The Perfect Neighbour by Susanna Beard

I read this in the height of my thriller obsession and even though the book kept me reading and guessing I was not as obsessed with this one as the others. The book read with a really easy flow, and I really enjoyed Beard’s writing style. You can tell that the author loved writing this book and put a lot of work into the research behind some of the themes of this book.

“Falling in love, a first kiss, the late teenage years, full of possibilities. I miss my family, my mama, my papa, my little sister, my lovely cousin Elena. The joy of a hug. Human contact. The anguish is a twist in my chest, a rock in my belly.” 

When Beth moves into a house she just wants to fit into this perfect neighbourhood; she wants a new group of friends, a new job and she desperately wants to become friends with her new neighbour Oksana. However, when she runs into her garden one day after her runaway dog, she sees a girls face in the window. With a sign baring two words. HELP ME. Beth quickly wants to discover who this girl is and figure out what is going on in this quiet neighbourhood. 

Starting with my favourite part of this book which was the dual perspective. I loved seeing both sides of the story through the different situations in the book. It also always left you on a cliff hanger and wanting more from the story. It was an element you do not often get in thriller books but one I really enjoyed. 

“If you have hope, every small disappointment, every single, tiny failure builds and grows into a huge mass until your mind can’t deal with it anymore and you go mad.”

The story started off strong but once it got to the middle it really started to go slowly. By the end I was just waiting for the ending, and I knew exactly what was going to happen. I was happy with the ending, but it was predictable, and I was waiting for the shock factor just a little bit. I wanted to be left on the edge of my seat, but I did not find that in the end. 

The focus on the real-world issues was really heart-breaking to read about since it is something that does not get as much attention as it should in the media. Human trafficking is an issue that should be addressed more and seeing Sofia’s despair throughout the book was really hard to read about. Susanna Beard has clearly done her research surrounding the topic and it feels authentic in the book. 

This book was a page turned which is ultimately why I ended up giving it three stars however I just wanted more twists and turns for a thriller. I would be interested in reading her future works and I really respect the work and research that went in this book. 

Thank you to NetGalley for an ARC of this book!

Flower Crowns and Fearsome Things by Amanda Lovelace

I read a few of Amanda Lovelaces books before I picked up this one. However, I felt like this one did not sit with me as much as the other collections did. I felt like I had read it all before during different feminist poetry collections. Despite really looking forward to this one due to it having mythology references I did not enjoy it half as much. The mythology aspect was definitely my favourite aspect of this book. 

“Never once has she felt as if she’s interesting enough to be the daring heroine of her own story, & she’s oddly okay with that. —she likes being nobody.”

Flower Crowns and Fearsome Things is Amanda Lovelaces delve into poetry through mythology and folktale inspired poems. Whilst this was a little shorter than Lovelaces previous collections it did not feel too different to me in size and there was still plenty of poems to enjoy and read. 

My favourite aspect of this poetry collection was the fact it focused on mythology specifically Persephone, goddess of spring and the underworld. One of my favourite people from the Greek myths and I was so excited to see how she brought her across in the style of poetry. The symbolism with the flowers portrayed Persephone so well and by bringing in more masculine aspects just perfectly portrayed Persephone as the strong, independent woman that she is. It showed women as strong, powerful, fierce and formidable which was my favourite aspect throughout. 

“Being friends with girls isn’t TOO MUCH DRAMA, but you know what is? Constantly trying to burn your sisters…at the stake out of pettiness & resentment when you could just support them instead…”

Lovelace brings across difficult aspects of life and makes you realise that you are not alone in these feelings. However, I feel as though this was portrayed better within previous works. There were certain quotes that really resigned with me throughout but only a few stuck with me once the collection had ended. I just did not feel absorbed by the writing as I had previously, and I felt as though this was more like quotes, I would see on Instagram rather than an actual poem collection. 

Overall, I would go back to Amanda Lovelaces works however this one didn’t hit home with me. I ended up rating the book a two and a half stars. I loved the myth retelling but that was where my love of this book extended too. Hopefully the next Lovelace book I pick up I will love just as much as I loved her previous works. 

Love In The Time Of Serial Killers by Alicia Thompson

This book was made for me. I am the girl obsessed with true crime always suspecting people of crimes that I know they haven’t committed. And I felt all of this reflected in this book. Alicia Thompson writes such a funny and loving book about a girl who is obsessed with serial killers but still finds love along the way and I cannot wait to see what she comes up with next. This book was one of my favourite kinds of romcoms; easy to read and funny in all the right places. Also how cute is the cover!

