REVIEW | A Shroud of Leaves by Rebecca Alexander (Sage Westfield, #2)

41216247._sy475_

Title: A SHROUD OF LEAVES

Author: REBECCA ALEXANDER

Released: 9TH JULY 2019 by TITAN BOOKS

Genre: MYSTERY, THRILLER, SUSPENSE

TWs: Death, abuse, sexual molestation, animal abuse, alcoholism, familial abuse/dysfunction, child death


“Finely observed, beautifully written” Daily Mail on The Secrets of Life and Death

“The victim had been buried in a carved hollow in the grass and shrouded in fallen leaves…”

Archaeologist Sage Westfield has her first forensics case: investigating the murder of a teenage girl. Hidden by holly leaves, the girl’s body has been discovered on the grounds of a stately home, where another teenage girl went missing twenty years ago – but her body was never found. The police suspect the reclusive owner, Alistair Chorleigh, who was questioned but never charged. But when Sage investigates a nearby burial mound – and uncovers rumours of an ancient curse – she discovers the story of another mysterious disappearance over a hundred years ago. Sage will need both her modern forensics skills and her archaeological knowledge to unearth the devastating truth.


I LOVED THIS BOOK! If I’m really honest, it reminds me of the Bones TV series with Dr. Temperance Brennan, which was always one of my favourite shows. I remember binge watching that because I loved the characters and storyline SO much. This novel had everything from that TV series that I loved about it – banter, drama, thrills, and mystery. Plus, the personal character arc only adds to my interest!

Rebecca Alexander is a supremely talented writer. She has the ability to draw you into the story itself and hold you captive until its conclusion. A Shroud of Leaves is steeped in folk history, psychology, and scientific study. Sage and the rest of the cast are all highly individual and you can nearly feel their various motives, fears, and dreams. Their individual plots all interact so well to create this poignant story about finding the root of the crimes committed covered up by individual stories. I really couldn’t put it down and highly recommend this to anyone who loves murder mysteries or crime thrillers!


Thank you to Titan Books for this review copy.

Add to Goodreads | Buy a copy

five stars

ARC REVIEW | The Invited by Jennifer McMahon

35053372._sy475_

Title: THE INVITED

Author: JENNIFER MCMAHON

Released: 30TH APRIL 2019 by DOUBLEDAY

Genre: PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER | GHOST STORY


A chilling ghost story with a twist: the New York Times bestselling author of The Winter People returns to the woods of Vermont to tell the story of a husband and wife who don’t simply move into a haunted house–they build one . . .

In a quest for a simpler life, Helen and Nate have abandoned the comforts of suburbia to take up residence on forty-four acres of rural land where they will begin the ultimate, aspirational do-it-yourself project: building the house of their dreams. When they discover that this beautiful property has a dark and violent past, Helen, a former history teacher, becomes consumed by the local legend of Hattie Breckenridge, a woman who lived and died there a century ago. With her passion for artifacts, Helen finds special materials to incorporate into the house–a beam from an old schoolroom, bricks from a mill, a mantel from a farmhouse–objects that draw her deeper into the story of Hattie and her descendants, three generations of Breckenridge women, each of whom died suspiciously. As the building project progresses, the house will become a place of menace and unfinished business: a new home, now haunted, that beckons its owners and their neighbors toward unimaginable danger.


This was an interesting tale, as I’ve never before read one about people building their own haunted house. The build up was a bit boring, but it improved massively about halfway in! I had to put it down for awhile and come back to it, but I’m one of those that always wonders how a story ends if I don’t read it through. I am glad I read the whole thing, but the conclusion left a bit to be desired for my tastes. I found the characters mostly boring or irritating, bar Hattie. Her story was the only thing that really kept me reading. I really struggled to read Olive’s POV chapters. The twist at the end slightly shocked me, but I kind of had a sneaking suspicion it might end that way. I can see the appeal for some, but it wasn’t really my thing. The writing and scenery itself kept me mildly interested, so I would likely read another McMahon story.


Add to Goodreads | Buy online


Thank you to Doubleday via Netgalley for this ARC.


ARC REVIEW | The Lost Coast by Amy Rose Capetta

35053372._sy475_

Title: THE LOST COAST

Author: AMY ROSE CAPETTA

Released: 14TH MAY 2019 by CANDLEWICK PRESS

Genre: YOUNG ADULT FANTASY

Rep: LGBTQ+ | TWs: Anxiety, depression, violence, death/murder.


