourite books I’ve read this month.

At first, I was a little confused as to where the story was going to go. The writing style was very elegant but the events seemed a little too teenager-y for my taste. I was worried I wouldn’t like this book….

AND THEN IT ALL CHANGED.

The ghostliness of the story became the forefront and it was just amazing. I loved the atmosphere of this novel, with its haunting imagery and creepy scenes. It delivered on so many fronts. Every chapter began with a small section about the 3 sisters who were responsible for the curse on the island and these excerpts were so intriguing! The entire reading experience was just fantastic.

Even though I had already predicted the biggest twist in the story, I found myself enjoying the story so much that I didn’t care. I didn’t need for there to be that massive surprise when the quality of the storytelling was just so good!

I also quite liked the interactions between the different characters. I didn’t think I would since I’m not a big fan of romance, but it was done very nicely here, and I was able to really connect with the characters. Needless to say, I was pretty emotional when I got to the ending – but that’s when you know you’ve read something amazing!

I honestly cannot say enough about this book because I just loved every minute of it. If you like romance and ghostly encounters and witches and amazing writing, then check out this book! I’m giving it 5/5 stars!

Happy reading ~

Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire

If you didn’t already know, I’m obsessed with anything related to Every Heart A Doorway. It was the first book I read by Seanan McGuire, and it blew my mind. Every chance I get to jump back into that whimsical and twisted world, I take it. I’ve been anxiously anticipating this book, and it was such a great read! Here’s my review:

27366528Summary (Goodreads): Beneath the Sugar Sky returns to Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children. At this magical boarding school, children who have experienced fantasy adventures are reintroduced to the “real” world.

Sumi died years before her prophesied daughter Rini could be born. Rini was born anyway, and now she’s trying to bring her mother back from a world without magic.


Review: I’m aware that this is a very short summary of the book … but really, if any more detail was given, then the story would be ruined. Let me begin by saying that I highly recommend you to read Every Heart A Doorway before reading this one; while it may be marketed as a standalone, there are too many references and details to the original book for that to work. Reading Every Heart A Doorway will really give you a glimpse into the whimsical mayhem that is this world – or rather, worlds.

If you’ve read the other books that are part of this series, then you will most likely enjoy this one. It features a diverse group of characters, all from different worlds that come together to help Rini, a stranger who literally fell into their lives. I love all of the characters in this book; they are vibrant, and unique, and beautifully created. There is nothing I love more than good characters – and these ones are great! I enjoyed reading about the ways they interacted, how they learned to respect the differences that made each person unique, and how much they embraced their own uniqueness. Not only are the characters diverse because of their experiences in their different “worlds”, they have diverse ethnic background, gender identities, and abilities. I love that this book focused on body image and identity, highlighting the difficulties and assumptions that come with these issues as well as ways in which to feel positive about these issues. It’s important for an author to talk about real-life issues and the way that Seanan McGuire does it is phenomenal; underneath all the whimsical magic of the story lies important messages that everyone needs to hear.

I also love the setting. It is gorgeous and magical and open to every possible thing you can imagine. This book series is amazing because of the beautiful way the author describes everything – and I’m not going to say any more on this because I want you to experience it for yourselves!

The great thing about this book is that it is really short, but leaves plenty of avenues to explore and discover. I love the sense of adventure in this book and how things make no sense and yet are still logical. It was perfect and I cannot wait to see what else the author has in store for this series!

I really cannot rave more about this book. I love this series so much because it is so out of the norm. I have no idea how the author comes up with these crazy ideas … but I hope it never stops! I love that these books have deeper meanings and themes underneath the surface and features a diverse host of characters. For all those reasons, I’m giving this 5/5 stars!