“It made me dream, for one night at least, of something I hadn’t even dared to as a young girl lying in this same bed— that all the pink heart valentine, sappy love song stuff might be real, and be something I could have.” 

Phoebe has just moved back home after her dad’s death in order to clean out his house whilst also trying to finish her dissertation on serial killers. However, when her new neighbour starts behaving suspiciously, she starts to suspect him of being a serial killer. But as she gets to know Sam, she starts to find herself feeling more than she has in a long time. As she starts to spend more time with her brother, old friends and Sam she begins to realise how much she suspects the worst and maybe something she finds much scarier is love. 

I loved the characters in this book. Phoebe is so prickly and sarcastic; she has a wall up and its going to take a lot to bring it down. Seeing her overcome these issues within this book was so interesting and seeing her interactions with Sam was adorable. Also, her writing her dissertation was so relatable to me at the moment as I am doing my masters, so I loved reading this aspect. Sam was the gender-reversed version of the girl next door. He was sweet, loving and you just wanted to know him in real life. Of course, her brother and his girlfriend were also just the cutest.

My main love of this book was the referencing to pop culture as well as true crime cases that were familiar to me. I did wish that it references how the true crime community can be harmful when taken to the extreme but other than that I loved the references. It showed that the author clearly had an interest in this topic, and I feel as a reader that I really enjoyed reading about it. 

“True crime is especially interesting, because it tends to reflect and shape our cultural attitudes toward crime in general.”

The writing style, the themes and the setting of this book was super enjoyable to me. I was worried that this book sounded too good to be true and I am so glad I loved it as much as I did. My favourite bit was definitely when Phoebe suspected Sam of being a serial killer in the beginning. The relationship aspect of this book was definitely a lot more than the romance which I really enjoyed. It was about Phoebes relationships with the people around her which was really refreshing to see rather than a pure focus on the romance. 

This book was just really fun and sweet. I gave it a four stars and it could even be a four and a half stars because I just had such an enjoyable time reading it. I wish there were more books that contained a romance as well as true crime aspects because I just loved the cross over! I would definitely read more of this authors work in the future and I hope she brings out more like this. 

Thank you to NetGalley for an ARC of this book for review!

Bad Girl Reputation by Elle Kennedy Review

Elle Kennedy is definitely bringing a new heat to summer with her new series A Good Girls Complex. I adored the first book, and I was so excited to receive the second book from Hachette. Elle Kennedy is such a fun author to read from and I am instantly transported into her stories giving the perfect break from everyday life.

Bad Girl Reputation follows Genevieve after she returns from her year away. However, she is determined to move away from her bad girl image; no more partying or drinking and the biggest factor to that is her ex-boyfriend Evan. After she left him without any explanation Evan is determined to find out what exactly went wrong between him and Gen. They have a big history that extended past the passion and one year ago they ran wild together. As they set out on a summer of finding themselves, they realise that maybe they’re both after the same thing and that could mean that they finally must accept what might be right for each other is each other. 

This series is perfect if you are wanting to just relax into the story. The progression between the two characters and watching them develop from their messy past together. You can see how they mature within this book and become better people because of one another. 

“I’ve always loved myself best in Evan’s eyes. The adoring way he looks at me: part impressed, a little intimidated. But more so the person he thinks I am. The way he tells it, I’m invincible. Thunder and lightning. Not much scares me, and even less when he’s around.”

Watching the connection between them resume and grow was my favourite part of this book. They definitely have passion between that which is arguably mainly physical, but you can also tell that both of them care for each other more than that physicality. Their story is explosive and seeing them develop through these changes in their lives. 

The only part I was not as keen on was the love triangle within this book. I loved both boys involved and felt extremely bad for the other guy. I understand why it was necessary for the story, but it is not my thing in books, but I loved seeing how this developed how Gen and Evan interacted for the rest of the story and it seems like Harrison got his happy ending as well so it worked out in the end. This mixed in with the miscommunication made me want to throw my book at points despite still loving it. 

“There’s no point in either of us pretending we know how to stay away from each other. It’s chemistry.” 

My favourite part of this book was definitely the setting. The beach and the small town made me feel so warm and cosy. It definitely gave me the summer feels and made me want all the cold weather to disappear so I could go sit on a beach. Or get on a plane somewhere.

