THE SILENT WIFE by Karin Slaughter

Investigating the killing of a prisoner during a riot inside a state penitentiary, GBI investigator Will Trent is confronted with disturbing information. One of the inmates claims that he is innocent of a brutal attack for which he has always been the prime suspect. The man insists that he was framed by a corrupt law enforcement team led by Jeffrey Tolliver and that the real culprit is still out there—a serial killer who has systematically been preying on women across the state for years. If Will reopens the investigation and implicates the dead police officer with a hero’s reputation of wrongdoing, the opportunistic convict is willing to provide the information GBI needs about the riot murder.

Only days ago, another young woman was viciously murdered in a state park in northern Georgia. Is it a fluke, or could there be a serial killer on the loose?

As Will Trent digs into both crimes it becomes clear that he must solve the cold case in order to find the answer. Yet nearly a decade has passed—time for memories to fade, witnesses to vanish, evidence to disappear, and lies to become truth. But Will can’t crack either mystery without the help of the one person he doesn’t want involved: his girlfriend and Jeffrey Tolliver’s widow, medical examiner Sara Linton.

When the past and present begin to collide, Will realizes that everything he values is at stake . . . 


Title : The Silent Wife
Author : Karin Slaughter
Series : Will Trent (book ten)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 498
Genre : thriller/mystery
Publisher : William Morrow
Release Date : August 4, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 4.5 star review

I’m actually pretty tempted to round up on this one. This book consumed me. It’s almost five hundred pages and yet I flew through it, hardly able to tear myself away, and when it ended I could’ve read two hundred more pages. It was that good.

But it’s also.. not good. As usual Slaughter does not hold back and this particular case, which requires some time jumping, was dark and brutal. There are some horrible things to navigate but thankfully nothing on-page, however we do have to live through the breakdown of events through the investigation of the case. If you’ve read this far into this series, however, you’ll know what’s to come. And for those who haven’t? Why are you even here, this is book ten! In a series that spins off another. Go back and start with Grant County, please. You can thank me later.

And speaking of said series.. Slaughter gave us such a gift. The way she ended her first series was devastating. And I think in some ways we’ve all come to romanticize certain things — though I obviously can’t speak for everyone. What the author did in The Silent Wife? Makes all of us (sorry, again, maybe just me) want to go back and do some serious ass kicking. This author always knows how it push my buttons and it’s not just in the horror sense. She writes these characters that make you want to reach through the page and bitchslap them. And we got three of them in this one. Familiar faces one and all and ugh. Visceral reactions, I had them. Five stars for making me feel almost unrivaled hate and disgust and disappointment. Thanks for that.

As for the mystery itself, I actually guessed this one! Ten points to me. I don’t think the foreshadowing was actually that obvious but like. I kept noticing something. It could easily have been a red herring but my gut wouldn’t let go of it. I couldn’t have rationalized it or pointed out anything to back it up. And yet. So, yeah, I’m proud. But wow what a mindfuck for.. well, one of our characters. I’m not spoiling.

On the relationship front (also, please, read the author’s note at the end, I loved it and Slaughter made me laugh at her comment regarding romance), we had some serious ups and downs to navigate. As one would expect. The author is dragging this out but now.. oh now. This was a great foil, a perfect tipping point, and getting the side by side of memory vs present, now and then, well. Obviously I have a favourite. Obviously I love these two. But I love all the characters, too. Our supporting favourites were in their element and everything just worked. Brilliant.

I’m so happy there is still more to come in this world. Thank you, Slaughter, for confirming that. Is it too soon to be asking for it.. now?

THE WOLF AND THE WATER by Josie Jaffrey

Some secrets are worth killing for:

The ancient city of Kepos sits in an isolated valley, cut off from the outside world by a towering wall. Behind it, the souls of the dead clamour for release. Or so the priesthood says.

Kala has never had any reason to doubt their word – until her father dies in suspicious circumstances that implicate the city’s high priest. She’s determined to investigate, but she has a more immediate problem: the laws of the city require her mother to remarry straight away.

