The Secret of Matterdale Hall Review

Susan Mottram lives an idyllic existence until her eighteenth birthday, when her father’s sudden death plunges the family into penury. To support her mother and younger sister, Susan takes employment as a teacher at a remote Yorkshire boarding school, Matterdale Hall, owned by the radical Dr. Claybourn and his penny-pinching wife. Susan soon discovers that all is not as it seems. Why is little Mary so silent? What really happened to Susan’s predecessor? Is anyone safe in the school’s draughty halls? Through a life-changing meeting with the beautiful and mysterious Cassandra, Susan begins to uncover the truth about Matterdale Hall, and discovers the cruelty, and love, that can lie within the human heart.

Belladonna Review

Orphaned as a baby, nineteen-year-old Signa has been raised by a string of guardians, each more interested in her wealth than her well-being—and each has met an untimely end. Her remaining relatives are the elusive Hawthornes, an eccentric family living at Thorn Grove, an estate both glittering and gloomy. Its patriarch mourns his late wife through wild parties, while his son grapples for control of the family’s waning reputation and his daughter suffers from a mysterious illness. But when their mother’s restless spirit appears claiming she was poisoned, Signa realizes that the family she depends on could be in grave danger and enlists the help of a surly stable boy to hunt down the killer.

However, Signa’s best chance of uncovering the murderer is an alliance with Death himself, a fascinating, dangerous shadow who has never been far from her side. Though he’s made her life a living hell, Death shows Signa that their growing connection may be more powerful—and more irresistible—than she ever dared imagine.

October 2022 Wrap Up

This was probably my best reading month to date! Super happy with myself but also super happy with the books I read.

  • I read 15 books this month
  • Genre: 6 fantasy, 4 mystery, 2 sci-fi, 1 romance, 1 thriller and 1 non-fiction.
  • Gender of authors: 8 women, 4 men and 1 duo
  • Race of authors: 6 white authors, 3 black authors, 2 Latinx author, 1 Middle Eastern author and 1 asian author.
  • Age range: 9 adult, 3 middle grade, 2 YA and 1 new adult
  • Format: 8 paperback, 5 ebook, 1 hardback and 1 audiobook

The Daughter of Doctor Moreau – Silvia Moreno-Garcia (DNF)

A re-telling of the Island of Doctor Moreau. This was super disappointing as I have loved all the other work that Moreno-Garcia has written. I was really hoping to love this but I got about 25% of the way through and I was just bored with no connection to the characters whatsoever!

Wivenhoe – Samuel Fisher (3 stars)

Following a 24hr period after a murder is committed. I will be completely honest. I was not expecting to enjoy this book. At all. It didn’t seem like it was something I would go for but oh my goodness was it good. It was intense but so raw. A true character study which I normally shy away from. I literally read this in an hour.

A Dead Djinn in Cairo – P. Djèlí Clark (3 stars)

A mystery based in an alternate Cairo where Djinn and Human live side by side. Based on what everyone said about this short story I was expecting to enjoy it more than I did. I loved the characters and the world but the plot was a bit too rushed and I felt the format was too small too tackle something so monumental.

The Girl, the Ghost and the Lost Name – Reece Carter (3 stars)

An adventure about a ghost who goes to search for her lost name and memories. This was super fun mystery. It didn’t leave a super long lasting impression on me but I did have a fun time reading it.

The Dark Fantastic: Race and the Imagination from Harry Potter to the Hunger Games – Ebony Elizabeth Thomas (4 stars)

An incredibly information look at how race is portrayed in some of the most popular YA mediums. My favourite chapter was that on Rue in the Hunger Games. This was one of my first foray’s into literary criticism and looking at race and identity in literature. As a bookseller, this is a topic I want to learn more of for when I approach recommendations and how I think when I am reading.

The Twig Man – Sana Rasoul (4 stars)

A story about a boy who tries to find his sister after she went missing a year ago. I didn’t expect to enjoy this as much as I did. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time. Rasoul manages to pack in intensity, horror elements and the power of sibling love into a small package. I also adored Ari.

The Angel of Khan el-Khalili – P. Djèlí Clark (4 stars)

A story about a young girl who tries to save her dying sister. This was, in my opinion, the better of the two Dead Djinn Universe short stories mainly because I preferred the storyline more.

The Girl from the Other Side Vol. 1 – Nagabe (4 stars)

This follows a human and a monster who live together in a little cottage. This was perfect for halloween, spooky with loads of mystery. I felt it set up a lot of good points and established our two main characters very well. I am looking forward to the sequel.

Beautiful Darkness – Kersacoet (4 stars)

If you’re looking for a more creepier graphic novel for Halloween. This story follows a group of fairies who try to live amongst nature but it doesn’t go super well. This book is deceiving. On the outside the art is beautiful and you thinks its going to be a cute story until you slowly go through the pages and see the horror for what it is. I loved the juxtaposition of the story to the art and really enjoyed this graphic novel.

