Book Review: Dirt Town


Hayley Scrivenor

Rating: 4 out of 5.

published: 23rd June 2022
spoilers? no

Goodreads

My best friend wore her name, Esther, like a queen wearing her crown at a jaunty angle. We were twelve years old when she went missing.

On a sweltering Friday afternoon in Durton, best friends Ronnie and Esther leave school together. Esther never makes it home.

Ronnie’s going to find her, she has a plan. Lewis will help. Their friend can’t be gone, Ronnie won’t believe it.

Detective Sergeant Sarah Michaels can believe it, she has seen what people are capable of. She knows more than anyone how, in a moment of weakness, a person can be driven to do something they never thought possible.

Lewis can believe it too. But he can’t reveal what he saw that afternoon at the creek without exposing his own secret.

Five days later, Esther’s buried body is discovered.

What do we owe the girl who isn’t there?

Character-rich and propulsive, with a breathtakingly original use of voice and revolving points of view, Hayley Scrivenor delves under the surface, where no one can hide. With emotional depth and sensitivity, this stunning debut shows us how much each person matters in a community that is at once falling apart and coming together.

Esther will always be a Dirt Town child, as we are its children, still.

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Wrap-up: May 2022

Fashionably late this month (thanks work), but I’m finally here with May’s wrap up! So, without further ado, let’s dive in.

The key:
🐝 = favourite
🕊️ = reread/rewatch/relisten
☀️ = 4 or 5 stars, highly recommend
☁️ = 3 or 4 stars, enjoyed/had fun reading
🌧️ = 2 or 3 stars, was alright/not for me but someone else might enjoy
🌩️ = 1 or 2 stars, bored out of my mind/it was awful

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Book Review: They Drown Our Daughters


Katrina Monroe

Rating: 4 out of 5.

published: 12th July 2022
spoilers? no

Goodreads

If you can hear the call of the water,
It’s already far too late.

They say Cape Disappointment is haunted. That’s why tourists used to flock there in droves. They’d visit the rocky shoreline under the old lighthouse’s watchful eye and fish shells from the water as they pretended to spot dark shapes in the surf. Now the tourists are long gone, and when Meredith Strand and her young daughter return to Meredith’s childhood home after an acrimonious split from her wife, the Cape seems more haunted by regret than any malevolent force.

But her mother, suffering from early stages of Alzheimer’s, is convinced the ghost stories are real. Not only is there something in the water, but it’s watching them. Waiting for them. Reaching out to Meredith’s daughter the way it has to every woman in their line for generations-and if Meredith isn’t careful, all three women, bound by blood and heartbreak, will be lost one by one to the ocean’s mournful call.

Part modern gothic, part ghost story, They Drown Our Daughters explores the depths of motherhood, identity, and the lengths a woman will go to hold on to both.

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Book Review: Briefly, a Delicious Life


Nell Stevens

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

published: 23rd June 2022
spoilers? nope

Goodreads

In 1473, fourteen-year-old Blanca dies in childbirth in a hilltop monastery in Mallorca. Nearly four hundred years later, when George Sand, her two children, and her lover Frederic Chopin arrive in the village, Blanca is still there: a spirited, funny, righteous ghost, she’s been hanging around the monastery since her accidental death, spying on the monks and the townspeople and keeping track of her descendants.

Blanca is enchanted the moment she sees George, and the magical novel unfolds as a story of deeply felt, unrequited longing—the impossible love of a teenage ghost for a woman who can’t see her and doesn’t know she exists. As George and Chopin, who wear their unconventionality, in George’s case, literally on their sleeves, find themselves in deepening trouble with the provincial, 19th-century villagers, Blanca watches helplessly and reflects on the circumstances of her own death (which involves an ill-advised love affair with a monk-in-training).

Charming, original, and emotionally moving, this is a surprisingly touching story about romantic fixation and a powerful meditation on creativity.

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Book Review: So Happy For You


Celia Laskey

Rating: 3 out of 5.

published: 7th June 2022
spoilers? no

Goodreads

Robin and Ellie have been best friends since childhood. When Robin came out, Ellie was there for her. When Ellie’s father died, Robin had her back. But when Ellie asks Robin to be her maid of honor, she is reluctant. A pussy academic, Robin is dubious of the elaborate wedding rituals now sweeping the nation, which go far beyond champagne toasts and a bouquet toss. But loyalty wins out, and Robin accepts. 

Yet, as the wedding weekend approaches, a series of ominous occurrences lead Robin to second-guess her decision. It seems that everyone in the bridal party is out to get her. Perhaps even Ellie herself. 