Kala’s new stepfather is a monster, but his son Leon is something altogether more dangerous: kind. With her family fractured and the investigation putting her life in danger, the last thing Kala needs is romance. She would rather ignore Leon entirely, however difficult he makes it. But when she learns the truth of what really clamours behind the wall at the end of the valley, she faces a choice: share what she knows and jeopardise her escape, or abandon him to his fate along with the rest of the city.

If she doesn’t move fast, then no one will make it out of the valley alive.


Title : The Wolf and the Water
Author : Josie Jaffrey
Series : The Deluge #1
Format : Paperback
Page Count : 268
Genre : YA Historical Fantasy
Publisher : Silver Sun Books
Release Date : October 8, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 3.5 – 4 star review

The Wolf and the Water was a complex and fresh historical fantasy told from a Greek mythological context. The characters were YA in age but the themes felt older and I appreciated the story not holding any barrs.

Kala, the protagonist was the newly bereaved and unwanted daughter with a physical disability. Kala was not unused to derision and rejection from her community but with the loss of a loved one, she’d lost protection. Kala was a strong young woman with courage and her tale was compelling.

This was an intricate story, some re-envisaging of elements of Greek mythology tales influenced by Atlantis. Misogyny, slavery and power was on the menu and in reference to my earlier comment about themes, some elements were brutally told. I did lose my stride with a bit of confusion at one point, but I was able to pick up the story again and what was happening.

The story felt unpredictable, the friendships, relationships and allegiences were interesting and the eventual story direction left me wanting to know more. This was the first time I’ve read Josie Jaffrey but I’ll definitely read her work again and follow this series further.

Thank you to the author for the review copy.

THE BOOK OF TWO WAYS by Jodi Picoult

Everything changes in a single moment for Dawn Edelstein. She’s on a plane when the flight attendant makes an announcement: prepare for a crash landing. She braces herself as thoughts flash through her mind. The shocking thing is, the thoughts are not of her husband, but a man she last saw fifteen years ago: Wyatt Armstrong.

Dawn, miraculously, survives the crash, but so do all the doubts that have suddenly been raised. She has led a good life. Back in Boston, there is her husband, Brian, her beloved daughter, and her work as a death doula, where she helps ease the transition between life and death for patients in hospice.

But somewhere in Egypt is Wyatt Armstrong, who works as an archaeologist unearthing ancient burial sites, a job she once studied for, but was forced to abandon when life suddenly intervened. And now, when it seems that fate is offering her second chances, she is not as sure of the choice she once made.

After the crash landing, the airline ensures the survivors are seen by a doctor, then offers transportation wherever they want to go. The obvious option for Dawn is to continue down the path she is on and go home to her family. The other is to return to the archaeological site she left years before, reconnect with Wyatt and their unresolved history, and maybe even complete her research on The Book of Two Ways–the first known map of the afterlife.

As the story unfolds, Dawn’s two possible futures unspool side by side, as do the secrets and doubts long buried beside them. Dawn must confront the questions she’s never truly asked: What does a life well-lived look like? When we leave this earth, what do we leave behind? Do we make choices…or do our choices make us? And who would you be, if you hadn’t turned out to be the person you are right now?


Title : The Book of Two Ways
Author : Jodi Picoult
Format : eARC
Page Count : 416
Genre : Contemporary Fiction
Publisher : Hodder & Stoughton
Release Date : October 20, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ 


Micky’s 2 – 2.5 star review

This was a very frustrating read for me. I intially liked the story and the concept but over the first half, I became disillusioned with the plot and the over academic approach to the Egyptology storyline. As the title indicates, The Book of Two Ways narrates two diverging stories or possibilities for Dawn.

Dawn was a death doula and having some insight into this role through my professional life, I can say that this aspect of the story was well researched. However, I prefer not to be immersed in death and dying in fiction because it consumes a lot of my day job, so that may explain my dislike in part. I didn’t love the storyline of Win because of the reasons I’ve just explained.

I did enjoy parts of the Egypt timeline/storyline but I think readers will either love or hate this because again, it is written is significant academic depth which isn’t really what you expect of women’s fiction. What I did like was Dawn as a character, a women who’d lost her way and identity. I didn’t always like her choices but I did champion her and Wyatt.

