Mini-Reviews: Daughters of Nri, Fevre Dream and The Asylum for Wayward Victorian Girls

Here are some more mini-reviews of recent reads. There is the start of a new series, an older standalone and, unfortunately, a DNF. This has made me consider where I stand on finishing all the books I start, or at least trying to, and I think I am coming round more to DNFing books if I’m not enjoying it. While the ending may be great, there are too many other books out there for it to be worth the slog on just a chance it might pay off. Something I will be considering more going forwards. Regardless, there are two other books here which I did finish and I did enjoy.

As ever, the way I rate is as follows:

1-Unable to Finish ; 2-Did not enjoy ; 3-Liked ; 4-Really Liked ; 5-Loved

Daughters of Nri by Reni K. Amayo (narrated by Weruche Opia) – 4/5

Twin girls, separated at birth and daughters of a Goddess, destined to face the Eze, the man who chased the gods from the world. From the very start I was brough into this book, the descriptions of the two leads perfectly encapsulated their characters and the world they lived in. I really enjoyed their separate journeys an exploration of their potential. While it was slower in build-up, this worked well in both establishing the world and the people within it. The book does feel very much like the beginning of wider epic, with the Eze as just the first obstacle, and the ending was quite rushed. The narration though was brilliant and I will certainly be continuing this series.

Fevre Dream by George R.R. Martin – 3.5/5

Most know George R.R. Martin for the A Song of Ice and Fire series, but I have recently been enjoying his standalone novels. Fevre Dream is set in the 1850s in the world of steam boats, New Orleans and the Mississipi.  Abner Marsh enters into a partnership with the mysterious Joshua York to create and run the greatest Steamship, only plans are side tracks as Marsh starts to question York’s strange habits, absences and friends. Martin does a fantastic job of creating memorable characters quickly as well as building up the world they live in. I love steamboats and having them as the main setting was both entertaining and unique, then throw in the vampires and you have an intriguing story. The book did struggle a bit with the pacing side and I felt there was almost too much focus on the steamships, even if this was a key part of Marsh’s character. Still, I did enjoy reading this one and thought it was a good vampire tale.

The Asylum for Wayward Victorian Girls by Emilie Autumn – 1/5 (DNF)

For listeners of Emilie Autumn’s music, this book will be very familiar. It’s a book that mirrors the themes that run through her songs and her album Fight Like a Girl is based on the same story. It also touches on some autobiographical elements, following a modern day ‘Emilie’ who is hospitalised for suicide and a Victorian Emily who is locked up in an Asylum. Unfortunately, I really struggled with this book. I was intrigued at the start, but it gradually descended into a story that I just could not get into. The writing was not strong enough to handle the story being told and there were so many issues from how mental health was handled to the entitled behaviour of the main character to the treatment of all the other characters, I ended up giving up in frustration. It’s a shame as this could have been a really interesting exploration of the mental health system in America paralleled with that of the 1800s, but instead just turned into a lot of, in some cases offensive, ramblings.

Mini-Reviews: Hell Cats, No Office Required, Cinderella is Dead

Here are some recent reads from January. A dramatisation, a non-fiction and a fairytale gone wrong. All quite enjoyable, all very different from one another.

As ever, the way I rate is as follows:

1-Unable to Finish ; 2-Did not enjoy ; 3-Liked ; 4-Really Liked ; 5-Loved

Hell Cats by Carina Rodney (narrated by full cast) – 3.5/5

An Audible original drama about the infamous pirates Anne Bonny and Mary Read. This is really well produced, with strong vocal talents and atmosphere generation, and each episode flows nicely into the next. In particular, the voice actors for the two leads were fantastic – they really captured the essence of the pirates they portrayed. The dramatization aspect did make it difficult to follow the story in places and figure out who was speaking, especially at the start. It took a good few episodes before I could fully settle in and appreciate the story and be invested in Bonny and Read, but once I did I was eager to see it through to the end, particularly Read’s journey. This is a great listen for anyone interested in piracy and entertaining characters. By the end, I was ready to set sail and head out on an adventure at sea.

