House of Earth and Blood

Audiobooks, Books, Favourites, Pink in Ink

Sarah J. Maas

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Crescent City #1


Bryce Quinlan had the perfect life—working hard all day and partying all night—until a demon murdered her closest friends, leaving her bereft, wounded, and alone. When the accused is behind bars but the crimes start up again, Bryce finds herself at the heart of the investigation. She’ll do whatever it takes to avenge their deaths.          Hunt Athalar is a notorious Fallen angel, now enslaved to the Archangels he once attempted to overthrow. His brutal skills and incredible strength have been set to one purpose—to assassinate his boss’s enemies, no questions asked. But with a demon wreaking havoc in the city, he’s offered an irresistible deal: help Bryce find the murderer, and his freedom will be within reach.          As Bryce and Hunt dig deep into Crescent City’s underbelly, they discover a dark power that threatens everything and everyone they hold dear, and they find, in each other, a blazing passion—one that could set them both free, if they’d only let it.          With unforgettable characters, sizzling romance, and page-turning suspense, this richly inventive new fantasy series by #1 New York Times bestselling author Sarah J. Maas delves into the heartache of loss, the price of freedom—and the power of love.

This book was one Hel of a rollercoaster of emotions. I’ve never read such a full, saturated story in many years. I laughed, I cried, my heart broke, my soul sang. I can’t explain it any better than that.

Bryce is, as you’d expect after her best friend is murdered, wears both physical and emotional scars. Determined to solve her murder, she falls into all the worst possible scenarios but our antagonist, Hunt; a slave to the Archangels, begins as stand-off-ish character with a lot of his own opinions, right or wrong… but who wouldn’t be if you were enslaved!


I was unsure of the world and the characters at the beginning and in the middle of the book but the final half of this book was what really sold me. Every little detail in this book was part of the story and it all came together so brilliantly. Also, I wish Hunt really existed because I was swooning! The love story in this was amazing and the ups were so sweet and heart-warming and the downs really felt like a break-up.

I did a combination of listening to the audiobook and physically reading this purely because I wanted to keep reading it when I was doing chores. The voice actor, Elizabeth Evans, was amazing at really bringing the characters alive more than they were already. After I started listening, I kept hearing Evans voice for Bryce because it fit so well to the character I pictured.

I don’t think I’ve ever been so invested in characters before.

This is the first book from Sarah J. Maas I’ve read and already have another popular series of hers waiting to be read.

Amazing, shocking and enchanting. I can’t recommend this enough! For her first novel in the adult-fantasy world, it was incredible. I can’t wait to see where this series goes.


Hardcover

803 pages

Published – 3rd March 2020

Publishing Company – Bloomsbury Publishing

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Wanderers

Audiobooks, Books, Pink in Ink

Chuck Wendig

Rating: 3 out of 5.

A decadent rock star. A deeply religious radio host. A disgraced scientist. And a teenage girl who may be the world’s last hope.          Shana wakes up one morning to discover her little sister in the grip of a strange malady. She appears to be sleepwalking. She cannot talk and cannot be woken up. And she is heading with inexorable determination to a destination that only she knows. But Shana and her sister are not alone. Soon they are joined by a flock of sleepwalkers from across America, on the same mysterious journey. And like Shana, there are other “shepherds” who follow the flock to protect their friends and family on the long dark road ahead.          For on their journey, they will discover an America convulsed with terror and violence, where this apocalyptic epidemic proves less dangerous than the fear of it. As the rest of society collapses all around them–and an ultraviolent militia threatens to exterminate them–the fate of the sleepwalkers depends on unravelling the mystery behind the epidemic. The terrifying secret will either tear the nation apart–or bring the survivors together to remake a shattered world.

This certainly doesn’t disappoint!

This wonderful mix of science fiction, contemporary, mystery and thriller is something that I’ve rarely come across.

I’ve never read anything by Chuck Wendig before this but I feel like I should definitely check out some more of his standalone novels. The cover of the book fits with the mystique that the book runs with.

Set in a small town in Pennsylvania we meet our first protagonist, Shana, when her younger sister Nessie suddenly begins to sleepwalk, but she can’t be awoken. Shana is the typical teen, desperate to spread her wings and do what she loves, but her father is absent, her mother is missing and her younger sister Nessi is constantly overshadowing her. Though her sister is a big part of Shana’s motivations, we begin to see cracks in the family.

We also meet Benjie, our second antagonist who is an ex-CDC doctor working on understanding and treating “new” pathogens, bacteria and fungal diseases. But we find that his past is not all that clean, when he was fired from the CDC.

With a page count of almost 800 pages, I didn’t find myself bored or feeling like it was uninteresting. With the ever-present mystery of what is infecting the sleepwalkers and its where’s and why’s, and the individual character development. We meet a vast array of side characters and protagonists which, at times, got a little confusing but you aren’t left confused for long.

As we progress through the book we learn that everything is not as it seems and the plot twist leaves you feeling quite stunned but it’s not an entirely unbelievable twist. The descriptive writing is, though quite sparse, more than enough to really picture the surroundings.

