Friend Request – Laura Marshall

Link to book – Friend Request by Laura Marshall

Rating – 2 out of 5 stars

I was actually quite disappointed with my read of Friend Request, it was just okay. I expected a lot more from a book that was branded as a thriller, it just felt flat and lacked anything that really made it stand out from the crowd.

The atmosphere and intrigue of this book were just not what I expected given that it was supposedly a thriller… Sure, it felt tense and I definitely was leaning towards the edge of my seat but it never fully tipped the scales into that proper thrilling vibe. I also felt that whilst it was intriguing to start off with, it just became drawn out and tedious.

Moving onto the characters I found it really difficult to make my mind up about whether or not I liked Louise (who was our main character). I was bullied in school, quite badly, and I think that’s part of the reason I didn’t like her, I felt the author tried to make it as if she showed remorse but it felt false and like the author was trying too hard. Despite Louise also being a victim in the story I just found her hard to like and felt a lot of resentment towards her. However, there were points where I felt sorry for her and I did feel sometimes she was genuinely remorseful, only to have that undone by the author.

And coupled with average writing, that just lacked that little bit of oomph, it just didn’t make for a thrilling read.

I think though my biggest issue was the plot… At points it really felt like the author was reaching too much to connect dots that just weren’t meant to connect. I felt we were ripped off with the messages too, the whole idea and plot of the book was supposedly around these messages and the friend request but then it ended up just being a few pages about it before we moved onto another plot line, that to be honest, felt irrelevant to story so far.

It felt like the author had multiple ideas and tried to cram them into one story, pulling us from pillar to post with no direction of the actual plot. This also made me feel like there were a few plot holes, but I can’t really put my finger on these, it just was something that felt off.

On the whole, I was really disappointed by Friend Request, but I do believe if it hadn’t have been marketed as a thriller it would have been a much better book, but I had very high expectations of it and they just weren’t met.

Until next time, Em xxx

The Flatshare – Beth O’Leary

Link to book – The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary.

Rating – 4 out of 5 stars

Oh my goodness, this book was so adorable I absolutely loved it! It completely warmed my cold, dead heart and left me with the most incredible fuzzy feeling after I finished reading it. I honestly wish I hadn’t waited so long to pick it up, it was so worth the read.

Starting off with our characters, I found that they absolutely carried this book – not that the rest wasn’t up to standard though! The split POV worked really well for them and I found myself wanting to read as quickly as possible so I could see how Leon felt about Tiffy’s notes and vice versa. And, the supporting characters were pretty fab too, the author had clearly put work in to add as much life and soul to the story as possible.

And the story itself was actually inventive, I loved the idea of the flat share and how their relationship developed just through notes, it really was heart warming and very cleverly written. I also really enjoyed the side plots with Tiffy’s ex and Leon’s brother being in prison, it really fleshed out the story and added value to the main plot.

I also really enjoyed the writing style of this book, it was super easy to read which is not a criticism at all. The whole thing just flowed really nicely and felt like everything slotted together to create such a lovely tale. The writing was really good and I just didn’t notice the time passing when I was reading, so that’s always nice!

The Flatshare was just a super entertaining story and I loved every second of my read through, I found myself laughing out loud, gasping in shock and really rooting for the characters and that was all down to the authors storytelling and character building.

My only wish is that it were longer as I wanted more of Tiffy and Leon!

Until next time, Em xxx

13 Tales To Give You Night Terrors – multiple authors

Hi everyone! Something a little different from me today, I read an anthology of horror books so I’ve decided to do short two or three line reviews of each story and then rate them in pumpkins (in keeping with the Halloween theme!) All ratings will be out of 5.

Link to book – 13 Tales To Give You Night Terrors

Crashing Mirrors – Well I wasn’t expecting that ending, it was a complete twist! Bravo to the author. Whilst the writing did leave a little to be desired it was more than made up for with the story and that shock twist.

πŸŽƒπŸŽƒπŸŽƒ out of 5

Ad Infinitum – aw this was so good! I absolutely loved the ambiguity that the story had and coupled with that story of chaotic way the story was being told to us, it was just brilliantly done. I love that whole crazed vibe and this story certainly had a lot of it.

πŸŽƒπŸŽƒπŸŽƒπŸŽƒ out of 5.

Black Holes – well this was fucking traumatising. Jfc. This was actually quite a horrific story, and it made me feel genuinely sick when I finished reading it :))))) bravo to the author though, who clearly put their heart and soul into crafting such an eerie and tense atmosphere, coupled with an impeccable story.

πŸŽƒπŸŽƒπŸŽƒπŸŽƒπŸŽƒ out of 5.

Clown – oh my good lord, this book is genuinely trying to kill me. I hate clowns and I’m scared of the dark so this story, coupled with those fears was just about enough to tip me over the edge to a full blown breakdown. This was so tense and genuinely creepy, it felt dark and it was incredibly hard not to imagine the scene in your head. It was a lot.