Bruce Daisley: No Office Required by Bruce Daisley (narrated by Bruce Daisley) – 3/5

Bruce Daisley (surprise, surprise) is behind this interesting Audible podcast about working from home life. It covers a variety of different aspects with advice and interviews. What I particularly liked was that is also included different perspectives, from those who love working from home to those who much prefer the office. With the increasing shift to working from home or blended working following the pandemic, it is important to get your work-life balance, and your working set-up, right. This has a lot of useful tips in it, albeit a lot are those we would have already heard before, but it is good guide if you are struggling or just want to pick up some new ideas.

Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron – 4/5

What happens when the fairytale becomes an enforced reality? That is exactly what is explored in this dystopian fairytale. 200 years after Cinderella has died, Sophia is 16 and about to attend her first annual ball where she will have to be picked by a man for marriage or be forfeit, only she is in love with her female best friend instead – something very much unaccepted by this society. I really enjoyed this book. Sophia was such an interesting character especially when we see it contrasted with Constance. The way the original fairytale was explored a few hundred years later alongside the concept of history being written by the victors was intriguing to read. There were a lot of twists and turns and it felt like the Sophia’s story and the original fairytale worked really well together, neither overpowering the other, fitting together nicely to create a whole. I will say I was expecting the book to be for a slightly older audience within the YA spectrum, so it did take me by surprise when I started reading, but once I got used to the younger writing style it worked well. Definitely a book for those who want a slightly different fairytale with excellent female characters.

The Books I Read in January 2021

January proved to be a great start to 2021 with regards to reading. I learnt about the sea-faring pirates and the dark web. I encountered vampires, fae and Greek gods and I visited worlds after the fairy-tale is over and where losing shadows mean losing memories. While I did like each of the books I read, some definitely stood out, with The Book of M being my favourite of the month (and Emily Woo Zeller joining my favourite narrators as well.)

As ever, the way I rate is as follows:

1-Unable to Finish ; 2-Did not enjoy ; 3-Liked ; 4-Really Liked ; 5-Loved

Audiobook

The Book of M by Peng Shepherd (narrated by James Fouhey and Emily Woo Zeller) – 4.5/5

The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black (narrated by Caitlin Kelly) – 3.5/5

The Dark Web by Geoff White and Bernard P. Achampong (narrated by Geoff White) – 3.5

Hell Cats by Carina Rodney (narrated by full cast) – 3.5/5

Bruce Daisley: No Office Required by Bruce Daisley (narrated by Bruce Daisley) – 3/5

Daughters of Nri by Reni K. Amayo (narrated by Weruche Opia) – 4/5

eBook

Lore by Alexandra Bracken – 4/5

Hardback

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman – 4/5

Paperback

Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron – 4/5

Fevre Dream by George R.R. Martin – 3.5/5

Going into February, I have a lot of exciting reading planned. I am starting the month with my first tome of the year: Black Leopard Red Wolf by Marlon James while also listening to Misbehaving by Richard E. Thaler (about behavioural economics). I suspect these are going to be relatively heavy reads so I have some hopefully lighter/less wordy ones planned, including another Cinderella reimaging for after the ever after (The Charmed Wife by Olga Grushin). I do really want to get back into the habit of reading daily so that is something I will be working towards in February.

2021 Anticipated Releases – New Books

The last of my 2021 anticipated releases posts, this one looks at seven books coming out this year that are new books from already published authors (previous posts are Debuts and Sequels). There are some new-to-me authors here and some already known authors, but each of these books have caught my attention and I can’t wait to see how they go. This isn’t the complete list of my anticipated releases, but it’s a good sample of those I am looking forward to. Release dates have all come from Goodreads.

This Poison Heart by Kalynn Bayron – 6th July

After enjoying Cinderella is Dead, I knew I had to see what else Kalynn Bayron had up her sleeve. In this book, Briseis is a girl with power over plants – she can grow plants from seeds with a touch and has a talent for tinctures and elixirs. When she moves to an inherited estate for the summer with her family, she discovers a secret garden, mysteries and a dark threat. Plant magic, secrets, nefarious enemies, this looks to have a lot of great promise within.

