Speak of the Devil Review

  • Author: Rose Wilding
  • Series: Standalone
  • Genre: Crime
  • No. of pages: 384
  • Dates read: 27.02.2023 – 28.02.2023
  • Publishing Date: 13.06.2023
  • Star Rating: 5 stars

I will stress and say there are a lot of trigger warnings attached to this book e.g. sexual assault, mental abuse, gaslighting, forced outing, and grooming to name a few. I just wanted to add that in case anyone wanted to check out the book.

Plot: Seven women stand in shock in a seedy hotel room; a man’s severed head sits in the centre of the floor. Each of the women – the wife, the teenager, the ex, the journalist, the colleague, the friend, and the woman who raised him – has a very good reason to have done it, yet each swears she did not. In order to protect each other, they must figure out who is responsible, all while staying one step ahead of the police. Against the ticking clock of a murder investigation, each woman’s secret is brought to light as the connections between them converge to reveal a killer.

Now I know this book isn’t out until the Summer but I needed to talk about it sooner rather than later! Let me tell you, this book resonated with me in a way I don’t think any other contemporary book has before.

I was sent this book by the publishers so thank you so much to Baskerville for sending this to me. I picked this up just before a long journey and let me tell you that a 5 1/2-hour trip felt like nothing to me. I was so engrossed in this story and its characters.

This story follows 7 women directly after they find the decapitated head of a man, who in one way or another, came into their lives and wrecked it. Any one of them could have done it, it was just a matter of who. Going into this I thought it was going to be a simple investigation, interview the suspects and solve the murder type of book. What I did not expect was a deep-dive character study into the nuances of being a woman, how trauma can affect a person, power dynamics, gender, race and sexuality.

Spending time with each character and learning about them and what they endured/experienced was a raw, honest, emotional and slightly cathartic experience for me as a reader. I loved the variety of the characters we got, I loved the slowly interconnecting storyline and I enjoyed slowly unravelling who killed this man.

It was a hard read but a necessary read. When I tell you I hated the man, Jamie (the dead guy). I don’t think I have ever hated a fictional character so much in my life. It was a really physical hatred and I have to commend Wilding on her writing for making me feel so much and so differently towards these characters. But the way she wrote Jamie was so expertly done. Like I really hated that man.

What I did love most about this book though was just learning and being in a space held majorly by women. Women of all ages, races and sexualities. While a lot of the experiences these women had with this man were awful. Being able to fully immerse myself in the lives of these women and learn with them, feel with them and grow with them was really powerful. This book has left a mark on me that I don’t think I will ever be able to shake and I don’t want to. I connected to this book in so many ways and I want more books like this in the future.

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.

January 2022 Wrap Up

Here we are! My first wrap up of 2022. Now let me tell you!!!!! This has been the most productive month since I started my blog. The first month of the year is always when I read the most books as I feel the most pumped up to start my challenge. I like to read a lot in the first month so when I tackle the heavier books later down the line I don’t start lagging behind on my goal. But 12 books in one month! Amazing! Normally I would talk about my DNFs but I also read between 50% and 60% of those books which is still a good amount of pages! I highly doubt that I can keep this momentum going for the rest of 2022 but we shall see.

  • I read 12 books this month
  • I DNFd 2 books this month
  • Genre: 2 fantasy, 2 historical fiction, 2 mystery, 2 romance, 2 sci-fi, 1 contemporary and 1 sport.
  • Gender of authors: 8 women and 4 women
  • Race of authors: 7 white authors, 4 asian authors and 1 black author
  • Age range: 6 adult, 4 YA, 1 new adult and 1 middle grade
  • Format: 5 ebooks, 4 paperback, 2 audiobooks and 1 hardcover

Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao (5 stars)

I actually to listened to this on audiobook and started it about halfway through December but didn’t get round to finishing it until Jan. This was a such a refreshing and exciting YA sci-fi novel. I have briefly mentioned before on this blog how sci-fi can be hit and miss for me with books, I tend to prefer to consume my sci-fi through TV or film, but this blew everything out of the water for me. It was exciting and enticing with one of the best female characters in YA ever! I loved the world, the characters, the politics and most of all the battle scenes. Never in my life would I say I liked battle scenes!

