Book Review: The Ghost Beside Me (2019)

The Ghost Beside Me by Lee Hall

If I could just break away from the shackles of that internal torment I have created that imprisons my confidence. Just the idea and thought of tackling this enigma of feelings spirals my own self into a deep sadness, hence my lack of entries in the past days.

I’ve been meaning to try one of Lee Hall’s books for a while now, and I don’t have the attention span for a long book right now, so this novella was just the right size! And I do love a good ghost story. Further, I kind of love the kismet of picking this one up now, because the writing style actually really reminds me of the start of Frankenstein, and I’ve been discussing Mary Shelley all week. ’Twas meant to be! Not that I would liken the story lines, that is, just the stylistic choice and tone.

We follow the musings of the main character and there was so much about his confessions that I could relate to. The loneliness, the insecurity, the introvertedness.

The hypothesis I am swaying towards consists of a man with an empty lonely heart creating an illusion of such to simply fill a void.

You know, now that I’m thinking about it, this book is like my favourite Tennessee Williams’ quote with a paranormal twist: (When so many are lonely as seem to be lonely, it would be inexcusably selfish to be lonely alone).

This is a great introduction to Hall’s works for sure, and I’m definitely going to be picking up another by him when I get a chance. I do love intensely quotable books with evocative prose and wonderful atmosphere building, after all!

Book Review: A Walrus & A Gentleman (2021)

Book review poster with picture of roses in background.

A Walrus & A Gentleman by Emmaline Strange

Some part of me had always believed in fairy tales, and that part of me had fluctuated in strength and size over the years. Recently, it seemed only to shrink and fade further away, but I knew it was still there, whether or not I would ever admit it.

*HAPPY SHIPPING NOISES*

Everything about this was just ROMANCE and CUTE and GRUMPY LIGHTHOUSE GRUMPS and COSY JUMPERS and BE STILL MY HEART. ☆_☆

Gosh, this is a truly fun and romantic read! Perfect for those who like soft, sweet fairy tales set on windy islands with gruff, bearded lighthouse keepers who are undone by their perky, overly caffeinated cinnamon roll bfs.

Book Review: Wonder Rush (2021)

book review picture of girl reading book; she's wearing a leather jacket, face obscured.

Wonder Rush by Dan McKeon

No one ever gave her a choice. What do you do when you have spent your entire life, since birth, being trained for a single purpose? What happens once you’re old enough to question things? Is it too late? Has the die been cast?

There are some really great quotes in this book. Like, really awesome and thought-provoking. So I shall pepper them throughout as I cannot choose! Some of them are also just straight up great descriptions. Like, the Wonder Rush bubblegum description is so evocative.

The sticker bore the image of a yellow smiley face. Something like an emoji on steroids. The eyes were wide and blue, and it pursed its lips into a perfect O with a bright pink bubble protruding from them. It raised its eyebrows in a way that suggested that this little smiley face was exuberantly excited about the bubble it was blowing.

Intrigued yet?

Dan McKeon’s debut novel is perfect for spy and thriller fans, or really anyone who likes a badass MCs! It fits right up there with Nikita and Alias. Maybe a bit of Dark Angel? Wendy is a fascinating MC, ruthless and driven, but complex and multi-layered.

The imminent risk of capture would probably make most people apprehensive, but Wendy saw it as a challenge. She was also rather cocky, so thinking she was smarter than a trained detective, while imprudent, was also mentally stimulating.

But Wendy is, like so much of the MC’s life, simply a manufactured creation of the agency she works for who have their own agenda. The agency turned her into what she is, but as Wendy, her life has come to include people she cares about, namely her brother Corey. Being Wendy has given her a new perspective. One she isn’t prepared to simply abandon. Soon, her fake life is upended by her real life and leaves her riddled with questions.

Did they strip her identity from her, or did she never have one to begin with? What exactly has her life been? When it’s all you know, you don’t stop to question it. Becoming a different person, adopting a new identity, a unique hairstyle, a fresh look, a new name, all just felt normal to her.

Overall Dan McKeon’s debut will undoubtedly appeal to fans of thrillers and espionage! 

