ARC REVIEW: The Woods

“TWO girls went in the woods…Only ONE came out.”

Why Did I Read This Book?

I was kindly gifted a copy of this book through a Twitter giveaway held by Rosanna Forte; an editor at Little Brown. The book itself even looks creepy, so I thought in the lead up to Halloween I’d get in the spooky mood…

What Did I Think?

First of all, I expected this book to be a thriller but what I didn’t expect was it to be a ghost story too. I personally think if you got the creators of ‘The Conjuring’ or ‘The Haunting of Hill House’ to make this book into a film, it would be genuinely terrifying. Ghosts surround the main character throughout the majority of the story, and some of the imagery it was creating in my very own head was phenomenal ‘keep-your-bedroom-light-on-whilst-you-sleep’ sort of stuff. 

The Woods follows protagonist Tess who is haunted by the death of her sister 10 years ago. It’s been 10 years since she’s left her hometown but upon her stepmother’s imminent death, she has to return to say her goodbyes but instead, has to relive the nightmare of that night all over again when a body is found at the empty house on the edge of the woods. The truth about that night needs to be revealed but for that to happen, Tess needs to return to the woods… 

All the reviews say that this book is ‘unputdownable’ and ‘utterly additive’ and they are right. I started this book at 8:30 pm one Wednesday evening and was up till 2 am still reading. I had to force myself to put down the book and get some sleep. I was also worried that going to sleep after reading this book would give me some pretty horrific dreams, so I made sure to watch something lighthearted and funny before eventually getting to sleep. 

I love a book that keeps you guessing and this book did exactly that. It made me feel uneasy about every single character in the book, second-guessing them all at some point…even our protagonist. Yet I think the defining element of this book is the imagery it creates. Everything is so descriptive, it was like I was actually watching the film in my head whilst reading. I could picture the house, the woods, each and every character so clearly, it was CREEPY. 

I would highly recommend you give this book a read but don’t blame me when you’re having nightmares…

The Woods

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Publisher: Sphere
Published: 2020
# of Pages: 385
Genre: Crime, Thriller, Horror
Trigger Warnings: Murder, child murder, bullying, depression, PTSD, insomnia, family death, paedophilia, child abuse, trauma, graphic scenes, Stockholm syndrome
Links: Goodreads, Amazon, Blackwells

ARC REVIEW: Salvation Station

“Who would savagely murder a pastor and innocent children, burying the evidence in the flower garden? Why? And most troubling, where was the mother?”

Why Did I Read This Book?

I was gifted a copy of Salvation Station in exchange for an honest review so thank you to Kathryn Schleich for sending a copy across to me. 

I received this book earlier this year and thought in the lead up to Halloween, it would be the perfect opportunity to sink my teeth into this one.

What Did I Think?

Salvation Station has everything a good crime thriller should have. Shocking moments? Check. Gripping storyline? Check. Short and quick chapter to keep the pace of the book quick? Check. 

If you haven’t heard about this book, it follows female police captain Linda Turner, who is haunted by the murders of two small children and their pastor father, and becomes obsessed with solving the harrowing case. She finds herself wrapped up in a mission to expose a fraudulent religious organization and an unrepentant killer. Whilst televangelist Reverend Williams is swept up in his newfound success and plans for his wedding, Captain Turner can only hope that she and her team will catch the Hansens’ cunning killer before more bodies surface.

I really loved that there were lots of entwining stories within this book as storylines like that really add to the tension. I also liked how the reader knew what the characters in the book didn’t and we are left to witness everything unfold…

However, I must note that I didn’t really agree with the final chapter as it focused on capital punishment. I know that capital punishment sparks a lot of debate and personally, this final chapter was probably the most shocking thing about the book. I personally don’t think this chapter was needed but maybe you will think differently? 

Overall a fantastic crime thriller that really had me gripped and I would strongly recommend this book if you’re looking for a quick and exciting read.

Salvation Station

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Publisher: She Writes Press
Published: 2020
# of Pages: 311
Genre: Crime thriller
Trigger Warnings: Murder, graphic scenes, psychological abuse, capital punishment, death
Links: Goodreads, Amazon, Blackwells

ARC REVIEW: The Education of Ivy Edwards

“You know that feeling where you feel like you should be doing better but then one day you realise that maybe you’re exactly where you should be.”