A Dowry of Blood by S.T. Gibson – 31st January

A reimagining of Dracula, with a focus on his brides, this book promises to be dark and haunting. It follows Constanta who is saved from the brink of death and finds herself a bride of Dracula. She soon starts to learn of his dark secrets and finds comfort in her fellow brides. I have no idea where S.T. Gibson is going to go with this book but I am excited to find out.

The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex – 4th March

Inspired by the real-life events in 1900 on Eilean Mòr, this books follows fictional events in 1972 as three lighthouse keepers vanish from a remote lighthouse in Cornwall, and again 30 years later from the perspectives of the women in their lives at the time. It tackles the emotions, fears and rumours that arise from such an event and may even get to the truth of what happened. This sounds really intriguing, a very human mystery, and I am curious to learn more.

The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri – 10th June

The start of a new series, and inspired by the history and epics of India, this book follows a princess and her maidservant as they try to save the empire from the princess’ brother. There is forbidden magic, the promise of vengeance and an unlikely alliance. I’ve read hardly any Indian-inspired fiction and am really looking forward to giving this book a go, especially as it seems to have a lot of ingredients that I enjoy!

Under the Whispering Door by T.J.Klune – 21st September

I loved the charm and light-hearted humour of T.J. Klune’s The House in the Cerulean Sea and this book promises to have more of that same substance. It is about Wallace Price, who has died but isn’t ready to cross over, and Hugo, a tea-shop owner who is also the ferryman, and their journey together as Hugo helps Wallace discover everything he missed. It sounds like a sad but gentle book with a whole lot of heart and I know I need to read it.

<The Spare Man cover not yet released>

The Spare Man by Marie Robinette Kowal – 13th July

On a space liner between Earth and Mars, someone is murdered and Tesla Crane’s husband Shalmanseer Steward has been framed for it. Tesla is determined to find out the truth and save her husband. With 1930s noir vibes and themes such as class, privilege and identity theft, this promises to be an intriguing read, not to forget the fact it is also set in space. I do enjoy a murder mystery and having one in space only adds to it.

Empire of the Vampire by Jay Kristoff – 7th September

It wouldn’t really be an anticipated 2021 releases list without Empire of the Vampire. Jay Kristoff’s next series, this is going to be dark, heart-breaking, and deadly. It is set in a world where the sun hasn’t risen in nearly 30 years and vampires dominate the landscape. Last of the monster hunters, Gabriel is forced to tell his tale as he is imprisoned by the vampires, with hope of bringing an end to the eternal night all but diminished. I am very much looking forward to seeing vampires in all their vicious glory and am also excited for the fact that this book is illustrated.

2021 Anticipated Releases – Sequels

The second of my anticipated 2021 releases posts, this one talks about seven sequels I am looking forward to this year (the first one about 2021 debuts can be found here). From series continuations, companions and finales, there is a lot to look forward to this year and these are just a small sample of what is coming.

Bridge of Souls by Victoria Schwab – 4th March

This is the third and final book in the Cassidy Blake trilogy by Victoria Schwab. The trilogy follows Cass, daughter of ghost hunters, who can actually see and interact with ghosts (including her best friend, Jacob). Her parents are filming a series about haunted places and so each book sees Cass brought to a new city, with new ghosts to deal with. It’s a middle-grade but easily enjoyable by adults and I am looking forward to reading the end of Cass and Jacob’s story.

Witchshadow by Susan Dennard – 22nd June

The fourth book in The Witchlands series, this is the highly anticipated Iseult book. This is one of my favourite series and I am so excited to be back with the characters, especially as this book promises to take things to another level. The series is about two threadsisters, Iseult and Safi, who are the latest of the mysterious Cahr Awan, as the world falls into war with them at the very heart. There is a fantastic cast of characters, brilliant world building and fantastic story-telling.

