Friday 31 December 2021

Top 12 Books of 2021 | prettylittlerwriter

 Hello everyone! 

As we say goodbye to another year that has been incredibly difficult for a lot of people, I thought I'd share a roundup of the top 12 books that I've read that helped me get through 2021!

I've put them in no particular order below, as I never really like to compare if I've enjoyed them all and given them all 5 stars, however, I will say, that the book that I still constantly think about and recommend to EVERYONE is The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward. So I'd say that is definitely my favourite of the year!

1. The Inheritance by Gabriel Bergmoser

A brilliantly dark and unforgettable novel full of twists and turns that keep you captivated until the very last page! With an incredibly badass MC.

2. King of Battle and Blood by Scarlett St Clair

A very sexy enemies to lovers dark fantasy romance!

3. The Ex Hex by Erin Sterling

A feel good easy read! It felt like Gilmore Girls collided with Practical Magic, set in a quaint and autumnal town, with a little bit of spice!

4. The Whistling by Rebecca Netley

A wonderful historic ghost story with many creepy gothic elements.

5. Afterlove by Tanya Byrne

A beautiful paranormal love story with a tragic ending.

6. Have You Seen Me? by Alexandria Weis

Teen slasher set in an elite boarding school; a murder mystery filled with passion, drama and a whole lot of murder.

7. Near the Bone by Christina Henry

A chilling, suspenseful novel, full of grit, horror and supernatural elements.

8. Five Minds by Guy Morpuss

An incredibly well written, thought-provoking and inspiring debut novel from Guy, it absolutely blew my mind!

9. The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward

Mindblowing, intense, thought-provoking and heartwrenching. I will never stop recommending this to people.

10. The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix

A gory and intense story about female repression and their journey to empowerment whilst tackling a vampire like never seen before.

11. The Crowns of Croswald 1&2 by D.E. Night

A magical and wonderful story about a young girl who has grown up with nothing, realising that she is actually royalty and has a gift.

12. The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse

An atmospheric and creepy thriller that keeps you guessing right until the very end!


I've managed to read 63 books this year, which is the most I think I've ever read in one year, so I'm quite proud of myself!

Here's to 2022, and the many more wonderful books that I cannot wait to read!



Wednesday 22 December 2021

Book Review | Hide by Nell Pattison | prettylittlewriter

 A thrilling and encapsulating ride from start to finish. 

Synopsis

‘Seven friends. One killer. You can run, but you can’t hide…

The winter hike is meant to bring their nature group together.
Emily, the sister who never lets her hearing loss hold her back.
Lauren, the sister who always feels a step behind.
Morna, who doesn’t get on with Lauren.
Ben, whose feelings for Emily border on obsession.
Dan, the quiet newcomer to the group.
Kai, who isn’t just on the hike to enjoy the wildlife.
And Alec, the one who knows all their secrets.

As the sun sets, a gunshot rings out on the nature reserve.
One of the seven is dead. And one of their number killed them…’

Nell has impressed me yet again. I’ve previously read The Silent Suspect, which is a book within a series, and really enjoyed it, and now Hide has become a firm favourite also!

One thing I absolutely love within Nell’s books is that she always includes a deaf character. I’ve learnt a lot from her through these characters, specifically in Hide around cochlear implants. Any diversity within a novel is brilliant in my opinion, and we certainly do need to see more of it!

Each chapter changes to a different character’s perspective, which I really enjoyed, as you find out their secrets through their thoughts and you are honestly kept guessing as to who the baddie might be throughout. Each night I kept telling myself ‘just one more chapter’ as they all ended on a cliff-hanger!

I also really loved the location that this was based in, a nature reserve, as I haven’t seen this done before! A lot of the time in these ‘trapped in one location’ novels, they are either in a cabin in the woods or on a mountain somewhere, so I thought this was brilliant!

The ending was a shocker to me, and really unexpected. I guessed a couple of things towards the end of the novel, but THAT revelation, really did surprise me!

I really liked the characters Emily and Kai, and was very shocked at the type of character Ben ended up being as I thought he was a sweetheart to start.