Why Did I Read This Book?

This ARC was sent to me by Hachette and I couldn’t believe my luck when it arrived and it was such a beautiful book! I’m really enjoying these millennial fiction books at the minute because they are so relevant and show that young people don’t have it easy.

What Did I Think?

The comedic elements in this story were comedy GOLD! Hannah Tovey’s humour is second to none there were numerous times during the book where I literally laughed out loud.

The Education of Ivy Edwards follows the story of a thirty-one-year-old who’s fiance breaks up with her unexpectedly one day and her whole life as she knows it turns upside down. She has to learn how to be single and find her happiness again. Her only saving grace is that she has a job (albeit it is one where she works for an absolute psycho) and she has friends that love to party so she can basically drink away her sorrows.

Ivy’s mother is one of the funniest characters I’ve ever read and maybe that is because she reminds me of my mum at times. Ivy’s mother over-dramatically reacts to the smallest of inconveniences and doesn’t seem to care that both her daughters are struggling with the bumps in the road that life keeps throwing them.

There were some moments in which I found quite random and didn’t seem to add to the story and some of the characters in the book, like her sister and her friends were unbearable but overall, I really enjoyed this fantastic and funny story. I particularly loved reading Ivy’s journey to self-love and acceptance and her story definitely showed that adult life can be HARD and it’s OK to go off the rails sometimes.

The Education of Ivy Edwards

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Published: 2020
Publisher: Piatkus (An Imprint of Little Brown Book Group)
# of Pages: 324
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Comedy
Trigger Warnings: Drug and alcohol abuse, breakups, depression, sexual scenes, death, grief
Links: Goodreads, Amazon, Blackwells

ARC REVIEW: Never Say No

“Sometimes saying no to one thing can help you say yes to another.”

Why Did I Read This Book?

I requested this book on NetGalley because it looked funny and a great easy read. And I’m happy to report it was EXACTLY that…

What Did I Think?

Hailey has always been told she can have it all. And saying yes to every opportunity that comes her way seems like the obvious way to make sure she gets it. This novel explores the danger of stretching yourself too much and how you can’t please everyone. 

A number of times throughout the book, I questioned whether I actually liked the main character or not. She went through some hard times and I could relate to how she worked hard to be accepted at work but her personal and social life had to suffer to make it work. 

Sometimes I saw her as selfish and self-centred and if I’m honest, downright stupid in some situations. I loved how the author explored the reasons why the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. 

Overall, I really enjoyed this story and it really reminded me of Suits/Devil Wears Prada. Although there were moments of seriousness, I enjoyed the easy-to-read chapters and the humour. I read it in one day and I would definitely recommend this as a great summer read!

“Maybe monogamy didn’t limit you to one person but a thousand different versions of them; everything they are and the promise of all they are yet to be, all wrapped up in one.”

Never Say No

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Publisher: Bookouture
Published: 2020
# of Pages: 301
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Women’s Fiction
Trigger Warnings: Adultery, stress
Links: Goodreads, Amazon, Blackwells

ARC REVIEW: The Black Kids

Why Did I Read This Book?

I requested this book because it coincided with all the protests happening here in the UK and in America. I had seen it everywhere on Twitter and so when I saw it advertised on NetGalley I had to request it.

What Did I Think?

The Black Kids is a coming-of-age debut novel by Christina Hammonds Reed which explores race, class, and violence as well as the importance of being true to yourself. 

One of the reviews I read of this book stated that ‘it should be essential reading for the classroom’ and I definitely agree with that statement. It is set during the 1992 LA uprisings which I shamefully had to research whilst reading the book. What I hadn’t realised is that in 1992, there was uproar in LA after a trial jury acquitted four officers of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) for using excessive force in the arrest and beating of Rodney King, which had been videotaped and widely viewed in TV broadcasts. I found it extremely moving that it is evidently clear that history always seems to repeat itself, especially when it comes to racism and inequality. 

Throughout the book, we follow the life of Ashley Bennet in the midst of the riots. I really liked the character but she came across very weak and tried to please everyone, which we know never works. I found it interesting that Ashley doesn’t feel like she can relate to the other black students or other black people int the community because of her families wealth and her upbringing. Christina Hammonds Reed does a great job of helping readers to understand that everyone is different. Not all white people are the same, and neither are all black people. 

