The Daughter of Doctor Moreau by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Silvia Moreno-Garcia has several books and I have now read two now both of which have been very interesting. There are aspects of this book that I really enjoyed and the other half which I was not as interested in. This is a very loose retelling of The Island of Doctor Moreau by H.G. Wells. 

“When she looked in the mirror she felt as though there was an invisible crack in it, perhaps in her”

This book was set in nineteenth century Mexico and it follows Carlota the daughter of Doctor Moreau who is living in a lavish estate hidden from the world. Whilst hidden away Doctor Moreau works on his hybrids who are created to be controlled by their master and be seen and not heard. When Doctor Moreau hires Montgomery to help with the scientific experiments the group are cast into a quiet and peaceful life only to be disrupted by the arrival of Eduardo Lizalde. 

Silvia Moreno-Garcia definitely gets the genre of gothic historical fiction with the atmosphere of this book as I felt like I could have been in this book. The imagery made me feel as though I was living through this coming of age along with Carlota. Although the main thing I loved about this book was the hybrids. They were so interesting to read about and find out about their lives. Lupe and Cachito were so interesting and were my favourite characters in this. Their personalities were so fun, and they were the reason that I continued to read this book.

Another character that I did love was Montgomery. Although at some points I found his thoughts a little strange I overall did enjoy seeing his perspective on the occurrences at the Yuxaxiton. He was cynical and grumpy which is always a plus with a male character, so I was rooting for him within the love triangle.  

“If she’d been a siren luring him to the bottom of the sea, he would have followed, If she’d been a gorgon he’d have let himself be turned into stone.”

I think the main issue I have with (author name) books are that I have trouble connecting with the story. Throughout I feel as though there is so many story lines; the love triangle, father-daughter relationships, the hybrids, the war and so on. I could not pick up certain parts of it. I read this book for the horror, and I did not get it at all through this story. I did not connect with many of the characters, and I was not invested in the outcome of their stories. 

Overall, I enjoyed the last quarter of this book and I do want to try Silvia… book surrounding vampires however I am not sure how many of her other books I will pick up by her. Montgomery and Cachito was my favourite part of this book as well as the atmosphere. This is definitely a book to read during autumn and I do think that some people will love this book. 

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

2023 Reading Goals

Every year I like to set myself reading goals for the year and even though I do not often complete them it is so interesting to look back on. I always have the basic of how many books I want to read and then a few extra challenges. One of my main challenges this year is to post on here consistently which has been a real challenge in the past year but hopefully I will be able to keep up this year!

1. Read 100 Books

This has been my goal for the last few years and although I have not achieved it yet I have a good feeling about this year. I want to try and read 100 pages a day so I think this will be doable as long as I stick to this. 

2. Read A Book from Every Letter of The Alphabet

This just sounds like such a fun challenge to try and do. I think it sounds like it will be really easy when in reality some of the letters are going to be really challenging to do such as X and U. I am not going to be including ‘The’ in the titles so that will make it a little easier. 

3. Read more Greek books and retellings

This year in May I am going to Athens and before I go, I really want to read more books based around there. I have a few on my TBR such as Elektra by Jennifer Saint and Greek Myths: A Retelling by Charlotte Higgins. By the time I go to Greece I want to know as much as possible so when I am seeing the temples, I understand the story behind them. 

4. Read More Classics

This is on my goals every year and every year I only read about one. So, this year I want to make a huge effort to try and read some classics that I’ve had on my shelf for the longest. Some of the ones I want to attempt to get to is Dracula by Bram Stoker, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott and A Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. 

5. Reduce My TBR

My TBR has got out of control in the past couple of years and I really want to try and improve how many books I read compared to how many books I buy. I want to try and get it at least to 75 less than I start with and hopefully filming my progress will help!

These are my five main goals for the year, and I really think that these are all manageable. In my wrap-up each month I will update about my progress, and I hope you enjoy following along with me! Let me know your goals for 2023 in the comments!

Top Ten Books of 2022

I read some amazing books in 2022 which included some new favourites and I am so excited for the 2023 reading year. It was so hard to narrow down to ten picks for my 2022 favourite books and this is definitely not in any order but they are my top ten picks!