A Psalm of Storms and Silence by Roseanne A. Brown – 31st August

This is the second book in A Song of Wraith and Ruin duology, this brings a conclusion to Karina and Malik’s story. Inspired by West African folklore, Karina is an unwilling queen and Malik is a refugee who only wants to protect his family. To achieve their goals, they must kill the other, only their feelings start to grow and further threats lurk beneath the surface. I loved the first book particularly in how the characters played off each other and it ended on quite a cliff-hanger so can’t wait to get back into it and find out what happens!

Reaper of Souls by Rena Barron – 16th February

The sequel to Kingdom of Souls, this is another West African inspired series. It follows Arrah, the daughter of two powerful witchdoctors, who has no magic of her own. She is willing to do whatever it takes to be able to wield magic, whatever the cost, to stop the villain of the piece, only the cost may just be too great. The first book continuously raised the stakes and this book promises to be no different.

Rule of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo – 30th March

A return to the Grishaverse, this is the sequel to King of Scars and the last book in a duology that follows the new king Nikolai as he struggles to revive his country after the events of the Shadow and Bone trilogy, all the while battling the darkness inside. Even though I have yet to read the first book, I love the Grishaverse books and know Leigh Bardugo can deliver, so am very excited to finally get to the complete duology.

The Box in the Woods by Maureen Johnson – 15th June

Not quite a sequel, but not a distinct series in and of itself, this is the fourth book in the Truly Devious world, but takes places after the events of the core Truly Devious trilogy were resolved. In this, Stevie and her friends venture outside of Ellingham Academy to solve another cold case, but a killer is still on the loose and people start dying. This is apparently a stand-alone story, but I am looking forward to being back with the Truly Devious characters and see them solve another mystery.

Kingdom of the Cursed by Kerri Maniscalco – 5th October

This is another sequel where I still have to read the first book but I loved Kerri Maniscalco’s Stalking Jack the Ripper series and so I fully expect this series to be just as good. Saving the first book just means there is less of a wait before the sequel. This series follows Emilia as she is determined to discover her sister’s killer and have vengeance. I need to know nothing else to want to dive in.

Rosie Reviews: Lore by Alexandra Bracken

Title: Lore

Author: Alexandra Bracken

Publisher: Quercus Children’s Books

Genre: Fantasy

Source: NetGalley

Review

Every seven years, the gods become mortal for seven days as a punishment from Zeus in what is known as the agon. During that time, any mortal who kills them will gain their power and ascend to god-hood. Only a number of families, descendants of heroes, participate. Lore is the last of her line, descendant of Perseus, and has escaped from that life for years. That is, until an injured Athena shows up on her doorstep asking for help.

The author, Alexandra Bracken, has Greek heritage and this really comes through in her depiction of the families and Greek mythology. From the legends to the families to the themes explored, it is believable and well thought through. Even though it was hard to keep track of the various families, their society felt real and I found myself intrigued by the rules they lived by and how they survived over the years. I also enjoyed how feminism was explored, particularly in relation to the old myths and legends where it was the men who became heroes and favoured of the gods not women, something which fed through into the families in this book even in modern day.

I really enjoyed Lore as the book’s protagonist, particularly her desire to escape the agon at war with her desire for revenge and love of the fight. She is perfectly balanced by the group of friends that join the fight both to survive, but also to defeat the new Ares and bring an end to the agon.  Miles is really the heart of the book and his loyalty and determination to help Lore despite being new to her world was just a delight to read. I do wish we got to see more of Iro, but all the other characters, even those absent ones came across strongly. Athena was my favourite though – I loved how other-worldly she felt, and how her morality, stories and goals were handled.

In terms of structure, the pacing was pretty consistent throughout, and I really enjoyed the twists we got as loyalties were tested and reveals happened. I did find it took a while to get used to the world in question, but the flashbacks helped add a lot of needed context while also fleshing out the other characters. There were some incredibly dark themes – the use of the Brazen Bull on two children (not shown in any detail) was particularly disturbing, but these were broken up by some well-placed light-hearted moments or a touch of humour.