The spellbinding tale of six queer witches forging their own paths, shrouded in the mist, magic, and secrets of the ancient California redwoods.

Danny didn’t know what she was looking for when she and her mother spread out a map of the United States and Danny put her finger down on Tempest, California. What she finds are the Grays: a group of friends who throw around terms like queer and witch like they’re ordinary and everyday, though they feel like an earthquake to Danny. But Danny didn’t just find the Grays. They cast a spell that calls her halfway across the country, because she has something they need: she can bring back Imogen, the most powerful of the Grays, missing since the summer night she wandered into the woods alone. But before Danny can find Imogen, she finds a dead boy with a redwood branch through his heart. Something is very wrong amid the trees and fog of the Lost Coast, and whatever it is, it can kill. Lush, eerie, and imaginative, Amy Rose Capetta’s tale overflows with the perils and power of discovery — and what it means to find your home, yourself, and your way forward.


if you want to do big magic, you don’t mess around, even if you think you have good reasons. you trust your friends, your sisters, your coven.

 This book was everything I wanted! I so enjoyed reading it. I requested this very shortly after reading Once & Future because I loved the Capetta/McCarthy storytelling duo. I surmised I must love them individually, as well. Well, I wasn’t wrong!! This story was dark and compelling, while simultaneously exploring various themes of sexuality, family relationships, friendship, and finding your space in the world. I appreciated the representation of various sexualities and the focus on female friendships rather than romance. We may need people in our lives to help us through the hard times, but it doesn’t always need to be a romantic tie.

but it wasn’t as simple as that. this love begged, too. it wanted me to step closer, to learn how solid the trees felt under my fingertips, but i got the sense that if i did, they would pull me deeper into the woods, and i would never be heard from again.

The storyline really drew me in and then the execution felt perfect to me. It kept me guessing and I never felt as if I knew what was coming next! I really found no fault in The Lost Coast. I loved Amy Rose Capetta’s lyrical writing style as it made the whole thing flow and sound so beautiful. She really added weight to the scenes. The spookiness of the forest was my favourite and the kind of shiftiness of various situations throughout. I would highly recommend this to anyone who loves a good mystery or highly descriptive stories.

the trees feel it. the trees feel everything.some secrets stay close to the trunks of the redwoods. others have been carried away. like the bones. the bones are gone, and the trees fear that an important story left with them.


Add to Goodreads | Buy online


Thank you to Candlewick Press via Netgalley for this ARC.

five stars

REVIEW | The Kingdom by Jess Rothenberg

41216247._sy475_

Title: THE KINGDOM

Author: JESS ROTHENBERG

Released: 11TH JULY 2019 by MACMILLAN CHILDREN’S BOOKS

Genre: YOUNG ADULT FANTASY SCI-FI

TWs: Death, allusion to rape/sexual assault, abuse, self harm.


Welcome to the Kingdom… where ‘Happily Ever After’ isn’t just a promise, but a rule. 

Glimmering like a jewel behind its gateway, The Kingdom(TM) is an immersive fantasy theme park where guests soar on virtual dragons, castles loom like giants, and bioengineered species–formerly extinct–roam free.

Ana is one of seven Fantasists, beautiful “princesses” engineered to make dreams come true. When she meets park employee Owen, Ana begins to experience emotions beyond her programming including, for the first time… love.

But the fairytale becomes a nightmare when Ana is accused of murdering Owen, igniting the trial of the century. Through courtroom testimony, interviews, and Ana’s memories of Owen, emerges a tale of love, lies, and cruelty–and what it truly means to be human.


how do you define real anyway?

This tale is told through Ana’s POV, as well as trial testimony and her interview with Dr. Foster. Obviously, she’s been accused of murdering a staff member, which shouldn’t be part of her programming as a half-human, half-android, but it quickly becomes evident that Ana may be more than her programming. The style of the chapter arrangement reminded me a bit of Sadie solely for the way it was constructed. The plots are obviously very different. I loved the alternation between story telling styles because you got details to fill in some gaps and then a bit of intrigue to create more from each bit, which only made your compulsion to keep reading grow by the chapter!

i can control my own ocular lenses. i can control a feature on my own body.