Happy reading ~

Odd Child Out by Gilly MacMillan

I was a little hesitant to read this novel because I hadn’t enjoyed The Perfect Girl. However, let it never be said that I am prejudiced against an author or their work; I always try to read at least one more book by that author to see whether I can gel with the author’s storytelling style. I was also intrigued because this book has been doing very well and was recommended to me by a bunch of different people. Here is my review:

Synopsis (Goodreads): Best friends Noah Sandler and Abdi Mahad have always been inseparable.  But when Noah is found floating unconscious in Bristol’s Feeder Canal, Abdi can’t–or won’t–tell anyone what happened.

Just back from a mandatory leave following his last case, Detective Jim Clemo is now assigned to look into this unfortunate accident.  But tragedy strikes and what looked like the simple case of a prank gone wrong soon ignites into a public battle.  Noah is British.  Abdi is a Somali refugee.   And social tensions have been rising rapidly in Bristol.  Against this background of fear and fury two families fight for their sons and for the truth.  Neither of them know how far they will have to go, what demons they will have to face, what pain they will have to suffer.

Because the truth hurts.


My review: At first, I struggled with the novel. The story was slow-going in the beginning, even though it takes place after the accident. I didn’t really know where the author wanted to take the story and quite a lot of time was taken to set the stage. While it didn’t make sense then, it certainly does now.

There were quite a few perspectives that this story was written from but one main one was that of Jim Clemo, the detective in charge of the investigation. Apart from his character, we also get to read from Noah’s perspective, Abdi’s family’s perspective, and finally, from Abdi himself. I thought this was a very interesting way to write the story, especially since there was no real order to the rotation of the different voices. I had my favourite voices, of course, but my actual opinion on this technique is split. On the one hand, it allowed me to see the situation from different eyes. However, I also didn’t always feel like I got to understand the characters themselves. It was definitely a unique way to present the story, and in the end, it did work.

I liked most of the characters in the story, regardless of whether their role was positive or negative. However, the one character I really didn’t care for was Jim Clemo. I didn’t think there was much of a personality, and I didn’t really want to learn too much about his side story.

The main story itself was a lot more complex than how it was first portrayed. This isn’t just about culpability and who did what. This was about the struggle to be an immigrant, the struggle of being a part of the life of a sick child. There were issues with the media and the way that it can warp the findings of a case. This novel even showed some insight into the way trauma and PTSD can affect a person’s life in the long-term. Even though I wasn’t able to get into the novel in the beginning, the complexity and depth of all of these issues quickly made me change my mind and I found myself appreciative of the effort the author put into talking about these different topics. By the end of the novel, I was hooked and I found the ending to surpass all my expectations. This novel gets a solid 4/5 stars from me!

Happy reading ~

Only Child by Rhiannon Navin

One of the things that drew me to this book was the number of comparisons it had to Room by Emma Donoghue. I absolutely adored that book. I was wondering if this novel would live up to that comparison…

It most definitely did.

Synopsis (Goodreads): Squeezed into a coat closet with his classmates and teacher, first grader Zach Taylor can hear gunshots ringing through the halls of his school. A gunman has entered the building, taking nineteen lives and irrevocably changing the very fabric of this close-knit community. While Zach’s mother pursues a quest for justice against the shooter’s parents, holding them responsible for their son’s actions, Zach retreats into his super-secret hideout and loses himself in a world of books and art. Armed with his newfound understanding, and with the optimism and stubbornness only a child could have, Zach sets out on a captivating journey towards healing and forgiveness, determined to help the adults in his life rediscover the universal truths of love and compassion needed to pull them through their darkest hours.


I’m still trying to come up with the right words to describe how amazing this novel is. It is absolutely fantastic, and the fact that this came from a debut author is hard to believe.

The novel deals with a difficult topic: gun violence and the loss of an innocent child. The story is masterfully written, told entirely from the perspective of young Zach Taylor. It is his innocent thoughts that we hear, his eyes through which we observe – and yet, we are given the opportunity to see the bigger picture and make the connections that his young mind cannot. There was never a point where I felt that the author was faking the POV of a child; it was just that realistically portrayed! And I really do not think there could have been a better voice from which to tell the story. Zach’s innocence and honesty was the perfect vehicle for the reader to witness a tragedy that no parent ever wants to face.

