Book Review: Graveyard of Lost Children

Katrina Monroe

Rating: 3 out of 5.

published: 9th May 2023
spoilers? no


Once she has her grip on you, she’ll never let you go.

At four months old, Olivia Dahl was almost murdered. Driven by haunting visions, her mother became obsessed with the idea that Olivia was a changeling, and that the only way to get her real baby back was to make a trade with the “dead women” living at the bottom of the well. Now Olivia is ready to give birth to a daughter of her own…and for the first time, she hears the women whispering.

Everyone tells Olivia she should be happy. She should be glowing, but the birth of her daughter only fills Olivia with dread. As Olivia’s body starts giving out, slowly deteriorating as the baby eats and eats and eats, she begins to fear that the baby isn’t her daughter at all and, despite her best efforts, history is repeating itself.

Soon images of a black-haired woman plague Olivia’s nightmares, drawing her back to the well that almost claimed her life―tying mother and daughter together in a desperate cycle of fear and violence that must be broken if Olivia has any hope of saving her child…or herself.

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Book Review: This Wound Full of Fish

Lorena Salazar Masso

Rating: 3 out of 5.

published: 11th May 2023
spoilers? yes


In the city of Quibdó, a mother and her child embark on a canoe trip down the mighty Atrato River, the only route that allows them to penetrate the thick Colombian jungle.

The journey is long, slowed down by several stops. As the small boat proceeds along the river, surrounded by mangroves, the mother tells a fellow passenger the story of how the little one came into her life and why the two of them are travelling along the Atrato. But as the boat advances, the mother’s anxiety she would rather not arrive, or turn around altogether.

And in a country at war with itself, there is often something dark lurking in the shadows – something much more devastating that a family reunion.

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Book Review: A History of Burning

Janika Oza

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

published: 4th May 2023
spoilers? no


India, 1898. Pirbhai is thirteen when he steps into a dhow on the vague promise of work. The voyage is long. He has no money, no voice, no power — and will make impossible choices in the name of survival.

Sonal is fierce and loving, always willing to fight for what she believes in. When a young man called Pirbhai walks into her father’s shop in Kenya, she knows he is part of her future. Together they set out for a new life in Uganda.

Their granddaughters, three sisters, come of age in a divided nation. Latika falls headlong into the student protest movement. Mayuri’s ambitions will take her far from home. And fearless Kiya will have to carry the weight of her family’s past.

Finally, parents, children and grandchildren will scatter across the world, fleeing the brutality of Idi Amin, forging new paths in London, marching for equality in 1990s Canada, searching for a safe mooring. But under everything lies a secret. And one day, a letter arrives that will fan its embers into a flame.

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Book Review: 8 Lives of a Century-Old Trickster

Mirinae Lee

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

published: 4th May 2023
spoilers? no



At the Golden Sunset retirement home, it is not unusual for residents to invent stories. So when elderly Ms Mook first begins to unspool her memories, the obituarist listening to her is sceptical. Stories of captivity, friendship, murder, adventure, assumed identities and spying. Stories that take place in WWII Indonesia; in Busan during the Korean war; in cold-war Pyongyang; in China. The stories are so colourful and various, at times so unbelievable, that they cannot surely all belong to the same woman. Can they?

As playful and thought-provoking as it is compelling, as brutal and harrowing as it is achingly poignant and tender, this is a novel about love and war, deceit and betrayal, about identity, storytelling and the trickery required for survival.

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Book Review: The Sword Defiant

Gareth Hanrahan

Rating: 4 out of 5.

published: 4th May 2023
spoilers? no



Many years ago, Sir Aelfric and his nine companions saved the world, seizing the Dark Lord’s cursed weapons, along with his dread city of Necrad. That was the easy part.

Now, when Aelfric – keeper of the cursed sword Spellbreaker – learns of a new and terrifying threat, he seeks the nine heroes once again. But they are wandering adventurers no longer. Yesterday’s eager heroes are today’s weary leaders – and some have turned to the darkness, becoming monsters themselves.

If there’s one thing Aelfric knows, it’s slaying monsters. Even if they used to be his friends.

Set in a world of dark myth and dangerous prophecy, The Sword Defiant launches an epic tale of daring warriors, living weapons and bloodthirsty vengeance.

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Book Review: Ritual of Fire

D. V. Bishop

Rating: 3 out of 5.

published: 1st June 2023
spoilers? no


A night patrol finds a rich merchant hanged and set ablaze in the city’s main piazza. More than mere murder, this killing is intended to put the fear of God into Florence. Forty years earlier on this date, puritanical monk Girolamo Savonarola was executed the same way in the same place. Does this new killing mean Savonarola’s vengeful spirit has risen again?

