Review: The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris

Goodreads: The Other Black Girl
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Buy: UK | US
Synopsis: Twenty-six-year-old editorial assistant Nella Rogers is tired of being the only Black employee at Wagner Books. Fed up with the isolation and microaggressions, she’s thrilled when Harlem-born and bred Hazel starts working in the cubicle beside hers. They’ve only just started comparing natural hair care regimens, though, when a string of uncomfortable events elevates Hazel to Office Darling, and Nella is left in the dust.

Then the notes begin to appear on Nella’s desk: LEAVE WAGNER. NOW.

It’s hard to believe Hazel is behind these hostile messages. But as Nella starts to spiral and obsess over the sinister forces at play, she soon realizes that there’s a lot more at stake than just her career.

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

The Other Black Girl is the first book since The Binding that I’ve desperately wanted a physical arc of, but just like with The Binding I ended up with a digital copy instead. The concept of the physical arc was just so beautifully executed, and when I found out that this was a thriller set in the publishing industry I knew I had to read this early.

This review is actually going to be kinda short because I don’t want to risk accidentally spoiling any part of this excellently constructed thriller. Zakiya Dalila Harris perfectly executes a slow-burn that leads to a deeply unsettling ending, and it’s worth mentioning that this book is much more like Get Out than The Devil Wears Prada; think insidious and dark thriller rather than seductive office drama. The Other Black Girl really is a slow-burn that favours a building sense of menace around Nella, Hazel, and their office rather than a fast-paced thriller and it works perfectly. Watching as Hazel invades Nella’s life, as she gets on better with her boss and friends at the company, and Nella’s reputation plummets as her paranoia rises. The rising sense of menace is so well executed that I was gripped despite not a whole lot actually happening, and I was desperate to uncover the mystery behind the arrival of Hazel.

The Other Black Girl also highlights the tokenism and microaggressions that Nella experiences at her all white office, but as one of those white girls in publishing I’m not going to comment on whether or not this was executed well. It did add to Nella’s feeling of “otherness” in the workplace, and threw a glaring light onto the continuing lack of diversity in the publishing industry.

Harris has constructed an excellent slow-burn thriller with a unique concept that had me rushing towards the end, The Other Black Girl is an uncomfortable read but it’s so worth it!

Recommend: If you’re a lover of slow-burn thriller with some excellent social commentary thrown in then this is worth the read.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Review: Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Goodreads: Mexican Gothic
Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books
Buy: 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: Into The Drowning Deep by Mira Grant

Goodreads: Into the Drowning Deep
Publisher: Orbit
Book Depository
Synopsis: The voyage of the Atargatis set off on a journey to the Mariana Trench to film a ‘mockumentary’ bringing to life ancient sea creatures of legend. She was lost at sea with all hands. Some have called it a hoax; others a maritime tragedy.

Now, a new crew has been assembled. But this time they’re not out to entertain. Some seek to validate their life’s work. Some seek the greatest hunt of all. But for the ambitious young scientist Victoria Stewart, this is a voyage to uncover the fate of the sister she lost.

Whatever the truth may be, it will only be found beneath the waves.
But the secrets of the deep come with a price . . .

Review: So this book was recommended to me by the wonderful Moose, and oh man am I glad they pointed it out to me. How could I resist an LGBTQ+ horror with fricken mermaids man.

Trigger warnings: gore, violence, death, and your usual horror stuff

This book is just plain fun, it’s a fantastic example of a horror with heaping’s of tension. The story is initially kind of slow and probably could have used some trimming, it takes a while to get to the mermaids after they’re introduced in the opening chapter, you know where the book is going and it’s a shame it takes so long to get there. Once Into the Drowning Deep gets going though its an unstoppable force, Grant gives the book the momentum of a boulder rolling down a hill and I couldn’t put it down.

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Review: The Ghost Tree by Christina Henry

Goodreads: The Ghost Tree
Publisher: Titan Books
Book Depository
Synopsis: When the bodies of two girls are found torn apart in her hometown, Lauren is surprised, but she also expects that the police won’t find the killer. After all, the year before her father’s body was found with his heart missing, and since then everyone has moved on. Even her best friend, Miranda, has become more interested in boys than in spending time at the old ghost tree, the way they used to when they were kids.