I tend to either love or dislike Jodi Picoult’s books and unfortunately this one was the latter. I’m really interested to hear other people’s thoughts on this though.

CRAZY STUPID BROMANCE by Lyssa Kay Adams

The first rule of book club:
You don’t talk about book club.

Alexis Carlisle and her cat café, ToeBeans, have shot to fame after she came forward as a victim of a celebrity chef’s sexual harassment. When a new customer approaches to confide in her, the last thing Alexis expects is for the woman to claim they’re sisters. Unsure what to do, Alexis turns to the only man she trusts – her best friend, Noah Logan.

Computer genius Noah left his rebellious teenage hacker past behind to become a computer security expert. Now he only uses his old skills for the right cause. But Noah’s got a secret: He’s madly in love with Alexis. When she asks for his help, he wonders if the timing will ever be right to confess his crush.

Noah’s pals in The Bromance Book Club are more than willing to share their beloved ‘manuals’ to help him go from bud to boyfriend. But he must decide if telling the truth is worth risking the best friendship he’s ever had.


Title : Crazy Stupid Bromance
Author : Lyssa Kay Adams
Series : Bromance Book Club #3
Format : eARC
Page Count : 336
Genre : Contemporary Romance
Publisher : Headline Eternal
Release Date : October 27, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

This was my favourite of the series so far. It was the loveliest friends-to-more story with a strong serious theme to underpin the comedy and banter. Noah and Alexis worked so well as a main couple rather than the side characters we’ve seen them as before.

What I enjoyed was that there was no speed in their feelings or relationship development as they’d been doing all that best friend building for the last year. I don’t want to spoil the foundational story but it was emotional and struck more than one gut punch. Despite that, the rom-com elements were kindle-highlighting gold.

The maine coon Beefcake was a low-key sensation, I love when there is pet-personality in a story. Beefcake had personality and more, perfect for October because he was pretty evil.

Noah jogged down the stairs, leaping just in time off the bottom step ton avoid an assassination attempt by Beefcake. The f****** cat hated him. He liked to make himself known in the shadiest way possible.

Alexis’ family was something, a real push and pull of hate and love. But found-family was everything, none more than the Bromance Book Club. The book featured this time ‘Coming Home’, I’m so tempted to read it after its life lessons!

There’s something about this series that keeps me coming back for more. I find the premise for the series and the characters endearing and funny and I’ll be more than happy to read a book four.

Thank you to Headline Eternal for the early review copy.

THE INHERITANCE GAMES by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

A Cinderella story with deadly stakes and thrilling twists, perfect for fans of One of Us is Lying and Knives Out.

Avery Grambs has a plan for a better future: survive high school, win a scholarship, and get out. But her fortunes change in an instant when billionaire Tobias Hawthorne dies and leaves Avery virtually his entire fortune. The catch? Avery has no idea why–or even who Tobias Hawthorne is. To receive her inheritance, Avery must move into sprawling, secret passage-filled Hawthorne House, where every room bears the old man’s touch–and his love of puzzles, riddles, and codes. 

Unfortunately for Avery, Hawthorne House is also occupied by the family that Tobias Hawthorne just dispossessed. This includes the four Hawthorne grandsons: dangerous, magnetic, brilliant boys who grew up with every expectation that one day, they would inherit billions. Heir apparent Grayson Hawthorne is convinced that Avery must be a con-woman, and he’s determined to take her down. His brother, Jameson, views her as their grandfather’s last hurrah: a twisted riddle, a puzzle to be solved. Caught in a world of wealth and privilege, with danger around every turn, Avery will have to play the game herself just to survive.


Title : The Inheritance Games
Author : Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Series : The Inheritance Games (book one)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 322
Genre : YA contemporary / mystery
Publisher : Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date : September 1, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 3.5 star review

If you’ve read a book by this author before, you will absolutely feel at home picking this one up. Barnes has a style that feels very familiar even if her plots vary. At first, though, I’ll admit this gave me a bit more than just a familiar vibe with the ‘girl uprooted and thrown into wealthy family dynamic’ concept which we saw in both the the Fixer and the Debutantes series but shortly after the introduction of said trope it this diverges into it’s own story, just like the other books did. Plus, I mean, that does seem to be Barnes’ preferred way of kicking things off. It’s definitely on brand. And that’s not a complaint.