10. When You Get the Chance by Emma Lord

This was one of my NetGalley books for this year and I cannot express how much I loved it. There’s a full review on my blog if you want to know my full thoughts on this but I thought this entire plot was amazing. When Millie Price’s dad decides that she’s not allowed to go to a prestigious drama school Millie takes it into her own hands. She attempts to reach out to her mum only there is three different potential women to choose from. I loved everything in this book; from the Broadway references to the dad-daughter relationship it had me smiling the whole way through. Millie was an extremely relatable character and watching her try and navigate through such a difficult point of her life was so interesting to me which is why it had to be in my top ten. 

9. The Righteous by Renée Ahdieh

This is the third instalment in Renée Ahdiehs the Beautiful series. This series follows Celine and Sebastian as Celine is introduced to the world of the vampires. This beautiful atmospheric world is one of my all-time favourite series. I love the characters and the character development throughout and I cannot recommend it more. This however did not make a higher spot because it followed Pippa instead of Celine in the lead roll and I did not find her as interesting as Celine’s side. However, I am so excited for the next book that comes out later in 2023. 

8. Ariadne by Jennifer Saint 

I have been loving Greek Mythology especially since I have booked to go to Athens in May. Jennifer Saint is definitely one of my favourites and this is now one of my favourite books. Ariadne follows the story of the princess of Crete as she grows up in the shadow of her brother the minotaur and as her story develops as Theseus arrives in Crete. The world of Greek myths is so rich and complex I love reading every moment. Ariadne is so complex and interesting to read about her decisions and how her life develops until the end. 

7. Amari and The Night Brothers by B.B. Alston

I have not read much middle grade in years but when my friend gifted me this book I read it immediately and loved every second. Amari follows Amari as she attempts to find her missing brother only to discover a briefcase that leads to a school of magic. This book has everything, mythical creatures, a school of magic and a deadly competition. Some of my favourite tropes all wrapped into one book. Amari is so interesting to follow and see her journey trying to find her brother. The school is insane, and I especially loved reading about each of the different departments. 

6. The Girl Who Fell Beneath The Sea by Axie Oh 

I have no words for this book. The entire thing was breath-taking. From the mythology to the world building and the descriptions I had no faults with this book. This follows Mina as she attempts to save her village and her brother by sacrificing herself to the Sea God as his bride. However, once there she learns the secret of the fact that the Sea God is in an enchanted sleep. It was whimsical and beautiful, and I could read about the Spirit Realm forever. This book made me feel loved and what more could you ask for from a book. I highly recommend picking up this one up if you have not already. 

5. Only A Monster by Vanessa Len

I received this one as both a Fairyloot book as well as a NetGalley review and my review is up if you wanted to know more of my thoughts, but I loved this book. The fact that this is a debut novel blows my mind. This follows a world where 66monsters and monster hunters actually exist. As they travel back in time Joan and Aaron are forced to work together as they are hunted through time. The romance in this was so interesting and I cannot wait to see how this develops in the next books. I also love time 66travel in books and seeing the characters interact within the time period they have gone back too. Another book I highly recommend picking up if you have not already. 

4. Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid 

I feel like out of all of Taylor Jenkins Reids books this is not at the top of anyone’s list but I loved this book. The Riva family are so complex and interesting to read about and I flew through this book. This follows the Riva siblings; Nina the supermodel, Jay the surfer, Hud the photographer and the baby sister Kit. As the time comes closer to the annual Riva end of summer party all the siblings have secrets and those are about to come to the surface. The sibling love is what made me love this book so much. It was so interesting to see how much they cared about each other yet how much they were hiding. But they were all banded together over one thing: the urge to love someone that is not there. 

3. The Sad Ghost Club by Lize Meddings 

This book series has my heart. I find them so relatable, heart-breaking but also heart-warming. I think it’s unusual to find yourself in a book like you can in this one. The writing is so beautiful, and the characters were so relatable. Sad Ghost Club is a graphic novel about a ghost who is having one of those days. When two people connect over their feelings it shows them form The Sad Ghost Club; a club where Sad Ghosts can come together and just display their feelings. This book makes me want to laugh and cry but makes me feel like I’m not so alone and I will definitely be rereading these many times. 

