This was my first Ruth Ware novel, and I wasn’t disappointed. The Turn of the Key is a fascinating combination of a gothic ghost story and a chilling portrayal of how intrusive technology can be. All the way through the narrative, I was never sure on which side of that dichotomy the climax would fall. While I did figure out a couple of the twists before they reached their apexes, there was plenty to keep me guessing. …
Alias Grace isn’t what I expected. I suppose I thought this would be similar to Atwood’s most famous novel, The Handmaid’s Tale. And it was in some ways, especially in the tone of the main character. Though I can’t quite call Grace a protagonist, as Offred is in the aforementioned classic of dystopian literature. What I wasn’t expecting was very well researched historical fiction.
“Murderess is a strong word to have attached to you. It has a smell to it, that word – musky and oppressive, like dead flowers in a vase. Sometimes at night I whisper it over to myself: Murderess, Murderess. It rustles, like a taffeta skirt across the floor.”
ARC received from the publisher, Orbit, in exchange for an honest review.
The Last Smile in Sunder City by Luke Arnold
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Series: The Fetch Phillips Archives (Book 1)
Genre: Urban fantasy, mystery, noir
Published: 6th February 2020 (Orbit UK) & 25th February 2020 (Orbit US)
The Last Smile in Sunder City was an impressive debut by Luke Arnold; a dark urban fantasy that enraptured me with its stellar worldbuilding and writing style.
Firstly, I’ve never been exposed to much noir elements in my reading so far, so I won’t be able to make any comparisons. However, I can still safely say that this book accurately captured that feel in its worldbuilding and the characterisation of its main character, Fetch Phillips. In a world where magic was destroyed, creatures or beings dependent on magic for their existence suffered delibitating effects. The setting has a truly bleak, post-apocalyptic feel. Sunder City couldn’t be more appropriate a name for a progressive city where all hopes and dreams have been torn asunder when magic was lost. …
A review copy received from the publisher, Orbit UK, in exchange for an honest review.
The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep by H.G. Parry
My rating: 5 of 5 stars.
Genre: Fantasy, mystery
First published: 23rd July 2019 by Redhook (US) and Orbit (UK)
How many of us readers have experienced the kind of immersion and connection to a story, its setting or its characters, which made us wish that it could be real? I’d gander a guess that it covers pretty much all of us. H.G. Parry’s marvellous debut novel, The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep, perfectly illustrates the magic of stories and words on a page.
“That’s how the story works, the way the sentence and metaphor and reference feeds into the other to illuminate something important. That explosion of discovery, of understanding, is the most intoxicating moment there is. Emotional, intellectual, aesthetic. Just for a moment, a perfect moment, a small piece of the world makes perfect sense. And it’s beautiful. It’s a moment of pure joy, the kind that brings pleasure like pain.”
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Genre: Literary fiction, Historical fiction, Mystery
Pages: 384 pages
Published: 17th January 2019 by Corsair (UK) & 14th August 2018 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons (US)
Where the Crawdads Sing is a book that’s massively praised worldwide, and it lives up to all the hype.
It doesn’t matter whether you read literary fiction or not, if you’ve visited Amazon or a bookstore in 2019, it’s quite likely that you’ve heard about Where the Crawdads Sing, Delia Owens’s FIRST novel that’s praised and hit bestseller everywhere. Honestly, I didn’t expect to read this one; my girlfriend and my co-blogger—Celeste—highly recommended it to me even though they know that it’s well outside my usual genre—SFF—of novels to read. However, the immensely high average ratings made the book a must-try for me. At the time of writing this review, it has an average of 4.5 stars out of 463k ratings on Goodreads, and on Amazon US it has an average rating of 4.8 out of 27.3k ratings/reviews! To make things even crazier, this is the author’s FIRST novel, and everything about it lives up to the hype.
“I wasn’t aware that words could hold so much. I didn’t know a sentence could be so full.”
It took me over a week to read the first 150 pages of this book. Then I read the last half in an evening. While it took a while for the story to really get off the ground, the back half of the book was truly addictive and I couldn’t stop reading. Even when I should have been asleep.
From the beginning, we know things have gone horribly wrong for our narrator, who has been apartment sitting in the most illustrious residence in New York City. The Bartholomew is insanely famous, having been the home of countless celebrities over the decades. When recently unemployed Jules stumbles across an opportunity to live in the glamorous building while she gets back on her feet, and actually get paid a thousand dollars a week to do so, it’s too good a chance to pass up. But the Bartholomew isn’t what it seems, and the learning the truth behind the famous gargoyled facade could prove dangerous. Or even fatal. …
First off, can I just say that Bardugo hit it out of the park with her first adult novel?
I have a weakness for school stories. And if the school happens to be magical in some way, so much the better. But very rarely have I come across a book that involves a school imbued with magic where only a select few students are aware of the supernatural element. I’ve read books were there were secretly vampires or werewolves on campus, not not sanctioned magical societies that had to fly under the collegiate radar. The fact that said magical society were on the campus of a real university, Yale, made things even more interesting. These slight variations made for a fresh take on a favorite trope.
ARC & Review copy provided by the publisher—Tor.com—in exchange for an honest review.
Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Series: The Locked Tomb (Book #1 of 3)
Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Mystery
Pages: 448 pages
Published: 10th September 2019 by Tor.com
Gideon the Ninth is a damn fine example of why readers’ reviews are incredibly important.
If you have been active on bookish social media, you should know by now that Gideon the Ninth, Tamsyn Muir’s debut and the first installment in The Locked Tomb (or The Ninth House in the past) Trilogy, has been tor.com’s most hyped book of the year. The buzz and praise for Gideon the Ninth has been immense to say the least. Knowing nothing other than the fact that “Lesbian necromancers in space” was stamped on the front of the gorgeous cover art (illustrated by Tommy Arnold), I gave the ARC a try a few months ago only to find myself disappointed by how much it didn’t work for me back then. If I may be brutally honest, I DNFed the novel around 120 pages in on my first read-through. Since then, readers’ reviews have started pouring in, usually resulting in absolute love or disappointment; there’s almost no in-between. But there’s one common consensus shared by both factions: the second half improved significantly. After receiving another copy of this book, a limited edition with black sprayed edges and many goodies, it was only fair that I give it one more try. The result? I enjoyed it remarkably more than I did on my first try. I truly believe that knowing the right things to expect out of this book ahead of reading it will improve the reader’s enjoyment so much more.
Picture: The book and the goodies I received!
Ah, Veronica. You’re the sassiest, most self-confident female protagonist I’ve ever come across in a Victorian setting, and I loved every minute of your snark. This was indeed A Curious Beginning to your story. I’m already excited to visit with you again in the future, and to see what further adventures you stumble your way into further along in the series.
“I abhorred weakness of any kind but most particularly in my tea.”
The cover and synopsis and title of the novel were all immediately intriguing to me. Magic for Liars is a murder mystery on a magical high school campus, told from the perspective of the nonmagical private eye who finds herself on the case. You can see why I was intrigued, right? Noir novels can be very hit or miss, but this one was definitely a hit. It was everything I was hoping for, and more than I was expecting. …