The Hatmakers by Tamzin Merchant (3 stars)

So, I read this as part of my bookstores Book of the Month campaign and I was excited to start getting back into middle grade fiction. Ever since I started my job I have been super intrigued by all the new publishing I missed once I got older and started reading more YA and adult books. I want to read everything I have missed. This book was super fun. I found the main character to be really sweet, determined and smart. I thought the magic included in this novel was fun and quirky, I loved learning about the different ingredients to make hats. But I did find the middle portion of the book to lull a bit.

The Key in the Lock by Beth Underdown (2.5 stars)

This book unfortunately fell flat for me. This book is half literary fiction, half mystery and I 1000% preferred the mystery. I felt that the mystery held up the novel as I was bored watching the MC talk about her sad life, her regrets and her relationships with people and while I appreciated her and her struggle; I found her to be quite annoying. A kind character but also quite boring. This made the more character-focused sections of the plot to be quite slow going and I craved more of the mystery. The mystery itself, when we got round to it, was good. A bit predictable for me but still enjoyable.

The Chosen Twelve by James Breakwell (DNF)

I got about 60% through this book before I decided to put it down for good and that was because not much really happened. Not much more to say. The premise was super exciting but it was just a lot of sitting around and talking or watching the same failed simulations. Also, it was marketed as being like The Hunger Games and I was just waiting to see that come to fruition but it never happened.

Empress and Aniya by Candice Carty-Williams (DNF)

I also listened to this via audiobook and I felt that the narrator, Mia Deacon, did a really good job! But personally, for me, I just wasn’t as engaged with the story. I understand due to it being a novella that you can only fit so much in a certain number of pages I wanted a bit more from the story. I felt that everything just needed that extra bit of detail. At certain points, I felt we were just scraping the surface of the characters, their friendships etc. I just needed a bit more of everything!

Attack on Titan: Volume 2 by Hajime Isayama (3 stars)

This was good. To be honest, I don’t have loads to say about this volume. I loved exploring Mikasa’s character more but I have seen the anime so this isn’t new to me. I am still not sure if I like the art style but I enjoyed this nonetheless.

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas (3 stars)

Now, this was a book I was adamant a couple of years ago I was never going to read. This was when I was wholeheartedly against anything romance based and also I was trying to be a “serious fantasy reader” (excuse while I see my old self out) but I ended up enjoying it more than I thought I would. I felt the wiring was super engaging, the main female character I liked and the romance was interesting and grabbed my attention. While I completely understand and get the criticisms and I agree with a lot of them. I still found myself enjoying this novel for what it is!

The Twyford Code by Janice Hallett (5 stars)

One of the best books I have ever read. Point blank period! I mean words cannot begin to describe how smart and exhilarating this book was! I cannot say too much as everything will teeter on spoiler territory but this was literally if The Famous Five was a spy thriller! If you are a fan of the podcast or book Rabbits you will love this book! The sense of character was so strong in this book. I loved how the main character flicked between his deep past, his past from hours ago and his present. It was structured very well. READ IT!

The Clockwork Girl by Anna Mazzola (4 stars)

I enjoyed this historical mystery! I felt that this book did a great job of placing you firmly in 1700s Paris. The 3 female protagonists we follow are all intelligent women struggling to live in a patriarchal society from the bottom of the ladder all the way to King’s Palace. I enjoyed exploring what it was like to live in 1700s Paris and I felt the historical part of the novel was really strong. The mystery while I enjoyed it and I felt it came to a satisfying conclusion I just wish there was a bit more. There was not much investigating at all, I felt about the majority of the novel just had the MC Madeline walk around not really getting anywhere and the reveal at the end of the novel while satisfying in terms of identity I don’t feel anything was really earned it as a reader.