Overall, if you like cliff-hangers and an ‘on the edge of your seat’ read, I highly recommend!

4/5 stars




Tuesday 30 November 2021

Book Tour | King of Battle and Blood by Scarlett St. Clair | prettylittlewriter

 I am super excited to be participating in the Random Things Tours Book Tour for the new novel, King of Battle and Blood by the wonderful Scarlett St.Clair!

Synopsis
Isolde de Lara considers her wedding day her death day. To end a years-long war, she is to marry vampire king, Adrian Aleksandr Vasiliev, and kill him. 
But her assassination attempt is thwarted and Adrian threatens that if Isolde tries kill him again, he will raise her as the undead. Faced with the possibility of becoming the thing she hates most, Isolde seeks other ways to defy him and survive the brutal vampire court.
Except it isn’t the court she fears most—it’s Adrian. Despite their undeniable chemistry, she wonders why the king——fierce, savage, merciless—chose her as consort.
The answer will shatter her world.’

I was absolutely hooked on this novel from start to finish.
It has just the right amount of angst, sex, hunger and violence to satiate my adult fantasy craving, and I cannot wait for book two! 

This is the first novel I have read by Scarlett, and now I am desperate to read her Greek Mythology series!

Isolde is a badass heroine with thick thighs which I absolutely love; instead of your stereotypical skinny female. I felt I could picture myself as her more (which was VERY nice when reading the spicy scenes!!).

I loved Adrian from the start. I didn’t ever really see him as a baddie once we’d been introduced to him, as he was so chivalrous and kind towards Isolde. Every time they were both alone together it got my pulse racing ready for their next tryst. The spice started quite early on and I can’t believe how brilliantly written it is!

Adrian’s love and adoration for Isolde is incredible, and I really felt that he could not live without her.

Without any spoilers because I encourage you all to read this book, there is a brilliant twist that I’m proud to say I guessed quite near the beginning of the novel, but didn’t know just to what extent it was! 

It is very clever and I am just so incredibly honoured to have received a copy of this wonderful book and goodies via Black Crow PR to take part in the blog tour, so thank you!

Overall, a sexy enemies to lovers dark fantasy romance novel which I really enjoyed, and can’t recommend enough!

5/5 stars


Friday 26 November 2021

Book Review | The Inheritance by Gabriel Bergmoser | prettylittlewriter

Thank you to Faber & Faber books for sending me a copy to review! 

Synopsis
Maggie is hiding out in a sleepy North Queensland tourist town, trying to stay under the radar, when she stumbles across a dangerous drug cartel. Anyone else might back away shaking their head, pretend they hadn't seen anything, keep quiet, even though people are getting hurt. But Maggie is no ordinary girl. She's got skills, as well as plenty of secrets to keep, burdens to carry - and anger to burn.

When circumstances mean that she has to get out of town - fast - she heads towards Melbourne, where she just might find the answers that she needs - answers about her family and who she really is. With a bent cop for a dubious ally, the police tracking her and furious bikers on her trail, Maggie is in deep trouble. She's only got her ingenuity and wits on her side - and a determination not to inherit the sins of her father.’

This was an absolutely wild ride from start to finish. Maggie is such an incredible main character, a badass with so much resiliance, despite often being outnumbered, that you cannot help but be impressed by what she manages to survive throughout the novel.

It is quite graphic and very grim in some places, with Maggie being beaten and stabbed, to the point where you’re expecting her death, but somehow she still manages to keep going. There are a couple of characters that do unexpectedly help Maggie, including Jack Carlin, whom you come to actually quite like as a character by the end of the novel.

 

The novel is very much about Maggie diving back into her past to try and locate her missing mum who abandoned her, as she navigates old memories of her abusive father and what she inherited from him (hence the title of the novel). It seems as if the main thing she inherited was his violent streak as she has no qualms in brutally attacking the people that deserve it. Despite this brutal outlook on life and the things that Maggie does, you really do feel for her, with the abuse she received at the hands of her Dad, and you are rooting for her throughout.

 

We also get a glimpse into the past through the eyes of Jack Carlin, and his relationship with Maggie’s father, and another cop whom Maggie always trusted as a kid.