I do love Greek mythology and so I was incredibly excited to pick this up. It lived up to expectations and I know I would love to see more of this world, or at least the characters and gods, even if this was only a standalone. Writing this review now, I am tempted it again, but I think I’ll hold off on that a bit longer.

Rating: 4/5

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/53375824-lore

StoryGraph: Lore, by Alexandra Bracken | The StoryGraph

UK Bookshop.org: LORE (bookshop.org)

The Book Depository*: Lore : Alexandra Bracken : 9781786541529 (bookdepository.com)

*I receive a small commission when this link is used to make a purchase

2021 Anticipated Releases – Debuts

To kick off my three posts of anticipated 2021 releases (debuts, sequels and new books), we have seven debuts. Here we have exciting new series, intriguing mysteries and epic standalones. The release dates have been taken from Goodreads and some may have already been released as some of 2021 has already happened. These are obviously not the only debuts being released in 2021 and there are many more thrilling ones out there, but these are seven which caught my eye.

In no particular order, except the order I wrote them down in, here are seven of my most anticipated 2021 debut releases!

The Guilded Ones by Namina Forna – 4th February

Already on pre-order for me, this is the first in a new series. When Deka’s blood runs gold instead of red in her village’s blood ceremony, a sign of impurity, she must face a choice: remain in the village and face a fate worse than death, or go with a mysterious woman and join the Alaki to fight for the emperor.

Witches Steeped in Gold by Ciannon Smart – 20th April

Ever since I saw the cover, I have been eager for this book to come out. This is a Jamaican-inspired fantasy, another new series, where two witches, sworn enemies, have to join forces. The book is filled with promises of revenge, shifting loyalties and dangerous magic and I cannot wait.

She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan – 20th July

The more I hear about this book, the more I want it. A reimagining of the founding emperor of the Ming Dynasty, it follows Zhu, given with a fate of nothingness, who finds a chance to claim her brother’s fate of greatness when he dies and their home is attacked. Mulan meets The Song of Achilles in this exciting new series.

The Dead & The Dark by Courtney Gould – 3rd August

Something a bit different, this is another one which drew me in by the cover, and then I was hooked by the synopsis. Snakebite is a town with mysteries, and when Logan arrives, she finds herself caught up in a world of missing teenagers, secrets and ghosts. Unnatural happenings are occurring, and with ghosthunter dads, Logan is well places to find out what is going on. It sounds thrilling while also a lot of fun and I am certainly intrigued.

Wings of Ebony by J. Elle – 26th January

I love a good story about mortals and gods and this one seems to be perfect. Rue is half-god, half-human, and whisked away from everyone she ever knew by her father to a secret island for magic-wielders. When she returns home, she finds evil lurking. Rue must embrace her power to save her sister, her neighbourhood and the world.

Sixteen Horses by Greg Buchanan – 20th May

I knew nothing about this book until I saw it on a 2021 releases list, but the synopsis completely drew me in. Sixteen horses are found buried in circles with one eye facing the sun. From there, things only spiral down – crimes are uncovered, deadly secrets revealed, and the dark side of humanity is explored, all within a seaside town. It sounds chilling and haunting and I already need to know what happens.

Hall of Smoke by H.M. Long – 19th January

Gorgeous cover, warrior priestesses, epic fantasy with warring gods, this book just sounds amazing. Hessa is the last of the Eangi, priestesses of the Goddess of War with the power turn enemy bones to dust. She searches for forgiveness from her goddess, strives to revenge her fallen family and winds up in the middle of a war between the old gods and the new. It is also a standalone, which is great for those craving new fantasy but are wary of getting invested in yet another series.

21 Books to Read in 2021 – Tackling the TBR

I have a lot of books on my TBR, that is no secret. This year, I am hoping to tackle that TBR and maybe reduce the number (or at least offset the number I won’t be able to resist buying!) While I’m not a huge fan of specific TBR lists for months or readathons as I don’t think they work for me, I thought I would pick 5 books across 4 categories and one bonus one that I am hoping to pick up this year. With a whole year, that should be plenty of time to pick them up.