I am currently looking at a picture of Jameson Hawthorne. Gotta say. He’s faxable.
Max!
I’m just saying, he looks like he knows his way around a fax machine. He’s probably really great at dialing the numbers. I bet he’s even faxed long distance.”
I have no idea what you’re even talking about anymore.”

This read completely sucked me in for the span of an afternoon and that’s another thing readers familiar with this author know to expect. Not only does she plot out a tense thriller but her books are compulsively readable and often a lot of fun even when the stakes are high. She also loves to torment her protagonists by bouncing them off a variety of personas and we definitely had those, too. I definitely felt this particular group was appropriate not only for the circumstances but also as a result of their upbringing but I’ll admit I wasn’t quite won over by them. I think it felt like they were trying too hard to lean into their archetype and I never quite bought it. I liked those more on the periphery, connected to the family but not the actual players, like the main lawyer liason and the bodyguard (and maybe because those two were often in the same scenes? hard to know!), but overall this might’ve been my least favourite ensemble from this author; at least from the last few releases. But the excitement of the thrills, the mystery, the games? I was hooked.

[it’s] not a figment of Thea’s delightfully vindictive imagination.”
Xander.”
I said she was delightfully vindictive.
If I were a boy, people would just call me driven.
Thea.”
Right. No feminism at the dinner table.”

Barnes does mix things up with the romance, however. She’s known for little to almost no romance in many of her stories and this one.. well, there’s an element. I’ve never minded the lack of it because I’ve always found Barnes’ stories to be strong enough to not need that as a distraction but I was totally open for seeing where things might go. And sadly I think this might’ve been a case akin to going from abstaining to.. overdoing it. Not in content but in abstract. I don’t what to spoil to how or why but it’s not my favourite trope and because of not really being sold on the characters themselves, either..? It didn’t help matters. But I’m open to seeing where this goes because of course I’m excited for a follow up and to see what is in store for these characters after certain final-chapter reveals. Because you know this isn’t the end of the secrets or the game.

I knew better than to put any confidence in the assurances of good-looking guys.

This twisty story definitely keeps you guessing, almost right up to the end, and the sheer craftiness of the method of the unveiling is unreal. But the message at the heart of it? You won’t expect it.

I will forever mourn the unfinished Fixer series but as long as Barnes keeps setting new books out in the world? I’ll be happy.

** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

GOLDEN EAGLE by Lauren Gilley

In 1942, Chekist Captain Nikita Baskin led his elite group of Soviet Secret Police into the wilds of Siberia on a mission to retrieve a “volunteer.” 

Sasha Kashnikov, Tomsk University student and trapper’s son, became a werewolf, an intended weapon against the Nazis. But in truth, he was meant to be the Familiar of the vampire Rasputin. 

In a clearing north of Stalingrad, amid blood-stained snow, Rasputin died, the pack burned, and Nikita and Sasha set off toward eternity together, bound by tragedy, and trust, and a tenderness neither would name. 

In modern day New York, their pack of two has grown to include two detectives, an artist, and the former tsarevich of Russia. And after what occurred in Virginia, Nikita and Sasha have reached a breaking point. Sasha, an unusually strong alpha wolf, remains unbound, and the forces on all sides of the looming war will want a chance to claim him – to make him a weapon again. 

All Nik has ever wanted to do was protect his precious Sashka. 

And all Sasha wants is to be more than a friend and little brother to the man – the vampire – he loves most. 


Title : Golden Eagle
Author : Lauren Gilley
Series : Sons of Rome (book four)
Format : eBook
Page Count : 661
Genre : paranormal / historical fiction
Publisher : HP Press
Release Date : December 23, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 3 star review

It may have been my own fault for reading books three and four back-to-back, after having put some space between the first three, but this is easily my least favourite of the series. Nothing awful, and certainly not worth giving up on, nor even a reason to not consider the series if you haven’t yet, but.. not my favourite.