Zach is such a sweet and wonderful protagonist, that it is easy to connect with him and care for his character. Every emotion that Zach felt was one I felt – the anger, the fear, the anxiety, the sadness. Zach tugged at my heart with every turn of the page. I will gladly admit that this book had me ugly-crying at various points because it was just so emotionally touching.

This book deserves every star I can give. Do yourself a favour and read this book. It is 100% worth it.

Thank you to Penguin Random House and the First to Read program for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Happy reading ~

The Chalk Man by C. J Tudor

Thank you to NetGalley, Penguin Random House and the First to Read program for this ARC in exchange for my honest review.

I read the premise of this novel and immediately knew it was for me. Now, I say this phrase a lot, and often times I find myself disappointed. That was not the case here. This was an amazing thriller, one that I will be recommending to many many people. Here is my full review:

In 1986, Eddie and his friends are just kids who love to bike around their English village, looking for something new and interesting to do in their sleepy little place. So when they discover that they can use chalk men – little stick men that they draw with chalk – as a code that only they can understand, it opens up a lot more doors for fun. But then a mysterious chalk man leads them right to a dismembered body, and nothing is ever the same.

In 2016, Eddie is an adult and has done his best to leave the past behind him. But then he gets a letter in the mail containing a single chalk stick figure. When it turns out that his friends got the same message, they think it could be a prank–until one of them turns up dead. That’s when Eddie realizes that saving himself means finally figuring out what really happened all those years ago.

This was such a good thriller. I am not even kidding when I say that this is one of my favorite thrillers and I would be hard-pressed to find another that can match up to it. I absolutely loved the plot. It was complex and kept the reader on their toes as it flitted from past and present. There’s murder and gossip and rumors and evil – but whether that evil is supernatural or man-made is something the reader has to figure out on their own. I was caught up in the revelations of the past more than the way things were coming together in the future, but this in no way took away from the story. I loved reading about the younger versions of all of the characters as well as how they grew up. There were so many twists and turns that this novel took, and it definitely brought all of the thrills. There were points when I was too scared to continue reading without the lights on! This was such an intricate and beautifully written piece of work, with a tense story line and the perfect characters and setting for such a disturbing tale. Anyone who loves thrillers would not be disappointed with this book! I will definitely be giving this a 5/5 stars and would recommend it to anyone and everyone! I can’t wait to see what this author will come up with next!

Happy reading ~

Lies She Told by Cate Holahan

I received this novel as an advance copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I really like stories about writers, regardless of genre. While I am an avid reader, I have very little skill when it comes to writing anything. And believe me, I’ve tried. So I have a lot of respect for authors and people who make writing their profession. When a story has an author as a main character, it really opens the reader’s eyes to the writing process and how different it can be from one person to another. To me, that understanding is just as enjoyable as the story itself. It was one of the things that drew me to this novel, but the thriller’s premise was also intriguing enough that I couldn’t let it pass me by. So here is my long-overdue review:

Liza Cole, a novelist, has only 1 month to write the thriller that will put her back on the bestseller list. If that wasn’t enough pressure, she’s struggling to start a family with her husband, who is too distracted by the disappearance of his best friend, Nick. As stresses weigh her down in her professional and personal lives, Liza escapes into writing the chilling exploits of her latest heroine, Beth.

Beth, a new mother, suspects her husband is cheating on her while she’s home caring for their newborn. Angry and betrayed, she aims to catch him in the act and make him pay for shattering the illusion of their perfect life. But before she realizes what she’s doing, she’s tossing the body of her husband’s mistress into the East River.

Liza is happy with the way Beth’s story is turning out … until the lines between fiction and reality begin to blur. Nick’s body is dragged from the East River, and Liza’s husband is arrested for his murder. Liza will have to face up to the truths about the people around her. If she doesn’t, the end of her heroine’s story could be the end of her own.