If you’ve read any of these books, let me know your thoughts! It might encourage me to pick them up sooner.

5 Books in Series

Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo

Assassin’s Fate by Robin Hobb

We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal

This Savage Song by V.E Schwab

5 Standalones

The Once & Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow

Black Leopard Red Wolf by Marlon James

Murder in the Bookshop by Carolyn Wells

On the Come Up by Angie Thomas

This Time will be Different by Misa Sugiura

5 Non-fiction

From the Alps to the Dales by Annie Gray

Les Parisiennes by Anne Sebba

The Squiggly Career by Helen Tupper and Sarah Ellis

Misbehaving by Richard Thaler

Unbreakable by Richard Askwith

5 Rereads

The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

The Non-Born King by Julian May

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Last Battle of the Icemark by Stuart Hill

Thief’s Magic by Trudi Canavan

One Bonus

Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco

My 2021 Reading Goals

I’m going to be talking about my 2021 reading goals today. Due to the constantly shifting world with pandemics, attacks on democracy, fights for rights, it is very hard to predict how the year will go. With that in mind, I decided to go for a more flexible reading goal structure. I have some year-long overarching goals that are relatively broad, but those are only few in number. I am then going to set quarterly goals and review them each quarter to see if I want to change them or if I am happy to continue with them. These quarterly goals are a lot more specific and will have more of a clear indication of whether they were achieved or not to help with that review.

Year-Long Reading Goals

Goodreads Reading Challenge

For the first time in a long time, I will not be participating in the Goodreads Reading Challenge. Ever since I started using Goodreads, I have had a Goodreads goal, usually of reading 100 books a year, but this year, I decided to break free. I will have no goals for total number of books read in 2021. This is for a number of reasons, but the main one is that I find having a reading goal can detract from the enjoyment of reading – I focus more on the amount I am reading than what I am reading. So, despite the efforts of my competitive side, I won’t be having a target goal of number of books to read.  I guess you could say my goal for number of books read is to not have a goal of number of books read.

Readathons

I like the idea of readathons but ultimately I don’t think they work for me, especially the shorter ones where you have a limited time to read books relating to the prompts. I do like the prompts though, and how they encourage you to pick up books that maybe you wouldn’t have picked up previously. So, while I won’t be taking part in any shorter readathons, I will be participating in three year-long readathons:

  1. Buzzword Reading Challenge – each month you have a buzzword (e.g. Dream, Time, Colour) and you have to read a book with that word, or a related word (such as dreamer, day, blue) in the title.
  2. Debut Author Reading Challenge – Read at least 3 2021 debut books in 2021. This is to support debut authors which is important any time, but more so in pandemic life where book events aren’t being held and it is harder to get a book promoted.
  3. TBR Knockout 2021 reading challenge – each month you get a theme and 2 challenges relating to the theme. For each challenge you need to read a book you already own. This is a great way to reduce the old TBR.

Expanding Horizons

This is a very broad goal but ultimately it is designed to push me to read outside my comfort zone, learn more about the world around me, and read books by and about those who are different to me. There are too many books out there to just read the same kind of story over and over again. I started making a concerted effort to read more diversely after the BLM movement really highlighted how poor the variety of books I read was, and I loved it and am excited to continue this. Under this goal, I am planning to read more books by PoC authors, increase my non-fiction reading as well as read more own voices, and books by/representing other minority groups such as the disabled community and the LGBTQ+ community. So, really, this is more of a theme than a specific goal.

Q1 Goals

I have three main goal areas for Q1 with 2-3 more specific goals within each one. I’ve decided to be quite specific about numbers in Q1 to hold me more accountable at the start of the year and avoid the goals falling by the wayside, but the numbers are more of a minimum to reach rather than a finite number to read. These will all be reviewed at the end of the quarter and maybe completely changed for Q2 but, for now, here are my Q1 goals.