In complete contrast to book three, in Golden Eagle we spend all our time in present day and reunite with.. well, pretty much everyone we’ve met across this series. We also got some payoff I was hoping for as far back as book one. But it left me with some pretty mixed feelings because I felt a lot of the characters, or maybe just moments, felt so out of character. Which was frustrating because there are so many characters in this world in general and many that I can pretty definitively say I do not like — or only tolerate. So to be stuck with everyone and to have the ones I do love.. feel strange? Mixed bag.

This was the most romance heavy of the series which I definitely would’ve loved had my precious beans felt a little more like themselves but it wasn’t all bad. Some moments? Pure swoon, pure loveliness, pure steam. But it does give the reader a bit of whiplash going from very different tones in each book. It keeps it interesting, that’s for sure, particularly considering the wordcount. Just something to keep in mind, though.

That said, even with the few typos or missed punctuation marks, something I noticed started to occur in book three and we had a few more of them in this book, considering the aforementioned wordcount, considering all the history and reference points, everything that goes into this, and what the author is listing them for on amazon? Ridiculous. A steal. There is definitely a lot of good in this world, in these books, and I’m keen to still read on — but now that I’ve caught up I am in for a wait as who knows when book five is due to come out! Shucks.

THE WINTER DUKE by Claire Eliza Bartlett

SHE SURVIVED THE CURSE. NOW SHE MUST SURVIVE THE THRONE.

All Ekata wants is to stay alive—and the chance to prove herself as a scholar. Once Ekata’s brother is finally named heir to the dukedom of Kylma Above, there will be nothing to keep her at home with her murderous family. Not her books or her experiments, not her family’s icy castle atop a frozen lake, not even the tantalizingly close Kylma Below, a mesmerizing underwater kingdom that provides her family with magic. But just as escape is within reach, her parents and twelve siblings fall under a strange sleeping sickness, and no one can find a cure.

In the space of a single night, Ekata inherits the title of duke, her brother’s captivating warrior bride, and ever-encroaching challengers from without—and within—her ministry. Nothing has prepared Ekata for diplomacy, for war, for love. . .or for a crown she has never wanted. If Kylma Above is to survive, Ekata must seize her family’s magic and power. And if Ekata is to survive, she must quickly decide how she will wield them both.


Title : The Winter Duke
Author : Claire Eliza Bartlett
Format : Hardback
Page Count : 400
Genre : YA Fantasy/LGBTQIA
Publisher : Titan Books
Release Date : October 13, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 3.5-4 star review

I’m rounding this one up to 4 stars.

This was a YA fantasy with a historical feel. It had some foundations in Russian royal history and I enjoyed that element and this was some brutal family right here. The dukedom were out to kill one another for power, and the protagonist Ekata, felt justifiably out of the running as an insignificant daughter about to travel away to university. A curse hit and she found herself in a new position.

“Long live Her Grace.” Impossible, impossible. I was a middle child of thirteen.

This read had some great strong points, it was definitely a feminist tale. The title of Duke was genderless, power could be held equally between men and women but there’s a but. In reality, Ekata was surrounded by men who made her feel like a fool, wielded their power over her and used their gender to quash her thoughts, words and ideas.

All my life, these men had ignored me. It had never bothered me until now.

Those contrasts of what seemed to be equality and in acutality wasn’t, were frustrating for Ekata and the reader but this was the story, how Ekata navigated this. All this happened in the middle of a bride parade and Ekata chose her consort, a young woman. The romance and LGBTQ+ elements were a little weak but the protagonist was only 16 and so that did feel in the background somewhat. I would have liked this to have felt more developed, however.

I enjoyed the worlds of above and below and honestly, I read this over two days whenever I could; it had an unputdownable feel. There were elements to this story that felt unique, the magic was vague, unfathomable and mysterious, which I liked. Overall this was a good read and bonus, it was a standalone.

Thank you to Titan Books for the very pretty hardback review copy.