I also think that the author does a great job of exploring how it is sometimes difficult for young people to fully understand what is happening in the news. Once you are a certain age, are you expected to hold your own opinion of events or do you just turn a blind eye and leave it for the adult to sort out. 

There are a lot of contrasts within this story and I really enjoyed these clever little moments. Overall, the main story really hit home as only a few months ago, we were protesting and rioting about a similar event in America. I think it is important to educate people on events like this because they are always sadly reoccurring. 

“Everyone thinks the riots are only about Rodney, but they are not. They are also about Latasha. Latasha was a black girl my age in Los Angeles. She went into a liquor store to buy orange juice, and the Korean woman at the counter thought she was stealing. She wasn’t. They got into a fight and as Latasha tried to walk away, the woman at the counter shot her in the back of the head. Over orange juice. Her killer got nothing. The judge said the killer was the real victim. Rodney got brutally beaten on videotape. Nothing. No justice. No peace.”

The Black Kids

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children’s UK
Published: 2020
# of Pages: 368
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction,
Trigger Warnings: Violence, riots, racism, police brutality, bullying
Links: Goodreads, Amazon, Blackwells

ARC REVIEW: The Midnight Library

“The Midnight Library is not one of ghosts. It is not a library of corpses. It is a library of possibility. And death is the opposite of possibility.”

Why Did I Read This Book?

I read Matt Haig’s How To Stop Time when I was on holiday with my friend in Dubai and it was one of the best books I’ve ever read. The humour and the clever twists were absolutely fantastic so when I saw his new book The Midnight Library on NetGalley, I just had to request it!

What Did I Think?

I think Matt Haig is probably one of my favourite authors because of the way he perfectly sums up thoughts and feelings. Every time I read one of his books, it’s like a lightbulb goes off in my head and suddenly understand my feelings.

The Midnight Library follows the life of a young woman named Nora who finds herself in between life and death, with the opportunity to live any life she ever wanted. I really enjoyed this concept as I’m always daydreaming about what my life would have been like if I had continued playing rugby, or had chosen a different degree, or have taken that job in Spain…

As a believer of everything happens for a reason, I loved this concept of the library of lives and I found myself really rooting for our protagonist, Nora. I thought she deserved SO much more and my heart broke for her so many times. 

The beginning of the book is a little heavy because there is a lot of discussion about depression and suicide but I think it was an extremely poignant depiction of how mental health is so important and gives the reader an insight into how depression affects every day thinking. 

This book is one I’m adding to my list of 5-star readings because I loved every second of reading it. I also enjoyed how it made me question if I have any regrets about my life and the missed opportunities, but it definitely emphasised the fact that things certainly happen for a reason.

“The only way to learn is to live.”

The Guardian Live & Matt Haig

I also had the pleasure of attending Matt Haig’s interview with The Guardian on his publication date. I think that the best thing about Matt Haig’s books is that the man himself is one of the most genuine people. He genuinely wants to help his readers and audience through his books and if you follow him on Twitter, you will know his inspirational quotes can help anyone get through a bad day.

It was interesting that the woman interviewing him made connections between The Midnight Library and A Wonderful Life which Matt agreed was deliberate. Matt stated that for the first time, he drew upon his personal life and experiences to create this fictional story but felt like having a male protagonist would have made it too much like himself, so he chose to have a female lead instead. He said he was aware of the pitfalls of being a male writer with a female protagonist but he tried to be over-careful about gender because he ran the risk of losing the creativity of the story. 

Matt interestingly stated that as How To Stop Time is about time, this book is more focused on hope and regret and through this he was able to create a philosophical conversation starter about trying on different lives. He said that it was such great fun to write because he got to ‘try on’ different lives but, as he emphasised, it was important to make these ‘lives’ and ‘experiences’ realistic and not perfect. 

The Midnight Library

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Publisher: Canongate Books
Published: 2020
# of Pages: 304
Genre: Fantasy, Contemporary Fiction, Science Fiction
Trigger Warnings: Death, suicide, drug and alcohol abuse, depression, loss
Links: Goodreads, Amazon, Blackwells

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