Book Review: Harrow Lake by Kat Ellis

Book Review: Harrow Lake by Kat EllisHarrow Lake by Kat Ellis
Genre: Horror
Release Date: 9th July 2020
Publisher: Penguin
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: three-half-stars

Lola Nox is the daughter of a celebrated horror filmmaker - she thinks nothing can scare her.

But when her father is brutally attacked in their New York apartment, she's swiftly packed off to live with a grandmother she's never met in Harrow Lake, the eerie town where her father's most iconic horror movie was shot.

The locals are weirdly obsessed with the film that put their town on the map - and there are strange disappearances, which the police seem determined to explain away.

And there's someone - or something - stalking her every move.

The more Lola discovers about the town, the more terrifying it becomes. Because Lola's got secrets of her own. And if she can't find a way out of Harrow Lake, they might just be the death of her.

First of all, look at that cover. Is that not the creepiest thing to look at late at night?? I’m glad I read this on my Kindle to be honest. I’ve been trying to read more horror books lately, and so when I saw that Harrow Lake was up on NetGalley I swept it up.

I have to say, the atmosphere of this book is on point. It’s suuuuuper creepy for the first two thirds when you have no idea what’s going on. Lola, the main character, goes to stay in a small town with a grandmother that she barely knows, and is surrounded by rumours of her vanished mother. It’s CREEPY. There are creepy puppets and shadows and noises. I had to stop reading it late into the night because some parts were giving me chills. Kat Ellis pulled the atmosphere off perfectly.

As for the plot, I would say it’s pretty standard for a YA horror. That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy it, because I definitely did, but it’s not something that I will rave about and I wouldn’t say that the twist(s) were anything spectacular. I was’t necessarily reading this horror book for the twists though, because what I really wanted was to be creeped out and on the edge of my seat because of FEAR.

I did feel a bit disconnected from Lola, especially because she seemed to hate everyone that she came into contact with. While this made sense for her character (and be patient if you don’t necessarily get it in the beginning) it made it quite hard for me to fall in love with the story and her journey.

I think if you’re into classic horror movies then you’ll really enjoy Harrow Lake for the chilling atmosphere and the sleepless nights!

Book Review: Devils Unto Dust by Emma Berquist

Book Review: Devils Unto Dust by Emma BerquistDevils Unto Dust by Emma Berquist
Genre: Horror
Release Date: 10th April 2018
Publisher: Greenwillow
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: four-stars

Willie has always survived. No matter what life in Glory, Texas, has thrown at her. The sickness that swept through the state and turned most living creatures into terrifying shakes. Her own mother succumbing to the disease. Her father disappearing into saloons and gambling and liquor. Willie survives. And she'll make sure her younger brothers and sister do, too.

Then her good-for-nothing father steals a fortune from one of the most merciless shake hunters in town, and Willie is on the hook for his debt. With two young hunters as guide, Willie sets out across the desert to find him, and make him pay up.

But the desert holds many dangers—and the shakes are only a few of them. This is no place for the weak.

You guys have been sitting on this book! I read Devils Unto Dust when it first came out, and let me tell you that it’s THE zombie Western that you’ve been waiting for.

Devils Unto Dust is a debut novel, and yet it feels as though Berquist has years of writing experience. She drew me in right away with the desert landscape and the adorable family that are trying to survive the apocalypse. Not only was the writing descriptive and lush, the characters were easy to connect to and gripped me from the very start.

I was addicted the entire time, and I’m so, so pleased that I picked up this debut. I only regret not shouting about it sooner! Devils Unto Dust is super intense and action-packed, and I couldn’t put the book down once I’d started it. Now that I’m talking about it again – over a year later – I kind of want to revisit this world in either a sequel (PLEASE) or a reread.

I loved the cross between a Western and zombies, and it’s something that I suddenly need more of in my life. If you’re a fan of zombie horror or survival stories, then this is definitely the book for you. If you love reading about families and siblings doing anything for one another then THIS IS THE BOOK FOR YOU.

While Devils Unto Dust isn’t an all time favourite, it’s one that has clearly stuck with me, and will probably continue to stick with me over the years. I’ve already read the author’s sophomore novel, Missing, Presumed Dead, and I can’t wait to see what she comes out with in the future.

Book Review: Emily Eternal by M.G. Wheaton

Book Review: Emily Eternal by M.G. WheatonEmily Eternal by M. G. Wheaton
Genre: Science Fiction
Release Date: 23rd April 2019
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: two-stars

Meet Emily - she can solve advanced mathematical problems, unlock the mind's deepest secrets and even fix your truck's air con, but unfortunately, she can't restart the Sun.

She's an artificial consciousness, designed in a lab to help humans process trauma, which is particularly helpful when the sun begins to die 5 billion years before scientists agreed it was supposed to.

So, her beloved human race is screwed, and so is Emily. That is, until she finds a potential answer buried deep in the human genome. But before her solution can be tested, her lab is brutally attacked, and Emily is forced to go on the run with two human companions - college student Jason and small-town Sheriff, Mayra.