THE FATE OF THE TEARLING by Erika Johansen

In less than a year, Kelsea Glynn has grown from an awkward teenager into a powerful monarch and a visionary leader.

And as she has come into her own as the Queen of the Tearling, she has transformed her realm. But in her quest to end corruption and restore justice, she has made many enemies – chief among them the evil and feared Red Queen, who ordered the armies of Mortmesne to march against the Tear and crush them.

To protect her people from such a devastating invasion, Kelsea did the unthinkable – naming the Mace, the trusted head of her personal guards, Regent in her place, she surrendered herself and her magical sapphires to her enemy. But the Mace will not rest until he and his men rescue their sovereign from her prison in Mortmesne.

So, the endgame has begun and the fate of Queen Kelsea – and the Tearling itself – will be revealed…


Title : The Fate of the Tearling
Author : Erika Johansen
Series : The Queen of the Tearling (book three)
Format : physical
Page Count : 500
Genre : fantasy/dystopian
Publisher : Harper
Release Date : November 26, 2016

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

I’m going to preface this by saying that I knew this ending was polarizing because I had so many people reach out with comments ala “can’t wait to find out how you feel about the ending!” that I knew to expect something.. maybe not bad but obviously divisive. Maybe that warning prepared me? Maybe it gave my brain time to expect the worst? The problem, of course, is that I could predict maybe only like 6% of this whole series. So naturally I had a vague kernel of an idea of what might happen but zero ability to predict what it would look like when the dust settled.

And nope, I’m not even going to hint at it! Read it for yourself and find out.

That said, I do think this book might be the weakest of the three. This series definitely took a turn in book two, in the telling of the story, and in the mechanics of this world, making it far more than just a typical fantasy. And in book three we take yet another turn — in hindsight I think my favourite was book two. It did much to fill in those last remaining gaps, gaps we desperately needed filled to understand what brought us to the point we were at, but I found the way that was done was a little less.. magical. It felt a bit more same-y but less sparkly, if that makes sense? But in a way that also fit because suddenly these people, these figures, that had been so revered? They, too, were a little less sparkly. What Johansen did, over and over again, was give her characters depth, and flaws, and, occasionally, but particularly in the case of Kelsea, have them examine their own internal workings and hypocrisies, what they were willing to sacrifice in order to do the right thing. So really I shouldn’t be surprised that she chipped away at those who were placed on the pedestals of this society, too.

In fact I do believe Johansen deserves a lot of credit for just.. not doing the expected. Like, ever. She took strange twisty dark path and then committed to choices that I think most authors wouldn’t have dared; particularly for their first series. I can see why this third book either perplexed of pissed people off. Me? I just loved the ride. It’s bittersweet, yes, and maybe it’s an easier pill for me to swallow knowing there are still two books to come? Probably not direct sequels to this ending but still.. more. Either way, the romantic in me (and I don’t necessarily mean this in a face value way..) might not have loved the ending, not really, but I respect it. I respect the choice and the commitment to seeing things through this way.

This was — and will likely continue to be — a strange series but nonetheless was fascinating, brutal, compelling, and, enthralling. I had a great time. Would I recommend this to anyone? Probably not. I refuse to be responsible for anyone’s experience with this world. Make of that what you will!

MY HEART UNDERWATER by Laurel Flores Fantauzzo

After Corazon’s mother catches her kissing her older female teacher, Corazon is sent to the Philippines to live with a half brother she barely knows. There she learns more about loss and love than she could have ever imagined.

Corazon Tagubio is an outcast at her Catholic school. She’s attending on scholarship, she keeps to herself, and her crush on her teacher Ms. Holden doesn’t help anything. At home, Cory’s less-than-perfect grades disappoint her mom and dad, who are already working overtime to support her distant half brother in the Philippines.

When an accident leaves her dad comatose, Cory feels like Ms. Holden is the only person who really sees her. But when a crush turns into something more and the secret gets out, Cory is sent to her half brother. She’s not prepared to face a stranger in an unfamiliar place, but she begins to discover how the country that shaped her past might also change her future.

This #ownvoices story takes readers on a journey across the world as Cory comes to understand her family, her relationships, and, ultimately, herself.