This story is told in alternating chapters, one being Liza’s story, the other being Beth’s story. While I really liked the author’s use of parallel storylines, it got confusing very quickly. There were a bit too many things similar and it became hard to keep things straight. While it was obviously the author’s intent for the reader to be able to pick up the similarities between the fiction and the reality, it would have been helpful if certain details (like names) hadn’t been so similar; I had to reread certain chapters and sections to make sure I didn’t confuse the different story lines and I really hate having to go back and forth in a novel to address confusion issues. Whenever there are 2 story lines, I inadvertently find myself drawn to one more than the other. In this case, I was more intrigued by Beth (who was part of the fictional aspect of the novel) who was a stronger protagonist. Both story lines were written well and it was easy to connect with both protagonists emotionally. As the story continued, I could really feel the fiction and reality aspects blurring together, and the tension was insanely high! I couldn’t wait to see how things would end … and then it did. And I wasn’t so pleased. I think that I liked the ending for Liza’s story line but the one that was fashioned for Beth took me completely off-guard and not in a good way. After so much suspense and tension, the ending fell quite flat for me. However, I did enjoy everything else about this novel. For those reasons, I’m giving this a 3/5 stars and would recommend this to anyone who likes thrillers and dual storylines.

Happy reading ~

Scythe by Neal Shusterman – Arc of a Scythe #1

As soon as I read the premise for this novel, I knew I had to give this book a shot. It was a short blurb but it contained everything it needed to pique my interest. It’s about 400 pages…. and I devoured it in one sitting. Here is my review:

Thou shalt kill.

In a world where hunger, disease, and war had been eradicated, life was relatively comfortable. Humanity has conquered everything – including death. Only scythes are the ones who can take life, and they only do so in order to keep the population size under control. Scythes are feared and respected by all, and they are above all laws except for the Scythe commandments. It is a grim job, but a necessary one for society to thrive. Citra and Rowan are two teenagers who are chosen to become apprentices to a scythe – a role that both have the aptitude for but neither of them want. However, they must master the “art” of taking life – unless they want to lose their own.

While I devoured this novel, my impression of it was mixed. I really liked the concept behind this novel: there is a society of Scythes (who are basically Grim Reapers) and we are following the adventures of 2 characters who will, presumably, end up in this profession. I really liked the little details that the author included and the world-building; I just wish there had been more of it. A lot of it was vague and more details would have cemented the story better. I liked Citra and Rowan a lot, as they were both unique and neither one overshadowed the other. I just wish the author hadn’t tried to put in a romance angle there, because it didn’t really work. Even though the story is mostly about their apprenticeships, I really enjoyed their different journeys. I will admit: I liked Rowan’s journey more because he seemed to have grown and developed more as a character than Citra, who pretty much remained the same from beginning to end. This may also have been because of the lack of details/the focus on certain story lines over world-building. I didn’t actually like the whole idea of there being a duel between Citra and Rowan; it seemed like it was just thrown in there when it really didn’t have any merit. I know it seems like I have a huge list of complaints about this novel but I’ve got to say that I really enjoyed reading it. I was caught in by the story and I really wanted to get through it and see what would happen to everyone involved. I was excited and intrigued and couldn’t pull away from this novel. I don’t think this is a book that everyone will like because it does lack a bit in maturity (plus all of the other issues I mentioned above); this is definitely more suited for teenagers. However, I liked it and I’m looking forward to reading the next book in this series! I’m giving it a 3.5/5 stars.

Happy reading ~

The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden – Winternight Trilogy #2

I’m so lucky to have gotten my hands on this book as soon as it released! I have been really bad when it comes to series; I almost always preorder the books, but when they arrive, I never read them. This is what has happened with the Queen of the Tearling series (I promise I will get to it soon!), but I was determined to not let it happen here! As soon as I received my copy, I put aside all of my other books. So now, here is my review:

Orphaned and cast out as a witch by her village, Vasya has very few options: resign herself to life in a convent, or allow her older sister to make her a match with a Moscovite prince. Both restrict her freedom and her chances of seeing the vast world. So instead she chooses adventure, disguising herself as a boy and riding her horse into the woods. When a battle with some bandits earns her the admiration of the Grand Prince of Moscow, she must carefully guard the secret of her gender to remain in his good graces—even as she realizes his kingdom is under threat from mysterious forces only she will be able to stop.

