The Starless Sea

Books, Favourites, Pink in Ink

Erin Morgenstern

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Far beneath the surface of the earth, upon the shores of the Starless Sea, there is a labyrinthine collection of tunnels and rooms filled with stories. The entryways that lead to this sanctuary are often hidden, sometimes on forest floors, sometimes in private homes, sometimes in plain sight. But those who seek will find. Their doors have been waiting for them. Zachary Ezra Rawlins is searching for his door, though he does not know it. He follows a silent siren song, an inexplicable knowledge that he is meant for another place. When he 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. As Zachary, Mirabel, and Dorian venture deeper into the space and its histories and myths, searching for answers and each other, a timeless love story unspools, casting a spell of pirates, painters, lovers, liars, and ships that sail upon a Starless Sea

After ten years of waiting for fans of Erin Morngenstern’s hugely successful debut The Night Circus, we’re transported to another wonderfully fantastical world of magic doors, mythical libraries and legendary stories.

We follow Zachary Ezra, our protagonist. During his regular visit to the local library, he stumbles upon a book full of fantastical short stories that looks to be very old. As he flicks through this mysterious book of tales, the is a tale of romance involving what is called the starless sea in an underground world. But as he continues reading, he finds one that reads like a very unusual moment in his life. In perfect detail. Can he find out who wrote about this moment in his life? Will he find the starless sea?

I loved The Night Circus and became a die-hard fan of Morgenstern’s from its last page. So, when I saw she was finally coming out with another title, I was beyond excited!

As I began to read, I discovered why it took so long between publications. This book is impeccably crafted. Not only do we have a wonderful, beautiful and captivating main plot with excellent character-building, but we find that this is just book-inception. The short fairy tales are published inside the main story, giving it even more unique qualities. But these extra tales aren’t rushed, far from it. They are immersive in-and-of themselves. If she published a book with just the short tales, I’d be throwing my money everywhere!

I loved her descriptive writing of this world and the magical painted doors, I really felt I could see everything and just wanted, desperately, for someone to invent a way to travel to these fictional worlds, to hear, see and smell the surroundings.

Despite all that, I became a little annoyed at the amount of filler-words there were (more specifically the word ‘and’). I ended up skipping over these words so often because they really were over-used and took me away from the story. This AND this, AND this… it just got annoying.

But for a negative, it’s a pretty minor one which I can easily look past (literally) because the level of craftsmanship was staggering.

This really made me feel festive, for some reason. Maybe something to do with when I ordered it? I can’t recommend this more and Erin Morgenstern remains one of my all-time favourite authors.


Hardcover

498 pages

Published – 5th February 2020

Publishing Company – Doubleday Books

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The Guest List

Books, Favourites, Pink in Ink

Lucy Foley

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The bride ‧ The plus one ‧ The best man ‧ The wedding planner ‧ The bridesmaid ‧ The body        On an island off the coast of Ireland, guests gather to celebrate two people joining their lives together as one. The groom: handsome and charming, a rising television star. The bride: smart and ambitious, a magazine publisher. It’s a wedding for a magazine, or for a celebrity: the designer dress, the remote location, the luxe party favors, the boutique whiskey. The cell phone service may be spotty and the waves may be rough, but every detail has been expertly planned and will be expertly executed.          But perfection is for plans, and people are all too human. As the champagne is popped and the festivities begin, resentments and petty jealousies begin to mingle with the reminiscences and well wishes. The groomsmen begin the drinking game from their school days. The bridesmaid not-so-accidentally ruins her dress. The bride’s oldest (male) friend gives an uncomfortably caring toast.          And then someone turns up dead. Who didn’t wish the happy couple well? And perhaps more important, why?

I may have stayed up until 3am to finish this book… it’s only taken me a day to read.

I first came across Lucy Foley’s writing with The Hunting Party that was gifted to my better-half for Christmas and had to read it as soon as possible… I read it first (sorry, honey!) and I instantly fell in love with her writing and immersive storytelling with the tang that this could really be real life.

Needless to say, after I read her first book I immediately jumped online to see if there were any new books on the horizon. Sure enough there was. INSTANTLY PRESSED THE PRE-ORDER BUTTON! (Yes I’m using capital letters to get across my child-like excitement).