The Village of Eight Graves by Seishi Yokomizo (2 stars)

Unfortunately, with each book I am reading, I am getting more and more disappointed. I am not sure if I am going to continue with the rest of the series. One of the major draw ins from this series is I love Detective Kindaichi. Unfortunately, we don’t really see much of him at all. I would say he is in about 20% of this entire book and I felt that the book was missing his presence a lot. The main character of this novel, Tatsuya, works hard to try and fill his place but it just doesn’t feel the same. The mystery itself had a lot of promise, everything was set up nicely and I had a couple of theories going but ultimately I was left disappointed by the end. For me, the ending came out of nowhere.

Heartstopper: Volume 1 by Alice Oseman (4 stars)

I finally gave in to the hype and decided to read this contemporary romance. Two genres I don’t read that much of. Well, I loved the romance, the pacing was super quick without feeling rushed and I found the dialogue to be super realistic! I wasn’t a massive fan of the art style at times but that wasn’t a hindrance at all! I need the 2nd volume!

Haikyu!! Volume 1 by Haruichi Furudate (4 stars)

I tried to watch the anime last year but I found the pacing to be super slow so I ended up DNFing it. But I loved the story so I decided to give the manga ago and I prefer the manga so much more. The pacing issue I had with the show was non-existent here, everything was paced well. The characters I instantly loved, even the more annoying ones, and the passion and the drive that these characters have is super inspiring. You can’t help but root for them. I can’t wait to continue this series and watch this team’s journey!

Beneath the Citadel Review

n the city of Eldra, people are ruled by ancient prophecies. For centuries, the high council has stayed in power by virtue of the prophecies of the elder seers. After the last infallible prophecy came to pass, growing unrest led to murders and an eventual rebellion that raged for more than a decade.

In the present day, Cassa, the orphaned daughter of rebels, is determined to fight back against the high council, which governs Eldra from behind the walls of the citadel. Her only allies are no-nonsense Alys, easygoing Evander, and perpetually underestimated Newt, and Cassa struggles to come to terms with the legacy of rebellion her dead parents have left her — and the fear that she may be inadequate to shoulder the burden. But by the time Cassa and her friends uncover the mystery of the final infallible prophecy, it may be too late to save the city — or themselves.

Always Human Review

In the near future, people use technology to give the illusion of all kinds of body modifications—but some people have “Egan’s Syndrome,” a highly sensitive immune system that rejects these “mods” and are unable to use them. Those who are affected maintain a “natural” appearance, reliant on cosmetics and hair dye at most to help them play with their looks. Sunati is attracted to Austen the first time she sees her and is drawn to what she assumes is Austen’s bravery and confidence to live life unmodded. When Sunati learns the truth, she’s still attracted to Austen and asks her on a date. Gradually, their relationship unfolds as they deal with friends, family, and the emotional conflicts that come with every romance. Together, they will learn and grow in a story that reminds us no matter how technology evolves, we will remain . . . always human.

The Starless Sea Review

When Zachary Ezra Rawlins discovers a mysterious book in the stacks of his campus library he begins to read, entranced by tales of lovelorn prisoners, lost cities, and nameless acolytes. Suddenly a turn of the page brings Zachary to a story from his own childhood impossibly written in this book that is older than he is. A bee, a key, and a sword emblazoned on the book lead Zachary to two people who will change the course of his life: Mirabel, a fierce, pink-haired painter, and Dorian, a handsome, barefoot man with shifting alliances. These strangers guide Zachary through masquerade party dances and whispered back room stories to the headquarters of a secret society where doorknobs hang from ribbons, and finally through a door conjured from paint to the place he has always yearned for. Amid twisting tunnels filled with books, gilded ballrooms, and wine-dark shores Zachary falls into an intoxicating world soaked in romance and mystery. But a battle is raging over the fate of this place and though there are those who would willingly sacrifice everything to protect it, there are just as many intent on its destruction.