πŸŽƒπŸŽƒπŸŽƒπŸŽƒπŸŽƒ out of 5.

Back Home – this one was actually quite sad, a tale of loss and ghosts. It was very well done I just didn’t feel the same thrill I felt with some of the others unfortunately.

πŸŽƒπŸŽƒπŸŽƒ out of 5.

Waiting For The Wolf – a shorter story that definitely packed a punch! I loved the ending and the whole chain mail vibe of this story just took me back to my younger days. I was just disappointed it wasn’t longer to allow that tension to build, but it did do well in time it had.

πŸŽƒπŸŽƒπŸŽƒπŸŽƒ out of 5.

Store Macabre – DNFR.

Search History – while I did enjoy this one I felt a little mislead by the title, I was expecting something different which was a shame. Aside from that, the story was really good, I loved the way the notes formed a puzzle for Mary but also encouraged the tense feeling for the reader too. The ending did feel a bit of a let down though.

πŸŽƒπŸŽƒπŸŽƒ out of 5.

Gone For Good – I think this one was just too long and didn’t have enough substance to it. Plus I guessed the ending like straight away so.

πŸŽƒπŸŽƒ out of 5.

One and Done – I was more confused by this one tbh, there were points that didn’t really make sense and that spoiled it for me a bit. It did have a lot of potential though!

πŸŽƒπŸŽƒ out of 5.

Blackened Fireworks – I’m in 2 minds about this as the actual story was good and I really liked it, it was a compact read that packed a punch. But, the ending did seem a little odd, and could have ended better.

πŸŽƒπŸŽƒπŸŽƒ out of 5.

It’s Different When You Have Your Own – WTF did I just read. I genuinely think this was the most disturbing one of them all.

πŸŽƒπŸŽƒπŸŽƒπŸŽƒπŸŽƒ out of 5.

The House Sitter – I feel disappointed 😦 this was such a good story and had everything you need to be frightened, it was tense and atmospheric and it made you fearful of things that go bump in the night. It was creepy and eerie and ghostly and I was terrified to move whilst I read it. But the ending, the ending sucked and really let the story down.

πŸŽƒπŸŽƒπŸŽƒ out of 5.

On the whole, this was a really good collection of short horror stories and while some were better than others I definitely would recommend this one!

Until next time, Em xxx

Romance is Dead – Mari Sol

Link to book – Romance is Dead by Mari Sol

Rating – 4 out of 5 stars

There are two sides to my review of Romance is Dead, the one side of me wants to absolutely rave about this book and tell everyone who wants a spooky Halloween read with some romance thrown in to pick it up! But I also feel there were things that let it down…

To start with, our characters, Rachel and Dustin, who were our two leads, were absolutely brilliant! They both brought so much fun and joy to the pages, they really seemed like people you would want to be friends with and work in a haunted house with. And the supporting characters, specifically the ones who played the other zombies were excellent. They all just meshed together really well to form a great bunch of characters, especially two you couldn’t help but root for.

The atmosphere of the book was really good too, I think because it was set in a scare house/maze style it could have been hard to get that tense and creepy atmosphere at points but the author did really well!

And the story was really good, I loved it! As a horror and Halloween lover this book had the perfect balance of things to make it a fun Halloween read.

However, I did think it was a little bizarre with the whole missing person vibe towards the end and the writing was just OK. It wasn’t terrible but there were points that the dialogue felt a little clunky, and a little awkward.

Otherwise, this was a really entertaining, fun Halloween read and I would recommend it to anyone who loves a bit of romance with their horror! It was well worth the read and something I plan to read again next Halloween.

Until next time, Em xxx

The Decagon House Murders – Yukito Ayatsuji

Link to book – The Decagon House Murders by Yukito Ayatsuji

Rating – 5 out of 5 stars

There is one particular line that stood out for me throughout this entire story, and it was this one: “However there was one person on the island who knew that the words on the plate meant exactly what they said“. Something about it just sent fear down my spine, it worked its way under my skin in the best possible way.

This entire story was just absolutely amazing, in fact I would go so far as to say it was impeccable and one of the best books I’ve read all year.

Character wise it’s quite hard to put into words how I felt about them all throughout the story, especially since the whole point is that one of them may be the murderer… That being said, I did like the references to classic detectives, it was a nice touch!

Moving on to the rest of the book though, oh my god, it was amazing. The entire thing was so full of atmosphere, it was hard to put it down at points because I was just so caught up by it and I needed to know what would happen next. It was eerie, creepy, nerve-wracking and paranoia inducing all in one lil book.

The same with the intrigue that this book built up, I couldn’t stop reading it. I needed to know what happened, who would die next, who was the murderer. Every single page added more questions than answers and kept you on the edge, constantly wanting to know more.

