The Hush by Sara Foster

The Hush by Sara Foster is an action-packed thriller right from the beginning. 

Plot

Set in the near-future after COVID, the British government has issued sweeping mandates that slowly begin to look a lot like Big Brother, stripping people of their human rights. For some unknown and horrifying reason, an increasing number of otherwise healthy babies are born unresponsive. The government’s response to this crisis is to heavily monitor the health and whereabouts of its citizens via smartwatches. On top of all that, young pregnant women have started to go missing, sometimes with their entire families. When Lainey, a seventeen-year-old girl, suspects she is pregnant, her mother and grandmother do everything in their power to protect her. 

Thoughts on The Hush by Sara Foster

This thriller is fast-paced and has one shocking revelation after another. It’s told from Lainey and Emma’s perspective. 

There’s not much to critique with this one. It kept my attention, but it was a touch too quickly paced to what I normally read. Otherwise, I found this to be a gripping novel. 

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Expected Publication: 2 November 2021

Thank you to Blackstone Publishing for the arc via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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The Island of Missing Trees

The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak is a magnificent story about love, loss, identity, and nature. 

Plot

Set in 1974 Cyprus, the country is in turmoil between the two religious groups on the island. Despite the danger it presents, Kostas, a Greek Cypriot, and Defne, a Turkish Cypriot, are young and in love at a time when there is a lot of turmoil between the two religious groups living on the island. The only place safe for the two to meet is at a tavern called The Happy Fig. The Happy Fig gets its name from a fig tree planted in the centre. This tree remembers everything that goes on in the tavern. The tree remembers the lover’s secret meetings, war breaking out, and what came after. 

Fast forward to present-day London, Ada is grieving the death of her mother. She feels that she can’t open up to Kostas, her father, because he is always buried in his work and talking to the fig tree in their backyard. Ada’s parents raised her in an English-speaking household and have never revealed much about their life in Cyprus. With the help of her visiting aunt, she begins to learn what her parents have left unsaid and discover her identity. 

Some thoughts on The Island of Missing Trees

This story has beautiful and lyrical prose with a sprinkle of magical realism. It’s told from the perspectives of Ada, Kostas, and the fig tree. The chapters are short, making this easy to fly through, even though I didn’t want it to end. There is also a helpful glossary of terms. 

It explores the harsh realities of war on civilians, the resulting traumas, and ways to heal from it. 

I forgot to mention that there’s also a talking parrot. This is the second book I’ve read this month that had one. I see a trend and, authors, I would like all future novels to have one too, please. 

This was my first Elif Shafak novel, but it will in no way be my last. 

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Expected Publication: 2 November 2021

Thank you to Bloomsbury Publishing for the arc via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

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These Silent Woods

These Silent Woods by Kimi Cunningham Grant is a suspenseful and atmospheric novel about a father and daughter who live in complete isolation in the Appalachian mountains. Perfect for a cold rainy, or winter day.

Plot Summary

For eight years, Cooper has been raising Finch, his daughter, in an isolated forest since she was an infant. They live in a cabin without electricity, running water, and no connection to anyone except an unwanted neighbour. A friend of Finch’s comes by once a year, but the rest of the time, Cooper and Finch live in isolation.

Cooper is content hiding from his past but is slowly realizing he cannot avoid it indefinitely. Not only is Finch becoming more curious as she grows up, but also it is not a sustainable lifestyle. When everything starts spiralling out of control, Cooper must deal with the consequences of his actions much sooner than anticipated.

Thoughts on These Silent Woods

This novel was a quick, moody read that picked up in the last fifty pages or so.

I loved Finch. She is super-intelligent and loves to read anything and everything, including the Ancient Greeks. Finch is also deeply attuned to the forest and reacts as naturally to it as her father, if not more so, which is saying something since he is ex-military.

Indeed, I was very invested in this story about the depths a father would go to when faced with losing everything he holds dear.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐/5

Expected Publication: 26 October 2021

Thank you to Minotaur Books/St Martin’s Press for the arc via Netgalley in exchange for my honest opinions.

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For more book reviews on new releases, check out the blog page.

Trashlands by Alison Stine

Trashlands by Alison Stine is a quiet but impactful read. It presents a look at what our world may end up like if we don’t start caring for our planet right now. 

The Plot

Mass flooding and other natural disasters caused by climate change have shrunk North America and completely changed everyone’s way of life. In this new world, nothing is definite, and everything is a struggle. Women are more vulnerable than before the floods; children are often forcibly taken to labour camps; plastic is the new form of currency. 

In an area renamed Scrappalachia, Coral lives with her partner on a junkyard known as Trashlands. Trashlands is a dance club owned by a vile man called Rattlesnake Master, the self-appointed Mayor of the community. 

Rather than work as a dancer, Coral is a plucker, someone who salvages usable plastic from the shore and woods. In her limited spare time, she creates art sculptures from scraps and leaves them in the woods for people to do what they will with them. Several years ago, Coral’s son Shanghai was forcibly taken to a children’s labour camp. Since then, Coral has been trying to save enough plastic to buy his freedom. 