Manically entertaining, viciously funny and eerily campy, So Happy for You is the ultimate send-up to our collective obsession with the wedding industry complex and a riveting, unexpectedly poignant depiction of friendship in all its messy glory.

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Book Review: Glorious Poison


Kat Dunn

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

published: 9th June 2022
spoilers? no

Goodreads

Robespierre is dead. The Reign of Terror is over.

As Royalist strength grows, the Duc de L’Aubespine plots a coup that will consign the revolution to history. With Olympe in his clutches, he believes nothing can stop him. But he’s reckoned without the intrepid Battalion of the Dead!

Reunited in Paris, Ada is poised for action – but if she plays her hand too soon, everything she’s sacrificed to gain his trust will be lost. Meanwhile, an unlikely alliance with an old enemy might be Camille’s only option to save Olympe and stop the duc in his tracks.

The glittering and macabre bals des victimes and the eerie catacombs make the perfect backdrop for the final episode of the Battalion’s tale.

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Book Review: The Romance Recipe


Ruby Barrett

Rating: 3 out of 5.

published: 28th June 2022
spoilers? sort of

Goodreads

Amy Chambers: restaurant owner, micromanager, control freak.

Amy will do anything to revive her ailing restaurant, including hiring a former reality-show finalist with good connections and a lot to prove. But her hopes that Sophie’s skills and celebrity status would bring her restaurant back from the brink of failure are beginning to wane…

Sophie Brunet: grump in the kitchen/sunshine in the streets, took thirty years to figure out she was queer.

Sophie just wants to cook. She doesn’t want to constantly post on social media for her dead-in-the-water reality TV career, she doesn’t want to deal with Amy’s take-charge personality and she doesn’t want to think about what her attraction to her boss might mean…

Then, an opportunity: a new foodie TV show might provide the exposure they need. An uneasy truce is fine for starters, but making their dreams come true means making some personal and painful sacrifices and soon, there’s more than just the restaurant at stake.

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Book Review: Tell Me Everything


Laura Kay

Rating: 4 out of 5.

published: 26th May 2022
spoilers? no

Goodreads

Would you entrust your life choices to someone hell-bent on avoiding theirs?

Natasha has everything under control, at least that’s what her clients think. As a therapist, she has all the answers but when it comes to her personal life, she seriously needs to start taking her own advice.

Still living with her ex-girlfriend, Natasha’s messy love life is made up of dates and one-night stands. After all, why would you commit to one person, when there is an endless stream of people waiting for you to swipe right? Besides, people always leave.

But when Margot arrives on the scene, everything changes. Flailing between mending long-broken relationships and starting new ones, Natasha’s walking the line between self-actualisation and self-destruction… With denial no longer an option, it is time for Natasha to take control of her own happiness.

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Wrap-up: April 2022

Happy May Day bank holiday for all you lucky people who get the day off work! Anyone else, like me, who has to work today because your job doesn’t believe in bank holidays… commiserations… Hopefully, everyone had a good April, though, and that the rest of May proves better than today!

The key:
🐝 = favourite
🕊️ = reread/rewatch/relisten
☀️ = 4 or 5 stars, highly recommend
☁️ = 3 or 4 stars, enjoyed/had fun reading
🌧️ = 2 or 3 stars, was alright/not for me but someone else might enjoy
🌩️ = 1 or 2 stars, bored out of my mind/it was awful

Continue reading “Wrap-up: April 2022”

Book Review: The Final Strife


Saara el-Arifi

Rating: 3 out of 5.

published: 23rd June 2022
spoilers? sort of

Goodreads

In the first book of a visionary African and Arabian-inspired fantasy trilogy, three women band together against a cruel Empire that divides people by blood.

Red is the blood of the elite, of magic, of control.

Blue is the blood of the poor, of workers, of the resistance.

Clear is the blood of the servants, of the crushed, of the invisible.

Sylah dreams of days growing up in the resistance, being told she would spark a revolution that would free the Empire from the red-blooded ruling classes’ tyranny. That spark was extinguished the day she watched her family murdered before her eyes.

Anoor has been told she’s nothing, no one, a disappointment by the only person who matters: her mother, the most powerful ruler in the Empire. But dust always rises in a storm.

Hassa moves through the world unseen by upper classes, so she knows what it means to be invisible. But invisibility has its uses: It can hide the most dangerous of secrets, secrets that can reignite a revolution.

As the Empire begins a set of trials of combat and skill designed to find its new leaders, the stage is set for blood to flow, power to shift, and cities to burn.

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