As usual, the author has delivered a stunning historical fantasy novel. I love how true the author stays to historical Russian events and Russian mythology throughout the story. It is so easy for the reader to imagine this vivid setting and fall into the story. There are loads of supernatural elements in the story but they are worked into this intricate political plot. I’m always surprised to see this combination work as well as it does, because it just seems so contradictory! I also love learning about Russian culture and mythology through this novel; it’s something I’ve always been fascinated by and the author really does an amazing job of making it come to life through Vasya’s adventure. This story takes place almost right where the first book left off. I found it interesting that the first perspective wasn’t Vasya’s but one of her siblings, instead. I thought that this novel had more action and adventure than the previous novel in the series. This kept my interest up, but I also wish that there had been more mystery, which is what I had loved about The Bear and the Nightingale. In all fairness, I think I preferred the first book to this one. The Bear and the Nightingale had this wonderful depth and development of character even though it lacked the fast pace of The Girl in the Tower. I almost wish that there had been a little less action and a little more focus on the character relationships (especially between Vasya and Morozko!) and the mythology. Overall, this was still a really great novel and I cannot wait for the third book in this trilogy! I’m giving this a solid 4/5 stars!

Happy reading ~

How I Lost You by Jenny Blackhurst

I received this novel as an advance copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Whenever I read a premise where the main character has no recollection of an incident and is just “told” that something happened in a certain way, it makes me roll my eyes. This scenario has been overused so many times that I struggle to see how it can be made unique. However, I thought that this one might just work. Here is my review:

3 years ago, Susan Webster was convicted of murdering her 12-week-old son Dylan. She was sent to Oakdale Psychiatric Institute to serve her sentence, as she was deemed to have suffered from postpartum depression, which caused her to commit this heinous crime. Now, she has been released on parole and given a new identity and name: Emma Cartwright. Just as she is beginning to rebuild her life, she receives an anonymous letter with her former name on it. Inside is a photograph of a toddler named Dylan. Suddenly, Emma starts to question everything she has ever been told. If she has no memory of the murder of her son, then did it really happen? If there was the smallest chance your son was alive, what would you do to get him back?

I wouldn’t say I had high hopes for this novel which is the way I am with all thrillers, but this one was a whole new low. There were so many things about this story that I didn’t like. I really did not like Susan/Emma. While I understand she was stuck in her grief over her child and was confused with the turn of events, she was extremely naive and didn’t show an ounce of intelligence at any point. She behaved in a way that just didn’t make any sense to me – and this includes her ability to fall for every guy that she meets. It made me so annoyed to see her develop an attraction/feelings for someone who she literally met only twice and knows nothing about. Also, considering the circumstance, it really didn’t make sense that she was indulging in romantic fantasies. The story is told from 2 different perspectives: Susan/Emma, and an unknown character named Jack. I have to say that I actually liked Jack’s story more than Susan/Emma’s … even though the former ended up having the smallest part in this novel. The story started to segue into another plot about halfway through, which is a common trend. However, this other direction really made no sense to me. Suddenly, Susan/Emma is pursuing this instead, hoping that it will somehow lead to clues about her son (but how this would even happen when they are two unrelated things, I have no idea). Then at the end of the novel, there is that big reveal…. and it was so disappointing. It was such a failed attempt at trying to tie in 2 plot lines that really didn’t go together. And suddenly, all of these random names were dropping and identities were changing and it just really got too much. I just found myself very disappointed with the entire novel in terms of its story line. I’m giving this a 1/5 stars.

Happy reading ~