It was very different to books I’ve read this year, but still had some similar themes exploring how we treat other people and women as a commodity rather than being treated as people. Now, in this story, due to the Fantasists being created by The Kingdom(TM)’s scientists, they are considered things rather than proper beings. There is a lot wrong with the Investor’s, guards, and some other staff’s morals regarding how the Fantasists are treated (massive trigger warning for anyone who needs it regarding the mention and allusion to rape). Several of the situations and a lot of the dialogue is basically a discussion on locker room culture and the boys club. Meaning, guards and staff are allowed use the Fantasists whichever way they like and and say terrible, abusive things. Remember that quote, where happily ever after is not just a promise, but a rule? Yeah, they’re programmed to go along with things, even if they don’t like it or agree because your happiness is my happiness… I found myself struggling with some of the more difficult situations Ana faces and her conflict within herself to decide what is right, even when it goes against her programming and how The Kingdom(TM) has told her to behave. There is a lot to break down, but I’m not going to go that far into the analysis. Feel free to message me if you want to discuss, though!

that’s just how guards behave. it has always been this way.

The characters and world were extremely well developed! I loved learning more about this futuristic theme park/fantasy land. The world is rich in detail and I could clearly picture the different scenes in my mind. It is definitely the characters that bring this story to life, though! Their interaction with the world and each other is beautifully written. Jess Rothenberg has worked in YA fantasy for awhile and it shows through very clearly in her own story. This has been one of the most compelling stories I’ve read in a long time and I urge you to give it a try.

sometimes it is hard, not quite knowing what i am.


Thank you to Pan Macmillan for this review copy.

Add to Goodreads | Buy a copy

five stars

REVIEW | The Wickerlight (The Wren Hunt #2) by Mary Watson

41216247._sy475_

Title: THE WICKERLIGHT

Author: MARY WATSON

Released: 30TH MAY 2019 by BLOOMSBURY YA

Genre: YOUNG ADULT FANTASY

TWs: Death, talk of divorce, talk of adultery, parental separation, abuse, torture – physical and mental.


Zara’s family moved to Kilshamble for a new beginning. But everything changed the night her sister was found dead on the village green.

Two months later, Laila’s death is a riddle that nobody wants solved. Where were her injuries? Why was she so obsessed with local folklore? And what does all this have to do with David, the boy who lives at the big house?

As Zara delves deeper into her sister’s secret life, she becomes entangled in an ancient magical feud. All too unwittingly she is treading the same dangerous path that led Laila to the village green.


I HAVE BEEN AWAITING THIS SINCE I FINISHED READING THE WREN HUNT LAST YEAR!! Set not long after the close of The Wren Hunt, we find a new family has moved to Kilshamble and one of them has stumbled upon a deadly secret. I love everything that is fantasy and set in Ireland, so it was no surprise that I loved this as much as I did. It was equal parts mystical, dark, and beautiful. Chock full of Irish mysticism with a little South African detail!! I highly enjoyed that Mary Watson utilised her own background to develop the main family in this story.

I adored Mary Watson’s writing style in The Wren Hunt and she did not let us down in The Wickerlight! Her ability to invoke such immediacy for the reader has only improved from The Wren Hunt to now. As I started reading, I was completely lost in the world of judges and augurs once again. The world building and character development is (…out of this world? 🤣) unreal – so freaking good! Mary Watson is a writing ninja and I love her!!

I found The Wickerlight to be slightly more interesting only because we get more into the judges and their community, rather than only focusing on the augurs. It nearly felt like the augurs were the villains in this story, but truly villainy nearly always depends on the narrator, doesn’t it? We readers really get a lot more information about the feud, etc. in this companion. Plus, the mystery of the introductory death adds a bit of excitement and enigma to this world that wasn’t quite there in The Wren Hunt.

I highly recommend you pick this beautiful story up with some gin spritzes and read it as soon as you can! Read The Wren Hunt first, though! They’re connected, even if The Wickerlight isn’t a direct sequel. You’ll love Kilshamble and its inhabitants.


Thank you to Bloomsbury UK for this review copy.

five stars

ARC REVIEW | All We Could Have Been by T.E. Carter

39073348._sy475_

Title: ALL WE COULD HAVE BEEN

Author: T.E. CARTER

Released: 23RD APRIL 2019 by FEIWEL & FRIENDS

Genre: YOUNG ADULT CONTEMPORARY

Rep: LGBTQ+ | TWs: PTSD, anxiety, depression, violence, gore, death/murder.