Title : My Heart Underwater
Author : Laurel Flores Fantauzzo
Format : eARC
Page Count : 288
Genre : YA contemporary/LGBTQIA
Publisher : Quill Tree Books
Release Date : October 20, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ .5


Micky’s 3.5 star review

This was a gritty LGBTQIA coming-of-age story that moved from the US to the Phillipines. If you like messy family drama, this one will fulfill that remit. It had an inappropriate teacher-student relationship which I struggled with somewhat but there was a satisfying developing in the main character’s understanding over that element which helped how I felt.

It was a story of two halves for me, a more gripping first half, full of drama but a slower-paced second half that was wonderfully rich with Filipino culture. The main character Cory was bounced around out of her control, forced to travel back to the Phillipines but it proved an positive experience in the end. I have no personal experience of the Phillipines however, but it was brought to life with description for me.

Family drama was the core context to this story and I can’t say I liked any of her family but Bea slowly did grow on me. I felt like almost no-one was fighting Cory’s corner or trying to understand her evolving sexuality or personality. The catholicism was strong in this story and not often viewed in a favourable light.

My Heart Underwater was an interesting read and a solid debut. I welcomed this story’s Manila context and enjoyed a fresh voice from this author.

Please also check out own voices reviewers on this title.

Thank you to Harper 360 YA for the early review copy.

NONE SHALL SLEEP by Ellie Marney

The Silence of the Lambs meets Sadie in this riveting psychological thriller about two teenagers teaming up with the FBI to track down juvenile serial killers.

In 1982, two teenagers—serial killer survivor Emma Lewis and US Marshal candidate Travis Bell—are recruited by the FBI to interview convicted juvenile killers and provide insight and advice on cold cases. From the start, Emma and Travis develop a quick friendship, gaining information from juvenile murderers that even the FBI can’t crack. But when the team is called in to give advice on an active case—a serial killer who exclusively hunts teenagers—things begin to unravel. Working against the clock, they must turn to one of the country’s most notorious incarcerated murderers for help: teenage sociopath Simon Gutmunsson. Despite Travis’s objections, Emma becomes the conduit between Simon and the FBI team. But while Simon seems to be giving them the information they need to save lives, he’s an expert manipulator playing a very long game…and he has his sights set on Emma.


Title : None Shall Sleep
Author : Ellie Marney
Format : eARC
Page Count : 400
Genre : YA historical fiction/thriller
Publisher : Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date : September 1, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 3 star review

I think I would’ve enjoyed this a lot more if the tone, or writing style, had been a little different. Because the way this thriller unfolded, the chase, the crimes and the why, the whole set-up of using teens to hunt those who hunt and kill teens, is all fascinating. The fact that the backstories of these these junior investigators (not highschool age, this is a bit more realistic than that) were so traumatic, in very different ways, and how they battled those demons to do this work.. it was great.

Equally great was sidestepping much of what the female protagonist had gone through. We get hints, terrible hints, but nothing is explicitly explained and instead Marney lets us use our imagination — the scariest thing she could’ve done. It also, in a way, feels protective. Conversely, though, the author also leans into that when it comes to another character and that tease, as opposed to hitting us with every terrible thing, carries so much more weight.. but for a different purpose.

However. I felt quite removed from.. a lot of this. Maybe that was purposeful because there are pretty gruesome, not to mention traumatic, moments but Marney didn’t linger over them, didn’t sensationalize them, as they were already impactful. And yet still.. there were maybe only two highly charged moments that I truly felt, was truly moved by, and that just wasn’t quite enough.

I’m also left very curious as to how things wrapped. Is this the beginning of a series, maybe? Could there be more? I would absolutely read on. Maybe being familiar with the style would make a follow up book more enjoyable. I don’t know. But these two characters have me so curious as to where they would go next. Plus I liked how effortless it was to be thrown into the eighties without a thousand blinking neon signs reminding us of that fact at every turn. It was nice to leave the current timeline and skate back to something different. Even if it wasn’t sunshine and rainbows.

If you’re looking for thrills and chills during this spooky season, I would totally give this a try!

** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **