Review: Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Goodreads: Mexican Gothic
Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books
Buy: Bookshop.org UK | US
Synopsis: After receiving a frantic letter from her newly-wed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noemí Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. She’s not sure what she will find—her cousin’s husband, a handsome Englishman, is a stranger, and Noemí knows little about the region.

Noemí is also an unlikely rescuer: She’s a glamorous debutante, and her chic gowns and perfect red lipstick are more suited for cocktail parties than amateur sleuthing. But she’s also tough and smart, with an indomitable will, and she is not afraid: Not of her cousin’s new husband, who is both menacing and alluring; not of his father, the ancient patriarch who seems to be fascinated by Noemí; and not even of the house itself, which begins to invade Noemí’s dreams with visions of blood and doom.

Her only ally in this inhospitable abode is the family’s youngest son. Shy and gentle, he seems to want to help Noemí, but might also be hiding dark knowledge of his family’s past. For there are many secrets behind the walls of High Place. The family’s once colossal wealth and faded mining empire kept them from prying eyes, but as Noemí digs deeper she unearths stories of violence and madness.

And Noemí, mesmerized by the terrifying yet seductive world of High Place, may soon find it impossible to ever leave this enigmatic house behind.

Review: It’s rare that a book becomes a five star read for me just a few chapters in, but this book is one of those few. Mexican Gothic is the haunted house thriller I’d always dreamed of, it’s so unassuming and just as you think you know what’s happening this book will twist round and bite you.

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Review: These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong

Series: These Violent Delights #1
Goodreads: These Violent Delights
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Buy: Bookshop.org UK | US
Synopsis: The year is 1926, and Shanghai hums to the tune of debauchery.

A blood feud between two gangs runs the streets red, leaving the city helpless in the grip of chaos. At the heart of it all is eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai, a former flapper who has returned to assume her role as the proud heir of the Scarlet Gang—a network of criminals far above the law. Their only rivals in power are the White Flowers, who have fought the Scarlets for generations. And behind every move is their heir, Roma Montagov, Juliette’s first love…and first betrayal.

But when gangsters on both sides show signs of instability culminating in clawing their own throats out, the people start to whisper. Of a contagion, a madness. Of a monster in the shadows. As the deaths stack up, Juliette and Roma must set their guns—and grudges—aside and work together, for if they can’t stop this mayhem, then there will be no city left for either to rule.

Review: I received this digital copy in exchange for an honest review, thanks Hodder & Stoughton.

I’ve been struggling with this review in the same way I struggled to finish this book. I think it may be a case of covid brain and an ill-timed Hades play-through that meant I read this in bits and couldn’t settle into it, but I’m going to try my best to explain why I didn’t click with this book.

The Shanghai that Chloe Gong developed was so intricate and interesting, and I really felt as though I was walking the city streets alongside Juliette and Roma. It’s vivid, and the clashes between the different cultures alongside the colonisation of Shanghai, and Juliette’s discomfort with the westernisation of her home is palpable. Juliette was certainly my favourite part of the These Violent Delights. She’s tough, whip smart, plus I loved the fact she was torn between her loyalty to the gang and working with Roma to save Shanghai. Juliette returns to the city from America with something to prove and a lot to lose, and you can really feel how on edge she feels walking round an often unfamiliar Shanghai. She’s wonderfully well developed, and I was always disappointed when we moved away from her perspective!

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Review: Piranesi by Susanna Clarke

Goodreads: Piranesi
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Buy: Bookshop.org UK | US
Synopsis: Piranesi’s house is no ordinary building: its rooms are infinite, its corridors endless, its walls are lined with thousands upon thousands of statues, each one different from all the others. Within the labyrinth of halls an ocean is imprisoned; waves thunder up staircases, rooms are flooded in an instant. But Piranesi is not afraid; he understands the tides as he understands the pattern of the labyrinth itself. He lives to explore the house.

There is one other person in the house—a man called The Other, who visits Piranesi twice a week and asks for help with research into A Great and Secret Knowledge. But as Piranesi explores, evidence emerges of another person, and a terrible truth begins to unravel, revealing a world beyond the one Piranesi has always known.

Review: This book, gosh this book it’s just so gorgeous. The world that Susanna Clarke builds in Piranesi is so sumptuous and mysterious, I was instantly drawn in and this book effortlessly became a five star read for me.

The novel is actually a set of journal entries written by Piranesi himself. This format can be a little jarring, but Piranesi is so knowledgeable and fascinating as a character that this feeling left as soon as it came. Piranesi makes you take your time reading it, I’m a notoriously quick reader, but my pace dramatically slowed so I could absorb all of the details. Our protagonist takes his time explaining his world and how it works in minute detail, and so despite it’s short length the story feels so fleshed out and gorgeous.