2. A Song Of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown 

As much as I loved all the other books in this list this one blew them out of the water. A Song of Wraiths and Ruin follows Malik and Karina, one who is escaping a war-torn country and the other who has just come into power over a country. When both set out for differing reasons to kill one another they realise not everything is as it seems. This book had everything. A deadly competition, assassinations, enemies to lovers. You name a great trope and this book had it. The characters were complex, and the mental illness representation was so interesting and important to read. I cannot believe this is her debut and I will be picking up everything she writes. 

1.Tomie by Junji Ito

I could not have a top ten list without Junji Ito and here it is. Tomie is my favourite Junji Ito book of all time. I have read quite a lot of his books this year, but I did not want to put more than one on this list. Tomie is beautiful and the artwork as always captured my attention the entire way through. Tomie is a beautiful girl with long black hair and a beauty spot under her eye who seduces any man she comes across. However, these are the men who usually end up murdering her. Junji Ito is one of my favourite authors of all time and I cannot believe someone’s brain comes up with these stories but as long as he writes them I will read them. 

So there is my top ten books of the year to star 2023. I hope you had the best reading year and have an amazing 2023. Let me know what your favourite books of the year was and what you are looking forward to reading this year!

Daisy Darker by Alice Feeney

I was not expecting much from this book, but I definitely was not disappointed. Feeney creates the perfect atmosphere a private, isolated island on Halloween in the middle of a storm. This book was perfectly written with the intricate plot and prose which kept me gripped at every moment.

“Don’t spend all of your ambition on other peoples dreams.”

Daisy was diagnosed with a heart condition when she was little and since then she has not been allowed to do anything a normal child could do growing up. When the family is brought together on Halloween night for Nana’s birthday only for her eighty clocks to strike midnight and a scream to echo round the house. A creepy message on the wall and Nana dead on the floor with secrets about the family written in the poem.

The atmosphere in this book was perfect with the mysterious island and the storm. It gave a cozy atmosphere that you could just sit and read for hours. It makes it the perfect book for this autumn on a rainy day. Seaglass house is also beautiful with its unique design, the eighty clocks on the wall and the crazy colour pallets.

“Daisy Darker’s family were as dark as dark can be, when one of them died all of them lied and pretended not to see…”

This was definitely a mystery that gave the impression of a locked room mystery. The metaphors and the lyrical writing were beautiful but what really gripped me was the small poems about the family at the endings of the chapters. Each one was so interesting to read and only added to the mystery of the story. The atmosphere is perfectly written and the vintage elements such as the VHS tapes and the clocks on the walls makes this feel extremely homely.

This followed a dual timeline with half taking part in Daisy’s childhood and the other half taking part in the present. I preferred the childhood perspective which captured my attention a lot more and the twist really took me by surprise. At some points the present storyline seemed to follow the same plotline and became a little repetitive but otherwise was really interesting to see the family dynamics throughout.

Daisy Darker was definitely filled with twists and turns some of which were unfortunately predictable however, a lot of them I did not see coming. The ending was definitely a shock and whilst it could have been explained a little bit less, I did enjoy how the entire story was brought together, both the past and the present narrative.

The characters in this are flawed and imperfect bit fascinating to read about. They are really dysfunctional and unlikable, but they captivate you. This is a very character driven book which really explored the characters backgrounds extensively which made me feel as though I personally knew the characters. Especially the Nan who was amazing with her palm reading and her pink and purple clothing which I loved so much.

Alice Feeney is an author that I have not read before, but I will definitely be checking her backlog of books because I loved this one so much. I ended up giving it four stars simply for the fact that the childhood point of view kept my attention so much more than the present. It was so much fun and so perfect for the autumn time.

Thank you for NetGalley for providing me with this copy in return for a review.