Belladonna – Adalyn Grace (4 stars)

This story follows 19 year old Signs who tries to solve the murder of her family member. I really enjoyed this story. For those who see it as promoted as YA it is more adult. I would say it’s new adult as there are some more mature themes in here that might not be appropriate for certain YA audiences. This was engaging, mysterious and beautifully gothic. I loved Signa’s dynamic with Death and the mystery itself was fun to solve. I personally didn’t guess the ending at all which I normally do.

The Lost Storyteller – Donna Barba Higuera (4 stars)

This was an amazing story filled with beautiful folklore tales, a strong female protagonist and a plot that had me on the edge of my seat. I loved the blend of Spanish and English in this story.

Thieves – Lucie Bryon (4.5 stars)

A super fun and beautifully illustrated graphic novel about romance and being true to oneself. I had a great time reading this, I loved the art-style, the characters and the plot.

House of Hunger – Alexis Henderson (4.5 stars)

I probably enjoyed this book more than her first one, The Year of the Witching. This follows a young woman who becomes a blood maid for a mysterious Countess but soon starts to unravel the mystery of the castle and the Countess herself. Beautifully gothic atmosphere, super intense, and while I sort of gathered how the story was going to play out, I just couldn’t draw my eyes away from the story. Lisavet was an amazing and alluring character that scared me but I was so intrigued by her and her backstory. That ending had me on the edge of my seat.

The ABC Murders – Agatha Christie (5 stars)

Now the last book of Miss Christie’s that I read ended up being a 1 star and was one of the worst books I have read this year and beyond. I did not enjoy it whatsoever so I was super nervous in reading this book. I was worried that my love for Christie was finally over. But then she wrote this masterpiece. One my biggest criticisms of Christie’s work is while I enjoy her characterisation of her staple characters, like Poirot and Hastings, I never really care for many of her side characters. But with this book, not only did she write a stellar plot, she also wrote some beautifully written, nuanced side characters that really brought the whole novel together in a way that her previous book didn’t.

A Master of Djinn – P. Djèlí Clark (5 stars)

Another great murder mystery novel but this time with a fantasy steampunk twist. This book is up there with the likes of Sanderson for me. The world building was immaculate, I loved the championing of female characters and also the diversity in the women and the plot was super fun to solve.

A Master of Djinn Review

Cairo, 1912: Though Fatma el-Sha’arawi is the youngest woman working for the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities, she’s certainly not a rookie, especially after preventing the destruction of the universe last summer. So when someone murders a secret brotherhood dedicated to one of the most famous men in history, al-Jahiz, Agent Fatma is called onto the case. Al-Jahiz transformed the world 50 years ago when he opened up the veil between the magical and mundane realms, before vanishing into the unknown. This murderer claims to be al-Jahiz, returned to condemn the modern age for its social oppressions. His dangerous magical abilities instigate unrest in the streets of Cairo that threaten to spill over onto the global stage. Alongside her Ministry colleagues and her clever girlfriend Siti, Agent Fatma must unravel the mystery behind this imposter to restore peace to the city – or face the possibility he could be exactly who he seems….

House of Hunger Review

Marion Shaw has been raised in the slums, where want and deprivation are all she knows. Despite longing to leave the city and its miseries, she has no real hope of escape until the day she spots a strange advertisement in the newspaper, seeking a ‘bloodmaid’. Though she knows little about the far north – where wealthy nobles live in luxury and drink the blood of those in their service – Marion applies to the position. In a matter of days, she finds herself at the notorious House of Hunger. There, Marion is swept into a world of dark debauchery – and there, at the centre of it all is her.

Her name is Countess Lisavet. Loved and feared in equal measure, she presides over this hedonistic court. And she takes a special interest in Marion. Lisavet is magnetic, charismatic, seductive – and Marion is eager to please her new mistress.

But when her fellow bloodmaids begin to go missing in the night, Marion is thrust into a vicious game of cat and mouse. She’ll need to learn the rules of her new home – and fast – or its halls will soon become her grave.

Gleanings Review

There are still countless tales of the Scythedom to tell. Centuries passed between the Thunderhead cradling humanity and Scythe Goddard trying to turn it upside down. For years humans lived in a world without hunger, disease, or death with Scythes as the living instruments of population control. Neal Shusterman—along with collaborators David Yoon, Jarrod Shusterman, Sofía Lapuente, Michael H. Payne, Michelle Knowlden, and Joelle Shusterman—returns to the world throughout the timeline of the Arc of a Scythe series. Discover secrets and histories of characters you’ve followed for three volumes and meet new heroes, new foes, and some figures in between.