So when Lauren has a vision of a monster dragging the remains of the girls through the woods, she knows she can’t just do nothing. Not like the rest of her town. But as she draws closer to answers, she realises that the foundation of her seemingly normal town might be rotten at the centre. And that if nobody else stands for the missing, she will.

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

Trigger Warnings: Gore, underage sex, grooming, graphic violence

We’re starting spooky month a little early this year, and I was very happy when Titan Books approved me for The Ghost Tree! This mysterious small-town horror follows all the usual conventions, and I have to say it worked for me. There’s just enough tension and mystery around what’s happening in the community to keep you engaged without going overboard, and once I sat down and sunk my teeth into the story I couldn’t stop reading.

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Sunday Book Crush!

The summer is winding down in San Diego. Veronica is bored, caustically charismatic, and uninspired in her photography. Nico is insatiable, subversive, and obsessed with chaotic performance art. They’re artists first, best friends second. But that was before Mick. Delicate, lonely, magnetic Mick: the perfect subject, and Veronica’s dream girl. The days are long and hot—full of adventure—and soon they are falling in love. Falling so hard, they never imagine what comes next.

One fire. Two murders. Three drowning bodies. One suspect… one stalker. This is the summer they won’t survive.

A sapphic thriller inspired by Dorian Grey…did I die and go to heaven? The blurb makes this bad boy sound so dark and intriguing, and I’m more than a little impatient to get my hands on it. If someone could put me on ice until it comes out in 2021 that’d be great because I do not want to wait that long to read this book!


Review: S.T.A.G.S by M.A. Bennett

Series:  S.T.A.G.S #1
Goodreads: S.T.A.G.S
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Book Depository

Nine students. Three bloodsports. One deadly weekend.

It is the autumn term and Greer MacDonald is struggling to settle into the sixth form at the exclusive St. Aidan the Great boarding school, known to its privileged pupils as S.T.A.G.S. Just when she despairs of making friends Greer receives a mysterious invitation with three words embossed upon on it: huntin’ shootin’ fishin’. When Greer learns that the invitation is to spend the half term weekend at the country manor of Henry de Warlencourt, the most popular and wealthy boy at S.T.A.G.S., she is as surprised as she is flattered.

But when Greer joins the other chosen few at the ancient and sprawling Longcross Hall, she realises that Henry’s parents are not at home; the only adults present are a cohort of eerily compliant servants. The students are at the mercy of their capricious host, and, over the next three days, as the three bloodsports – hunting, shooting and fishing – become increasingly dark and twisted, Greer comes to the horrifying realisation that those being hunted are not wild game, but the very misfits Henry has brought with him from school…

Review: I think I have to preface this review by saying that I’m picky with thrillers; I don’t often pick them up, usually because the mystery very rarely lives up to my expectations, but the blurb of S.T.A.G.S really caught me so I grabbed a copy at YALC last year.

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If I Die Before I Wake by Emily Koch

Goodreads: If I Die Before I Wake
Publisher: Vintage
Amazon: UK|US
Synopsis: Everyone believes Alex is in a coma, unlikely to ever wake up. As his family debate withdrawing life support, and his friends talk about how his girlfriend Bea needs to move on, he can only listen.

But Alex soon begins to suspect that the accident that put him here wasn’t really an accident. Even worse, the perpetrator is still out there and Alex is not the only one in danger.

As he goes over a series of clues from his past, Alex must use his remaining senses to solve the mystery of who tried to kill him, and try to protect those he loves, before they decide to let him go.

Review: I received this book as an Netgally ARC for review from Vintage, and I was pretty darn excited to get stuck into such a unique concept.

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One of us is Lying by Karen M. McManus


Goodreads: One of Us Is Lying
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Amazon: UK|US
Synopsis: Pay close attention and you might solve this.

On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.

Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.

Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.

Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.

Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.

And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.

Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention Simon’s dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?

Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.

Review: So I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review, and it’s taken me awhile to get round to reading it but here we are.