I was nervous once I received my copy in fear that it wouldn’t match the excitement and suspense of her first book… I WAS SO WRONG! (it’s tempting to use multiple exclamation marks to try and drive home my excitement a little more, but I’ll stick to the capital letters for now).
I don’t know how but it was better than I could have ever expected. It had the same formula as The Hunting Party but it didn’t feel like a formula at all. I was (literally) hooked from the first page. The only time I put down my book was to eat.

The descriptive writing about this perfect island away from the rest of the world with beautiful places to explore and staying in a grand hotel. Similarly to The Hunting Party, we follow multiple perspectives and jump a few days into the future until it all collides at the apex of the book.

Every character was so well fleshed out and our key players were exceptionally crafted. Some I loved, some I hated, envied or didn’t trust. The very last chapter just left me clawing for more!

It’s now 4am while I’m writing this because I just can’t help but want to rave about this book. I cannot contain my excitement and adoration until morning.

Needless to say, I will be keeping a very close eye out for any new books to be released by this extraordinarily, talented writer. (Do you think my partner elbowing me in the face while he’s sleeping is a hint to go to sleep?)


Hardcover

320 pages

Published – 20th February 2020

Publishing Company – Harper Collins

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Serpent & Dove

Audiobooks, Books, Pink in Ink

Shelby Mahurin

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Two years ago, Louise le Blanc fled her coven and took shelter in the city of Cesarine, forsaking all magic and living off whatever she could steal. There, witches like Lou are hunted. They are feared. And they are burned.           Sworn to the Church as a Chasseur, Reid Diggory has lived his life by one principle: thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. His path was never meant to cross with Lou’s, but a wicked stunt forces them into an impossible union—holy matrimony.          The war between witches and Church is an ancient one, and Lou’s most dangerous enemies bring a fate worse than fire. Unable to ignore her growing feelings, yet powerless to change what she is, a choice must be made.          And love makes fools of us all.

This title just blew up in the book world. I’m guilty for purchasing this purely because of the hype!

I’m noticing a trend where witch-themes are making a come-back in publishing and Ms. Mahurin chose a great time to have this published. Many of the YA-fantasy Royals have reignited this adoration.

Set in a some-what historical setting in France during the time of the witch-trials, this added a layer of romance and gothic feel. Louise le Blanc is a young witch, running away from her mother and her coven after years of mistreatment from them. When she is found by the Chasseur, Reid Diggory, she uses her magic to coerce the archbishop to wed the pair and wipe her true identity from knowledge to protect herself from the Chasseur and her mother.

Louise and Reid’s relationship goes from indifference and distrust to love ad romance. Though this was really well written, I don’t tend to enjoy this trope. However, as I said, this relationship development was really well written where it felt organic and not something the author is forcing.

The main plot-point took a good chunk of this book before we get to the climax. But, since this is a series of two books (with a promise of a third) I kind of expected this.

All in all, I did enjoy this. It was a good read but wasn’t something to write home about.

Have you read this book? What were your thoughts?


Hardcover

513 pages

Published – 3rd September 2019

Publishing Company – Harper Teen

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Dead of Winter

Books, Pink in Ink

Nicola Upson

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Also known as ‘Secrets of Winter’


December 1938, and storm clouds hover once again over Europe. Josephine Tey and Archie Penrose gather with friends for a Cornish Christmas, but two strange and brutal deaths on St Michael’s Mount – and the unexpected arrival of a world famous film star, in need of sanctuary – interrupt the festivities. Cut off by the sea and a relentless blizzard, the hunt for a murderer begins. Pivoting on a real moment in history, the ninth novel in the ‘Josephine Tey’ series draws on all the much-loved conventions of the Golden Age Christmas mystery, whilst giving them a thrilling contemporary twist

Despite this being a tale from the Josephine Tey series, and not actually reading any of the previous works; this can be read as a stand-alone.

Why are all festive murders set in the countryside?! I love the beautiful language that can be used to describe the picturesque surroundings but I doubt that there are that many horrific murders in small communities!

On a serious note; this was a really well written, gruesome depiction of historical events. Yes, our leading lady Josephine Tey and her counterpart are fiction but the main scenarios were based on actual people. If you’ve seen my other reviews, I love crime/thrillers. I love watching and reading true-crime and learning the techniques used to uncover the truths of some grizzly events. When I’m reading any crime novel, I make mental notes of the characters inconsistencies, motives and means.

