Hello everybody! Today, I’m sharing some miscellaneous reviews from my 2022 reading that I just haven’t got round to, as part of my catching up project (and when I finish, I get to buy myself luxury chocolate buttons, if you missed that particular Instagram post). And yes, I did just think this title was a funny song title, I’m fineeee please don’t worry . Onto the post!
The It Girl by Ruth Ware
It had been almost 2 years since a new Ruth Ware book had come out when this was released, and I grabbed it with greedy hands as soon as I possibly could. It follows a woman named Hannah, who is pregnant, as she becomes entangled in the murder case of her uni best friend April yet again, when new developments in the case open old wounds. I loved the dual timelines of this – both were absolutely THRILLING and the balance between the two is perfect. The characters are complicated and flawed and amazing, and they are a fabulous cast of suspects for the central question of who killed April. The mystery is so multilayered and well plotted, and the final of reveal of whodunit, why and how was masterful. I wish I could tell you more, but I’d just hate for anyone to not love this as much as I did and I think going within very little prior knowledge helps with that. Legitmately no one is doing it quite like Ruth Ware in the thriller game, and I’m beyond obsessed with her stories. More please!!
Love Lessons in Starcross Valley by Lucy Knott
This started popping up EVERYWHERE on my social media last summer, and I finally got to it in mid-autumn, which was basically the perfect time to pick it up. It follows a woman named Marnie, who has just returned home from a sabbatical in Canada to find herself after the breakdown of her own relationship and that of her parents. For me, the biggest strength of this book was the characters and their connections to each other. I especially really liked the relationship between Marnie and the girl she supports in her job as a teaching assistant, which is such a great part of the story, I’m a sucker for reading about twins so I loved the exploration of that / how things have changed between them since they’re at quite different points in their lives and the wlw romance between her and Nova is also gorgeous. The small town setting was also fabulous, it very much had Gilmore Girls energy, and I loved the scenes in Canada as a little something extra as well. Overall I think this is a great adult contemporary with something for everyone to enjoy. I sadly didn’t manage to squeeze in Lucy’s winter book in December, but I’ll absolutely be aiming to read it this year (and hopefully some of her other work, prior to Christmas time!)
Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton
I’m not a massive non fiction reader, and I don’t pick up a ton, but basically everyone and their auntie loves this book so I thought I’d have a bash. It’s so difficult to review what is essentially a memoir because who am I to judge someone’s literal life story? I found this very witty, and clever, and well written is probably my main comment. I got utterly hooked and read it in pretty much one sitting. I agreed with Dolly’s assessment of some things, and our views differed on others, which is entirely natural and it was interesting to get a different viewpoint on stuff, and the bits I did agree with, I did do passionately (I found her writing about friendship both relatable and moving). I’m unsure whether whether watch the BBC adaptation as I can’t quite imagine this translating to screen, but I might, and I have already bought Dear Dolly so I can spend some time with this author again in 2023!
The Tale of Truthwater Lake by Emma Carroll (recieved a copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)
It’s no secret around here that I love Emma Carroll, but I have to admit I was a little nervous about picking up her eleventh (I think, anyway?) book. It’s a bit different as it’s the first ever book of Emma’s that has a futuristic timeline, and her first with a dual POV since Secrets of a Sun King. So we open with Polly in 2030, and Britain is badly suffering the effects of climate change with yet another summer heatwave with extremely dangerous temperatures. She and her brother get sent to stay with their aunt away from the city and the worst of the danger, and Polly is drawn into a timeslip situation with a girl from the 50s who’s an accomplished swimmer, and is secretly training to be the first child to cross the Channel. I loved the way the two girls felt so connected despite their differences (most notably living 80 years apart!) and the eventual merging of their two stories. They were also both brilliant characters on their own, and I loved side character Nate immensely. As ever, Emma remains one of my very favourite writers, and I can’t wait for her next book whenever it may be, and also everything she writes until the end of time.
The Distant Echo by Val McDermid
I think I wrote something towards the end of last year about how much I loved the TV adaptation of Karen Pirie, so my lovely mum bought me the books for my birthday and I picked up book one soon after. I’ll be honest; the TV show is better, but I did really enjoy this and seeing all the things that stayed the same and then also changed was super interesting. The character of Karen Pirie doesn’t really feature so much in this, at least not until the second half, and thal tit did throw me a bit if I’m honest as Lauren Lyle’s portrayal is so pivotal in my love for the TV version, but I did find it really interesting getting to know the suspects better, as Alex is very much the protagonist in the book. If you’re not familiar, the investigation is about the cold case murder of Rosie Duff, who was raped and left in a cemetery to die. Her body was found by four male St Andrew’s students, who immediately became the prime suspects, and the book picks up years later when several of them die mysterious deaths amidst the case being reopened by the police. There were some fabulous twists in here, even though I knew most of them from the show, and it is such a gripping, clever mystery/thriller with so much depth. I’m going to be picking up the others at some point for sure, and my fingers are SO tightly crossed for more of the TV show too! I seriously hope for more of Karen in later books, though.