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Review: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab

Goodreads: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue
Publisher: Titan Books
Book Depository
Synopsis: A Life No One Will Remember. A Story You Will Never Forget.

France, 1714: in a moment of desperation, a young woman makes a Faustian bargain to live forever and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets.

Thus begins the extraordinary life of Addie LaRue, and a dazzling adventure that will play out across centuries and continents, across history and art, as a young woman learns how far she will go to leave her mark on the world.

But everything changes when, after nearly 300 years, Addie stumbles across a young man in a hidden bookstore and he remembers her name.

Review: I received this digital copy in exchange for an honest review, thanks Titan Books!

I don’t think I can express quite how happy I was to receive an eBook of The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue back in August, and I devoured it as soon as I was approved. This book leapt high above my expectations, and this review is going to be more of an ode to V. E. Schwab and her writing.

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Review: The Dragon of Ynys by Minerva Cerridwen

Goodreads: The Dragon of Ynys
Publisher: Atthis Arts
Book Depository
Synopsis: Every time something goes missing from the village, Sir Violet, the local knight, makes his way to the dragon’s cave and negotiates the item’s return. It’s annoying, but at least the dragon is polite.

But when the dragon hoards a person, that’s a step too far. Sir Violet storms off to the mountainside to escort the baker home, only to find a more complex mystery—a quest that leads him far beyond the cave. Accompanied by the missing baker’s wife and the dragon himself, the dutiful village knight embarks on his greatest adventure yet.

Review: I received this digital copy in exchange for an honest review, thanks Atthis Art!

This review is going to be rather short because, well, the book is also rather short but I really wanted to feature it on the blog! This is a lovely children’s story full of heart and acceptance and I just loved it.

The Dragon of Ynys does it’s job perfectly, which is why I made the decision to give it five stars. The book is ownvoices and features an aro-ace protagonist, an out and proud lesbian couple, and two trans characters. It also shows how easy it is to ask someones pronouns on meeting them and acknowledges non-binary identities in the process, it was just wonderful to read! The book highlights the importance of representation and seeing yourself within stories, in fact this is a central theme of the story and it’s much needed.

Due to the length of the novel there’s not a lot of nuance, but time is spent giving each character a distinct voice. It isn’t deep and there isn’t a whole heap of world building but I don’t think that’s the point, it’s lovely to see a fantasy that’s perfect for children who want better representation in the books they’re picking up.

This is a wholesome and soft short story that’s filled to the brim with love and acceptance, and I just loved how easy it was to read.

Recommend: If you have children this could be perfect, but it works well as a short story for adults too!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Review: Midnight Sun by Stephenie Meyer

Series: Twilight #5
Goodreads: Midnight Sun
Publisher: Atom
Book Depository: If you buy a copy of Midnight Sun please consider donating to the La Push Quileute tribe here
Synopsis: When Edward Cullen and Bella Swan met in Twilight, an iconic love story was born. But until now, fans have heard only Bella’s side of the story. At last, readers can experience Edward’s version in the long-awaited companion novel, Midnight Sun.

This unforgettable tale as told through Edward’s eyes takes on a new and decidedly dark twist. Meeting Bella is both the most unnerving and intriguing event he has experienced in all his years as a vampire. As we learn more fascinating details about Edward’s past and the complexity of his inner thoughts, we understand why this is the defining struggle of his life. How can he justify following his heart if it means leading Bella into danger?

Review: A hardcore case of FOMO is what made me buy Midnight Sun, and so I ended up reading 662 pages of a story I loved as a teen written from a different perspective. The spine of my copy of Twilight is broken from my unending re-reads, and the memory of that love is probably what made me want to buy this book despite its £20 price tag.

This, unfortunately, didn’t end up being what I wanted it to be, and the book was lucky that I already loved the story. I wanted more of the Cullens and more new scenes, but this ended up being an extended foray into Edwards man-pain which…uh…wasn’t exactly what I wanted. So first off let’s start with what I enjoyed about this different perspective on a book that I’ve read more times than I want to admit.

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Review: Boy Parts by Eliza Clark

Goodreads: Boy Parts
Publisher: Influx Press
Buy the Book from Influx and support an Indie Press
Synopsis: Irina obsessively takes explicit photographs of the average-looking men she persuades to model for her, scouted from the streets of Newcastle.