 

This novel is a sequel to Gabriel’s first novel, The Hunted. However, it works well as a stand-alone (I have not read the first novel myself) as it is a new look into who Maggie is, and the first novel doesn’t delve into Maggie’s life as much as this one.

I’ve now added The Hunted to my TBR list, as I really enjoyed this book and I want to find out what else Maggie gets up to!

 

A brilliantly dark and unforgettable novel full of twists and turns that keep you captivated until the very last page! I highly recommend this to anyone that loves a thriller/crime novel!

 

5/5 stars




Saturday 20 November 2021

Book Review | Your Neighbours Wife by Tony Parsons | prettylittlewriter

 A thrilling ride from the start, packed full of drama, scandal and heartbreak.

Synopsis

Tara Carver seems to have the perfect life. A loving mother and wife, and a business woman who runs her own company, she's the sort of person you'd want to live next door to, who might even become your best friend.

But what sort of person is she really?

Because in one night of madness, on a work trip far from home, she puts all this at risk. And suddenly her dream life becomes a living nightmare when the married man she spent one night with tells her he wants a serious relationship with her. And that he won't leave her or her precious family alone until she agrees.

There seems to be only one way out.
And it involves murder...’

When Tara meets an intelligent and kind-looking man on a business trip in Tokyo, she feels like the opportunity has arisen for her to have a brief fling with no repercussions as she will never see him again, right?

When James Caine become obsessively aggressive and won’t let her go, her family and marriage are in danger, and Tara is feeling backed into a corner.

And then when James turns up dead, the question remains as to who did it.

I was absolutely hooked on this novel after just a couple of chapters. I found most of the characters were both likeable and unlikeable at the same time (except James who was just plain evil), and there was plenty of drama involved with the cheating, the lies and the murder.

I increasingly disliked Tara more and more as the novel went on, as she seemed to show a very selfish side to her (expecting her husband to be by her side no matter what and act like everything is normal even though she cheated on him!) and not really thinking about anyone else or the repercussions of her actions.

There are many twists within the novel, keeping you guessing till the very end as to who really did kill James Caine, and there were also some very unexpected surprises involving certain characters that also brought a lot to the novel.

I did find that by the end of the novel, there was no one character that was completely blameless in any of the drama that happened, as they all did something to cause it or make things worse, except Tara and Christian’s son, Harlon.

I liked the use of ‘shopping for pain’. It’s a great metaphor for when you’re looking for something within your life or marriage to cause you hurt and to potential create drama also.

This was my first Tony Parsons novel, and it will not be my last. Very impressed and highly recommend.

5/5 stars




Wednesday 10 November 2021

Book Review | The Library of the Dead by T.L. Huchu | prettylittlewriter

Thank you so much to Black Crow PR and Tor books for sending me a copy for review!

 Synopsis
‘Ropa dropped out of school to become a ghostalker. Now she speaks to Edinburgh's dead, carrying messages to the living. A girl's gotta earn a living, and it seems harmless enough. Until, that is, the dead whisper that someone's bewitching children--leaving them husks, empty of joy and life. It's on Ropa's patch, so she feels honor-bound to investigate. But what she learns will change her world.

She'll dice with death (not part of her life plan...), discovering an occult library and a taste for hidden magic. She'll also experience dark times. For Edinburgh hides a wealth of secrets, and Ropa's gonna hunt them all down.’

This is a brilliant read full of ghosts, magic and a dream library setting!

It took me a little while to like our main character Ropa, as she was very stubborn at the start and would only help the departed communicate with their loved ones for a charge (which wasn't very empathetic).

However, as the novel went on, a softer side came out of her, especially when she starts making friends within the library.

The first person thoughts from Ropa were a brilliant way to read the novel through her perspective, and it really helped hook me to the story.

The book takes place in an alternate Edinburgh, set in the future (after an event known as ‘the catastrophe’) and features slums, poverty and quite a bit of violence. Even though it seems to be set in the future, some parts of the novel give me a retro vibe.

