Hello everybody! Today, I finally have a new review post for you on this fine bank holiday Monday, and it’s all books with pink on the covers (some of them are not predominantly pink, please do not @ me) because I got it into my head I wanted to do that and so I did. Onto the post!
Win, Lose, Kill, Die by Cynthia Murphy
I really enjoyed this author’s first book in either February or March, and I loved the sound of her second even more, so I was delighted to get to it so quickly (at least by my standards with my towering tbr). It is about this prestigious boarding school for the academically gifted, and then these murders start happening and a group of pupils there come together to work out what’s going on. I was HOOKED from the outset, because we get chapters from the POV of the murderer and they were super super creepy. I also really enjoyed the normal chapters from our main character Liz, though, and the exploration of that interesting mix of competition and camaraderie in her friendship group. I truly didn’t know who to trust at any point and I kept changing my mind about who I thought the killer was, and I loved the true crime aspect of investigating the historic cult and also the vibes of the present day secret society. I loved the twist in this because it’s one I’m always into, and the ending was just the right mix of wrapping things up and leaving it on an ominous note. I’m definitely excited to see what Cynthia Murphy does next as well!
Diary of a Confused Feminist by Kate Weston
I love books that talk about feminism. They’re so crucial, and I especially think it’s important for the characters in these books to NOT have all the answers or know everything. Being a feminist is (or at least, should be) a constant learning experience and I think it’s important to show that. This is the story of imperfect feminist Kat, who is telling us about her life via her diary, and I just loved her instantly. She is weird and funny and clever, and she just deserves the whole world. Millie and Sam and their friendship was super lovely too, especially as it’s complicated but ultimately so positive, but personally I think her friendship with Matt was even sweeter. I just want my own Matt, please! He was the best. The other big thing with this book that I want to mention is the mental health rep, because I loved it and it felt very true to life and it made me really emotional seeing Kat go through that (I also very much related to her feeling of being inadequate for not having a partner, I’m fully just exposing myself in this review but basically I am Kat, she is me, I think Kate Weston can see into my soul!!). I’m also interested to see how it develops as the series goes on because there is something Kat does that felt very much like an OCD ritual (and I’m saying that as someone who has their own OCD rituals that aren’t the stereotypical “everything must be neat and tidy and clean” ones), but this wasn’t mentioned and I’d love to see it mentioned on page. If you’re a fan of Holly Bourne or Hexed, this is an absolute must read and I can’t wait to pick up the sequel.
All Our Hidden Gifts by Caroline O’ Donoghue
I thought I would enjoy this book, but in reality, I went absolutely FERAL with how much I loved it, and I’m so grateful me and Sophie (@missbslibrary) decided to read it together so I had someone to squeal to. It’s the story of a girl named Maeve who discovers these tarot cards because of a detention, and she feels this overwhelming connection to them and starts giving tarot readings to people at her school. Things get a bit more sinister when she reads for her ex best friend Lily, a mysterious card appears, and then Lily vanishes. First up, Maeve is such a phenomenonal character and I loved both her humour and how shes a very flawed but fundamentally good person. And Fiona!!! Oh my god, what a legend. I adored her, and would also desperately like to be her friend. Oh also, he’s slightly younger than me but if I was a few years younger, I’d 100% be claiming Roe as my new book crush because WOW WHAT A BABE. In terms of the plot, it is so deliciously gripping and unique, and I loved that it intertwines discussion of homophobia and transphobia into it, and the way it handles it is even better. I also loved the tarot card, supernatural kinda vibe that was going on as well, and I’m just dying to see where the series goes. And one of my favourite moments while I was reading this was when I messaged my friend who made me buy it to say how much I loved it and specifically Roe and she replied I KNEW YOU WOULD. I do not yet have a copy of the sequel but I will absolutely be acquiring one, and reading it with Sophie.
The Gilded Girl by Alyssa Colman
The minute I found this while browsing online somewhere, I knew I had to read it! It’s a Little Princess retelling but set in a world where there is magic, and only the elite members of society are allowed to “kindle” this on their twelfth birthdays. We follow Emma, who is an heiress until her father is tragically killed, and Izzy, and they’re both working at Miss Posterity’s school which teaches girls how to kindle, so they decide that they are going to teach themselves in a bid to escape this horrible situation they’ve found themselves in. I loved the unlikely friendship that strikes up between them as the book goes on, and their determination to help others kindle their magic also, as they don’t believe it should only be for the chosen few. Figgy Pudding the house dragon ABSOLUTELY stole the show though, he just made me so happy and he was definitely my favourite character, which is very predictable given my love for an animal companion! The magic system is so interesting and fun, and I loved the discussions of class and wealth it allowed to take place. I found this very satisfying as a standalone, but I am looking forward to seeing what happens in the second book, which I believe draws inspiration from the Secret Garden.