It was really fun seeing characters from the first book and see how their relationships have developed throughout. Cooper and Mackenzie showed up a lot and it was nice to see them although Cooper seemed a lot angrier in this one than the first. Of course, my favourite character showed up: Daisy the dog who of course is the true star of the show. 

I really enjoyed this book, and I did give it a four stars! I cannot wait to see who the next part of the series focuses on, and I will definitely be getting it as a summer read!

Thank you to Little Brown Books and Hachette who sent me my copy of this book in exchange for review!

Witchy Coffee by Erin Ritch

Pour a nice hot cup of coffee and cosy up with this fall romance set in a little town. This book was just cute and cosy and that’s all there was too it. I love a cosy mystery and this book had that mixed with an adorable romance. Also, if the Yurt Coffee Shop existed in real life my bank account would be crying. 

“Nothing good comes from ignoring our hearts desire”

Florence Mackenzie and her family own the local coffee shop in a small town on the coast. When they create a new blend of coffee people all over the town begin to fall in love with each other. When Florence’s life is put in jeopardy by a man trying to buy the shop, she begins to question how well the beans work when she begins to fall for the same man. 

I can see this being the next Hallmark movie. It gives off those cosy, easy vibes that made me just feel all warm inside. 

The family aspect of this book was my favourite part. I love family relationships in books and this one was no exception. The Mackenzie women are adorable, and the grandma is the best. They are so supportive of each other, and it was so sweet to read about them in the coffee shop whilst they’re working.

This book is definitely giving me Gilmore Girl vibes with the fall setting and the small town not to mention the coffee. Books like this are perfect to pick up in the cold weather. I love picking easy calming reads like this one in between bigger books especially if they have as good of a atmosphere as this one. The crazy events and the cute vibes made for a perfect easy read. 

The only issue I had was that the romance felt a little too predictable and the writing was simple and basic. It was definitely an easy read which at the end of the day is what I was looking for in this one. Florence and Samson had some really sweet moments which made me feel all warm and fuzzy. Especially with the rivalry between the Mackenzie women and Samson. 

This was an easy three star read for me. It was just a fun, light-hearted and easy read which would be perfect for the winter months. The romance was fluffy, and the atmosphere was fun. If you like Gilmore Girls then this is definitely the book for you. I will be picking up the next book in the series. 

Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC!

You And Me On Vacation by Emily Henry

This was my first Emily Henry book and although I can understand what the hype is about there was also some issues that I had with it. The dual perspective was great, and the travel aspects of the books were fun to read about. It is a friend to lovers with whit and close near misses with the protagonists and where there relationship lies at the end of it all.  

“I still have a lot to figure out, but the one thing I know is, wherever you are, that’s where I belong. I’ll never belong anywhere like I belong with you.” 

You and Me on Vacation follows Poppy and Alex. Twelve years ago, they met, and they hate each other convinced that they will never speak again and after eleven after he offers her a lift home forming a long friendship. Then two years ago everything goes wrong. This year Poppy offers Alex one last vacation to try and fix everything they do wrong. Showing their relationship as it develops throughout the years and the highs and lows of friendship, family and love.  

My favourite part of this book was definitely the dual timeline. It was so interesting seeing different snippets of their lives. It left you wondering the whole way through the book about what happened with Poppy and Alex and how it all led to this point. Although they’re complete opposites with Poppy being a complete extrovert whilst Alex loves spending time alone as with every classic rom com, they soon overcome their differences and find that friendship. So, seeing these two come together was really interesting to read about. I love the opposite attracts trope, so this was really fun. 

“Sometimes it feels like I didn’t even exist before that. Like you invented me.”

I loved reading about the vacations as well. From Tuscany to San Francisco as well as New Orleans I loved travelling through the pages of a book. The settings of the book are described so beautifully and made me feel as though I was actually there. Emily Henry has such a way with words and the settings as well as the side stories along the way filled me with a warm feeling as though I was on holiday myself. 

The only issue I had with this book was the miscommunication. Miscommunication is my least favourite trope All the conflict in this book could have been solved with a simple phone call or conversation. The big lead up to the reveal left me wondering why this issue was not solved years before it was and was not as bad as I expected it to be. 

Overall, this book was a perfect summer read and I recommend it for anyone looking for something to read on this beach this summer. The characters were fun to read about and even if you are not going on holiday, you feel like you’re on one. I am looking forward to getting to Emily Henry’s other works eventually. 

Strong Bones by Robert J. Peterson

I was not sure what this book was about going in and coming out of it I’m still not 100% sure. This book gave me Stranger Things meets a Stephen King style horror book. It has all the 80’s vibes throughout from the setting and it did keep me interested throughout and it was an extremely fun book. 