The book opens discussions about many very important topics; climate change, racism, religious belief, and so many more. I feel like the author was using the real-world issues of our own mortality and the constant threat of an extinction-level-event. It gives the reader a place to reflect on global issues that we all face that can be changed.

This novel fit well in many different genres that I feel like it would be an interesting read for so many. The descriptions and the explanations into the science behind this enigmatic infection makes me feel that Chuck Wendig really took the time to research his plot.

I wasn’t entirely amazed by this novel and part of me wonders if its purely the size of the book. But in reflection, I don’t see how this could be shortened, which is a good argument for its cohesion and clarity. If you’re a fan of long, science fiction with a contemporary setting, you’ll devour this!


Hardcover

782 pages

Published – 2nd July 2019

Publishing Company – Del Rey Books

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The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

Audiobooks, Books, Favourites, Pink in Ink

Stuart Turton

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Seven 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle


At a gala party thrown by her parents, Evelyn Hardcastle will be killed–again. She’s been murdered hundreds of times, and each day, Aiden Bishop is too late to save her. Doomed to repeat the same day over and over, Aiden’s only escape is to solve Evelyn Hardcastle’s murder and conquer the shadows of an enemy he struggles to even comprehend–but nothing and no one are quite what they seem.          Deeply atmospheric and ingeniously plotted, The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is a highly original debut that will appeal to fans of Kate Atkinson and Agatha Christie.

Set in an illusive mansion in the deep countryside, we follow a man who has no memory of how or why he is there.

I don’t know how to explain the mastery of crossing fantasy, science fiction, crime and mystery. It is a marriage like no other I’ve read before. It’s set, in a way, following different characters of entirely different backgrounds that reveal ghastly secrets and the many twists and turns to finally reveal who killed Evelyn Hardcastle.

Despite it being written from different perspectives, each character has intentionally been written to seem like the same point of view. However, each character has their own ways of speaking and thinking so is easy to follow along. To add to the suspense, it is written from different points of time. It’s impossible to make a clear review without spoilers! All I can say is, it is a plot that is unmatched in it’s execution and each twist leaves you with more questions. Stuart Turton is an author to watch. I can’t wait to see what worlds he creates next.


Hardcover

505 pages

Published – 8th February 2018

Publishing Company – Raven Books

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The Corset

Books, Pink in Ink

Laura Purcell

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Is prisoner Ruth Butterham mad or a murderer? Victim or villain?          Dorothea and Ruth. Prison visitor and prisoner. Powerful and powerless. Dorothea Truelove is young, wealthy and beautiful. Ruth Butterham is young, poor and awaiting trial for murder.          When Dorothea’s charitable work leads her to Oakgate Prison, she is delighted with the chance to explore her fascination with phrenology and test her hypothesis that the shape of a person’s skull can cast a light on their darkest crimes. But when she meets teenage seamstress Ruth, she is faced with another theory: that it is possible to kill with a needle and thread. For Ruth attributes her crimes to a supernatural power inherent in her stitches.          The story Ruth has to tell of her deadly creations – of bitterness and betrayal, of death and dresses – will shake Dorothea’s belief in rationality and the power of redemption.          Can Ruth be trusted? Is she mad, or a murderer?

I struggled a little with this.

I loved the writing style, of how it used the written language of the early 1900’s. We follow two main characters, Ruth, a young seamstress incarcerated for murder, and Dorothea, a woman fascinated with the idea that our brain determines our level of misdemeanour and potential for committing serious crimes. This solidified the era of which it is set by using what is (now) unusual and barbaric methods of research.

The Corset is written as multiple perspectives and timelines but in Ruth’s perspective, she is recollecting memory. During her recollections, we learn of how her past led her to her ultimate fate.

I was entirely captured by Ruth and her unravelling of the truth and how science and the paranormal are mixed together, leading to so many questions, even after the final page.

However, I found Dorothea to be quite unlikeable. I couldn’t get past her naivety and blindness to the horrors humankind can inflict. As the book progressed, she starts to see the world in a much more realistic state but still has a mind for the trivial. Eventually, I began to skip over her chapters which made it a far more enjoyable read.

The plot twist during the novel were well crafted and left me wanting to keep reading, to find out the truth… but the book ended on another plot twist and more questions! It is a sign of a good book if there are still questions to be answered, making you think about those questions long after the last page.


Hardcover

392 pages

Published – 20th September 2018

Publishing Company – Raven Books

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The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

Books, Favourites, Pink in Ink

V E Schwab

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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.

From the best-selling author, V. E. (Victoria) Schwab, comes a lyrical tale that has been anticipated by fans all over the world.

I only discovered Schwab this last year and she has rapidly become a favourite author that will send me swooning after every page. Known for her many series of fantastical fiction including A Darker Shade of Magic which won the hearts and souls of so many.

Combining fantasy, mythical, contemporary and historical fiction, I was surprised at how smooth and easy to follow this was.