A reporter named Miami arrives at Scrappalachia with a vague goal of trying to find something. Miami’s life becomes intertwined with the people of Trashlands, and his presence opens up the possibility of changing some of the lives in the community. 

Thoughts on Trashlands by Alison Stine

This story has multiple perspectives and a timeline that jumps from the past to the present and vice versa. However, I found it less jarring as the story progressed. Usually, when reading from multiple POVs, I’ll prefer one perspective over another, but with this book, I found them all engaging. Mr. Fall and Coral were definitely my favourite characters. 

This novel is paced slowly and is meandering, but it managed to capture my attention entirely. While this book explores some dark themes, there is still a lingering hope that permeates through, signalling that it is not too late to change things. 

CW: child abuse/neglect, drug usage. 

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Expected Publication: 26 October 2021

Thank you to MIRA for the arc via Netgalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

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For book reviews on newly released books, check out the blog page.

The Grimrose Girls by Laura Pohl

This modern-day reimagining of classic fairytales was such a delight to read. The Grimrose Girls is about a group of friends who try to solve the death of their best friend Ariane. 

The Grimrose Girls Plot

Set in Switzerland, The Grimrose Académie for Elite Students accepts students primarily of wealthy and privileged backgrounds. When one of the students is found dead in the lake on the school’s property, it sends shock waves throughout the school. When the police rule it a suicide, Ella, Yuki, and Rory refuse to believe it, and make it their mission to uncover the truth. 

When Nani Eszes, a reluctant new student of Grimrose, becomes roommates with Yuki and Rory, she soon joins their investigation. Their desire to find answers sets off a chain of events involving more death, magic, and a mysterious curse. 

The Grimrose Girls effortlessly incorporates many familiar fairytales, including Cinderella, Snow White, Hansel and Gretel, and more. The reimaginings more closely resemble the original fairytales by Hans Christian Anderson and the Brothers Grimm rather than the sugar-coated Disney versions. 

The chapters are short and alternate between the four girls. They all have very distinct voices. 

Ella is a people-pleaser and just trying to keep her head down until she’s of age to move out of her abusive home. 

Rory is a strong young woman who has led a very sheltered and private life. 

Yuki is an outwardly perfect girl, but inwardly is brimming with ice-cold anger. 

Nani is a lonely girl trying to connect with her father. 

Some Thoughts

There is plenty of LGBTQ representation, and it didn’t seem like it was only a checkbox for diversity. There’s also disability rep without any of the cliche inspirational messaging. 

My one minor quibble would be that I noticed that the students did almost no schoolwork and hardly mentioned their classes. I’m hoping the sequel will provide more answers about the curse and Rory’s mysterious background.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐/5

Expected Publication: 26 October 2021

Thank you to Sourcebooks Fire for the arc provided via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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For more book reviews on new releases, check out the blog page.

The Last Time She Died by Zöe Sharp

The Last Time She Died by Zöe Sharp is a good start to a new suspenseful thriller series.

Synopsis of The Last Time She Died

In the town of Derbyshire, Blake Claremont disappeared ten years ago. Many thought she ran away, while others were certain she was dead because they most definitely buried her body. Fast forward to the present, Blake returns to her family home, shocking everyone with her sudden reappearance. A few people seem happy to see her, while others think she is an imposter and desperately want to prove it.

So just who is this young woman claiming to be Blake?

Enter Detective John Byron, who is sent in an unofficial capacity to investigate the suspicious manner of death of Blake’s father, Gideon Fitzroy, a former member of Parliament. Byron quickly discovers that the situation is more convoluted than he previously supposed.

This story has multiple POVs, many of which I thought were unnecessary. The three main perspectives are Blake, Byron and Blake’s stepsister, Lily; however, nearly every character gets a few chapters from their perspective.

Thoughts

The chapters themselves are short, but rather than feeling like this was a propulsive read, I thought it was distracting. Just when I became invested, the chapter would end on a cliffhanger, and the next would be told from a different character, making the wait longer to find out what happened, which became frustrating after a while.

The last 100 pages, or so, picked up, and there were plenty of twists. Most were obvious, some were surprising. It was readily apparent who the antagonists were from reading the opening scene, but it was likely purposefully done that way.

The final quarter is when I became fully invested and wanted to know how everything would turn out. Byron’s character was the most well-developed out of all of them. I don’t know if that’s enough to make me want to continue with the series, but we shall see.

CW: child abuse.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐/5

Publication Date: 20 October 2021

Thank you to Bookoutre for providing me with an arc via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Oh William by Elizabeth Strout

Oh William by Elizabeth Strout is a short novel that packs a big punch.

Oh William Synopsis

In this third novel, we follow Lucy Barton, later in her life, as she reflects on her relationships with her family and her first husband, William.

Not long after the passing of Lucy’s second husband, Lucy ends up offering her support to William when he receives some surprising news. William discovers he has a long-lost relative that his mother had never previously mentioned. The pair go on a trip to try to reconnect with this newly found relative.