Placed on sabbatical from her dead-end bar job, she is offered an exhibition at a fashionable London gallery, promising to revive her career in the art world and offering an escape from her rut of drugs, alcohol, and extreme cinema. The news triggers a self-destructive tailspin, centred around Irina’s relationship with her obsessive best friend, and a shy young man from her local supermarket who has attracted her attention…

Review: Trigger warnings: Violence, drug abuse, sexual assault, and Alcohol abuse

This book definitely isn’t my usual shtick but it caught my eye on twitter, and it came with an adorable tote that definitely doesn’t reflect the tone of the book, but I had to have it! It has been a while since a contemporary has affected me quite so deeply, so I felt I just had to review it on the blog.

Boy Parts is a three hundred page hallucinogenic trip filled to the brim with dark humour. It’s unflinching in the way it tackles female rage and I’ve honestly never read anything like it so of course, I absolutely devoured every word.

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Review: Seven Devils by Elizabeth May & Laura Lam

Series: Seven Devils #1
Goodreads: Seven Devils
Publisher: Gollancz
Book Depository
Synopsis: When Eris faked her death, she thought she had left her old life as the heir to the galaxy’s most ruthless empire behind. But her recruitment by the Novantaen Resistance, an organization opposed to the empire’s voracious expansion, throws her right back into the fray.

Eris has been assigned a new mission: to infiltrate a spaceship ferrying deadly cargo and return the intelligence gathered to the Resistance. But her partner for the mission, mechanic and hotshot pilot Cloelia, bears an old grudge against Eris, making an already difficult infiltration even more complicated.

When they find the ship, they discover more than they bargained for: three fugitives with firsthand knowledge of the corrupt empire’s inner workings.

Together, these women possess the knowledge and capabilities to bring the empire to its knees. But the clock is ticking: the new heir to the empire plans to disrupt a peace summit with the only remaining alien empire, ensuring the empire’s continued expansion. If they can find a way to stop him, they will save the galaxy. If they can’t, millions may die.

Review: I received this digital copy in exchange for an honest review, thanks Gollancz!

This book’s being described as a feminist space opera with Mad Max: Fury Road vibes, and as a lover of both of those things I knew I had to get my grubby hands on a copy.

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Review: If I Had Your Face by Frances Cha

Goodreads: If I Had Your Face
Publisher: Viking
Book Depository
Synopsis: If I Had Your Face plunges us into the mesmerizing world of contemporary Seoul – a place where extreme plastic surgery is as routine as getting a haircut, where women compete for spots in secret ‘room salons’ to entertain wealthy businessmen after hours, where K-Pop stars are the object of all-consuming obsession, and ruthless social hierarchies dictate your every move.

Navigating this hyper-competitive city are four young women balancing on the razor-edge of survival: Kyuri, an exquisitely beautiful woman whose hard-won status at an exclusive ‘room salon’ is threatened by an impulsive mistake with a client; her flatmate Miho, an orphan who wins a scholarship to a prestigious art school in New York, where her life becomes tragically enmeshed with the super-wealthy offspring of the Korean elite; Wonna, their neighbour, pregnant with a child that she and her husband have no idea how they will afford to raise in a fiercely competitive economy; and Ara, a hair stylist living down the hall, whose infatuation with a fresh-faced K-Pop star drives her to violent extremes.

Review: I was provided with this digital copy in exchange for an honest review! Thanks, Viking.

If I Had Your Face takes a long, hard look at the harsh beauty standards that South Korean women face, and how so often they resort to invasive surgery to maintain these ideals. The book itself doesn’t hold back, following the story of four different young women as they try to navigate a complicated society driven by wealth and beauty.

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Review: The Story of Silence by Alex Myers

Goodreads: The Story of Silence
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Book Depository
Synopsis: There was once, long ago, a foolish king who decreed that women should not, and would not, inherit. Thus when a girl-child was born to Lord Cador – Merlin-enchanted fighter of dragons and Earl of Cornwall – he secreted her away: to be raised a boy so that the family land and honour would remain intact.

That child’s name was Silence.

Silence must find their own place in a medieval world that is determined to place the many restrictions of gender and class upon them. With dreams of knighthood and a lonely heart to answer, Silence sets out to define themselves.

Soon their silence will be ended.

What follows is a tale of knights and dragons, of bards, legends and dashing strangers with hidden secrets.

Review: I received a digital copy in exchange for an honest review, Thanks Harper Voyager!

I’m a sucker for a good Arthurian legend, especially the courtly romances that appeared in the 12th and 13th centuries! The Story of Silence is based around one of those romances, Le Roman de Silence if you want to get specific; but admittedly this was not one I had read before or one I included in my dissertation so I was excited to pick up this modern retelling.

This book is so so easy to read, and wholly enjoyable. It’s so lyrical and smooth that I would love to hear it as an audiobook, and the writing style feels like a bardic tale rather than a modern novel. I also thoroughly enjoyed the pacing, its admittedly rather slow and not a lot happens, but it was paced so well that this didn’t bother me too much.

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