When You Get The Chance by Emma Lord

I have not read anything by Emma Lord before however when I heard that this book was a theatre kids dream, I knew I had to read it. I was not disappointed. This is a Mamma Mia retelling however the genders of the parents are reversed. My face ached by the end of this book from smiling so much from this little book of sunshine. If you want a Mamma Mia meets Glee (because Millie is nothing if not dramatic and only what Rachel Berry dreams she could be).

“What were the last seventeen years of aggressive jazz hands and late nights watching bootleg Lea Salonga videos and openly weeping to the Dear Evan Hansen soundtrack for if not this?”

Millie Price is the stereotypical theatre kid who lives with her dad and her club owner aunt however when her dad decides to stop her from going to a prestige drama school, she decides to take things into her own hands. By reaching out to her mother who gave her away when she was born. Her best friend Teddy, a geocacher who can reach any information in seconds, finds her three potential mothers. When Millie decides she wants to speak to all of them she embarks on a summer full of theatre and plenty of drama.

Everything about this book made me smile but the dad and daughter relationship made this book for me. The relationship between Millie and her dad was heart-warming especially when they both begin to accept their relationship and watching them strengthen their relationship.

“She’s also single-handedly responsible for putting baritone heartthrob Baron Levait on the map.”

The musical theatre references were amazing, and I loved how they were referenced throughout this book. Also, the actor Baron Levait was such a subtle nod to the theatre industry, and I loved what his character brought to the book. I wish I had highlighted how many musicals were mentioned because it was like seeing myself in book format. This is Broadway in a book, and I need more.  

I loved this book because Millie felt so relatable. Her moods and dreams of going to a drama school made me so happy to see her develop throughout this book as a person and as an actor. Millie has so many questions that she needs answering and she’s struggling to find them showing her feeling lost.

Overall, this book was a fast-paced, drama filled book which left me wanting more and to be Millie Price. It was fun whilst covering serious issues accompanied by Broadway references and hilarious friendship moments. This book was undeniably a five out of five for me just because I loved every moment of this book and I want more of these books to exist. I definitely recommend picking this one up for some light-hearted musical fun.

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

Peach Blossom Spring by Melissa Fu

A multi-perspective narrative spanning generations in modern China, this book is haunting and powerful. This story is honest and heart wrenching with striking writing. I can not believe that this is a debut novel; Fu did an amazing job of detailing the details of the war. The writing is detailed escaping you to a place with her words and her beautiful imagery can make you imagine that you are there.

“It belongs only to itself, the notes tumbling into his ears like waterfalls, drenching him in their urgent beauty.”

Peach Blossom Spring spans 70 years starting with Meilin in China after she is displaced by the war with her child Renshu. After they spend years fleeing the war Renshu moves to America with nothing but a few papers the first time being apart from his mum since the war began. As his life in America grows so does his family but once his child Lily starts asking questions about his part the lines between his American life and his Chinese life starts to cross.

This book is built on its characters. Meilin is a beautiful soul even after everything that happens to her in this book. Her determination and devotion to her son is unmatched and inspiring to read about. Renshu is confused about his past which causes his conflicting feelings surrounding that of his mother and his history. The conflict between him and his daughter is so hard to read knowing that Renshu knows he is protecting his daughter only for her to be so troubled by his past. The characters are so compelling to read from and creates a vivid story which at times makes you believe that these characters are real.

During this book I felt as though I learnt so many things despite it being a non fiction book. Finding out about the war and everything that happened to the people involved was heartbreaking to read about. It allowed them to show the various outcomes from being lost to the war to not surving the journeys they had to take as well as the unspoken deaths in the books.  Seeing how many people were impacted by this war and seeing how long the impacts have lasted through this being a multigenerational narrative was hard to take in at times. After reading the authors note and discovering that this book is semi-biographical by honouring her fathers’ stories of the war makes this book even more heart wrenching. At times I struggled to follow it however this is due to my own unawareness on this war and now I want to know more.

“I guess the thing about Peach Blossom Spring is that if you are fortunate enough to find it, you are also unfortunate because you have to decide what to do. Do you stay, and forego all else? Or do you return home, with the understanding that you’ll never find it again? Is it a blessing? Or is it a curse?”