This book was a major let down for me. I had heard so many good things about it, and I was really excited to finally sit down and read it, but it just didn’t float my boat. Firstly, I just didn’t enjoy the writing style, so I knew the book was always going to be a tough read; first person is just not my jam, especially when it’s a book with multiple perspectives.

It felt more like a teen drama with a murder mystery shoved in; the book doesn’t really deal with the murder until the latter half, and it was obvious that none of the four protagonists did it. One of Us Is Lying just didn’t bring that nail biting tension you’d expect from a thriller; I was never on the edge of my seat desperate to get to the next twist, and when the twists came some of them were rather predictable.

The character development was the one redeeming factor for me in this novel. The characters grow from generic high school archetypes, into fully fledged human beings with more to them than a label. Addy was one of the characters I ended up loving the most by the end of the novel, despite starting out as my least favourite. Bronwyn and Nate’s relationship is another redeeming factor of the book; I loved their interactions and the way the relationship developed, it was honestly one of the biggest reasons that this book didn’t end up as a DNF.

I think this book just wasn’t for me. I can see why others loved it, but for me it felt a little boring when I compare it to some of the fantastic YA I’ve read this year. It’s riddled with cliches, and I was expecting a more intense thriller and less teenage angst.

Recommend: Nah. The murder mystery is lacking, and it felt more like a novel about the characters teen angst than about clearing their names.

Stars ★★


The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel


Goodreads: The Roanoke Girls.
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Amazon: UK|US
Synopsis: Roanoke girls never last long around here. In the end, we either run or we die.

After her mother’s suicide, fifteen year-old Lane Roanoke came to live with her grandparents and fireball cousin, Allegra, on their vast estate in rural Kansas. Lane knew little of her mother’s mysterious family, but she quickly embraced life as one of the rich and beautiful Roanoke girls. But when she discovered the dark truth at the heart of the family, she ran fast and far away.

Eleven years later, Lane is adrift in Los Angeles when her grandfather calls to tell her Allegra has gone missing. Did she run too? Or something worse? Unable to resist his pleas, Lane returns to help search, and to ease her guilt at having left Allegra behind. Her homecoming may mean a second chance with the boyfriend whose heart she broke that long ago summer. But it also means facing the devastating secret that made her flee, one she may not be strong enough to run from again.

As it weaves between Lane’s first Roanoke summer and her return, The Roanoke Girls shocks and tantalizes, twisting its way through revelation after mesmerizing revelation, exploring the secrets families keep and the fierce and terrible love that both binds them together and rips them apart.

Review: I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review, and I was really happy that I’d managed to snag it. I want to preface this review with a few trigger warnings for the book, it contains suicide, sexual abuse, child abuse, and toxic relationships. This book is dark, twisted and angry, so it won’t be for everyone but I did end up enjoying it.

For me this book was slow to get going, all of the characters were unlikable and I couldn’t seem to get invested. I hated Allegra much like most of the characters in the book, and so I didn’t really care whether they found her or not; she was mean and vindictive, and Lane had become the same over the past eleven years, if it wasn’t for the mystery of Roanoke then I think this book would have ended up as a DNF for me.

The book definitely grew on me though as it pieced together Lane’s experiences at Roanoke, and how they had shaped her into the women she is in the present. It’s heartbreaking watching the book flit from the past to the present, as you finally realise why the Roanoke Girls never last long. It’s an unforgiving story and as I read I grew more sympathetic towards Lane’s character, and even towards Allegra who I’d hated for the first five chapters.

I especially loved the changing timelines and perspectives! The novel gave us a glimpse into the lives of every Roanoke girl that had come before Lane, and it kept me reading I wanted too know how this had gone on so long; how had no one realised and protected these girls, it was amazing how well Amy Engel kept me engaged despite it being easy to figure out the big secret early on.

I loved  the second half of this book, once I was into this thriller I just couldn’t put it down. It’s dark, creepy, and thoroughly enjoyable, if you can make it past the first few chapters it’s a fantastic read.

Recommend:  If you love dark and twisted thrillers then this is definitely a damn good one!

Stars  ★★★★