We follow Adeline LaRue, or Addie, who, desperate to change her fate and explore the world, makes a deal with the darkness. But, after begging for freedom, she made a terrible error by not choosing her words wisely and everyone she ever meets will never remember her. Until she meets Henry, a lost employee of a quaint bookstore in New York who is the first and only (other than the dark) to remember her and give her the power to say her name.

Written so we follow Addie and Henry, we also follow their past, making it a captivating read. During the time-jumps to centuries past, it paints our history in a more realistic, less romanticised fashion giving it that little more believability.

This is a much slower and (for Schwab and her previous works,) a subtle plot leaving all the extra room for the emotional suspense this book provides of love, loss, grief, identity, loyalty, depression, suicidal thoughts and the trickery of war. Schwab has been very open that this single novel has been ten years in the making. As I was reading I couldn’t help but see the real-life turbulence of the mind reflect in the characters situations. I can see that this tale and Addie will resonate with so many and is a tale that will stay with me for another 300 years.


Hardcover

560 pages

Published – 6th October 2020

Publishing Company – Tor Books / Titan Books

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The Hunting Party

Audiobooks, Books, Favourites, Pink in Ink

Lucy Foley

Rating: 5 out of 5.

All of them are friends. One of them is a killer.                                                                During the languid days of the Christmas break, a group of thirtysomething friends from Oxford meet to welcome in the New Year together, a tradition they began as students ten years ago. For this vacation, they’ve chosen an idyllic and isolated estate in the Scottish Highlands—the perfect place to get away and unwind by themselves.                          They arrive on December 30th, just before a historic blizzard seals the lodge off from the outside world.                          Two days later, on New Year’s Day, one of them is dead.                  The trip began innocently enough: admiring the stunning if foreboding scenery, champagne in front of a crackling fire, and reminiscences about the past. But after a decade, the weight of secret resentments has grown too heavy for the group’s tenuous nostalgia to bear. Amid the boisterous revelry of New Year’s Eve, the cord holding them together snaps.                    Now one of them is dead . . . and another of them did it.                         Keep your friends close, the old adage goes. But just how close is too close?

I was gushing over this book the moment I finished it. A perfect who-done-it!

I wasn’t sure how I would find not only the alternating timeline but also the alternate perspectives. But it worked.

The events that unfold are told from the perspective of the employees of the lodge and the group of old friends guesting during the new year celebrations.        Each character was so individual that I never felt confused about what voice was speaking. As you progress through the book, you get to see that things are not all they seem. There were many points in this book where your opinion on these characters are completely upturned, begging the question of who can be trusted. Some of the events that unfold in this book have a huge shock-factor effect leaving you dumb-founded and unsure of what to expect next. There were also moments that left me infuriated with the character and showing how humanity can have a very dark side. It felt like everything that could go wrong, did! I only wished that some of the characters stories were given more time to be expanded on.

 There are so many twists and turns that keeps you guessing. Once you think you’ve cracked the mystery, by the end of the next chapter your theory has been replaced with another one. Even after the main reveal, there was still more to discover. Her descriptive writing of being snowed-in at hunting lodge in the middle of nowhere made you feel isolated and as the book progressed, the tension and feeling of claustrophobia was impenetrable. Despite the horrors that unfold, I couldn’t help but desperately want a trip to the highlands myself in a lodge, with a book, sat by a grand, luxurious fireplace.

I was hooked from the very beginning to the bitter end. Lucy Foley has become one of my favourite authors. If you’re a fan of Ruth Ware, Lisa Jewell and Riley Sager, you’ll find this a great read!


Hardcover

400 pages

Published – 24th January 2019

Publishing Company – Harper Collins

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An Unwanted Guest

Audiobooks, Books

Shari Lapena

Rating: 2 out of 5.

“As the guests arrive at beautiful, remote Mitchell’s Inn, they’re all looking forward to a relaxing weekend deep in the forest, miles from anywhere. They watch their fellow guests with interest, from a polite distance.            Usually we can avoid the people who make us nervous, make us afraid.              With a violent storm raging, the group finds itself completely cut off from the outside world. Nobody can get in – or out. And then the first body is found . . . and the horrifying truth comes to light. There’s a killer among them – and nowhere to run.             Until we find ourselves in a situation we can’t escape. Trapped.”

 I desperately wanted to like this book. After making it to the halfway point, I just completely lost interest and decided to put this in my DNF category.

The plot and setting showed real promise of a good thriller reminiscent of an Agatha Christie novel but it just fell flat.

I found the writing style to be too simplistic with too much information. I have read countless books where there is little information given about characters but is enough to give an impression of that character, allowing it to come to life in the readers mind and form a personality, mannerisms, a voice, and depth. All of the characters felt very two-dimensional and mono-tonal with very little to them.

The style of writing reminded me of short stories we write in middle school where it has an understanding of what we want to achieve but not enough time or energy to make it anything substantial, so rush through it.

I came up with three different ways this story could have played out that would have been far more interesting to read while I was reading.

As I’ve said, my compliments of this book is the setting of the tale and the blurb. I am hoping, once I get the chance, that other novels by this author are much better.          


Paperback

368 pages

Published – 16th May 2019

Publishing Company – Corgi

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