With this one, I did manage to figure out the plot-point but it was still a great read! It also shed light on personal histories of those that are referenced and past, forgotten crimes and their victims… The more I review books the more I notice how strange my mind is!

Though this was a fun read, I struggled to remember who was who in the story, it felt as though further research and mapping was needed to really sell these interpretations. Despite that, I will be looking into more of this authors works, hopefully in the near(ish) future!


Hardcover

320 pages

Published – 5th November 2020

Publishing Company – Faber Faber

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Come Again

Audiobooks, Books, Favourites, Pink in Ink

Robert Webb

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Kate’s husband Luke – the man she loved from the moment she met him twenty-eight years ago – died suddenly. Since then she has pushed away her friends, lost her job and everything is starting to fall apart. One day, she wakes up in the wrong room and in the wrong body. She is eighteen again but remembers everything. This is her college room in 1992. This is the first day of Freshers’ Week. And this was the day she first met Luke. But he is not the man that she lost: he’s still a boy – the annoying nineteen-year-old English student she first met. Kate knows how he died and that he’s already ill. If they can fall in love again she might just be able to save him. She’s going to try to do everything exactly the same…

When I first saw this, I thought it sounded like such a bittersweet story. A take on the throws of grief, loss and depression.

After I learned it was written by Robert Webb, quite a well-known name in our home for his comedy, I was even more intrigued to see the whit that would come up. Despite it sounding like a rather sad tale, it did make me audibly laugh more times than I ever have while reading!

Our leading lady, Kate was such a character! She was so well crafted, I began to really feel like she was a friend of my own; trying to help her see that people love her and grief doesn’t take centre-stage forever.

I think my favourite part of this was when Kate wakes up to find she’s in her dorm room at uni on the day she met her future husband. With every change of history she made, I couldn’t help but think “has the world imploded? Or has a huge nuclear explosion wiped out the human race because of the changes?”

I really enjoyed this story. For a debut with such heavy expectation, it was so enjoyable and I just loved the ease and flow of it and I loved the retake on the butterfly effect.

This was an audiobook listen for me. Olivia Colman is a great actress, on screen, and just as great on audio. Her emotions she showed were so easy to connect with. The annunciation at perfect points in the dialogues were spot on. I would highly recommend to listen to the audiobook, it gives such a wonderful extra-layer to the already excellent writing.

Did I mention I loved it?


Audiobook

13 hours 08 minutes

Published – 12th November 2020

Publishing Company – Penguin Audio

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The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Books, Favourites, Pink in Ink

Neil Gaiman

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn’t thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she’d claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.          Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie—magical, comforting, wise beyond her years—promised to protect him, no matter what.          A groundbreaking work from a master, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is told with a rare understanding of all that makes us human, and shows the power of stories to reveal and shelter us from the darkness inside and out. It is a stirring, terrifying, and elegiac fable as delicate as a butterfly’s wing and as menacing as a knife in the dark.

This book is so amazing. This edition is one of the most stunning on my shelves and sits pride-of-place with many of my other favourites!

Neil Gaiman is, for many, the king of paranormal, fantasy fiction. And, being the winner of the GoodReads Choice Awards in 2013, it’s become a timeless piece.

We follow the nameless boy through his early years of living with his single father. And when he brings home a lodger and asks the nameless boy to move into his older sisters room, everything changes.

On one of his wanderings around his hometown, he meets Lettie Hempstock, a girl who claims to have seen the moon being made and adamant that the pond on her estate is an ocean.

I was absolutely gripped from the start by this book. This was so lyrical and had some very thought provoking messages of life, death, friendship and memories. The overall message, to me, is a different take of reincarnation. That we simply let the earth and water heal our hurt bodies and gives it back when the time is right, that no one truly dies.

The illustrations by Elise Hurst are absolutely beautiful and really adds to the story, making the suspenseful, darker and more gothic. I adored that the illustration was done using simple line-shading and negative space, leaving you to imagine how the characters look.

All in all, I absolutely loved this tale and its messages. I would have to put this as a firm-favourite of mine and this edition is an absolute treasure.