Book Review: Emma and the Minotaur (2013)

Emma and the Minotaur by Jon Herrera

“All stories are true. But the trees and the Lord of Light were here first. He ruled over this world once, and then he left to his World of Light. Now he seeks to return. Minotaur has a mission. He is the vanguard. He comes to prepare the way. The humans who have disappeared are the first prisoners of war.”

Firstly, this cover absolutely takes my breath away. It was the first thing that drew me in. (And it seems to be ongoing, book two’s cover is gorgeous!) I also love the title. We don’t get nearly enough minotaurs in fiction. [Side note: we need more minotaurs in fiction. Where are they?? Thank you to the author for bringing these much forgotten magical characters back into fiction!] So I dove right into this excited for the magic and adventures!

A deer and a nightmare, she thought, were more likely than a man with horns.

I don’t read too many stories with young MCs (I think the last one I read was City of Ghosts), but I’m glad I picked this one up! Herrera’s writing is crisp and smooth. Stories like Emma and the Minotaur remind me of the tales I read growing up. And Emma’s adventures brought to mind Lucy Pevensie from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Like Lucy, Emma’s new world involves unicorns and minotaurs, assorted animals with personalities and a long awaited girl needed to save them all from certain doom.

Something I also really appreciated was Herrera’s dialogue and humour:

“So I’m supposed to stop a giant monster and save the world just because a tree told you so?”

Domino nodded.

“That doesn’t seem right at all,” Emma said.

Hehehe. Bless Emma. I don’t want to give away the plot, or the twists, but for those who like fantastical tales, animals galore and kids-saving-the-world, definitely give this one a chance! It’s the type of book that’s perfect for a cosy weekend of reading.

Book Review: Fever Dreams (2021)

Fever Dreams: Volume I by Luther Kross

That magnificent ballerina of the skies, tumbled and dove its way back towards him and swooped in, just grazing him with the claws on its feet.

Fever Dreams is my first read by Luther Kross. Firstly, I really like the cover!! Like, how groovy?? So I snatched it up on a whim and dove straight in; I figured going in unprepared could be fun! And it really was! I wasn’t expecting these visceral, macabre, snappy stories, and I think that made them all the more enjoyable. The twists were darkly humorous and contrasted well against the grim, horror strewn storylines.

Definitely going to be checking out more of Kross’ writing soon!

Book Review: The Summoner’s Cry (2021)

The Summoner’s Cry by Ana C. Reis

Grimoires were wicked things, unpredictable and treacherous like souls often were.

You ever find those books that are so intensely readable that you just fall into the author’s universe and get to the end without realising you’ve even turned the page? This is that book. The Summoner’s Cry is fantastically immersive, with dark fantasy world-building done exquisitely, characters who love, fight and banter with excellent development. For a book that’s only 130~ pages, I’m absolutely blown away by how well done the setting is.

For anyone who loves fantasy and wants an immersive, vivid, vibrant read, this one is worth your time! I cannot wait to read the author’s next work.

pre-review thoughts: the cover caught my eye instantly, and I was absolutely delighted when Ana Reis offered me a review copy. I jumped on it straight away! And I’m so happy I did!! This dark fantasy novella starts with a bang and only continues. I’m a slow reader, but I read about fifty pages of this without pausing. Reis’ worldbuilding is fantastic and the characters are instantly intriguing. Also, I must say that the interior of the book is as gorgeous as the cover. I just love the whole design concept. It’s seriously beautiful.

Thank you to the author for a review copy.

Book Review: A Haunting at Hartwell Hall (2021)

A Haunting at Hartwell Hall by Rachel Bowdler

“Because I don’t like to bother the dead. Usually, when they want to talk, they let me know — but it seems this one wants to be bothered.”

OH. MY. GOSH. YUS.

1920s! Ladies! Ghosts! Big house! Spookies!

I adored this latest addition to Bowdler’s repertoire so much. Blair came in and stole my heart immediately. I loved her characterisation so much. She has the patience of a saint, honestly. I’ll admit, Felicity drove me absolutely bonkers for like the first 80% of the book 😂 but I understood her by the end.

BLAIR IS THE BEST THOUGH AND I LOVES HER. And the ending was PERFECTION.

For a truly fantastic read, definitely pick up this gem! ☆

Also, a great companion read to this is definitely The Murder Next Door!