WOW!

Just wow…

This story has so much soul from start to finish. I found it difficult to put down even to do life things! I read it in bed, in the bath, in the car (but only when I wasn’t driving), and everywhere in between. I was very close to calling into work, but then I just stayed up entirely too late to finish. Have I gotten your attention yet? Basically, you need to read this as soon as you can!

Like the synopsis says, it’s a strong discussion on our assumptions about people based on the way they look or seem. We should be way less focused on how people appear and maybe try to put a little more emphasis on getting to know the heart of people. Lexie has always been harshly judged because she looks and acts differently to her peers, but that’s her way of coping with her PTSD. She feels she needs to do those things in order to get through her life.

The portrayal of Lexie’s anxiety, depression, and PTSD are phenomenal. They are so realistic and don’t shy away from the darker side of those afflictions. The author also keeps the reader in the dark for the first bit of the story, which really added to my interest. I felt like I had to keep reading until the end to find out what happened to make Lexie the way she is, and then to find out her resolution at the end. It’s a massive page turner, but it does have a lot of darkness, too. I found her relationships (and the romance) made it that bit more realistic. While she didn’t have to have the romance aspect to overcome her challenges, I felt the support she had because of it only added to the story.

This has been one of my favourite reads of the year. It’s so emotional and powerfully written. I had to give this five stars without a doubt.


Five years ago, Lexie walked home from school after her older brother failed to pick her up. When she entered her house, her brother sat calmly, waiting for the police to come arrest him for the heinous crime he had just committed.

Treated like a criminal herself, Lexie now moves from school to school hiding who she is—who she’s related to. She struggles with loving her brother, the PTSD she now suffers from, and wanting to just live a normal life. But how can she be normal when she can’t even figure out how to just live?

This is a powerful look at the assumptions we make about people. Lexie’s emotional journey to separate her brother’s horrific act from herself is stunning and heartbreaking. This is Lexie’s story and journey—not her brother’s—and it will stay with you long after you turn the last page.


Thank you to Feiwel & Friends via Netgalley for this ARC.

five stars

REVIEW | The Forgotten Girl: A Thriller by Rio Youers

Title: THE FORGOTTEN GIRL

Author: RIO YOUERS

Released: 28TH MAY 2019 by TITAN BOOKS

TWs Graphic violence and body horror. Gore; On the page character death, parental death; Behavior and descriptive language akin to self harm, and references to such; Reference to suicide and suicidal ideation.

Genre: ADULT THRILLER | SCI-FI | HORROR


This was an awesome novel! It more than met my expectations and I truly enjoyed it. I’ve never read Youers before, but after this I’ll definitely be adding him to my list of authors to watch! I am so glad I was able to pick this up.

The plot was so interesting and unique. I can’t say I’ve ever read anything quite like this. There is so much life, and death, in The Forgotten Girl. I found myself thinking about this story even when I wasn’t reading, and there were several times I kicked myself for not bringing it along with me to read in my downtime.

The characters were so real and the writing actually made me feel I was in the room with them dodging bullets and engaging in high speed car chases! Even the secondary characters were so well written and captivating.

It is such a page-turner and I urge you to pick this up as soon as possible! It will surprise you in the best way.


“She possesses a unique and powerful ability. Just like we can erase data from a computer hard drive, Sally can erase memories from a person’s mind.”

Abducted and brutally beaten by a group of thugs, street performer Harvey Anderson is convinced he’s a victim of mistaken identity when they demand to know the location of his girlfriend, Sally Starling. Harvey Anderson has been single for years. 

She dominated my dreams. Sometimes as a lover, more often as a scared, lonely girl running from something that slathered and swooped. I woke with her name on my lips, clutching the empty half of the bed, knowing beyond all doubt that she should have been next to me. 

Aided by his thugs, a sinister man known as “the spider” has tracked Sally to Harvey. He has pursued her for nine years, desperate to possess her remarkable talents. Yet emotion runs deeper than memory, and so Harvey goes looking for a woman he loves but can’t remember, and encounters a danger beyond anything he could ever imagine.


Thank you so much to Lydia Gittens at Titan Books for the review copy!