Tackle the TBR

  • Complete the Buzzword Reading Challenge and Tackle the TBR readathon challenges for each month
  • Catch-up on NetGalley Reviews
  • Read 6x gifted books

Support new and minority authors

  • Read 3x 2021 debuts
  • Read 6x minority authors (2 per month)

Learning

  • Read 3x non-fiction books in areas of interest
  • Read 3x career development books

Those are my reading goals for 2021. Already I feel like I am off to a good start and it’s only 13 days into January. Not have a reading number has felt very freeing and I feel really positive for the year ahead. Maybe this is the year I finally get on top of my TBR.  

Mini Reviews: The Thursday Murder Club, The Book of M, The Queen of Nothing and The Dark Web

Every year must start somewhere and I am glad that 2021 started with these books. I laughed, I cried and I learnt. It is an incredibly varied start, from a murder mystery to a non-fiction about the dark web, to fairies and memory loss. Each one was just what I needed to listen to at the time, even if I enjoyed them to varying degrees, but none were disappointments.

For reference the way I rate is as followed:

1-Unable to Finish ; 2-Did not enjoy ; 3-Liked ; 4-Really Liked ; 5-Loved

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman – 4/5

Every Thursday, four elderly friends meet to discuss old murder cases. That is, until one day a murder occurs at the care home they live in and they can’t help but get involved. What ensues is a funny, heart-warming and twisty tale of murder, mystery and growing old. The four members of the club itself are each a delight to read and I enjoyed their persistent determination, especially alongside the police investigating the case. It was a relaxing read, with Agatha Christie vibes, that didn’t require much tense thought. Ideal for cosy winter reading.

The Book of M by Peng Shepherd (narrated by James Fouhey and Emily Woo Zeller) – 4.5/5

One day, a man’s shadow disappears. Then more shadows start disappearing and, with them, the memories of those now without shadows. Ory and Max have been living in hiding since the shadowless hit America, but when Max loses her shadow and disappears, Ory tries to do everything he can to find her. This is a stunning book. Each of the characters’ journeys are so intriguing and so different. It is filled with emotion and I really got invested in each of the storylines. It was a touch slow in places, but otherwise it was a delight to listen to (and the narrators were fantastic). What really made this book powerful though was the ending. Wholly unexpected and it really left a mark. This is a great exploration of the importance of memory and identity, with a touch of surrealism through the power of forgetting.

The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black (narrated by Caitlin Kelly) – 3.5/5

This is the third and final book in The Folk of the Air trilogy by Holly Black, bringing a conclusion to Jude and Cardan’s story that began in The Cruel Prince. Unfortunately, this trilogy hasn’t been a favourite. It started of strongly, but the following two books did not quite live up to the expectations of the first. I did enjoy this more than the second book, however. The book is fast-paced, there is a lot that occurs within the short number of pages, and the characters do really come into their own. Where it falls down is in sacrificing for speed – so much gets resolved too quickly and then barely touched on again as the book progressed, even the main conflict was resolved in a blink and you miss it fashion. I was also disappointed in the lack of scheming that made up the previous books, although the secondary characters, such as Grima Mog, were a lot of fun to read. That being said, it was an easy and fun listen, and the narrator did a fantastic job at bringing it to life. Unfortunately, this story was more of an average YA to me rather than a series I could get really invested into, but I am glad I read it and was able to complete this series.

The Dark Web by Geoff White and Bernard P. Achampong (narrated by Geoff White) – 3.5

This is a broad look into the dark web that most have heard of but few really understand. It is an Audible Original audioshow with each episode tackling a different aspect, from the origins to the types of activity which occurs on it to thoughts on its future. This was really interesting to listen to and I learnt a lot more than I was expecting to about topics such as bitcoin. There is an episode on child pornography which was difficult to listen to, but it starts with a warning so you are able to skip it if you need to and the topic is handled well. This is really informative and a great introduction to anyone who wants to know more about the darker side of the web.