The Great Fox Illusion by Justyn Edwards
I had the immense honour of being the longlist judge for the Adrien Prize alongside its creator and my hero Elle McNicoll, so a few of these books are things I picked up for that and didn’t share at the time as the shortlist hadn’t been announced. It now has been, so here I am with some reviews of these amazing books with disability rep! This one follows Flick Lions, an amputee who is entering a competition run by a recently deceased and very famous magician, who wanted to pass on his secrets to a new generation. She is keen to seek revenge for her father, whose greatest invention was seemingly stolen by the Great Fox. Flick is a fabulous heroine with so many admirable qualities, and I appreciated the nuanced representation of her disability. Her sidekick and competition partner Charlie was the most darling cinnamon roll, and I think the villains were very sinister. The narrative of this reminded me of a childhood favourite (the Name of This Book is Secret), which I loved, and there were some fun twists and a lot of action towards the end. Very much looking forward to book two the Great Fox Heist, which I’m hoping to review as part of my upcoming blog event/project Are You With Us? : a month dedicated to celebrating disability rep alongside a couple other posts.
Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow by Jessica Redland
I’ve been wanting to read Jessica Redland for years, and last year I finally bought and read a couple, with great success. This one follows Sam, who is devastated after her cousin marries the man she thought was the love of her life, and her moving away and setting up a hedgehog sanctuary to honour an old man whose life she saves by stumbling on his house by accident. Her relationship with Thomas is absolutely gorgeous (who doesn’t love an intergenerational relationship that melts your heart?!), I loved the friends she lives with and the romance was super cute. Her family on the other hand, with the exception of her dad, are some of my most hated fictional characters of all time because they are absolutely horrific to her and just don’t see her for the kind, loving, caring person she is. I have book 2 on my spring TBR, because the cover just gives me ultimate spring vibes, and I’m hoping to get through the others so I can read the Christmas book in the right season!
A Flash of Fireflies by Aisha Bushby (recieved a copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)
This was one of our shortlist picks for the Adrien Prize, and I am such a fangirl for Aisha Bushby both historically and in the present day. Her latest release follows a girl named Hazel who moves from Kuwait to England, as her OCD takes root once more and she is struggling while attending summer school and adjusting to life with her great aunt. The way Hazel’s illness is represented through fabulism and linked in with the theme of fairytales is genius, and the representation of OCD made me incredibly emotional as someone who has struggled and still struggles with it because it felt so relatable and like I was being seen in a way I’m not very often. Grant was such a brilliant character, and I really liked the relationship between Hazel and Ruby also. I’m not sure when the overall winner of the prize will be announced, but I’m so excited to see what our young judges select, and any of the three are absolutely worthy. I also can’t wait for Aisha’s 2023 releases; I cannot overstate how in love I am with her writing and her books in general.
The Night the Moon Went Out by Samantha Baines and illustrated by Lucy Rogers (recieved a copy as part of the Adrien Prize, for which I judged the longlist)
Another book from the Adrien Prize shortlist, and something else I just adored. It’s a super sweet young chapter book, about a hard of hearing girl called Aneira who is scared of the dark, and what happens when the moon disappears one night. She teams up with the delightful Mrs Owl to try and restore things to normality, and I just loved how cute their relationship was. This is such a gentle adventure with gorgeous illustrations from Lucy Rogers that match the words and the overall vibe so perfectly8, and I loved the conversations around hearing loss and being a hearing aid user, as I am too. I have Samantha Baines’ first book Harriet Vs the Galaxy on my tbr, and it’s another one that I hope to be chatting about during May for the Are You With Us? event.
Mouse Heart by Fleur Hitchcock
A new Fleur Hitchcock is absolutely always a treat, and this one sees her create a historical version of Bristol, and a murder mystery that her main character gets involved in because she wants to save her friend Walter from being framed by a ruthless killer concealing their true identity within her beloved Moth Theatre. Mouse is the loveliest, bravest heroine and the way certain members of the theatre treat her made me so angry. I was also incredibly fond of Walter, as Mouse loved him so much, and obviously her dog too. I loved how dramatic and full of danger this was, and I really was hooked till the end, though I was proud I guessed the twist before the reveal. The theatre setting was so fabulous and warrants a mention as well. Thank you to Fleur for being consistently fantastic, and my friend Izzy for the fun buddy read we did of this!
Thank you so much for reading! Have you read any of these books, or are you planning to? What books have you been enjoying lately? I’d love to chat in the comments!