Hardcover Illustrated Edition

336 pages

Published – 12 November 2019

Publishing Company – Headline

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One by One

Audiobooks, Books, Pink in Ink

Ruth Ware

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Getting snowed in at a beautiful, rustic mountain chalet doesn’t sound like the worst problem in the world, especially when there’s a breathtaking vista, a cozy fire, and company to keep you warm. But what happens when that company is eight of your coworkers…and you can’t trust any of them? When an off-site company retreat meant to promote mindfulness and collaboration goes utterly wrong when an avalanche hits, the corporate food chain becomes irrelevant and survival trumps togetherness. Come Monday morning, how many members short will the team be?

One of the most talked-about authors, Ruth Ware, is back again with another cracking novel!

With her previous publication, The Turn of the Key, (which I loved!) I was so excited when I saw she was coming out with another title. I loved her writing style in the last book, so I had a high expectation that it would leave me feeling the same.

Set in a picturesque ski resort in the French Alps, we’re given a story of dual-perspective, following Liz, a shy and mysterious ex-employee of an up-and-coming media app named ‘Snoop’, and Erin, the chalet’s attendant with secrets of her own.

As events begin to unfold, one by one, share-holders of the start-up company begin to go missing or are found dead under suspicious circumstances all while the surviving members of the party work to keep safe after an avalanche devastates the surrounding resorts and facilities. With no telling how long they have to wait for rescue, can they find out who killed their friends before its too late?

I really enjoyed this. It was, as expected, well written with enough mystery where the reader doesn’t quite know who can be trusted and who can’t. The misdirection moving the readers attention to the interactions between the cast was really well done, and in doing so, we see the craftsmanship of each character, learning their flaws and secrets right up to the last page.

I’m struggling to find any critique with this, personally. I feel like I’d liked to have known more about the smaller roles in this, delving into more company secrets, and what happened to lead them to where they are now. I’d have liked the final part of the book to have told us more about what happened after the doomed company holiday.

I also part-listened to this on audiobook. The voice actor was really well-suited to both Liz and Erin and portrayed the suspense, confusion and fear well.

This book is worth every ounce of hype, it’s another whopper from one of the best crime/mystery/thriller writers of our day.


Hardcover

374 pages

Published – 12th November 2020

Publishing Company – Harvill Secker


Audiobook

13 hours 8 minutes

Published – 12th November 2020

Publishing Company – Penguin Audio

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The Tinderbox

Books, Pink in Ink

Laura Elliot

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Set in the picturesque Irish countryside, we follow Sophy and her two daughters, Isobel and Julie as they set out a new life after Sophy starts her job as the live-in nurse for ‘the recluse’ Jack Hyland in the once-beautiful family estate, Hyland Hall. But there are secrets between Sophy’s patient, Jack, and his Nephew, Victor. While trying to build a life for her daughters, face her estranged husband Luke after lies and deceit surfaced, causing them to separate, and keeping her children safe- will Lady Luck be on her side?

 Content Warning – contains reference of gambling, death, and threat.

This book took me by surprise from the very first chapter… So much so, this turned into a single-sitting read!

I’ve not read any of Laura Elliot’s previous publications but, clearly, I’ve been missing out!

We follow a dual perspective of Sophy and her eldest daughter Isobel as they discover that not everything is as it seems. The cast of characters were well crafted with their own distinct voices throughout the novel. I loved the emotion that was portrayed by each one, from the small, brief rolls, to our leading-ladies and the third person dialogue was a great choice to reveal the inner turmoil of the characters. I very rapidly became invested in Sophy and Isobel as they continued to butt heads with each other.

The plot was something that has been done before but felt so original in its execution. I felt the shock and fear as each piece of the puzzle was slotted in to place but was kept on the edge of my seat as more questions were raised.

I struggled to find issue with the title, but the romance felt like more of an insta-love with only hints of the building flirtation, then suddenly its more. However, I think this was intentional giving you pause to the intentions and if it was purely personal gain or love.

I really would recommend this to anyone who enjoys great thriller/mysteries with an emotional twist.