My favourite thing about this book was the beautiful fables woven into the story and teaches through the narrative such as the Peach Blossom Spring story. It adds a sense of place and discovery to the book and made me consider each of the lessons throughout.

This book was beautiful and I gave it a four stars because it just instantly transported me to a world I never knew existed. Learning all of this information about the war was heartbreaking but so informative. I am excited to see what Mellissa Fu brings out next and I think everyone should read this if only to learn about a war in which most people don’t know what happened in.

The Woman In The Library by Sulari Gentill

‘Already watching my inbox for your next. Yours, Leo.’

I had heard so many mixed things surrounding this book that I knew I had to see what I thought of it and I am so glad I did. This book was so hard to put down and I was so invested in every second of it. It was a book inside a book inside a book which was difficult to wrap my head around at first but a couple of chapters in I was hooked on every second. As much as I was invested in the book my favourite part of this was the letters in between each chapter and I could not figure out where they were going.

‘And so we go to the Map Room to found a friendship, and I have my first coffee with a killer.’

This follows Hannah Tigone who is a mystery writer and her beta reader who is corresponding with her. The book features Hannah’s book and Leo’s responses to each chapter. In Hannah’s book it follows Winfred a writer who is in the library writing her newest novel when she hears a scream. On the table is Cain, Marigold, and Whit. As they work to figure out what happened they begin to realise everything is not as it seems.

My favourite part of the book was definitely the multimedia aspect of having both the letters and the novel going on. Each one surprised me more and I wasn’t sure where either of them were going. Leo was so interesting to read about. I especially found it interesting how Hannah’s responses were not included which just added to the mystery of the story.

Even though I did guess the ending of the novel part of the story it was still fun to figure out how it got to that part. All the characters were so interesting, and I loved Marigold so much. She was so fun and fresh to read about and was so unapologetically strange. At times I found Winifred a little hard to read from her perspective mainly due to the obsession she had with Cain despite his questionable choices, but I still loved them both as a whole.

Overall, this book was so interesting, and I had no idea where either of the mysteries was going so it kept my attention the entire way through. I gave this book a five star because I thought it was so interesting and this would be the perfect autumn cosy read. The whole multimedia aspect of the book was definitely my favourite part and I really hope I can find more like this in the future.

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with this copy!

Witch 13 by Patrick R. Delaney

I wanted a scary book and this gave me everything I could have wanted and more. This is the perfect atmospheric horror which the author perfectly depicts and makes you feel as though you are living through the horror with the characters. Even though I was reading this book in daylight on my commute to work I still felt myself getting goosebumps and I would love to reread this in the dark.

‘The woman didn’t move; she was still, like one of those Halloween witches people put on their porch to scare away kids like her.’

This follows Sheriff Sterling two weeks before Christmas just before shes about to leave her job hopefully quietly. However incidents begin occurring all over town including a truck crashing blocking the towns entrance, a boy going missing from a supermarket and her deputy is missing. When Sterling is called to the city hall she comes across a scene that is so unbelievable that she can not even explain it to the rest of her team. When she finds a woman on the scene she immediately knows something is wrong but she does not know quite how bad things are about to get.

I loved Sterling despite her flaws and her bad decisions she makes her choices based on the experiences and how someone in that moment would react to that situation. She felt very real to me and her relationships with those around her was so flawed but extremely realistic in terms of a workplace.

The witch also plays off the characters weaknesses in the book which was really interesting to read about. It showed how no matter how perfect you seem everyone has a past and the witch likes to depict that in such a horrific way it made me feel so interested yet so uncomfortable with how it played out.

This book is how I love witches to be portrayed rather than the more recent development of the ‘good witch’ and finding a horror book about witches is so hard to find recently. The violence of the witch was not over the top gory but still made you feel creeped out by the situations and the entire thing made you feel hopeless. I really enjoyed that you knew the book was not going to have a resolved ending as the witch made the entire situation feel despairing.