As the sun's death draws near, Emily and her friends must race against time to save humanity. But before long it becomes clear that it's not only the species at stake, but also that which makes us most human.

Emily Eternal was such, such a disappointment. It’s not what I was expecting at all! What I wanted was a science fiction thriller about an AI saving the human race from extinction, but what I actually got was more of a sci-fi romance involving an AI and a human main character.

The pointless romance completely distracted from the main plot. You know how in movies people kiss in the middle of a fight scene and we’re all shouting at them to stop? That’s what this entire romance felt like from beginning to end. I was so disappointed in it because I don’t think Emily the AI needed a romance at all, and it should have been left out completely for her to focus on saving the human race.

Emily Eternal was a lot more action than science fiction, which again, I wasn’t expecting and I didn’t want.

I think Emily Eternal had potential was overall it was boring and I’m sad that I found it so dull. Give me better sci-fi, PLEASE.

Book Review: Diamond City by Francesca Flores

Book Review: Diamond City by Francesca FloresDiamond City by Francesca Flores
Series: Diamond City #1
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: 28th January 2020
Publisher: Macmillan
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: three-half-stars

Fierce and ambitious, Aina Solís as sharp as her blade and as mysterious as the blood magic she protects. After the murder of her parents, Aina takes a job as an assassin to survive and finds a new family in those like her: the unwanted and forgotten.

Her boss is brutal and cold, with a questionable sense of morality, but he provides a place for people with nowhere else to go. And makes sure they stay there.

DIAMOND CITY: built by magic, ruled by tyrants, and in desperate need of saving. It is a world full of dark forces and hidden agendas, old rivalries and lethal new enemies.

To claim a future for herself in a world that doesn't want her to survive, Aina will have to win a game of murder and conspiracy—and risk losing everything.

I was really impressed by Diamond City! It’s a very strong debut that is action packed and full of assassinations and heists and deceit. Everything you need, right?

I got very strong Aelin vibes from Aina, the main character. I’m not sure if the author has read Throne of Glass, but it wouldn’t surprise me if she was inspired by it. I really enjoyed reading about Aina’s character growth, as she started off very closed off and then slowly opened up around her close group of friends.

I think the friendships were the best part of the book for me. I loved all of the side characters and how they interacted with Aina. They really helped bring out the best in her and helped her realise what was good and what was bad.

I have to put a warning in here about abuse, as Aina is in an abusive almost-relationship with her boss, who she kind of idolises for saving her from dying. She slowly comes to realise that it’s unhealthy though, somewhat with the help of other characters but mostly through her own realisations.

I have to say that there was a lot less diamond stuff and magic than I was expecting. This book is more of a low fantasy than anything, and the fantasy stuff only came up in a few scenes. Most of the book focuses on assassinations and heists, which isn’t a bad thing, but it’s not really how the book is being marketed!

Like I said, I really enjoyed this one and I’m looking forward to reading the sequel when it comes out – hopefully next year!

Book Review: Only Mostly Devastated by Sophie Gonzales

Book Review: Only Mostly Devastated by Sophie GonzalesOnly Mostly Devastated by Sophie Gonzales
Genre: Contemporary
Release Date: 3rd March 2020
Publisher: Macmillan
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: four-stars

Summer love...gone so fast.

Will Tavares is the dream summer fling―he's fun, affectionate, kind―but just when Ollie thinks he's found his Happily Ever After, summer vacation ends and Will stops texting Ollie back. Now Ollie is one prince short of his fairy tale ending, and to complicate the fairy tale further, a family emergency sees Ollie uprooted and enrolled at a new school across the country. Which he minds a little less when he realizes it's the same school Will goes to...except Ollie finds that the sweet, comfortably queer guy he knew from summer isn't the same one attending Collinswood High. This Will is a class clown, closeted―and, to be honest, a bit of a jerk.

Ollie has no intention of pining after a guy who clearly isn't ready for a relationship, especially since this new, bro-y jock version of Will seems to go from hot to cold every other week. But then Will starts "coincidentally" popping up in every area of Ollie's life, from music class to the lunch table, and Ollie finds his resolve weakening.

The last time he gave Will his heart, Will handed it back to him trampled and battered. Ollie would have to be an idiot to trust him with it again.

Right? Right.

I had a lot of fun with Only Mostly Devastated! It’s the perfect summer contemporary, and a really well written debut, so definitely get your hands on it if you can.

I did think that the main character, Ollie, was a bit whiney at the beginning, but to be fair he’s a teenage boy, and as someone with three younger brothers I can confirm that this is accurate.

I got very invested in the ship, which is something that rarely happens to me with YA romance so that was an added bonus! Ollie’s relationship with Will was emotional and sweet, and they were a much better couple than Danny and Sandy. I got a bit weepy over some of their interactions because they were just so sweet.

The Grease parallels were a lot of fun, which is something I think we can all appreciate!

There was also a lot of bi rep in this book, which I wasn’t strictly expecting going into it. I enjoyed that part a lot, although I do with that one of the bi characters hadn’t been portrayed as overly sxual, as that seems to happen a lot. That’s not really a complaint, but just a personal preference!