You and Me on Vacation by Emily Henry
I read Beach Read last summer and thoroughly enjoyed myself, so it’s honestly a bit embarrassing I haven’t read the author’s second one till now, but anyway. It’s a friends to lovers romance about Alex and Poppy, who have always gone on these summer trips together up until they had a falling out two years ago, and this summer they are committing to one last trip in a bid to fix their friendship (or maybe take their relationship to the next level 👀). I’m usually a bit sceptical of friends to lovers because I just don’t often buy it, but this is an example of how to do it perfectly. There is so much pining and adorable moments and it’s so OBVIOUS that they need to be together I just wanted to sit them down and have a stern chat with them. I also loved them both individually, and the fact that though they’re so different, they just fit together and bring out the best in each other. I loved the travel element to this as well and how these trips have allowed Poppy and Alex to have all these inside jokes and references, as well as visiting all their destinations second hand myself. Fingers crossed I won’t take as long to read Book Lovers, which is released this month and sounds AMAZING! It’s also made me want to rewatch When Harry Met Sally very badly because I’ve not seen it since I was 17 or 18, so that will almost certainly be happening soon!
The Sky Over Rebecca by Matthew Fox (recieved from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)
As soon as I heard about this I wanted to read it, because I love a good timeslip story and this is about a girl named Kara who meets Jewish refugee siblings Rebecca and Samuel in a time loop type of situation, and how this meeting changes their stories. I feel like it’s really hard to talk about this book because I don’t want to give anything away, but what I can say is that the writing is stunning- I honestly can’t even think of the right word to encapsulate it, but I think ethereal is the best I can do. The friendship between Kara and Rebecca was so beautiful and I adored both of them separately too, especially Rebecca because she is so brave and selfless and the way she protects her brother Samuel is so moving. I absolutely wept towards the end of this because of a few things that happen that I didn’t see coming, and had I not known it was by a debut author I would never have guessed, because it’s a very ambitious kind of story and Matthew Fox really pulls it off and has it live up to its potential.
How to Kill Your Family by Bella Mackie
Okay, so I have to be a bit careful with this review because I feel like I have controversial opinions but I loved this and I devoured it so quickly and I’m dying to chat with people about it so if you’ve read it please do message me. It’s the story of Grace Bernard, who is in prison for a murder she did not commit, but don’t feel too bad for her, because she has in fact killed six people- all members of her absentee father’s wealthy, awful family. Now, I loved Grace, and I know a lot of people don’t, but I think you have to kind of go in knowing that she’s done a lot of bad things and I certanly don’t agree with all her opinions (eg the fatshaming got right on my nerves and I’d probably have given 5 stars had it not been a thing) but her narrative is so dry and witty and I was CACKLING at many many points. All of my favourite moments are a bit spoilery, but please do know that the humour is dark and right up my street. The pacing is masterful and I adored reading about how Grace went went all her crimes, and of course finding out whose deaths she’s been wrongfully imprisoned for. And the twist towards the end is GOLD, in my opinion! If you enjoyed the Turn of the Key, this will be very much your vibe.
Coming Up For Air by Lou Abercrombie (recieved from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)
I really enjoyed Fig Swims the World a couple of months ago, so when I was asked if I would reveal the cover for Lou’s second teen book, I was thrilled, especially because it was my first EVER cover reveal and as such this book holds a very special place in my heart. It’s the story of aspiring filmmaker Coco James, who has to move to the small seaside town where her mother grew up, and then when she arrives she has to face the consequences of people there still holding a massive grudge against her mum because of something she did in the past. I loved Coco, she has a lot to contend with given her mum is so selfish and honestly borderline emotionally abusive, yet she is so kind to everyone around her and goes out of her way to spread positivity and joy, even when people are initially so resistant to her. Shiv was such a great friend and I loved that Coco got to spend time with her family, and I enjoyed Leo’s development throughout. And I was so relieved Coco had positive adult role models in Uncle Henry and Min’s friend Bob! It was also super interesting to learn so much about freediving, and I’m interested to see if the water based activities theme will also be present in Lou’s next book.
The Mystwick School of Music Craft by Jessica Khoury
I’ve been meaning to read this for absolutely ages now and just hadn’t got to it, but now I have and I really enjoyed it and I think people who love magical boarding school type stories are MISSING OUT if they’ve not read it. It’s the story of Amelia Jones, who gets into a school to teach musicians how to master Music Craft (which is performing spells via playing music, aka the coolest concept I think I’ve ever heaed), despite her having an absolutely disastrous audition. Then once she’s there she has to prove herself amidst being plagued by a ghost, and also there’s a sinister force that seems to be hanging over the school, and the work isn’t exactly easy either. I adored Amelia: she’s not very confident in herself and it was lovely to see her grow in that way through the story as she realised just how capable she really was, and I loved her kindness and compassion towards the people around her. Her friend Jai is such a sweetheart as well, I loved him and how much he believed in Amelia even when she didn’t and his incredible loyalty, and her relationship with Darby is complicated to begin with but their friendship by the end of the book is amazing and I just loved Darby’s personality in general. As you may have already guessed, I think the magic system and worldbuilding in this was absolutely incredible and I just can’t wait to read the second book so I can return and spend more time with Music Craft and these characters.
Thank you so much for reading! Are you planning to pick any of these up? Which books with pink covers do you love? I’d love to chat with you in the comments!