Or are his fanatical disciples plotting to revive the monk’s regime of holy terror? Cesare Aldo has his suspicions but is hunting thieves and fugitives in the Tuscan countryside, leaving Constable Carlo Strocchi to investigate the ritual killing. When another important merchant is slain even more publicly than the first, those rich enough to escape the summer heat are fleeing to their country estates. But the Tuscan hills can also be dangerous places.

Soon growing religious fervor combines with a scorching heatwave to drive the city ever closer to madness, while someone is stalking powerful men that forged lifelong alliances during the dark days of Savonarola and his brutal followers. Unless Aldo and Strocchi can work together to stop the killer, Florence could become a bonfire of the vanities once more . . .

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Book Review: Game Misconduct

Ari Baran

Rating: 4 out of 5.

published: 16th May 2023
spoilers? no


Two bitter rivals go head-to-head in this age-gap, enemies-to-lovers hockey romance.

Michael Sato is used to fighting.

An undersized defenseman, Mike had to be tough, clawing his way up from the minors by taking down one ferocious player at a time. No way is he going to lose his spot on the league roster, especially not by giving in to his attraction to a hot, infuriating rival.

Daniel Garcia is used to fighting, too.

Enforcer Danny is the biggest, meanest player on the ice. A target for anyone trying to make a name for themselves, he doesn’t show weakness, nor is he going to risk his last seasons for a sexy rookie who nearly knocked him on his ass.

When their intense physical connection explodes outside of the rink, Mike and Danny learn they just might be able to build something real, but only if they can let down their guard—and their fists—long enough.

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Book Review: Wild Things

Laura Kay

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

published: 23rd May 2023
spoilers? no


When the opportunity of a lifetime arrives, will El be ready to make the leap and embrace her wild side?

Stuck in a dead-end job and hopelessly in unrequited love with her best friend, El needs a major life change. One New Year’s resolution to ‘Be More Wild’ later, and she’s committed to doing one wild thing every month for a year. Admittedly, so far it’s amounted to one small tattoo, one bad hangover and one very disappointing threesome, but she’s trying and surely it can only get better…

So when a plan is hatched for El, Ray and their two closest friends – newly heartbroken Will and Instagram darling Jamie – to ditch the big city and move out to a ramshackle house in the middle of the English countryside, El can hardly say no. This is her big chance for a fresh start, the perfect wild thing.

But living in close proximity to the love of your life without letting on isn’t as easy as El might think…

Can best friends ever really become lovers or could the truth ruin life at ‘the commune’ for ever?

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Book Review: Small Joys

Elvin James Mensah

Rating: 4 out of 5.

published: 11th April 2023
spoilers? no


Sometimes the simplest things are the hardest to find.

‘Could I one day inspire happiness in others, the same way he seemed to do in me?’

Harley is a young queer Black man struggling to find his way in mid-noughties Britain. Returning to his home on the outskirts of London, having just dropped out of an undergraduate course in music journalism, he is wracked by feelings of failure and inadequacy. Standing in the local woods one day, on the verge of doing something drastic and irreversible, his hand is stayed by a stranger: a tall husky guy who emerges from the bushes holding a pair of binoculars.

Muddy is a person whose lust for his own life makes others feel better by association. A keen birdwatcher, rugby fanatic and Oasis obsessive, he quickly becomes a devoted and loyal friend to Harley who finds his enthusiasm infectious and his dimples irresistible. In no time at all, they become inseparable. Harley starts to think that life may be worth living after all, while Muddy discovers things about himself that the lads down the rugby club may struggle to understand.

However, when figures from the past threaten to plunge Harley back into the depths of depression, his only hope of survival is Muddy and the small joys they create together. 

Moving, funny and tender, Small Joys is an epic novel about ordinary lives that introduces the world to an unforgettable cast of characters and a major new literary talent. 

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Book Review: Furious Heaven

Kate Elliott

Rating: 3 out of 5.

published: 18th April 2023
spoilers? no


The Republic of Chaonia fleets, under the joint command of Princess Sun and her formidable mother, Queen-Marshal Eirene, have defeated and driven out an invading fleet of the Phene Empire, though not without heavy losses. But the Empire remains undeterred. While Chaonia scrambles to rebuild its military, the Empire’s rulers are determined to squash Chaonia once and for all. They believe their military might is strong enough to defeat the enemy, but they also secure a secret alliance with a deadly religious sect skilled in the use of assassination and covert ops, to destabilize the republic.

On the eve of Eirene’s bold attack on the rich and populous Karnos System, an unexpected tragedy strikes the republic. Sun must take charge or lose the throne. Will Sun be content with the pragmatic path laid out by her mother for Chaonia’s future? Or will she choose to forge her own legend? Can she succeed despite all the forces arrayed against her?

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