“If I’d known that every detail of this dream would be crucial to my survival over the next year, maybe I’d been paying more attention.”

This follows Hiram and his group of friends discover that they possess the ability to use maps as magic. When Hiram and Macs mum moves them in with her new abusive husband everything starts to go wrong. Meanwhile there are two threats on the rise: Skelton a mass murderer and the Plaid Man: someone that lives in the other side. Together the group rises against the threat of evil using ancient magic in order to defeat the threats against them.

I loved the magic system in this. It was so intricately woven into the story and had so many aspects to it. However, at moments it did feel extremely complicated, and it lost me at moments. I also felt as though there was no system and no rules to the magic besides the very basics. It was extremely captivating to read about and I loved the unicorn!

The thing I loved the most about this was the found family aspect. Between Hiram, Mac, Dawn, Lee, Kaitlyn and Jason and even the adults. They were all so supportive of each other with everything going on in their lives. These kids have so much love for each other, and they are going through a lot. It was so beautiful to see these kids be there as a found family. The characters also went through so many stages of their lives such as Hirams redemption from his bullying of Lee to Jason’s and him figuring out there’s more to life. 

“Prize ribbons. He left one on every victim. Every victim they found that is.”

Overall, I think this book was just too long. It could have easily been a hundred pages shorter and at points I felt so lost with what was going on especially in the action scenes as it went back and forward between people but also jumped back in scenes which was extremely confusing at points. There also seemed to be no end as the minute the threat seemed to have been defeated it came back again and again. 

The atmosphere of this book, however, was amazing. The 80’s vibes with the toys and the clothing as well of some of the places in this book were so much fun. It worked so well within the setting and was not just used randomly to move the plot along. I felt like I was reading an episode of Stranger Things which I really enjoyed. 

I ended up giving this three stars just because as much as I loved the characters and the atmosphere in this book I just found myself not wanting to pick it back up because of how long the book ended up being. I am interested in seeing what this author comes out with next. 

Thank you to NetGalley for this ARC!

Throwing Shadows by Jerry Roth

I never expect much from short stories and I always end up disappointed or love half and dislike the rest. However, this short story collection is so perfect for Halloween I loved most of it. I read this back in October just before Halloween and it gave me all the creepy vibes that I was wanting. This haunting collection brings together all the aspects of Halloween you know and love creating brilliant short stories based on each factor.  It is homely horror and although the collection although it does have aspects of horror it is easy to ready.

“That other person went away away. It’s just me now.”

These nine stories have something for everyone: a woman’s obsession with a scarecrow, a boy discovers his families Ouija board, two sisters convinced the other is toying with them, a girl’s bedroom which has a door only she can see, the obsession with television, a psychic on a police case, a man with an ice cream van, a man killed and brought back to life and a woman whose pregnancy doesn’t go as expected. Roth does an amazing job of diving into each of these stories and delve deep into the horrors of everyday life. The themes that this book covers, and the relatable characters makes this even more haunting.  

My personal favourites were The Keepsake and Ice Cream Man. The Keepsake had you guessing the entire way through the book, and you could not tell where the horror aspect was going to come from until the very end. However, the Ice Cream Man went in the completely other direction, and you knew exactly where the story was going to go yet you did not know when the ending was going to happen. I do have to mention Always Say Goodbye which was so creepy and thrilling to read and it left you on the edge of your seat the entire time. 

“The fire was a beast, eating, devouring everything in its path until it reached the porch.”

The only issue I had with this book as with most short stories is that I wish it was longer. Some of the stories could have benefited from just being a couple of pages longer such as Whispers from The Cellar. Other than that, the atmosphere was perfect for Halloween and the characters were so interesting to see their reactions and relate to them. This collection definitely had a vintage book vibe to it which I always love.  There was plenty of variation between the stories which kept it fun and entertaining the entire way through.

Overall, I loved this collection and I really want to read some of his backlist short story collections. I gave it a three and a half stars as with any short story collections I loved some and did not like others as much. The atmospheric vibe gave me Stranger Things mixed with My Best Friends Exorcism so anyone that loves those things should definitely pick this one up.  

Thank you to NetGalley for this copy to read and review!

The Fraud Squad by Kyla Zhao

“The background you’re born into doesn’t define who you can be.”