I really enjoyed the paranormal elements to it, and the incorporation of Ropa’s mbira (African instrument) to help tether the spirits to the earth so she can communicate with them properly. There was also the mention of another realm, where the departed can be banished to, that has no time or gravity and is full of monsters.

The main danger/baddie within the novel is very clever and really interesting, and without giving too much away, I found it quite scary and difficult to read in places due to the nature of it.

Overall I enjoyed this book a lot, and would highly recommend to anyone that likes a fantasy novel that incorporates ghosts and a dystopian element.


I'm very much looking forward to the 2nd book!

4/5 stars



Friday 5 November 2021

Book Review | The House of Dust by Noah Broyles | prettylittlewriter

Thank you so much to Noah for sending me a copy of your novel to review! 

Synopsis

Deep in the of rural Tennessee, sits the forgotten town of Three Summers. Mere miles away, on an overgrown river island, stands the house that once presided over the grand plantation of Angel’s Landing,

Failing crime writer Bradley Ellison and former prostitute Missy Holiday are drawn to this place, fleeing a world turned against them. For Brad, it is work—he must find a compelling story before the true-crime magazine he writes for judges him expendable. For Missy, it is recuperation—four years at "the club" have left her drained.

But the price of peace is high, and soon Brad and Missy discover that something hides behind the quiet. Something moves in the night. Something that manifests itself in bizarre symbols and disturbing funeral rites. Something that twists back through time and clings in the dust of the ancient house. A presence they must uncover before their own past catches up with them.’

It took me a while to realise that Brad and Missy’s timelines are different; Missy Holiday is years before Brad, and their timelines do meet at the very beginning when Brad first shows up in Three Summers, but it is not apparent until later on that they are different (a little bit of a spoiler, but may help you understand the book more if you read this review before you read the novel!).

At the very beginning of the novel, Brad is running from his problems and has made the decision to kill himself, which is why he ends up in Three Summers, looking for water to take some pills with. This was a shocking start to the book, with my intrigue piqued to find out what has happened for him to make this decision.  When a grey-haired woman knocks on his car window and asks if he’s the doctor, he finds himself saying yes, and being taken to the house at Angel’s Landing, for a woman in apparent need of a doctor.

I found the writing style very dark, gothic and with plenty of metaphors. Noah’s descriptive writing of the town, the house and the land around it was so intense and incredibly compelling.

The skipping between the different timelines was a little confusing at times, especially at the beginning when I didn’t realise that Missy was not Brad’s fiancĂ©e. We also get a first person narrative as Brad writes for his magazine at the beginning of each chapter, Southern Gothic, and then it switches to third person for the actual story.

Both our main characters of Brad and Missy were likeable, especially Missy, who is very damaged but a delicate and caring soul, who gives sympathy to those who don’t even necessarily deserve it (A boy called Roy who hurts a cat so bad it goes brain dead, ends up needing her help later on).

The small town with all its inhabitants feels very much like a cult, with bizarre rituals and beliefs that seem to cause absolute chaos at times.

Overall, I did enjoy the novel, and I was rooting for the characters to have a happy ending (more-so Missy as she’s had such a terrible life and I wanted her to have some happiness), but I did find myself putting off reading it as I found it quite a difficult at times due to the disjointed writing style. I would definitely recommend to anyone that loves a true gothic novel, with some frightening scenes and a rural southern setting.

4/5 stars



Saturday 30 October 2021

Book Tour | The Ex Hex by Erin Sterling | prettylittlewriter

'Never mix vodka and witchcraft.' 

I am so incredibly excited to be participating in the book tour for this wonderful witchy rom com! Thank you so much to Isabelle from Headline for allowing me to take part and gifting me this copy!

Synopsis

‘Nine years ago, Vivienne Jones had her heart broken by Rhys Penhallow, and with a little help from her sister and some vodka, she sets a curse upon him. Having used a scented candle to cast the spell, she doesn’t think the curse has worked.

That is until Rhys returns to Graves Glen to charge the towns Ley Lines, and everything he does goes disastrously wrong.