The illustrations throughout this book also made it even more interesting and added an interesting element which helped visualise certain situations throughout the book. I think more books need illustrations especially in the way these used black and white just added to the eeriness of the book.  

I ended up rating this book four stars which is a really high rating for me in a horror. It had everything I could want; witches, a creepy atmosphere and illustrations which is always a bonus in books. I really want to get to Delaneys other works around Halloween and see if I like them as much as I liked this one.

Thank you to Netgalley for this review copy!

You’ve Reached Sam by Dustin Thao

This book was one of my most anticipated books last year and it did not disappoint. Although the premise seemed extremely heart-breaking this was a book was heart-warming and this book did everything it promised to do and more. It made my heart ache for all the characters involved within the story, and it made me want to live my life to the fullest.

Julie and Sam have their lives planned out; move away from their town, spend the summer in Japan and then aspire to follow their careers as a writer and musician. Then Sam unexpectedly dies. When she skips the funeral, throws his things out and tries to erase him from her life. When she decides to ring his phone desperate to hear his voice, she does not expect him to pick the phone up.

This novel is not very plot driven however, the characters and the writing make the main part of the book. The writing is beautiful and lyrical and really reflects the feeling of grief throughout. Julie’s self-narrative of tackling her way through her grief throughout and her character came across so believable. Although in some situations she came across as unlikeable, I think that was a accurate portrayal of how people struggle through their grief and how everyone deals with their problems in their own way. Seeing her develop and transform throughout the book and to watch her heal was both beautiful and heart-breaking.

However, another character that’s grief truly was heart-breaking was Mika. Mika makes the reader emphasize with her pain and you just want to hug her because its so painful losing someone that close to you. I feel like Julie felt like the pain was her own, but Sam’s family is also struggling, and it was so important that the book showed the way one person can impact so many people’s lives.

The dual narrative added to the heart-breaking aspect of the story because you got to see how Sam and Julie was and their interactions before Sam’s death. Their relationship was filled out fully within the book because you got to see them at the prime of their relationship and how it developed to that point rather than the reader having to imagine what their relationship was.

This book showed a huge development of the characters, and it was beautiful to see other relationships develop throughout not just the two main character. You hear all the characters and that is beautiful in itself. Even though you do not get to see as much as I wanted, I feel as though Sam’s character was my favourite and I felt connected to him through the beautiful writing of his character.

This book ended up being a four and a half stars for me. I cried, I laughed, I felt every emotion because it all felt very real to me. The cover is beautiful and sums up the story perfectly. I will definitely be picking up more by Dustin Thao in the future.

Thank you to NetGalley for a copy of this in exchange for a review!

Lucy’s Coming For You by Ashley Beegan

This was a book that I read last year and when I requested it I was not expecting much to come of it. I saw on NetGalley that it was pushed as a thriller and thought the concept sounded really interesting. I did not expect to love it as much as I did.

‘Lucy Clarke? There is no Lucy Clarke on this ward’

When a girl goes missing from a locked hospital ward Summer Thomas, an advocate for the patients, questions everything especially when it turns out that no one will admit Lucy ever existed. However, as she starts to look into the disappearance it turns out that there is so much more than what meets the eye. Especially when she finds out not only is she searching for Lucy. But Lucy is looking for her too.  

This book had me on the edge of my seat for the entirety of the book and what helped that along is that all the characters in this book are likeable. You could feel all her emotions as if you were living alongside her; the fear, the anxiety, the constantly looking over your shoulder. DI Swanson is the lead detective, and it is really interesting to see the two characters develop over the course of these books.

Lucy’s coming for you kept me entertained the entire way through and was such a quick and easy read which made it that much more enjoyable. What really made this book interesting was the plot twist. You can not see it coming no matter how much you look into this book, and it blew my mind the entire time. This is my definition of an amazing psychological thriller as it keeps you guessing as well as making you worried about how the plot is going to play out.

This book was such an amazing debut novel which resulted in me giving it four stars. The great twists, the ending and the characters all made this such an enjoyable read. I will be continuing with the series as and when it comes out.

Thank you to NetGalley for the copy of this book!