The author had written such an incredibly obsessive book that you couldn’t tear yourself away from… The quality of the writing was like nothing I had read before it was absolutely top notch.

And the plot, oh wow. Now I’ve not read And Then There Were None, which I know this book is somewhat based upon, so I can’t comment on the likeness of the stories. However, I can comment on how bloody amazing the plot was, it had so many twists and turns that I didn’t see coming. Once we had the big reveal though everything clicked into place, as if the clues had been there all along. It was SO GOOD.

A few random comments too – I loved the little figures and diagrams within the book, it just added a good visualisation to the story. And, I love the idea of it being a decagon shaped house?!?!?! It just scratched some random itch in my brain that I didn’t even know existed, it was just very pleasant to think about haha.

On the whole, The Decagon House Murders was a truly impressive read, that I thoroughly enjoyed. It had everything you could ask for from a murder mystery novel. The only disappointment I have is that I probably won’t be able to reread this book as part of the enjoyment was the reveal at the end, but now I know who it is it’s taken that away…

Until next time, Em xxx

[ARC] The Unbalanced Equation – H L Macfarlane

Link to book – The Unbalanced Equation by H L Macfarlane

Rating – 4 out of 5 stars

A huge thanks to NetGalley and BooksGoSocial for the ARC of this book to read for free in exchange for a review!

If you’re on the lookout for a women in science, workplace, enemies to lovers book then The Unbalanced Equation is the one for you! It has all of that, plus so much more that make this book a truly fabulous read.

Now to start, anyone who has read any of my blog posts knows that I’m an absolute WHORE for a split POV, especially in a romance novel, so when I saw that this book had split POV I was over the moon, it was like a dream come true. The feeling of which continued throughout the entire book.

The characters were the real stand out for me and having that split POV to see the story progress through both their eyes was just perfect.

Whilst we saw the book from Liz and Tom’s perspective (who I definitely have a crush on now I’ve read it, both of them that is) and they were just two wonderfully written characters. Their interactions with each other and the supporting characters in the book were excellently done and cannot be faulted. Just reading the chapters through their POV made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, they were just such fabulous characters.

And the characters were only further supported by the plot, which oh my god WAS SO GOOD. I love a good enemies to lovers situation and whilst it was maybe one sided enemies to lovers it was still so worth the read.

The story itself was just the perfect mash up of different elements and each aspect of the plot worked together to create this story that had be snorting with laughter, gasping in shock and left me feeling warm and fuzzy inside. I don’t want to give too much away, but I will say if you like women in science (and enjoyed The Love Hypothesis, this is a book for you!)

And oh my gosh, the setting! Set in Scotland the author just managed to make the entire setting seem so beautiful and it definitely aided my enjoyment of the book.

The majority of that came from the authors ability to write such wonderfully crafted sentences and paragraphs that left me wanting to be in Scotland with our main characters, living their lives and experiencing everything they did. It was just a really easy book to get drawn into and enjoy, and that is all down to the authors writing.

On the whole, The Unbalanced Equation is well worth the read and I thoroughly enjoyed it and can’t wait to do a reread in the future!

Until next time, Em xxx

The Castaways – Lucy Clarke

Link to book – The Castaways by Lucy Clarke.

Rating – 4 out of 5 stars

It’s a real mixed review with The Castaways, because some parts of it I absolutely loved yet others left things to be desired…

Starting with the characters, it wasn’t that I disliked Lori and Erin, they were well written characters, there was just something off about them and I found them a little bit irritating, they were okay, not terrible, but not brilliant. That being said, the idea of having the two characters and the split POV was excellent and very well done.

However, that split POV did ruin the atmosphere somewhat. Every time we got the point where something was happening or the tension was built the POV changed and it just really disappointed me.

But back to the things that I super enjoyed!

The writing! It was so well done and despite my misgivings about the characters and the atmosphere the writing absolutely carried this book. The author crafted this incredible story that you couldn’t help but get wrapped up in.

The same for the plot, it was different and refreshing. And I absolutely did NOT see the ending coming at all! I loved the way that the author could have gone down a more traditional route with some aspects but they just managed to surprise us at every turn of the page.

Plus, plane crashes are something I’m a bit nerdy for so to read a book literally based on one was just brilliant.

And the entire thing was just incredibly intriguing. Which is definitely where the split POV came into it’s own. Usually I get annoyed with constant switching (unless it’s a romance book ovbs) so for me to enjoy the split POV was a big thing for me, I felt it really helped us to build the story for Lori and Erin and how they both were experiencing the event.

I’m not sure if entertaining is also the right word to use for this book, but it definitely did entertain me! Perhaps not something that I would read again, but one I’m glad I read.

Until next time, Em xxx

[ARC] Anybody Home? Michael J. Seidlinger

Link to book – Anybody Home? by Michael J. Seidlinger

Rating – 5 out of 5 stars

Huge thank you to NetGalley and Clash Books for the advanced copy of this book to read and review. 