A huge thank-you to NetGalley and the publisher, Bookouture, for the advanced copy to review. This title will be available to download on the 1st December 2020.


eBook

ISBN – 9781800190849

Published – 1st December 202

Publishing Company – Bookouture

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The Other Passenger

Audiobooks, Books, Pink in Ink

Louise Candlish

Rating: 3 out of 5.

From the bestselling author of Our House, winner of the Crime and Thriller Book of the Year Award.            You’re feeling pretty smug about your commute to work by riverboat. No more traffic gridlock or getting stuck on the tube in tunnels (you’re claustrophobic); now you’ve got an iconic Thames view, fresh air ?— a whole lifestyle upgrade. You’ve made new friends onboard — led by your hedonistic young neighbour, Kit ?— and just had your first ‘water rats’ Christmas drinks.          But the first day back after Christmas, Kit isn’t on the morning boat. The river landmarks are all the same, but something’s off. You disembark to find the police waiting. Kit’s wife, Melia, has reported him missing and another passenger witnessed the two of you arguing on the last boat home after your drinks. Police say you had a reason to lash out at him. To kill him.          You protest. You and Kit are friends ?— ask Melia, she’ll vouch for you. And who exactly is this other passenger pointing the finger? What do they know about your private lives? No, whatever coincidences might have occurred that night, you are innocent, totally innocent.          Aren’t you?

I was so excited when this finally arrived at my door!

We follow our protagonist, Jamie, when, on his regular boat-commute, is stopped by police officers with news that his friend and fellow commuter, Kit, goes missing and is suspected murdered. But, as we are guided through his recollections from meeting Kit, his wife Melia and Jamie’s relationship with 10-year partner, Clare, we learn that nothing is as it seems.

Jamie, the honest, loyal man is not as honest or loyal, Clare is not as devoted, Kit is not just a boisterous, fun-loving man and Melia is not as young and naïve as she likes to show.

The characters in this were well developed and had their own voices. There were some unexpected twists but the main focus was on character development.

I found that after the first 100 pages the story-development slowed to a snails pace, but I think this was intentional so we can see all the events and foreshadowing to what ultimately happens in the last 100 pages.

I thought that this was a fun read but just didn’t quite meet my personal tastes, it was just a little too predictable for me. That said, I would highly recommend this to readers that are driven by character development in contemporary settings.


Hardcover

401 pages

Published – 25th June 2020

Publishing Company – Simon and Schuster

A Court of Wings and Ruin

Audiobooks, Books, Pink in Ink

Sarah J. Maas

Rating: 3 out of 5.

A Court of Thorns and Roses #3


Looming war threatens all Feyre holds dear in the third volume of the #1 New York Times bestselling A Court of Thorns and Roses series. Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin’s manoeuvrings and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit – and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well. As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords – and hunt for allies in unexpected places. In this thrilling third book in the #1 New York Times bestselling series from Sarah J. Maas, the earth will be painted red as mighty armies grapple for power over the one thing that could destroy them all.

The third instalment in the famous series by Sarah J. Maas.

With the first two being filled with suspense, anticipation and action, there was quite a high expectation from me.

We continue to follow Feyre after we were left with her returning to the Spring Court with Tamlin as a spy to gather as much information for the impending war with the High King. Her sisters struggle to accept and adjust to their new lives as fae and try to control their powers. And we see the relationship between Feyre, Rhysand and their Valerian family grow despite everything that is fighting against them.

Though, I still enjoyed this read, it wasn’t quite as unpredictable as the last. I found the writing to feel very determined to remain suspenseful and keep building, but it felt forced. There wasn’t as many erotic scenes as before, which I was very grateful for!

Maas’ descriptive writing is excellent, as usual and consistently shows her incredible imagination and creative writing. As we get to the stories end, I can’t deny that I both rolled my eyes and felt a pull at my heart-strings despite it turning into a trope-ending.

Though, I still continue to have an internal debate that this feels like more of a new-adult fantasy novel, I can’t deny that it was fun and packed-full of great characters, plots and descriptive writing. I would recommend this as something worth reading if you’re drawn to high-fantasy with dynamic storylines and a large cast of characters.


Hardcover

699 pages

Published – 2nd May 2017

Publishing Company – Bloomsbury Childrens


Audiobook

25h 9m

Published – 2nd May 2017

Publishing Company – Recorded Books

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