This book has been so hyped, and it is fully deserved. This is Gossip Girl meets Crazy Rich Asians in the best possible way. I have followed Kyla Zhao on TikTok for a long time and I have been waiting for this book because of the Gossip Girl vibes that this book gave me. It was fun and light paced as well as being full of fashion and glam. It presents such an interesting portrait of Shanghai’s high society although I cannot comment on how accurate it is. 

This follows Samantha Song a writer for a magazine and a dreamer for the high life of Shanghai. When presented with the opportunity to create a persona and become part of Shanghai’s elite she forms the Fraud Squad. Alongside Tim, the son of Shanghai’s top business owner and Anya her socialite and co-worker. As they infiltrate Shanghai’s top events Samantha soon realises that the high life is not what she expected and her journey to write in the top magazine S, is not as smooth sailing as she expects. 

I loved reading about the world in this book. Zhao did an amazing job about writing about a society which is so cutthroat and classism not only through the main character but also those already involved within high society. Anya, Tim and Samantha were so interesting to learn about their views on how society treated those depending on their social status. It was also so much fun to see all the brands being name dropped and used within the storyline. The vivid descriptions which were used throughout really added to the story and I devoured every part of them. I love books set in high society and it was so much fun to read this one.

The romance was so cute. Seeing their romance build throughout the book and the long drawn out looks which Timothy gave Samantha was adorable. The kopi scene was one of my favourites within the book and it ended in such an interesting way that I want more of their stories. However, it felt slightly rushed within the build-up, but I can understand why the author did that with the fall out of the book. Overall, it was really cute to read about and I would have loved more from the romance. As well as the romance though I really loved reading about the scheming between Samantha and her friends as well as how it affected those around her. I especially loved reading about Samantha and her best friend in the regular world. 

The one issue I had with this book was that I felt as though there was several storylines that were unresolved. I felt like a few of the characters did not have an official ending and it was left open which I’m not sure if this is for a sequel or if it is for the reader to decide. I would like to have seen how certain parts of the story had ended. Either way if there is a sequel, I would love to read it in the future. 

Overall, I gave this book a four out of five stars because I loved reading about Samantha and her story. It was a nice quick read with great character growth and the fashion aspect of this book was amazing. It felt like a guilty pleasure book with the added aspect of the fashion and luxury felt so fun to read about. I would love to read anything that Kyla Zhao comes out with in the future as this was such an excellent debut novel. 

Thank you to NetGalley for an ARC of this book!

The Christie Affair by Nina de Gramont

“Perhaps a woman has a different kind of measuring stick. For when it might be acceptable, or even necessary, to commit a murder.”

After recently discovering my love of Agatha Christie I knew I had to pick this one up because it sounded so interesting to me. This is a historical fiction novel following Ms. Nan O’Dea who I could have read a whole book on without the Agatha Christie part it was so interesting. It was an interesting take on Agatha Christies disappearance with a delightful storyline and so many twists wrapped in I could not put it down. 

In London in 1925 Agatha Christie infamously went missing for eleven days. Her car was found abandoned by the side of the road and all her possessions were left inside. So, what happened? After Nan O’Dea was discovered having an affair with Christie’s husband this novel follows an imaginative journey filled with heartbreak and first love. 

The most interesting part of this novel to me was about Nans past. Her life had so many fascinating parts to it that I wanted more. Finding out about her on purposely inserting herself into Archie Christies life as well as the motivation behind it made the novel seem that much more heart-breaking. When talking about Agatha, Nan paints her in such a light that it seems as though the two could have been friends had the circumstances been different. 

“We both know you can’t tell your own story without exposing someone else’s.” 

Although I really enjoyed this book the one issue that I had is that I went into it expecting to read about Agatha Christie only to learn about Nan O’Dea’s life instead. I understand that this book was supposed to be Nan’s account of what happened however, it would have been interesting to expand more on the disappearance and why Agatha Christie decided all those years ago to just vanish. 

I loved the ending. It felt like a true Agatha Christie novel with all the mysteries on top of mysteries. The drama was all resolved at the end, but it came with a twist that going into the novel I was not expecting. It allowed you to get wrapped up in the story and at times although the various storylines are confusing it is all explained at the end. Gramont did an amazing job of creating that old fashioned murder mystery with a modern view on it. 

Overall, I gave this book four stars just because I would have liked to have seen more about Agatha. However, it was extremely interesting learning about Nan and following her perspective on those eleven days by seeing how she visualised it all. I thoroughly enjoyed this story and it kept me guessing through an entertaining game throughout. 

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a copy to read and review!