Vivi realizes her silly little Ex Hex may not have been so harmless after all.
Suddenly, Graves Glen is under attack from murderous wind-up toys, a pissed off ghost, and a talking cat with some interesting things to say. Vivi and Rhys have to ignore their off the charts chemistry to work together to save the town and find a way to break the break-up curse before it’s too late.’

This is such a feel good easy read! It felt like Gilmore Girls collided with Practical Magic, to give us a sexy and hilarious story, set in a quaint and autumnal town, with a little bit of spice! Thank you to Erin Sterling (aka Rachel Hawkins) for writing such a brilliant, seasonal read!

 

Vivienne is a great main character, very relatable and sweet, with a bit of a sassy side. I really felt for her with her heartbreak, breakups can be very difficult, and I’m certain that I would have cursed a few of my exes if I had the chance!

 

Rhys was definitely a charmer, and in some ways, I don’t actually think he did anything wrong per say; he wasn’t engaged/in a relationship with anyone else at the time, it was his dad looking to find him a match. However, we wouldn’t have this wonderful story if they hadn’t broken up like they did, so I’m not mad at it! The fact that he is welsh also added to the sexiness of his character, with his welsh pet name for Vivi getting my heart rate up!

 

I also loved the characters of Gwyn and Elaine, two very badass witches that really do have Vivi’s back when it comes to protecting her and the town.

 

When the curse started to affect the town upon Rhys’ return, there were some hilarious incidents that occurred, including their pet cat being able to talk! Him screeching ‘TREATS’ constantly was just amazing.

 

The romance itself was gorgeous, and the sexy scenes certainly got me all hot and bothered whilst reading them (who doesn’t dream of having a Rhys in the bedroom?).

 

The only reason I’m not rating this a 5 star, is because I felt like the actual danger in the story could have been focused on more, and the ending felt a little anticlimactic (Vivi and Rhys’ relationship seemed to be more important than anything else). However, this did not take anything away from the storyline itself and I still absolutely adored it.

 

4/5 stars




Friday 22 October 2021

Book Review | Thunderpaws and the Tower of London by Ben Housden | prettylittlewriter

 A witty and hilarious adventure with a fierce feline as our hero. 

Synopsis

'Teufel (alias Thunderpaws) finds himself no longer living the life of luxury by the sea in Devon, but now in residence at the Tower of London. Confused and agitated, as he explores, he finds himself in the midst of a ghostly war, surrounded by irritating ravens, kings and queens both alive and dead, and mischievous ghostly cats. When a magic mouse tells him his destiny is to save the world, Teufel has to figure out who he can trust to help him along the way, and to save the Tower of London from destruction, he has to battle with some unlikely characters.'

This story was a laugh the whole way through. I think it is brilliantly clever and witty how Ben has written from a cat’s perspective; it truly feels like this is how a cat would think and speak if they could. Our protagonist is just hilarious, with bounds of confidence even when he should fall in line, and he is not afraid to stand up to the enemies around him.

 

The writing is just brilliant, I love how it changes with the story, like when Magnificat changes in size, so does the text, or when Teufel falls down or jumps up, the writing goes in an up or downwards direction. Little elements like this, and the stunning illustrations, help to create this world of Teufel’s very vividly in your head, and also make it that extra bit child friendly.

It is also very historically factual, with details about the tower and those that died there, which in turn, gave me horrible histories vibes! Meeting the likes of King Richard III and Guy Fawkes (to name a few) was exciting and brilliant, with some very interesting conversations between them and our main character!

 

There are some absolutely hilarious moments throughout, one of my favourites being two cats commandeering a speedboat to escape! I could perfectly imagine it in my mind, which really did make me laugh out loud.

 

When Ben reached out to me via twitter to ask if I’d be interested in reading his debut novel about a talking cat, I was intrigued but unsure whether it would be too childlike. I’m 27 years old, but absolutely enjoyed every element of it and I am looking forward to seeing what else our Thunderpaws will get up to! Definitely not a story for younger children, but anyone over the age of 9 will enjoy this thoroughly!

 

Thank you so much Ben for sending me a copy to review, and I cannot wait to see what else you have in store for my new favourite feline!

 

5/5 stars