September 2022 Wrap Up

And my amazing reading year continues! I am so happy with how this year is going!

  • I read 12 books this month
  • Genre: 5 fantasy, 3 mystery, 1 sci-fi, 1 classic, 1 horror and 1 humour.
  • Gender of authors: 6 women and 4 men
  • Race of authors: 5 white authors, 2 asian authors, 2 black author and 1 Latinx author.
  • Age range: 5 adult, 5 YA and 1 middle grade
  • Format: 7 paperback, 2 ebook, 2 hardback and 1 audiobook

The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux (2 stars)

This was just not it. I was so bored reading this. I felt the author focused so on the most unnecessary things in the narrative. We didn’t get too much of the more interesting part of the story. I just did not enjoy this.

Fullmetal Alchemist: The Four Panel Comics by Hiromu Arakawa (3 stars)

This was a fun addition to the Fullmetal Alchemist series.

Post After Post-Mortem by E.C.R Lorac (3 stars)

This was a good murder mystery. I loved the focus on characterisation and I was adamant I had got the murderer right but I was very wrong. I did feel that the beginning was a bit slow and the ending did disappoint me. But I loved the investigation part of the story and the slow un-furling of the truth.

The King is Dead by Benjamin Dean (4 stars)

This was a solid story that I read at the worst time possible. I did not expect the events of the month to pan out the way it did. I loved the exploration of the royal family, the hounding of the paparazzi and the discussion of racism in the UK. So much was discussed in this book and it was done so so very well. I was super engaged in the characters. I do wish the mystery part of the story was stronger. I also didn’t love the culprit behind the events. It was disappointing to me.

The Secret of Haven Point by Lisette Auton (4 stars)

The disability representation in this story made my heart sing. Great characters, great story and a beautiful setting. My favourite part was the discussion of language in this story.

The Liminal Zone by Junji Ito (4 stars)

My first ever Junji Ito manga. What an experience.

  • Weeping Woman Way – 5 stars
  • Madonna – 5 stars
  • The Spirit Flow of Aokigahara – 2 stars
  • Slumber – 3 stars

Lord Peter Wimsey: BBC Radio Drama Collection Vol. 3 (4 stars)

A great ending to what was an absolutely amazing series!

  • Murder Must Advertise – 4.5 stars
  • The Nine Tailors – 3.5 stars
  • Gaudy Night – 5 stars
  • Busman’s Honeymoon – 3 stars

The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin (4 stars)

Another series I finished this month. Not my favourite of the three but still an amazing instalment. Everything tied up nicely and it was amazing to finally get a perfect picture of the story and the characters. I was a big fan of the ending.

Gleanings by Neal Shusterman (4.5 stars)

It was so great to be back in the Arc of a Scythe universe! Shusterman’s imagination and ingenious were top tier and I love his writing so much. Probably my favourite short story collection to date.

  • The First Swing – 3 stars
  • Formidable – 5 stars
  • Never Work With Animals – 3 stars
  • A Death of Many Colours – 4 stars
  • Unsavoury Row – 5 stars
  • A Martian a Minute – 5 stars
  • The Mortal Canvas – 5 stars
  • Cirri – 4.5 stars
  • Anastasia’s Shadow – 3 stars
  • The Persistence of Memory – 4 stars
  • Meet Cute and Die – 4 stars
  • Perchance to Glean – 2 stars
  • A Dark Curtain Rises – 4 stars

The Queen in the Cave by Julia Sarda (5 stars)

A beautiful picture book I read just in time for the spooky season. Beautiful art and a beautiful story.

Fullmetal Alchemist Vol. 8 & 9 by Hiromu Arakawa (5 stars)

Another monumental series I finished. I cried so much when this ended as I started this all the way back in 2019. Amazing story, amazing characters, incredible art style. Loved it! I was also able to understand the ending a lot more by reading the manga than when I originally watched the show.

The Broken Earth Trilogy Review

Three terrible things happen in a single day. Essun, a woman living an ordinary life in a small town, comes home to find that her husband has brutally murdered their son and kidnapped their daughter. Meanwhile, mighty Sanze — the world-spanning empire whose innovations have been civilization’s bedrock for a thousand years — collapses as most of its citizens are murdered to serve a madman’s vengeance. And worst of all, across the heart of the vast continent known as the Stillness, a great red rift has been torn into the heart of the earth, spewing ash enough to darken the sky for years. Or centuries.

Now Essun must pursue the wreckage of her family through a deadly, dying land. Without sunlight, clean water, or arable land, and with limited stockpiles of supplies, there will be war all across the Stillness: a battle royale of nations not for power or territory, but simply for the basic resources necessary to get through the long dark night. Essun does not care if the world falls apart around her. She’ll break it herself, if she must, to save her daughter.