Oh my god lord this book was fucking traumatising… I woke up at 4am one morning, and I was midway through reading this book and HONESTLY I thought we were falling victim to a home invasion, I genuinely was terrified and started to go through all these different scenarios in my head (turns out it was just my dad making loads of noise getting ready for work but this book put me on EDGE).

Seriosuly though, the entire book has made me want to just move into a lil house in the wilderness where no one knows I’m there.

Anybody Home? takes us through a home invasion, except it has a twist… It’s through the eyes of a director, a director who is instructing and advising the perpetrator on how to successfully undertake said home invasion.

I’d never read anything like it before, ever. Sure, I’ve watched a lot of horror films about home invasions, hell, some of them even scared me, but nothing, NOTHING, I’ve ever watched or read has been so excellently disturbing. It genuinely terrified me, I didn’t sleep and when I did sleep I had nightmares, it got under my skin in the best possible way.

From the get go the books intention was to put you on edge and build this atmosphere of fear and nerves and paranoia, and it certainly succeded in doing so… Despite us never actually learning the invaders names or really getting anything other than basic information about the family it still built this intense feeling of unease, and I personally think the ambiguity around the characters lent itself well to the story.

One thing I particularly enjoyed (if that’s the right word to use in this review!) was how the idea of the invaders doing these things just because they could or because they wanted to, it terrified me to my very core. It was the perfect way to keep us on edge whilst we were reading.

In the same breath, never truly knowing who the cults were that the narrator kept alluding to, and it being left open to interpretation was just the icing on the cake. Were they just horror lovers in need of a good scare? Were they people on the dark web, paying to watch? It just really added that layer of fear and unsease.

On the whole, Anybody Home? was an absolute masterpiece of writing and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Until next time, Em xxx

The Teashop On The Corner – Milly Johnson

Link to book – The Teashop On The Corner by Milly Johnson

Rating – 4 out of 5 stars

TRIGGER WARNING – sexual abuse and child sexual abuse. 

Oh my goodness, what a beautiful book this was! There was so much love and tenderness that oozed from this book, I had such a fully and happy heart after I finished reading it. 

The way that this book was written was the real highlight for me. The different chapter lengths, with each character narrating a chapter and giving us a glimpse into their life was so clever and wonderfully executed. 

Having the book laid out this way meant that the story did centre around the tea shop (as in the title) but also allowed us to be privy to the characters lives and their personalities. Which in turn, endeared me so much to the characters. 

Every single person in this story (at least those that the story directly focused on) were both individually and collectively amazing. They were written so beautifully, and I could not fault them at all. 

And the plot, the plot was just truly brilliant. I loved how it centred around the teashop but also allowed the characters to have their own storylines. The storylines for each character were also very well crafted and worked together in the best possible way. 

This entire book just really touched my heart, it was the perfect balance of emotions and the ending warmed my bones. I laughed and cried with this book, it was so worth a read. 

Until next time, Em xxx

[ARC] The Murder List – Jackie Kabler

Link to book – The Murder List by Jackie Kabler.

Rating – 5 out of 5 stars

Huge thank you to NetGalley and HarperCollinsUK and One More Chapter for the advanced copy of this book to read and review. 

OH MY GOOD GOD what an AMAZING book this was! It was definitely a 5 star read and one that I will be recommending for months to come I’m sure. 

From the start I thought the writing was impeccable, and this standard was upheld throughout the entire book, every word and sentence cleverly crafted and written to provide the reader with a truly excellent book. Every single feeling I had, paranoia, shock, terror, were all down to the incredible writing style that Kabler has. 

And the atmosphere was just perfectly presented throughout the entire book. It was atmospheric and intriguing in equal measures, both of which compelling me to just keep reading for one more page, even long after I should have been asleep!

Character wise, I absolutely thought they were brilliant, whilst some of them weren’t as integral to the plot as others they were all afforded the same time and build up, it was hard to not feel attached to them. They balanced each other out perfectly and created just the right level of suspicion around them, never really knowing who was to blame until the last possible second…

And the plot, oh my lordy, it was amazing, in fact damn near perfect. The author had these different storylines interweaving with each other, creating an overarching story that just was MINDBLOWINGLY good. The twists and turns were off the chart, but also still incredibly believable. We were led on such a wild goose chase and I suspected everyone except who it actually was, so kudos to the author for that. 

Which does lead me to the ending. The ending was just mind blowing, and whilst it isn’t necessarily a book I would read again, that was more so because a lot of the books appeals and value was the shock factor of the ending and knowing what was going to happen would spoil a reread. 

On the whole, The Murder List was just a true JOY to read, I thoroughly enjoyed it and I will be recommending it for a long time!

Until next time, Em xxx