Thoughts

This book is a short one – it’s comprised of two chapters and is told entirely from Lucy’s perspective. It’s easy to finish in one sitting. There is not much plot, but it was nice to float along with Lucy’s narrative.

I thought there were some great insights on childhood trauma and how the effects of that can carry on into adulthood. One example is how Lucy’s abusive upbringing left her uncertain on how she was supposed to behave “correctly” in her new social sphere as an adult.

The second half of the novel is when I became invested in Lucy’s story. Lucy’s relationship with William after their divorce was both sweet, funny, and slightly painful.

Overall, I enjoyed this conclusion to the Amgash series. I only wish there was more of it!

Thank you to Netgalley and Random House Publishing Group for the arc in exchange for my honest opinions.

For regular reading updates, see my Goodreads profile.

For past reviews, check out the blog page.

The Brightest Star in Paris by Diana Biller

The Brightest Star in Paris is a magical love story. 

Synopsis

It’s 1878, and Amelie St. James is the prima ballerina at the Paris Opera Ballet. Her adoring fans call her St. Amie because they only see her as the pious and darling ballerina they know and love. However, Amelie wasn’t always this adored. She felt she had to put on this amiable exterior to create a stable life for her and her sister after experiencing hardships. 

Meanwhile, Dr. Benedict Moore, Amelie’s first love, has returned to Paris from America and is on a mission to present at a conference and recruit some new colleagues. But it’s all mostly just an excuse to see Amelie again. 

The two meet under strained circumstances. And this is where murder and ghosts enter and start to thicken the plot. 

Thoughts on The Brightest Star in Paris

The synopsis mentions ghosts of Amelie’s past, but I didn’t think they meant actual ghosts. Even though I wasn’t expecting them, I thought they added an entertaining element to this story. They were the perfect amount of funny and snarky, but also, their stories were heartbreaking. 

This novel was a bit darker than I thought it would be. Some of the themes deal with grief, pain, and loss. 

I think I’ll be in the minority with this one – I didn’t enjoy it as much as I had hoped. The plot dragged on and could use some editing to par it down a smidge. At one point, the ghost element dropped off and was picked up again later in the book. 

I think other readers will love this; it’s just not for me. There are a lot of other positive reviews, so maybe you’ll want to check those out. 

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐/5

Publication Date: October 12, 2021

Thank you to Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press for the arc in exchange for my honest opinions.

See my Goodreads for regular book updates.

For past blog posts, click here.

The Keeper of Night by Kylie Lee Baker

The Keeper of Night by Kylie Lee Baker is a YA fantasy novel inspired by Japanese folklore that hooked me from the very first page.

Synopsis

Ren Scarborough is half British Reaper and half Japanese Shinigami. For most of her life, Ren has, at best, felt like she hasn’t belonged, and at worst, hated because of her mixed heritage.

One fateful night, Ren loses control over her powers and accidentally injures three High Reapers. Rather than suffer severe punishment, Ren decides to flee to Japan with her brother Neven, where Ren hopes to find her identity. In Japan, things do not come as naturally as Ren had hoped, and she ends up going on a quest to carve a place for herself among the Shinigami of her birth country.

Thoughts on The Keeper of Night

This novel incorporates plenty of dark and fantastical elements of Japanese folklore, including Shinigami (death spirits), yōkai (supernatural spirits), Yomi (the Underworld), the nine-tailed fox, and much more. Before reading this, I knew relatively little about Japanese folklore and mythology, but now I am very excited to learn more.

This novel is set in the late 1800s and due to that fact, Ren endures a lot of racism and Othering. There are discussions on belonging, white fragility, identity, and family.

As I mentioned, this book hooked me from the first page. My one critique would be the insta-love relationship, although I will say that it goes to very unexpected places, places that were shocking and wickedly delightful.

I cannot wait for book two in this incredible duology.

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Publication Date: October 12, 2021

Thank you to Inkyard Press for the ARC provided via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

See my Goodreads profile for regular book updates.

For past reviews, click here.

Review: The Weekend Escape by Rakie Bennett

A Weekend Escape on a secluded island. What could go wrong?

A group of six friends who haven’t been close since school decide to go on a weekend trip to a remote island. They have the whole weekend planned with climbing, coasteering, and other outdoorsy activities. But since this is a thriller, their plans go up in flames almost as soon as they arrive. As things start going wrong, these once close-knit friends begin turning on each other, suspicious that someone among them is sabotaging their weekend escape.

The last quarter of the book is when I began to feel the tension spike. The group’s unlikely theories about who the saboteur was and their half-baked plans had me rolling my eyes more than a few times. Desperate times call for desperate measures, I suppose. None of the characters were that likeable either, which I don’t usually mind. But if they are unlikeable, then they must be interesting, which these characters were not. The constant snapping at each other and frequently throwing around accusations ended up being tiresome to me.

I will say that this is very atmospheric. I could feel the cold and sense of isolation through the pages. It was also great to read a thriller with some LGBTQIA representation. And, while I correctly predicted who was behind it all, I was still compelled to find out how everything would turn out.

3/5 Stars

Publication Date: October 8, 2021

Thank you to One More Chapter for inviting me to read this arc via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.